A pig farm bar mitzvah

August 31, 2015

By Penelope Trunk via blog.penelopetrunk.com   Article

Beliefs follow action; lessons from a pig farm bar mitzvah

“To be clear, my son did not want a bar mitzvah. He chanted Torah beautifully and then in his speech he explained how he was only doing it for me. He also said, in his speech, that he doesn’t believe in God. Earlier, when he told me he might say that, he had a sort of twinkle in his eye. ‘Is that okay?’ he asked.

I tried to be casual, like he wasn’t bothering me at all: ‘Sure. Lots of bar mitzvah kids say that in their speech. You don’t need to believe in God to be Jewish. Fifty percent of practicing Jews don’t believe in God.’ I didn’t check that number. But the general sentiment seems right.

He said, ‘What do you need to do to be Jewish?’ ‘Nothing. You just are. You decide what you want to do. But while you’re in my house you get a bar mitzvah.’ …

The theory here is that belief follows action. It’s a big tenant of Judaism, but increasingly new research is providing us with scientific evidence of the power of action to change our beliefs.

For example, if you walk with a more upright gait you feel happier. And if you put a pen between your teeth it forces you to smile and then you actually become happier.

The Harvard Business Review reports that our body posture can dramatically influence our ability to succeed in life. American social psychologist Amy Cuddy explains inher exceptional TED talk on body language that when we assume a ‘power posture’ for just two minutes—like hands high in a V position and our chin slightly up—we increase our testosterone (the dominance hormone) and reduce our cortisol (the stress hormone). And, we are more likely to take a risk, succeed in a job interview, or get a promotion.

To me that’s a fake-it-til-you-make-it moment.

Our ability to learn through doing is remarkable. It’s why play is so important in school, and it’s why MIT has an action learning program. First we change our actions, then wechange our beliefs.”

Learning to live

August 31, 2015

Dave Ramsey via thinkadvisor.com   Article

“Financial peace isn’t the acquisition of stuff. It’s learning to live on less than you make, so you can give money back and have money to invest. You can’t win until you do this.”  – Dave Ramsey

A minimum of 5 years

August 31, 2015

By  via davidgcohen.com   Article

Giving up the ghost early

“I’ve noticed a disturbing new trend …. Startups are ‘quitting’ when the first year doesn’t go as planned. The founders shut the business down, and either take a job or go out and start a new company with more of that plentiful seed funding. In some cases, they just exit with an acquihire and get themselves a nice compensation package without any material return of capital to their investors.

Startups are hard. Rarely does the first year or two go exactly as planned. The hockey stick doesn’t emerge quite like you thought it would. It takes persistence and determination in almost every case, if you hope to be successful.

The thing I worry about is that the Facebook movie and tons of seed funding have made it almost too attractive to get into entrepreneurship. Founders can live for a year or two on seed capital, have some fun, and punch their lottery ticket. If things don’t take off immediately, they can simply move on to something else.

I’m not saying this is the norm or even typical. Most founders are well intentioned and in it for the long haul, of course. This is just another of the myriad problems in figuring out what’s real given the oversupply of seed capital in the market today.

If you’re thinking of starting a business, think about it as a minimum of 5 years and likely 10+ years. That ‘s what it’s going to take to be successful. And that’s the commitment you should make before taking money from outside investors.”

Doesn’t translate

August 31, 2015

By Andy Molinsky via hbr.org   Article

Emotional Intelligence Doesn’t Translate AcrossBorders

“One of the greatest assets we have as natives of a culture is our ability to quickly ‘read’ another person’s emotions. Over time we learn how to understand whether our colleagues are truly interested in a project or just giving it lip service by noticing the expression on their faces. We can tell when someone really likes something we’ve proposed by the way they react. And we can often detect motivation as well: whether someone is truly willing to put in the extra time and effort to make something happen, just by seeing the fire in their eyes or the passion in their voice.

The problem, of course, comes when we cross cultures and venture into a completely different world of emotional expression. Emotions vary tremendously across cultures — both in terms of their expression and their meaning. Without a detailed understanding of these emotional landscapes, crossing cultures can become a communication minefield.

Take, for example, the expression of enthusiasm. In the United States, it’s culturally acceptable, even admirable, to show enthusiasm in a business setting, assuming it’s appropriate for the situation. When arguing for a point in a meeting, for example, it is quite appropriate to express your opinions passionately; it can help to convince those around you. Or when speaking with a potential employer at a networking event, it is often encouraged to express your interest quite enthusiastically; the employer may interpret how invested you are in a job based on your expressed eagerness.

In many other cultures, however, enthusiasm means something quite different. In Japan, for example, there are strict boundaries about when and where people are allowed to display emotion. During the regular workday, Japanese individuals are not typically emotionally expressive. Even if they feel excited about their work, they will rarely show it explicitly. This often changes outside of the workplace setting, though, where Japanese people can show a great deal of emotion — for example, when drinking, having dinner with work colleagues, or singing karaoke. In China, self-control and modesty are the coin of the realm, not one’s ability to outwardly express emotion. In fact, expressing too much outward enthusiasm, especially in front of a boss, could be seen as showing off, which is not typically condoned inChinese culture.”


