“The people we surround ourselves with matter.”

I really love this post from Farnam Street. In a few short paragraphs, it:

  • Asserts that the people that we surround ourselves with, either by choice or circumstance, matter
  • Challenges the idea of the lone genius, reminding us that we’re not self made, that the educational system, public projects like our system of roads and highways, and collaborative efforts like the internet all played a part in getting us where we are
  • And beautifully illustrates the importance of teamwork and collaboration, as well as what makes a great team

Stop me if this sounds familiar. There is a person who toils alone for years in relative obscurity before finally cracking the code to become a hero. The myth of the lone genius. It’s the stuff of Disney movies.

Of course, we all have moments when we’re alone and something suddenly clicks. We’d do well to remember, though, that in those moments, we are not as independent as we like to think. The people we surround ourselves with matter.

In part, because we tell ourselves the story of the lone genius, we under-appreciate the role of a team. Sure, the individual matters, no doubt. However, the individual contributions are supercharged by the team around them.

We operate in a world where it’s nearly impossible to accomplish anything great as an individual. When you think about it, you’re the product of an education system, a healthcare system, luck, roads, the internet and so much more. You may be smart but you’re not self-made. And at work, most important achievements require a team of people working together.

The leader’s job is to get the team right. Getting the team right means that people are better as a group than as individuals. Now this is important. Step back and think about that for a second — the right teams make every individual better than they would be on their own.

Source: The Importance of Working With “A”Players

How much of your time is spent consuming things other people made versus making your own?

…and how are you going to stop the bleeding?

Let’s say that the person you love the most has just been shot. He or she is lying in the street, bleeding and screaming. A guy rushes up and says, “Step aside.” He looks over your loved one’s bullet wound and pulls out a pocket knife — he’s going to operate right there in the street. “OK, which one is the injured one?”

You ask, “Are you a doctor?”

The guy says, “No.”

You say, “But you know what you’re doing, right? You’re an old Army medic, or …”

At this point the guy becomes annoyed. He tells you that he is a nice guy, he is honest, he is always on time. He tells you that he is a great son to his mother and has a rich life full of fulfilling hobbies, and he boasts that he never uses foul language.

Confused, you say, “How does any of that fucking matter when my [wife/husband/best friend/parent] is lying here bleeding! I need somebody who knows how to operate on bullet wounds! Can you do that or not?!?”

Now the man becomes agitated — why are you being shallow and selfish? Do you not care about any of his other good qualities? Didn’t you just hear him say that he always remembers his girlfriend’s birthday? In light of all of the good things he does, does it really matter if he knows how to perform surgery?

In that panicked moment, you will take your bloody hands and shake him by the shoulders, screaming, “Yes, I’m saying that none of that other shit matters, because in this specific situation, I just need somebody who can stop the bleeding, you crazy f*cking *sshole.”

So here is my terrible truth about the adult world: You are in that very situation every single day. Only you are the confused guy with the pocket knife. All of society is the bleeding gunshot victim.

If you want to know why society seems to shun you, or why you seem to get no respect, it’s because society is full of people who need things.

They need houses built, they need food to eat, they need entertainment, they need fulfilling sexual relationships. You arrived at the scene of that emergency, holding your pocket knife, by virtue of your birth — the moment you came into the world, you became part of a system designed purely to see to people’s needs

Either you will go about the task of seeing to those needs by learning a unique set of skills, or the world will reject you, no matter how kind, giving, and polite you are.

6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person | Cracked.com

“We have more freedom now to choose our careers than at any point in history”

Why following your passion isn’t the best advice and why you’re better off finding working that’s engaging:

What we’ve found is that the best predictors of job satisfaction are features of the job itself, rather than matters of pre-existing passion. Research shows that what you should be looking for is work that is engaging: find that, and you’re likely to develop long-lasting passion for that work.

Engaging work can be broken down into five factors:

  1. Independence: How much control do you have over how you go about your work?
  2. Sense of completion: How much does the job involve completing whole pieces of work so that your contribution to the end product is easily visible?
  3. Variety: How far does the job require you to perform a range of different activities, using different skills and talents?
  4. Feedback from the job: How easy is it to know whether you’re performing well or poorly?
  5. Contribution: How much does your work “make a difference,” improving the well-being of other people?

