Thursday, October 15, 2009

Depression: Recognizing the Physical Symptoms

Most of us know about the emotional symptoms of depression. But you may not know that depression can cause physical symptoms, too.

In fact, many people with depression feel pain or other physical symptoms. These include:

  • Headaches. These are fairly common in people with depression. If you already had migraine headaches, they may become worse if you're depressed.
  • Back Pain. If you already suffer with back pain, it may get worse if you become depressed.
  • Muscle Aches and Joint Pain. Depression can make any kind of chronic pain worse.
  • Chest Pain. Obviously, it's very important to get chest pain checked out by an expert right away. It can be a sign of serious heart problems. But chest pain is also associated with depression.
  • Digestive Problems. You might feel queasy or nauseous. You might have diarrhea or become chronically constipated.
  • Exhaustion and Fatigue. No matter how much you sleep, you may still feel tired or worn out. Getting out of the bed in the morning may seem very hard, even impossible.
  • Sleeping Problems. Many people with depression can't sleep well anymore. They wake up too early or can't fall asleep when they go to bed. Others sleep much more than normal.
  • Change In Appetite Or Weight. Some people with depression lose their appetite and lose weight. Others find they crave certain foods -- like carbohydrates -- and weigh more.
  • Dizziness Or Lightheadedness.

Many depressed people never get help, because they don't know that their physical symptoms might be caused by depression. A lot of doctors miss the symptoms, too.

These physical symptoms aren't "all in your head." Depression can cause real changes in your body. For instance, it can slow down your digestion, which can result in stomach problems.

Depression seems to be related to an imbalance of certain chemicals in your brain. Some of these same chemicals play an important role in how you feel pain. So many experts think that depression can make you feel pain differently than other people.

Treating Physical Symptoms

In some cases, treating your depression -- with therapy or medicine or both -- will resolve your physical symptoms.

But make sure to tell your health care provider about any physical symptoms. Don't assume they'll go away on their own. They may need additional treatment. For instance, your doctor may suggest an antianxiety medicine if you have insomnia. Those drugs help you relax and may allow you to sleep better.

Since pain and depression go together, sometimes easing your pain may help with your depression. Some antidepressants, such as Cymbalta and Effexor, may help with chronic pain, too.

Other treatments can also help with painful symptoms. Certain types of focused therapy -- like cognitive behavioral -- can teach you ways to cope better with the pain.

Thanks to WebMD / Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

A Successful Service Culture Begins With Education, Not Mere Training

Service training teaches someone how to "do" something: provide quality in a specific situation. Training, by its nature, is tactical, prescriptive and usually differs between functions and departments.

This approach can result in a fragmented understanding of service inside the organization. It can also leave employees unsure about what to do when they encounter a situation or request that they have not been previously trained to handle. This leads to an inability to meet customers' needs and to frequent escalations that take time and resources to resolve — with no guarantee of a desirable outcome for the customer. Many organizations spend heavily on role-specific service training and then wonder months later why no substantial improvement has been achieved.

By contrast, service education teaches fundamental service principles that everyone can apply to his or her own job — regardless of role, function or level within the organization. With service education, employees learn to think proactively and responsively, and then act in an empowered manner to create value for their customers and colleagues.

How Effective Is Service Education?

Service education leads to the development of a common service language, a key foundation to building a sustainable service culture. Organizations also need to create an environment that motivates, supports and recognizes employees for consistently taking action to create value for customers and colleagues. This approach is scalable and engenders a shared understanding of fundamental service principles and a common service language.

Another component of a successful culture-building effort is service leadership, including the responsibilities and role modeling that are crucial to success. As an example, many organizations accumulate lagging measures and metrics to track sales, productivity and service performance over time. Often these legacy measures incentivize behavior that is short term or relevant only to a specific department or silo, but may be disconnected or misaligned from producing a positive customer experience. This disconnect is exacerbated when the measures are linked to pay and promotion. Elimination of such nonaligned metrics addresses this disconnection.

Middle Management in a Service Culture

Middle managers can make or break a service culture. They are the essential link between senior leadership and the rest of the organization.

Middle managers must translate and explain service strategy, then clarify service goals and objectives so that everyone understands how their immediate next actions will contribute to the customers' and the organization's success.

Middle managers also have responsibility to listen for service suggestions and ideas from front-line staff and bring these up for support at the highest levels of the organization.

Service and Strategy

The commoditization of products and services makes competing on price or features hard to sustain. Customers have more choice than ever before, and it is easier than ever to switch suppliers. Organizations must work smarter than ever to create relationships and sustain loyalty.

Globalization, connective technology and maturing markets also mean customers are increasingly sophisticated and expectations of superior service are rising. Organizations must continuously innovate and improve to create more value for customers, colleagues and partners. Organizations that successfully differentiate based on service can stand out sustainably from the competition.

A service culture also creates a better place to work. This engages and motivates employees to improve performance and helps organizations attract and retain superior talent.

Finally, focusing on service means an organization can create more unique experiences that customers value. This leads to opportunities for higher margins and helps create relationships with customers that last longer — and become more profitable over.
Thanks to Ron Kaufman (Author of UP Your Service! and the founder of UP Your Service! College)

Bipolar and Depression: What's the Difference?

Bipolar disorder is easily confused with depression. Read on to learn what distinguishes one condition from the other.

The main difference between bipolar disorder and depression are the mania symptoms — characterized by excessive excitement or irritability, extreme elation, and delusions of grandeur — that are associated with the bipolar condition. In fact, until fairly recently, bipolar disorder was often called manic depression, a term that highlights both poles of the illness — mania and depression. To clarify the differences between straightforward depression and bipolar disorder, it's helpful to understand the specific symptoms of each.

Depression Symptoms

While mood swings, or cycling back and forth between manic and depressed states, are a component of bipolar disorder, depression is unipolar — meaning that there is no "up," or manic, part of the condition. Instead, depression is characterized by an intense, prolonged "down" state of mind that interferes with a person's daily life, as well as his or her ability and desire to engage in relationships and regular activities. Symptoms of depression include:

  • Pervasive sadness
  • Extreme fatigue or loss of energy
  • Inability to make a decision
  • Lack of interest in activities that are normally enjoyable
  • Appetite changes
  • Sleep problems
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms

Although bipolar disorder includes the depressive symptoms described above, it also includes manic symptoms. Bipolar disorder is characterized by uncontrollable dramatic mood swings that fluctuate between depressive lows and manic highs. Manic symptoms may include:

  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Excessively high energy; rapid speech and thoughts
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Overinflated sense of self-importance
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Disturbed judgment
  • Increased recklessness (usually involving money, drugs, alcohol, or sex)

Bipolar Disorder: Understanding Different Types

Knowing about the different types of bipolar disorder can also help you distinguish between this condition and depression. There are two types of bipolar disorder: Bipolar I disorder is diagnosed when a person has experienced at least one manic episode, regardless of whether or not the individual has also had a previous bout or bouts of depression. Bipolar II disorder is the diagnosis given when a person has experienced at least one bout of depression and an episode of elevated mood that is called hypomania. Episodes of hypomania are not as intense or extreme as actual mania and are shorter-lived. People with bipolar II usually experience longer periods of depression and relatively shorter states of hypomania. Sometimes people also experience rapid-cycling bipolar disorder, which means that a person reports four or more dramatic mood swings throughout the course of a year, and the shifts can occur in as little time as just a few hours or multiple times a week. It is also possible for the manic and depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder to occur simultaneously; this is called mixed-state bipolar. In some cases, people experience a milder form of bipolar disorder, known as cyclothymia, which is characterized by minor mood swings that don't significantly interfere with a person's ability to function but may significantly interfere with his or her ability to enjoy life and maintain significant relationships.

