Reading Recommendations

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I’m currently flying through The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact on Audible by Heath and Heath. It is perhaps the most interesting and thought provoking book I’ve read in quite a while on business or organizational (or personal) excellence. It is full of examples and ideas that could be applied in all kinds of situations: schools, churches, organizations and even in your personal life as you interact with others. Highly recommended. Likely to go through it again.

Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better by Hansen is a Christian view on not taking offense, forgiving and just being humble.

We humans are experts at casting ourselves as victims and rewriting narratives that put us in the center of injustices… And we can repaint our anger or hatred of someone—say, anyone who threatens us—into a righteous-looking work of art. And yet, remarkably, in Jesus’ teaching, there is no allowance for “Okay, well, if someone really is a jerk, then yeah—you need to be offended.” We’re flat-out told to forgive, even—especially!—the very stuff that’s understandably maddening and legitimately offensive.

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Forfeiting our right to anger makes us deny ourselves, and makes us others-centered. When we start living this way, it changes everything.

In this age of everyone taking offense at everyone else and as the author says, “Everybody’s an idiot but me. I’m awesome” we need to be more patient, tolerant, understanding and forgiving. Much to process in this book and I will likely go through it a 2nd time shortly. Thanks SL for the recommendation.

And I listened to the Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis again. Amazing.

Currently working through The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations that Transform the World by David Deutsch but at 20 hours on Audible, it will take a while…

Also appreciate recommendations from any of you. Best wishes.

 

Excellence

It is easy to watch the news and think that everything is broken. Sometimes, most times, it seems we should just not watch the news.

I’ve had three encounters with excellence in the last few days where an organization, an industry and a group are really seeming to drive towards excellence with enthusiasm and energy and passion.

Endeavor

The College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology (CEAT) at Oklahoma State University just opened a new undergraduate laboratory building that has been written up here and here.

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The difference with this lab is their intense focus on cross-functional collaborations with different engineering disciplines working together to solve problems and do research at the undergraduate level. It is not just the EEs or the MEs doing their thing by themselves, but it is pulling them together as undergraduates to work together; which is just like the real world. The articles spell it out more, but here is one more at campustechnology.com. I’m anxious to see what OSU CEAT does with this new facility. Very exciting.

Relentless focus on getting better at educating engineers.

Winemaking

I passed through Napa Valley last week and had the opportunity to tour a couple of vineyards. I was simply stunned at the lever of precision and passion wine makers ( the head wine experts) and their wineries have towards their craft. I had no idea. Focus on sun, rain, temperatures, soil conditions, this hill vs. that hill, this side vs that side, this grape vs. that grape, etc. The vineyards are immaculate and well maintained.

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Didn’t meet any of the winemakers, but heard about passion and focus. Many of them walk through the vineyards daily. Amazing. Is this the highest form of Agricultural Engineering?

Fleetwood Mac

I get it. You are wondering how these all fit together. My wife and I had the chance to see Fleetwood Mac at the start of their tour at the BOK Center in TulsaIMG_4111

Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, and several new players. While the group was older, they still played with passion and energy.

They did a cover of Free Falling to honor Tom Petty and it was amazing. Neil Finn is a great addition and a great compliment to the group.

They were still great. It was a wonderful evening with lots of memories.

Passion. Focus.

Excellence.

All of three are fun to see and experience. Other places like Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma led by Katie Fitzgerald and by many programs at Oklahoma Christian University led by John deSteiguer all point to people and groups trying to do the right things with excellence and passion.

There is hope.

Several Updates, Books, Audible, Blogs and Sci-Fi

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I’ve read two interesting books lately which I wanted to highlight here.

First, The Power by Alderman which is an amazing fictional story about a shift happening in girls and spreading to adult women where they have a power or capability to physically overpower boys and men. Without going into the detail or revealing more, it is about what happens in society when ‘power’ shifts from men to women. It is a very thought-provoking story as it touches on many different ideas and thoughts.

The second is Death with Interruptions by Saramago which is a tale about ‘death’ deciding to stop at the beginning of the year and those who should die, don’t. Day after day, in this one country the dying do not die. It is a story about what happens in society when those who really should reach the end, no longer die. The aged and hurt simply don’t die and the hospitals and homes fill up with people who are still alive.  Aging still happens. There is much social upheaval and implications as a result and it is a fascinating story. Eventually, the person ‘death’ is introduced in the story and we start hearing ‘her’ story as she interacts with people in this country. Fascinating.

