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.  
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The failure of the deep state & our path to come together or grow further apart

I read this article (Autopsy of  Dead Coup) by Victor David Hanson a while back.  
 
After the Mueller report came out this weekend I went back and read it again.  A few things stood out when I originally read it and even more so today.  
 
The deep state is by nature cowardly.
 
What James Rutenberg of the New York Times said represented a deep sense of my frustration with many (almost all) of the people that can’t seem to understand why someone can support Trump and not represent all that is wrong in the world.  
 
For those that sincerely want to understand why people support Trump they should watch this.  
 
For an understanding about how James Rutenberg sees the world read this.
 
James Rutenberg in 2016:
 
“If you view a Trump presidency as something that’s potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that. You would move closer than you’ve ever been to being oppositional. That’s uncomfortable and uncharted territory for every mainstream, non-opinion journalist I’ve ever known, and by normal standards, untenable. But the question that everyone is grappling with is: Do normal standards apply? And if they don’t, what should take their place?”
 
It’s clear a huge portion of people hate Trump and see him as a threat – maybe even a majority.  But it should also be fair to assume that the other half honestly considers the alternative to Trump just as threatening?  
 
If this country has any hope, honest and reasonable people have to realize that each side is equally threatened at the prospect of their political opponents moving the country further away from their own ideas about where the country should go.  It has been that way since the beginning and it isn’t ever going to change.  
 
What seems different today is how we are dealing with that sense of threat.  
 
We can either 1) ascribe the worst intentions or motives to our opponents or  2) give them the benefit of the doubt that maybe their heart could possibly be in the right place – or a right enough place.    
 
Option 2, is the only real way forward.  And option 2 starts with each of us individually.  It is hard and necessary.  But, it can’t start at the top – it can only start at the individual level.  
 
The alternative is much worse.
 
When problems don’t get solved, things get worse.  They always get worse.  
 
Things either get better or they get worse. They don’t stay the same.  It’s the way things work. That isn’t changeable.  
 
What is changeable is how we choose to view things and what actions we choose to take next.   
 
Doing nothing and choosing not to change is a choice and an action itself.  It will not lead to a good place. 
 
The leaders we have today are a reflection of us.  And they are all taking harder and harder tacks to their sides as opposed to coming together.  The few that try to govern from a point of consensus don’t get any traction.  That isn’t on them.  That is on  the majority in the middle that keeps supporting the extremes – even though they say they don’t. They do.  Elections every where prove that.  
 
The extremes are getting emboldening, the middle is losing power and the majority is being left out of the conversation.  If we want our leaders to change we have to change. 
 
This is not a small thing.  It is the thing.  When the only people left to govern are those on the extremes, nothing will get get done and the only possible next step is Civil War.  The extremes will fight the extremes and the middle will have to pick sides. 
 
And for the people that don’t think they like their choices today, Civil War eliminates all of the moderate choices. 
 
Don’t think Civil War is in the cards?  Ask those people in Rwanda and Sarajevo  if they thought Civil War was in their cards six-months before it was.  Sarajevo was hosting the olympics less than a decade prior to the Bosnian Civil War.  
 
For more on how Civil War is in the cards and irresponsible to deny it, read this article in the New Yorker, where Keith Mines lays out five conditions for civil war.  
  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. and the legitimization of violence as the “in” way to either conduct discourse or solve disputes. 
Yep.  
 
Looking for some hope?
 
The fact that our President isn’t a traitor or a puppet of Russia is a good thing – right?
 
The Mueller Report gives keeps the country out of Civil War.  If anybody thinks that Trumps folks would have sat still and watched him get removed from office peacefully are delusional.  They already thought the system was rigged against them.  This would have proved their point and justified their actions (in their minds at least).  
 
There is now an opportunity (small as it is) for the country to re group and re decide whether it wants to come together or stay on the divisional course it is on now.  The 2020 Election will allow that to take place in a national debate.  We get to pick what that debate is going to look like.  
 
We should decide what we really want, who we want to be and have that discussion.  
 
Want something to be thankful for Trump about?
 
Trump already turned the table over.  A majority of the positions that have been traditionally left and right are all now up for debate (trade, war, prison reform, globalism, immigration….).  Reasonable people can take a step back and ask them themselves what they really think about the key issues.  They are less held by parties than ever before.  New parties and alliances could be formed that more reflect what people really believe and want.  
 
A post Trump presidency (either in 2020 or 2024) is going to be a fundamentally different political structure than a pre Trump presidency.  It will be different.  What isn’t clear is if it will be better.  We get to decide that.  We should act accordingly.  
 
Bonus: A Second thing to be thankful about Trump….
 
He ended the Bush and Clinton dynasties.  That is something we can all come together around.  
 
 
 

Article: 100% Renewable Cities—Is Your Mayor Smarter Than A 5th Grader?

After reading the linked article from Hart Energy, I was left with this question.
 
What’s worse.  
 
