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The Marketer as Philosopher: by Flint McGlaughlin


"Asking 'how' leads to information; asking 'why' leads to wisdom." This is the essence of Dr. Flint McGlaughlin's book, The Marketer as Philosopher.

After twenty five years of asking "why" to a single question and testing his hypotheses using the web as a living laboratory, McGlaughlin has released a collection of his findings. These 40 brief reflections unfold in a series of layers that suggest a new framework and theory of messaging.

For more information, you can visit map.flintmcglaughlin.com

 

Latest Observations

Truth Revealed in the Lives of Extremists

Topic:History, Literature, Philosophy
Posted on:Sep 27 2019
Method:Dictation
Captured by:

Truth is not in the fuzzy middle, it’s hiding in the margins. It’s best discovered when studying the lives of extremists. Men like Niche, who empowered much of the thinking which produced the holocaust, took their mind to places that are still valuable for those with discernment.

As Victor Frankle stated, “2 + 2 equals 4 even if a madman says it.”

On Achievement and Physical Athleticism

Topic:Personal, Philosophy
Posted on:Sep 27 2019
Method:Dictation
Captured by:

In life, when it comes to achievement – but also in physical athleticism – one must prioritize the following:

  1. Being able to go where one intends (destination)
  2. Being able to go long enough to get there (endurance/perseverance), and
  3. Being able to go fast.

What’s critical here is that speed is third among the priorities.

On the RFP as Beauty Pageant

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Mar 27 2019
Method:
Captured by:Flint M

Marketing leaders and agencies, in particular,  should be aware of RFPs. Ultimately, such competitions become a “beauty pageant” gone wrong, with each vendor trying to look more attractive than the other. The effective marketer does not participate in “beauty pageants.” Rather, they help the prospect fall in love.

On the Importance of Capability and Character

Topic:Philosophy, Communication
Posted on:Jan 24 2019
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

In the end the decision to trust someone to perform a service for you can be summarized into two questions: “Can they?” and “will they?”  Indeed, these questions thought of differently are the drivers of two positive conclusions that the marketer must achieve: the “you can” and the “you will.”

“You can” translates into capability. “You will” translates into character. Your prospective customer must believe both. Trust does not hinge on character alone, but also on capability. The nurturing phase of the lead managing process is about building trust. All collateral should serve to foster these two conclusions: that “you can” and that “you will.”

On the Danger of Rebranding

Topic:
Posted on:Dec 1 2018
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

You can’t fix a plumbing problem by repainting the house, and you can’t fix a marketing problem by rebranding the product. Never confuse art with artifice.

 

From a Forbes interview with Flint McGlaughlin



 

 

On the Connection Between Brand and the Value Proposition

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Nov 26 2018
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Brand is an impression on the mind. The value proposition is a reason in the mind (to purchase from X instead of Y). The right reason supported by the right impression increases the probability of the right conclusion, which points to the right decision

 

On Marketing as an Expedition into the Mind

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Nov 22 2018
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Marketing should not be a battle of opinions between marketers, but rather an expedition into the mind of prospective customers. Salesmen make claims, but marketers shape conclusions.

On Conversion as the Apex Unit of Transformation

Topic:
Posted on:Nov 20 2018
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Transformation is a grand word used by everyone, but conversion is the humble precipitator of transformation. At the fundamental level, it is a stasis change “from-to,” as in from prospect to customer, as in from unbeliever to believer, as in from X to Y. Ultimately then, conversion is the apex unit of true transformation.

 

On Marketing and Knowing What You Don’t Know

Topic:
Posted on:Nov 15 2018
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Good science can make anyone look foolish. If you are using your marketing to prove what you know, then you are consigning yourself to mediocrity. Brilliant marketers spend their time trying to discover what they need to know. For the marketing philosopher, the only thing worse than not knowing is not knowing that you do not know.

 

On the Importance of Embarrassment

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Nov 12 2018
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The problem with growth is that by its very nature, it creates sharp, painful contrast between “what was” and “what is”; the work/life of the past seems weak, even embarrassing. However, this embarrassment factor can be the surest indicator of progress. There is an inverse relationship between pain and growth. 

 

A Deep Elemental Force: What (truly) is marketing?

Topic:
Posted on:Nov 5 2018
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

A Deep Elemental ForceWhat (truly) is Marketing?

The great words of our society have been destroyed by the power of connotation over denotation. The speed of this demise has accelerated with the advent of mass media. Hence, great spiritual words and great social words have been irreparably marred.

“Marketing” is such a word.

Its very mention connotes trickery, subterfuge, propaganda and ultimately deception. Worse, it is considered the cunning accomplice of another blighted (often for good reason) term: sales.

