Broken

I find myself moving more and more towards the perspective that aspects of capitalism are broken. Pushing stock prices up no matter what the cost, the huge gap in compensation between the highest and lowest paid workers in an organization, the slanting of financial laws towards the rich, and the increasing fraction of our economy that is based on businesses that make nothing (Financial, Legal, etc.).

Three books that are worth a read about how this happens on a day-to-day basis in corporations and how people are quickly or slowly corrupted, or how their decisions slip down a very dark path.

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by Carreyrou is the latest about the fall of Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes which is in the current news. I saw her speak once at a conference to a small group of IT CIOs. She was being interviewed by Meg Whitman who was running HP at the time. I’m not quite done with this book, but I can already highly recommend it. It is absolutely captivating in how morally bankrupt some people can be.

Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue by Holiday which is the story of Gawker and its business model and the work done to take it down.

And no such list would be complete without The Smartest Guys in the Room by McLean and Elkind about Enron and how that model worked. I lived through part of that story where the company I worked and friends in California lived through rolling power outages one summer that Enron employees were causing to happen.

I don’t know the answers (or probably some of the right questions) here. It just seems that aspects of our model and way of doing things are breaking down. Broken.

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Reading vs Listening

I’ve found myself reading much less lately and instead, listening to books and podcasts. The shift for me has been dramatic.

I listen while driving all the time and while running and working in the yard.

I don’t listen much when I’m at home, however. And I don’t read that much anymore. I don’t follow as many sites online these days either.

My first choice for books is now Audible. If not on Audible, then I’m unlikely to buy it. And, I always play the book at faster than normal, like 125% of real time.

I’m wondering if this is more of the Shallows effect.

What are you doing these days?

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Being Wrong

From the book Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error by Schultz, the following quote to think about:

A whole lot of us go through life assuming that we are basically right, basically all the time, about basically everything: about our political and intellectual convictions, our religious and moral beliefs, our assessment of other people, our memories, our grasp of facts. As absurd as it sounds when we stop to think about it, our steady state seems to be one of unconsciously assuming that we are very close to omniscient.

book

A Few Interesting Items

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A really great article about connecting with others can be found at How to Become Insanely Well-Connected. Consider:

  • Being a good listener is about two things: 1) Demonstrating that you’ve heard exactly what was said by the other person, and 2) encouraging them to continue.

  • I’ll often start that conversation saying, ‘I’m wrong all the time and I very well may be here.’ Acknowledging your own fallibility and human imperfection can go a long way toward making yourself relatable.

  • End every meeting or conversation with the feeling and optimism you’d like to have at the start of your next conversation with the person. “Assume you’re going to run into everyone again — it usually happens either by plan or happenstance,” says Fralic. “There are no closed connections. The world is too small.” When you do meet again, you want the person to think, ‘Oh great, it’s so-and-so!’

The Brightest People Do 9 Things That Really Stand Out, Says a Harvard Prof has a few brilliant, summarized things to consider. I love these points from the list:

  • When confronted with a new situation they ask questions that efficiently get to the heart of the unaddressed issues.

  • It is not uncommon for a very smart person to see deeply into a problem and say things that indicate such depth, even when they are not widely understood, and their insight only becomes apparent long after the fact.

  • Smart people are a constant source of surprises — in their ideas, in their wordplay, in their questions, or in some other way. Whatever fuels their smarts cannot be corralled, and leads to unpredictable moments (at least to mere mortals).

  • There is always something about an intelligent person that you cannot quite put your finger on. It is just out of reach, and it makes them inscrutable.

An interesting article about averages and how we are always comparing ourselves to others. Read “What Are You Hiding?” which has this wonderful line which we’d be good to embrace,

If you are lucky, you figure out you are not average, love that part of yourself and find people who will also love you for it.

I’ve read three other posts this past week that have caused me to really pause and think, but I’m not ready to post them yet. Perhaps sometime later. Maybe. One was about intolerance and anti-intellectual thinking and two were about male dominance over females in society and the effects and issues. Both need further processing by me.

Please share back with me if you find a thought-provoking article that meant something to you.

The Workplace and Simplification

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A friend shared a great TEDx Talk with me recently about the workplace and simplification and about asking the right questions.

I quit my job as CIO over a year for several reasons that I won’t go into here. Since then, I’ve thought about lessons learned and perhaps, things I might have done differently at different times in the role.

I think this talk gets to the heart of it. An organization must prioritize simplification, removing bureaucracy, be nimble and fast and create a culture where asking and answering hard questions is the way things are done. Seems like more could have been done on this front.

I really did love the people I worked with there and recently had a chance to see some of my colleagues for a visit. It was a great time.

 

Post Privacy

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I read this amazing article this past week entitled Your Privacy is Over and afterward I read another article that indicated that without privacy, democracy is in trouble and in fact, can’t exist. I’ve lost the link to the later article although using search I found several along those lines here, here and here but none of these seem to be the one I’m remembering.

In any case, read the Your Privacy is Over article and give it some thought. I don’t think we really grasp the depth of this change yet its implications are huge.

privacy is threatened on a scale we have never thought about. We are entering the post-privacy age.

I wrote recently about telling someone I needed something and then it shows up on a search on an unrelated mobile app that had no connection between what I said and this app. No connection at all.

The threat to democracy that these articles are talking about is rather scary. Without privacy and secrecy, it is hard for dissent to have a safe place for dialog and organization.

Apple taking the stand to keep their mobile platforms private and secure really seems like the right thing to do even when it causes other problems.

These are some of the hard problems of the future. More on this soon.

PS. here is a post on how to encrypt your entire life in less than an hour.

Life is Damn Hard

Facebook is a weird, surreal place. There are posts about people having babies right next to friends who are battling cancer right next to people who have lost their job right next to announcements about new grandbabies. It is surreal.

I’ve reached a point where I’m mostly scared to post anything because there are so many different perspectives or experiences that people are living through and I’m worried about saying the wrong thing to someone at the wrong time.

I have friends in life and death battles with cancer. Loved ones who’ve lost jobs and because they are over 50 can’t seem to find a new one. Friends whose kids are going into drug counseling centers.

Life is hard.

I will tell you that I believe there is a story unfolding. That there is a purpose and a direction and that life if meaningful. I believe that there is an author. I believe that the Christian message is fundamentally true. This world is broken and there is a redeemer.

Christians over the years and centuries have completely messed up the message with crusades, political campaigns, and endorsements of the absurd yet I still believe the underlying Christian message is true. 2000 years ago God stepped into the world and showed us a different way. A light is shown into the darkness. There is hope.

Nothing else seems to make sense to me.

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Tonight is a night of darkness where I’m grieving for several. However, I believe there is hope and a light. If you are in a dark place, there is light. Look for it. Seek it.