Maslow’s New Model? Career, Community and Cause

By Kristen Harris

I’m always been interested in psychology and human nature–in another life I might have been a shrink. So a Harvard Business Review article about a recent Facebook study caught my eye. 

Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? It lays out five levels of human needs, making the case that each level must be met before you’ll care about the next level. The folks at Facebook didn’t feel the model fit today’s information age workforce, and wondered what a modern version might look like.

Facebook has data...a LOT of data. So they went to work analyzing recent internal workforce surveys and discovered three key buckets of motivation: career, community, and cause. 

Rather than a pyramid, I think of it as a three-legged stool. We need all three to feel stable and supported. 


1. Career is more than just having a job. It means having to work with autonomy, the ability to utilize strengths, and the opportunity for learning and development.

2. Community is about having a connection with people. It’s feeling respected, cared about, and recognized by others.

3. Cause means having a purpose greater than yourself. It’s identifying with the mission, believing you’re doing good in the world and having an impact. 

While Maslow’s Hierarchy may have worked for the manufacturing economy, today we’re in the information age. Companies who understand these three key motivations are able to better meet the needs of their people. 

A few examples of how we help fulfill these needs at Portfolio Creative:

  • Career: We help creative people find new opportunities, utilize their skills and talents, learn through their work, and develop their career. Creative work is outcome-based so there may be autonomy in how, when and where it is done. Technology makes it easier to work anywhere, anytime, and to learn anything you can imagine.
  • Community: We’re all for autonomy, but we also value human connection. We meet our clients and talent, and connect in-person, online or via phone to keep building a real relationship. We listen and truly care about everyone we work with. Technology lets us build community online and in-person, locally and with people across the globe.
  • Cause: We believe that what we do and how we do it really matters. Our work helps people, companies, the local economy and our creative community succeed. We love seeing the impact we’re making and our mission gets us going every single day. 

What would Maslow think about our new hierarchy? I think he’d like it. When the basic needs of food, water, shelter, and safety are covered, we can focus on the higher needs of love and belonging, esteem and self-actualization. We just keep moving up the pyramid.


The 3 Things Employees Really Want: Career, Community, Cause

By: Lori Goler, Janelle Gale, Brynn Harrington, and Adam Grant for the Harvard Business Review 

Strike up a conversation about work values, and it won’t be long before someone brings up a pyramid — a famous psychologist’s best-known theory. Abraham Maslow’s big idea was that we all have a hierarchy of needs: once our basic physiological and safety needs are fulfilled, we seek love and belongingness, then self-esteem and prestige, and finally self-actualization. But that pyramid was built more than half a century ago, and psychologists have recently concluded that it’s in need of renovation.

When you review the evidence from the past few decades of social science, it’s hard to argue with Maslow’s starting point. If your basic needs aren’t met, it’s hard to focus on anything else. If you have a job that doesn’t pay enough, and you’re up all night worrying about survival, chances are you won’t spend much time dwelling on self-actualization.

But Maslow built his pyramid at the dawn of the human relations movement when so many workplaces in the manufacturing economy didn’t have basic physiological and safety needs covered. Today more companies are operating in knowledge and service economies. They’re not just fulfilling basic needs; they’re aiming to fulfill every need, providing conveniences like meals and gyms, and competing to be the best places to work (from 1984 through 2011, those that won outperformed their peers on stock returns by 2.3% to 3.8% per year). In those environments, survival isn’t in question.

And once you get past that layer of the pyramid, the rest of it falls apart. People don’t need to be loved before they strive for prestige and achievement. And they don’t wait for those needs to be fulfilled before pursuing personal growth and self-expression.

If Maslow were designing his pyramid from scratch today to explain what motivates people at work, beyond the basics, what would it look like? That’s a question we set out to answer at Facebook, in collaboration with our people analytics team.

We survey our workforce twice a year, asking what employees value most. After examining hundreds of thousands of answers over and over again, we identified three big buckets of motivators: career, community, and cause.

Career is about work: having a job that provides autonomy, allows you to use your strengths, and promotes your learning and development. It’s at the heart of intrinsic motivation.

