Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Are Your Text Messages Private? This is the question the US Supreme Court will address in a case involving an Ontario, CA police officer and his boss' attempt to read text messages he sent from a pager given to him by the police force. In City of Ontario v. Quon, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held that Mr. Quon's messages were private and protected by his 4th Amendment rights to privacy. The City of Onatario disagrees. It argued in its papers to the US Supreme Court that it should be allowed to regulate its workplace including reading the private messages of its employees.

I say enough already. Without doubt employers should have the regulate what happens in the workplace, but this doesn't mean that everything that is said or done in the work place becomes a matter of public record. Imagine your wife or husband visiting you at the office and during that visit you have a very private discussion about your finances, sex life, etc. Now clearly your employer would not be privy to this discussion even though you may have had it on company property. So why should those same private thoughts and personal words become subject to public attribution simply because they are transmitted via a pager or cell phone. The advent of the electronic age does not vitiate our constitutional rights to privacy. For goodness sake let officer Quon send his private messages. If you want to admonish him for have private calls or in this case texts while on company time, do so, but to read each and every private message goes to far.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Many are confused about the recent news reports that Tiger Wood's wife is considering negotiating a contract by which she would receive almost 100 million dollars for staying with Tiger for at least six years. Before you judge his wife too harshly, you should know that many couples have both pre and post nuptial agreements. Essentially these are legally binding contracts that couples enter into before or during a marriage which determines a variety of things including the distribution of assets assuming death, divorce, separation and yes, even infidelity. Most states acknowledge the validity of such agreements and when entered into properly they can be used to alter community property laws and other statutes which govern the distribution of assets in divorce proceedings. Many people believe that such agreements are some how inconsistent with traditional notions of marriage and the vow--for richer or poorer. But to the contrary, pre and post nuptial agreements can actually be just what the doctor ordered and may work to help keep some couples together. As of this writing, it looks like Tiger Wood's wife will have to decide if even a very generous post nuptial is enough to keep her in a marriage were this is admitted infidelity. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

On Tuesday, the LAUSD School B0ard will vote on how to drastically reduce its upcoming budget including laying off teachers and administrators. The proposed layoffs will result in class sizes for elementary school students increasing from 24 to 29. The superintendent of schools says these cuts are necessary in order to avoid a complete disastrous situation. The alternative to layoffs is for school staff to agree to a 12 percent pay cut. The teachers' union says given that they haven't had a raised in three years, a pay cut would essentially make teachers homeless!

Like the new movie starring Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin, "It's Complicated." Clearly, there are no easy solutions to the budget deficit and crisis that has plagued LAUSD and other urban school districts for decades. In California, this situation was made worse by the recent state budget cuts to public education. Asking teachers to take a 12 percent pay cut seems like a formula for failure. Although I doubt that the majority will become homeless, we should expect
performance rates to plummet. To the contrary, lay offs will mean that already crowded classrooms will become warehouses instead of instructional sites.

There must be a better solution, one that truly makes the needs of students the primary consideration. For some reason, public education keeps falling to the bottom of the priority list for local and national elected officials. As important as new roads are to any infrastructure, imagine what could be if some of the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on "shovel ready" projects as a part of the stimulus package would have been spent on training young teachers, equipping classrooms with the latest in technology, building new facilities and overall committing to ending the educational gap that continues to widen in this country.

LAUSD teachers plan to march in front of the Superintendent's office to protest the proposed cuts and to ask for additional funding from California legislators and the federal government. I hope their pleas don't fall on deaf ears as the education of this nation's next generation is "complicated," but not intractable.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Now is the Time to Rewrite Your Life's Story

"What would you do if you knew you could not fail?"
I know you've seen this saying, but have you ever taken it to heart?

Now-in the midst of our worst economic downturn in decades- it's the best time to rethink, retool, recalibrate and reinvent yourself. You'll be in good company - the largest corporations in America are doing just that. They'll be successful too, because they are investing in everything they have into making their new plans work. They will be perfectly poised to take off when this recession is over. And you can be ready, too.

All you need is a dream, a journal to follow the four R's: Rethink, retool, recalibrate and reinvent.

If you stay on the path you're on now - your trajectory - where will you be in five years? Ten? At retirement? If you are not 100% satisfied with your career path and life's trajectory, then you ask yourself these questions:

1. What does my ideal life look like?
2. Have I done anything to realize this dream?
3. Is my dream viable?

Action Plan: Write down your life as you would like it to be, seven days a week, Monday through Sunday. This is your movie; you can write anything you want-but you must fill up everyday, from the time you wake up through the time you go to sleep at night. Rework your ideal week until you are 100% satisfied.

Assess your current skills, your marketability and your value. Are you at the top of your game? Do you need additional knowledge or skills for your dream career? Ask yourself:

1. What technology and skills do I need and how can I get them?
2. Is there anything that would make me more efficient, such as:
  • arriving earlier to avoid chitchat with coworkers
  • working from home one or more days a week
  • learning new technology or adding to my tool box of skills
  • keeping quiet about my personal life at work
  • staying late one night a week to clean my office and in-box
  • being more positive and not getting sucked into office drama
Action Plan: Make three lists that consist of my skills today, what i need to know to live the life I want, and how I'm going to add new skills to my tool chest and be a lifetime learner.

Minor adjustments of where you invest your time and energy will pay off in what I call "abundance dividends." This means cutting out useless time wasters like:

1. Social networking on facebook, Twitter and MySpace
2. Watching television shows that are meaningless
3. Shopping as recreation

Action Plan: Keep a diary for seven days, noting when and where you invest your time, write down and circle the number of minutes you think you wasted out of each hour of the day. At the end of the week, add up the number of minutes to discover hours that could have been invested in learning new skills.

Ever heard the adage, "Act as if...?" Acting as if you are already doing your dream job, living your life counts for a great deal. Be courageous and disciplined in seeking out new ways of doing things, new ways of communicating, and new people with whom you can associate. Successful people will keep you motivated and striving for your bigger vision. If you are only spending time with those who are in the same or similar situation as you are, you'll limit yourself and become complacent.

Action Plan: Review your seven-day dream life journal; review your list of skills you want to learn, review your journal telling you where you spend your time. Use the internet to find free low-cost classes, seminars, workshops and professional organizations that can teach you skills, new technology and information about your dream job. Attend classes, workshops, seminars, and networking events. Make a list of people in your life who you admire and who you would like to get to know better. Come up with reasons to call them.

Think and dream big. Plan strategically. Work deliberately. And get ready to witness the fruits of your labor manifest in your dreams!

Areva Martin

Copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved. The ArevaMartin Company, Inc. This article cannot be reprinted or published without the written permission of the ArevaMartin Company Inc.