Making the Correct Diagnosis

Everyday Health's Emotional Health Expert, Ruth Wolever, PhD, a clinical health psychologist and the research director at the Duke Center for Integrative Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine, explains that an accurate medical history is the most important tool for distinguishing between depression and bipolar disorder. "The cyclical pattern of bipolar is distinct from depression, and the chemical signatures, or profiles, of the brain are different as well." However, adds Dr. Wolever, "clinically, the depression phase of bipolar disorder and of major depression look the same. Therefore, unless the person with bipolar disorder is in a manic phase at the time he or she seeks medical help — or a hypomanic state, in the case of bipolar II — it's through the medical history that a clinician will be able to distinguish between the two mood disorders."

Getting Help

If left untreated, both bipolar disorder and depression can have serious consequences in people's personal and professional lives — and can even result in suicide. For this reason, it is crucial to remember that these mood disorders are treatable. Both "talk" therapy and medication — or a combination of the two — can go a long way in managing symptoms of depression and mania, stabilizing mood swings, and helping people with these conditions deal with related problems, such as addiction, poor performance at school or work, and difficulty with relationships. If you think you may have bipolar disorder or depression, a professional diagnosis is the first step toward getting help.

Thanks to Waterfront Media, Inc. / Everyday Health

Will Face Masks Save Employees from Swine Flu?

The swine flu predictions are flying in all directions—from "no worries" to "half the population will be infected." If you assume the middle ground is likely, should you be breaking out respirators or other protective gear for employees? CDC's not sure.

It might seem like a no-brainer to get everyone in face masks or respirators if the H1N1 flu is around, yet the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that information on the effectiveness of face masks and respirators for decreasing infection in community settings is extremely limited.

In the absence of clear scientific data, CDC has developed interim recommendations on the basis of public health judgment, the historical use of face masks and respirators in other settings for preventing transmission of influenza and other respiratory viruses, and on current information on the spread and severity of the novel influenza A (H1N1) virus.

In areas with confirmed human cases of H1N1, the risk for infection can be reduced through a combination of actions. No single action will provide complete protection, but an approach combining the following steps can help decrease the likelihood of transmission, CDC says. These recommended actions are:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand cleaner when soap and water are not available.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
If you are sick with an influenza-like illness (ILI) (fever plus at least cough or sore throat and possibly other symptoms such as runny nose, body aches, headaches, chills, fatigue, vomiting, and diarrhea):

  • Stay home.
  • Keep away from others as much as possible, including avoiding travel, for at least 24 hours after fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Fever should be gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine).
If you must be near a person with ILI, avoid close contact (i.e., being within about 6 feet).

Face Masks and Respirators

What's the difference between a face mask and a respirator? Face masks do not seal tightly to the face and are used to block large droplets from coming into contact with the wearer's mouth or nose. Most respirators (e.g., N95) are designed to seal tightly to the wearer's face and filter out very small particles that can be breathed in by the user.

The use of a face mask or respirator is likely to be of most benefit if used as early as possible when exposed to an ill person and when the face mask or respirator is used consistently.

community and home settings, the use of face masks and respirators generally is not recommended. Nor is the use of N95 respirators or face masks generally recommended for workers in nonhealthcare occupational settings for general work activities.

For specific work activities that involve contact with people who have ILI, such as escorting a person with ILI, interviewing a person with ILI, providing assistance to an individual with ILI, the following are recommended:

  • Workers should try to maintain a distance of 6 feet or more from the person with ILI.
  • Workers should keep their interactions with ill persons as brief as possible.
  • The ill person should be asked to follow good cough etiquette and hand hygiene and to wear a face mask, if able (and one is available).
  • Workers at increased risk of severe illness from influenza infection should avoid people with ILI (possibly by temporary reassignment).
  • Where workers cannot avoid close contact with persons with ILI, some workers may choose to wear a face mask or N95 respirator on a voluntary basis.
In the occupational healthcare setting, respiratory protection is recommended. Because infection control precautions, including respiratory protection, are imperfect, workers who are at increased risk of severe illness from influenza, and who are caring for a patient with known, probable, or suspected H1N1 or ILI, may consider temporary reassignment to avoid exposure.

Thanks to BRL HR Daily Advisor

How to Set Appropriate Conduct Rules

Behavior or conduct policies aren't particularly exciting, but they are necessary. They alert employees to important workplace guidelines
explaining what behavior you expect and what conduct is prohibited. Most employers develop these rules based on internal factors such as
the nature of their business, number of employees, organizational culture, and the work performed.

But, how much detail is too much when it comes to a conduct policy? Some organizations prefer a very general statement regarding
appropriate employee behavior, while others like to provide more specific examples of prohibited conduct.

Whichever approach you use, your policy should meet two goals. First, it should be flexible enough to allow appropriate discipline for misconduct that is not specifically mentioned in the policy. Second, it should not include any language that can unintentionally restrict your actions or be interpreted to create a contract. Here are some tips for drafting your policy.
Explain Best Workplace Behavior

Many organizations begin their behavior rules by pointing out that they expect employees to have a "positive attitude" to promote the best
interests of the employer. Appropriate conduct to produce this attitude includes:
  1. Treating all customers, visitors, and coworkers in a courteous manner;
  2. Performing assigned tasks efficiently and in accord with established quality standards;
  3. Giving proper advance notice whenever unable to work or report on time;
  4. Reporting unethical, suspicious, or illegal conduct; and
  5. Maintaining cleanliness and order in the workplace and work areas.

* Clear Rules Help Define Expectations *

Next, a clear policy statement outlining the conduct that will lead to discipline helps everyone know what to expect. So, it is a good idea to
include a general list of prohibited behaviors, which can range from serious misconduct to relatively minor violations of day-to-day work rules.