Community is about people: feeling respected, cared about, and recognized by others. It drives our sense of connection and belongingness.

Cause is about purpose: feeling that you make a meaningful impact, identifying with the organization’s mission, and believing that it does some good in the world. It’s a source of pride.

These three buckets make up what’s called the psychological contract — the unwritten expectations and obligations between employees and employers. When that contract is fulfilled, people bring their whole selves to work. But when it’s breached, people become less satisfied and committed. They contribute less. They perform worse.

In the past, organizations built entire cultures around just one aspect of the psychological contract. You could recruit, motivate, and retain people by promising a great career or a close-knit community or a meaningful cause. But we’ve found that many people want more. In our most recent survey, more than a quarter of Facebook employees rated all three buckets as important. They wanted a career and a community and a cause. And 90% of our people had a tie in importance between at least two of the three buckets.

Wondering whether certain motivators would jump out for particular people or places, we broke the data down by categories. We started with age.

There’s a lot of talk about how different Millennials are from everyone else, but we found that priorities were strikingly similar across age groups.


Contrary to the belief that Millennials are more concerned with meaning and purpose, we found that younger people cared slightly less about cause — and slightly more about career — than older people. In fact, people ages 55 and above are the onlygroup at Facebook who care significantly more about cause than about career and community. This tracks with evidence that around mid-life, people become more concerned about contributing to society and less focused on individual career enhancement.

But overall, the differences between age groups were tiny. And that’s not just true at Facebook. In a nationally representative study of Americans across generations, Millennials, Baby Boomers, and Gen Xers had the same core work values — and tended to rank them in the same order of importance. As we’ve said before, Millennials want essentially the same things as the rest of us.

We also didn’t see any major differences by level, or by performance reviews: people valued these three motivators whether they were exceeding, meeting, or falling short of expectations. And when we compared office locations, it was clear that career, community, and cause were all prized around the globe.


Finally, we turned to function. “If it weren’t for the people,” Kurt Vonnegut once wrote, “the world would be an engineer’s paradise.” Survey says: false. Our engineers care a lot about community, giving it an average rating of 4.18 on a 1-5 scale. And just as we saw with age and location, across functions people rated career, community, and cause as similarly important.


“To know what one really wants,” Maslow argued, “is a considerable psychological achievement.” Our data suggest that people are very clear on what they want at work — and they fundamentally want the same things. When it comes to an ideal job, most of us are looking for a career, a community, and a cause. These are important motivators whether you’re 20 or 60, working in engineering or sales, in Luleå or São Paulo or Singapore or Detroit. We’re all hoping to find a what, a who, and a why.

A Day in the Life: Q+A with Melissa Jackson

In the latest installment of our Columbus Creatives: A Day in the Life series, we talk with Melissa Jackson, designer by day and a teacher by night who enjoys spending time with her family and going to CSCA events! 


Hi ya! I am Melissa Jackson, I design at Root Insurance by day and teach at Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) by night.

Originally from a small town near Cleveland, I moved to Columbus in the late 90's. After spending many years downtown in a fantastic loft, my husband Joel and I packed up and now live in a mid-century ranch in Upper Arlington. Our family grew to five with the addition of our kids Tilly (6), Duke (2) and pup Kiley.


My mornings always start with coffee and podcasts, usually Up First from NPR. Then I walk my daughter to school and head downtown to the Root office. Breakfast is usually on the go from my house, but worst case the office is always stocked with bagels! On my way into the office from the parking garage, I can be found on my phone playing Pokémon Go or Animal Crossing Pocket Camp. Then more coffee as soon as I get to my desk!


Afternoons at Root start with a catered lunch on the first floor of the office. Then it is time for our creative showdowns where we share our work with the entire creative team. We share feedback and then get back to work making kick-ass work. I will usually throw on a podcast like My Brother, My Brother and Me or Reply All.



My evenings are family time, we keep our kids busy with activities like Girl Scouts, crafts, gymnastics and playing dinos. If we go out to eat Northstar Cafe, Tai's Asian Bistro or Hound Dog's are top of the list.