Can the word “marketing” be redeemed (another damaged term)? Should one just start with a new word?

While at the universal level it can be difficult to “purify” the word, at the personal level this task is relatively simple.

But what does it matter? Why should you care? Redeemed or not, the whole concept seems boring …

“Seems” is a dangerous word. Be careful. Be very careful. Consider three challenging, if not outrageous, statements:

  1. Marketing is the foundation of your being (ontology). Existence is predication is expression is communication; existence, in the social dynamic, is marketed.
  2. Marketing is at the height of the world’s power structure. The power behind the gun is the power of the word; brutal force is subservient to elegant force.
  3. Thus, marketing is a wisdom-skill with which to transform yourself and impact your world. Its nine-letter container is hiding a rich treasure in plain sight.

That the word is so deeply misunderstood and patently undervalued can be a profound opportunity. And it is not necessary to prove the above three statements to justify deeper exploration; the very possibility of their truth is enough.

Which leads back to the original question: How then do we define this word?

First, a caution: It is more harmful than useful to engage in the militancy of once-and-for-all, fight-to-the-scholarly-death definitions. Definitions cannot be exact replicas, but they can be fairly accurate images.

With this in mind, we may (provisionally) define marketing as that collection of activities and outcomes engaged in the effort to influence choice. And when these activities and outcomes are truly effective, they become a genuine power … a deep, rich elemental force.

My Five Greatest Mistakes as A Leader

Topic:Lectures
Posted on:Oct 25 2018
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

My Five Greatest Mistakes as A Leader36 Years of Painful Data (that might help you)

In my field, we often speak of “data-driven decisions.” But for the leader, sometimes the most important data is derived from a source that evades our metrics platforms. Indeed, such data can only be gleaned through brutal self-confrontation.

Confessions

The philosopher Kierkegaard reflected that “… the artist goes forward by going backward.” It is a paradoxical concept and yet an apt observation.

If the leader wants a different outcome than the one he is currently achieving, he may do better to look backward rather than forward.

For me, this means doing the hard work of reflecting on my most significant failures, and in particular, the root causes of these failures. This is especially painful because the “root cause” of the “root causes” of my organization’s failures lies within ME.

Looking back over 30+ years of (my) leadership data, I can see patterns … negative patterns. This observation leads to an inevitable question: What can I do to prevent their recurrence?

There is a complex answer; there is a concise answer. Here is the latter.

Correctives

I have interpreted the patterns into negative actions and then translated those actions into five positive counters (old-fashioned admonitions). They are personal, NOT profound, essential, not clever, but each day, I reflect on each point (they are posted on the top of my schedule).

  1. Make war on self-deception. Your greatest enemy is not your competitor; your greatest enemy is your blind spot. Leaders must learn to manage “what they don’t know” (before it’s too late).
  2. Start with the ego question. “From” precedes “to”; we work “from” identity not “to” it. Before every decision (and sometimes before opening your mouth), you must ask, What would I do if my ego did not matter?
  3. Burn your “also(s).” The irony of busy leaders is that they are “highly focused”— but on too many good to-dos. Right is better than good. Courage can produce more than stamina. Be brave, take the tradeoffs.
  4. “Densify” your moments. All is now. Actualize aggressive reflection with relentless (present tense) action. Continually ask this question: What is the most productive way to invest this moment?
  5. Amplify your X-factor. Being good at ten things will produce less than being best at (the right) one. You are the average of your team. You only pull everyone’s average up by doing what you do best. The greater the personal alignment, the greater the corporate achievement.

This “way” of looking backward is more important than the correctives themselves. The macro lesson is this: My past can make my “now” better — but only if I use it to motivate new and better behavior.

On the True Purpose of Leadership

Topic:Science, Webinars, Lectures, Method
Posted on:Oct 23 2018
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Leaders must make an existential choice: they can either be the “perfect” leader or a real leader, but they cannot be both. The purpose of leadership is not to “be a great leader”; the purpose of leadership is to accomplish the mission. 

On the Connection Between Well-being and Enduring Success

Topic:Management
Posted on:Oct 22 2018
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The customer’s well-being is the epicenter of the company’s well-being. Winning at the expense of well-being is just losing at a deeper level. 

On the Difference Between Strategy, Purpose and Passion

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Oct 19 2018
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Strategy consumes the attention of boardrooms around the world, but under certain conditions, passion fully aligned behind purpose will trump the carefully crafted strategy. Indeed, strategy should not set purpose; purpose (what) should lead strategy (how), and passion (why) should power it. Winning at the expense of well-being is just losing at a deeper level.

On the Difference Between Doing the Right Thing and Doing the Thing Right

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Oct 18 2018
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

Doing the right thing is more important than doing the thing right. The marketer must deliver the right message to the right prospect at the right time – or it is no longer the right message.