For example, many employers specifically prohibit these serious offenses:

  1. Bringing weapons into the workplace;
  2. Threatening, intimidating, or assaulting coworkers;
  3. Fighting in the workplace;
  4. Engaging in any form of sexual or other harassment;
  5. Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol at work;
  6. Falsifying company records; and
  7. Stealing or misusing corporate property.
You also should consider including several less serious, but disruptive, violations, such as:
  1. Insubordination;
  2. Failing to abide by minor safety rules;
  3. Smoking where prohibited;
  4. Using inappropriate (profane) language;
  5. Wearing improper attire; and
  6. Engaging in inappropriate horseplay.

Maintain Flexibility, Avoid All-Inclusive Lists

While examples of inappropriate conduct are helpful, your policy wording still needs to be flexible enough to allow for discipline not specifically
covered in your policy. To this end, you should not try to present a complete or exhaustive list of prohibited conduct.

Many courts have determined that employer lists of prohibited conduct can limit your right to discipline for any unlisted reasons, unless you state that the list is merely illustrative of prohibited behavior and not intended to be all-inclusive. 

Careful Drafting Can Preserve Your Rights

Your goal in developing and distributing a work conduct policy should be to prevent employee misconduct by clearly communicating what is
expected. But when misconduct occurs, you don't want to be limited by something you've put in, or left out of, your policies. To prevent this
result, you should:

1. List offenses only as examples of behavior for which employees will be disciplined, and not as being all-inclusive. State specifically that, at
management's discretion, any violation of your policies or any conduct considered inappropriate or unsatisfactory may subject the employee to
disciplinary action.

2. Do not assert that employees will be disciplined or terminated only for "cause," "good cause," or "good reason." Again, this restrictive
language compromises your ability to discipline for any reason other than "cause," a term that is subject to interpretation.

3. State in your discipline policy that you reserve the right to discipline as you consider necessary. In addition, point out that you may impose
more severe discipline for any infraction, up to and including termination.

4. Make sure your handbook also contains a separate at-will statement. The statement should explain, in plain English, that employment is at will, i.e., that employees may quit at any time or be terminated for any lawful reason, and that policies are intended as guidelines and not as contracts that must be followed.

A clear conduct policy carefully drafted to include these elements enhances your ability to prevent employee misconduct and to deal with it
effectively when it does occur. In addition, when you combine these behavior rules with effective at-will statements and disciplinary
procedures, you can help ensure that you have preserved management flexibility and that your policy will not be used against you as a binding

Thanks to HR Matters E-Tips

5 - Minutes Management Lessons

Lesson 1:
A man is getting into the shower just as his wife is finishing up her shower, when the doorbell rings. The wife quickly wraps herself in a towel and runs downstairs. When she opens the door, there stands Bob, the next-door neighbor.
Before she says a word, Bob says, "I'll give you $800 to drop that towel. "
After thinking for a moment, the woman drops her towel and stands naked in front of Bob After a few seconds, Bob hands her $800 and leaves.
The woman wraps back up in the towel and goes back upstairs. When she gets to the bathroom, her husband asks, "Who was that?"
"It was Bob the next door neighbor," she replies.
"Great!" the husband says, "did he say anything about the $800 he owes me?"
Moral Of the Story:
If you share critical information pertaining to credit and risk with your shareholders in time, you may be in a position to prevent avoidable exposure.

Lesson 2:
A priest offered a Nun a lift. She got in and crossed her legs, forcing her gown to reveal a leg. The priest nearly had an accident. After controlling the car, he stealthily slid his hand up her leg.
The nun said, "Father, remember Psalm 129?" The priest removed his hand. But, changing gears, he let his hand slide up her leg again.
The nun once again said, "Father, remember Psalm 129?"

The priest apologized "Sorry sister but the flesh is weak."

Arriving at the convent, the nun sighed heavily and went on her way.

On his arrival at the church, the priest rushed to look up Psalm 129

It said, "Go forth and seek, further up, you will find glory."
Moral Of the Story:
If you are not well informed in your job, you might miss a great opportunity.

Lesson 3:
A sales rep, an administration clerk, and the manager are walking to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp. They rub it and a Genie comes out.
The Genie says, "I'll give each of you just one wish."

"Me first! Me first!" says the admin clerk. "I want to be in the Bahamas, driving a speedboat, without a care in the world."
Puff! She's gone.
"Me next! Me next!" says the sales rep. "I want to be in Hawaii, relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse, an endless supply of Pina Coladas and the love of my life."
Puff! He's gone.
"OK, you're up," the Genie says to the manager.
The manager says, "I want those two back in the office after lunch."
Moral Of the Story:
Always let your boss have the first say.

Lesson 4:
An eagle was sitting on a tree resting, doing nothing. A small rabbit saw the eagle and asked him, "Can I also sit like you and do nothing?"

The eagle answered: "Sure , why not."
So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the eagle and rested. All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it.

Moral Of the Story:

To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very high up.
Lesson 5:
A turkey was chatting with a bull. "I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree," sighed the turkey, "but I haven't got the energy."
"Well, why don't you nibble on some of my droppings?" replied the bull. They're packed with nutrients."
The turkey pecked at a lump of dung, and found it actually gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree. The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch. Finally after a fourth night, the turkey was proudly perched at the top of the tree.

He was promptly spotted by a farmer, who shot him out of the tree.
Moral Of the Story:

BullShit might get you to the top, but it won't keep you there.
Lesson 6:
A little bird was flying south for the Winter. It was so cold the bird froze and fell to the ground into a large field. While he was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on him.
As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, he began to realize how warm he was. The dung was actually thawing him out! He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy.
A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate. Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung, and promptly dug him out and ate him.
Moral Of the Story:
(1) Not everyone who shits on you is your enemy.
(2) Not everyone who gets you out of shit is your friend.
(3) And when you're in deep shit, it's best to keep your mouth shut!
Thanks to Shomaila Saleem

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pull the Plug on Self-Created Pain

Dwelling On Any Unhappy Moment In Life Is Like Channel Surfing through a Thousand Possible TV Shows, Selecting the One that Troubles You the Most, and then Blaming Your TV Set for the Pain You're Feeling. ~~~ Guy Finley

Keep Your Job By Becoming A Leader

In seven years of studying the process of leading from below in hundreds of companies around the world, James Kelly and Scott Nadler of ERM, a global consulting firm focused on environment, health, safety and social management, identified clear patterns in how managers succeed---and fail---in facing their own mana gement constraints.

These patterns suggest for the vast majority of business managers who are not CEOs, there are practical ways to play a leadership role that helps their companies, helps improve the impact their companies have on the world, and helps improve their career prospects at the same time.  The clear majority of managers studied found themselves stuck in predominantly service and/or governance roles performing standards enforcing tasks or providing resources for people to meet those standards.  Many expressed a desire to take on a leadership role but didn't see a clear way to do so.

