Jeff Wilser is the author of “The Book of Joe: The Life, Wit, and (Sometimes Accidental) Wisdom of Joe Biden” from Three Rivers Press. He has written five previous books, including “Alexander Hamilton’s Guide to Life.” His writing has appeared in print or online in New York magazine, GQ, Condé Nast Traveler, TIME, Glamour, Cosmo, Esquire, mental_floss, Men’s Fitness, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Comstock’s, The Miami Herald, Detroit Free Press and The Huffington Post. For more, visit www.jeffwilser.com.
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The Business Of Online Business
Eight tips from local entrepreneurs succeeding in this crowded realm
Stephanie Stiavetti had an IT job that she liked in Sacramento, managing a company’s servers, mobile devices and computers. Yet her real passion was cooking. She had attended culinary school, designed recipes, dabbled in freelance food writing and had even written a cookbook.
Lost in Translation
Are the very digital tools designed to enhance communication actually making us worse communicators?
Most of us can’t seem to put down our phones, checking them anywhere from 80 to 150 times per day, and some experts say this addiction is taking a toll on soft skills.
Sacramento has stellar gender parity stats in its advertising industry — here’s what it means for the region.
Women dominate the creative community in Sacramento, with a slew of advertising agencies large and small with females at the helm. The women running them say this means not only more authentic messaging, but a stronger support system for the next generation.
Local brainiacs offer five habits for flexing your creative-thinking muscles
Intelligence might be built into our DNA, but what about creativity and problem-solving? Not so, experts say. So, if it can be taught, how can we learn? We ask some local brainiacs for their tips for inspiring outside-the-box thinking.
Bridging the Gap
Navigating the generational divide is essential to preparing for a solid succession
The generational divide can wreak havoc on financial management, succession planning and operations. And regardless of where the tension arises, the root of the issue remains the same: control.
The science behind why multitasking is ruining your ability to get things done
What if we’re doing it all wrong? What if instead of trying to do 37 things at once, we just try and do one thing at a time — what some productivity experts call either “mono-tasking,” “mono-focus” or “uni-tasking”— and do the job well?
Artistic offices lead to more productive and engaged teams
Art in the workplace is more than cosmetic; it can actually improve employee attitudes, performance, and even the company’s bottom line. This feels almost blasphemous. By definition, we think of “art” and “profit” as two distinct and even clashing concepts, with the unspoken assumption that chasing profits will corrupt art, and that art drags down profits. Conventional wisdom says “art for art’s sake”: Art is not a means to an end, art is the end.
Mysteries of the Gut Instinct
Unraveling the science of the body’s ‘second brain’ offers insight into the role the stomach plays in our mental health
We’ve all been there: You’re waiting to give a big presentation, maybe you dread public speaking, and you feel your stomach twist itself into a pretzel. Or maybe you meet someone new, someone interesting, and when they make eye contact you feel your stomach do a joyful little flip. It happens all of the time. We feel things before we have time to mentally process.
Studies show certain foods preserve cognition into the twilight years... but can brain foods make you smarter today?
As we get older and become more at risk for Alzheimer’s, a certain type of diet can boost our cognitive potency. Decades ago, science proved food can impact our heart health. Why should the brain be different?
Gen Z at Work
The oldest members of gen Z (born in 1996) are now graduating college, flooding offices across America with their cheery, five-screen-watching, can-do spirit.
Generation Z left the tech transition in the dust — how will that impact their role in our economy?
In some ways they might already be an economic force. A 2014 study from the ad agency Sparks and Honey estimates that the average gen Z receives $16.90 per week in allowance alone, which tallies to an annual $44 billion in spending power. So who are these kids, anyway?
Changing regulations and confusing compliance metrics have HR managers tied up in knots
AB 908 increases the amount of paid family leave (PFL) benefits an employee can receive from 55 percent of earnings to either 60 percent or 70 percent of earnings, depending on the employee’s income,” effective Jan. 1, 2018? (Mark your calendars.)
