As any reader of Techmeme will know, there’s a wee bit of an investment bubble going on.
People paying silly money for a piece of the Web 2.0 action. Facebook, Y Combinator, Huffington Post, the usual suspects.
I’m not saying these are bad investments, that they’ve been valued too high.
I’m just saying that it reminds us all of something we’ve seen before.
All is vanity. Same as it ever was. And will ever be.
* * *
I urge you to check out MacLeod’s website, Gaping Void.
Also his two books, Ignore Everybody
and Evil Plans.
Also, his art gallery from which brilliant works can be purchased at unreasonably reasonable (i.e. fair) prices.
Honoring our Military with a special Book Synopsis Presentation/Gathering – The Leadership Secrets of the Navy SEALs
The business world has increasingly become a world of individuals. Corporate teams that once banded together to push forward are now like mercenary gangs… Corporate culture has often become little more than a sea of managerial nomads, loyal to no one and motivated overwhelmingly by salary, convenience, and the size of the corporate gym…
This has been a disaster for managers and leaders who want to create values and get results. It’s difficult to lead workers who have been abandoned to senior management. It’s tough to make unpopular choices when senior management won’t back you up. It’s hard to stay on course when subordinates can go around you.
Enough… It’s time to run your organization like a team again, and in a manner that is principally designed to produce results.
Jeff Cannon, and Lieutenant Commander Jon Cannon: Leadership Lessons of the U.S. Navy SEALS : Battle-Tested Strategies for Creating Successful Organizations and Inspiring Extraordinary Results
You are invited…
As we ponder the remarkable accomplishment of Navy SEAL Team 6, we will host a special Bonus Program Book Synopsis, focusing on the book Leadership Lessons of the U.S. Navy SEALS : Battle-Tested Strategies for Creating Successful Organizations and Inspiring Extraordinary Results by Jeff Cannon and Lieutenant Commander Jon Cannon.
I presented my synopsis of this book at the special request of a client company, and it is both a good book, and worth a new look after the recent accomplishment of this remarkable group of professionals in Pakistan.
I will begin will begin with a few reflections from the book The Looming Tower: Al-Queda and The Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright (Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, 2007), and then present the full synopsis of the Navy SEALs book.
Proceeds will be donated to Fisher House (Helping Military Families). Fisher House is rated 4 stars by Charity Navigator, their highest rating..
Date: May 23
Time: 7:30 am (we will begin serving breakfast at 7:00 am)
Place: Park City Club, in the Park Cities/Dallas (near the corner of Northwest Highway and the Tollway)
Please let us know if you plan to attend. We will not offer on-line registration. Either send me a direct e-mail (click here to send me that e-mail), or call Karl Krayer at 972-601-1537 to reserve your spot. You can pay at the door with either check, cash, or credit or debit card.
When do you know that you have attained a level of skill that would qualify you as an “expert?’ When is expertise genuine expertise?
I think about this a lot partly because I feel so inadequate in so much of what I tackle. I teach, I speak, I write – and yet, I feel that I miss the mark as often as I come close to hitting it.
A while back, I heard a radio report on the new studio producing movies – with wrestlers from the WWE. One comment was really revealing – the wrestlers show up on time, and do what they are told to do. Directors can count on them – they “hit their marks.” They learned that from the rigid discipline of putting on a show night after night. Expertise –the best at what they do. (Note: this is not a comment on the legitimacy or sophistication level of professional wrestling. It is a comment about work!).
Here’s something else that helps me think about expertise. It comes from a terrific set of short profiles from The Atlantic. It is prompted by these remarks by Frank Gehry, renowned architect. “A winner of the Pritzker Prize, Gehry has staked a claim as perhaps the most acclaimed architect of his day.”
So quite often, the first sketches are incredibly, uncannily close to the final building—I don’t understand that, really. Compared with when I was just starting out, I’m faster now. I’m better. I know where the bullshit is. I’m pretty good at editing it out before I let it go too far.
So, what is expertise. It is “knowing where the bullshit is – and editing it out” pretty quickly.
Maybe, until you can spot and reject the “bullshit,” you have no genuine claim to expertise.
Here is the latest Hardcover Business Best Sellers list from the New York Times. As I always mention, this is the list that comes out only once a month (contrasted with the Wall Street Journal, a weekly list, and Amazon, a list updated every hour).
As our colleague Bob Morris reminds us (and, as we all know/suspect, anyway), not all good books make it to such lists. And not all books on this list are really worthy of our attention. In other words, popularity does not necessarily equal actual value.
But, acknowledging that, this once-a-month list means that enough people found these books to be worth the investment that it is at least worth a glance/skim, if not a read.
Some of the books really should be put on some kind of best sellers “hall of fame” list – Outliers and The 4-Hour Work Week have been here a long time.