Making the Decision To Be a Leader

There are three painful realities about moving from service and governance roles to a leadership role:

1.  No one will tell you to do it.

2.  There will always be people who tell you to stick to the role you are now playing. 

3.  You have to earn the right to play a leadership role, often by succeeding in your current role first--which in turn only increases the expectation that you will keep playing that role.

In every case of successful leadership from below that Kelly and Nadler studied, the manager made a conscious decision to move beyond the service and governance roles, without waiting to be told to do so.  Two key ways to leadership roles are to reorganize your group to make yourself less essential (so you can free up time and energy for leadership) and open yourself up to influences from outside the company (by listening to customers, competitors, suppliers, the media and your personal business coach).

In deciding to take on the risks involved in a leadership role, it helps to understand that failure to lead is also dangerous.  In an age when job cuts are common at even the most successful companies, being a good manager who doesn't make waves is increasingly risky.  Those who take risks are more likely to keep their jobs and to be promoted.

Source: Leading from Below, The Wall Street Journal, March 3, 2007 / John G. Agno, Certified Executive & Business Coach

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Don't Wait Another Minute

Do you put off tasks that you don't want to do or don't like to do? Do you say 'I'll just do it tomorrow?' Procrastination, for one reason or another, happens to the best of us. There are ways to help alleviate it.

1) Plan your day according to your most productive time. Are you a morning person? Plan the most difficult or unpleasant activities during the morning when you are least likely to procrastinate and have the most energy. Or are you an afternoon person? Then do the most difficult or unpleasant activities after noon.

2) If you find you are putting off even beginning a project because you find it too overwhelming and intimidating, break the project down into smaller steps until they are manageable. Write the steps down and be specific by putting a date on each one as to when it will be completed. To remind ourselves of our goals, it is helpful to write reminders that can be posted in different places (i.e. mirror, refrigerator, front door). The more we remind ourselves of our goals, the more likely we will follow them.

3) Prevent distractions and interruptions from occurring. When you have something that needs to be done, turn off the cell phone. Do not answer the door. Turn off the television. Remove whatever it is that distracts you from doing the job at hand.

4) Eat healthy, exercise, and get enough sleep. Exercising will help you to create more energy and you'll be less likely to procrastinate. Eat complex carbohydrates instead of simple sugars. This will provide a steady release of energy instead of a short boost. Getting a good night's sleep, at least 8 hours, will help you re-energize and you'll be able to maintain more energy during the day.

5) Get organized. Being disorganized causes chaos and is very distracting. When you are organized, you are better able to focus on a task instead of the clutter. While in the office, close the door and clean up the clutter on your desk. Have all the necessary equipment and supplies on hand before you begin your work.

6) Ask for someone's help to stop you from procrastinating. Ask this person to hold you accountable for the completion of a task you have been putting off.
) It is perfectly fine to make mistakes. If you demand perfection from yourself, you are probably going to put off beginning something until the perfect moment. Nothing is perfect, so it is not going to happen. The most important thing is to let go of perfection and start something. Realize that perfection is impossible to obtain. It is important to do your best, but you do not have to be perfect. Praise yourself for what you have accomplished.

8) Create a mental picture of the project you wish to complete. Maintain your focus on the end result as well as the process to get there. Keep in mind how good it is going to feel when you finish the project. Remember this feeling when you begin a new project.

9) Reward yourself when you have completed a boring or unpleasant task and even when you have achieved a small task on time. If you know a Starbucks coffee or other treat is waiting for you if you succeed, you will be more motivated to get the job done. The more positive reinforcement, the less likely you will procrastinate. Focus on what you have done rather than what is left to do. Do you feel a surge of energy and enthusiasm when you finish an important task? It is a good feeling, isn't it? On the flip side, consider penalizing yourself if you have not completed a task. For example, miss a television show if you do not complete a task on schedule. You will probably not want that to happen again and will strive to get the good feelings that come with completing a task.

10) Avoid overextending yourself. Evaluate your obligations and then prioritize them. Is there anything you can omit, delegate or move to a different time frame? Set realistic goals. As the saying goes, 'bite off only as much as you can chew.' Make a list each day of every task you need to complete in order of importance. Finish each task before starting the next task.

11) Make the task at hand as pleasurable as possible. When you are doing a task, ask yourself a question. Is there a fun way to do this job? Try to make a game out it. Be creative. Give yourself points or prizes as you do the task.

12) Plan for setbacks because they are bound to happen. Planning will prevent you from slowing down because of a setback. And finally, do not give up.
Thanks to Get Organized Now!

10 Strangest Jobs in History proposes these "Top 10 Strangest Jobs in History," which now are mostly extinct due to the advent of technology. So those who aspire to these professions may want to go for career counseling--well, unless you are Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe.

10. Jester. The advent of sitcoms and the Comedy Channel seems to have made this job unnecessary. No one hires a private comedian these days, says Listverse, which reports that the last known full-time jester was employed on the island of Tonga. Unfortunately, the job was victim of a ROI in 1999.

9. Toshers and Mudlarks. While these jobs sound fanciful, they are actually synonyms for Victorian scavengers. Toshers went down into the sewers, while mudlarks dredged riverbanks, looking for things to sell. EBay may bring this profession back.

8. Knocker-ups. No, it doesn't mean that! Before the invention of reliable and affordable alarm clocks, knocker-ups went from building to building using long bamboo poles to loudly tap on the windows of their clients to awake them so they wouldn't be late for work. The diligent knockers wouldn't leave until assured their clients were indeed out of bed. Of course, Listverse asks the obvious question, Who knocks up the knocker-up?

7. Toad doctor. Before dermatologists--and late-night infomercials--toad doctors traveled around Europe curing skin diseases and other ailments by applying toads to clients bodies. Sometimes they hung the toads from a muslin bag around the sick person's neck. The job, says Listverse, requires knowledge of traditional medicinal folk magic; no advance degrees required.

6. Dog Whipper. Predecessor to our dog catchers, but with a twist, dog whippers were employed outside of churches in the 16th to 19th centuries to chase away pooches that had followed their masters, so the dog packs wouldn't yelp during services. Though today the practice would be considered cruel, the churches paid for this service, according to their records, says Listverse.

5. Resurrectionists. Today we would classify these workers as body snatchers. They would seek out shallow graves, open caskets, and remove the bodies, which they would sell to the newly opened medical schools of early 19th century Europe. They were careful not to take any jewelry or valuables from the coffins to prevent them from being charged with felony theft. The Anatomy Act of 1832 ended this profession, according to Listverse.

