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From Toxic Cultures To Biohacking: October’s Top Leadership Stories

This month’s top stories may help you recognize a toxic work culture and head off your stress-driven impulse to micromanage.

From Toxic Cultures To Biohacking: October’s Top Leadership Stories

In October, we learned how to identify red flags that signal unhealthy work environments, how stress could be turning you into a micromanager–and stressing you out even more in the process–and what one writer learned when he tried out intermittent fasting in the name of productivity.

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These are the the stories you loved in Leadership for the month of October.

1. How To Identify A Toxic Culture Before Accepting A Job Offer

Many companies tout their “amazing culture and values” when they recruit. But don’t just take hiring managers at their word. Be on the lookout for signs that the reality might not live up to the hype. Common things to watch for include: How is the office laid out? Are candidates acting relaxed, or formal and rigid? Does the office smell like food? As one contributer shared this month, “I use that as a litmus test in my own leadership, because if people are eating at their desks, we either don’t have a good plan or we’re scrambling when we should be scaling.”

2. This Recruiter Shares The Questions The Smartest Job Candidates Asked

Almost every job interview will end with the hiring manager asking, “So do you have any questions for us?” In most cases, “What’s a typical day here like?” or even just, “When will I hear back from you?” are perfectly adequate responses. But there may be ways to leave a more memorable impact. Over the course of interviewing thousands of candidates, Johnson & Johnson’s Sjoerd Gehring reveals the smartest questions he’s heard from aspiring employees.

3. Stress Is Making You Micromanage, Which Is Making Everything Worse

It’s natural to tighten your grip on things when you’re feeling like you’re losing control. If you’re a manager, perhaps you’re hovering over your teams more than usual, asking them for dozens of updates. You tell yourself it’s just for your peace of mind, but chances are it’s fraying your nerves even worse than before. We learned how stress can lead to micromanaging, and what it takes to break the vicious cycle that exacerbates those work pressures.

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4. This Is How The Way You Read Impacts Your Memory And Productivity

We know that taking notes by hand helps us learn better, but as Fast Company’s Michael Grothaus reports, our brains might also prefer analog reading. According to one study, we overestimate our ability to comprehend information when reading from a digital device. This makes us speed through the materials, typically leading to lower comprehension rates overall.

5. Why This Feminist Weed Camp Isn’t Just For White Women

Many people associate wellness retreats with “white, upper-middle-class, Lululemon-clad women.” But when Fast Company’s Rina Raphael attended Ganja Goddess Getaway, a women-only cannabis camp, that wasn’t what she encountered. In fact, nearly 40% of the women are minorities–Latinas, African-Americans, and LGBTQ people. The camp’s cofounder, Deidra Bagdasarian, told Raphael, “We take an interest in minority groups, because as women we know what it like to be disenfranchised.”

6. This Is What Happened When I Tried The Silicon Valley “Biohacking” Fasting Trend

Some in Silicon Valley go to extreme lengths to maximize their productivity. A small but growing practice, popular among startup founders and tech execs, is intermittent fasting–not for health and weight-loss but to provide “super-fuel” for the brain. This month one brave writer tried it out for a week. Here’s how he fared.

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7. This Introvert’s Secret To Happiness: Be Less “Successful”

The typical path to professional triumphs often favors extroverts: Go boldly after the biggest job, network aggressively, and talk up your expertise in front of lots of people. Morra Aarons-Mele had it all by doing those things, but along the way she realized it was making her miserable. In October she shared why introverts might need to let go of striving for society’s usual emblems of “success.” As an alternative, Aarons-Mele explains how she arrived at her own definition of “making it”–one that caters to her own priorities, protects her sanity, and actually makes her happy.

8. Six Ways To Pull Yourself Out Of A Work Slump

You greet Sunday with a sense of dread, feel nauseous when Monday morning rolls around, and slog through the rest of the week. If this is your life, there are still steps you can take short of quitting your job. This month we learned how to take an inventory and turn it into an action plan. For instance, maybe you can dig deep into what really makes you unhappy: Is it your coworkers, or the projects that you’re doing? Is there one particular aspect of your job that you do like, and if so, can you find more tasks and projects like that?

9. Introvert Or Extrovert? Here’s Another Way To Think About Your Personality

You know the stereotypes: Extroverts love being in the spotlight, while introverts avoid social gatherings so they can spend time alone. But this black-and-white conception of personality is pretty reductive. It’s entirely possible to be an introvert who’s the life of the party, just as long as you can get some alone time to recharge afterwards. Writer Anne Loehr explains why most people fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, and are better classified as “ambiverts.”

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10. Ask These 9 Questions Before Every Meeting To Avoid Wasting Time

If most of your meetings feel like a waste of time, it might be because they’re poorly planned–run on autopilot without anyone having paused beforehand to question the meeting’s necessity or its goal. But meetings can be useful, if you ask yourself the right questions well in advance–from what you’re hoping to get out of it to what other attendees should come prepared with.