The Best Company Culture Isn’t Elusive — It Just Takes Work

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“Company culture” has received a lot of lip service over the past few years, with businesses striving to land on “Best Companies to Work For” lists and obsessively monitoring their Glassdoor reviews. As Millennials bypassed Generation X to become the largest segment of the U.S. workforce, Millennials’ valuing of company culture above everything else made creating an appealing company culture even more important.

Many companies, however, have continued to treat brand and company culture as something beyond their control, something established by “the powers that be.” What they fail to realize is that they are the powers that be — their efforts are what directly establish the very culture being created within their walls and beyond.

Developing the best company culture possible doesn’t require magic, and it isn’t something that belongs to the masses, independent of the C-suite’s mission or influence. What it takes is work and intentionality, two things any leader can invest in starting today.

Think Through Your End Goal

Raj Jana, the founder of JavaPresse Coffee Company, graduated from college and immediately began working long hours in pursuit of each promotion needed to climb the corporate ladder. Then, one of his mentors died three months prior to retirement. Realizing his mentor would never get to spend endless days woodturning, as he’d dreamed of, Jana was motivated to reverse this ladder-climbing mentality.

Rather than envision happiness as something he’d get around to “someday,” Jana founded his coffee company on the idea that happiness is an intentional choice made every single day. Inspired to help others appreciate — and stay in — the present, JavaPresse’s mission became to transform everyday coffee rituals into “extraordinary daily experiences.”

“I think, more than anything, our company vision has united our team to deliver messages, products, and designs with an air of consistency,” Jana explains. “Our core values are built around a desire to help customers stay grounded, and the energy we put out to achieve our mission returns itself 10 times with the right customers who are passionate and excited to be a part of our family.”

Mortality is a good reminder of what’s truly worthwhile, and it’s good for every leader to ask a simple question: Why should our employees spend a third of their day here versus somewhere else? Defining what makes your specific company the one that deserves people’s time and attention — whether it’s making coffee, building engines, or developing marketing campaigns — is the first step in creating a strong company culture.

Ask What Employees Want — and Need

The next step is going beyond the C-suite to consider what employees want — and need — from your company. As leaders acquire more and more resources, it can be easy to forget that employees often don’t have the money, time, or assistance leaders do. The next question they should ask: What can we do to make it possible for our employees to spend a third of their day here?

Grocery chain H-E-B was named one of Indeed’s “Best Places to Work: Culture,” and its achievement stems, in its employees’ eyes, from the brand’s ability to make every employee feel valued and receive help from people at all levels of the organization. “I love that the managers, all the way up to the store managers, are actually doing something,” one employee said. “They don’t just stand around and watch you work.”

And part of making employees feel valued meant making the work setting more flexible than in a traditional retail environment. Also named the top retail place to work by Indeed, H-E-B earned accolades from employees for offering flexibility in scheduling, generous bonuses, and employee development. The company has clearly considered what will make its employees stay for more than a season.

As every employer knows, employee needs can change with the stages of their lives as well. Affiliate marketing firm Acceleration Partners crafted a parental leave policy to ensure that its employees’ new circumstances didn’t impact their ability to contribute. The organization offers flexible re-entry for new parents in recognition of the fact that almost 75 percent of unemployed mothers would have returned to the workforce with a more flexible schedule in hand.

Find Ways to Spread the Love

The third question leaders need to ask themselves is simple but often overlooked: How can we ensure that our employees help each other while they spend a third of their day here?

One smart way companies have locked down employees who are devoted to each other’s success is through referral programs. Boutique app development company Appstem realized it needed a way to compete with bigger tech companies in San Francisco and implemented an employee referral program. The program has enabled the company to spread the word about its benefits, like a flexible work setup, and it’s helped with employee retention, too: Employees who refer friends and former colleagues are more invested in staying, and these close-knit relationships lead to more internal collaboration.

Other companies have done the opposite and cleaned house to ensure their highest-performing employees aren’t held back by those who refuse to engage in hard work. “Top performers want to work with other top performers,” explains Bill Sanders, managing director of consultancy Roebling Strauss, Inc. “Keeping low performers around directly lowers the moral[e] of everyone else, even average performers.”

