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Facebook Alert: You’re Not My Friend

Recently, someone I’ve never met introduced me in an email as “my good friend Adam.” A few days later, a virtual stranger who has emailed me a few times posted an article by “my friend Adam.” Then a student listed me as a job reference, and when asked to describe our relationship, wrote “professor and friend.” After I endorsed a book, a reporter referred to the author as “a friend of Adam’s,” when our interactions have consisted of a series of work emails and one phone call.

I like all of these people, but I wouldn’t describe any of them as my friends—I think that misrepresents how well we know each other and the kind of the bond between us. In the Facebook era, the boundaries on friendship have expanded dramatically. Someone recently called my brother-in-law a “dear friend” but didn’t bother to attend his wedding. Judging from recent friend requests, my friends apparently include a person who ignored me in grad school, a second cousin’s high school classmate, a colleague’s mentee, a peewee soccer teammate I vaguely remember, and some guy who sat at a table near me at a restaurant once ...

No Matter What Anyone Tells You, Guys: Sweatpants Are Not The New Jeans

This fall will bring new temptations for male enthusiasts of “soft dressing“—as designers try to convince men to embrace the increasingly common practice of wearing athletic clothing in everyday life, and even to the office. (Also see: “athleisure.”)

In recent years, women wearing form-fitting leggings and yoga pants beyond the gym showed retailers the wild potential for the category. Thanks to stretchy fabric with lots of give, fits are less tricky. The same technical fabrications can be utilized season-after-season. And perhaps most importantly, customers have shattered the price ceiling for workout wear and proved that a triple-digit price tag for workout gear—and sometimes well past it—is no longer unthinkable.

Now, companies such as Gap, J. Crew, Net-a-Porter, and Lululemon would like men to get in on the fun. Enter the sweatpant. Yeah, that’s right: sweatpants. Any man who has dreamt of wearing his sweats to work will have even more compelling reasons to believe it’s okay to do that this fall.

We’re here to tell you: It’s not.

But designers showed them at Fashion Week!

That’s true. Even mainstream fashion designers such as Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren included sweatpants in their ...

How I Lead: Building Trust and Communication Between Teams

Ken Sosne is director of regional grant operations at the Health and Human Services Department’s Administration for Children and Families. He has more than 20 years of service as a budget analyst, grants officer, administrative officer and resource manager at agencies including the Federal Public Defender’s Office and Immigration and Border Protection.

What is the best leadership lesson you've learned?  

One needs to be patient and watch how others command a room.

How did you get to where you are today?

I always was willing to work hard and forget about the hours I was putting in, and I dealt fairly with others.

What leadership lessons do you try to convey to your team?   

Fairness, keep your eye on the mission and always remember your oath of public service.

What do you look for in potential employees when making hiring decisions?

I look for a strong educational background, a well-rounded portfolio and an individual with a sense of both self and leadership.

What do you do after work for fun or to relax?

I enjoy spending time with my wife, cooking and going out to our beach home that someday will be our retirement venue.

What is ...

Making Good Mistakes

The true test of your leadership character isn’t measured by the absence of mistakes, but rather by the mistakes made in pursuit of growth and learning and how you conduct yourself once you’ve made a mistake.

Show me a mistake-free leader, and I’ll show you someone hiding from the real issues confronting the business: people and strategy.

People

People are complicated. In spite of myriad assessment tools at our disposal, selection is still a judgment call with all of the inherent risks and biases of human decision-making. And the challenge of aligning skills and experiences with tasks while searching for that spark that stimulates people to work at their creative best is truly much more art than science.

You will make mistakes on people. Make them for the right reasons. Taking a chance on good people for the right reasons is worth the risk every day.

Remember, character always gets a positive vote. After a certain age, character is formed and nothing you can do will alter someone’s core character. You cannot change someone. Assess character carefully. Look for behavioral examples around values, and if the view is dissonant, it’s a nonstarter.

Passion and desire ...

Who Wins in the Name Game?

I was at a party for Bastille Day in Paris a few years back, and we were leaning over the balcony to watch the fireworks. A cute French girl sat next to me, but after a few flirty glances the moment was entirely ruined with the most basic of interactions: “What’s your name?” she asked in French. “Cody,” I said.

That was it. We were done. “Co-zee?” she said, sounding out the entirely foreign name, looking more disgruntled with each try. “Col-bee?” “Cot-ee?”

I tried a quick correction, but I probably should’ve just lied, said my name was Thomas or Pierre like I did whenever I ordered take-away or made restaurant reservations. Not being able to pronounce a name spells a death sentence for relationships. That’s because the ability to pronounce someone’s name isdirectly related to how close you feel to that person. Our brains tend to believe that if something is difficult to understand, it must also be high-risk.

In fact, companies with names that are simple and easy to pronounce see significantly higher investments than more complexly named stocks, especially just after their initial public offerings when information on the stock’s fundamentals ...