Need a new job? Become a full-time, professional ninja in Japan

Published: Thursday, March 17, 2016 @ 1:21 PM
Updated: Thursday, March 17, 2016 @ 2:15 PM

            File photo of a ninja.
File photo of a ninja.

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Looking for a career change? Sharpen your swords and work on your stealth — Japan needs six full-time ninjas.

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BBC reports Japan’s Aichi prefecture is looking to hire the ninjas who will be paid 180,000 yen, roughly $1,600 a month.

The ad says applicants need to excel in physical fitness and acrobatic skills with the job aimed to “promote warlord tourism.” No killing or combat experience is required.

Other duties include “PR work” on radio and television and performances. The ninjas will be used mostly for promotional purposes with performances at the historic Nagoya Castle.

BBC added that another prefecture has a ninja museum, which includes history lessons coupled with stunt work by trained ninjas, and it has been very popular.

Anyone 18 or older can apply. The deadline is March 22.

Read more at BBC.

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Become a rent-a-friend? 6 under-the-radar ways to make some extra cash

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 1:40 PM

Uber isn't the only option for making extra money Become a notary public Start dog walking and pet sitting Be a modern-day disc jockey Or a freelance personal chef Clean garages and attics Be a computer tutor Or a picture framer

Need some extra cash or an ongoing side hustle?

It can pay (literally) to get a little creative. In fact, in today's inventive economy, it can pay even more if you go beyond "creative" and into the realm of pretty weird. Still, as long as they're legal (and the following suggestions are), what does it hurt to bring home the bucks in an odd fashion?

»RELATED: 5 unique side gigs you’ll probably enjoy more than your day job

For those who are open to an off-kilter experience and not ashamed to show it, here are six odd - but perfectly legal - ways to make money:

Serve as an online mock juror

It's fairly random, because it's not guaranteed that you'll get called, but if you sign up on sites like Sign Up Direct, you can get paid to become a surrogate juror.

Here's how it works: parties to a legal case require jury-eligible citizens from particular venues. Those selected listen to the case and decide the issues in the same way they would on a convened jury. Most sessions last either eight to 10 hours on a weekend or five to seven hours on weekdays and pay between $100 and $150 per session, just as soon as the "verdict" is returned.

Get paid to be a buddy

Consider the RentaFriend website, which takes applications for people who are wiling to provide (strictly platonic, no touching allowed) friendship in exchange for hourly pay that starts around $10. Fringe benefits include free meals and entertainment like concerts and sporting events.

The reasons people rent friends include needing a date for a business event or wedding or wanting someone to do stuff with in a new town. Some of the friends employed are able to offer additional services, like tutoring in a foreign language or etiquette advice. Do note that RentaFriend doesn't perform background checks on either its friends or its members.

Deliver phone books to real live doorsteps

While those yellow phone books may be old-school, individuals and charity groups who deliver them make modern-day money for their efforts.

Yellow Books doesn't pull any punches about the difficulty of the work: "Make no mistake, this is no walk in the park," they say. "It's good old-fashioned door to door deliveries so that means lacing up those runners, heading out into the fresh air and getting that blood pumping!”

On the plus side, you only have to be 18 or older, you can earn more the harder you work, you get paid four or five times per week during delivery season and you can often choose your turf. Yellow Books recommends checking out the active delivery locations listed on its "Where & When" page and then attending a 30 minute orientation to get started. 

(Drew Angerer/Getty)

Drop in on lazy dogs. Or maybe iguanas

While Rover is known as the nation's largest network of pet sitters and dog walkers, it also offers a "drop-in" option. That means you can create a business through them (if you pass the qualifications test) where you mostly stop by to feed and check on low-maintenance dogs, cats or caged pets. 

Play video games

Apparently, a few experts actually make a living playing the popular golf arcade game Golden Tee. In 2017, GO Banking Rates advised gamers to check out the earning potential of playing games while streaming live on video platforms like Twitch. "There, fans can interact with you as you play. Of course, it helps if you're actually good at the game, and can talk strategy and character builds. On Twitch, streamers with a few thousand followers and five-figure views earn an average of $3,000 to $5,000 per month playing 40 hours per week, and that's just off subscriptions. On top of that, ad revenue averages about $250 for every 100 subscribers."

According to the Smartasset blog, the three components of a Twitch channel are the game play itself, the webcam video of the player and the audio commentary. "That means broadcasters need a computer or console and other gaming equipment, plus a camera and a microphone headset for broadcasting purposes."

Make your backyard a wedding venue

"Renting out your property for backyard weddings is also a great way for homeowners to generate income while helping couples create a special day their guests will never forget," according to the Install It Direct blog. Venuelust estimated that engaged couples will spend anywhere from $2,500 to $30,000 for a unique venue, but of course you could start smaller in the beginning.

