Jim Collins on “The Knowledge Podcast”

Just ran across “The Knowledge Podcast” with Shane Parrish. It’s first episode was in 2015 and there are 68 episodes with lots of interesting people – mostly people I’m reading or listing to in other places. I’ve already listened to 3 more and have added 4-5 more to my “waiting to listen to” list.

In this episode, Jim Collins (author of Good to Great and many other cornerstone business books of our generation / not sure what generation that is actually) talks about luck, leadership, ambition, decision making, what it is for a company to be on a 20 mile march, firing bullets before firing cannonballs and the 2 key components to LEARNING how to be a leader.

Image Source: chiefexecutive.net

Luck

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Creative Calling. Book by @chasejarvis

I’ve listened to a few Chase Jarvis Podcasts over the years and the ways he connects with his guest are always real. I’m also a big fan of his Creative Live (CL) app where I learned photography from the ground up – something that I’ve enjoyed since I was a kid – but never understood well enough to be even average.

I don’t know if I would be taking photos if I didn’t run across the Creative Live app. I don’t know if I knew I wanted to take photos. And I didn’t know I needed to read this book. But, I clearly did.

To “get” to this book, I needed to struggle with the “work” of photography. I had a very big misconception of what photography was going to look like for me and it is explained in this quote “the creative gap: it’s the distance between what we see in our mind’s eye — what we want to create — and the work we are actually able to create with our current skill set. It’s a painful disconnect. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap and your work will be as good as your ambitions . . . you’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

I wasn’t thinking of photography as “work” or “a fight” when I started. I should have known better. Since nothing interesting or meaningful for me hasn’t included either a lot of work or a lot of fight (nothing).

This book is about the “work”, the “fight” and the “creation”. It’s about putting in the work and things getting easier and better. it’s way less about talent and way more about work. It is a slow process that builds over time (like Jim Collin’s Flywheel in his book Good to Great).

Next for me is maybe starting to share what I’m creating. Until then, instead of sharing a photo (today), I decided to share this.

Image source: creativelive.com

Creativity

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What the Left Media Does Not Get

I get AND WELCOME all sides of the political debate. I live with a liberal (probably 2 liberals – my daughter/maybe and her mom/for sure*). I live in one of the most liberal zip codes in the country (look it up – 55405) and I work in two of the most conservative states in the country (Texas & Louisiana).

What I don’t welcome is people portraying themselves as neutral and not accepting that their personal opinion of something may not be accepted as fact by (probably) half the country.

If you support Trump you can’t deny that his lack of discipline with regards to his rhetoric makes it way too easy for those on the other side to label him as a racist. That doesn’t mean the majority of those supporters believe he is racist.

Most of Trump’s supporters DON’T believe he is racist. Maybe they are wrong about that – and is an entirely different discussion. But they can be wrong about something and still have an honest opinion that isn’t based on hate.

I have referred before to the article Our Culture of Contempt where Author Brooks describes the polarizing effect of assuming that “your ideology is based on love and your opponents is based on hate”.

If the left wants to be taken more seriously on the issue of race, they should stop labeling EVERY opponent they face as a racist. I’m 52 and have never voted for someone that the left hasn’t labeled as a racist. So sooner or later you just stop listening to the chatter.

Sadly, I don’t see the problem getting better – but getting worse.

Does Trump help? Probably not.

Does he make it worse? Probably so.

Is it necessary? I don’t know – but it might be.

In the mean time, it would be helpful if we could stick to what we want and stop ascribing motives to people’s beliefs and why they support the politicians they choose to support.

Nobody knows those things about other people and it leads us down a very dark path.

History says those dark paths are way darker than we understand and way harder to get back from than we can ever imagine.

*She would take issue with the “for sure”, and would probably say she is independent – which would not be correct. 🙂

The Problem on The Left (or the problem everywhere)

Democrats used to be the party of the working guy (sorry – working person).

They built their base of support by fighting for better wages and better benefits.  They knew those two things were the clearest path to improving the quality of life for their base.  

Today – not so much.  

Fighting for someone else, the old democratic party always held the moral high ground.  While the republicans always came across as fighting to selfishly keep what they had.  As I life long Republican – that is annoyingly true.  

