This Week in Thought Leaders: Writing a To-Do List for President Obama, Blowing Up Job Interviews, and More

November 10, 2012

It’s the question on the lips of every political commentator in the country: How should President Obama spend his next four years in office?

After his election victory on Tuesday, Obama pledged to reduce the deficit, re-write immigration laws, restructure the tax code and push for more energy independence. That’s an ambitious start. But LinkedIn’s Influencers want more.

In some of this week’s most widely shared posts, they outlined a second term to-do list for the president that touches on everything from higher-education reform to the need for more emotional intelligence.

John Burns revealed what the president – and members of his cabinet – need to do to maintain a recovery in the real estate market. T. Boone Pickens shared his hopes for the president’s energy policy. And Arianna Huffington implored the president and lawmakers to spend more time discussing climate change after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.

Jeff Selingo, meanwhile, warned of a “fiscal cliff” for low-income college students and a worsening student-loan crisis. More than $1 trillion in student-loan debt is outstanding in the U.S., and $100 million in new loans are given annually. Selingo called on the government and colleges to enact limits and flexibility to prevent families from overborrowing.

Putting these suggestions into place won’t be easy, though, given the political gridlock. That’s why Daniel Goleman says politicians need some post-election “group IQ” – glorified social skills – to learn how they can work together.

Neil Barofsky, for his part, urged Americans to watch Elizabeth Warren for an example of governing effectiveness. The newly elected Senator from Massachussetts knows finance, having founded the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and should play a big role in banking regulations, Barofsky wrote. "The Senate has never seen anyone quite like Warren," he says.

What issues do you want to see the president and members of Congress address? Comment on our Influencers’ posts, and have your say. Or, if you’re sick of the political drama, take a look at these six (non-political) posts that are worth a read:

Hunter Walk: Try Before You Buy: Why Smart People and Smart Companies Are Ditching the Interview The interview process is flawed. A candidate that presents well one-on-one could turn out to be a disaster on the job. So should companies get rid of interviews, and invite applicants in for job tryouts instead? More employers are taking that approach, and Walk says it often makes sense for everyone involved.

Geni Whitehouse: To DIY or Not to DIY? For Many Small Businesses, That Is the Question Small business owners pride themselves on their resourcefulness. But sometimes it doesn’t pay to handle every task – or trip to Home Depot – that's required to run a business. So when should you go it alone, and when should you get some help? Whitehouse offers 14 suggestions to avoid going from DIY (do-it-yourself) to DIW (doing-it-wrong).

Tim Brown: The U.K. Government Shows How to Design for Simplicity Navigating a government website in the U.S. is often a painful experience. Not so in the U.K. Brown, the CEO of IDEO, explains how the government there replaced 750 separate websites with a one-stop shop that’s both useful and visually stunning.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk: The Wisdom of Your Employees Top companies are obsessed with employee engagement. So how many actually engage employees in conversation? Gottschalk ponders the question and describes why a simple, powerful phrase – “What do you think?” – can change a company.

Martin Varsavsky: So What’s Wrong With The States? There's much to love about the U.S. In the interest of improvement, though, Varsavsky points out some of the nation's biggest flaws. The country ranks 38th in life expectancy, for example, the legal system is expensive, and the murder rate is higher than many other developed nations. Varsavsky's question: Why aren't more Americans discussing these problems in conversations?

Nancy Kruse: Southern Comfort How does America's current obsession with southern fare -- grits, fried chicken and sweet potatoes -- relate to Italy? Kruse, just back from Italy's Puglia region, finds the surprising similarities.

Editor’s Note: This blog post is syndicated from LinkedIn Editor Chip Cutter. Follow him on LinkedIn for more.

Photo credits: Kevin Gebhardt/WCHI News (Obama election rally); Nicholas Dynan/WBUR (Elizabeth Warren acceptance speech); both used under a Creative Commons license.