The Trust Equation 

This is another homage to Emotional Equations as I referred to in an earlier post. I’ve been using this equation for thinking about how we build trust within our organizations and within our relationships. And it simply comes down to a simple equation. It looks like this: 

What you actually do / What you say you’ll do

The higher the fraction, the better. If it is 1, then you really keep true to your word and people believe what you say. If it is less than one, that’s a different story. The lower the fraction, the lower the value of your word. Understanding this balance is key. People are always comparing what you say with what you do. They might not track it in a formal way with an equation, but they’re still doing it. That’s why even on a Friday evening, I’m keeping my word and making sure I get my daily post in. Even if the trust building is with myself and no one in particular.

America, The Fool

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.
– Richard P. Feynman

In case you missed the show last night, it was the last Presidential Debate of this 2016 election. Two and a half more weeks and we’ll know who will be leading the “free world.” We’ve all seen Donal J. Trump speak countless times over the past year. Undoubtedly he speaks with fervor and passion; it is hard not to get sucked into what he is saying. That is until you realize the substance of what he says is shallow and has no meaning behind it. Behind his words are simply fear tactics and sound bites.

The sad troubling (as Clinton would say) thing is that he is so adamant about his rhetoric. He believes with all of his energy in what he is saying. That is why while he is speaking, he’ll sometimes realize what he just spoke makes no sense or was completely false and he’ll catch himself off guard. Even in those moments, Trump doesn’t admit he was wrong. He’ll “modify” his words, or simply steer the conversation elsewhere. As Scott Adams would say, this is the master persuader at work. It is because he can’t succumb belief that what he said was wrong. I believe this all stems from the fact that he hasn’t had very many people that ever stood up to him. He has rarely, if ever, had to admit that he is wrong. He’s gotten away with being a bully for so long, he doesn’t know how to say: “you know what, you’re right and I was wrong. Let’s move past this.”

I’ll give him credit for pointing out lots of real issues, and it seems to get him a large following for doing so. It has become obvious to me that he is only popular for what he is not, and not what he is. And what he isn’t is part of the establishment—the status quo. Running on that platform given the level of distrust there is in government gives him an edge. That’s why I won’t be surprised if he is elected. As Feynman might say, Trump has definitely fooled himself. The question is has he fooled enough Americans come November 8th?

Hidden Contingencies

Have you ever agreed to something to find that there was a contingency the other party hadn’t mentioned? And if you knew about this contingency, you would have approached the deal differently? Or that maybe you wouldn’t have done the deal in the first place?

When we experience this, we often promise ourselves not to do business with this person again. When we find out about a unreasonable contingency, we don’t agree to it in a heartbeat. But, what happens when that person is you? What happens when you hold a contingency against yourself that you’re not even aware of? When we hold these known or hidden contingencies, we have no one else to be mad at but ourselves.

When Uncompromising Optimism Can Get You In Trouble.

I’m thoroughly enjoying Ashley Vance’s Elon Musk. Reading about Elon’s early endeavors and immense successes make me think hard about over-optimism. It appears Elon would throw himself so bullishly into his ventures, his super-sized overconfidence would extend into the timeline of when he’d accomplish his goals.

“If you asked Elon how long it would take to do something, there was never anything in his mind that would take more than an hour. We came to interpret an hour as really taking a day or two and if Elon ever did say something would take a day, we allowed for a week or two weeks.” – Jim Ambras, the Vice President of Engineer at Zip2.

I believe when Elon states he’ll have a project done in such a short time, he truly believes it with vigor. There isn’t much doubt in his mind that he can’t have it done within due time. (He seems to be realistic about the real risks in his companies, even stating on the record he thought SpaceX was more likely to be a failure than a success). Even so, he’s not doubtful about how hard he’ll push and his timelines for doing so. How many times have you loaded up your to-do list with countless items that there isn’t even a chance you’ll get them all done? It is better to have overextended yourself and continually push yourself than to play it safe. Some of us don’t have a play it safe mode. Elon seems to be one of those.

Play the Role

crowd  Play the Role Crowd

You’re a character in the life story of whomever you come in contact with. In whatever role you play professionally or personally, people expect you to fit within its general mold. If you are the CEO of your company, you better know your target market and your unique value proposition. If you’re a doctor, you better know where the appendix is.

In acting, actors are warned against breaking the fourth wall — the conceptual barrier between any fictional work and its viewers. Unless you’re Frank Underwood and can break it magically, you’re at a real risk of making your listeners, customers, or clients detach from your story and disregard you. An offhanded comment or an unnecessary remark can lead to losing the sale or that much-needed investment.

People expect things to run to a certain beat; not to run without hitches, but within a particular framework. And the people that don’t know what they want are the clients that you don’t want regardless. Even so, when you’re attempting to convince someone to be on your side, you’re much better off playing the role they expect of you. Understanding which role that is is another matter. But either way, you might as well learn to enjoy acting.

I Refuse to Read Your Listicle

Sorry to break it to you, but no one wants to read your bulleted list. We get it, it is hard to get someone to click through to your content. We know the average internet user has an attention span of 8 seconds (which is shorter attention span than goldfish). You may even have the most useful and thoughtful content underneath. Nevertheless, you’re only diluting your writing and wasting readers’ time.