The democrats today are in a tough spot.  They are now the ones in power. They control the board rooms, the banks, silicon valley, the media, and the richest zip codes in the country are overwhelmingly liberal.  

In the past, the democrats rallied AGAINST the powerful.  Today – they ARE the powerful.  

It is clear now that better wages and better benefits for the working class is now something that doesn’t work as well given the left’s new found power base.  

But parties have to fight for something.  So, now instead of fighting for better wages and better benefits for working people – they fight for diversity. 

Why?

They have to know  it isn’t real – 0r it isn’t as real as money.  

For sure isn’t measurable.  And even better – because if something isn’t measurable it is easy to keep moving the goal posts – pretending like we aren’t there yet.  

We are for sure 1000x more diverse today then at any other time in history and somehow TODAY it is our biggest issue?  Is happiness correlated to this 1000x improvement?  I know wages and benefits can be tied to happiness – up to a point.  I don’t remember MLK fighting for diversity.  He fought for economic justice – a fair shake.  Diversity – doesn’t guaranty any of that.  It just sounds or feels good.  It isn’t real.  


Sounding good or feeling good lets the left keep the moral high ground they held in the past.  The can still be THE virtuous party.  Even though they know what they are fighting for isn’t actually going to help anybody.  
Maybe more than power – the other driving force not just on the left but for us all is the ability to feel good about ourselves and what we are doing – the ability to feel virtuous.  


I’m sure diversity does improve quality of life.  It is why I live in the city and not the suburbs (at a much higher cost).  But at an individual human level it isn’t the same as someone being able to put food on their table or pay their rent.  Those are things most of the people in power  have forgotten – if they ever knew.  


In fairness – nobody in Washington (right or left) remembers any of that too well.   The path to riches in Washington is a very short path.  Look at where AOC lives now.  


Diversity may make people that don’t fret about things like paying for food and paying rent feel better.  But it is clearly not the first problem we should be trying to solve.   


Here is why.  

Solving real problems would most likely do way more to address the real issues we are facing.  

It is clear that the less fear people live in, the less hate they have.  And the less hate people have, the more easily people can love each other, or at the least – hate each other less.  

Telling anybody that they need to focus on loving and accepting others more, when they have a boot on their neck financially, only comes across as out of touch and naive.  


This is all clear to anybody that is paying attention.  Republicans have been the party of the rich (arguable – but mostly true) and now the democrats are the party of the powerful (who are now the REAL rich).    


The working class woke up 1 day and realized they didn’t have a voice anymore.  Trump became that voice and it is that simple.  


Trump didn’t create this problem.  He was the result of the problem.  
Somewhere along the way we stopped talking to each other.  And that stopped way before Trump.  


Deny that – and Trump wins again – for sure.  


For a clearer picture, watch the documentary American Chaos, by Jim Stern who documents his attempt to understand how someone like Trump came to be.  He hates Trump.  He doesn’t change his mind on Trump AT ALL.  But he does start to get the why.  


Or read this more recent article by Tucker Carlson


Two takes from opposites sides of the political spectrum – interestingly landing in pretty much the same place.  When half the country feels left out of the conversation – not a lot of good can happen.  


The only path to start fixing any of this is to start talking (actually listening).  And sadly for me – I don’t see that beginning under Trump.  But I also don’t see a better alternative.  

Trump didn’t create this mess – and he probably won’t fix it.  

Maybe we can at least learn something from all of this and be ready when a real conversation starts again.  How can we learn something? Stop talking and start listening. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

Peter Drucker’s One Request of Jim Collins (Be Useful)

After their initial meeting (2 days), Peter Drucker asked one thing of Jim Collins. Change your question from how to be successful to how to be useful.

“But I do have a request. That you change your question a little bit. It seems to me you spend a lot of time trying — worrying about if you’re going to survive. Well, you’ll probably survive. And you spend too much time thinking about if you’ll be successful. It’s the wrong question. The question is, “how to be useful?” And that was the last thing he said that day. He just got out of the car, and closed the door, and walked away.

Listen to Jim Collins tell the story on the Tim Ferris Podcast. Starts around 1hour 38minutes in.

Be honest (or accurate) about the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team’s Pay Gap

How are we supposed to take the issue of the gender pay gap seriously when “respected” leaders are at best out of touch, lazy, or worst – lying.  