4. Fullers. Like cooper, this is a profession that has become a common surname. But the job description is more distasteful than making barrels. Fullers were workers in the fledgling woolen textile industry, and they processed the newly woven cloth to degrease it and make it whiter and softer by dunking it in vats of urine (which contained ammonium salts), usually by standing in the tubs themselves. Luckily, says Listverse, the discovery of a process to extract "fuller's earth" having the same properties from common clay took urine out of the job description.

3. Whipping Boy . In the 15th and 16th centuries, royals were thought to have divine rights and could not be physically punished. Therefore, sons of nobles were brought up alongside royals so they developed a close bond. Then, when the young royal misbehaved or failed in studies, the whipping boy was beaten instead. This was supposed to upset the royal so much that he would not misbehave again to keep his friend from being punished. Yes, we hear you saying this profession is not extinct, at least in your company.

2. Groom Of the Stool. Yes, we mean stool. This was the name given to the person who cleaned the king's "privy chamber" and more (think Wet Wipes®). This actually was considered a prestigious profession for the son of a nobleman. Other job duties, says Listverse, including carrying out a variety of administrative tasks within private rooms. Perhaps this profession still exists--as personal assistant--but the excrement may be only verbal.

1. Gong Farmer. In Tudor England, there were chimney sweeps, and there were cesspool cleaners who dug out the dung. By law, "gong farmers"--perhaps the first euphemistically named profession--did their jobs at night and hauled the refuse to outside the city limits. The workers, definitely not a protected class, were also prohibited from living in certain neighborhoods due to noxious odors emanating from their homes. Listverse says this was "a real sh## job to have."


Six Ways to Clean House When You're Depressed

A Clean House Can Help a Depressed Mind. Learn Coping Skills that Can Help You Stay On Top Of Your Housework.

One of the key signs of depression is when you suspend taking care of day-to-day chores, like cleaning your house. Depression leaves you feeling so down and tired that you just let things go. Unfortunately, a messy house can add to those feelings of depression — creating a destructive cycle that feeds on itself. Once the mess gets too large and chaotic, people with depression can't imagine how to begin tackling the household duties. They feel hopeless and helpless against the clutter and dirt, which reinforces depression.

How to Keep It Clean When You're Depressed

A recent study found that performing at least 20 minutes of daily physical activity, including domestic housework, benefited mental health and lowered risks of psychological problems. Don't let depression force you to live in a messy house. Here are some ways to cope:

  • Clean As You Go. Sometimes keeping your house clean is as simple as not cluttering it up in the first place. Wash your dishes right after using them, rather than letting them sit in the sink, and store your tools once you're finished with a project. By putting things away right after you've used them, you can prevent clutter from occurring in the first place — or from getting even worse.

    You can get further ahead by taking care of chores that will prevent dirt and grime from forming. For example, brushing your dog or cat once a week cuts down on all the tumbleweeds of fur rolling through your house, which you'll eventually have to vacuum.

  • Don't Procrastinate. When you have depression, it's easy to shrug chores off and say you'll do them later — fight that urge and live in the present. If you take care of things now, it will cut down on the time and effort needed to clean up after the fact. Wiping up a spill right after it occurs is a lot easier than scrubbing a hardened, crusty stain once it's dried. Depression might make you feel sad or sluggish, but taking care of these little tasks can offer you a sense of accomplishment and pride.

  • Break It Up. Devise a schedule so you're only cleaning one or two rooms every day vs. having to clean an entire house, which can seem like an enormous and daunting task.

  • Store Your Cleaning Supplies Wisely. Not being able to find the necessary cleaning products gives you a chance to throw up your hands and say, "Why bother?" Don't become frustrated — make sure you have what you need close at hand. Keep bathroom cleaners in the bathroom and kitchen cleaners in the kitchen. If you've got hardwood floors on the first floor and carpeting on the second floor, store your vacuum cleaner upstairs for easy access.

  • Pay Attention to Busy Areas. If you're feeling particularly tired or depressed, focus on cleaning the rooms where your family spends most of its time. Vacuum well-traveled hallways or clean up clutter in the kitchen and living room. Spend your energy where it will do the most good.

  • Rope Your Family In. Why should you have all the fun? Give family members specific housekeeping tasks to complete. Be sure to let them know that by helping with the housework, they are helping you cope with depression.

Keep in mind that things may not be bad as you think. Eighty percent of people with depression improve with the proper treatment, often within a few weeks. You don't have to resign yourself to a messy house while you deal with depression — by getting your home in order, you will also rid yourself of a source of stress.

Thanks to EveryDayHealth

Please and Thank You!

Much is written about the lack of civility that is so prevalent in the workplace. Missing from many workplaces are the basics that we were taught as children, such as the words: "Please and Thank You."

We see the evidence when people become frustrated, disillusioned, and fed up with the lack of common courtesies that make us a civilized group of beings. We see the lack of civility when others cut in front of us, with no acknowledgement of our presence, and in parking lots when someone takes the parking space for which we have clearly been waiting.

Some of you may recall a scene from the movie, "PFried Green Tomatoes"P where the main character has her parking space taken by a sassy young woman. When assertively confronted by the older woman about her actions, the younger woman retorted, "PThat is what happens when you are younger and faster"P as she smugly walked across the parking lot.

The older woman then backed up her bigger car and rammed it into the younger woman's compact car several times. When the young woman screamed at her, the older woman replied, "PThat is what happens when you are older and have lots of insurance."P

Our failure to speak and act in a manner that demonstrates our respect for others, and their rights, may cause them to feel insignificant. Each of us wants to feel appreciated by others. Lack of respect from others can make us feel even more invisible that we may already feel in our busy society.

So what is the source of this problem? The causes are many (perhaps because of the values acquired as children or because of a lack of respect for ourselves), but the solution is simple...

  • Think Before You Speak
  • Make Eye Contact With Others
  • Say, "Please and Thank You"
  • Respect Others

Our lives may be very busy and our time seemingly in short supply. However, kindness and consideration has a way of saying to each of us... You matter!

This week, make it a practice (and a habit) of saying the magic words... "Please and Thank You"P to each person you encounter, and watch as the distance between us... disappears.


"I speak often the magic words, "please and thank you." I am a magician that can wave the wand of kindness and respect over any tense situation and change it into a civilized one." 
Thanks to Mary Rau-Foster

Can Gossiping On the Job Really Hurt You?

We all do it from time to time. Whether it's complaining about the latest comp-time policy change with your coworker in the file room or dishing about the latest spat between the CFO and the clerk in purchasing, gossiping on the job is almost an inevitable part of corporate culture.

But is gossiping a positive way to build relationships, trade information for advancement and gauge the emotional health of the corporate community? Or is it akin to a toxic virus that spreads and ultimately weakens an organization's overall health, threatening your job security, chances for career advancement and professional happiness?

