Why Superfund Toxic Waste Sites and Offices Are Often Alike

Image of this question: What amount of money does the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) spend annually on cleaning up toxic waste sites in America? The choices are $100 million, $1 billion or $10 billion. What’s your guess?

The correct answer to this week’s quiz is $1 billion, almost the entire budget for the EPA (which has been cut in half by Congress in recent years). Also, perhaps worth knowing, companies that caused the problem often avoid paying the clean-up costs: most often because offenders can’t be identified, no longer exist, or claim they can’t afford to contribute. 

How do toxic waste sites compare to offices? Well, with over 25% of all bosses qualifying as bullies, and burn-out rates in various occupations running in the range of 50% or more, hazards abound. People’s lives feel contaminated by undue and/or uncompensated stress. Who’s to pay up? Just like taxpayers shouldn’t have to compensate for the ill-gotten gains of companies polluting our environment and using citizen’s taxes to finance Superfund clean-ups, why should stressed-out employees be left holding the bag? When will Vice Presidents, Directors and Managers have their pay and career advancements influenced by metrics such as the employee retention rate in their departments along with other metrics like the absenteeism rate vs. the company average, and an accounting of the degree to which the mental health needs of employees reach a chronic level?

Released today: Episode #57 of my podcast series “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight” features Paula Davis, the author of Beating Burnout at Work: Why Teams Hold the Secret to Well-Being and Resilience.  Click on here to get to the new episode.

Image of Paula Davis and her book: Beating Burnout at Work. For Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight Podcast episode 57

Paula Davis JD, MAPP is the founder and CEO of the Stress & Resilience Institute, a training and consulting firm. She’s been featured in The New York Times, O (The Oprah Magazine), and The Washington Post; and she’s also a contributor to Forbes, Fast Company and Psychology Today

Image of New Books network and Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight podcast logo

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Adverse Circumstances, and a Bad Boss

Now blissfully many years ago, I survived two bad bosses in a row. The first was so capriciously mean-spirited that one day on the job our department secretary, a sweet, devout older woman, called me over with glee to tell me the latest joke making the rounds. “Why is Linda going on vacation?” The punchline was so she could write a new introduction to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Half a dozen lawsuits against the company for being subjected to “mental cruelty” would soon be filed by my colleagues. 

As to the other boss, well, that person ran a public relations operation with New York City real estate moguls as clients (Donald Trump wasn’t among them). By my second week at that firm, my neck was iron-tight and incapable of turning even a quarter-inch either direction with ease due to the stress of working there. When I confided my condition to a coworker, she breezily remarked: “Oh, everybody gets sick here by their second week on the job.”

Many of us have had bad bosses, but the two men I’m highlighting this week have it worse than most everyone. They’re stuck in dire circumstances. The first is obviously Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has to deal with the coronavirus and Trump’s back-biting. The other is Bill Stepien, Trump’s new manager of a campaign dealing with both Trump’s self-induced chaos and a double-digit deficit in the presidential race against Joe Biden. Fauci is certainly the kinder spirit of the two men. Stepien’s biggest claim to fame is being fired by former New Jersey governor Chris Christie for exhibiting “callous indifference” amid Christie’s Bridgegate scandal. Come to think of it that makes for a third, bad boss. That’s because I had taken on being manager of Christie’s first, brief foray into politics. The lure? Christie was challenging a fellow Republican who had claimed women were incapable of being good judges given their menstrual cycles.

What do Fauci and Stepien have to do now? Engage in what I call “reverse innovation”: whereby the situation is so dire that you have to practice creativity and triage both aggressively at the same time in order to have any chance of success. I’ll be elaborating on what “reverse innovation” means in a business context in my video below.

Reverse Innovation: Creativity & Triage

Creativity & Innovation, Demystified

Released today: episode #11 of Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight podcast series, featuring Nir Bashan, author of The Creator Mindset: 92 Tools to Unlock the Secrets to Innovation, Growth, and Sustainability. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode, hosted on the New Books Network (NBn).

Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight Podcast features a photo of Nir Bashan and his book's cover, The Creator Mindset

Why is the corporate fallback being “analytical” (as opposed to nurturing creativity)?

Bashan is a creativity expert who has spent the past two decades devising a formula for sustained creativity. Besides his blue-chip corporate clients, Bashan has also worked on album, movies and advertisements for people like Rod Stewart and Woody Harrelson, won a Clio and been nominated for an Emmy. This is his first book.

Topics covered in this episode include:

  • Creativity’s three unlikely personal traits (hint: courage is one of them).
  • Why self-doubt and complacency are both threats to successful innovation, and how to overcome each in turn.
  • Design obstacles Bashan has witnessed, plus five more from my book Emotionomics.

Dan Hill, PhD is the President of Sensory Logic, Inc.