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How to Comment on Social Media

Commenting and writing are really two different things. There are many books, articles, presentations and 1-2-3 posts that will tell you how to build a professional presence online. The general idea is to build a body of work that proves to the world you are a credible, trustworthy presence in whatever sphere you claim to operate in.

While commenting is a form of writing, the emphasis is different. After all, comments are a reaction, they are inherently defensive, whereas the act of putting something out there is proactive and creative. So you need to have good reason for saying what you say.

We are living in defensive times. Every word you put out there matters. It establishes who you are. Your opinions will be scrutinized; your command of the facts, and how you articulate them, portrays you as either a respectable person or a fake, flake or dummy.

No matter how benign your words, somebody out there will at some point take offense. You may deserve a challenge or a correction on legitimate grounds. Or, they may get ideological with you. They may attack you personally. You comment, they comment and suddenly it is an endless and unproductive protracted debate...

How Donald Trump Could Restore Confidence in Government

When it comes to sharing information about government activities, “the default,” my mentors taught me many years ago, “must always be maximum disclosure to the public with minimum delay.”

It’s an ethos I carried through the ranks, culminating with my time leading Public Affairs at the Department of Defense. While there, I tried to bake it into the culture. I won some battles and I lost others.

But in all the teams of which I was privileged to be a part, we were guided by the idea that we had a public obligation to fulfill—even as we worked diligently to protect the nation’s secrets.

For this reason, I am deeply troubled by President-elect Trump’s consistent opacity, coupled with his habit of making statements that are later proved to be false. Too often, he and his team have passed up opportunities to be forthright and straight with the public. It doesn’t have to be this way.

I’m worried. Nearly every day, I’m told by a member of the press that they are afraid of what a Trump administration will mean for the news business. These are smart people I admire and trust—and they...

Growing Government’s ‘Sharing Economy’

There has been a lot of breathless excitement about the evolving “sharing economy,” where people can use services provided by others, like Uber and AirBnB . But the sharing movement actually started in the federal government in 1973.

That is the year the Agriculture Department launched the National Finance Center, a shared payroll services operation. Initially, it served only Agriculture agencies. Today, it provides payroll and other services for more than 650,000 employees at 170 agencies.

The shared services approach allows federal offices to move operations that are common across government to a provider that already performs those functions for other agencies. Typically, those services focus on administrative areas, such as financial management, human resources, payroll and travel.

According a 2015 study by the Partnership for Public Service, Congress authorized shared services pilot projects in the 1990s and passed legislation in 2002 to tap shared technology to improve support functions. In 2004, the Office of Management and Budget created task forces called “lines of business” to identify opportunities to reduce costs and improve services across common functions. These task forces later evolved into shared services. In 2014, shared services became one of the Obama administration’s Cross-Agency Priority Goals. As...

This Is No Way to Run a Government

As one of its final acts, the 114th Congress will wrap up with yet another continuing resolution. No one is surprised or particularly concerned; the only real debate seems to be over the length of the resolution—will it run through the April recess? Into May? Nothing about funding the government through the rest of the year. Think about that. It’s become “normal” that agencies must operate without budget clarity well into the fiscal year. But there’s really nothing normal about such a process, and as the Trump Administration and the 115th Congress prepare to take office, this is a good time to start thinking about creative alternatives to the fiscal chaos that has dominated government operations for the last decade or more.

First, let’s be clear. The advent of a “united” government does not, in and of itself, portend an end to that chaos. There are enormous philosophical and political gaps between Republicans and Democrats, as well as within the parties. Differences abound about how and whether to fund the president-elect’s proposed infrastructure initiative. Tax reform involves a set of highly complex and equally conflictual possibilities—not just between the parties, but within them as...

Self-Control Is Just Empathy With Your Future Self

You’ve likely seen the video before: a stream of kids, confronted with a single, alluring marshmallow. If they can resist eating it for 15 minutes, they’ll get two. Some do. Others cave almost immediately.  

This “Marshmallow Test,” first conducted in the 1960s, perfectly illustrates the ongoing war between impulsivity and self-control. The kids have to tamp down their immediate desires and focus on long-term goals—an ability that correlates with their later health, wealth, and academic success, and that is supposedly controlled by the front part of the brain. But a new study by Alexander Soutschekat the University of Zurich suggests that self-control is also influenced by another brain region—and one that casts this ability in a different light.

Press your right index finger to the top of your right ear, where it meets your head. Now move up an inch and back an inch. You’re now pointing at your right temporoparietal junction (rTPJ). This area has long been linked to empathy and selflessness. But Soutschek, by using magnetic fields to briefly shut down the rTPJ, has shown that it’s also involved in self-control.

Which makes perfect sense. Empathy depends on your ability to...

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