As with most things involving human interaction, there are two sides to this common coin. Use the following advice to ensure you don't let your chitchat get in the way of your career. 

The Scoop On Gossip

Peter Post, codirector of the Emily Post Institute and coauthor of The Etiquette Advantage in Business: Personal Skills for Professional Success, argues that there is a lot wrong with a little harmless gossip. "Gossiping and rumor-mongering add stress to the workplace," Post says. "Create stress in the workplace, and you create a situation in which people are not focusing on doing their work." This is why many companies have corporate policies that specifically restrict or prohibit on-the-job gossip and why management may not look kindly on those who engage in it.

But the overall effects of negative gossip don't necessarily suggest you should completely refrain from being in the know about situations around you. In fact, many psychologists believe that not engaging in a little office gossip can actually hurt your career.

Siobhan Mellor, clinical psychologist and author of the research paper, "Gossip -- The Nation's Favorite Pastime," believes that the right kind of gossip can be good for you. "Getting the latest gossip about the behavior of others helps build a social map for what is accepted, weird, bad -- and even what kinds of actions improve our status and what doesn't," she says.

Kate Adams, an editor who worked for a major New York publishing company, recalls being chastised in her peer performance review, because she had admitted to not being in the know about her boss's sudden resignation in favor of a new position at another house. "I thought the polite thing to do was to pretend that I hadn't noticed my boss leaving for long lunches and apparently going on interviews," says Adams. "As an assistant, I always tried to cover for my boss, and I thought that included not talking about her obvious job search. But my coworkers thought it was a sign that I was out of the loop and that I was somebody who wasn't going places."

The 7 Rules Of Good Gossiping

Karen Kirchner, managing partner of Career Management Consulting based in Stamford, Connecticut, believes that you can indulge in a little on-the-job gossip safely and without guilt, as long as you follow these seven rules:

  • Only gossip now and then, and be aware of who is listening.
  • Don't spend too much time with known office gossips, or you may be judged guilty by association.
  • Listen carefully, but say as little as possible. Don't appear to be an ambulance chaser or a tattletale so that you can be the one with the scoop.
  • Work on the principle that whatever you say will be repeated. Think about the implications of this before you speak.
  • Consider the source of gossip and the source's hidden motives. People sometimes plant information to manipulate a situation.
  • Do not bad-mouth people; your comments will often come back to haunt you as alliances shift in the workplace.
  • If something you say gets back to a friend or colleague in a way that you wish it hadn't, apologize and be honest. This is the only way of salvaging your reputation and limiting the damage.

Could VP of HR Ever be the Stepping Stone to CEO?

If people truly are our "most important asset" and HR is in charge of managing the company's "human" resources, then doesn't it stand to reason that the top HR position should merely be a stepping stone to the corner office? It makes perfect sense but why isn't it happening more often? The only major example that comes to mind is Colleen Barrett. Ring a bell? She served for many years as VP of Administration and Champion of Corporate Culture at Southwest Airlines, eventually leading her to become their president and one of the 50 most powerful business women in America.

Three key reasons for why more chief HR officers aren't becoming tomorrow's CEO's:

  1. Business leaders have not figured out this simple maxim: the success of your company is directly tied to the quality of the people you have on your team. Far too many companies give only lip service when it comes to making talent acquisition, growth and retention a major strategic thrust. Recruiting is reactive at best, world-class training is not a priority and corporate culture is seen as something soft and touchy-feely. Nothing could be further from the truth. Talent + Culture x Customer Focus = Sustainable Business Success.
  2. HR is not viewed as a strategic function within the organization. Again, dead wrong, but difficult to change this perception. It is only when the HR manager begins looking 3 to 5 years out and building a talent pipeline for the future needs of the organization, ensuring a steady stream of the highest quality candidates exactly when they're needed, that the C-level folks will realize what a critical role HR is playing in the growth and success of the business.
  3. The only way to earn a seat at the table is to understand deeply how the business runs from the ground up. Being a connoisseur of talent is not enough. To call the shots, you have to understand how the game is played. If you are not up to speed on global economic trends, key marketing issues, competitive issues, essential business processes and able to fluently speak the language of business... accounting... you will not earn a seat anywhere at the table.

As Tom Friedman would say, the world is flat and becoming more so every day. We all compete in a global marketplace where distance is nonexistent and everyone is on the same…flat… playing field. 

So, what sustainable competitive advantages are most businesses left with? The first is to create a culture of continuous innovation, where every single day, every single employee looks for ways to improve how they do their job for the overall success of the company. The second is to create a culture of extreme customer focus where loyal, engaged, highly satisfied employees focus all their efforts on creating loyal, engaged, highly satisfied customers. And if you agree that these two advantages are true, then the single most important driver of long-term organizational success is… talent. And it's why I believe that the HR leader is truly the top "people" person in the organization. So, is there any reason in the world they shouldn't be the top person in the entire organization? 

Editors Note: John Spence is a leadership development guru and quite simply, he knocked my socks off when I saw him speak at the HR Florida conference a few months back. I've never seen a conference speaker so passionate and insightful - and I kid you not, it was love at first sight. I coerced him into writing this guest post for FOT because the man is brilliant. His latest book is Awesomely Simple and focuses on how to turn ideas into action. Words don't do the man justice though - find him at a conference or hire him to come speak for you. For real.

Thanks to Fistful Of Talent

Listening Leaders Assess Audacious Actions

Listening Leaders assess the call for audacious actions as they understand talk is cheap but actions are potentially costly. Speakers' calls for action may be beneficial, or not. They may be productive, or counter productive. They may be profitable, or not. Ultimately, they may be desirable, or not. On the other hand, talk with no action is cheap and may only waste the listener's time.

As a consequence, wise listeners understand, focus on, audit and assess speakers proposed calls for end actions. Although Thomas Huxley argued, "The great end of life is not knowledge, but action" Listening Leaders® know better. The simple fact remains, not all action is productive, profitable, or desirable. Thus, the listener's unending task is to carefully audit and assess all calls for action. Especially calls for audacious actions.

For when faced with any speaker's call for action, prudent listeners will reflect on the timeless wisdom of William Wordsworth, who wrote: "Action is transitory, —a step, a blow, the motion of a muscle, this way or that— 'Tis done, and in the after-vacancy we wonder at ourselves like men betrayed: Suffering is permanent, obscure and dark, and shares the nature of infinity."

