Handpicked: Interns Get Fired and A Fungus Network

Articles I Saved

Building intentional networks that drive impact (part 1)

Intentional networks have shared purpose. They use network principles to design how they make decisions and coordinate projects. And they show up in the world in different ways than traditional, top-down authority structures

The role of structure in our lives, and in particular the workplace, is interesting.

Structure wins.

This article discusses intentionally creating structures that drive change.

I find the idea of decentralized networks interesting. This goes in hand with a theme discussed by Atul Gawande in The Checklist Manifesto. He talks about the increased difficulty controlling from the centre in a world that is more interconnected and complex.

This is one way of thinking about it.

The generation that can’t compete

I stumbled upon an interesting article this week, the cliff notes of which were a group of interns at a company did not like wearing formal clothes at work, so they (all but one of them) started a petition to change the company dress code. They were called into a meeting, which they assumed was to discuss the changes, and all of them were fired.

With an opening paragraph like that how can you not read on.

I recommend, as the author Barry Carter does, that you read the original post and comments.

Podcasts I Heard

I listened to very few podcast this week as I make my way through the audio book version of The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday.

Radiolab: From Tree to Shining Tree

rl_circle_squareA forest can feel like a place of great stillness and quiet. But if you dig a little deeper, there’s a hidden world beneath your feet as busy and complicated as a city at rush hour.

In this story, a dog introduces us to a strange creature that burrows beneath forests, building an underground network where deals are made and lives are saved (and lost) in a complex web of friendships, rivalries, and business relations. It’s a network that scientists are only just beginning to untangle and map, and it’s not only turning our understanding of forests upside down, it’s leading some researchers to rethink what it means to be intelligent.

One of those strangely fascinating episodes I stumble across from time to time. Who knew there is this whole world below the forest?

One more example of how interconnected everything in life is.

The Tim Ferriss Show: Tony Robbins – On Achievement Versus Fulfillment

timferrissshowart-500x500“I love quotes…but, in the end, knowledge has to be converted to action or it’s worthless.” – Tony Robbins

I’m very pleased to welcome Tony Robbins (@tonyrobbins) back to the show. (You can check out our previous in-depth conversations here: Part 1 and Part 2).

For those of you that aren’t familiar, Tony Robbins is the world’s most famous performance coach. He’s advised everyone from Bill Clinton to Mikhail Gorbachev to Serena Williams, and Leonardo DiCaprio to Oprah (who calls him “superhuman”).

This time around, we discussed a number of topics we didn’t cover in our previous interviews. I also hit him with some new rapid-fire questions. Some of the highlights of our conversation include:

Tony’s best investment ever

  • Quotes he lives by (and how he puts them into action)
  • The worst advice he regularly hears
  • Why he changed his diet for the first time since age 17
  • And much, much more

I have known about Tony Robins, as have most of you, for a long time. Yet, I have never read one of his books, or attended one of his seminars.

I am not sure why. I am no stranger to the self help genre, especially in my mid 20’s.

That has changed. In part from hearing Tim’s first podcast with Tony, and then catching snippets elsewhere.

The tipping point was two weeks ago. My wife was out at book club, and having heard a little about the new documentary I am not you Guru on Netflix, I decided to watch it as a change from the normal rubbish TV (the Rio Olympics had not started yet).

Phew. It was moving.

You laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time. I was transfixed. It affected me, thinking about myself that is, for two days after.

Have a listen to this episode. This is not everything that Tony Robins is, but it is a good place to start.

Book I am Reading

People Skills by Robert Bolton

41skre82bspl-_sy346_The audio book is taking precedence at the moment. I want to finish this book but I realize in writing this section how slow I read. Or more accurately, how little time I dedicate to reading non-fiction book. 15-20 minutes on the train each morning is not enough to get through a book in a less than a month.

The pages I did read discuss conflict resolution. Here are a few quotes to give you a flavor of the authors take.

It is usually preferable to define the dispute in terms that do not pit the principles of one person against the principles of another. When possible, define the dispute in nonideological terms. Try to find out how your needs and the other’s needs can be satisfied. To the extent that values issues are involved, Roger Fisher points out, it is wise to say that “the solution we seek is not only consistent with our principles but is also consistent with those of our adversary—at least if properly construed and applied. By insisting that our adversary can come along without abandoning his principles, we make it easier for him to do so.”

Worth keeping in mind. Why should we expect the other to abandon their principles, and yet cling so tightly to our own.

Later he starts to talk about dealing with conflict where emotions run high. I think this advice is great. But it is so hard to do.

To take a step back, breathe, and then deal with emotion first, when you are feeling emotion yourself, is hard. Logic is such an appealing first step.

When feelings run high, rational problem solving needs to be preceded by a structured exchange of the emotional aspects of the controversy. After this has been accomplished and the emotions recede, the persons or group may proceed to the next stage—a rational and creative examination of the substantive issues (if any) that divide them.

One real life analogy for me is a golf swing. Not the swing itself, but what you do before you swing, when you address the ball. What is going through your head as you stand there read to start your back swing?

Is your head clear? Are you picturing the glorious straight and long drive? Or are you worrying about your slice, or what the people waiting behind you will think of you if you duff your shot?

When your emotions are running high. When you are anxious about your slice, or thinking about the club house watching you off the first tee, the chances of the worst happening increase.

But if you can have the presence of mind, the mindfulness, in that moment to notice those emotions, you can take a step back, clear you head, and start again. When you do, you increase the chances of a good shot.

Sounds so easy doesn’t it?

No it isn’t. It is so hard to recognize that moment and do what you need to be doing. Even when you know you should.

The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday

41lyqkmmrnl-_sl300_I am going to leave a few quotes from this book right now. I am still working my way through it. There are many gems in here.

Once you start attacking an obstacle, quitting is not an option. It cannot enter your head. Abandoning one path for another that might be more promising, sure. But that is a far cry from giving up. Once you envision yourself quitting altogether you may as well ring the bell. It’s done.

This is an interesting thought. Worth remembering. Once you start thinking about it, you start rationalizing your way towards it. It becomes your goal.

I think it is unfortunate that we can easily see how a negative vision can affect us, lead us towards that point, but we can’t apply that logic towards a positive vision.

In other words, it is supposed to be hard. Your first attempts are not going to work. It is going to take a lot out of you. But energy is an asset we can always find more of. It’s a renewable resource.

Stop looking for an epiphany and start looking for weak points. Stop looking for angels, start looking for angles.

There are options. Settle in for the long haul and then try each an every possibility, and you’ll get there. When people ask where we are, what we are doing, how that situation is coming along, the answer should be clear, “We are working on it. We are getting closer. When setback come we respond by working twice as hard.”

One thought I have had in listening to this book, are the parallels applicable it has to my own experience. Not all of it, but aspects of the way I approach situations align with this philosophy.

In particular at work, the last paragraph applies.

I refer to it as the project mindset.

I mean a few things when I use the phrase. The first is trusting that a step today, and tomorrow, and the next day, will get you to your goal.

The second is the idea that every angle must be explored. There is always an option and a way. You need to trust in yourself and those around you that if you ask enough good questions you will find it.

Giving up is not an option, finding a way to do it is.

This is one reason I find constraints to interesting. They give you a boundary and create this zone of possibility that increases the challenge. It creates the puzzle you have to solve.

Have a great week.