Company culture is increasingly important in attracting — and keeping — the best talent, but it’s not elusive. If leaders ask themselves these three questions, they’ll create a culture that people will happily and successfully spend a third of their day in for a long time to come.

The post The Best Company Culture Isn’t Elusive — It Just Takes Work appeared first on ReadWrite.


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Quantum Physicists Conclude Necessary Makeup of Elusive Tetraquarks

Quark Quirks Called Tetraquarks

Everything in the universe is made up of atoms — except, of course, atoms themselves. They’re made up of subatomic particles, namely, protons, neutrons, and electrons. While electrons are classified as leptons, protons and neutrons are in a class of particles known as quarks. Though, “known” may be a bit misleading: there is a lot more theoretical physicists don’t know about the particles than they do with any degree of certainty.

As far as we know, quarks are the fundamental particle of the universe. You can’t break a quark down into any smaller particles. Imagining them as being uniformly minuscule is not quite accurate, however: while they are tiny, they are not all the same size. Some quarks are larger than others, and they can also join together and create mesons (1 quark + 1 antiquark) or baryons (3 quarks of various flavors).

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In terms of possible quark flavors, which are respective to their position, we’ve identified six: up, down, top, bottom, charm, and strange. As mentioned, they usually pair up either in quark-antiquark pairs or a quark threesome — so long as the charges ( ⅔, ⅔, and ⅓ ) all add up to positive 1.

The so-called tetraquark pairing has long-eluded scientists; a hadron which would require 2 quark-antiquark pairs, held together by the strong force. Now, it’s not enough for them to simply pair off and only interact with their partner. To be a true tetraquark, all four quarks would need to interact with one another; behaving as quantum swingers, if you will.

“Quarky” Swingers

It might seem like a pretty straightforward concept: throw four quarks together and they’re bound to interact, right? Well, not necessarily. And that would be assuming they’d pair off stably in the first place, which isn’t a given. As Marek Karliner of Tel Aviv University explained to LiveScience, two quarks aren’t any more likely to pair off in a stable union than two random people you throw into an apartment together. When it comes to both people and quarks, close proximity doesn’t ensure chemistry.

“The big open question had been whether such combinations would be stable,
or would they instantly disintegrate into two quark-antiquark mesons,” Karliner told Futurism. “Many years of experimental searches came up empty-handed, and no one knew for sure whether stable tetraquarks exist.”

Most discussions of tetraquarks up until recently involved those “ad-hoc” tetraquarks; the ones where four quarks were paired off, but not interacting. Finding the bona-fide quark clique has been the “holy grail” of theoretical physics for years – and we’re agonizingly close.

Recalling that quarks are not something we can actually see, it probably goes without saying that predicting the existence of such an arrangement would be incredibly hard to do. The very laws of physics dictate that it would be impossible for four quarks to come together and form a stable hadron. But two physicists found a way to simplify (as much as you can “simplify” quantum mechanics) the approach to the search for tetraquarks.

Several years ago, Karliner and his research partner, Jonathan Rosner of the University of Chicago, set out to establish the theory that if you want to know the mass and binding energy of rare hadrons, you can start by comparing them to the common hadrons you already know the measurements for. In their research they looked at charm quarks; the measurements for which are known and understood (to quantum physicists, at least).

Based on these comparisons, they proposed that a doubly-charged baryon should have a mass of 3,627 MeV, +/- 12 MeV. The next step was to convince CERN to go tetraquark-hunting, using their math as a map.

Smashing Atoms

For all the complex work it undertakes, the vast majority of which is nothing detectable by the human eye, The Large Hadron Collider is exactly what the name implies: it’s a massive particle accelerator that smashes atoms together, revealing their inner quarks. If you’re out to prove the existence of a very tiny theoretical particle, the LHC is where you want to start — though there’s no way to know how long it will be before, if ever, the particles you seek appear.

It took several years, but in the summer of 2017, the LHC detected a new baryon: one with a single up quark and two heavy charm quarks — the kind of doubly-charged baryon Karliner and Rosner were hoping for. The mass of the baryon was 3,621 MeV, give or take 1 MeV, which was extremely close to the measurement Karliner and Rosner had predicted. Prior to this observation physicists had speculated about — but never detected — more than one heavy quark in a baryon. In terms of the hunt for the tetraquark, this was an important piece of evidence: that more robust bottom quark could be just what a baryon needs to form a stable tetraquark.