In listening to the recent multitude of calls for action by our elected representatives, it seems wise to remember Walt Whitman's poem, "Song of the Broad Axe", wherein he wrote, "Where the populace rise at once against the never-ending audacity of elected persons." Simply put, in times of challenge, it behooves all Listening Leaders® to listen through to the end conclusion of every significant call for action, real or imagined. Tough times demand listening beyond simplistic sound bytes. Whatever the situation or the source of message, difficult situations require listening to the real costs and benefits of any proposed actions. Ultimately, listeners face the unending task of moving beyond speaker's promises. Words are cheap, but actions can be costly. For as a wise man once said, "Listen beyond the words, watch and weigh the action." More than 300 years ago, John Locke wrote: "Good and evil, reward and punishment, are the only motives of a rational creature; these are the spur and reins whereby all mankind are set on work, and guided. The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts." Thus, it remains, it is always time to audit and assess the calls for audacious actions.

KNOWLEDGE NUGGET: Listening Leaders Listen Beyond Words by Focusing On Actions.

In assessing all calls for action, it is important to consider the speakers' objective, motive, potential benefit and driving cause. All serious students of listening will remember Aristotle's claim, "Every action must be due to one or other of seven causes: chance, nature, compulsion, habit, reasoning, anger, or appetite."

Believing that all human actions are due to either the force of emotion or reason, Aristotle provided a useful road map in considering the seven causes of action:

1. Chance events consist of "The things that happen by chance are all those whose cause cannot be determined, that have no purpose, and that happen neither always nor usually in any fixed way."

2. Nature events consist of "Those things that happen by nature which have a fixed and internal cause; they take place uniformly, either always or usually."

3. Compulsion includes "Those things that happen through compulsion which take place contrary to the desire or reason of the doer, yet through his own agency."

4. Habit leads to unthinking action as, "Habit, whether acquired by mere familiarity or by effort, belongs to the class of pleasant things, for there are many actions not pleasant which men perform with pleasure, once they become used to them."

5. Reasoning results in "Actions that are due to reasoning when they appear useful either as ends or as means to an end, and are performed for that reason." To that end, Aristotle believed that when we act in a fashion that we believe is rational, we also believe it is good and desirable.

6. Anger is often viewed as a passion that leads to revenge focused action unless there is no prospect of vengeance. Aristotle believed, "To passion and anger are due all acts of revenge…no one grows angry with a person on whom there is no prospect of taking vengeance."

7. Appetite, or the craving of pleasure, is related to all actions that result in pleasure. Aristotle believed that wealth or poverty is not in and of itself a cause for action, the appetite for wealth may motivate the call for action. "Nor, again, is action due to wealth or poverty; it is of course true that poor men, being short of money do have an appetite for it, and that rich men, being able to command needless pleasures, do have an appetite for such pleasures: but their actions will be due not to wealth or poverty but to appetite."

Claimed or not, when Listening Leaders® consider the cause of every call for action the underlying motivation of the speaker will become clearer. For in the words of an old Proverb, most things are "Easier said than done."

TIP OF THE WEEK: Consider the Underlying Causes For the Claimed Need For Action.


  • The number of those who undergo the fatigue of judging for themselves is very small indeed ~ Richard Brinsley Sheridan
  • For purposes of action nothing is more useful than narrowness of thought combined with energy of will ~ Henri Frédéric Amiel
  • There will be time to audit the accounts later, there will be sunlight later, and the equation will come out at last ~ Louis Macneice
  • That action alone is just that does not harm either party to a dispute ~ Mohandas Gandhi
  • Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought ~ Henri Bergson
  • I love the valiant; but it is not enough to wield a broadsword, one must also know against whom ~ Nietzche
  • Action and faith enslave thought, both of them in order not to be troubled or inconvenienced by reflection, criticism and doubt ~ Henri Frédéric Amiel
  • When you see a snake, never mind where he came from ~ W. G. Benham


David Letterman prides himself as a "Man of Action" and proudly shared the following story: "I was walking to work up on Sixth Avenue when I saw one of those mime performers. The mime was doing that famous routine where he was pretending to be trapped in a box. So I stood there and watched the mime pretend to be trapped in a box. When he finished, I thanked God he wasn't really trapped in a box. But I saw on the sidewalk that he's got a little hat for money. You know, change, tips, donations, and contributions. So I went over and pretended to put a dollar in his hat."

The mime was probably just happy that Letterman did not call the District Attorney or write a check!


Congratulations and Kudos to Chief Imagineer Mike, and President Lisa Rivard, of the Minnesota based Rivard Companies. Lisa and Mike are both focused Listening Leaders who believe in taking meaningful action to enhance listening within their bustling organization.

Since 1989 Mike and Lisa have expanded Rivard Companies from a modest local Minnesota tree removal and trimming service, into a significant colorized wood chip mulch producer, a land erosion control product manufacturer, an efficient ECO-Bale mulch delivery operation, and, the producer of a full line of Gronomics gardening products. In the process they have served landscapers and gardeners throughout the land as they also contribute to building a better environment. Obviously the future is unlimited for these hard working young professionals who are committed to listening and taking meaningful action in serving their nationwide customers and focused employees. We salute Mike and Lisa Rivard!

Listen, Lead On & Make Today Count! – Manny & Rick

Thanks to Listening Leaders

Repetitive Jobs & Variety

Most of the programs people watch on TV put them into a hypnotic state.  If you ever speak to someone while they're watching television and they don't hear you or respond, it's because they're transfixed.  They're in a trance.  

During these periods, the activity in the brain switches from the left side (which is associated with rational analysis) to the right side (which is responsible for emotion).  When this happens, the brain's activity is reduced.  In effect, it stops working.  That's why studies have shown that excessive mindless television makes people less intelligent over time and why left-brain exercises, like crosswords and learning languages, delay Alzheimer's.


All of this happens because the human brain adapts to whatever environment it's in.  If it's watching television, it goes on autopilot.  If it's at university, it ramps up logical thought.  And if it's in a repetitive job with little variety and limited scope for thinking, it enters screensaver mode.  Just like those who watch dumb television, the brain stops working.


The consequence of this in the workplace is that you'll have employees in mundane jobs that, at best, will stay developmentally stagnant, but if you're unlucky, will go backwards in their cognitive abilities.  The solution is to trigger their left-brain by getting them involved in:


- Thinking: Create opportunities for your team to solve problems, analyse complex situations, and break out of their routine headspace patterns.


- LearningIf during the space of each month your employees haven't learned a new skill, no matter how small, then their brains are probably asleep.


-  Changing: Spice up jobs by adding something new to the mix.  Nothing beats the incorporation of their natural talents in some capacity within the work they do.


-  Interacting: Get your team to collaborate with each other on projects and tasks where they'd be required to negotiate, strategise, plan, and implement.


-  Moving: Employees in repetitive jobs must get active.  Encourage them to take breaks where they get away from their desks and walk, even if just for a minute.


When people don't use their brain, just like any other neglected muscle, they'll lose it.  Sometimes all it takes is someone to help them change the channel.




