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016: Working Hard, or Hardly Working? How lab culture affects your productivity.

During his first week as a postdoc, James was excited.  He stayed late to set up cultures and read a stack of papers.  The second week, he was surprised to notice he was the last one in the lab at 6PM – in his undergrad lab, you could expect to see people working past 10.

Over the next few weeks, James left earlier each evening, pushing off the next experiment until tomorrow.  By the end of six months, he wasn’t making progress and had lost some of his energy and passion for the project.

Embracing the buzz

In this metaphor, the queen is the PI and the drones are postdocs who do all the work for low wages….

Is your lab buzzing with activity at all hours of the day and night, or does everyone clear out before dinner?   It should come as no surprise that the work ethic of people around you can affect YOUR productivity.  Ignoring the subtle nuances of lab culture is an all-too-common mistake.

This week, we respond to a listener question about culture and productivity:

Hi Josh + Dan,

I would love to hear a discussion about the work culture and differing work ethic at different tiers of institutes. I visited Boston over the weekend and was struck by the urgency all around, which I miss at my institute…wonder how much more productive I would be surrounded by a “hive” mentality. What do you think?

We start by exploring those powerful phrases about urgency and a hive mentality and how they can motivate you to work harder.  But in the end, we have some doubts about whether you’ll only find that work ethic at certain universities.  In reality, it can vary by department or lab, so it’s extra important for you to know what you’re looking for and choose based on your own personality profile.

Ninja Cowboy Cat Rides Again!

Also in this episode, we celebrate fall with the new Pumpkin Spice Agarose from Fisher Scientific.  Don’t be surprised when you find your e. Coli wearing Uggs and a Northface jacket!

On the beer front, we continue to enjoy some beers sent to us from a listener in Wisconsin.  We do double-duty with Spotted Cow Ale from New Glarus Brewing Co. (New Glarus, WI) and Fantasy Factory India Pale Ale from Karben4 Brewing (Madison, WI).

The label on the Fantasy Factory is nearly indescribable:


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