Are High School Pranks Really Getting Out of Hand?

Seniors at Anderson High School in Indiana in May covered an entrance with Post-it Notes, imitating a prank at Cascade High School in Clayton, Ind.

Full disclosure:  I participated in a number of pranks when I was in high school, usually involving toilet-papering trees.   My friends also released the chickens from the Ag building into the main building on the last day of school (somehow I missed out on helping out with that one).   I even egged the house of the girl I had a crush on (she’s now my wife).  My uncle-in-law told me that at East Grand Rapids High School in the ’70s, the seniors took all of the chairs (and maybe desks) from several classrooms and placed them on the roof of the building, and in another year, stationed themselves at key points on the way to several schools telling parents and kids that school had been cancelled that day.

I’m all for requiring students to make amends, financially or physically, for any damage they might cause, but I don’t think disallowing students from taking their exams is appropriate, as reported in today’s Wall Street Journal.

What kinds of pranks, if any, did you pull while in high school?

Are such pranks getting worse in your area?

What is appropriate discipline for students who do them?


How to Keep Your Contact Information Current on LinkedIn

I’m a huge fan of, as it allows me to easily keep current on my network as well as easily update my own profile information and activities on behalf of my clients and audiences.  Recently, someone in my network contacted me and asked me whether I was still affiliated with an old institution.  I was puzzled because there was nothing in my profile to indicate that.  Nevertheless, he still had an old email address affiliated with that institution as my secondary email address.  I went back to my profile and still couldn’t find it.

Well, it turns out it was because my network contact had kept the old email address in his own LinkedIn personal records, which I couldn’t see and of course couldn’t update.  LinkedIn’s wonderful support people quickly identified the problem and helped me resolve it.


Thanks, LinkedIn and thanks, Sean!


Member Comment: Aneil Mishra 05/21/2012 16:04

A connection of mine noted that I have a secondary email address that is no longer valid when he viewed me in his list of connections. I am unable to determine how to delete that email address, which is:__________

Can you please help me delete this?

Thanks very much.

Aneil Mishra

Hi Aneil,

Thanks for contacting me about this, and I apologize for any confusion regarding your old email address.

That email address is not associated with your profile. What your connection is seeing is their own records for contacting you. Either they imported that email address for you, or you used to have it on your profile. The only way it can be removed on their end is they would have to edit that information themselves.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions or concerns, Aneil.

Thanks for using LinkedIn since 2005, and I hope you have an excellent day!

LinkedIn Customer Service

Can the Economy Recover Without More Trust

Richard Leader, CFA, writing in the Houston Chronicle, had this to say about the trust and the economy:

Central to financial markets around the world is the issue of trust.  Trust enables people to do business with each other.  Lack of trust causes economic stagnation.  Lots of different things have contributed to this mess we find today.  Governments have promised benefits that they can’t deliver.  Corporations flush with cash are offering few new jobs.  Worker compensation is stagnant even as productivity has soared.  Add to this the repercussions of the dot com implosion of 2000, the housing collapse of 2008, and the sub-prime mortgage market treachery and it’s not surprising that people are unusually cynical.

Top economists say that trust is necessary for an economy to grow.  It’s the oil of the engine of capitalism.  Without trust, the engine seizes up.  Distrust is arguably the primary reason this economic crisis won’t go away.  The world economy is stuck in first gear.  While people generally want to be trustful, many institutions have not acted in a trustworthy manner.  Financial institutions, in particular, have done a very poor job of honest dealings with their customers.  The recent housing collapse looks like a replay of the 1930s, a time when Americans completely lost faith in bankers.

We couldn’t agree more with Mr. Leader.  Without greater trust in our institutions, particularly the institutions of business and government. we don’t our economy will grow fast enough to reemploy all those who lost their jobs in the Great Recession, as well improve the financial picture for the vast majority of working Americans.


When Someone Helps You Look Better On LinkedIn (or Anywhere Else), Say ‘Thank-You’

I’ve given plenty of unpaid help to people looking to improve their professional communications over the years, mostly to my students looking for feedback on their resumes, but also to friends and colleagues who wanted to improve their resumes, cover letters, academic manuscripts, and other important written communications.  I’ve received such help myself as well from many people over the years, and I’ve always been grateful for it.  All I’ve expected for my help is a simple “thank-you,” either oral or written, and most of the time, I have received such thanks.

