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So, you’re stuck?

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02912-x

 

Funny that after all this time of blog fade, this is finally the article that drives me to generate a post.

Not that that’s a bad thing. I’ve always looked at blogging from afar and thought to myself that it’s something i should do rather than actually do on a regular basis and have always simply gone where the muse takes me. However, this one strikes a proverbial chord.

When stuck, write poetry. I do this all the time and most of it is completely horrible and as worthless as you would think that a technology executive’s poetry would be. Somehow though, it opens a gate or flips a switch in my tiny brain and helps me look at the problems I’m trying to solve in an entirely different, and sometimes even beneficial way.

 

 

Screened Intervention

What is the advantage to one more screen?

I checked in on Google I/O yesterday and saw that several of the tech blogs did hands on with the new Moto-360 Smartwatch. To be honest, it’s gorgeous, seems functional, and to some extent, innovative. I like tech for the sake of tech. However, this time, the first question that ran through my head was, “What would the real advantage be in having another screen?”.

I have mentioned in past posts that I have done my best to eliminate noise, distractions, and notifications from my phone, tablet, and notebook. Adding another little piece of tech that pushes information to me on a constant basis – especially since it’s actually connected to me- seems to bely that aforementioned discipline that I have worked diligently to cultivate.

Perhaps I am asking the wrong question, and that I should be asking, “How would this additional screen help me better refine the signal to noise ratio?”. One can only speculate as these things are not really live and essentially vaporware until later this summer.

I am however interested in seeing Apple’s take on this, or if Apple is going to even pursue this as a product.

Wearables begin to help us drive toward further defining Big Data and what it really and truly means. Vast swaths of information available to mine, trend, and interpret. Millions of data points and flows all being gathered and analyzed by engines that, as yet, have not even been conceived.

All of that from a watch. Interesting…

 

i for one, welcome our new AI overlords

Eugene the supercomputer beats the Turning Test.

I wonder if Mr. Kurzweil has called Eugene to congratulate it yet?

Pair the above with the recent announcement that an AI algo has been added to the board of an investment firm, and you have the very beginnings of some fairly interesting things.

Curious, does the AI get a nice office?

 

 

Screen Rules

During the week, my family and I often find ourselves meeting for dinner somewhere outside the house. Since we live in Atlanta, this should not surprise anyone, because essentially, no one in this city seems to cook dinner at home anymore. I exaggerate of course, but with the proliferation of chain restaurants and extended wait times on Tuesday evenings, one can see why I would say that.

When this is the case, I always – and I mean always – leave my phone and tablet in my truck, and I’m happy to say that in the last few years, there have been only one or two exceptions to this.

Here’s why. Screens are killing what little time we have with each other. I am of course not basing this on anything other than my observation and opinion. No Harvard study is confirming this for me. I am simply drawing a line in the sand when it comes to tech in the family space. When all of your kids and your spouse have gadgets, that line has to be somewhere or else the connections and interactions you have with each other will begin to deteriorate.

Like I mentioned above, we have some exceptions, and we all understand that sometimes, attention needs to be focused on something to keep the kids busy while the grown ups do something else, but for the most part, at our house, we try and stay engaged as a family during dinner (or similar) or other activities.

Also, like anything relational, small, consistent investments have long-term pay offs. It’s akin to the fact that not exercising all year cannot be undone by one, single 23 hour workout session before your annual physical.

Different things and styles work for everybody and no single solution will ever be the panacea, though I would encourage you to try something similar. YMMV…

 

 

 

Evolutionary Carbon Content

I ran across this today while on my morning tech news binge – 3D Printed Carbon Nanotubes, from Arveo Labs.

Short little mention for sure, but if they are able to do what they say they can, this is a huge step forward. Take a look at this Wikipedia article for a primer for what Carbon Nanotubes are and what their potential & current applications are.

Short term, printing small, ridiculously strong parts for various applications in your basement.