On the Essential Triad of Relevance, Importance, and Nature

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Oct 17 2018
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

If the message is relevant, then it concerns them. If the message is important, then it concerns them deeply. If the message is urgent, then it concerns them deeply, now.

On the Importance of Clarity

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Oct 16 2018
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

The marketer’s art is not persuasion; it is clarity. Indeed, when the marketer represents an authentic value proposition, clarity is persuasion.

On the Difference between “How Many” and “How So”

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Oct 12 2018
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:

We ‘listen’ to customer data in order to ‘hear’ customer insights. Metrics are not about ‘how many’; metrics are about ‘why so.

On Understanding the True Power of Marketing

Topic:Philosophy, Communication
Posted on:Oct 11 2018
Method:Dictation
Captured by:

Marketing is misunderstood on so many levels. Ultimately, it is a kind of “superpower”. The world is ruled not by brute force, but rather by elegant force (marketing). Understanding how to get people to say “yes” within the social dynamic of reality is a fundamental function of survival.

On Coping with the Negative

Topic:Personal
Posted on:May 22 2018
Method:Dictation
Captured by:

The first law life is that the negative prevails (entropy). The art of living is expressed in the ability to emphasize the positive within the context of an ever degrading negative.

On Treating Each Day as an Gift

Topic:Personal
Posted on:May 3 2018
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

When we reflect upon the beauty and the terror of existence, we may consider each day as a unit of opportunity. A day should never “pass,” so to speak, because we should treat each day as a gift. In fact, no one should let the day happen, but rather they should happen to the day. This is the triumph of a peculiar human attribute: consciousness. This is a triumph of conscious intention to embody the positive (beauty) against the tyranny of the negative.

 

On Leadership and Managing the Unknown

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Mar 28 2018
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The artful leader is distinguished by a single nuanced attribute. The artful leader is not surprised by surprises. He engineers a system for anticipating the unexpected. Indeed, leadership requires one to manage the unknown.

 

On the Relationship Between the Grand and the Grind

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jan 22 2018
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Sometimes the “grand” is disguised within the “grind.” Some leaders look for those dramatic movements that indicate progress, when in fact, it is the integrated arrangement of strategic details that produces true advantage.

 

 

On the Key to Staying Focused

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Jan 9 2018
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Someone asked me recently, “how do you stay focused and consistent when you have to do the same task over and over again?” My answer was this: “I never do the same task twice in a row.” The answer is misleading, but what I mean is that every time I do something, I try to improve it over the last cycle. Every call, every routine, every time. This keeps my mind engaged in what I am doing. It is a key to keeping your heart and soul “all in.”  

 

On Leadership and the Artful Use of the Three Tenses

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jan 6 2018
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The leader must manage the present tense in view of the past and the future. Never let the present tense distort your perspective. This is especially true of relationships. The only valid use of the two tenses, past and future, is to improve the present. Too often, we carry, from the past, negative influences such as guilt or bitterness; too often, we borrow, from the future, negative influences, such as fear or worry. The past and the future do not exist (physics), except as concepts (philosophy) with which to empower our present. Looking at the future or remembering the past, in the best way, can inspire my present tense action. The artful leader disciplines their use of the three tenses to produce the highest and best performance “now”. 

 

On the Power of Seeming

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jan 4 2018
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Words matter. Small words seem to matter more. One word seems to matter most: hope. The will to live is inextricably intertwined with the power to hope (Camu aside). But the power to hope is sometimes dependent on another word. This word is more subtle, more nuanced, less used, and less valued.

 

This is the word, “seems”.

 

With only five letters, it draws an essential distinction between that which is and that which may be, while at the same time layering a force to the possible. It is stronger than a guess, yet weaker than a claim, and with this distinction becomes indispensable to the scientific method. The “seeming” OF is an inference TO, and thus forms a bridge to the working hypothesis.

 

On the Danger of Data without Context

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Dec 22 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Mistakes made with data rarely have to do with the math. Data plus data equals more data; data plus context (pattern recognition) equals wisdom. Data without context is like sex without love; it can feel good, but it lacks true meaning. 

On Motivation and Doing what You Need to Do

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Dec 15 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Each leader has to do what they need to do, but people often fall into two categories: those who do what they need to do, in order to do what they want to do, and those who do what they need to do so they do not have to do what they do not want to do. Life is more fulfilling when you place yourself squarely in the former. 

 

On Leadership and the Power of Will

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Dec 13 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Some leaders are bound to change the world, regardless of the tool they use. If you give this man a hammer, he will reshape the world with it; if you give him a wrench, he will do the same. Whatever you put in his hand will be applied from, and by, his unique combination of energy and will. Steve Jobs was an artist, and though the context of his art was engineering, he still changed the world. It is not the tool that makes the man, it is the man that makes the tool.