And for our purposes at the First Friday Book Synopsis, we seldom choose finance books. And we have other factors that are important to us that lead us to not select certain types of books for our event.
But, on this current list, we have already presented: #4, The 4-Hour Work Week; #8, Switch; 9, Enchantment; #10, Delivering Happiness; #11, Outliers; & #12, Strengths Based Leadership.
For the next two-three months, we have already selected #1, Onward; #6, Win; and #15, The Thank you Economy.
Here’s the May list. Onward makes its debut at #1. You can read the review of this excellent book by Bob Morris here.
|ONWARD, by Howard Schultz|
|THE MONEY CLASS, by Suze Orman. (Spiegel & Grau, $26.)|
|CHANGE ANYTHING, by Kerry Patterson and Others.|
|THE 4-HOUR WORKWEEK, by Timothy Ferriss.|
|THE DRESSMAKER OF KHAIR KHANA, by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. (Harper/HarperCollins, $24.99.)|
|WIN, by Frank I. Luntz. (Hyperion, $25.99.)|
|THE TOTAL MONEY MAKEOVER, by Dave Ramsey (Thomas Nelson, $24.99.)|
|SWITCH, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. (Broadway Business, $26.)|
|ENCHANTMENT, by Guy Kawasaki. (Portfolio/Penguin, $26.95.)|
|DELIVERING HAPPINESS, by Tony Hsieh. (Grand Central, $23.99.)|
|OUTLIERS, by Malcolm Gladwell. (Little, Brown, $27.99.)|
|STRENGTHS BASED LEADERSHIP, by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie. (Gallup, $24.95.)|
|IDEA MAN, by Paul Allen. (Portfolio/Penguin, $27.95.)|
|MONEY AND POWER, by William D. Cohan. (Doubleday, $30.50.)|
|THE THANK YOU ECONOMY, by Gary Vaynerchuk.|
You can purchase our synopses of the books we have already presented from this list, and many other titles, with handout + audio, from our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.
Getting to “the other side of complexity
Almost immediately after I began to read this book, I was reminded of two quotations, the first from Oliver Wendell Holmes: “I do not care a fig for simplicity this side of complexity but I would give my life for the other side of complexity.” Also from Albert Einstein: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
Further along into John Maeda’s discussion of each of the ten “laws” and his explanation of why he thinks that “simplicity = sanity,” I was reminded of this passage from William Butler Yeats’
“The Second Coming”:
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
Are full of passionate intensity.”
Holmes was right, acknowledging how difficult it is to proceed through complexity to simplicity. In fact, I view complexity in that context as a crucible. More specifically, as container into which alchemists once placed raw materials and subjected them to intense heat, hoping to produce a pure and precious metal, perhaps gold. Like the falcon in Yeats’s poem, the human mind circles high above more than it can possibly absorb and process, then make sense of. This is what William Wordsworth suggests in “The World Is Too Much with Us”:
“The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!”
And this is why Maeda believes that “simplicity = sanity.” In a world that seems to become more complex each day, his on-going journey of discovery he realized how complex a topic simplicity really is, “and I don’t pretend to have solved the puzzle…[and] am inspired to grapple with this puzzle many more years…Like all man-made `laws’ [mine] do not exist in the absolute sense – to break them is no sin. However you may find them useful in your own search for simplicity and It would be a disservice to Maeda as well as to those who read this review to list the ten “Laws.” They are best revealed in context, within the frame-of-reference he creates for each. The same is true of the three “Keys to achieving simplicity in the technology domain” with which Maeda concludes his narrative. “Rarely do I have answers, but instead I have a lot of questions just like you.” I am amazed by how much material he provides within only 100 pages. Additional resources can be obtained (at no cost) by visiting lawsofsimplicity.com.
It is worth noting that when Maeda “set out with youthful zeal to attack the simplicity question, [he] felt that complexity was destroying our world and had to be stopped!” Presumably others have experienced the same frustrations I have encountered when struggling to understand the directions provided in an operations manual or terms and conditions of a service warranty or when struggling to obtain assistance from a customer service representative who speaks slowly enough and clearly enough to be understood. Why does it have to be so (bleeping) complicated? After speaking at a conference, Maeda was approached by a 73-year old artist who took him aside and said, “The world’s [begin italics] always [end italics] been falling apart. So relax.” Maeda suggests that his reader take the same advice “and try to LEAN BACK while you read this book, if you can.”
John Maeda may not get you to the “other side of complexity” but he can help you to preserve your sanity meanwhile. If that isn’t a value-added benefit, I don’t know what one is.
You may also wish to check out his most recently published book, Redesigning Leadership, in which he shares his thoughts and feelings about what has happened (and not happened) since he stepped down as head of MIT’s Media Lab to became president of Rhode Island School of Design.