Did You Know: - A survey of 28,000 call centre staff revealed that 44 percent of employees say the boring and repetitive nature of their work is a main reason for wanting to resign. Source: Genesys




Quote:- "Sameness is the mother of disgust; variety the cure." Francesco Petrarch

The Truth About Fat

Everything You Need to Know About Fat, Including An Explanation Of Which Is Worse --- Belly Fat Or Thigh Fat.

For most of us, body fat has a bad reputation. From the dimply stuff that plagues women's thighs to the beer bellies that can pop out in middle-aged men, fat is typically something we agonize over, scorn, and try to exercise away.

But for scientists, fat is intriguing -- and becoming more so every day. "Fat is one of the most fascinating organs out there," says Aaron Cypess, MD, PhD, an instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a research associate at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. "We are only now beginning to understand fat."

"Fat has more functions in the body than we thought," agrees Rachel Whitmer, PhD, research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif., who has studied the links between fat and brain health.

To get the skinny on fat, WebMD asked four experts on fat -- who, not surprisingly, prefer not to be called fat experts -- to fill us in.

Fat is known to have two main purposes, says Susan Fried, PhD, director of the Boston Obesity and Nutrition Research Center at Boston University and a long-time researcher in the field.

  • Fat stores excess calories in a safe way so you can mobilize the fat stores when you're hungry.
  • Fat releases hormones that control metabolism.

But that's the broad brushstroke picture. Read on for details about various types of fat -- brown, white, subcutaneous, visceral, and belly fat.

Brown Fat

Brown fat has gotten a lot of buzz recently, with the discovery that it's not the mostly worthless fat scientists had thought.

In recent studies, scientists have found that lean people tend to have more brown fat than overweight or obese people -- and that when stimulated it can burn calories. Scientists are eyeing it as a potential obesity treatment if they can figure out a way to increase a person's brown fat or stimulate existing brown fat.

It's known that children have more brown fat than adults, and it's what helps them keep warm. Brown fat stores decline in adults but still help with warmth. "We've shown brown fat is more active in people in Boston in colder months," Cypess says, leading to the idea of sleeping in chillier rooms to burn a few more calories.

Brown fat is now thought to be more like muscle than like white fat. When activated, brown fat burns white fat.

Although leaner adults have more brown fat than heavier people, even their brown fat cells are greatly outnumbered by white fat cells. "A 150-pound person might have 20 or 30 pounds of fat," Cypess says. "They are only going to have 2 or 3 ounces of brown fat."

But that 2 ounces, he says, if maximally stimulated, could burn off 300 to 500 calories a day -- enough to lose up to a pound in a week.

"You might give people a drug that increases brown fat," he says. "We're working on one."

But even if the drug to stimulate brown fat pans out, Cypess warns, it won't be a cure-all for weight issues. It may, however, help a person achieve more weight loss combined with a sound diet and exercise regimen.

White Fat

White fat is much more plentiful than brown, experts agree. The job of white fat is to store energy and produce hormones that are then secreted into the bloodstream.

Small fat cells produce a "good guy" hormone called adiponectin, which makes the liver and muscles sensitive to the hormone insulin, in the process making us less susceptible to diabetes and heart disease.

When people become fat, the production of adiponectin slows down or shuts down, setting them up for disease, according to Fried and others.

Subcutaneous Fat

Subcutaneous fat is found directly under the skin. It's the fat that's measured using skin-fold calipers to estimate your total body fat.

In terms of overall health, subcutaneous fat in the thighs and buttocks, for instance, may not be as bad and may have some potential benefits, says Cypess. "It may not cause as many problems" as other types of fat, specifically the deeper, visceral fat, he says.

But subcutaneous fat cells on the belly may be another story, says Fried. There's emerging evidence that the danger of big bellies lies not only in the deep visceral fat but also the subcutaneous fat.

Visceral Fat

Visceral or "deep" fat wraps around the inner organs and spells trouble for your health. How do you know if you have it? "If you have a large waist or belly, of course you have visceral fat," Whitmer says. Visceral fat drives up your risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and even dementia.  

Visceral fat is thought to play a larger role in insulin resistance -- which boosts risk of diabetes -- than other fat, Whitmer tells WebMD. It's not clear why, but it could explain or partially explain why visceral fat is a health risk.

Whitmer investigated the link between visceral fat and dementia. In a study, she evaluated the records of more than 6,500 members of Kaiser Permanente of Northern California, a large health maintenance organization, for an average of 36 years, from the time they were in their 40s until they were in their 70s.

The records included details on height, weight, and belly diameter -- a reflection of the amount of visceral fat. Those with the biggest bellies had a higher risk of dementia than those with smaller bellies. The link was true even for people with excess belly fat but overall of normal weight.

She doesn't know why belly fat and dementia are linked, but speculates that substances such as leptin, a hormone released by the belly fat, may have some adverse effect on the brain. Leptin plays a role in appetite regulation but also in learning and memory.

Belly Fat

Belly fat has gotten a mostly deserved reputation as an unhealthy fat. "Understand that belly fat is both visceral and subcutaneous," says Kristen Gill Hairston, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, N.C. "We don't have a perfect way yet to determine which [of belly fat] is subcutaneous or visceral, except by CT scan, but that's not cost-effective."

Belly Fat (continued)...

But if you've got an oversize belly, figuring out how much is visceral and how much is subcutaneous isn't as important as recognizing a big belly is unhealthy, she says. How big is too big? Women with a waist circumference more than 35 inches and men with a waist circumference more than 40 inches are at increased disease risk.

Abdominal fat is viewed as a bigger health risk than hip or thigh fat, Whitmer and other experts say.  And that could mean having a worse effect on insulin resistance, boosting the risk of diabetes, and a worse effect on blood lipids, boosting heart and stroke risks.

Thigh Fat, Buttocks Fat

While men tend to accumulate fat in the belly, it's no secret women, especially if "pear-shaped," accumulate it in their thighs and buttocks.

Unsightliness aside, emerging evidence suggests that pear-shaped women are protected from metabolic disease compared to big-bellied people, says Fried.

"Thigh fat and butt fat might be good," she says, referring to that area's stores of subcutaneous fat. But the benefit of women being pear shaped may stop at menopause, when women tend to deposit more fat in the abdomen.

Weight Loss and Fat Loss

So when you lose weight, what kind or kinds of fat do you shed? "You're losing white fat," Fried tells WebMD. "People tend to lose evenly all over."

The results change a bit, however, if you add workouts to your calorie reduction, she says. "If you exercise plus diet you will tend to lose slightly more visceral fat from your belly."

"We're at an exciting point in science," says Whitmer, echoing the input from other scientists in the field.

Whitmer and others expect more discoveries about fat of all types to be made in the near future.

By Kathleen Doheny / Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD / WebMD Feature