 

On the Pseudo-Certainty of Science

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Dec 1 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

I find the bias in science to be even more disappointing than the bias in religion. More to the point, I find the sense of certainty with which some scientists speak to be more disappointing than the sense of certainty with which some religious leaders speak. In both cases, we seem to be confused about the difference between evidence, certainty, and faith. Our inability to parse the difference leads to a condition of pseudo-certainty that defies the limited nature of our actual circumstances. 

 

 

On Leadership and the Importance of Honest Dialogue

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Nov 16 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Leaders tend to use relationships to achieve meaningful KPIs, but relationships are not built around KPIs, they are built around honest dialogue. KPIs are useful for management, but they are insufficient for inspiration. The leader can drive his team with goals or draw his team with trust. The first can help you achieve the possible, but only the second can help you overcome the impossible.  

 

On the Balance between Craftsmanship and Genius

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Nov 15 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Great art is not made by the artist, it only escapes from the artist. The moment you try to construct the parts and the multi-layered magic that makes art, it becomes contrived. That is why creative writing teachers seldom write the great stories. That is why those who teach music in schools seldom compose the great songs. The artist can apply craftsmanship, but they cannot craft genius. 

 

On the Molecular Unit of Communication

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Nov 13 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The molecular unit of optimization is the sentence. Every single principle associated with optimizing any form of marketing can be understood, perhaps best understood, in the context of improving a sentence. A sentence represents the basic grammar of life. Entity exists; subject “predicates”.

 

  • There are only three ways to improve a sentence: to add, to remove, to change. This is the same for any instance of marketing collateral.
  • A good sentence is structured with an optimized flow, the sequence of thought. This involves considerations of order: point first, point middle, or point last. Again, this is the same in marketing.
  • A sentence typifies specific forms of communication: the imperative, the declarative, the interrogative, etc. Once again, this is the same in marketing (indeed, marketing today employs far too much declaration and not enough explanation).

 

My point is not to make an exhaustive list, but to demonstrate that by focusing on the art of creating a beautiful (read effective) sentence, one may learn the essential insights necessary to shaping any other form of communication. As Strunk and White espoused, “make every word tell.”

 

On Leadership and the Paradox of Excess

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Nov 9 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The leader must learn to appreciate beauty as the defining standard in the form and substance of the organization. Beauty is lavish, but never wasteful. Art often engages a paradox of excess and frugality. It is the spare lines of the brush, contradicted by the lavish color on the pallet which transforms an empty canvas into a rich experience. 

 

On Leadership and the Four-Part Framework of Mentoring

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Oct 11 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The leader who embraces a teaching model focuses on building people, then, the people build the company. As you approach this mentoring activity, it is important to think through a four-part framework: beliefs, values, character and skills. There should be an emphasis on maximizing strengths, balanced by systems’ protection against life-threatening weakness. These are the particular weaknesses that can destroy you. One does not achieve high impact by working evenly to offset their weaknesses. One must maximize strengths while paying close attention to those key weaknesses that completely “cancel out” your strengths. 

 

On Leadership and the Scarcest Constraint of Time

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Oct 2 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Much has been written on the importance of time, but as time passes the leader become more cognizant that time is our scarcest constraint. The most important priorities for the leader are the factoring and prioritizing of time. If you do not make time your friend, it will become your worst enemy.

Bankers have long learned the importance of time as it relates to interest rates, but these same people fail to recognize the compounding impact of time on their personal lives. The artful leader must build their life plan around their scarcest constraint – time.

On Developing a Personal View

Topic:Philosophy, Personal
Posted on:Sep 29 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

As you structure a lens within which to survive the sea of uncertainty, it is good to remember that the ultimate context seems to be a paradoxical tension of (beyond) brilliant, pure chaos. It is as if the world itself were the product of a bipolar deity; as if the world were shaped with ultimate intelligence and absolute randomness. It is within this context we must develop a “personal view.”

On Leadership and the Difference Between View and Perspective

Topic:Leadership, Philosophy
Posted on:Aug 23 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

It is useful for a leader to understand or draw the distinction between the term “view” and the term “perspective.” When I was a young man, I had a (flawed) view on most of life’s important questions. As time passed, I gained perspective. It doesn’t matter how good your eyes are (how intelligent you may be), there are some things you cannot see correctly until you have a change in perspective.  

