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Ducks in a Row: The Myth Of Finding Passion

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017


I know it gets old, but here is yet another reason to subscribe to CB Insights newsletter. At the end there is a section called The Blurb that provides four links to exceptionally excellent content, such as

Mark Manson’s thoughts on “passion.”

Manson is referring to the oft stated advice to new grads to “find your passion” when looking for work. Seems a lot of those people write him saying they don’t know what their passion is and asking how to find it.

But more importantly, what I want to say to these people is this: that’s the whole point — “not knowing” is the whole fucking point. Life is all about not knowing, and then doing something anyway. All of life is like this. All of it.

He points out some basic truths about work and passion/loving what you do.

  • Priorities, like buying food and paying the rent/mortgage, often trump passion.
  • You can work for the priorities and spend the rest of your time on your passion.
  • Even your dream job will include parts that suck and some days when it all sucks.

If you’re passionate about something, it will already feel like such an ingrained part of your life that you will have to be reminded by people that it’s not normal, that other people aren’t like that.

If you have to look for what you’re passionate about, then you’re probably not passionate about it at all.

A child does not walk onto a playground and say to herself, “How do I find fun?” She just goes and has fun.  


  • You won’t find your passion in a set of data points.
  • Nor will you find it by looking/asking/ranting/whining.
  • Just because your best friend loves their job doesn’t mean you would.
  • People change. Your passion at 25 may not be your passion at 45, let alone at 65.

Don’t just read Manson’s essay, think about it and then apply the lessons learned to your own life.

I guarantee you’ll be a far happier/satisfied/passionate person.

Flickr image credit: gorfor


Ryan’s Journal: Interview With Amy Blankson

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Amy Blankson, author of The Future of Happiness, 5 Modern Strategies for Balancing Productivity and Well-Being in the Digital Age.

Happiness may be the root of everything we seek out in life.

We want to be happy in our family, our job and any other aspect of our lives. In fact the US Declaration of Independence states that, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” are unalienable rights when declaring independence from Great Britain.

Happiness probably means a lot of things to a lot of people — to me it means satisfaction. 

However rates of depression, divorce and suicide are all on the rise. I am sure we can all think of someone in our own life that takes antidepressants to help them cope with their days.

This is all happening in the backdrop of some of the highest rates of wealth, longer life spans and access to greater technology than any generation before. Why is this?

Amy Blankson seeks to answer this question and others in her new book.

A little backdrop on Amy; she is passionate, kind and curious. If you google her you will find that she has a well regarded Ted talk, is an alum of both Harvard and Yale, and runs a company with her brother studying the topics raised in this book.

I had the opportunity to interview her for this post and it was a real pleasure speaking with her. Our conversation ranged from what her influences are to parenting tips in the modern age. We share some things in common; she has three daughters as I will soon, she resides in Texas near my family, and she continues to ask ‘why’ everyday.

The book begins with three burning questions in the digital era, where are we heading? Would we be better without tech? What will happiness look like?

Now, before you think this book is something that advocates that you forsake all worldly goods and begin churning butter in the countryside, it’s not that at all.

Amy recognizes that for many of us we are the first generation to transcend two eras. The analog, with house phones and encyclopedias, to the digital age, where we have a phone in our pocket that can access every book ever written in the history of the world.

We are all different ages but we can all look at the moment when technology enabled us to have every answer at our fingertips, but also the ability to never truly break away.

Amy addresses the fact that work days seem to never end, with email always a buzz away. High school friends who you probably have nothing in common with are still keeping you up to date with the latest post.

But at the same time the person you share your bed with may be further away as you are both absorbed in your own screens.

These are scenarios that we all have to deal with on a daily basis and need to learn how to manage them.

This book is not another lifestyle book that promises to change your life in 30 days or your money back.

What Amy has accomplished is doing all the homework for you. She utilized hundreds of apps, used numerous wearables and tried all sorts of methods to figure out the best way to manage all the tech that we are surrounded with.

She provides very practical steps on how to declutter our lives in simple ways. For example, do you have a pile of old laptops and cords lying around somewhere in your house? Mine are about three feet away from me, the laptops will never be used but I have old pics that I want. My solution is to just store them and have them take up space. Amy’s solution is to take those laptops in, retrieve the data and purge the hardware. This is a simple process and it clears your life. 

Do you ever feel overwhelmed with the technology that is surrounding you? In the spirit of transparency, I am in my early 30’s, I work for a technology company and I feel overwhelmed. I feel that I must read every day to keep up with what is new. This is not age specific, it affects all of us. Amy addresses this and clarifies how we can manage our time.