Two evenings out of the week I teach a course to Ad/Graph students at CCAD. The class is all about networking, preparing portfolios and taking the students to industry related events. One of my favorite nights is when we go to the Columbus Society of Communication Arts (CSCA) events. As a past president and current board member, I love sharing CSCA with the students. I gain so much inspiration from my students, local events, and my design peers. I am ridiculously lucky!

Follow Melissa! 

Instagram | Behance | LinkedIn  


A Day in the Life: Q+A with Emma Deane

In the latest installment of our Columbus Creatives: A Day in the Life series, we talk with Emma Deane, a Copywriter at Abbott Nutrition.


My name is Emma Deane and I live in Grandview with my husband, Stephen, and our hound dog, Billie — who we rescued from Pets Without Parents in Clintonville. Stephen — who is Payroll Manager at Nationwide — and I are newly married and approaching our one-year anniversary on April 22, 2018. 

I grew up in Lisbon, Ohio and moved to Columbus in 2008 to attend The Ohio State University. I graduated from OSU in 2012 with a bachelor’s in Strategic Communication. I started my career with Nationwide and then moved on to OhioHealth and Cement Marketing before landing on my current role with Abbott in February 2016. A copywriter, I work on the Pedialyte brand writing for social media, website, digital ads and campaign ideation. Social media being my favorite. (We recently won a Silver in the Direct Marketing, 3D/Mixed – Single Unit category at last week’s Addys.) 

I visited Europe for the first time this past November. With my best friend, we hit Glasgow, Edinburgh, Paris, and London in 8 days. Edinburgh and Paris were my favorites!


My mornings consist of me smashing the snooze button — not really a morning person. My commute to work is fueled by whatever music I’m feeling at the time — currently Khalid, Post Malone, and Lorde, in preparation for her concert on March 31 — or podcasts (My Favorite Murder and Lore).



My afternoons change week to week but mainly consist of writing assignments or meetings. My office consists of community music, a “Stranger Things alphabet” wall and a windowsill full of plants. 


My evenings change week to week as well. I typically come home to cook dinner for my husband and I. Cooking is one of my biggest passions — I’ve been cooking since I was 12 and find it to be a great stress reliever and creative outlet. 

I generally grab drinks throughout the week with friends or coworkers. My favorite watering holes are St. James Tavern, Oddfellow’s and Meisters. I’m a big fan of local craft beer, namely CBC IPA, Land Grant Stiff Arm, Seventh Son Humulus Nimbus and Great Lakes Burning River.

In the summers I play sand volleyball at Woodlands Backyard one to two times a week. I’m a big sports fan, all Ohio teams: Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Indians, Ohio State Buckeyes and Columbus Crew. Other hobbies include reading or catching flicks at Grandview Theater. The best thing I’ve seen recently is Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

I’m not an official member of any local groups, etc., but I’m a big proponent for women’s rights locally and nationally. Empowering women and educating men in this regard is very important to me. 

Any other time is spent working on freelance projects. 

A Day in the Life: Q+A with Lindsey Billingsley


In the latest installment of our Columbus Creatives: A Day in the Life series, we talk with Lindsey Billingsley, a Senior Digital Designer at DSW. She loves staying active whether it's rock climbing, running or playing ultimate frisbee! 

Hello! I’m Lindsey Billingsley and I’m currently a Senior Digital Designer at DSW but have worked at various agencies in the past. I live in Grandview, but I’m hoping to buy a house in Clintonville in the next year or so.


I’m a big advocator for breakfast! I make sure to eat a solid breakfast every morning, usually including some homemade bread. On the weekends I love to venture to Knotty Pine for breakfast, but Big Mama’s breakfast burritos are my heart and soul. I can’t focus if I’m hungry so breakfast is a must. I’m the resident coffee hater in my office but I still love caffeine. Once I’m in the office I always crack open a Diet Coke before starting to sift through the unavoidable bulk of emails. Once I’m through those I always make a to-do list for the day (I love having a do-list). 