August 24, 2015

By Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning via chronicle.com   Article

Microaggression and Changing Moral Cultures

“These days, if you have spent much time on a college campus, you have probably heard of microaggressions. The term dates to the 1970s, but only in recent years has it become prominent among campus activists and others on the political left. Microaggressions are remarks perceived assexist, racist, or otherwise offensive to a marginalized social group. Those popularizing the concept say that even though the offenses are minor as unintentional, repeatedly experiencing them causes members of minority groups great harm, which must be redressed.

… people have complained about, for example, a non-Hispanic person using the word futbol, a mother asking her daughter if she’d met any nice boys at college, someone telling a woman in her 30s that she looks too young to be a professor, and someone asking the white mother of a black daughter if the child is hers.

… The University ofCalifornia system has issued guidelines for faculty members warning that statements such as ‘America is a melting pot’ or ‘I believe the most qualified person should get the job’  could be microaggressions.

In response to that document, the UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh wrote, “Well, I’m happy to say that I’m just going to keep on microaggressing.’ Clearly not everyone is on board with these kinds of policies.

We can better understand complaints about microaggression and there actions to them if we understand that each side of the debate draws from a different moral culture. Those calling attention to microaggressions have rejected the morality dominant among middle-class Americans during the 20th century — what sociologists and historians have sometimes called a dignity culture, which abhors private vengeance and encourages people to go to the police or use the courts when they are seriously harmed. Less serious offenses might be ignored, and certainly any merely verbal offense should be. Parents thus teach their children to say, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but word scan never hurt me.’

Microaggression complaints make clear that this is no longer settled morality. Those who see microaggressions as a serious problem and who bring up minor and unintentional slights reject the idea that words can’t hurt, that slights should be brushed off, that even overt insults should be ignored. This attitude reveals the emergence of a new moral culture, one we call victimhood culture, since it valorizes victimhood.”


August 24, 2015


Mental Model: Regression to the Mean

“The notion of regression to the mean was first worked out by Sir Francis Galton. The rule goes that, in any series with complex phenomena that are dependent on many variables, where chance is involved, extreme outcomes tend to be followed by more moderate ones.

In Seeking Wisdom, Peter Bevelin offers the example of John, who was dissatisfied with a new employee’s performance so he put them into a skill-enhancing program where he measured the employee’s skill at the end of the program.

Their scores are now higher than they were on the first test. John’s conclusion: ‘The skill-enhancing program caused the improvement in skill.’ This isn’t necessarily true. Their higher scores could be the result of regression to the mean. Since these individuals were measured as being on the low-end of the scale of skill,they would have shown an improvement even if they hadn’t taken the skill-enhancing program. And there could be many reasons for their earlier performance — stress, fatigue, sickness,distraction, etc. Their true ability perhaps hasn’t changed.

Our performance always varies around some average true performance. Extreme performance tends to get less extreme the next time. Why? Testing measurements can never be exact. All measurements are made up of one true part and one random error part. When the measurements are extreme, they are likely tobe partly caused by chance. Chance is likely to contribute less on the second time we measure performance.

If we switch from one way of doing something to another merely because we are unsuccessful,it’s very likely that we do better the next time even if the new way of doing something is equal or worse.”

Stop solving and deciding

August 24, 2015

By Chuck Blakeman via cobizmag.com   Article

Leaders and managers: Nothing in common

“Managers are one of the core business diseases of the Industrial Age. They are sacred cows who have been around only for a little over a century but who should go away as quickly as possible. Few things are as disruptive, unhelpful and unproductive in the workplace as managers.

Solve and Decide, or Become Less Important?

The manager’s worst habits are to a) solve things and b) decide things. No other actions are as debilitating to others. When a manager solves and decides, the only thing left is to delegate tasks to be executed–‘Put this nut on that bolt, at this rate.’ But when we delegate tasks, people feel used. Managers who solve and decide things are fundamental in the dehumanizing of the workplace, because tasks are for machines.

Leaders do it quite differently. They train others to solve problems and make decisions, and then they get out of the way. If you’re becoming less and less important in your position, you’re leading.

The Best Business Leader Makes the Fewest Decisions

The art of traditional management involves planning, organizing, staffing, controlling, and ‘manipulating human capital.’ In the awful assumption of the traditional management model, people are ‘capital’ to be manipulated and controlled.

In contrast, the art of leadership is to know how few decisions the leader needs to make. …

What Are You Delegating; Tasks or Responsibility?

We said earlier that when managers delegate tasks (‘put this nut on that bolt’), people feel used, because tasks are for machines. But leaders delegate responsibility (‘make a great product’)–a much broader request that requires thinking, solving, and deciding. When given responsibility, people take ownership, and ownership is the most powerful motivator in business. Are you delegating tasks, which simply require action, or delegating responsibility, which requires the whole messy, creative person to show up?

Management Is Not Leadership; Leadership Is Not Management

Management is a very recently invented construct, but leadership has been around for centuries. We’ve conflated the two. Here’s a simple reference for pulling them back apart:

Manage Stuff. Lead People.”