This book is more than a simple help, it’s like you are listening to your friend that you trust. Amy is kind, thoughtful and funny both in her writing and in person. On a personal note I learned a lot from my brief conversation with Amy. She is a mother of three daughters and it was great to glean some wisdom from her experiences raising them.

I walked into this book with no previous knowledge of Amy and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. She does a great job of showcasing practical steps, analyzes the topics from the standpoint of a social scientist and maintains the curiosity of the eternally inquisitive. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has thought that there must be a better way to live this life. 

I asked Amy what her one takeaway would be from someone who reads her book.

She said it would be that our life is our own and we can make our choices. We are in control and we should not let technology dictate or overwhelm us.

This book is for the young professional, the parent or the student who would like to set a firm foundation moving forward.

Amy’s book will go on sale April 11th, you can pre-order or find it at your local retailer.

Image credit: Amazon

Brain Research: Be Grateful — Feel Happy

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

While people consciously think about being grateful on Thanksgiving, they would be wise to be grateful all year long.

studies suggest that practicing gratitude is important for your health, happiness, relationships, and self-control.

Happify, the company that uses information from studies in positive psychology to make you feel happier, provides an infographic to guide you.

Have a wonderful, happy Thanksgiving being grateful for what you have.

And join us Friday to share Ajo Fod’s learning experience at the Lean Conference earlier this week for which he is very grateful.

Ducks in a Row: Destroy Morale? There’s an App for That

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015


Want to integrate almost real-time employee action analytics to give your people better feedback and potential career boost?

There’s an app for that.

Imagine a tiny microphone embedded in the ID badge dangling from the lanyard around your neck.

The mic is gauging the tone of your voice and how frequently you are contributing in meetings. Hidden accelerometers measure your body language and track how often you push away from your desk.

The app is from Humanyze, the test subjects work for Deloitte, participation was voluntary and the anonymous results positive.

“The minute that you get the report that you’re not speaking enough and that you don’t show leadership, immediately, the next day, you change your behavior,” says Silvia Gonzalez-Zamora, an analytics leader at Deloitte, who steered the Newfoundland pilot.

“It’s powerful to see how people want to display better behaviors or the behaviors that you’re moving them towards.”

But only when there is choice and trust.

Then there’s the truly evil app that records everything employees do 24/7, with no anonymity .

The U.K.-based company The Outside View, a predictive analytics company, also recently gave staff wearables and apps to measure their happiness, sleep patterns, nutrition and exercise around the clock in an experimental project.

So your boss knows when you decide to watch your favorite TV show, instead of taking a work-related course, or sing karaoke, instead of going to bed early.

“It’s bad enough that we lose control of our identities with threats of identity theft. I think it’s even worse if we lose the privacy of our actions, our movements, our physiological and emotional states. I think that’s the risk.” –Kenneth Goh, professor of organizational behavior at Western University’s Ivey Business School

They actually think that employees will be motivated by coming to work and having their boss ask why they didn’t work-out, but were up until 2 am.

I don’t think so.

As with so many inventions through the centuries, no matter how pure the motives of creators, anything can be corrupted and its use perverted by other humans.

Hat tip to KG Charles-Harris for pointing me to these stories.

Flickr image credit: Hans Splinter

Ducks in a Row: the True Source of Happiness

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015


It’s been proven that the happier the workers the higher the productivity and creativeness.

So what really makes people happy?

Lawyers provide a good example, in spite of all the jokes.

Researchers who surveyed 6,200 lawyers about their jobs and health found that the factors most frequently associated with success in the legal field, such as high income or a partner-track job at a prestigious firm, had almost zero correlation with happiness and well-being. However, lawyers in public-service jobs who made the least money, like public defenders or Legal Aid attorneys, were most likely to report being happy.

I wrote What People Want one week short of nine years ago and after rereading it see no reason to update it.

As research continually proves, the basic human operating system doesn’t really change.

Flickr image credit: tico_24

The Rest of Your Life

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

http://www.flickr.com/photos/49333775@N00/5068199415/I’m writing this long before election results are in, but it doesn’t matter. I can guarantee, without a doubt, that some of you are very happy campers and the rest of you are POed, angry, upset, depressed or scared.

No matter which, I suggest that you focus instead on your personal ikigai—your reason for being. Or, as is said on Okinawa, “a reason to get up in the morning”, that is, a reason to enjoy life.

Few Americans are willing to invest the time to get to know themselves well enough to identify their real ikigai, so they substitute all kinds of prefab things to give meaning to their lives.

