How to Climb the Corporate Ladder – 5 Keys to Career Success

corporate-ladder1It’s good to be the boss. People in charge of an organization not only make more money, they also have happier family lives, are more satisfied with their work, and worry less about their financial futures, according to a Pew Research report. Those in the top levels consider their employment a “career,” not just a job that pays the bills.
 
Of course, promotions to those top levels are never guaranteed. However, there are a number of steps you can take to improve your chances of advancing your career—whether with your existing employer or a new one. Long-term success relies on having as many options as possible and ensuring that you’re prepared when an opportunity arises.

What You Need to Advance in Your Career

Getting to the top of the corporate food chain becomes increasingly more difficult in the higher tiers of management. In many organizations, average performers in the lower ranks can expect some promotions simply by being competent and building tenure. Attaining higher positions or advancing at a faster rate, however, require the following elements, at the very least.

1. Corporate Opportunity

The more opportunities available to you, the better. For example, a rapidly growing company is dependent upon numerous managers to implement its strategies, whether introducing new products, expanding into new geographic territories, or capturing a larger market share. On the other hand, mature companies that already dominate an industry may have slower career paths, but may provide valuable experience and security for those willing to wait for their turn in corporate leadership.
 
Some mature companies have policies aimed at inducing turnover at the top levels. They may offer early retirements, buy-outs, and titles with superior compensation but no authority or responsibility—a kind of in-place retirement—in order to retain younger, aggressive managers who might otherwise leave the company. Your selection of employer is a critical element in the speed of your progression up the ranks.
 
Surprisingly, according to the Pew report, a greater percentage of employees are satisfied in their current position (43%) than those seeking promotion (39%). Nevertheless, competition increases as you climb the ladder, simply because there are fewer and fewer jobs the higher you get. Many may hear the call, but few are chosen.
 
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Are America’s Schools Failing?

students-classroomA headline in the December 2013 issue of The Atlantic claimed that American schools compared to the rest of the world—the members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)—were “expensive, unequal, bad at math.” Their conclusion was based upon American student performance in the Programme for International Student Assessment in 2012. Far East countries such as China, Korea, and Japan were top performers, while most European and Scandinavian countries ranked higher than the U.S. as well. Even the country’s former Cold War competitor, the Russian Federation, ranked higher than the United States in the assessment.
 
At the same time, Universitas 21, a global network of research-intensive universities, ranked the American higher education system—its colleges and universities—as the best in the world in 2014, a rank it has retained for years. It is also the reason that foreign students flock to the United States from around the globe.
 
So what is the truth about the American school system? Is it a success or a failure? What should we expect from our schools, and how can we improve them?

History of Public Education in the United States

Contrary to popular belief, the right to an “education” is not mentioned in the Constitution. In the early years of the republic, public education was considered important to the nation’s progress as evidenced by the granting of more than 77 million acres of public domain to the individual states for the support of public schools. At the same time, the responsibility for education was delegated to state and local governments. The Federal Government was not heavily involved in the administration of public education until the end of the Civil War, establishing the original Office of Education in 1867.
 
It was not until the 1960s and 1970s that the Federal Government assumed a dominant position in the administration of education, primarily stimulated by racial discrimination. A second driver for the Federal Government’s increased role was the perceived failure of the state-run schools, especially in science and math, compared to national rivals. The passage of the National Defense Education Act (NDEA) was in direct response to the Soviet launch of Sputnik as a consequence of the general perception that “American schools and colleges were not producing the quantity and quality of scientific and technical specialists necessary to keep pace with the Soviet Union.”
 
As a consequence, the first federal student loans capitalized with U.S. Treasury funds for college students in science, math, and foreign languages were instituted. Since that time, financial assistance has alternated between direct loans capitalized with U.S. Treasury funds and loans from private parties secured by federal guarantees.
 
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What is Nanotechnology? What does it mean to you?

nanotech1In 1959, physicist Richard Feynman predicted a future in which scientists would, by manipulating atoms and molecules, be able to build materials and structures of higher strength, lighter weight, increased control of the light spectrum, and greater chemical reactivity.
 