That is why I get so irked when people don’t express any gratitude, and the more help I’ve given without any thanks, the more irritated I become.  Earlier this year, I spent over an hour helping an MBA student in his job search over coffee, and then introduced the person to several people in my various networks so that the person could request informational interviews and advice about his job search.  I did this as a favor to a good friend, as I had never taught the MBA student and indeed he attended a university with which I wasn’t affiliated.  I never once received any thanks from the student, and recently learned that the person had received a permanent job offer.  I’m glad he got the offer, but I would have also appreciated learning this from the person himself rather than from someone else (who also had provided help to the student and who also had never been thanked as it turns out).

Then today, I learned that someone had viewed my profile on LinkedIn.  Curious person that I am, I checked out this person’s profile to guess as to why they might have wanted to learn more about me.  In reading the person’s profile, I noticed a grammatical mistake.  She had written “works good under immense pressure” when she should have written “works well under immense pressure.”  (Obviously, she doesn’t write well under pressure, even though she has a bachelor’s degree in “mass communication/media studies,” but I digress.)  I thought she’d want to know this, and so I sent her and InMail message on LinkedIn letting her about the mistake.

Several hours later, I was back on LinkedIn, and received a notice saying another person had checked out my profile, and so I went to see who it was.  It turns out it was the same person.  Again, being curious, I decided to see if she had fixed her profile.  Well, indeed she had, but she never bothered to thank me for letting her know about her mistake.

I’m certainly not going to let these two people keep me from helping others in the future.   Their lack of gratitude, however, means that I’ll probably first consider consider whether a person is the type to “pay it forward” to others in the future before I take the time to provide help, solicited or unsolicited.


Words With Friends Hooks People Together in More Ways Than One

Karen is a lifelong Scrabble fanatic, and so when our kids introduced her to Words with Friends on her iPhone, she was of course immediately hooked.   So are a lot of other people, 20 million in fact according to today’s Wall Street Journal:

Last summer, Kyla Smith spelled S-E-X-Y in Words With Friends, an online Scrabble-like app on her phone. It won her more than just 13 points—it won her love.


Donna Neveux
Stephen Monahan met Britney Hilbun by clicking ‘random opponent’ last year.

Eventually her opponent, Charles Briggs, became her boyfriend. Up to that point, the two hadn’t met in person. She lived in Texas, he lived in Arkansas. They met through the “random opponent” feature of Words With Friends, which matches up anonymous players.

The game is played by nearly 20 million people a month on Facebook, and countless more on smartphones. Players take turns moving letter tiles on a virtual board, trying to rack up points by spelling out words.

I’ve recently started playing, too.  My favorite Words with Friends partner is of course my wife. of 27 years.  H-A-P-P-Y   V-A-L-E-N-T-I-N-E-S   D-A-Y,   Karen!

Gisele Bündchen Really Loves Tom Brady, and That’s Great

There’s a great essay in today’s Wall Street Journal Jason Gay about Gisele’s defense of her husband Tom Brady after the New England Patriots’ loss in this year’s Super Bowl.

The last thing I thought was this: Wow, Gisele Bündchen really loves Tom Brady. She loves him in the irrational way that people who are in love love each other. She loves him blind.

This is a comforting, uncynical thing. Maybe you’re married, maybe not—maybe you were married once—but one of the things you want in a union is that kind of unconditional, unrestrained, forget-everyone-else support. Everybody should be lucky to have a fierce advocate in their corner, and you should be a fierce advocate in their corner too. Leave the measured consideration and the caveats to the friends and the shrinks. You want your spouse to tell you it’s going to be OK. To defend you when nobody else will.

Even when it’s wrong. Even when it sounds like lashing out. Even when it’s the absolute incorrect thing to say. Because they’ve got your back. Because you’ve got theirs. Because that’s love.

I’m not saying she was right, I’m not saying she shouldn’t regret it. But the supermodel loves the quarterback.

The fairy tale is actually a fairy tale. It’s so unfair, but it’s also pretty sweet.

Right on!  My wife Karen is exactly the same as Gisele:  she’s always got my back, defends me against my critics, and is beyond beautiful.  I. Am. Blessed.