Politics. Religion. Work. Followers. “Friends.” Klout score.

All of which are prone to failure as a reason to get out of bed, because they are external as opposed to internal.

In other words, they were created by others.

To possess a strong, stable ikigai you must come to it from deep self-knowledge.

Even if it includes one or more of the above elements you need to know why it/they are included.

If you do invest the time and effort to truly identify your own personal ikigai you really will live a happier, more satisfying and satisfactory life.

It’s guaranteed.

Flickr image credit: The Shopping Sherpa

If the Shoe Fits: Pivot to Feel Good

Friday, March 30th, 2012

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mA Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here

Pivots are the name of the game, but why would someone go from founding a commodities company in Dubai (that died when the economy crashed) to creating an e-commerce site offering merchandise from socially conscious startups supporting a wide variety of causes?

“What I was doing before was incredibly unfulfilling.”

So says Brent Freeman , founder of Roozt.


It’s a more common sentiment than you might think.

Even when the exit is lucrative it may not be satisfying.

As someone once said to me, “My startup job made me rich, but it didn’t make me happy.”

Perhaps that’s why so many alumni from places like Microsoft and Google become socially responsible angels.

How fulfilling is your startup?

Option Sanity™  is fulfilling.

Come visit Option Sanity for an easy-to-understand, simple-to-implement stock allocation system.  It’s so easy a CEO can do it.


Do not attempt to use Option Sanity™ without a strong commitment to business planning, financial controls, honesty, ethics, and “doing the right thing.”
se only as directed.
Users of Option Sanity may experience sudden increases in team cohesion and worker satisfaction. In cases where team productivity, retention and company success is greater than typical, expect media interest and invitations as keynote speaker.

Flickr image credit: HikingArtist

Entrepreneurs: When’s the Gold?

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

2661425133_1328692483_mDid you start your company to become a millionaire in a few years?

If so, you’re in for a rude awakening.

If candidates’ reason for joining is to become rich when the company exits should raise more than red flags; it should ring every alarm you have and send you running for the nearest exit.

That’s true no matter how badly you need his skills or how much the team likes him.

Candidates who join because they believe they’ll be millionaires in a few years are walking time bombs and hiring them could be your worst nightmare.


Because, as the man once said, “It ain’t gonna happen.”

This isn’t about the well know statistic that half of all startups fail (they don’t), but it is based on some interesting stats I came across in a blog called the MarketInfoGuide sponsored by China Research and Intelligence, a market research and consulting firm in Shanghai.

Slide sold for 200 million dollars to Google, but the employees made almost nothing, because so little was left for the common stock shareholders after the preferred shareholders were paid back.

I bounced it off Matt Weeks to see how solid the information and numbers were.

“Math is wrong regarding the participating preferred, but the main point is still pretty accurate… don’t join a startup to make a million in 3 yrs.”

Also, some phrasing slants the text in a decidedly negative way, but that doesn’t change the stats.

So why should you start a company?

To solve a problem, make a difference in people’s lives, maybe even help solve one or another of society’s ills and create a happy place to work.

Why should you join a startup?

To work on the bleeding edge of technology, contribute to something amazing, be challenged, grow exponentially, be happy.

Whichever side of the table you are on remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, Google was founded in 1998 and IPOed six years later; and Facebook was founded eight years ago in 2004.

Even when it happens it doesn’t happen fast.

Flickr image credit: Alan Cleaver

Wordless Wednesday: Good Advice for Life

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010


Image credit: Torley on flickr

Fun Drives Action

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

A few weeks ago I reviewed The Levity Effect and wrote a series of posts about levity to go with all the stuff I’ve written about the necessity of fun in the workplace, especially when it comes to innovation.

And just as fun/levity/happy juice a culture of innovation, they have the ability to affect what people do and increase desired actions.

Steve Roesler, who writes All Things Workplace, has a similar point of view.

I love reading Steve, besides his undoubted smarts, he often leads me to stuff I wouldn’t find on my own—like thefuntheory.com “an initiative of Volkswagen.”

This site is dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behavior for the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it’s change for the better.

Best it’s a contest that you can enter.

Find your own evidence for the theory that fun is best way to change behavior for the better. For yourself, for the environment or something entirely different.

The site offers 3 examples of how fun got people to pick up trash, recycle more and even take the stairs instead of an escalator (as shown here).

Check out the site, get some friends together, brainstorm and submit ideas by December 15, then come back and tell us what you did.

You have as much chance of winning as anyone else!

Image credit: FunTheory.com

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