This Week in Thought Leaders: Living on Food Stamps, Making the No. 1 Career Mistake, and More

December 9, 2012

Newark mayor Cory Booker was running out of food.

It was the fourth day of his week-long challenge to live on the equivalent of food stamps, and his supplies were thinning. After eating an apple for breakfast, and canned chickpeas for lunch, Booker needed to make some choices.

“I’m realizing more and more that my current daily food intake cannot continue at the same pace,” he wrote on Friday. “And so my new focus is on smaller portions spread throughout the day.”

Booker began his experiment after a Twitter user questioned the role of government in providing food for low-income residents. He challenged that user to join him in living on food stamps for a week.

He could spend just $4.32 per day, similar to the amount provided to participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in New Jersey. With that limited budget, Booker could not afford coffee, many breakfast items or indulgences like his beloved Ben & Jerry’s. That led to some surprises and regrets, as he documented his experience on LinkedIn.

He questioned his grocery purchases, for instance, wondering why he hadn’t spent money to buy eggs. He yearned for coffee, noting that the lack of caffeine had led to painful headaches. But his biggest challenge came when he was forced to have a meeting in a bakery.

“This was difficult and perhaps the greatest test of my resolve yet,” he explained. “Right after the meeting I hustled back to my car and downed more beans, cauliflower and broccoli and tried to imagine that it was Christmas cookies and cake.”

His posts quickly became some of the most popular of the week. Many LinkedIn users applauded his efforts, and said they planned to take the challenge with him. Booker said he had been pleased with the conversations about food injustice happening across America.

There was another reason to be optimistic. Even with his food-stamp challenge, Booker still found energy to rush to the scene of a traffic accident in Newark this week to help the injured, the New York Daily News reported. The takeaway? “His hunger and caffeine withdrawal haven’t dulled his superhero reflexes.”

Here’s a look at some other highlights from the week:

Greg McKeown: The No. 1 Career Mistake Capable People Make McKeown recently reviewed a resume from a talented individual. She had great experience. And, yet, there was a big problem – one that affects lots of professionals.

Chris Seper: How to Save a Newspaper – Stop Being a Newspaper The discussion over how to save big hometown newspapers is misguided, Seper writes. Yes, newspapers can be salvaged – but only if they stop acting like newspapers. He explains how selling the printing presses, paying big money for digital executives and establishing a “Skunkworks Division” can transform newspapers into media companies.

Sallie Krawcheck: Banks Can Increase Returns by NOT Raising Fees on Low-Income Customers Banks like to brag when they cleanup a park or build a home. Those community service projects are admirable, but there’s another way that these companies can make a difference: by not raising fees on the poor, and by providing more financial education. “Let’s face it,” Krawcheck writes, “the big banks are not one sharp advertising campaign away from restoring their reputations.”

Christopher Elliott: 5 Signs You’re an ‘Entitled’ Elite Air Traveler A small group of frequent travelers are ruining the air travel experience for everyone. These road warriors believe only “real” travelers fly to their destinations. They pout when their upgrades don’t clear. And they use demeaning terms – “amateurs” or “leisure travelers” – to refer to people who don’t fly as often. This is annoying, sure. But it also leads to a bigger problem at airlines.

Jeff Haden: 10 Things Bosses Wish They Could Tell Employees There’s a lot employees don’t know about their bosses. Managers, believe it or not, do want to be liked. They want to give you more money. And they’re even happy when you’re having fun at work.

Click here to read more from our thought leaders, or to nominate luminaries you think should be sharing their insights on LinkedIn.

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