Some Hybrid Vehicle Owners Are Dissatisfied with Their Fuel Economy, Including Me

I’ve owned a 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid for more than five years now, and we’ve leased a 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid since the summer of 2008, so we’ve got lots of driving experience with them.  As enthusiastic as I am about finding ways to save gasoline and money, and have our country import less foreign oil, I have to say I’ve been disappointed with our experience with these two vehicles.  The Civic Hybrid has not lived up to its claims about 40+ mpg, and although the Camry Hybrid has done so, its lackluster handling and other driving aspects means we won’t be leasing another one.  Other Civic Hybrid owners agree, in today’s Greensboro, NC News & Observer article in which we are interviewed:

When they bought their hybrid Honda Civics back in 2006, Aneil K. Mishra and Jeffrey A. Wald expected to save a lot of money on gasoline. And both men hoped that, by their examples, they would encourage more North Carolinians to buy fuel-thrifty hybrid cars.

“I felt like, as an early adopter, I was supporting the market for more energy-efficient vehicles,” Wald, 45, of Cary, said Monday.

“I wanted to be on the cutting edge,” said Mishra, 49, of Durham.

Mishra’s family also has a hybrid Toyota Camry, which has delivered better fuel economy than the Civic but is not much fun to drive, he said. If the Civic was delivering mid-40s mpg, he said, he’d consider buying another one.

Instead, he plans to sign up for the class-action settlement against Honda and wait for his $100 check. He’s checking out plans in Detroit for new clean-diesel cars.

“The hybrids just aren’t attractive to us right now,” Mishra said.


Stephen Colbert’s Amazing Multiple Personalities

There’s a great profile of Stephen Colbert in the New York Times Magazine.  Here’s one excerpt:

From his mother, “She taught me to be grateful for my life regardless of what that entailed, and that’s directly related to the image of Christ on the cross and the example of sacrifice that he gave us. What she taught me is that the deliverance God offers you from pain is not no pain — it’s that the pain is actually a gift. What’s the option? God doesn’t really give you another choice.”


More Facebook Friends Than Real Ones? Facebook Support Equals 50% of Marital Support?

How many friends do you really have, and where are these friends?  This recent article by Ned Potter of ABC News indicated some trends and research findings that I find disturbing:

We may “friend” more people on Facebook, but we have fewer real friends— the kind who would help us out in tough times, listen sympathetically no matter what, lend us money or give us a place to stay if we needed it, keep a secret if we shared one.

That’s the conclusion made by Matthew Brashears, a Cornell University sociologist who surveyed more than 2,000 adults from a national database and found that from 1985 to 2010, the number of truly close friends people cited has dropped — even though we’re socializing as much as ever.

On average, participants listed 2.03 close friends in Brashears’ survey. That number was down from about three in a 1985 study.

Even more disturbing to me was this:

Compared to other things that matter for support — like being married or living with a partner — it really matters. Frequent Facebook use is equivalent to about half the boost in support you get from being married.”

My take on this is that to the extent that that particular finding is valid, then a lot of people don’t have very health marriages.


Can You Really Determine a Stranger’s Trustworthiness in 20 Seconds?

Some interesting research has just been published showing that empathy and its cousin trustworthiness can be ascertained in about 20 seconds:

ScienceDaily (Nov. 15, 2011) — There’s definitely something to be said for first impressions. New research from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests it can take just 20 seconds to detect whether a stranger is genetically inclined to being trustworthy, kind or compassionate.

The findings reinforce that healthy humans are wired to recognize strangers who may help them out in a tough situation. They also pave the way for genetic therapies for people who are not innately sympathetic, researchers said.

“It’s remarkable that complete strangers could pick up on who’s trustworthy, kind or compassionate in 20 seconds when all they saw was a person sitting in a chair listening to someone talk,” said Aleksandr Kogan, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral student at the University of Toronto at Mississauga.

Two dozen couples participated in the UC Berkeley study, and each provided DNA samples. Researchers then documented the couples as they talked about times when they had suffered. Video was recorded only of the partners as they took turns listening.

A separate group of observers who did not know the couples were shown 20-second video clips of the listeners and asked to rate which seemed most trustworthy, kind and compassionate, based on their facial expressions and body language.

The listeners who got the highest ratings for empathy, it turned out, possess a particular variation of the oxytocin receptor gene known as the GG genotype.

 I think I’m fairly good at sizing people up quite quickly, but I’ve also made some horrendous mistakes trusting people I thought I knew quite well.  Is it really possible to assess empathy or trustworthiness on the basis of some simple behaviors and facial expressions, and couldn’t untrustworthy people learn how to fake those over time?