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If The Shoe Fits: Hollow Bros and True Brilliance

Friday, April 21st, 2017

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

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mI have some great links for you today.

Yes, I realize I’m preaching to the choir and that those who really need to see this won’t.

Unless, of course, you forward it to where it’s most needed.

I’m sure you are tired of my griping (ranting?) about the bro culture, but maybe you’ll feel better knowing that bro culture dates back to ancient Greece, although knowing doesn’t make it any more palatable.

Philosophers are the original, archetypal “brilliant jerks.” And hundreds of years have done little to change that.

It’s not surprising how many brilliant jerks have an “I’m the next Steve Jobs” mentality, which is rarely warrantedtrue genius is all around us, including the urban ghettos — and gravitate to startups.

So what does a life of true brilliance, genius, if you prefer, look like?

It looks like Robert W. Taylor  (died 4/2017) who, in 1968 said, “In a few years,” he wrote, “men will be able to communicate more effectively through a machine than face to face,” and then proceeded to make sure it happened.

Even more so, it looks like John Goodenough.

In 1946, a 23-year-old Army veteran named John Goodenough headed to the University of Chicago with a dream of studying physics. When he arrived, a professor warned him that he was already too old to succeed in the field.

Recently, Dr. Goodenough recounted that story for me and then laughed uproariously. He ignored the professor’s advice and today, at 94, has just set the tech industry abuzz with his blazing creativity. He and his team at the University of Texas at Austin filed a patent application on a new kind of battery that, if it works as promised, would be so cheap, lightweight and safe that it would revolutionize electric cars and kill off petroleum-fueled vehicles. His announcement has caused a stir, in part, because Dr. Goodenough has done it before. In 1980, at age 57, he coinvented the lithium-ion battery that shrank power into a tiny package.

Stupid professor, along with as all those who believe that creativity is an act reserved for the young.

Image credit: HikingArtist

Golden Oldies: Insanely Smart Retention and Stars

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.

Jerks. Turks. Stars. Bro culture. Definitely insanely stupid. I wrote this exactly six years ago and nothing has changed; if anything, it’s gotten worse and the post is yet more applicable.

Golden Oldies are a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.

Read other Golden Oldies here.

3937284735_35e9f47fb3_mAre you already a devotee of insanely smart hiring, in the process of changing after reading insanely stupid hiring or somewhere in-between?

Wherever your MAP is on the subject there is one thing about hiring that you need to wrap your head around if you want your career to flourish.

You can not hire stars, but you can create and maintain them.

This is as true of executives and management as it is of workers at all levels.

Think of hiring in terms of planting a garden—only these plants have feet.

You’re at the nursery and find a magnificent rose. It’s large, because it’s several years old, has dozens of blooms and buds and is exactly what you wanted for a particular space in your yard.

The directions say that the rose needs full sun to thrive, while the space in your yard only gets four to five hours of morning sun. But the rose is so gorgeous you can’t resist, convincing yourself that those hours from sunrise to 11 will be enough, so you take it home and plant it.

It seems to do OK at first, but as time goes by it gets more straggly and has fewer and fewer blooms.

Finally, you give it to your friend who plants it in a place that gets sun from early morning to sunset.

By the end of the next summer the rose is enormous, covered in blooms and has sprouted three new canes.

One of the things that insanely smart hiring does is ensure that people are planted where they will flourish, whether they are already thriving or are leaving an inhospitable environment.

I said earlier that people are like plants with feet. Abuse a plant, whether intentionally or through neglect, and it will wither and eventually die; abuse your people and sooner or later they will walk.

Insanely smart hiring also gives you a giant edge whether the people market is hot or cold.

By knowing exactly what you need, your culture, management style and the environment you have to offer you are in a position to find hidden and unpolished jewels, as well as those that have lost their luster by being in the wrong place. (Pardon the mixed metaphors.)

These are often candidates that other managers pass on, but who will become your stars—stars with no interest in seeking out something else.

They recognize insanely smart opportunities when they see them.

Flickr image credit: Ryan Somma

Ducks in a Row: Just Say No To Brilliant Jerks

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

This is a short post, with a lot of valuable links.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/kurt-b/5401822493/

Way back in 2007 Standard prof Bob Sutton wrote the No Asshole Rule and McKinsey did in-depth research on the damage they do.

In 2015 Rich Waidmann created a no jerks culture.

Sutton followed up in 2015 essentially saying it’s all about the people.

Last week a post on LinkedIn talking about women CTOs who won’t hire “brilliant jerks.”

There are hundreds more posts, articles, books, research, comments, etc. that talk about the downside of jerks — brilliant or otherwise. (In case you’re wondering, the brilliance supposedly offsets the jerk part.)