Long term, printing industrial size objects (auto chassis, ship hulls, etc.)  in a production center on a large scale.

The net though is that technology is evolving so that manufacturing does not have to be geographically centered in places like the American midwest or German Westfalia. Anything can be made anywhere, at anytime, with low cost infrastructure.

 

 

 

Predictable Communicative Outcomes

Here in Atlanta, we have had a spectacularly brutal winter this year, though, I would also venture to say that after so many mild ones, a normal winter seems downright unpleasant all around. Ice storms, heavy rain, sustained temps well below freezing. One has to wonder if I should put my house on the market and head to Florida. During Icepocalypse Part II – The Sequel, this was a spirited topic of discussion.

Consequently, my time outside, and more specifically on my mountain bike, has been less than half of what it was this time in 2012 and early 2013. Further, anytime the weather has been even somewhat passable, I’ve been texting my riding buddies, and heading to the trails. For a mere glimpse of sun, we have done our best to get back in shape and wear ourselves out acting like twelve year olds again. As an aside, and also relevant to the discussion topic for today, I have a few different bikes that I ride on a regular basis. One is a tricked out, full suspension thing that has paddle shifters, and feels like a Ferrari on a downhill. Fast, fun, efficient, modern. My other, and more heavily ridden bike is a rigid cro-moly steel, single speed. No school, like the old school right? Suffice to say, this thing is a throwback to my BMX days as a kid, but big enough to fit my modern, almost 40 physical incarnation. I love it.

Earlier this week, we again, had a bout of heavy rain, which was followed by low 40’s and high winds. Since the sun decided to show itself shortly after, I made time on my schedule to hit the trails with my most favorite of rides, my Surly Karate Monkey. However, after packing up gear and getting ready to hit the trail, I decided, quite randomly, to swing by my local bike shop to see about time & cost to change the config on the Monkey. While discussing this with a riding buddy who works at the shop, the mechanic called me over to where my bike was and said, “dude, look…”. I stared in utter disbelief at a hairline crack in the arch of my front fork. Talk about a moment of clarity…

Just minutes before, I was headed to the trails to do a downhill run on a route that called for 25mph + speeds and sizable jumps that in the past have sent me flying 6 to 8 feet through the air all while flying down the flow of a truly epic trail system.

So, what does this have to do with the typical content here? Why talk about my inner twelve year old antics and how I almost killed myself on a Tuesday in March?

Simple. When was the last time you had a deliverable or a project cruise along smoothly, only to go completely sideways at the last minute? How did you handle this unexpected transition from workable to non-workable? What did you do? How did you deliver bad news or manage the expectations of your client or stakeholders?

Over the past few years of my career, these situations have of course popped up – sometimes on a frequent basis depending upon where I was and what I was engaged in at the time. Good times are easy. Success is is too, especially if you know why you are being successful. Tough times, not so much, and being able to understand where things went awry and explain that to the stakeholders involved facilitate your level of success.

I have found that complete transparency breeds complete accountability.

Whenever in doubt, communicate where you are and were you expect to be. And, when you are finished communicating this information, communicate it again.

If your stakeholders, clients, co-workers have an understanding of YOUR understanding, you will likely be ahead in all cases.

 

 

Rituals

Have you ever changed a daily task from being  a version that is very efficient and time saving to a version that is not efficient and somewhat of a time vacuum?

I have, and it has done wonders for my daily productivity.

About three months ago I discovered old school, double edge, wet shaving. Prior to this, I was like most men, in that, in order to be presentable in modern business circles, I had to groom my facial growth every morning in preparation of the days events. Something to be done every morning like grabbing a shower, brushing your teeth, or having a coffee. Merely a component of a larger, more macro daily routine that never varies.

Instead of rushing through that morning routine, I have now have a task that makes me stop, concentrate, and have a few minutes of contemplation that allow for my mind to get moving earlier and at a much faster pace. Since this is prior to my morning injection of caffeine, it’s a way for my brain to get engaged and running before I even get started for my day.