Each of these factors also contributes to motivation, productivity, and commitment to your employer. Other factors that also contribute to job satisfaction include whether you get a sense of achievement from the work, how much support you get from your colleagues, and “hygiene” factors, such as not having unfair pay or a very long commute. You’ll notice, none of these have much to do with whether the work involves one of your “passions.”

Source: The Many, Many Problems With “Follow Your Passion” – 99U

“The rise of monopolies hurts the middle class by taking away from people the ability to run their own businesses, and sell their own labor in the open market”

Economists are still trying to hash out how the country got to this place, where so many jobs pay less, comparatively, and so many workers are struggling to make ends meet. The work of the economist David Autor suggests that automation is partially to blame. His research finds that improvements in technology helped augment a certain class of jobs, making the people in them more productive, while also replacing the more repetitive jobs with computers and machines. That means that the top earners are able to make more money than they were in the past, and that there’s a growing need for people to fill lower-wage jobs that can’t be automated (think janitor or nursing assistant). But the jobs that once built the middle class—bookkeepers, assembly-line workers, call-center employees—have disappeared.

Other economists, such as Thomas Lemieux, argue that a shifting labor landscape is to blame for some of the decline in middle-class wages. As companies outsourced jobs to cheaper locations, U.S. jobs either disappeared or paid less, in order for companies to remain competitive. Additionally, declining union coverage means people who would normally get union wages no longer do, which also puts a downward pressure on non-union wages, since non-union plants no longer have to compete. And because the minimum wage has not kept pace with inflation, Lemieux and others argue, other wages haven’t either. If minimum-wage salaries remain low, other salaries up the income ladder—including those of managers—remain low too.

In addition, American companies have become very good at cutting labor costs, said Harry Holzer, a professor of public policy at Georgetown. They turn people who were once full-time employees into contractors, cut back on wages and benefits, and do everything possible to maximize productivity without sharing those gains with the workers. “Employers have become very good at taking the low road, minimizing labor costs, no matter what it takes,” said Holzer.

via A Middle-Class Stronghold’s Uncertain Future – The Atlantic

“There’s no good name for this phenomenon of a middle class imploding while economies nominally ‘grow.'”

Good read on business’ responsibility to create work, not just profit, in order to prevent future Brexits:

To prevent such catastrophes from happening, business needs to play a more active, engaged role in creating the kind of thriving, vibrant economies that inoculate societies from self-implosion—because those implosions take businesses down with them, too. Brexits don’t happen in thriving economies; they only happen when the pie is shrinking. People who have good jobs — jobs that allow them to do something useful, that pay livable wages, that come with good benefits — who can educate their children, get the health care they need, and live lives that are decent and whole generally don’t blow up their own economies in a misguided bid for attention, justice, and vengeance.

Source: Business Leaders Have Abandoned the Middle Class

“The optimistic view is that it’s still morning in America, and if we fix what’s wrong, the best is yet to come”

Where did our optimism go? This piece by Gregg Easterbrook (emphasis mine) attempts to explain:

Social media and cable news, which highlight scare stories and overstate anger, bear part of the blame. So does the long-running decline in respect for the clergy, the news media, the courts and other institutions. The Republican Party’s strange insistence on disparaging the United States doesn’t help, either.

But the core reason for the disconnect between the nation’s pretty-good condition and the gloomy conventional wisdom is that optimism itself has stopped being respectable. Pessimism is now the mainstream, with optimists viewed as Pollyannas. If you don’t think everything is awful, you don’t understand the situation!

Objectively, the glass looks significantly more than half full.

Job growth has been strong for five years, with unemployment now below where it was for most of the 1990s, a period some extol as the “good old days.” The American economy is No. 1 by a huge margin, larger than Nos. 2 and 3 (China and Japan) combined. Americans are seven times as productive, per capita, as Chinese citizens. The dollar is the currency the world craves — which means other countries perceive America’s long-term prospects as very good.

Pollution, discrimination, crime and most diseases are in an extended decline; living standards, longevity and education levels continue to rise. The American military is not only the world’s strongest, it is the strongest ever. The United States leads the world in science and engineering, in business innovation, in every aspect of creativity, including the arts. Terrorism is a serious concern, but in the last 15 years, even taking into account Sept. 11, an American is five times more likely to be hit by lightning than to be killed by a terrorist.