The perpetual frustration of studying particles is that they don’t stay around long. These baryons, in particular, disappear faster than “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” speed; one 10/trillionth of a second, to be exact. Of course, in the world of quantum physics, that’s actually plenty of time to establish existence, thanks to the LHC.

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The great quantum qualm within the LHC, however, is one that presents a significant challenge in the search for tetraquarks: heavier particles are less likely to show up, and while this is all happening on an infinitesimal level, as far as the quantum scale is concerned, bottom quarks are behemoths.

The next question for Rosner and Karliner, then, was did it make more sense to try to build a tetraquark, rather than wait around for one to show up? You’d need to generate two bottom quarks close enough together that they’d hook up, then throw in a pair of lighter antiquarks — then do it again and again, successfully, enough times to satisfy the scientific method.

“Our paper uses the data from recently discovered double-charmed baryon to point, for the first time, that a stable tetraquark *must* exist,” Karliner told Futurism, adding that there’s “a very good chance” the LHCb at CERN would succeed in observing the phenomenon experimentally.

That, of course, is still a theoretical proposition, but should anyone undertake it, the LHC would keep on smashing in the meantime — and perhaps the combination would arise on its own. As Karliner reminded LiveScience, for years the assumption has been that tetraquarks are impossible. At the very least, they’re profoundly at odds with the Standard Model of Physics. But that assumption is certainly being challenged. “The tetraquark is a truly new form of strongly-interacting matter,” Karliner told Futurism,”in addition to ordinary baryons and mesons.”

If tetraquarks are not impossible, or even particularly improbable, thanks to the Karliner and Rosner’s calculations, at least now we have a better sense of what we’re looking for — and where it might pop up.

Where there’s smoke there’s fire, as they say, and while the mind-boggling realm of quantum mechanics may feel more like smoke and mirrors to us, theoretical physicists aren’t giving up just yet. Where there’s a 2-bottom quark, there could be tetraquarks.

The post Quantum Physicists Conclude Necessary Makeup of Elusive Tetraquarks appeared first on Futurism.


The Elusive Total Linux Convergence Dream

Regular readers know that I usually stick to the well-charted territory of essential terminal commands and practical overviews of Linux history, since they are immediately useful to newcomers. Thankfully, the basics don’t change very quickly — but that’s not to say that Linux is a stagnant ecosystem. Far from it. Although most current events in the Linux community have little direct impact on the average desktop user, one recent development that very much does is Canonical’s decision to end development of Ubuntu’s flagship Unity desktop.

Neighboring “Hidden Galaxy” Remains Elusive to Current Technology

IC 342

The IC 342, or the “Hidden Galaxy,” is a galaxy that is located near the Milky Way’s galactic disk; a cloudy, dusty region that has so far been exceedingly difficult for scientists to see. While it is (cosmically) relatively close to the Milky Way — 10 million light-years away from us — the nature of this galaxy’s location has presented researchers with many challenges. It is true that IC 342 is gloriously bright and fairly large. But between us and this galaxy are stars, a variety of gases, and billowing clouds of cosmic dust. And so, even though researchers are using technologies as advanced as the Hubble Space Telescope, it continues to be “hidden” and difficult to image and, therefore, study.

An image of the “Hidden Galaxy.” Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

It might be surprising to know that, despite the many advancements in space technology, there are still many cosmic objects that remain relatively mysterious to us because, simply, we cannot see them. One example happened just last year, as researchers finally were able to observe a particularly elusive brown dwarf. Seen as a link between planets and stars, it is essential that we understand these cosmic objects as best we can.

It was a long and arduous journey for scientists to capture a picture of Pluto that provided substantial detail or information. The Hubble Space Telescope, while a vital resource, simply was not up to the task in the same way that the New Horizons spacecraft was. Throughout our Solar System and beyond, there exist obstacles as simple as dust that have a surprisingly massive impact on our ability to observe and study the cosmos.