But it’s a fallacy to think that it’s just women who are creating cultures that don’t tolerate brilliant jerks, just as it is to think that all brilliant jerks are male.

As with any other label, brilliant jerks can be found in any imaginable combination of race, creed, color, national origin, gender identification, size, and shape.

None are worth keeping, because, even if it takes some time, they will poison your culture and run off your team.
Image credit: Kurt  Bauschardt

Golden Oldies: Ducks in a Row: Rich Waidmann’s No jerks Allowed

Monday, March 27th, 2017

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.

Golden Oldies are a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.

Since tomorrow’s post takes yet another look at Silicon Valley culture, sources of the blatant misogyny, and how that relates to brilliant jerks and so-called stars, I thought I’d share Rich Waidmann’s take on the subject.

Read other Golden Oldies here.

I’m in love — with a man I never met, never spoke to, never followed or chatted with online.

His name is Rich Waidmann and he’s founder and CEO of Connectria Hosting.

I love him because when he started his company he consciously set out to make it a great place to work. (See the full Infographic at Business Insider)

That means it’s a job requirement at his company that every employee treat everyone else with courtesy and respect as well as “going the extra mile” to take care of people in the community who are less fortunate

Then his company did a survey and found that

More than half (55%) of 250 IT professionals in the US. surveyed said they had been bullied by a co-worker. And 65% have said they dreaded going to work because of bad behavior of a co-worker.

Waidmann believes it shouldn’t be that way so he’s starting a No Jerks Allowed movement in an effort to encourage better cultures.

Way back in 2007 Stanford’s Bob Sutton wrote The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t, but looking at the stats I’m not sure how much good it actually did.

And considering the fact that companies are shoehorning more people into less space something needs to change.

The Talmud says, “We do not see the world as it is. We see the world as we are.” Moreover, it’s often as we are that particular day, or even minute, and even as we change, minute to minute, so do others.

Jerks are known to lower productivity and kill innovation, so a lot of good information on identifying and dealing with jerks has been developed since Sutton’s book came out.

Contributing to that effort, here are my four favorite MAP attitudes for dealing with jerks.

  • Life happens, people react and act out, but that doesn’t mean you have to let their act in.
  • Consider the source of the comment before considering the comment, then let its effect on you be in direct proportion to your respect for that source.
  • Use mental imagery to defuse someone’s effect on you. This is especially useful against bullying and intimidation. Do it by having your mental image of the person be one that strips power symbols and adds amusement. (Give me a call if you want my favorite, it’s a bit rude, but has worked well for many people.)

And, finally, the one I try to keep uppermost in my mind at all times

  • At least some of “them” some of the time consider me a jerk—and some of the time they are probably correct.

Image credit: Connectria

Golden Oldies: MAP and what comes at you

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over nearly a Decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written. Golden Oldies is a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.  

How often do you find yourself reacting angrily to another’s actions? Saying/thinking stuff that would turn the air blue or gesturing to voice your feelings? We’ve all been there, so this post is as true today as it was when I wrote it nine years ago. Read other Golden Oldies here

I write a lot about the actions fostered by good MAP, how to evaluate your own MAP and how to modify/change it if you’re so inclined—but this only applies to output, what about input?

Now and then we all find ourselves dealing with %#@$&, better known as jerks or, to be truly polite, difficult people.

The Talmud says, “We do not see the world as it is. We see the world as we are.” Further, it’s often as we are that particular day, or even minute, and even as we change, minute to minute, so do others.

There’s lots of good information on identifying and dealing with jerks in the article; also, here are four of my favorite MAP attitudes that have helped myself and others over the years.

  • Life happens, people react and act out, but that doesn’t mean you have to let their act in.
  • Consider the source of the comment before considering the comment, then let its effect on you be in direct proportion to your respect for that source.
  • Use mental imagery to defuse someone’s effect on you. This is especially useful against intimidation. Do it by having your mental image of the person be one that strips power symbols and adds amusement. (Give me a call if you want my favorite, it’s a bit too rude for a business blog, but has worked well for many people.)

And, finally, the one I hold uppermost in my mind

At least some of “them” consider me a jerk — and at times they are probably correct.

Ducks in a Row: Rich Waidmann’s No jerks Allowed

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015
top-jerks

(see the full Infographic at Business Insider)

I’m in love — with a man I never met, never spoke to, never followed or chatted with online.

His name is Rich Waidmann and he’s founder and CEO of Connectria Hosting.

I love him because when he started his company he consciously set out to make it a great place to work.

That means it’s a job requirement at his company that every employee treat everyone else with courtesy and respect as well as “going the extra mile” to take care of people in the community who are less fortunate

Then his company did a survey and found that

More than half (55%) of 250 IT professionals in the US. surveyed said they had been bullied by a co-worker. And 65% have said they dreaded going to work because of bad behavior of a co-worker.