If you're sold on the idea, Venuelust offers a complete guide to renting your home for wedding events. They begin with the advice to avoid potential liability by listing with a venue management company like Estate Weddings and Events that takes precautions to protect you from such risks. 


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Should you talk about your pay? Career experts weigh in

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 10:20 AM

Pay transparency helps workers understand their earnings in relation to the salaries of their peers Make sure you're allowed to talk about pay levels Pay is still a touchy subject so be discreet Consider talking outside the office Once you have shared your earnings, don't expect to get the same information in return

Even with nearly every cultural taboo thrown to the wind− from discussing sexual orientation to politics; one last conversational taboo still exist among Americans − how much we get paid.

»RELATED: As of today, the average American woman started working for free

"These days, it's okay to talk about the troubles we're having with our children or even our marriages," noted one blogger from PayScale. "We can talk about race, religion, identity, etc., outside of work. But, do we talk with each other about our salaries? Oh goodness, absolutely not. That's way too personal, and it's a conversation fraught with danger."

But what if this is a mistake? Salary transparency at work can be beneficial right on down the line. First, it could ultimately help right the gender pay gap. (Think about what might have happened if Michelle Williams had learned in conversation early on that she was getting literally millions less than Mark Walhberg for the reshoot of “All the Money in the World”, for example.) 

"Pay transparency helps workers understand their earnings in relation to the salaries of their peers," PayScale noted. "Openly sharing our financial truth with one another, both inside and outside of the office, is one of the best weapons we have against it."

Openly talking about earnings can also support job satisfaction and employee retention. PayScale studies have shown that people most often leave their jobs over pay issues, for example. But 55 percent of the respondents who thought they were being underpaid actually weren't, a factor that would be eliminated if people talked readily about their earnings.

On an individual level, though, there are two strong points of view about whether you should talk about what you earn with co-workers.

In a 2015 Huffington Post article , the answer to "Should you talk about what you earn" was a loud, yes.

"If you want to make sure you're being paid fairly, go ahead and talk to your co-workers about how much you make. Seriously," HuffPost said. 

The article cites the now landmark case of Erica Baker, a former Google engineer, who posted a shared spreadsheet asking co-workers to reveal their salaries. About 5 percent of her co-workers responded, Baker noted in a Tweet.

"People asked for and got equitable pay," she tweeted, "based on the data in the sheet."

But the "go ahead, it's all good" mentality is by no means widespread even three years later. In an early 2018 LinkedIn viewpoint roundup, based on an anonymous spreadsheet of entertainment employee salaries being shared widely that week, biotechnology executive Barrett S. McGrath gave a top-rated answer to the question, "Should you tell your co-workers what you earn?"

His final answer: "No, no, hell no. Never discuss comp with coworkers."

» RELATED: The U.S. doesn’t even crack the top 15 best countries for women 

McGrath based his answer on advice from his first district manager. 

"He told me, 'There is absolutely nothing good that can come from discussing salary and compensation with a co-worker, ever. At best, everyone feels fine because comp about the same. Inevitably, one of the two parties will be compensated less. A person who, just prior to the conversation, felt perfectly fine about their job and comp, now does not."

No matter whether you side with McGrath or Payscale, it's a tricky wicket. 

Other business experts shared these tips to help make the decision, and, if you decide to talk, how to go about it:

Make sure you're allowed to. Supervisors aren't protected under federal law, according to the Huffpost piece, and neither are government employees, though typically their pay levels are publicly available. 

Be discreet. Pay is still a pretty touchy subject, Huffpost noted, adding, "Don't corner your colleague in the bathroom and demand to see his pay stub." 

Choose your words. HP advised something like, "Hey, I want to make sure I'm being paid fairly. Would you mind telling me how much you make?" Also assure your colleague you'll keep his name out of any salary negotiations you initiate.

Consider talking outside the office. Talk over a cocktail or coffee.

Speak for yourself. "Once you have shared your earnings, don't necessarily expect to get the same information in return," PayScale advised. "Although being open about pay might be good for us, it's a personal choice. Don't share what you earn because you want someone to return the favor. Leave that decision to them."

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7 ways to avoid talking politics at work

Published: Tuesday, February 13, 2018 @ 7:26 AM

Women are interrupted 30% more than men in the workplace Being constantly interrupted by men, or "manterrupted," quiets women and makes them lose confidence To avoid spiraling into self-doubt, here are some tips to put a stop to interruptions Speak with conviction using words like 'know' instead of 'believe' Use shorter sentences so your breaths in between aren't as long, making it harder to interrupt Lean in and make eye contact Speak authoritatively and don't open remarks with any type of apology Be sur

Remember when the presidential election was over and everyone breathed a sigh of relief, thinking we could all go back to talking about sports and kids, not politics?

