Morning Advantage: The Quest for the Perfect Christmas Tree

“A seven-year evergreen will bear 350,000 needles, more or less. And if Gary Chastagner has his way this holiday season, precious few of them will end up on the parlor floor.” So begins Michael Tortorello’s fascinating New York Times piece about Dr. Gary Chastagner, the head of a Christmas tree lab at Washington State University, who’s leading a $1.3 million project to find the genes that cause trees to shed their damn needles everywhere.

Yes: that’s right. A Christmas tree lab. Pretty cool. But a $1.3 million project? Is that fiscally responsible? Yes — yes it is. In fact, the Christmas tree industry takes in about $1 billion annually, so the effort and cash are probably worth it. And since a lot of us like to buy our trees early — I’m talking before Thanksgiving — tree farmers are looking to cultivate trees that last from November (or sooner) through New Year's Day. Enter Chastagner, and a host of other researchers, who are finding new ways to grow more resilient trees. Take that, app economy. Ball's in your court.

HONESTY IS REALLY THE BEST POLICY

Worst Hiring Mistake: Misrepresenting the Job (Inc)

Some hiring managers like to fudge details in job descriptions? Who knew? Sarcasm aside, it’s almost impossible to encapsulate a job in a list of bullet points — even during an interview, it’s hard. But according to a recent study by Development Dimensions International, vague feedback about expectations and duties during the interview process leads to higher turnover. Of the 2,300 new-hires studied, 51% second-guessed their moves after three months on the job. Reasons include misinformation about expectations and future challenges, the company culture, and the current state of the org. Of course, some of these questions can’t be answered in clear-cut ways. Managers aren’t soothsayers. Nevertheless, when it comes to recruiting, here’s a good rule of thumb. Don’t hedge or hesitate. Just tell it straight.

THRIVING, THRIVING, THRIVING

Brazilians Aren't Just Strivers, They're Thrivers (Gallup)

Brazil, despite its poverty and a relative scarcity of steady, full-time jobs, has one of the highest "thriving" rates in the world, says Gallup. Thriving? You're "thriving" if you rate the quality of your current life as at least a 7, and expect your future life to be at least an 8 on a 1-to-10 scale. That’s good news for Brazil. But in order to maintain its economic momentum, Gallup says, it must add significant numbers of steady jobs. One last thing. Is it me, or is "thriving" one of those words that immediately starts to sound like gibberish when you repeat it a few times?
Andy O'Connell

BONUS BITS:

The Answer is No

Could You Survive on $2 a Day? (Mother Jones)
Why Billionaires Will Still Pour Millions Into Politics (The Christian Science Monitor)
The Science of Our Optimism Bias and the Life-Cycle of Happiness (Brain Pickings)

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