September 2015 Articles


Scott Adams · Dilbert ·

Pointy-Haired Boss
I want you to think like entrepreneurs.

Should we take huge risks?

Pointy-Haired Boss
No. The stock-holders would hate that.

Should we act as though we have no boss?

Pointy-Haired Boss
No. That would be chaos.

Will we become billionaires if we succeed?

Pointy-Haired Boss
Raises are capped at 3% this year.
I’m just staying you should be more creative.

And then we should act?

Pointy-Haired Boss
No, that’s when the problems happen.

4am Panic

Michael Lopp · Rands in Repose ·

For leaders or truly anyone with a team, the best advice to managing late night stress from all the work piling up is straightforward.

  1. Make a list of all the impossible tasks
  2. “List the people who merit your belief in their reliability, truth, ability, or strength. We’re talking about work here so I’m assuming these are co-workers, but don’t limit yourself to your immediate team or leads. Who is everyone in the company that you fully trust?”

“…There’s a reason you signed up for all these impossible tasks and big rocks. You were coming from an enthusiastic and optimistic place, but if you’re a leader of humans, the right answer might be to ask for help. The right answer might be to give the task to someone else who might not do as good a job, but who will learn more than you.”

Fluid Coupling

Horace Dediu · Asymco ·

When exactly did enterprises become late adopters of technology? We know that they were some of the first buyers of computers. IBM sold tabulating and later computing machines to businesses starting in the 1910s. During the 1980s it was businesses which bought PCs in significant numbers to augment, and later replace, their centralized computing resources. Networking was in use in government and in business long before consumers saw any value in it.

…So what happened during the last decade or so?

Here’s the thing, though: Uber could have self-driving cars within a year! It just depends on how you define a self-driving car…

Uber, though, has a different definition; look again at Kalanick’s comment to Swisher: “The reason Uber [is] expensive is because you’re not just paying for the car, you’re paying for the [driver] in the car.” In other words, from Uber’s perspective, a self-driving car is a car where they don’t have to pay for a driver; the implementation details don’t matter.

With that in mind, think again about the commute problem: right now approximately 75% of Americans drive alone to work. Every one of those solo commuters is a potential UberPool driver, and not just that: because they are making the trip whether they are an UberPool driver or not, they are, from Uber’s perspective, self-driving cars. They are drivers Uber would not need to pay for. This, I believe, will be Uber 2.0: human-powered self-driving cars primarily focused on commutes.

I have a predilection for checking the sources of quotes. Why? Often quotes are taken out of context and retrieving that context can make the quote all the more meaningful or give pause if the quote is being used out of context.

The quote that was shared with me today was attributed to Martin Luther King Jr. and reads: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

I believe this quote is a loose rewrite of three lines King gave in a speech. You can watch a snippet of the speech on YouTube. If the titles in the video are accurate, the speech was made on March 8, 1965 at Brown Chapel, part of the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church, in Selma, Alabama.

Deep down in our non-violent creed is the conviction that some things so dear, some things so precious, some things so eternally true, that they’re worth dying for. And if a man happens to be 36-years-old, as I happen to be, and some great truth stands before the door of his life — some great opportunity to stand up for that which is right. He’s afraid his home will get bombed, or he’s afraid that he will lose his job, or he’s afraid that he will get shot, or beat down by state troopers, he may go on and live until he’s 80. But he’s just as dead at 36 as he would be at 80, and the cessation of breathing in his life is merely the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit. He died. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.

So we’re going to stand up right here amid horses. We’re going to stand up right here in Alabama, amid the billy-clubs. We’re going to stand up right here in Alabama amid police dogs, if they have them. We’re going to stand up amid tear gas! We’re going to stand up amid anything that they can muster up, letting the world know that we are determined to be free!”

The portion in bold text above is what I believe created the foundation for the rewrite. I come to that conclusion based on the following assumptions. The first is the change that was made to the beginning of the sentence. “A man dies” becomes “Our lives begin to end…”. A rewrite that may have been made to remove gender from the quote and reduce its punch.

The middle of the rewrite, “…the day we become silent…” is likely a rephrasing of King’s reprise “when he refuses to [stand up]/[take a stand]”.

And the ending of the rewrite “…about things that matter” is likely an amalgamation of the three sentiments expressed by King that “a man dies when he refuses to”:

  • “…stand up for that which is right.”
  • “…stand up for justice.”
  • “…take a stand for that which is true.”

One can easily combine those three sentiments into the bucket of “things that matter”.

So from a speech that encouraged listeners to stand up for justice and truth comes the quote attributed to King: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

The closing sentence of Dr. Bradberry’s second paragraph is so very true:

It’s pretty incredible how often you hear managers complaining about their best employees leaving, and they really do have something to complain about–few things are as costly and disruptive as good people walking out the door.

Managers tend to blame their turnover problems on everything under the sun, while ignoring the crux of the matter: people don’t leave jobs; they leave managers.

Good advice on how to retain, grow and encourage employees so that they don’t leave.

…One college junior tried to capture what is wrong about life in his generation. “Our texts are fine,” he said. “It’s what texting does to our conversations when we are together that’s the problem.”

It’s a powerful insight. Studies of conversation both in the laboratory and in natural settings show that when two people are talking, the mere presence of a phone on a table between them or in the periphery of their vision changes both what they talk about and the degree of connection they feel. People keep the conversation on topics where they won’t mind being interrupted. They don’t feel as invested in each other. Even a silent phone disconnects us.

Across generations, technology is implicated in this assault on empathy. We’ve gotten used to being connected all the time, but we have found ways around conversation – at least from conversation that is open-ended and spontaneous, in which we play with ideas and allow ourselves to be fully present and vulnerable. But it is in this type of conversation – where we learn to make eye contact, to become aware of another person’s posture and tone, to comfort one another and respectfully challenge one another – that empathy and intimacy flourish. In these conversations, we learn who we are.

Cate Huston, a software engineer, who left the tech industry and has been finding her way back in.

…The other milestone was that I completed my list of 10 men in tech I don’t hate. A project that lasted nine months, and spanned three continents.

It started with a joke, and it didn’t make sense to everyone. But it came from a real conversation: I didn’t leave because I don’t love to code (I do!) or lead teams (I do!), because I don’t want to make things (I love making things). But once I was free, I realised that I was no longer constantly on edge, waiting for some new horrible thing to happen. It’s hard being surrounded by dudes, and when you’ve got to a point where the distinction you make between them is their calculated threat vector, well…