Is the middle class in dire straits, as Mr. Sanders contends? Yes, inflation-adjusted middle-class household income peaked in 1998 and has dropped slightly since. But during the same period, federal income taxes on the middle class went down, while benefits went up. Gary Burtless of the Brookings Institution has shown that when lower taxes and higher benefits are factored in, middle-class buying power has risen 36 percent in the current generation.

Is American manufacturing in free fall, as Mr. Sanders and Mr. Trump assert? Figures from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis show industrial output a tad below an all-time record level, while nearly double the output of the Reagan presidency, another supposed golden age. It’s just that advancing technology allows more manufacturing with fewer workers — a change unrelated to foreign competition.

Manufacturing jobs described by Mr. Trump and Mr. Sanders as “lost” to China cannot be found there, or anywhere. As Charles Kenny of the nonpartisan Center for Global Development has shown, technology is causing factory-floor employment to diminish worldwide, even as loading docks hum with activity. This transition is jarring to say the least — but it was always inevitable. The evolution of the heavy-manufacturing sector away from workers and toward machines will not stop, even if international trade is cut off completely.

A century ago, most Americans worked in agriculture: Today hardly any do, and we’re all better off, including farmers. That manual labor, farm or factory, has given way to 60 percent of Americans employed in white-collar circumstances is the important story in the long term. But nothing is achieved by moaning about the past. The challenge is to create even more white-collar opportunities.


Source: When Did Optimism Become Uncool?

 

“while closing the gate can ensure stability and the status quo (for now), it rarely leads to growth”

Some great questions to ponder for your organization or business:

  • Do outsiders get the benefit of the doubt?
  • Do we make it easy for outsiders to become insiders?
  • Is there a clear and well-lit path to do so?
  • When we tell someone new, “that not how we do things around here,” do we also encourage them to learn the other way and to try again?
  • Are we even capable of explaining the status quo, or is the way we do things set merely because we forgot that we could do it better?
  • Is a day without emotional or organizational growth a good day?

Source: Seth’s Blog: Closing the gate

“The pleasure lies partly in flow, in the process of losing oneself in a puzzle with a solution on which other people depend”

Thought-provoking meditation on work (linked below):

…a circularity threatens to overtake my point: to build my career is to make myself indispensable, demonstrating indispensability means burying myself in the work, and the upshot of successfully demonstrating my indispensability is the need to continue working tirelessly. Not only can I not do all that elsewhere; outside London, the obvious brilliance of a commitment to this course of action is underappreciated. It looks pointless – daft, even.And I begin to understand the nature of the trouble I’m having communicating to my parents precisely why what I’m doing appeals to me. They are asking about a job. I am thinking about identity, community, purpose – the things that provide meaning and motivation. I am talking about my life.

Source: Why do we work so hard? | 1843

The Case for Hiring the Best People Wherever They Live…and Allowing Them to Work Remotely

This post from Harvard Business Review beautifully illustrates the benefits of allowing employees to work remotely:

  1. The company benefits. Removing location as a limiting factor offers organizations access to (literally) all the talent in the world.
  2. Hiring managers benefit because they have an opportunity to create diverse teams. For instance, it’s widely accepted that people who come together from different backgrounds bring new information and diverse perspectives.
  3. Individual employees benefit, because they can live where they want, close to family or perhaps in a place that has the type of climate they prefer.

Thoughts?

Don’t Get a Job. Get Work…

…Stop punching the clock. And get to work!


In the past 25 years, real income has gone from $36,000 to $33,000 for people ages 18 to 35.

Why? Who knows. Because nobody cares.

Then the talking blobs on TV tell you you have to start saving during those years.

Meanwhile, the cost of living has gone up.

How do you save, when it costs more to LIVE, while the money coming in the bank is going down.

Society is being strangled. I don’t blame anyone. It’s not the government’s fault. It’s not Wall Street’s fault. Or Main Street’s fault.

Jobs were a myth from the beginning.

The Industrial Revolution standardized society so that factory workers would show up at the same time, have the same education, hit the same bolt on the same nut at the same time, and get paid every two weeks.

The[n] the Internet economy came which globalized the idea of a job. Now we live in the Idea economy where the wealth is moved from the people who do the work to the people who have the ideas.

It’s not evil. It’s just the course of human history and how change is always inevitable.


Source: 10 Reasons You Have To Quit Your Job in 2016 – Altucher Confidential