Listicle  I Refuse to Read Your Listicle Screenshot 2016 10 16 21

These attention-grabbing titles are so pervasive, even those articles that want to complain about listicles are using them as headlines:

The 10 Worst Things About Listicles

In the spirit of making a list like was done here, these are the three main reasons I’m not going to read your listicle:

    Your desperation for trying to grab attention is a major turnoff,
    From experience, your article is most likely useless if you had to use bullet points to keep our attention,

Second Chances

Sometimes we’ve been given second, third or more chances without our awareness. We simply were in the right place at the right time, someone granted us a pass, or we pleaded our way out of a bad situation. Others amongst us were less fortunate. A simple turn of your ankle and you’re spared a broken heel. As a society, we often determine who should and shouldn’t get a second chance. Historically, we’ve pinned labels on people who’ve made mistakes as convicts, and plenty have deserved the label. The question we have to ask is when have we gone too far at labeling someone something forever. Where is the appropriate line? Reading this post from Mark Suster about Defy Ventures, it appears the needle may be turning a little more toward granting of second chances.

They told me of losing fathers at 3, of moms on drugs, of uncles that asked them to hold guns to cover them at 8. Grown men, prisoners, with huge muscles and tattoos everywhere cried and told me stories. And they didn’t want pity. They wanted opportunity. They wanted to learn. Mark Suster

Unsurprisingly, when we grant those that authentically plead for a second chance the opportunity to do so, they come through.

Defy Ventures graduates have a 3.2% recidivism rate (the rate at which they are re-incarcerated) against a national 5-year average of more than 75%. The 3-year recidivism rate in California for comparison is more than 50%.

Have you given yourself a second chance recently? As hard as we are on ourselves, remember that we’re all due a second chance sometimes. If Con Body can be successful, what’s stopping you?

Legacy Systems

It seems that there will always be the old way things are done. There isn’t anything inherently good or bad about this. However, there are some obvious technologies that in retrospect are obviously useless today. Like the telegraph machine, for example. Could you imagine having to click a machine in exact intervals to communicate a short message? You were charged by the word in the 1800s for those messages. The question is which of those technologies of today are the telegraph. Even more importantly, when is it the right time to abandon them?

Computer innovators, like other pioneers, can find themselves left behind if they get stuck in their ways. The same traits that make them inventive, such as stubbornness and focus, can make them resistant to change when new ideas comes along. Steve Jobs was famously stubborn and focused, yet he dazzled and baffled colleagues by suddenly changing his mind when he realized he needed to think different. – Walter Isaacson

The same thing that applies to technology applies to ways of thinking, ways of running a business, or ways of running a country. When we’ve only known one way of doing, how do we change? First things first is believing change is possible. Second, having the courage to do so.

Lazy Burgers Are Delicious

Someone posted this video on Facebook today with this comment: “How lazy have we become?”

It made me think about the way we make and consume our food. Very often we eat food for fuel, only to scarf down a bite in a rush. The enjoyment of eating takes a back seat. Not only is food a commodity to buy and used for energy, but the art of cooking our meals is sold back to us on television. We’re marketed packaged cooking sets with the ingredients, the recipes, and sometimes even the utensils. Somehow they’re considered forms of Do It Yourself. We’re led to believe preparing it isn’t for us, but for professionals behind the kitchen. Fewer and fewer of us take part in cooking ourselves. Michael Pollack nails this concept in his four-part documentary called Cooked.

To cook or not to cook is a consequential question. Though I understand that is putting the matter a bit too bluntly, cooking means different things at different times to different people. Seldom is it an all or nothing proposition. Yet, even to cook a few more nights a week than you already do or to devote a Sunday to cook a few more meals for the week… Or perhaps to try every now and again to make something you only expected to ever buy. Even these modest acts will constitute a vote. A vote for what exactly? In a world where so few of us are obliged to cook at all anymore, to choose to do so is to lodge a protest against specialization. Against the total rationalization of life. Against the infiltration of commercialization interests into every last cranny of our lives. To cook for the pleasure of it, to devote a portion of our leisure to it to declare our independence from the organizations seeking to organize our every waking moment into yet another occasion for consumption. Cooking has the potential to transform more than plants and animals, cooking I found gives us the opportunity so rare in modern life to work directly in our own support and in the support of the people we feed. In the calculus of economics, doing so may not always be the most efficient use of an amateur cooks time. It is beautiful even so. For is there any practice less selfish, any labor less alienated, any time less wasted than preparing delicious and nourishing for the people you love?Michael Pollack

The perfect time to post this would be Thanksgiving, but nevertheless we face real issues in the relationship we all hold with our food. As cool as the hands free burger contraption is, I’d rather eat a Snickers with a fork.

snickers  Lazy Burgers Are Delicious Snickers

Who Are Your Joneses?

Keeping Up With The Joneses  Who Are Your Joneses? Instagram

We’ve all heard the saying Keeping Up With The Joneses. In the Sixties, the Jones family were the same for everyone: a family that owned its own home with the white picket fence and a golden retriever. Everyone was chasing this same elusive dream. Today, we operate in a different world. Who is this mystical Jones family in today’s context? Mr. or Ms. Jones today are moving targets. There is no single Jones family, there are many Joneses. They’re everyone you follow on Instagram—that all-star DJ, the professional yogi, all your friends and acquaintances.

With everyone projecting their best self through filtered panes, we compare ourselves to these social “brands.” I say brand because they are not real people. That includes your own personal Instagram account. We are constantly bombarded with how wonderful others are. In this madness, we lose sight of who we are trying to keep up with. You’re only left with one option… Stop! Don’t compare yourself to these images. They’re not real anyway. They only distract you from doing the real work, your real work.

Fame is Relative

The people I find “famous,” the ones I idolize will be different than yours. Most likely you haven’t heard of some, and I’d probably not recognize some of yours. Does Chris Sacca, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, Elon Musk, or Tim Ferriss ring a bell? These may be meaningless names to you. If we went back twenty, ten, or even five years, most people would know the same famous names. Not anymore, and in my opinion this is a wonderful thing. Fame isn’t defined anymore for us, but a choice of our own.