Romance can bloom in unexpected places, but don't let an office relationship result in career breakdown
Fifty-one percent of professionals have had a workplace romance, according to a 2015 survey from Vault.com, a career resource website. This includes couples like the Obamas and the Gates. In an online poll of Comstock’s readers, 80 percent admitted to having mixed business with pleasure.
In The Blue
The cost of depression hits hard, but the good news — for staff and CEOs alike — is that businesses are getting proactive in their approach to it
While many of us are blissfully unaware of depression’s prominence in the workplace, those in HR, who are on the frontlines and can see the disease’s broader impact, have a more clear-eyed perspective.
Take It Easy
U.S. workers are taking less and less vacation — here’s what their employers are losing to the vacation gap
You probably need a vacation. Most of America does. Between 1976 and 2000, the average worker took roughly 20 vacation days annually, according to data from Project: Time Off. But as the economy buckled in 2008, so did our desire to flock to the beach, and in 2015, the number plunged nearly a full week lower, translating to 658 million unused vacation days.
For Kevin Nagle, Capital Region sport connoisseur, failure has never been an option
How did Nagle, now 62, go from weed-puller to angel investor? He shares his maxims of leadership, including how he somehow reads 300 emails a day, makes work an obsession and why he feels soccer is the future of America.
The Strong, Silent Type
What secret powers your introverted employees may have — and how to unleash them.
No job is only a job. You are paid to be competent and to get your work done, sure. But there are countless social interactions that shade the way you’re evaluated: chit-chat on the elevator, poise in a meeting, even the stories you tell (or don’t tell) over happy hour. Connections are the key to raises, promotions and job offers.
In Safe Hands
What the leaders of Sacramento’s health care system have to say about care quality and gender equality
Of the four largest private employers in the region, three of them are health systems — Kaiser (10,000 employees), Sutter (9,000) and Dignity Health (7,000). And whether it’s a new trend, a bit of gender-equity karma or just a wonderful coincidence, in this critical sector of the economy, all four of the region’s health centers are led by female executives.
More Than A Feeling
In the quest for funding, charitable organizations need more than a mission — they need a plan
For more and more investors and would-be funders, nonprofits need to have more than a worthy cause and a compelling mission: They need a plan. Specifically, they’re now being asked to showcase the same mindset that’s required of for-profit organizations, meaning that spreadsheets, metrics and core competencies can matter just as much as pulling the heartstrings.
7 Killer Financial Management Apps
Thanks to a growing pool of financial apps, we can now review our budgets, tweak our investments and work toward retirement — all while waiting in line for a coffee.
The Dean Can Read Your Mind
Pierre Balthazard has spent years studying the brains of top bosses and now, he says he can neuro-train the brain into better leadership
Imagine a world where you’re hooked to a system of electrodes that scans your skull, hunts for patterns, and then scores your IQ, emotional intelligence, ability to communicate, capacity for judgment and potential to be a good leader. Then imagine that the therapist says, “The bad news is that your score should be higher. The good news is that I can get it there by helping you physically change your brain.”
Can Neurofeedback Change Your Brain?
Evidence suggests that it has the potential to treat common ailments, without medication
Thirty years from now, we all might be getting some sort of neurofeedback. Scientists are now using this cutting-edge method — a way of scanning the brain and giving it course corrections — to treat a battery of conditions that range from ADHD to depression and seizures.
While big data can answer questions we haven’t even thought to ask, the hidden costs add up
Big data can have real benefits, but it can also undercut common sense, frustrate employees, alarm customers and come with some hidden costs
VSP is changing the way we think about eyewear — and ideation
“In order for a company like VSP to be around for 60 years, we’ve had to be innovative — to change who we are,” says incoming CEO Jim McGrann, who used to be the company’s Chief Technology Officer. Plenty of companies like to toss around buzzwords like “innovation,” but it’s usually just an empty slogan. VSP has spurred innovation by creating The Shop, launching their Project Genesis, and supporting a 90-day rotational program that lets everyday employees — no matter what division they work in — pitch new ideas and brainstorm new products.