 

On the Power of the Compass and Lens

Topic:Leadership, Management
Posted on:Aug 17 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Vision is overrated. Indeed, there is a place for this concept, but it is more important that the leader develop two essential tools: their “compass” and their “lens.” The compass helps us know; it gives us a sense of direction. The lens helps us see; it gives us unique perspective. With the world changing so fast, it is sometimes difficult to maintain a crystal-clear vision, but with a transcendent combination of “seeing” and “knowing” the leader can still guide their organization to the right place.

On Leadership and the Danger of the “Almost” Tense

Topic:Leadership, Philosophy
Posted on:Aug 9 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Leaders must beware of leading from the “almost” tense. Though you cannot measure this gap in cognitive inches or minutes, the “almost” tense is the furthest you can be from the present. Leaders in the “almost” tense convince themselves that they are just on the edge of a breakthrough. Thus, they remain forever outside of the only zone a leader can truly lead from – the productive present tense.

On Leadership and the Three Elements of Impact

Topic:Leadership, Communication
Posted on:Aug 2 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The artful leader must think of themselves as a construct of impact. In this construct, there is a pattern so fundamental that it may be related to physics, as much as it is to ethics. Indeed, one may represent the way to impact others across three main concepts:

  1. The first is an “enabling concept,” as in developing the power to do it
  2. The second is a “knowing concept,” as in knowing what is right to do
  3. The third is an “ethical concept” (though it transcends ordinary ethics), as in doing this within the right constraints

Thus, the artful leader cultivates the right power, to do the right thing, in the right way. 

 

On Leadership and the Balance between Aggressive Reflection and Relentless Action

Topic:Leadership, Management
Posted on:Jul 28 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Too many organizations are either paralyzed by excessive discussion or rendered ineffectual through frantic activity. Aggressive reflection requires the leader’s team to think deeply and generate insights. Relentless action requires the team to translate those hard-won insights into results. The artful leader’s job is to strike the right balance between aggressive reflection and relentless execution.

On Leadership and Three Elements of a Healthy Organization

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jul 25 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The leader must be aware of three elements that contribute to an effective culture. I have noticed in literature various HR experts speak of these elements, but I rarely see all three in proper balance. They are as follows:

  1. Our people need depth; this is, in popular terms, “deep work” and “flow”
  2. Our people need “the charge”; this is an intense execution mode focused on driving essential activity
  3. Our people need community; this is connection and relationship

All three of these elements are necessary for the well-being of the organization. Indeed, as leaders, we must do more than build a “workplace”; we must also build a “think-place” and a “friend-place.”

 

On Leadership and the Danger of Math

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jul 14 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The leader must be careful of making decisions via the comfort of math. Indeed, any leader can conclude that (3 – 4 = -1); calculating is not the hardest part. The hardest part is estimating, as in estimating the quantities with which you are doing your basic calculation. This is particularly true about decisions regarding strategy and people. We make the wrong decision not because we add or subtract incorrectly, but because we quantify incorrectly.

On Leadership and Becoming our “Yes-es”

Topic:Leadership, Philosophy
Posted on:Jul 7 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Each time we say “yes,” we are engaged in the predication of our subject (being). “Yes” indicates something about our ontology, in that it actualizes a potential. The further we follow this logic, the easier it is to realize, we become our “yes-es.” As I have said before, “Our ‘no-s’ shape our person, but our ‘yes-es’ form our core.”

 

On Leadership and the Agenda as Hypothesis

Topic:Leadership, Management
Posted on:Jun 29 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The artful leader approaches meetings with a unique construct. An agenda should not be “a list of things to talk about”; an agenda forms a hypothesis for how the leader will accomplish the objective of the meeting. The leader should ask two essential questions: (1) What is the best objective for this meeting? (2) What is the best hypothesis (agenda) for achieving this objective?

On the Difference between Reason and Excuse

Topic:Leadership, Philosophy, Personal
Posted on:Jun 28 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The leader must understand the difference between a reason and an excuse. You can use a reason to explain why you behaved in a certain way without implying that this reason justifies the behavior. A reason is not necessarily a (legitimate) excuse. Sometimes the other side needs to understand the reason, but we need to must be cautious about implying that this reason is an excuse. Never render your apology impotent by confusing a reason with an excuse.

 

On Leadership and the Practice of “Yes And”

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jun 27 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

One of the most important tools for the leader is the phrase “yes and.” It is natural for the leader to say “however” or “but”; yet, this pointer word should only be used when necessary, and most of all, with yourself. The phrase “yes and” acknowledges the other party and adds additional thought. “Yes and” can influence your team to work from inspiration rather than perspiration. 

 

On Leadership and Assessing Risk in New Hires

Topic:Leadership, Interviews
Posted on:Jun 20 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

When the leader places someone in a strategic position, the first question they should ask is not the standard question: is this the right hire? But rather a more nuanced question: will this new hire do harm? This second question helps us assess risk. Here is the challenge: those who can do really well are those who can also cause serious harm. So, the leader needs to determine how big a change is needed (and change is always needed, even if it is just improvement) before they determine who they should empower to make that change. There is an inverse relationship between risk and reward with every hire.