I generally try to pack my lunch but sometimes I’ll grab a Mediterranean chicken wrap from my office cafeteria. I like to pack lunches with lots of protein and healthy fats to keep me full longer. I usually hit my stride in the afternoon and can accomplish a lot right after lunch.  



Evenings are different every night for me. I’m involved in a lot of sports and every night I can be found either playing ultimate frisbee (my first love), soccer, running, rock climbing at Vertical Adventures or working out at OrangeTheory Fitness. I love spending my free time designing jersey’s for my teams and helping Columbus Ultimate Disc Association organize their leagues as their Social Media Coordinator. I usually have at least once freelance project going on and sometimes even paint pet portraits on the side. I try to make dinners too but I more often have dinner out with friends. I’m addicted to Bibibop, Big Mama’s Burritos, and Yats. Eventually, I crawl into bed to dream until I do it all over again! 

The 5 Stages of Grief When Losing a Job

By Catherine Lang-Cline

At one time or another, everyone has the unfortunate opportunity of dealing with the 5 stages of grief. Typically this is connected to death, but it can really be applied to just about all kinds of loss. That includes the loss of a job. These are the 5 stages of grief applied to losing a job and how you can get past each one and get back on track with your career. I know all of these to be true because they have happened to me.

Denial - You have just left your boss’s office or the HR Director’s office and you absolutely cannot believe what just happened. You are stunned. You can’t comprehend that you are now standing at your desk and putting all of your office possessions in a box. You are asking yourself “why did I bring to much to work?” You are packing photos with the disbelief that you will have to tell these people you don’t have a job. “What just happened again? I didn’t just get asked to leave. This must be some mistake.” This is no mistake and you did just get fired. Regardless of how this has been decided, you are no longer employed here and you need to get out and get out fast. Your reputation is on the line and your dignity will quickly expire before you move on to...

Anger - Now you are in the parking lot. Denial may still be lingering but anger is quickly approaching because you gave 100% of yourself to this company! “I worked long hours! I gave up time with friends or family! How DARE THEY do this to me?!!” Thing is people get laid off all...of...the...time. It can be for just about any reason. It could be performance, trimming down of staff, resizing, and about 100 other reasons, but it happens. This time, it was your number that was drawn. Give yourself a moment or two to be angry but I will tell you that anger is not going to help you. Anger can turn into a prison. Don’t let this get to you because the longer you are angry they longer they have control of you. Don’t give them that! You stay in control by keeping cool. Still angry? Take a run, workout, go talk to someone that really cares about you to help sort out your thoughts. Want to bad-mouth your former employer? Trust me, you only look bad doing it. 

Bargaining - The last thing you want to do is call your former employer and try to strike up a bargain of some kind. “Hey, I am sure that was a mistake or if you bring me back I’ll do better. I’ll work for less!” Don’t be that person. If the situation has come to a point where HR has been called, paperwork has been filled out, and you have been asked to clean out your desk, chances are that this has been in the works for a while and there is no going back. Fun fact, keep moving forward and you won’t want to go back.

Depression - It is very normal to get a little depressed about this situation. For now, your identity seems to have been stripped, you have to file for unemployment, and let’s face it, that was a bit humiliating. Again remember that everyone has experienced this once in their lives. If this is your first time. Yeah, it hurts. If you have never been let go, you are either lucky or your turn is still coming. Give yourself the chance to feel a little depressed by this. Just a little. It is your right, but don’t let it consume you. If you find yourself binge-watching shows for more than 3 days in a row fine, but day 4 put on some real pants and get off the couch and get to….

Acceptance - This may take a day, a week, or a month. That time frame can probably be linked to how long that you have been at a company. Regardless of the time it takes, welcome to Acceptance, you made it. You can now plot your comeback! If you find that the road to get here was a challenge, let me clue you in on some shortcuts. 

  1. Really understand that people get fired every day.

  2. Understand that the company you left was probably not the best job for you and it was not the only job in the world.

  3. Take everything that you learned from that former company and update your resume, your LinkedIn and really plan your next role. Stay busy and get a plan together. At least for a while, your job is to get a job.