»RELATED: 9 secrets you should keep to yourself at work

Of course, that's not what happened at all: Contentious political conversations abound everywhere, from Facebook to daycare to the corner bar.

But when they spring up in the workplace, awkward can become inappropriate.

Avoiding political conversations isn't always possible, but knowing how to neutrally navigate them is crucial in the workplace.(Contributed by the AJC)

"No good comes from it," Alec Beck, a labor and employment attorney at Ford Harrison in Minneapolis, told Inc. "All it does is make people mad."

But staying away from political talks in the workplace is about as easy as keeping it secret that someone put out doughnuts in the break room.

(Note: If you are the one who thinks you have every right to speak politics in the workplace, hold it right there. Not only are Freedom of Speech rights not protected in the workplace, you may also inadvertently be veering into issues of race, gender, age or religion, which are protected by the federal Civil Rights Act's Title VII. )

Still, trying to steer away from political conversations is a win-win strategy, according to Gregg Ward, author of "The Respectful Leader: Seven Ways To Influence Without Intimidation," told Inc. 

He and other workplace and communication experts suggested these tactics for avoiding or defusing political conversations at work:

Buy time. When co-workers are hanging out and someone asks you if you saw the latest news or something an elected official said about a particular issue, "play dumb," Ward advised. "Someone with a strong opinion will go into teaching mode instead of venting emotionally. This gives you time to listen and respond appropriately."

Look for common ground. To give the impression that you're still involved in the conversation, respond in a way that's completely true but still impartial. Ward recommended saying, "I think we can all agree that's a very controversial (or loaded or difficult or challenging) topic."

Be authentic, not transparent. It's hard to work with someone everyday and not mention [recent political developments], Liane Davey, co-founder of 3COze Inc. told Harvard Business Review. But you don't need to get drawn in just because the topic comes up.

"Being authentic doesn't equal transparent," she said. "Don't be a Clinton supporter in the women's washroom and a Trump supporter with your boss, but you also don't need to be fully candid about everything you think and feel."

Artfully shift the conversation toward a neutral subject, Davey suggested, or focus on related topics that aren't candidate specific, like the lack of nonpartisan media coverage. "Speak about the process, not the candidate," she said.

Employ a bit of humor. You may be able to avoid a lengthy political discussion by poking a little fun at the instigator, according to Ward. "If they're a halfway decent person you can look at them with a big smile and say, 'Tell us what you really think' and they'll realize they've gone over the top," he said.

Disengage. If you find that you can't keep your cool, take responsibility for being frustrated and angry, and exit the conversation, HBR recommended. But if a colleague's incessant political talk is both "grating and distracting," speak directly to your colleague in simple straightforward terms that indicate you don't want to talk and you're getting back to work now.

Ward added that none of these tactics will work with a sociopath. "If somebody's a true sociopath what I generally say is, 'You'll have to excuse me -- I have to use the restroom,' and I will literally walk away," he said. "I'm not going to win with that person. They are going to cause an explosion."

So if we're not talking politics, what will we say instead?

When politics have dominated workplace conversations in the past, you may need inspiration to start focusing your non-business talk on something more appropriate (and enjoyable.) The Balance reported on these potential topics:
  • Talk about dogs. Even people who don't love dogs can usually entertain a few minutes of doggie anecdotes.
  • Talk about vacation plans. Whether you're going somewhere fun, just returned or bemoaning that this time last year you were somewhere much more enchanting, your co-workers may like to hear about it.
  • Share recipes. Everybody's got to eat. Share your own culinary adventures (think of it like Instagram without the photo), or ask your colleagues for a recipe you might use for, say, a date night or to take to a potluck.
  • Recommend a restaurant. Extra points if it's near work or great lunch spots.
  • Talk about books, movies or television shows. Everyone can use news of the entertaining. This suggestion does not extend to politicized choices, though.


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7 mistakes first-time bosses make and how to avoid them

Published: Tuesday, February 13, 2018 @ 5:18 PM

When you think it's time to leave your job, how do you depart in a way that avoids repercussions? Create a loose transition plan for your boss Envision what you can do to make the transition easier on the team When meeting with your employer, use the "compliment sandwich" method Consider how leaving your job will affect your family Leave under good conditions if at all possible

Kudos! You've moved up the corporate ladder and are on top of your career. That's right: You're now the boss.

However, managing a department, division or corporation doesn't mean it's time to lean back in your office chair and prop up your feet. Yet, this type of lax approach to leadership is often seen in executive positions across various industries and unfortunately ends in employee turnover.