Bad managers lead to bad employees — and a lot of wasted money
Studies show that the problem isn’t bad workers as much as bad bosses, who aren’t just a nuisance — they’re expensive. They cost a company productivity and turnover. Yet for some reason they’re being hired again and again. So why are we so rotten at hiring leaders, and how can we change?
Clear Your Mind and the Cash Will Flow
Businesses are betting on meditation for employee health and corporate profits
You live a crowded life. We all do. You probably looked at your smartphone before you rolled out of bed. You immediately checked your email, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Maybe you glanced at your phone on your morning commute. Your job demands multitasking, so at work your computer has 25 open tabs — Outlook, Excel, Word, Powerpoint, and on and on and on. As you read this article, the odds are good that you’re also kind of doing something else.
5 Challenges for Meditation Newbies
(and how to overcome them)
Meditation is sort of a pain in the ass — especially when you’re a newb. If you are very early in your meditation journey check out these 5 common challenges beginners face and ways how to overcome them.
For the next generation, family-business survival rests squarely on formalized governance
There’s an old saying about family businesses: Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations. Grandpa hustles and creates the business,Dad takes the baton and then Junior goes down with the ship. According to the Family Firm Institute, just 30 percent of family businesses survive into their second generation, and only 10 percent make it to their third. Why do these firms fail?
The Art of the Long View
What if an executive’s pay was dependent on the performance of his successors?
Economists refer to it as the agency problem: The incentives of executives are misaligned with the incentives of the company. If you have stock options that vest in five months, who cares what happens in five years?
Cracking the Glass
Local leaders weigh in on the state of gender equality in the workplace
Focusing on four sectors — STEM, justice, development and investment — we rounded up some of the city’s key leaders: a district attorney, a med school dean, the head of an FBI office and enough CEOs to rival “Shark Tank,” to get their take on how women are perceived in their industries, how that perception has changed over time and what it will take to truly reach parity.
Who can meet the needs of our homeless LGBT youth?
Forty percent of homeless youth are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered, compared to just 10 percent for the larger population. Across the United States, there are somewhere around 320,000 to 400,000 homeless LGBT youth. There are roughly 4,000 shelter beds total. Enough to sleep just one percent.
Financial therapists know: It’s more than just the Benjamins, baby
There’s an old joke from the TV series “Friends”: Ross complains about how he’s torn between two women, so Chandler replies, “This must be so hard. Oh no, two women love me. They’re both gorgeous and sexy. My wallet’s too small for my fifties and my diamond shoes are too tight!” That’s the typical reaction when people hear about wealth psychology…
How former UPS logistics exec Jimmy Crabbé doubled a Sacramento plumbing business in less than 24 months
Think of it as The Deodorant Problem. If you’re marketing a brand, it’s easy to sling the sex appeal of wine, cars or a hot new phone. But what if the product is a tad mundane and even a little stinky? How do you convey the emotional appeal of, say, unclogging a toilet? If you’re Jimmy Crabbé, you crack this problem with an inspired move that no one saw coming.
Extreme Makeover: Work Edition
Does your office need an etiquette expert?
You know That Guy. He wears too much Axe body spray, he makes loud personal calls while you’re trying to work, he chews food with his mouth open. He’s a close-talker with his shirt open one button too far. He’s also really good at his job. If you’re a manager, what do you do with That Guy?
Opportunity of a Lifetime
Fetal surgeons at UC Davis are repairing birth defects in babies — before their patients are even born
Too many pregnant mothers know the feeling of horror: The ultrasound reveals something wrong. Perhaps it’s nothing. But maybe it’s life-threatening, a disease or a disability. Maybe it’s the unthinkable. For hundreds of thousands of years, the unthinkable — babies doomed to die or develop impairments before drawing their first breath — meant only tragedy and heartache. Now there is hope.
10 tips for the sleep-deprived, one of which might ruin your life
Let me take a wild guess: You feel like you don’t get enough sleep. Too much to do, you’re stressed out and you think getting eight hours of sleep is about as realistic as keeping current on Oprah’s Book Club. Or maybe you’re annoyed that your body needs too much sleep? Think of all the workouts you could get in, books you could read and emails you could return with a few extra hours in each day. Wouldn’t we all love to train our bodies to require less sleep?