  4. When updating everything, really re-evaluate your skill set, your job title, everything based on everything you learned at your former employer. Where can you take those skills now? Who would pay you more for this? You might just be giving yourself a big promotion soon!

  5. Get out and get back with people in your industry. Connect with all of the people that understand your expertise. Connect with a recruiter. Ask everyone if they know who is hiring. Let them give you a little pep-talk as to how awesome you really are. People really do love to help. You don’t have to get into the circumstances just say, “Things changed at “X Company” and I am no longer there. I am seeing this as an opportunity to advance so if you hear of anything...”

Like I said, 3 days on the couch but then get back out there and get plugged back in. The most successful people have been fired or face-planted or failed at least once. Almost always when a person gets “kicked out of the nest” it was for their own good and it forced them to fly. Accept this “new and improved you” and soar.

Will New Tax Laws Mean More Independent Contractors? It Depends.

By Kristen Harris

Recent changes to US tax law have started a whole new round of conversation about independent contractors. The line of thought is that some of the provisions will cause many more people to leave their jobs and work independently. Is that true? Maybe. Like most things, it depends. 

First of all, let’s be totally clear...I am not an attorney, accountant, or tax law expert of any sort. This is purely my opinion and reaction to recent conversations and articles.

Now, back to the topic. Will these changes to the tax law create a whole new wave of independent contractors? While some provisions may seem to encourage it this trend is already happening, and I believe it will continue with or without government involvement.

When the Affordable Care Act was first proposed there was a similar level of conversation about how it would push many more people into being independent contractors. The theory was, if people had access to healthcare on their own, they would be much more likely to work for themselves instead of an employer.

The conversation around these tax changes is similar. One provision allows sole proprietors (in most industries) to deduct 20 percent of annual revenue from their taxable income. Some people believe these tax savings will entice employees to go out on their own. 

And, for some people, it might. For a certain person saving on taxes could be the tipping point, the last little thing that encourages them to start something on their own instead of being an employee. But, just like the ACA healthcare issue, I believe that someone who makes that choice was already considering it anyway. 

Rather than forcing people to become independent contractors, these tax law changes are just removing one more barrier that may have prevented someone from making that choice. I don’t believe it’s suddenly creating a flood of people starting their own independent businesses who never considered that option before. Starting and building a business is hard, it has to be something you actually want to do. And there are still other tax considerations, like tracking expenses and being responsible for both the employer and employee portion of the federal payroll tax. 

There has been a consistent shift to people working independently for years and that trend is likely to continue. Three key factors are driving this shift–employer choice, employee preference, and access to information–and they’re not going away.

Companies are evolving the way they build their workforce, and most use some percentage of non-employees (independent contractors, contract workers, SOW firms, etc) allowing them the flexibility to manage work in the way that is best for their business. On the other side, some people prefer to work independently for a variety of reasons–the ability to work on a variety of projects, flexibility in schedule and location, work/life balance, family considerations, or the ability to build a lasting business–just to name a few. The catalyst that has helped bring the employer and employee sides together is access to information. Many people can work anywhere, anytime.

Even jobs that involve some level of physical work or presence may have the ability to be independent due to information access (ride-share drivers, for example).

So, while the changes in tax law may make it easier or slightly more attractive to be an independent contractor, might encourage someone to go ahead and take that leap, I believe the trend towards more independent work will continue with or without government involvement. The more access we have to information, the more possible it is to have and be an independent worker. My two cents (earned independently).

Personalizing Hiring Processes

By Brad Middleton

If you've searched for a job in the past decade you know the drill. You hop online, do some keyword searches on a number of websites, and start applying for roles you find attractive. Next comes the part that the job seeker really loves - waiting. I like to call it proactive waiting. Each day that goes by includes refreshing your email (to make sure you don’t miss a note from one of the lucky companies with which you shared your information.) You check your phone repeatedly (just you don’t miss an important call.) You start to stalk people at the companies that you think could be involved in choosing your resume. And you think of all of the reasons why they should call you - and why they potentially are not.