Katie Jacobs Stanton sits on the Board of Directors for TIME. I doubt she is out of touch or dumb.  Can’t answer the lying part. 



Maybe there is another statistic that makes her case.  If so, she should have found and used that one.  Maybe her issue is that the US Men’s Team (who aren’t very good) get more money than the US Women’s Team (who are more than good).  If that is her beef, she has a point.  But it isn’t the point she made.  

The point she made is that the World Cup Men’s team winner got $400MM and the World Cup Women’s Team winner got $30MM.  I don’t know what she thinks they (men and women) should get. But, the underlying math in this case shows the women get a larger take of the gross than the men – actually 44% more.  




If there is a real gender pay gap (and I’m not saying there is or there isn’t), this type of reporting/tweeting isn’t helping to solve the problem.  

If solving the problem is the goal, 1) show where there is a real gender pay gap, 2) show what the facts, and 3) propose a real solution.  

If the gender pay gap is real, my daughter needs serious people to be way more serious and way less flip.  

Information Consumption

Reading

Reading Draft No. 4 by John McPhee cause I want to be a better writer.  In my mind I AM a good writer – up to the point I sit down to begin writing.

  the way to do a piece of writing is there or four times over, never once.  For me, the hardest part comes first, getting something – anything – out in front of me.  Sometimes in a nervous frenzy I just fling words as if I were flinging mud at a wall.  Blurt out, heave out, babble out something – anything – as a first draft.  With that, you have achieved a sort of nucleus.  Then as you work it over and alter it, you begin to shape sentences that score higher with the ear and eye.  Edit it again – top to bottom.  

Finished reading Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck which explores the differences between people who operate mostly from a fixed-mindset or a growth-mindset view of the world (“mostly” because nobody is all one or the other).

You Tube

Watched Who Are the Racists on Prager U

To call someone a racist is a serious charge. Conservatives are accused of racism by the left on a daily basis. Are the accusations fair? Or is something else going on? Derryck Green of Project 21 provides some provocative answers.

Podcasts

Went further down the Russell Brand rabbit hole and listened to 2 episodes he did with Jordan Peterson.  I want to do a post about the content of these episodes separately as they are very rich – so much that I listened to both episodes multiple times.  

Watched

Finished Game of Thrones (like most of the world) but 2x.  The second time through was 1000x better.  

Watched the entire series of Silicon Valley.  not what I expected at all – but worthwhile.  

Information Consumption

Books

Reading Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck which explores the differences between people who operate mostly from a fixed-mindset or a growth-mindset view of the world (“mostly” because nobody is all one or the other).

People may start with different temperaments and different aptitudes, but it is clear that experience, training, and personal effort take them the rest of the way. Robert Sternberg, the present-day guru of intelligence, writes that the major factor in whether people achieve expertise “is not some fixed prior ability, but purposeful engagement, or

as Binet recognizes, it’s not always the people who start out the smartest who end up the smartest.

Finished reading Lincoln at Cooper Union, by, Harold Holzer about what most believe was the speech that made Lincoln President. The book paints a picture that puts the future of the nation and the issue of slavery in the hands of a seemingly unnoticeable evening in New York. Lincoln, with all his wisdom knew what this opportunity represented for himself & the ideas he believed, spending hundreds of hours over months preparing for the moment of his and potentially the nation’s life.

The Cooper Union address tested whether Lincoln’s appeal could extend from the podium to the page, and from the rollicking campaigns of the rural West to the urban East, where theaters, lecture halls, and museums vied with politics for public attention. Cooper Union held the promise of transforming Lincoln from a regional phenomenon to a national figure. Lincoln knew it, and rose to the occasion.

Finished reading The Orchid and the Dandelion, by Thomas Boyce, which was recommended in a weekly email blast by Susan Cain, author of Quiet (which I read last year).  Insightful research geared towards kids, but just as relevant in looking at the entire family, work and life experiences with different types of people and what makes them tick.

Articles

The Health Care Bell Curve
by: Atul Gawande
in: The New Yorker

About what happens when patients find out how good their doctors really are. Their reactions are probably not what you would think.