A) One who doesn’t believe climate change is real or thinks it is a problem that needs to be solved? 
B) One who believes climate change is real and needs to be solved – but has no idea how to actually solve it?  
C) or, B + pretends like they do know how to solve it.
 
You pick.  
 
If you pick (A), at least (A) isn’t going to waste what some say could be over $100 trillion* (with a t) by the end of the century and improve nothing.  Waste is a crime because that $100 trillion could be put to real use helping real people.  
 
There is a lot in the article everybody should think about (especially if you care about climate change).  
 
The author of the article doesn’t come across as anti renewables but more anti dumb.  He has written what appear to be many thoughtful books on what good approaches to solving climate change could look like.  
 
 
A few gems from the  leaders where I live (gems – who I’m guessing are sincere):  
 
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter pledged their cities to 100 percent renewables by 2030. Major wind system build-outs during the last five years boosted Minnesota to the eighth-leading wind energy state in the US. Renewables now provide about 27% of the state’s electricity. But Minnesota residents are paying for it. Over the last nine years, Minnesota power prices increased 34%, compared to the US average price rise of 7%.
 
I’m thinking they don’t get that when energy costs go up 34% for working people – it is real money.  
 
*I would cite those or better numbers if they weren’t all over the place – which kind of proves my point.  If anybody had a real solution with a real price – all of the supporters would agree and promote that number.  There is no agreement even out there as to what the costs or benefits would be.  If there is agreement out there someone should point it out more clearly.  
 
As a side…  Wanna know what poor people around the world want the UN to spent $100 trillion on?  
 
Watch Cool It by Bjorn Lomborg and see what kids in third world countries think us rich countries should be spending our money on to help them (think – water, schools, medicine). 
 
Better yet.  Watch Lomborg’s TED Talk on global priorities that should be bigger than climate change.
 

Good Enough to Win?

 

 

Read this last week in the “The Hard Things About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

I’ve heard about this book for a while, read a lot of other books by people close to Ben Horowitz, but for some reason never felt moved to read this one. Thinking about it – it was probably because on the surface his story seemed to be an easy one. Got hired at Netscape, Great (Best) friends with Marc Andreessen, CEO at Loudcloud, Sell to HP, Partner at Andreessen-Horowitz. Easy life.

So wrong. And that assumption violated something I know deeply. In life, business, sports, war – whatever… it never does us any good to compare our insides with other people’s outsides. We don’t know their struggles or challenges – we only see what we see. Never enough information.

It reminds me of a greeting card I have been carrying in my bag for almost 20 years. It’s a photo group of people underneath a sign that reads “never touched by the human hand” and the quote by Mark Twain below says… “there was net yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside the dullest exterior there is a dram, a comedy and a tragedy.”

 

I carry that card to remind me that whoever I’m dealing with – we all have our story.

Ben Horowitz’ journey was a lot harder than I thought – and this week, that made the fight a little bit easier in my world.

Turn Around CEO’s Advice… Winners focus, losers spray

Jim Norrod, Executive Chairman of Liquid Pistol and former CEO of BigBelly Solar, addressed the Smaller Business Association of New England at the group’s monthly meeting on January 15, 2013. He presents a 3 part strategy which he has used to perform turnarounds resulting in liquidity events totaling over $1 billion to investors.

It takes a cooperative Board, a committed management team, and the correct plan. Jim’s theme in these difficult assignments: Winners focus, losers spray.

 

Jim Norrod, The Road to Liquidity from SBANE.org on Vimeo.

 

This presentation, like all of SBANE’s Massachusetts Breakfast Series presentations, was recorded and edited by Davideo Company, of Framingham, MA.

Opportunity Looks A lot Like Hard Work

Don’t know how cool my kids are going to think Ashton Kutcher is after I keep reminding them what he said about hard work.  But this is a great message.

Who knew?

 

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Seth Godin is my Zig Ziglar

For me, over the last 5 years… Seth Godin has been my Zig Ziglar. He hasn’t taught me how to sell, but how to over come the fear and or resistance of what it takes to be or try to be great.

From this interview…

No for now

  • The people you are calling on….
    • do not owe you a meeting,
    • they do not owe you an answer,
    • they do not owe you one minute of their time.
  • Crafting a perfect pitch letter to get their attention? Not a lot of faith in that approach
  • Rejection from people that care about you isn’t a bad thing
    • It is a message
    • not a message message of giving up,
    • but a message that you just told them a story that didn’t resonate (I like that word) with them that today.
  • They are saying…
    • do not bother me tomorrow with the same story,
    • you will not be able to badger me into doing business with you
    • but what you could do is
      • tell me a different story
      • about a different problem
      • on a different day….
      • because if you treated me ethically the first time, why wouldn’t I want to listen to you a second time.
  • AND… don’t try and get best customer first. Get them last!! start with the ones that are more likely to listen to the story carefully.
  • Because in the end, the best customers just want to know that all the other people have already said yes.

zig ziglar…

…do not become a wandering generality… instead figure out how to be a meaningful specific.

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