Factfulness

Recently worked through the book Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think which was co-written by Hans Rosling. He is famous for several TED talks where he talks about many of the ideas in this book.

The book does a great job at making the very point of the title. Things are better than we think. In most metrics about health, poverty, violence, etc. the world is getting better. Yes, there are places and events and people that are worse off, but on the whole, the world is getting better.

The book further points out that media points out the negative, but says nothing about the positive, which we all know but don’t really think about very much. He does argue that this is our fault because we choose to focus on the negative and thus the media follows that direction.

I do recommend this book. I’ve thought about it a lot since reading it.

Here is a similar article that I came across today which prompted me to post this recommendation and here is a site with some interesting related ideas.

Simplify & Purge

Been talking with parents about end of life matters. Shared several interesting articles like this one about one’s digital legacy.  And I found another one today about cleaning out prior to dying.

pablo (15)My wife and I watched a show years ago where a crew came into a house and helped the owners clean out and remove things that were no longer needed. They brought things outside the house from three rooms and put them in a keep, sell or trash groups. It inspired us to do a MAJOR purge at our prior house. Before we moved to our current house, we did another purge.

A few weeks ago, I did a major purge or my cables, adapters, software, plugs, etc. equipment that has been saved over the years. I threw away multiple trash cans full of cables and the like. Interestingly, the VERY NEXT DAY, a friend pinged me looking for a prior Mac video adapter which likely was outside in my trash can.

Today, I went to my closet and started purging clothes (again).  It is SO HARD to part with clothes that are great clothes but you never wear. It is nearly an intractable problem. One almost needs to force oneself to keep one and purge one. Even that is hard. Not sure how to best do this. Certainly, I don’t need any new clothes for a while. (Those of you who see me regularly please be ok with this).

Next week I’m going through suits, slacks, and sports coats. After that, I’m going through old software CDs, etc. I just want to trim back. Purge. Reduce.

Related, I’ve tried to wait to order from Amazon until I had multiple things I wanted/needed/desired and when I’ve had 4 or 5 or more items, I’ve placed the order. I’ve noticed that Amazon still ships them in multiple boxes! I guess things are coming from different warehouses, but it is so frustrating. I try to reduce my ‘carbon footprint’ and still can’t with Amazon. Argh……..

Stop buying things…

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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.

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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.