Waidmann believes it shouldn’t be that way so he’s starting a No Jerks Allowed movement in an effort to encourage better cultures.

Way back in 2007 Stanford’s Bob Sutton wrote The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t, but looking at the stats I’m not sure how much good it actually did.

And considering the fact that companies are shoehorning more people into less space something needs to change.

The Talmud says, “We do not see the world as it is. We see the world as we are.” Moreover, it’s often as we are that particular day, or even minute, and even as we change, minute to minute, so do others.

Jerks are known to lower productivity and kill innovation, so a lot of good information on identifying and dealing with jerks has been developed since Sutton’s book came out.

Contributing to that effort, here are my four favorite MAP attitudes for dealing with jerks.

  • Life happens, people react and act out, but that doesn’t mean you have to let their act in.
  • Consider the source of the comment before considering the comment, then let its effect on you be in direct proportion to your respect for that source.
  • Use mental imagery to defuse someone’s effect on you. This is especially useful against bullying and intimidation. Do it by having your mental image of the person be one that strips power symbols and adds amusement. (Give me a call if you want my favorite, it’s a bit rude, but has worked well for many people.)

And, finally, the one I try to keep uppermost in my mind at all times

  • At least some of “them” some of the time consider me a jerk—and some of the time they are probably correct.

Image credit: Connectria

Expand Your Mind: Attitudes

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

Today we look at what’s going on in and around your head.

According to current research, being an overconfident, rude jerk is a great way to get ahead and have people look up to you. (In reality this only applies to men.)

In other words, overconfident people are perceived as having more social status, and social status is golden. (…) …research suggests that we also see rudeness as a sign of power.

Offended? Good. Because before you decide that jerkism is your best path to success see why it doesn’t really work most of the time

For all their charisma, bravery and bravado, jerks don’t do as well as you might think.

Jerkism covers a multitude of sins including positive thinking (free registration required), especially when it holds 110% sway over the minds of leaders.

But several recent studies have critiqued the positive thinking movement, highlighting the negative personal and organizational effects (…) In short, Prozac leaders can wind up believing their own narrative that everything is going well.

People spend large amounts of time these days trying to assimilate all the available information applicable to their job, project, etc, because it will improve their results. But maybe that’s not such a good thing; instead consider the idea of two lists.

It’s hard to do because maybe, just maybe, that next piece of information will be the key to our success. But our success actually hinges on the opposite: on our willingness to risk missing some information. Because trying to focus on it all is a risk in itself. We’ll exhaust ourselves. We’ll get confused, nervous, and irritable.

What will your life be like as you age in an era of DIY toughness? If you are lucky, EngAGE, a program that enhances life for the 99% will become a model.

“We see people without money, who had very hard lives, who are not aware of their own potential,” said Maureen Kellen-Taylor, the chief operating officer of EngAGE, a program in the Los Angeles area that provides arts and other classes for some 5,000 people — the vast majority of them low-income — living in senior apartment communities.

Flickr image credit: pedroelcarvalho

Social Media Rules Of The Road

Friday, July 10th, 2009

Phil Gerbyshak wrote a brilliant post setting out Ten Commandments For Social Media

  1. Thou shalt add value first, and sell LAST
  2. Thou shalt listen twice as much as you talk
  3. Thou shalt not spam all your contacts
  4. Thou shalt not act like a stuck up jerk
  5. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s contacts
  6. Thou shalt personalize every invitation I make to join any network
  7. Thou shalt remember that 10 can be more powerful than 10,000
  8. Thou shalt not beg (for anything)
  9. Thou shalt be authentic and transparent in all you do
  10. Thou shalt take the blog off the blog

As regular readers know I’m not much of a social media user, but these are long overdue.

Click over to the full definitions and you’ll see that even those that seem to refer only to social media have their counterpart in real society.

Sadly, no matter how widely the commandments disperse, I doubt that they’ll make a great difference.

Why? Because the Net is populated by the same folks who inhabit the real world and people don’t follow them there—it would be a much nicer place if they did.

Worse, the Net magnifies and increases incivility because it lacks emotional context, which negates empathy.

Lori Drew is a good example of this.

Obviously, Drew showed an amazing lack of maturity and sense, and although the judge overturned the jury’s guilty verdict it was on a point of law, not on her actions.

One has to wonder if Drew would have acted the same way in the real world where the pain she was causing would have been obvious.

So I have three recommendations for you in addition to Phil’s commandments

  1. Pack your manners, ethics, morals and especially your common sense when you travel through social media.
  2. Be cautious, because not everyone will pack their bags as carefully as you.
  3. Remember that social media makes people more so; those who are good are very, very good and those who are full or borderline jerks will probably be worse.

Image credit: Intersection Consulting on flickr

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