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“Do Better” | Mental Models

“Do better” without clear context to both parties will backfire.

Advice only counts if the following is true:

  • They believe you are worthy of giving advice
  • They believe you understand their point of view
  • They believe you care.
  • And most importantly, if they believe you.

Unrequited advice is as good as the Charlie Brown noise.

On a related note, listen to this hour presentation on mental models. The speaker, Peter Kaufman, wrote one of the best books on Charlie Munger – pricey but worth it.

The talk ends on one of the most important leadership lessons you’ll learn. Don’t skip ahead; you’ll need the context from the beginning to make it all make sense.

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Taking Breaks | Product In The Middle

Being in management is difficult. Maintaining a level of empathy and listening to both executives and individual contributors adds a level of difficulty. Here is a Twitter thread that discusses some of the issues from peers, direct reports, and above.

Take a break when you can because they deserve your best, however, if it gets too toxic, get out for a while.

Product is in the middle of objective-based and perceptive-based thinkers. One of your job as a PM is to translate between the two types because the customer needs both.

One of the ways a PM can be effective is injecting cross-collaboration where they can. The two types won’t ever the same way (the jobs require the other type of thinking – and Engineer focused on perception gets lost in edge cases, for example). The best we can do is show the one sides world from the other’s perspective and let them know both ways are valid.

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Identity

Who you think you are matters. When someone attacks your identity, there is an extra sting to it. Even if the other person is unaware, an attack on how you see yourself can stop you in your tracks.

I’m still trying to understand how to get past it. I have some lessons, though.

  1. Make the other person aware that you are hurt.
  2. Step away from the conversation if you can
  3. Promise to continue the conversation when there are cooler heads
  4. Ask yourself, was this person aware. Don’t do this at the moment, do it afterward, with some time in between.
  5. Write down what it was, if they weren’t aware, you’d need to have language around it when you explain it to them. 
  6. Once you explain it to them, and they do it again, step away, and do not do business with them anymore.

It’s hard, and I still have trouble with it. 

This list helps me get things done, though. 

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Reactive Relativity

We see with our brains, not with our eyes. 

Don’t believe me? 

Have you ever heard of the white gorilla test?

The white gorilla test is a sociological experiment where the participant is told to count the number of times a ball is being thrown around a basketball court in a video. In the middle of it, a white gorilla begins to dance on the screen and hop around. 

And the end of the video, the researcher asks what did they see.

Most people don’t see the gorilla.  They just tell the researcher how many basketball passes they saw.

Sounds crazy. You wouldn’t be fooled, right?

Well, I want you to do an experiment. 

I want you to take a look at the room around you and write down what you see, then take a picture.

Don’t say it. It is important that you write it down.

Come back later in the day and look at that picture and write down what you see. 

I would be shocked if that list matches.

We see with our brains, and our brains come with narratives that are shaped by our moods and thoughts.  

Narratives are relative, based on whatever surrounds that narrative at the time. 

Most of us react to the narrative.

We can’t fight the narrative though. It comes with our brains, and it is a part of the hardware. 

Great leaders recognize this and know that there is no way to stop yourself from making a narrative. They don’t even try.

What they do is stop the reaction.

Recognizing and preventing reactionary relativity is the theme for the month, and each week, we are going to explore a different side of it.

Before I begin though, I wonder

What are some ways you’ve seen or things you’ve done to help you not react?

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Identity

Who you think you are matters. When someone attacks your identity, there is an extra sting to it. Even if the other person is unaware, an attack on how you see yourself can stop you in your tracks.

I’m still trying to understand how to get past it. I have some lessons, though.

  1. Make the other person aware that you are hurt.
  2. Step away from the conversation if you can
  3. Promise to continue the conversation when there are cooler heads
  4. Ask yourself, was this person aware. Don’t do this at the moment, do it afterward, with some time in between.
  5. Write down what it was, if they weren’t aware, you’d need to have language around it when you explain it to them. 
  6. Once you explain it to them, and they do it again, step away, and do not do business with them anymore.

It’s hard, and I still have trouble with it. 

This list helps me get things done, though. 

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Always Forward.

We can’t go back. Once the genie bottle has been opened, you can’t put it in the bottle again. Always forward.

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What Doesn’t Change | Music.

Jeff Bezos said that the key to business is focusing on what doesn’t change. This way of thinking is counterintuitive since our brains focus on change.

It’s easy to focus on the foreground, especially since the background doesn’t shift.

I’d like you to join me in this thought exercise – ask yourself, what hasn’t shifted in the last year? Is it important? 

Write them down.

There I was, writing a sheet of music during an acting class. 

Music calms my nerves. When I’m anxious, it can function as a note from my subconscious to relax. 

What do you use to relax when it gets stressful?

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Friction/Tension/WeWork/Akimbo

Friction and tension are not your enemies. Sure, the internet has shown us the power of no friction. As Seth Godin notes in this phenomenal Akimbo episode, “it’s easier to get a date, meet people, and create… but the leverage is gone in these things.” 

That is 💯 correct, and I am not
Going to lay that out better than he does, so I suggest you listen to the full episode.

I want to take it in a different direction – a lack of friction also allows for fraud to take place. I think of We (known for WeWork), and the whole operation has been a textbook case of “no friction” due diligence. Read this piece from Scott Galloway for a background.

The CEO has mostly stolen his way to fortune and enriched his family in the process(700 million!), bilking investors who are just praying for a good IPO so they can break even. Then it’s up to John Q Public to foot the bill.

No friction, no minute to take a breath, and growth at all costs enabled this.

There are places in our lives where we are frictionless and allow for things like this to happen. Unlike WeWorks CEO you won’t make 700 million, you’re just hurting yourself.

So lets put the two concepts together.

Where should you start to add friction to think better and stop damaging your prospects? 

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Older Tech Yield

Older tech is still useful and often is worth the time to bring it to life. I spent about 40 minutes putting together an old Chromecast last night. It had been about four years since I used it. Why?

Not important.

What was is that I found a ton of utility from something that had been plugged in my TV so long it was caked in dust. I got a full night of entertainment for a few minutes of investment. Sometimes, we can make an evening out of something old and make it new again and more importantly, the yield far outweighed the work.

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Just Show Up.

Another Saturday and another yoga insight. Sometimes all you have to do is show up.

This week we had a substitute teacher and she pushed us HARD. This was the first time I left class drenched in sweat.

This was also a week I had to wait for my sink to get fixed, had a really odd week (get me a drink and I’ll tell you about it), and a bum knee.

But I got through it. My ego was a little shot, much like last week, I didn’t hit everything right. I’m exhausted, yet afterward, someone walked up to me and said they didn’t quit because I didn’t quit.

Mind kinda blown there.

Sometimes all you have to do is show up and just by doing that, you’ll help someone else show up to.