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Maybe Less Productive Employees Just Need a Little Siesta Time

In an effort to boost productivity during the summer months, the city of Seoul is encouraging government workers (paywall) to take a siesta of up to an hour. This might be a good model for the country, which appears to be the most sleep-deprived of the world’s developed economies.

The most recent numbers from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the organization that crunches comparable data on the world’s developed economies, show that South Koreans sleep an average of 469 minutes (7.8 hours) a day. That’s the lowest among the 18 countries for which the OECD gathered data. The OECD average for shuteye is 502 minutes (8.4 hours). The French, who snooze the most among the rich nations, clock 530 minutes (8.8 hours) of sleep a night.

Why such a lack of sleep in Korea? Hard to say for sure, but the Korean propensity to log long work hours likely cuts into workers’ downtime. While that sounds admirable, the Korean workplace culture of rampant overtime and few vacations results in some of the worst levels of worker productivity among the advanced economies.

Reprinted with permission from Quartz. The original story can be ...

More Women Around the Globe Are Networking Over Cocktails

From Shanghai to São Paulo, Moscow to Lagos, the changing role of women in the emerging markets is causing major shifts in alcohol consumption.

According to Harvard Business Review, income growth of women in developing countries reached 8.1% last year. The Grant Thornton International Business Report confirmed that 46% of Russian senior managers are now women and Boston Consulting Group recently reported that women now officially download more content—music and films—than men. With this tech savvy and sophisticated female demographic, companies can no longer depend on cliché marketing adages for women like “shrink and pink it.” This insight is particularly salient in the new ways that professional women around the globe are using alcohol to socialize, network, and assert their independence.

How do we know? We recently ran a cross-cultural, ethnographic study of female empowerment with one of the world’s leading global alcohol and beverage brands. It specifically focused on how women go out, and ultimately how they consume cocktails and drinks. In addition to extensive research and interviews with female entrepreneurs, health, beauty and cultural experts, we also spent a significant amount of time studying a select group of women in emerging market cities ...

Hillary Clinton's Lessons in Executive Diplomacy

A host of memoirs by former Obama administration Cabinet chiefs have been arriving in bookstores, offering valuable management lessons for political appointees and career civil servants. This is the third in a series on the experiences of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner (Stress Test), Defense Secretary Robert Gates (Duty), Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (Hard Choices), and Defense and intelligence chief Leon Panetta (Worthy Fights).

In Hard Choices, Hillary Clinton chronicles her four years as secretary of State under President Obama, in which she visited 112 countries and traveled nearly 1 million miles. Among insights for government leaders:

Building personal relationships. In Hard Choices, Clinton notes the value of her visits to numerous countries and the importance of developing relationships with foreign leaders. Both Hillary Clinton are well known for cultivating relationships. As secretary of State, Clinton continued to build on the relationships that she developed as first lady and as a New York senator earlier in her career.

Relations between nations are based on shared interests and values, but Clinton notes they are also about personal bonds. “The personal element matters more in international affairs than many would expect, for good or ill,” she writes. Clinton describes her relationship with ...

Assessing Trust in Cross-Agency Networks

“Trust but verify” was President Reagan’s mantra during the Cold War. Today, trust is a key element to creating effective cross-agency networks to get things done. But what, exactly, is trust, and how do you know what to look for?

Addressing public management challenges increasingly requires collaborative networks across a range of agencies and nongovernmental organizations. The Obama administration has designated a series of projects as cross agency priority goals and put networks in place to manage them. A lot of literature and practical experience show that a key element of success in any collaborative effort is the ability to create and sustain trust among stakeholders.

New research by a pair of European academics, Peter Oomsels and Geert Bouckaert, provides an interesting and nuanced assessment framework that can help “boundary spanners”—such as the cross-agency goal leaders at the federal level—to dissect what works in different situations and contexts.

The authors say interorganizational trust is “a very important factor for successful cooperation in networked contexts . . . Trust facilitates, solidifies and increases the performance of interorganizational cooperation in complex decision-making networks.” But what does it mean to trust?

What is Trust?

There is a wide range of definitions of trust ...

How to Write a Cover Letter, According to Leonardo da Vinci

Selling yourself often feels like a grotesque act. So job applicants’ cover letters seem unlikely to contain much great prose. Instead, we tend to fill the page with false notes and empty phrases. (“I believe my skills make me the ideal candidate, and I would appreciate your consideration…”)

But it doesn’t have to be that way. When a 30-something Leonardo da Vinci sought work in the court of the duke of Milan in the 1480s, he wrote a short, bulleted list of ten skills that would have been sure to catch the eye of any Renaissance-era ruler: he could design portable, indestructible bridges; build unassailable vehicles; destroy most fortresses; and so on. (He also could “execute sculpture in marble, bronze and clay,” and wasn’t so bad with a paintbrush, either.) His letter was brisk, convincing, and a pleasure to read.

Other fine examples of the form can be found in the cover letters of Eudora Welty and Hunter S. Thompson, among other great minds. Quartz has distilled their wisdom into a rough guide to cover-letting writing.

It’s worth noting that these letters aren’t templates—it would be pointless to copy correspondence that’s so individual. They ...