And the lengths one doctor goes to to be better than just really good.

in medicine, we are used to confronting failure; all doctors have unforeseen deaths and complications. What we’re not used to is comparing our records of success and failure with those of our peers. I am a surgeon in a department that is, our members like to believe, one of the best in the country. But the truth is that we have had no reliable evidence about whether we’re as good as we think we are. Baseball teams have win-loss records. Businesses have quarterly earnings reports. What about doctors?

In this short speech was the core of Warwick’s world view. He believed that excellence came from seeing, on a daily basis, the difference between being 99.5-per-cent successful and being 99.95-per-cent successful. Many activities are like that, of course: catching fly balls, manufacturing microchips, delivering overnight packages. Medicine’s only distinction is that lives are lost in those slim margins.

Public Education’s Dirty Secret
by: Mary Hudson
in: Quillette

It is not poor teaching or a lack of money that is failing our most vulnerable populations. The real problem is an ethos of rejection that has never been openly admitted by those in authority.

Why should millions of perfectly normal adolescents, not all of them ghettoized, resist being educated? The reason is that they know deep down that due to the color of their skin, less is expected of them. This they deeply resent. How could they not resent being seen as less capable? It makes perfect psychological sense. Being very young, however, they cannot articulate their resentment, or understand the reasons for it, especially since the adults in charge hide the truth. So they take out their rage on the only ones they can: themselves and their teachers.

They also take revenge on a fraudulent system that pretends to educate them. The authorities cover up their own incompetence, and when that fails, blame the parents and teachers, or lack of funding, or “poverty,” “racism,” and so on. The media follow suit. Starting with our lawmakers, the whole country swallows the lie. 

Listened to

Podcast: Myth & reality: General Stanley McChrystal
On: The Jordan B. Peterson Podcast

Discussion about:

-leadership,
-McChrystal’s new book Leaders: Myth and Reality that covers 13 leaders across many fields (a few you wouldn’t expect),
Service Year Alliance and his effort to get funding for 4 million kids to be able to spend a year doing service after high school and before college. That is compared to the 200,000 spots open today in the Americorps program. McChrystal says that there are 2 million kids a year that want to do service but can’t afford to spend the year without SOME income.

Is Candace Owens Showing Us How to Disagree Better?

A few weeks ago Candace Owens was all the buzz when she pushed back on Congressmen Ted Lieu (D-CA) not allowing him to mis-characterize what she said and her character.  
 
You can watch that exchange below:

That clip became the most watched C-SPAN video on twitter.  
 
But the clip from the hearing that matters was her opening.  
 

 
Quick, sharp and un-flappable, Owens is quickly becoming a large part of the political conversation.  
 
A fan of Owens or not, her arguments are extension of Dr Thomas Sowell and Milton Friedman – so she is swimming in the deep end of the pool.  An advocate for the the people she cares the most about (her own), Owens isn’t afraid of typically off-limit topics. 
 
A deeper dive shows what separates her from the pack is less about the topics she is willing to step into and more about whom she is willing to step into those topics with.  
 
In a recent article in the New York Times, Author Brooks argues that our problem isn’t that we argue or disagree too much, but that we don’t argue or disagree the right way.  
 
Our goal should not be to disagree less, but it should be to disagree better.  
 
 
Anybody who’s tried to disagree better knows it isn’t easy. 
 
So how can we disagree better?  
 
Talking with people we disagree with is a start.  
 
According to Brooks though, it isn’t enough.  
 
What also keeps us from disagreeing better is what he labels “motive attribution asymmetry” which is…
 
the belief that our ideology is based in love and our opponents is based in hate.  This not only leads to intolerance, but far worse.  It leads to contempt.  Contempt makes political compromise and progress impossible. 
 
Listening to Owen’s most recent conversations with Russel Brand (everybody knows him – right?) and Hank Newsome (the chairman of New York chapter of Black Lives Matter) shows someone trying to disagree better.  
 
While there is little agreement in the 3+ hours, there is almost no contempt.  
 
Owens and Newsome cover
 
  • Fathers
  • Police brutality and the blue wall
  • Food poison in the poor communities
  • Affirmative action
  • Why we should have more African immigrants 
  • Welfare being a crutch vs wheel chair 
  • What Shaquille O’Neil thanks about financial literacy 
  • Being offended
  • The first step act
 
Newsome closes with:
 
“I’m not looking for America to deliver liberation. I’m looking for it to do it’s part. In an effective way.”
 