 

On Love and the Three-Word Promise that Preserves Relationships

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Jun 20 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The three-word promise, “I love you” can start a relationship, but only the three-word promise, “in spite of” preserves a relationship. Transcendent love moves from proclamation, through explanation, to a point where it can only achieve description. It moves beyond reason, it defies explanation. At its height, all that is possible is an inadequate, but beautiful description.

On Leadership and the Essential Elements of a Good Strategy

Topic:Literature, All
Posted on:Jun 9 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The artful leader develops strategy with four key insights in mind:

1. A good strategy mitigates its downside. Great leaders don’t take enormous risks unless they must. They instinctually work with a cognitive heuristic: X/Y, wherein “X” equals achievement and “Y” equals risk.

2. A good strategy works across an adjustable timeframe. Most strategic plans are developed with a static mindset but executed within a dynamic context.

3. A good strategy allows the leader to “test their way in.” One of the most important ways to mitigate risk is to discipline it with increments.

4. A good strategy is dependent upon a good strategist. Don’t build your work around your plan; build your work around the man (or the woman). A quality strategist is more important than an accurate strategy. 

 

On The Illusion of Optionality

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jun 7 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The artful leader does not mistakenly equate the number of options with freedom. The inverse is true; the number of options can produce restrictions on freedom. Sometimes the limited quantity of time and the limited quantity of information mean that the more choice, the less freedom. Decision nodes square complexity.

 

On Leadership and the Viscosity of Candor

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jun 1 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

As a leader, I am fascinated by the notion of viscosity. We create giant machines built of strong materials (steel, titanium), and yet, these machines for all their strength, will cease to function if not properly lubricated. Oil has no tensile strength, and yet, our great engines depend upon it. This is an important observation for the leader. It is dangerous to build great organizations, great productivity machines, without carefully ensuring they are “well lubricated.” The viscosity of candor is necessary, or the powerful “engines” of our enterprise may “seize” up.

On the Beauty and the Horror of Life

Topic:Philosophy, Personal
Posted on:May 26 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Those who try to fathom life cannot truly understand until they have joined those who sing the song of grief. It is a chorus that all must one day join. When those whom you love the most have gone, when you finally realize what you’re losing with time, when the beauty of existence is finally accompanied by its own horror; only then do you know how to invest your fleeting moments, precious and few though they are… 

On the Difference between being “Male” and “Man”

Topic:
Posted on:May 25 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Never confuse being male with being a man. The former is a biological definition; the latter is a spiritual definition. The defining characteristic of a man is his willingness to bear responsibility. Integrity is important, but it is part of being responsible for your words and your deeds. Men carry the responsibility as it relates to whom they become, and they carry responsibility as it relates for whom they care. 

On Leadership and the Art of Peaceful Paranoia

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:May 25 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

An artful leader embodies a contradiction of peace and paranoia. They are at peace because they maintain crystal clarity, not because they do not see problems coming. They are paranoid because they maintain aggressive vigilance, not because they do not have confidence that problems can be solved. They anticipate on two levels: the timing of a problem and the scale of the problem. And they recognize the importance of striking at the heart of the problem before it grows. An artful leader not only “sees around corners”, they “shoot around corners.”

On Leadership and Difference Between Solving Problems and Building People

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:May 23 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Some leaders use their team to solve problems, but artful leaders use problems to build their team. Solving a problem is event-focused; building is process-focused. The former achieves a one-off outcome; the latter develops a recurring (and growing) capacity. 

On Leadership and the Importance of “No”

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:May 22 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

One of the primary jobs of the leader is to say “no,” and mostly to themselves. We trap ourselves with seemingly harmless commitments. Beware of parallel energy streams; six parallel streams of energy will never be as powerful as six stacked streams. Intensify, do not proliferate.

 

On the Danger of Technology Outpacing Humanity’s Development

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:May 19 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Technology is maturing at a rate faster than mankind. This leads to extreme danger. The phenomenon is like a six-year-old who discovers how to build a gun. We marvel at her ingenuity and forget the fact that now, the child is holding a loaded firearm.

On Philosophy and Possibility

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:May 9 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

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

On Leadership and Mere Virtue

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:May 8 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The artful leader must beware of trying to create a perfect set of organizational values. All calls to virtue are merely delineating lines of a greater (more beautiful) sketch. Indeed, there are no lines in a 3D life, just edges. Over-systemization moves the center from the heart to the head.

