Interesting Findings This Week

The best article I’ve read in the past few days is about quitting. Namely, The Quitting Economy  which you simply must read. The economy, work, jobs, and careers are changing and this article perfectly captures how to think about it. Consider:

In general, to keep stock prices high, companies not only have to pay their employees as little as possible, they must also have as temporary a workforce as their particular business can allow. The more expendable the workforce, the easier it is to expand and contract in response to short-term demands. These are market and shareholder metrics. Their dominance diminished commitment to employees, and all other commitments but to shareholders, as much as the particular industry requirements of production allow. With companies so organised, the idea of loyalty receded.

I’ve recently shared several articles @brewerma on stock options, toxic work places, and how the increasing shareholder value paradigm in business is crushing employees and societies.

The idea of caring deeply about your work and standing out from the crowd is discussed in The Benefits of Living Like a Craftsperson:

Quality. It’s when someone is so completely present for and dedicated to his or her act that they become hard to separate; they become one.

There is a wonderful article about getting up early and getting things done and how that works. Take a look at The Simple Secret to Creating a Successful Morning Routine No One Ever Talks. The site is terrific and is sharing great content.

Some interesting out of the box thinking proposing that runways should be circular instead of straight. Take a look at their video here.

A great article about The Difference Between Amateurs and Professionals.

And finally a nice article on information theory entitled How Information Got Re-Invented. One of my favorite books on the subject I wrote about here.


Facts vs Narrative

In reading several books lately and through several observations, I’m better understanding the need for leaders to look for the facts and avoid the narratives. Too many leaders have a narrative or worldview or agenda they are driving that are not based on facts. It might be regarding climate change or it might be spending in an organization or it might be a new program that someone wants to start or stop. In many cases, poor leaders are driving or driven by the narrative independent of the facts.

The facts are sometimes hard to spot and the facts might not be the facts because they might be created or driven by a narrative further up stream. So even the facts needs to be questioned and discussed. However, if you want to be a leader, if you want to have an impact, if you want to succeed, you’ve got to be looking for the underlying facts.

In some contexts, this means looking for the ‘root cause’ in others situations it might be clearly understanding ‘the goal.’  Either looking backwards to the cause or forward to the destination. In either case, find this first. Look for this.

The world is a strange place right now with narratives driving so much.

Barking Up The Wrong Tree

Just finished reading (actually listening to on Audible) Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong by Eric Barker. I first found Eric on his blog which I follow via email. You can see some of the content posted here.

I’ve read a lot of leadership and getting things done and how to be better kind of books over the years and I’ve posted about some of my favorites on this blog on the reading page.  This has to be one of the very best of these books that I’ve read and I highly recommend it. I’ll be adding this book to that page.

Listening on Audible is great, but I can’t highlight the text as it goes along. If I could, I’d share a number of specifics. I’ll likely go through this one again on Kindle.

Ideas around work-life balance, your weaknesses might really be your strengths and that being on the edge is usually better than being in the middle. And about people like Einstein, Genghis Khan and Ted Williams.

I’m thinking about getting some extra ‘real’ copies to give to some friends.

You can also follow Eric on Twitter @bakadesuyo. I don’t know Eric and haven’t met him. The links to the book are amazon associate links however.

Some Interesting Reading

I tend to share things of interest mostly on twitter (@brewerma) and not on the blog. However, I thought today I’d share a few interesting readings of late.

The High Cost of Fitting In by the founder of Puppet Luke Kanies.  We shouldn’t be trying to fit in.

The formula for winning at life is actually incredibly simple which includes several pearls like ‘write it down’ and ‘realize you are responsible for this.’ The article was written by Mark Manson.

Stop asking for easy on the site. Worth the watch and following along.

And an interesting article about Occam’s Razor at a wonderful site that has lots of interesting material. Follow them too.

And How to Overcome Your Fear and Get What You Want on Medium by Josh Spector. The point about ‘the alternative is scarier’ is one of my favorites. We can’t be comfortable with the status quo and we’ve got to try new things.