Doesn’t seem like the best use of time or energy, does it? When you look at this scenario, at least from the perspective of someone who deals with the hiring process daily, it is not ideal. It's far from personalized and is the complete opposite of what we would experience as a customer of these companies. There is one big difference though. Companies want to attract as many potential customers as possible. Companies want to attract the one perfect candidate for that specific job at that specific time. But what happens to everyone else? What do today’s job seekers feel about how companies are treating everyone but the perfect fit?

The American Staffing Association conducted a Workforce Monitor survey of more than 2,100 Adult job seekers using the Harris Poll online. According to their research, 69% believe the job search today is too impersonal while 8 in 10 candidates say that applying for a job feels like sending their resumes and applications into a black hole.  

If you have looked for a job recently this probably is not a surprise. It also would not surprise you to know that 83% of people polled think the very technology that is limiting the personalization is also making finding a job easier. I would agree that the access to finding openings with technology is easier but not necessarily landing an interview or the job.

Companies are taking steps to improve the personal nature of their hiring. A lot of this is going to be done digitally.  The companies that have adopted the “Candidates are Customers” approach are ahead of the game. Taking the time to reach out either via highly-customized automated messages or by phone will be half the battle. But candidates can also help improve this issue.

Unfortunately, the sheer number of people applying for roles makes it very difficult to personally respond to each and every applicant.  These personalized, automated tools help some, but someone needs to manage the who and when with these tools. Getting a nice rejection email from a company you applied to 6 months ago does more harm than good. My advice is to be very selective in what you apply to. The days of attracting a potential employer by your aptitude and “quick learner” persona are gone. If you are not at least 80% of a fit to their requirements you probably shouldn’t apply.  That shouldn’t stop you from inquiring about the role in other ways (networking, LinkedIn) but the very system you are using to apply is built to disqualify you. Unfortunately, if you are not remotely close to what the company is looking for you are not considered a true candidate and probably will get nothing but the above-mentioned rejection note.

How does all of this improve? Setting candidate expectations right at the beginning can help. Telling folks that they will only hear back if they fit a certain amount of the requirements is a start. A timely, personalized response via email is even better.  The area that companies can really improve their personalized approach is after the candidate has human contact. If a candidate takes the time to talk live with a company’s recruiter or hiring manager it is basic common courtesy to inform the candidate that they are not moving forward and why. This is a huge area of concern and we as recruiting professionals need to do better. 

A Day in the Life: Q+A with Shane McCleery


In the latest installment of our Columbus Creatives: A Day in the Life series, we talk with Shane McCleery, a Senior UX Consultant at Cardinal Solutions. When he's not in front of a computer, Shane enjoys playing video games and spending time with his girlfriend, and his dog, Typo! 

Hey there, Shane here. I’m a multidisciplinary designer in Columbus, Ohio. Fancy word meaning if it has needed to be designed I’ve done it.

I’m a Senior UX Consultant at Cardinal Solutions. I’m a loving dog Dad, retired line cook, and caring future husband, Husker in the land of Buckeyes (GO BIG RED), awesome uncle, favorite son, avid gamer (both tabletop and console). I think it helps in the problem-solving situations UX is constantly being put up against. I’m currently living in Minerva Park, but have jumped around town, everywhere from New Albany, to South Clintonville, to Old East.


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A typical morning for me is fighting the urge to go back to sleep because I have the comfiest heating source of a dog that needs to be cuddled at all time, Typo the bullypit. After I grab a cuppa coffee and take out the little brindle boy, it's checking the calendar, browsing dribbble, designer news and other inspirational sites to get me psyched for the day while listening to whatever new All Girl Korean Math Rock exists, cranked to 11. If I have time, I’ll be making some ‘Toads in a Basket’ for me and the pre-wife, but that’s usually reserved for the weekend.