 
Brand opens with:
 
“A great conversation with someone I disagree with about 90% of what she says and isn’t that the point of public discourse.” 
 
Brand and Owens plow through
 
  • anorexia
  • individualism
  • pre-existing ideology 
  • the impediment of debate
  • oppression olympics
  • spirituality and its place in politics
  • socialism vs capitalism
  • government bail outs and their role in capitalism
  • breaking up google
 
Looking at the components of humanity Brand quotes Solzhenitsyn
 author of The Gulag Archipelago 
 
“the line between good and evil runs not between nations, religions or creeds, but through every human heart”. 
 
and ads his own take
 
“I know there is selfishness, greed…. and the lot in me, so I need to exist in communities that acknowledges that I am flawed and can fail but can encourage the better parts of my nature”
 
About and hour and a half in, they make an attempt to build a government (Brand’s “utopia”) that works – Making it about 2 minutes before they give up or get distracted.  
 
Did those conversations solve anything?  
 
Maybe not.  
 
But they are a start.  And starting is hard.  Starting is the hardest thing and more people need to start.  
 
So, instead of attacking Owens, maybe Mr Leiu could learn from her and start trying to do his job by figuring out how to disagreeing better.  
 
Congress has to disagree better if it is ever going to achieve something.  
 
For politics to work, politicians have to be able to disagree better.  If they don’t we will lose faith in the system. 
 
Once we lose faith in that the only next step is not civil discourse – but civil war.  
 
 
 
 

Information Consumption Update

I’m Currently reading The Orchid and the Dandelion, which was recommended in a weekly email blast by Susan Cain, author of Quiet (which I read last year).  Insightful research geared towards kids, but just as relevant in looking at the entire family, work and life experiences with different types of people and what makes them tick.
 
Most children—in our families, classrooms, or communities—are more or less like dandelions; they prosper and thrive almost anywhere they are planted. Like dandelions, these are the majority of children whose well-being is all but assured by their constitutional hardiness and strength. There are others, however, who, more like orchids, can wither and fade when unattended by caring support, but who—also like orchids—can become creatures of rare beauty, complexity, and elegance when met with compassion and kindness.
 
I finished reading Turning the Flywheel and Turning Goals into Results by Jim Collins after a number of challenges the last few weeks at work (or “opportunities” I keep telling myself).  
 
No matter how dramatic the end result , building a great enterprise never happens in one fell swoop . There’s no single defining action , no grand program , no one killer innovation , no solitary lucky break , no miracle moment . Rather , the process resembles relentlessly pushing a giant , heavy flywheel , turn upon turn , building momentum until a point of breakthrough , and beyond.
 
A catalytic mechanism produced desired results in unpredictable ways.  
 
Articles I read last week: 
 
 
No palace coup can take place without the perception of popular anger at a president.
 
The deep state is by nature cowardly. It does not move unless it feels it can disguise its subterranean efforts or that, if revealed, those efforts will be seen as popular and necessary
 
 
the past few years the character of our political division has changed, and this must be noted again.  People are proud of their bitterness now.  Old America used to accept our splits as part of the price of being us – numerous, varied, ornery.  Current America, with its moderating institutions (churches) going down and its dividing institutions (internet) rising, sees our polarization not as something to be healed but a reason for being, something to get up for.  There is a finality to it, a war-to-the-death quality.
 
 
five conditions that support his prediction that we are heading for a New Kind of Civil Ware:
 
  1. entrenched national polarization, with no obvious meeting place for resolution;
  2. increasingly divisive press coverage and information flows;
  3. weakened institutions, notably Congress and the judiciary;
  4. a sellout or abandonment of responsibility by political leadership; 
  5. the legitimization of violence as the “in” way to either conduct discourse or solve disputes.
 
 
Podcasts I listened to:
 
 
Jack Dorsey is not Mark Zuckerberg.  I’m not sure I agree with where he is coming from or heading but he is listening to his critics (like Tim Pool, who is not a fan) and being as transparent as he can be about the mistakes they are making and how they are trying to solve them.  
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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