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THE BOTTOM LINE
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'Alone Together'

Warning: We are connected like never before, but we’re losing the art of conversation. Young professionals need to start talking more.

by steve churm
CEO/Executive Editor, Churm Media
Published: May 01, 2012

I’m asked often about the ingredients needed to succeed. Particularly those under age 40 seem fixated on what it takes to separate from competitors and win big in business. My response is simple: When you ride a bike, your head should be up looking beyond the handlebars at the horizon. If you are staring down at the wheels, you’re likely to plow into a wall or land in a ditch.
   
Business is no different. You have to be peering ahead, way ahead. That means set your phone or tablet down and actually think about what you are doing and where you are going with your career or business. To reach the top, you also must be conversational and engaged with the world.

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Look around in a restaurant at noontime or in an airport terminal or even your own office, and notice how many people are not talking with each other. Their heads are pointed down, squinting at a small screen on their smartphone. We are all guilty of it. But those under 40 have really grown up knowing no different.

It seems almost every new activity during the day begins or ends with a glance at our mobile devices. Worse yet, we increasingly give priority to anyone who calls, emails or texts over those sitting or standing right in front of us. It’s as if the president is calling or the head of the lottery is messaging to tell us we have just won Mega Millions. We genuflect in a way that makes no sense when we get pinged, chimed or chirped.
   
Experts say that the little devices most of us carry around are so powerful that they change not only what we do, but also who we are. MIT psychologist and professor Sherry Turkle writes about technology and its impact on human behavior in her new book, “Alone Together.”