After a filling lunch from Chipotle or anything that North Market has to offer, it’s time for some self-reflection. I always like to take 20 or so minutes out of the day, away from screens and do some personal thinking about how the day/week/month/year is going and if I believe I am happy with what I am doing, and if not, what I can do to change that. I should probably pay more attention to these thoughts, but it’s more of a free thought writing exercise, but without the pen and paper, and more of mental gymnastics.After attending to matters at hand and trying to meet deadlines and a couple meetings later, it’s time that I lay the hammer down on some colleagues with a game or two of Mario Kart. In the immortal words of Mario’s best rival “IMA WARIO, IMA GONNA WIN”

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Driving home, listening to 99% Invisible or Your Mom’s House podcasts, all I can think about it how happy Typo, my dog, will be to see me. Nothing beats the feeling of a companion who is always happy to see you no matter what.

I’ll feed Typo and then he usually brings me his after-dinner toy, affectionately referred to as “The Pickle” which I stuff with peanut butter and treats while we wind down and I put on the comfies (shorts and a hoodie.) After catching up with the love of my life, Bekah, and binging whatever shows we need to catch up on-- Last Man on Earth, Parks and Rec (for the 7000th time), Game of Thrones, Westworld just to name a few.

You’ll always be able to catch me on Xbox Live wrecking scrubs on Overwatch, killing massive beasts on Monster Hunter World, or flying off the ceiling in a ballistic missile on wheels trying to pull off impossible trick shots and being salty while spamming What a save! On Rocket League.

When it’s time for bed, we put on the best show ever made, Star Trek Next Gen and drift off to sleep to the voice of the most perfect human in the world Cpt. Jean-Luc Picard. As I think about the next days to come, I keep Picard as a mantle of positivity and as my moral compass, and when I need to get something done, I’ll always finish a thought that needs action with a quick fix of my shirt, a point of a finger and an exclamation of “Engage!”

Viva Nica! The Power of Peer Groups and Getting Away

By Kristen Harris

My entrepreneur peer group took a trip to Nicaragua last week.

This one sentence and trip touch on three things I believe to be important in my life: time away (a trip), new experiences (to Nicaragua) and finding a tribe (my peer group).

Time Away

Today information is always available in the cloud and on our devices. We have the ability to work 24/7/365, but should we? I say no, and there’s evidence to back me up.

Over the past few years, there have been several studies and articles in publications like Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and Inc Magazine touting the benefits of taking time away from work. Stepping away from work, taking a break, and going on vacation all have been shown to improve both the quality and quantity of work done when we are back.

Taking time out of the office allows me to gain clarity, changes my perspective, helps me see the bigger picture, and leaves me refreshed mentally and physically. Taking a trip is great, but I also try to enjoy the weekends, take a short walk during the day and step away from my desk for a few minutes during the workday. Even small breaks can have a big impact.

New Experiences

A lot of the work we do today is not physical labor, it’s mental labor. We have to figure out issues, solve problems, build relationships, research information and develop new concepts, then we might physically build something (or not). There is a lot of thinking done every day where we’re drawing upon prior knowledge and experiences.

Having a broader range of experiences gives me a deeper well to draw from. New experiences add more data, ideas, visuals, thoughts, and perspectives to my mental database.

New experiences also allow me to get out of my “bubble”. When I do the same things, talk to the same people and go the same places, my ideas tend to stay the same as well. When I do something new my potential ideas and solutions are expanded as well. In Nicaragua, I surfed (not well) and saw an awe-inspiring active volcano, two completely new experiences.

Finding a Tribe

While it’s good to expand horizons it’s also important to find your peer group, your tribe.

Humans are social and tribal. We connect with others where we have something in common and seek support from those who understand us. This can be done formally or informally through family, business groups, social clubs, neighbors and special interest organizations.

Like most people, I have different tribes related to different parts of my job and life. I’m a member of formal peer groups, like the one that took this trip, and informal groups that share a common connection, like all the dog-owners who live on my street.

These groups allow me to share issues and challenges with people who understand what I’m going through. They may have had the same experience, can share an idea or solution for me, or just be supportive as I figure it out. And, because we usually share one interest but are different in other ways, I find that I often become friends with people I would never have met otherwise.

Together all three of these things–time away, new experiences and finding a tribe–help to expand my perspective and enhance my work. Who knows what new idea that active volcano might inspire!