On Leadership and Focusing on the Inside Edges of Technology’s Reach

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:May 6 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

It is a mistake for most leaders to focus their energy on the outer edge of technology’s reach. In a connected world, there is rarely a new thought. The spontaneous development at the edge of technical reach clusters itself around core themes, and these themes evolve in theoria before they do in praxis. The greatest opportunity for arbitraging intellectual effort is in the second and third tiers inside the outer edge. It is here that original thinking produces the greatest impact. Elon Musk’s pursuits were successful not because they were radical in their ultimate telos, but rather because they were radical in how they executed against a telos that has been pursued by many others. Tomorrow’s most productive thinking will likely be focused at least two tiers from the edge of technology’s reach.

 

On Leadership and Moving from the Internal towards the External

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:May 4 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The artful leader operates “From within,” not “For without.” In the midst of a challenge, some leaders draw their sense of peace, their center, from effective management of the external threat. This is dangerous and makes that peace contingent upon circumstances beyond your control. The artful leader draws from their internal center, from an abiding sense of peace, and uses that energy to resolve the external threat. The difference in orientation makes all the difference in execution. 

 

On Confusing Great Content with Great Writing

Topic:Communication
Posted on:May 2 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Never confuse a great writer with great content. Don’t confuse celebrity and sainthood. They’re not the same in any field.

 

On the Difference Between Reasons and Causes

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Apr 28 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

There’s a difference in the cognitive zone between the reason and the cause.  All causes are reasons, but not all reasons are causes. Now anyone can argue by changing my meaning and saying that all reasons are causes. But I’m going to stay closer to the essence of the concept. You could say these causes lead to this conclusion, but it’s not quite the same. Causes are more about phenomenon, reasons are more about propositions.

 

On the Difference Between Simplicity and Ease

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Apr 27 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The leader must be aware of the difference between simple and easy: Easy relates to a process with a low coefficient of friction. Simple means ‘easily understandable,’ yet it is not, by definition, necessarily easy to execute. “Easy” is generally “simple,” however; “simple” is often not “easy.”

On the Leader Providing an Empowering Framework

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Apr 26 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The leader has essential task that is often neglected in management literature. She does more than inspire a mission; she develops a model (framework). This model allows the team to conceptualize all the action steps necessary for alignment with the mission. Organizations are complex, a myriad of working parts. Great leaders do more than communicate a mission; they communicate a robust framework that empowers the mission with action.

On Leadership and the Ultimate Power of Beauty

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Apr 24 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The virtues of character are synonymous with the attributes of beauty. Art is most compelling when it is “authentic.” Poetry is most rich when it is “honest.” One speaks of great architecture by referring to its “integrity.” Beauty sets the ultimate standard. Indeed, the attraction of beauty is more powerful than the compulsion of scale. The artful leader must be unwilling to trade beauty for scale.

On Leadership and the Connection between Ideals and Ideas

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Apr 21 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The leader must carefully understand the connection between ideas and ideals. Your richest ideas will be intrinsically motivated by your most important ideals. Indeed, your value proposition can typically be traced in a direct line from your ideals to your (core) idea.

 

On Leadership and Moving Out of The Center

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Apr 20 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Leaders must discipline the force of their influence. I’d like to influence lives in a good way, but I don’t want to be too central to anyone’s thinking. Life should be lived from one’s own center. The world is full of leaders who want you to build your world around them. However, no man can serve as a proxy for your soul.

On Art and the Transcendence of Meaning

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Apr 19 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The great musicians rise above the music; they transcend it. They transcend the meaning and they transcend the melody, but those technically proficient musicians, who are centered more in their head than they are in their heart, remain trapped in the music itself. In the same way, the poets remain trapped in the meaning of their words. I suspect the greatest works written come out of a place so deep that the artist, reading their own work, felt like they were reading it for the first time.

On Leadership and the Danger of Transition Zones

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Apr 17 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The leader must beware of “transition zones”. We are constantly transitioning from an intimate conversation to encouraging speech to investigative analysis, etc. It is difficult to swiftly shift one’s mind from one state to another. Beware, we tend to make some of our most egregious errors in the “transition zone”.

 

On the Nature of a True Apology

Topic:Communication, Personal
Posted on:Apr 6 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

An apology without contrition is like a contract without a signature; it expresses an intent, but it doesn’t engage the necessary action. Apologies only work at the “heart level”; they are ineffectual at the “head level”. Trying to rationally parse exactly where we are wrong is never satisfying to the other person. You must beware of a partial apology; if it is partial, it is not an apology.  People confuse completely wrong with completely sorry. I may not be wrong in every way, but I must be completely sorry for the way in which I am wrong.

 

On Leadership and Simplifying Greatness

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Apr 5 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Leaders don’t change an organization simply by doing the extraordinary, they change an organization by redefining the ordinary. Leaders simplify greatness. 