I listened to both on Audible. Recommended.

And here are some interesting things I’ve read in the past few weeks. These 1st two have really caused me to pause and think.

Why Everyone Should Lift Weights is the most thought-provoking post I’ve read in a while. Don’t let the weightlifting put you off, the post is about being stronger and revealing yourself to yourself and gaining self-confidence. The following gets to the heart of it:

Challenging your own body is the greatest method for discovering the strength of your mind. Nowhere is this more true than with strength training. There will be days when you don’t feel like coming into the gym. There will be sets that you don’t feel like finishing. There will be times when everyone else in the gym will see you fail.

And if you keep showing up anyway, then you’ll develop the mental fortitude to get past failure, work when you don’t feel like it, and discover what you’re really made of mentally and physically

Related, the article called The Equation That Will Make You Better At Everything I posted on Twitter a while back and it has been getting reposted afterward as people read it.

Stress + Rest = Growth. It’s as simple and as hard as that.

And let me throw in one more bonus article on relationships that struck me. In The Subtle Art of Connecting with Anyone we find the following:

If you dig deep enough into questions about what it means to live a good life and how to create happiness and fulfillment, you’ll likely find yourself between a few different schools of thought, each with their own approach.

That said, in pretty much all schools, the idea that a complete life tends to be one filled with a number of high-quality relationships is pretty consistent.

In a way, happiness is other people. It’s the connections we build and the relationships we foster. They create us, and they continue to shape us.

If you are into Science Fiction, then I highly recommend the Audible series The Expeditionary Force by Craig Alderson. You need to listen on Audible. Trust me. Hilarious and fantastic. Did I say ‘trust me’ on this?

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.

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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A Suggestion for Purchase?

Monday I told a friend that I should get some chocolate chip cookie dough to cook at home. My wife is gone, I just ran a marathon, I deserve some freshly baked, hot chocolate chip cookies.

Tuesday when using the Walmart Grocery app to order a few things for pickup, the top suggested item for me was Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I have never ordered such from Walmart and never searched for such. What an amazing coincidence? How is this possible? Options:

1) Using big data analytics, Walmart decided they should suggest cookies to me based on subtle hints and data gathered over time from web browsing, purchase history, zip code, time of day and what car I drive.

2) My mobile phone was with me when I made the comment about cookies on Monday. The microphone was being monitored by some cloud engine tied to Walmart and the request was turned into a suggestion next time I used the Walmart app.

3) Random chance suggested cookies out of the millions of options in the Walmart catalog.

4) Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie is one of the most shopped for items that Walmart fulfills so they suggested it to me.

Disturbing at the least.  Thoughts?

Things of Interest

A few interesting things I’ve found recently:

Am I Invisible? The Pain-Relieving Response to Being Rejected or Excluded is one of the best articles I’ve read in a long time. Seems to me that we are disconnected from one another more than ever and that more and more people are very lonely. I’ve been thinking about this article for a week now.

Remember the deepest desire of the human heart is to belong … to be welcomed … to know you are seen and worthy of kindness.

Warren Buffett’s ‘20 Slot’ Rule: How to Simplify Your Life and Maximize Your Results is an article about focus. Much like a prior post on Mindsets and Focus, this provides an interesting way to think about what is important to you and where you should invest your time, energy and thoughts. You’ve only got some many opportunities…

The Greatest Sales Deck I’ve Ever Seen by Andy Raskin struck me as a clear outline of how to sell your idea. A clear, step-by-step outline of how to sell your idea to someone else. I’m thinking of where I can apply this outline to something soon.

How (and Why) to Find, Hire (and Promote) a Utility Player by Karin Hurt has some thoughts on how to be really indispensable to an organization or team. She outlines some skills, and really a mindset to embrace, that can make you indispensable.

A rather interesting article called, The Status Update Life  with some thought-provoking ideas about social media and the compulsion to post status updates.

“You can take the person out of contributing to social media but you cannot take the social status needs out of the person.” — Taylor Wallace

and finally a good article about how to develop your self-confidence entitled, How to Activate Extreme Self-Confidence and Destroy Chronic Anxiety and Fear   by Anthony Moore.

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