Everything of a physical nature – human beings, plants, minerals, air – is composed of combinations of atoms and molecules bound together either by shape or electronic charge. Manipulating atoms on a nano-scale would theoretically allow humans to reproduce everything from diamonds to food.
 
While the benefits of such technology are virtually countless, it has created considerable concern among some that molecular manipulation may unwittingly bring more problems than solutions – up to, and including, human extinction. Organizations such as Friends of the Earth of Australia, Individuals Tending Toward Savagery in Mexico, and the Organic Consumers Association in America actively oppose any further development of nano-scale projects.

What Is “Scale” and Why Is It Important?

Nanotechnology is the science that deals with the manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale – in other words, much smaller than what the naked eye can see. Each nanometer is one billionth of a meter – approximately the length a fingernail grows in one second. To put that in perspective, a human hair is roughly 80,000 to 100,000 nanometers wide, a red blood cell is 2,500 nanometers, and a strand of human DNA is 2.5 nanometers in diameter.
 
It is only through the development of extraordinary precision instruments, such as the scanning tunneling microscope and the atomic force microscope, that nanotechnology has become possible. Its promise and risk arise from our growing understanding of quantum physics, which deals with ultra-small objects. Surprisingly, the behavior of substances on a nanoscale is often contrary to its properties on a larger scale.
 
For example, substances in bulk form that can’t carry an electric charge – insulators – may become semiconductors on a nano level, just as melting points and other physical properties may change. An aluminum Coke can ground down into a powder of 20 to 30 nanometers may spontaneously ignite in air – a property that makes it a rocket fuel catalyst. Similarly, both a diamond and the graphite in a pencil are made from carbon, but they have vastly different properties due to the way the carbon atoms bond.
 
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12 Ways to Volunteer Your Time and Give Back to the Community

volunteer-hospitalDo you feel a personal responsibility to help others? Randy Lewis, author of “No Greatness Without Goodness,” claims that all people, including businesses, have the responsibility to make the world a better place. In his case, he spearheaded a Walgreens initiative to hire the disabled. In the five years following his initiative, similar programs were sparked across America and Europe.
 
In June 2014, Starbucks, the ubiquitous coffee cafe, announced a free online college program through Arizona State University for any employee working 20 or more hours per week. Duncan Campbell, an Oregon entrepreneur, started Friends of the Children to provide emotional and educational support to at-risk children, starting with kids in kindergarten and progressing with them through college. Of the kids involved, 83% graduate high school and 93% avoid juvenile hall for breaking the law.
 
While some leaders and companies receive considerable publicity and well-deserved accolades for charitable work, there are hundreds of thousands of regular Americans – your friends and neighbors – who donate to programs to make the world a “kinder and gentler place.” These activities are sponsored by churches, civic organizations, schools, and charities, with services ranging from Habitat for Humanity to Big Brothers Big Sisters. But despite the ongoing success of such efforts, programs always need volunteers and financial support.

Why Volunteer?

Some people claim that their personal success and secure position has been justly earned without help from others along the way. However, this attitude is selfish, egotistical, and naive. Studies, detailed in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Outliers,” have shown that the zip code of your birth is more predictive of success, health, and lifespan than IQ, college grades, or genetics. Nobody makes it through life entirely on his or her own merits, even if assistance is not obvious. As a consequence, everyone has a debt to repay – and a reason to give back.
 
In addition to fulfilling a responsibility, there are many benefits of charitable giving – primarily, it makes you happier. In fact, a Harvard Business School study confirmed that “happier people give more and giving makes people happier, such that happiness and giving may operate in a positive feedback loop (with happier people giving more, getting happier, and giving even more).”
 
While cash is always accepted in groups serving the needy, time and effort is just as important, if not more so. Plus, giving of your time, energy, and effort provides you with immediate feedback as to what your contribution means to those receiving it.
 
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