Future Observations

IC 342 remains relatively elusive — that is, with current technologies like probes and the Hubble Space Telescope. The conditions surrounding this galaxy are insurmountable by existing means. But this doesn’t mean that regions of the cosmos like IC 342 are visually “off-limits” forever. Set to launch in October 2018, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is poised to replace the Hubble, providing improvements that might hopefully expand our view and knowledge of the Universe that we inhabit. This telescope is said to be so powerful that it could even detect a bumblebee on the Moon. In addition to this, the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA) radio telescope is being upgraded to allow scientists to observe what the Universe was like 13 billion years ago. Researchers are even using the Sun, through gravitational lensing, to improve our telescopic abilities and further expand our cosmic observational capacity.

The Space Telescopes of Tomorrow [Infographic]
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Technologies like the JWST and the application of gravitational lensing will only continue to develop. At this moment, galaxies like IC 342 remain mysterious. While scientists can, and have, explore and analyze them through the limited information available, there is still much that is unknown. But, just as cosmic objects like the troublesome brown dwarf and Pluto have moved from relative obscurity to become the subjects of detailed portraits, parts of the Universe that are now elusive might not always be that way. Technological advances will certainly not be slowing down anytime soon and, as so many push to get humans to Mars and continue to incorporate machine learning with advancing robotics, there’s no telling what innovation and ingenuity might arise. We might learn more about the different cosmic objects that inhabit our Solar System or even further investigate the potential for existing life outside of Earth.

With the combination of JWST’s launch and other emerging telescopic advancements alongside potential future inventions, the shadowy places that exist throughout the Universe will be lit. Seeing as how the Universe is expanding and we inhabit such an infinitesimally small piece of it, there might always be parts of the cosmos that elude us. The quest for knowledge and to see what we could not see before might never have an end, but this just means that we have infinite possibilities for exploration.

The post Neighboring “Hidden Galaxy” Remains Elusive to Current Technology appeared first on Futurism.


Aston Martin’s electric sports car becomes even more elusive, thanks to cash-strapped LeEco

Aston Martin’s forthcoming electric sports car, the RapidE, will become even more exclusive than originally planned, after the departure of struggling Chinese electronics manufacturer LeEco as an investor on the project.

In an interview with Reuters, Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer confirmed that LeEco has pulled out of the electric supercar project, forcing the British carmaker to scale back production. Aston Martin will now only make 155 vehicles, which is about a third of the initial plan, and lean more heavily on Formula One engineering specialist Williams after the departure of LeEco. A spokesperson for Aston Martin said, “The collaboration with LeEco has reached a natural inflection point.”

The RapidE, a four-door…

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Apple’s Elusive Siri Speaker Has Entered Production

Here’s something to look forward to in 2017. Apple’s highly anticipated Siri-controlled speaker has finally entered overseas production, Bloomberg reports, and will be gracing nightstands and mantels by year’s end.

Apple’s smart speaker, which is being manufactured by the same Taiwanese company that builds its AirPods, will face stiff competition in Amazon’s Echo and Google Home. However, it has a couple of advantages. First and foremost, it will produce stellar sound and feature “virtual surround sound technology” that mimics the effect of a multi-speaker array. Bloomberg cites people familiar with the speaker who say that it will leverage advanced acoustics technology to produce louder and crisper sound compared to its rivals. The Siri speaker may even include “sensors that measure a room’s acoustics and automatically adjust audio levels during use”, the report states. It hasn’t been confirmed yet whether it will feature Beats technology, as alleged earlier this year by Apple leaker Sonny Dickinson.

The other major selling point is that the speaker will be deeply integrated with the HomeKit product lineup, allowing it to function as a hub to control other smart home appliances such as lights, locks, and thermostats. This will give HomeKit users a convenient, Siri-augmented way to control their smart gadgets. It will also entrench users further within Cupertino’s growing ecosystem and may encourage them to turn to Apple services like Apple Music.

In addition, Bloomberg reports that the smart speaker will likely support third party services, meaning you might be able to hail an Uber ride with it or send text messages by issuing voice commands to it. Veteran KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also indicated earlier this month that the speaker will feature integrations with iOS, Mac, and AirPlay.

The long-awaited, standalone Siri device may debut as early as June 5 during Apple’s WWDC keynote, though it will likely be a couple months before it is ready to ship.

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