Part of this departure from the norm is the ritual of getting the job done. It’s actually akin (in unrelated ways) to a tea ceremony. One step must take place before the other and each has it’s own important significance. Good stuff – go read the link above and see what I’m talking about. It simply makes you stop and think. I concentrate harder, earlier in the morning, and think more clearly about what my day might hold. In essence, it slows me down, and makes me think long before I have been used to in the mornings and gives me a critical gap where new ideas sometimes come about. There are also, of course, other benefits like a better overall shave, but the point of this little glimpse into my morning routine is to help emphasize how beneficial something like this ritual can be to the start of a day.

Also, I would venture to guess that like me, most of you are so rushed to get going in the morning that literally nothing you do prior to getting started in your workspace is pleasurable at all. You don’t have to jump on the old school shaving bandwagon, but if you have a morning routine filled with boring, non-interesting activities, changing one and creating pause would likely help you out.

YMMV, but give it a shot, you might be glad you did.

 

Singularity or Bust

Raj Dye’s film on the Singularity featuring Ben Goertzel.

I’m not sure I completely buy the Singularity movement and it’s predictions, but the film is good and is Goertzel rather brilliant and definitely interesting. To explore another take on the Singularity, see Alexey Turchin. Complete, polar opposite from the Kurzweil/Goertzel camp.

Radical thinking either way.

Rule #5: Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

rule_5

Go look it up. Come back when you are done…

“The glory of man is fleeting.”

Two schools of thought here:

  1. Man is a temporal and ephemeral creature. Therefore, his works are the same. Look at history, this is essentially true.
  2. “I am already dead.” Very Bushido. My time here is over, what I do today is what I do today and nothing more. A more structured and cultured Carpe Diem.

I try and take some from both. Balance in life being overwhelmingly important.

Every morning, before my feet touch the floor, this statement runs through my head. Sic transit gloria mundi. Every morning, without fail. It is a constant reminder that life is short, legacies are fleeting (if they exist at all), and those who you propose to lead, are in all reality, those who you serve. Lt. Winters put it best, “Never put yourself in a position to take from these men.”.

Balance this with your ability to provide a longterm roadmap and strategy, and success will likely follow.

 

Suffering the Slings & Arrows

Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,

I will be the first to admit it. I have trouble letting things go. To be blunt, if I can do it, and do it right the first time, it is worth doing it. Letting this be delegated to someone else, who is probably as good at it or better than I, makes little difference. It’s about control…

Yet, here I am, overtasked, sometimes burned out, and needing another ten hours in a day. In this lies much fail.

I will point you to this HBR article.

If you find yourself taking on an increasing number of projects and/or people, the only way to regain a sense of control is to, paradoxically, let go of control: let other people help you. This requires facing fears like, “Maybe everything won’t be done the way that I would have done it.” Or “Maybe I’ll need to defer to someone else to answer a question instead of immediately knowing the answer myself.” It also requires redefining control from “knowing every detail off the top of my head” to “having the right level of big picture perspective to make informed decisions and the right systems in place so that I know when it’s time to check in with someone or when I need to take a next action.” And it requires redefining competence as “helping others to do great work,” instead of “doing great work all by myself.”

Let go. It will never be perfect all of the time, but when it is, the fact that someone else did it because you either delegated, empowered, or facilitated that success means more than you can imagine. It is akin to spending your time volunteering and doing for those who cannot do for themselves, though not exactly the same. When you help empower someone to win, the success enables the entire team and not just the individual.

You are saying, “hey, that’s great. we got a few wins, and then it all fell apart…”.

Yep, that happens as well. Having the foresight and restraint to NOT wrestle control back takes effort, but in the end, the success is more meaningful if the team or team member fixes their own proverbial mess. It builds trust and that is priceless.