»RELATED: Does birth order affect you in the workplace?

The bigger the title, the bigger the managerial responsibility of ensuring you and your professional posse are meeting company goals and expectations, correct? Not necessarily so. Some bosses are actually better at abusing this crucial role than excelling in it.

Emmanuel Little, director of Georgia’s first and only Call Me MiSTER program designed to train students of diverse backgrounds to become talented teachers, warns about the following pitfalls of making bad boss moves and how to prevent them.

So new business owners, principals, presidents or directors should avoid these common administrative blunders if the aim is to build a loyal, successful team for years ahead:


Not leading by example. If you expect workers to put in overtime and interrupt their personal lives to meet project deadlines, show them you're in it to win it with them. Employees appreciate and respect bosses who show up early and leave late along with them, which sets a tone of togetherness. “It’s about practicing what you preach,” said Little, who launched the high school to higher education mentoring program four years ago at Georgia College in Milledgeville. “The biggest way to do that is to model what you want your team to produce, and they will respect you for that. Showing your team instead of always telling them goes a long way.”


Not giving credit where credit is due. If an employee is alleviating responsibilities from your plate and doing a darn good job at it, don't steal their contribution thunder by not acknowledging their efforts to make you look good. Make sure you genuinely express gratitude for their dedication to the task at hand, and if higher-ups brag about the results as well, don't hesitate to recognize the one who covered your back. “It’s important to have different ways of recognizing the ones who are producing exceptional work,” Little said. “Lack of recognition could potentially create negative effects in morale and productivity. You want to make sure your team knows that you care, so figure out how you can uplift and celebrate them when they’ve gone above the call of duty.”


Not compensating hard workers. Employees who constantly produce undeniable results that bring award-winning company recognition, new business and significant solutions to business problems should know they're valued. Promotions, bonuses and raises show these hard workers their talent and time spent on projects is appreciated and deserves compensation that matches their skill set. “Most of the time decision makers have power over resources, so if you’re that person in your division or office, really consider opportunities to compensate your hardest workers,” said Little, “and that doesn’t always mean money in the pocket. Maybe its paying for them to attend a national conference for professional development, self-care days, gift cards or office birthday parties. They need to know they’re seen as assets, not just workers.”


Not considering diverse discourse. Blocking out team members' options, ideas or views to improve office workflow can potentially decrease productivity and morale. Employees may feel as though they don't have a voice or serve as a true stakeholder within the brand. Ignoring simple suggestions from workers that could benefit daily operations or demanding assignments could lead to top performers leaving for better work environments — or worse — a similar position with the company's competition. “Bosses have to be very intentional with placing diverse team members into positions where each one of their voices can be heard,” he said.

“Encouraging them to participate on boards and committees across the company brings intersections of identity to the table and helps account for blind spots in the organization. Greater diversity and inclusion leads to greater success and efficiency.”


Not offering advancement opportunities. The more your team members know, the more they can successfully execute roles and responsibilities. Hindering or failing to make employees aware of career advancement conferences or events that will give them elevation edge only stifles their creativity and ability to become influential change agents within the company. Showing your constant support to their growth motivates them to continue to perform well, according to

“Bosses also have to be proactive with putting their team into positions that will challenge and improve their skills,” Little said. “Opening up opportunities for them to grow only strengthens their talent level and elevates the organizaton by keeping everyone on the path of producing the best results possible. So identify your team’s abilities, cultivate those abilities and watch how the team excels together.”


Not holding oneself, unproductive employees accountable. Slackers always rub diligent workers the wrong way, according to a piece on how to be an effective team by Fast Company. When the boss and colleagues habitually communicate that meeting deadlines and achieving goals is not a big deal, it only says to those who take their position seriously that the organization is counterproductive to career and company growth. “Bosses need to outline and articulate clear expectations,” said Little. “If you can’t hold yourself accountable, how can you expect any type of accountability from your team? So set straightforward expectations for everyone and eliminate gray areas. That’s why assessments like annual employee evaluations are critical to track the team’s progress.”


Not operating with a humble heart. Employees lose interest in know-it-all bosses quickly. Let's face it: Information and the way companies do business changes every day. Some bosses welcome novel strategies to reach brand objectives; others deflect it and would rather stick with what they know — even if it's not working. From the newest employees to veterans, it doesn't hurt to pick their business brains to learn modern or unconventional approaches to increase output and improve the company culture. “Bosses have to remember: It’s not about you,” Little said. “The mission of the organization is bigger than you. The best leaders want to create teams that help sustain organizations and initiatives long after they’re gone. You want to stay connected to the mission/vision of the business, advancing it and not your ego. So if the team has solutions to make the organization better, listen to them.” 




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