On the Cover: The World’s Fastest Man
Rome wasn't built in a day, because C.C. Myers didn't have that contract
Construction guru C.C. Myers has, for more than two decades, been California’s go-to guy when roads are ravaged by acts of God (like the ’94 Northridge earthquake) or the toll of time (Folsom’s Lake Natoma Crossing, Interstate 5 in Sacramento, Route 99 in Turlock, the Walnut Creek Interchange, and the list goes on). The New York Times once called him the “Miracle Worker Highway Man.”
How technology is using mind control to help people walk again
There are 6 million people in the United States who are paralyzed. Wide-spread, thought-controlled medical solutions won’t be available tomorrow or next month or even next year. But what if, some day, all of those people could walk again?
Unpicked produce can change the way food banks feed the hungry — you just have to know where to look
“Eat local.” You’ve heard the phrase a billion times. It’s the guiding principle of the farm-to-fork movement, nudging us away from the Industrial Food Complex and toward our neighborhood farms. But there’s something even more local than a ranch down the road: the orange tree in your front yard.
Why aren't more men taking paternity leave?
On opening day of the 2014 baseball season, New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy was noticeably absent. He wasn’t benched. He didn’t have the flu. He simply took advantage of Major League Baseball’s paternity leave policy, which grants 72 hours off, to attend the birth of his son.
And all hell broke loose.
Can Sacramento cash in on an influx of Chinese tourism dollars?
Two hundred million Chinese tourists will pack their bags and depart their homeland in 2020, bound for destinations across the globe. It’s not a mass exodus; they’re not fleeing their government. They’re tourists, and, according to CNN, they might be the greatest phenomenon to hit the global travel industry since the invention of commercial flight.
The pain of learning tennis is more than worth the health gains
It started with a girl. She had played tennis in college. Desperate to impress her, I challenged her to a match. Sure, I had never played, but I could hold my own.
How concierge medicine is changing the health care marketplace
Think of your best friend, a friend that knows all your ticks, hobbies and vices. Now imagine this friend happens to be a doctor, and she’s your doctor.
How can Sacramento keep its millennials in the mix?
About a decade ago, as a financial analyst for Intel, I lived in the suburbs of Santa Clara and frequently traveled to Folsom. It was a good job, especially for a kid straight out of college — decent pay, strong company and the lure of glittering stock options.
So I left.
Hurts So Good
Yoga is good for you, but be careful boys
I’ve always snickered at yoga.It just seemed ridiculous. But men are flocking to yoga the way we once, in the ’80s, took to this thing called “jogging.” We’re learning that yoga bestows a slew of health benefits — physical, mental, even sexual. But new research also points to increased health risks for men, and this muddies the decision.
The Robots are Coming
Technologies of tomorrow are making their way onto the crop fields of today
Scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs are racing to give farmers tools to boost agricultural productivity. These five technologies — some big, some small — could change the face of farming.
Avoiding the Pop
Why do so many women tear their ACL, and how can they prevent it?
In one of the crueler twists of sports, ACL tears often happen in freak accidents that you can’t really control. Seventy percent occur without contact. Even more cruelly, a woman is four times more likely than a man to tear the ligament — especially if she’s young and active.
Land of the Fee
Can micro loans dig farmers out of their financial holes?
Today’s small farmer climbs an uphill battle to find land, secure capital and overcome the hefty start-up costs. Today, farmers make up less than 1 percent of the population (compared to 15 percent in 1950), they tend to be older (the average age is 57) and about 25 percent are expected to retire in the next 20 years. “This is a new problem for human society,” writes Sharon Astyk, author of “A Nation of Farmers.”
Sleep It Off
Why taking a nap would be more valuable than reading this article
I have an especially stupid case of insomnia, but we as a society are rotten sleepers and I’m not alone. Since doctors recommend seven to eight hours a night, about half the population is sleep deprived. We’re a nation of walking zombies.
Bone to Pick
Without proper care, hip fractures can drastically increase mortality rates.
Eighty percent of women say they’d rather be dead than in a nursing home.