News and advice on management and the business environment — June/July 2016

A Chicago financial analyst jammed mobile phone signals on his daily train commute. Plus, more than four in 10 professionals lose sleep thinking about work, new research shows.


Vigilante or commuter hero?

Just like Marvel’s superhero Daredevil, Dennis Nicholl took the law into his own hands to silence the villains plaguing his city: irritatingly loud cellphone talkers. “Disturbed” by the people chattering on his daily train commute, the 63-year-old accountant in Chicago repeatedly used an illegal device imported from China to jam the signal of all mobile phones within 50 feet. Area police were tipped off to Nicholl’s ongoing mischief and set up an undercover sting to catch him in the act. Initially, they booked him on a felony charge of unlawful interference with a public utility, but later reduced the charge to a misdemeanor of tampering with communication services. Nicholl, a financial analyst for the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System, had no “malicious intent,” his lawyer said.


Leaders tend to have wider mouths

Prime Minister Trudeau 

Being a big mouth may not necessarily be the mark of a leader, but having a wide mouth is, new research finds. According to a University of Toronto study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, people with wide mouths not only tend to be more successful at leadership in business and politics, they’re also perceived to be better leaders by others.

One part of the study asked participants to look at various photos of faces and rate how successful they thought each would be as a leader. They gave higher ratings to those with wider mouths. Researchers also looked at real-world examples of US leaders, and found that CEOs with wider puckers lead more profitable companies, and senatorial candidates with this feature were more likely to have won a seat than their narrow-mouthed counterparts.


Workers spend two weeks a year in tech hell

Professionals waste an average of 19 minutes each day dealing with IT-related headaches, according to a survey of Canadian office workers by Robert Half Technology. For someone who works five eight-hour days for 50 weeks of the year, that translates into a loss of nearly 80 hours a year. While there are literally thousands of ways to better use those 19 minutes (reading CPA Magazine, for example), Robert Half proposed the following: get a coffee with a coworker, brainstorm, clean your desk, organize your inbox. If only.


Sleep is no respite for some

Man having a sleepless night 

More than four in 10 (44%) workers say thinking about work keeps them up at night, according to a US survey for recruiting firm CareerBuilder. But even amongst the sleepers, a significant proportion still can’t get work out of their heads. Sixty percent dream about work and 13% say it happens all the time or often. So what exactly happens in these nightmares and reveries? About 10% had dreams where they told off the boss, got in a fight with a coworker or showed up to work in pajamas or half naked. And yes, 14% dreamed about hooking up with a coworker.