Latest Observations

On Uncertainty and Possibility

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Dec 5, 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

 If my philosophy is grounded in the nature of uncertainty, then my spirituality is connected to a doctrine of possibility. Hope by its very nature is most connected to the concept of possibility. 

On Learning Wide and Deep

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Nov 30, 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

When leading a new organization, it is important that you first go wide and then go deep. If you don’t go wide first, you don’t know where to go deep. Perspective precedes insight

On the Priority of Velocity over Speed

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Nov 29, 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

We need to look ahead at our writing output to determine if our processing velocity is in sync with our producing velocity. If there is a wide differential, then we have to adjust the entire approach. Sometimes velocity is more important than speed.

On Discerning the Difference between Simple and Easy

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Nov 28, 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

There is a manifold difference between simple and easy. Some things are simple to explain, simple to plan, but not easy to execute. A good leader is sensitive to the difference between that which is simple and that which is easy. Just because something is simple to explain does not mean it is easy to execute.

On Communicating with Entrepreneurs

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Nov 22, 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Communicating to entrepreneurs is different than communicating with academics. This is a point that doesn't need much elucidation. Still, it is important to understand a critical distinction:

The entrepreneur operates from a set of common sense assertions. These warrants only receive a cursory examination and then the entrepreneur proceeds to action. His willingness to do this is based upon at least two factors:

  1. He is, by nature a risk taker, and he will risk the truth of his assumptions, believing that the probabilities are high and that he would lose too much of his time in a prolonged attempt to validate.
  2. His bias for action is a gift, and it is within his nature to exercise that gift.

If one is to communicate successfully to an entrepreneur, then one must be careful not to spend too much time on those warrants that he has asserted. The entrepreneur will quickly lose interest, as his mind is focused on immediate execution rather than contemplation.

On Balancing the Long-Term with the Short-Term

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Nov 18, 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

My whole life has been a combination of short-term and long-term investments. In a sense, I am very sensitive to the cash conversion cycle of my own production. Twenty years ago I made investments in myself that I do not expect to pay off for yet another 20 years. But all along the way, I built a "cash position" with the rapid conversion of a small percentage of my activities into a "monetizable offering".

The key here is to adjust the differential between the short-term and the long-term so that one has a strong enough financial position to continue generating those major investments that will have the longest and greatest impact.

On the Force of Persuasion

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Nov 16, 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

Throughout history, power is amassed in two ways: by force or by persuasion. 

Force itself when multiplied across a social dynamic is still ultimately dependent upon persuasion. Behind every great army, there is a deal. War is as much deal-cutting as it is bomb-throwing. In the recent centuries, it has become possible to amass great power by virtue of persuasion. Commerce has built its own version of the city-state. I want to understand why people say ‘yes.’ At the heart of this understanding is enormous power. 

On the Natural Selfishness of Leaders

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Nov 14, 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Leaders are inherently selfish. Their first reaction is almost always self-centered. I believe it is difficult to prevent this problem. I do not judge a leader by his first reaction, but rather by his second. The second reaction should come quickly and should be generous. The second reaction requires rigorous discipline.

I do not mind that a leader is self-seeking. It is part of what motivates them. I mind when a leader does not discipline this instinct with a profound generosity. Over the years, I think I have deceived myself. I thought that my instinct was to be generous and giving. I think now my first reaction remains selfish but is sometimes followed by a second, more appropriate, reaction. I wish I could eliminate the first. I do not know how.

On the Danger of Writing Only for the Critics

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Nov 11, 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

Most of the self-important literature in the market is hard to read. Some of the best and most important literature is so readable that it is overlooked by the critics. It is hard for a critic to accept that a piece, which is interesting, even exciting to ordinary people, could possibly be rich, deep, multi-layered art. However, the man who writes for the sake of the critics is like a politician who tries to only to win the votes of the elite. In a society where one man equals one vote, the approval of the elites should not be enough. 

On the Sterilization of Philosophy

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Nov 10, 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

I think there is solid philosophical reason to consider the implications of intelligent evil. We spend too much time on the abstract; we do our philosophy from within a comfort bubble – oftentimes without fully accounting for the horrific intensity of evil throughout the world.

One should never trust a philosopher who hasn’t escaped the library to confront the unspeakable poverty of Haiti, the sexual exploitation of children in Thailand, or the ravages of war in the Congo. We can learn more from a dying child that we can from all the works of Aristotle.

All too often, the professional philosopher’s experience of war is limited to the dissenting opinions of hostile thinkers. Our battlefield is the sterile grounds of the peer-reviewed journal. This is not enough. Philosophy is not determined; it is encountered. And this encounter must move beyond the abstract space of the mental and into the dangerous space of the physical. The philosopher deals in ink, but the world deals in blood.