The Dance of the Possible

I’ve read a few books over the years about creativity and innovation and it is part of numerous posts on this site. Scott Berkun just released his latest book entitled, The Dance of the Possible: the mostly honest completely irreverent guide to creativity which I just bought and read today.

This is probably best, fast, focused book on the ideas around creativity that I’ve read:

We spend so much time trying to be efficient that doing anything interesting feels like a waste of time. And in this tendency is another misconception: creativity is rarely efficient. It always involves taking chances and trying things that might work but might not.


To create means to make something new, at least for you, and to do something new is like going off of the map, or more precisely, deliberately choosing to go to a part of the map that is unknown.

I especially liked the idea of writing down your ideas. I remember one of Tom Clancy’s books, I think it was Executive Orders, where there was the repeated line that ‘if you don’t write it down, it never happens’ and then that becomes a key part of the story development. Loved it. I write a lot and take notes as much as possible and I save lots and lots of notes, clippings, articles, etc. for future reference. Love this.

But I know that if I don’t write it down, I’ll never get a second chance to evaluate it again. Despite my convenient hope that I’ll remember it later without writing it down, I know, scientifically, that I’ll likely forget it, and forget that I forgot it.

and finally, this comment about just doing the work required to get it done.

The simplest habit is to work on your project every day.

If you are looking for a fast refresher on creativity and how to think about creativity, this is a great place to take a look. Recommended.




Connected All The Time

So there is a story on Mashable called The Latest Tool in Medicine? The iPhone which highlights some studies where iPhones are being used to collect data as part of medical studies.

Yes, carrying around a powerful compute device, that you can interface with, that is connected to the mother ship for two way communications might result in some powerful new medical studies, advances, options and ideas. Duh.

It is not really the iPhone, it is the mobile, connected, compute device that people have with them all the time (and won’t leave behind) that is the key here. I love my iPhone, but that is not the advance, it is the connected device connecting to the patient/subject.

There will be huge things coming from this as has been written about elsewhere. Immediate detection of crisis events, more frequent sampling of data in studies, ability to trigger something to happen to the patient (administer something), etc. etc. Lots of things can come from this.

Diversity Wins


I’ve written a bit before about diversity and how it fits into getting better results and how it is a key part of collaboration success. I’ve recently finished the book Future Perfect: The Case For Progress In A Networked Age by Steven Johnson. As mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of his material which I’ve referenced here and here.  He writes:

When groups are exposed to a more diverse range of perspectives, when their values are forced to confront different viewpoints, they are likely to approach the world in a more nuanced way, and avoid falling prey to crude extremism.

and a key thought:

Diversity does not just expand the common ground of consensus. It also increases the larger group’s ability to solve problems. The pioneer in this line of research is the University of Michigan professor Scott E. Page. He has spent the past twenty years building a convincing case for what he calls the “Diversity trumps ability” theory, demonstrating the phenomenon in sociological studies and mathematical models. Take two groups of individuals and assign to each one some kind of problem to solve. One group has a higher average IQ than the other, and is more homogeneous in its composition. One group, say, is all doctors with IQs above 130; the second group doesn’t perform as well on the IQ tests, but includes a wide range of professions. What Page found, paradoxically, was that the diverse group was ultimately smarter than the smart group. The individuals in the high-IQ group might have scored better individually on intelligence tests, but when it came to solving problems as a group, diversity matters more than individual brainpower.

and in summary
We want diversity for another reason as well: because we are smarter as a society—more innovative and flexible in our thinking—when diverse perspectives collaborate.
In a corporate setting, it means our teams needs to contain diverse backgrounds and experiences with some new ideas and some older experiences mixed together.
And as a leader, it means I need to really be dialed into listening to opinions of people who differ from me because they might have a perspective that I can’t see. I once told one of my staff that I was blind to something that she felt passionate about and she later told me that meant a lot to her to hear me say that to the group.
Diversity wins.