 

On Accepting the Limitations of Our Best Work

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Apr 3 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Did I do the best I can? Despite the pressures of project deadlines, it is important to have the most important “yes” you can achieve: did I do the best I can (considering the unavoidable limitations)? Best is best filtered by the realities of the incipient being. I am limited; thus my best is still mitigated by my limitations.

On Justification vs. Actualization

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Mar 31 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

We spend too much time trying to prove that our choices are grounded in some higher authority, be it logic, God, or some combination. We confuse a decision with a rule. It is perfectly acceptable for an autonomous being to choose. Once the choice is made, it is generally cogent to act consistently within the framework implied by that choice. Justification cannot be confused with actualization. The former often inhibits the later.

On Leadership and Looking the Dragon in the Eye

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Mar 29 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Leaders need to beware of reports that put a happy face on bad news. Bad news needs to be exactly what it is. Any interpretation that is unrealistic prevents the leader from seeing clearly enough to take the right action. We have to cut through the positive spinOne of the principle responsibilities of the leader is to look the dragon in the eye.” Closing your eyes doesn’t keep the dragon from devouring you.

On Leadership and the “One Thing”

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Mar 28 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

At the heart of organizational dysfunction is a problem of emphasis. Broken organizations major on minors and minor on majors.  The artful leader does the “one thing” so well, they don’t need to do the “other things”.

On the Balance Between Craftsmanship and Art

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Mar 24 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:

The artist must understand how to weight craftsmanship against art. Craftsmanship is necessary, but not sufficient. Art without craftsmanship is undisciplined, misshapen, and lacks impact. One the other hand, craftsmanship without art is sterile, technical, and lacks beauty. The artist must respect craftsmanship, but love art. 

 

On Leadership and the Danger of “Doing it all”

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Mar 23 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The number one lie that talented young leaders tell themselves is this, “I can do it all.” This lie is insidious because, on face value, it seems so true and yet it is among the greatest of deceptions. Indeed, no matter what we tell ourselves, at best, we only vacillate between priorities and, at worst, we dilute our impact. We need to replace the, “I can do it all” mindset with the, “all I can do” mindset. The “all I can do” mindset focuses on “the one thing” that truly matters. 

 

On Leadership and the Difference Between Form and Substance

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Mar 22 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The leader must beware of a person who confuses form with substance, such people reduce the world to “templates”, and in doing so they judge the contents by the container.  

 

On Philosophy and Satisfaction as the End

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Mar 17 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

I wonder how many philosophers found satisfaction while pursuing their quest. Most of these, if not all of these, were grasping for something. Their writing had some purpose. Some embarked on a grand scheme to build up cosmic systems; others set out to solve a particular problem. There were many forms of motivation, but there was always a reason (even if it wasn’t fully understood). I wonder how many philosophers viewed their work itself as a means of satisfaction. I wonder if the value of their philosophy could be weighed by the satisfaction it gave them. If so, how many were “short-changed” in their efforts? If they were buying satisfaction, and if that satisfaction was too expensive, then perhaps they could have purchased the same with less effort. Worse, how many of them paid a horrific price but never acquired their end (satisfaction)? 

On Leadership and Expectations

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Mar 16 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The leader must beware of expectations. Expectation is a chain that you put around your neck. Be careful that you don’t let anyone else put it there without permission.

 

On Leadership and Ultimate Motivation

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Mar 14 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Which one of these leader’s life aims is most powerful? 1) The one who finds pleasure in her own interests, then acknowledges so and pursues it. 2) The one who finds pleasure in her own interests, but chooses to serve the interests of others. 3) The one who finds pleasure in her own interests, and determines that these interests are best served by serving others. These three modes of existence are not new in the thinking of philosophers (some would argue point 2 is not possible). But somehow, I find seeing the three, side-by-side, in stark relief, helps one confront their own approach to life. You can predict a leader’s performance by their focus, but you can determine their values by their “because(s)”. 

 

On Leadership and the Appearance of Humility

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Mar 13 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Leaders sometimes reduce humility to a series of humble actions (“humble techniques”).  These efforts do not represent authentic humility. They often represent the appearance, the attempt to appear humble; one must discern the difference. True humility is not an action; it is a condition.

 

On the Complex Being of “I”

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Mar 9 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Elsewhere I have questioned the nature of “I” when predicated with “I am”. I have asked whether or not “I” is a plural, a compound, or a set. The reasons that motivate my questions are more empirical at their foundation then logical at their conclusion. I perceive that my mind is clustering as it references itself, that the multiplicity of my being is being oversimplified with a single word, moreover with a single letter “I”

 

On Combining Simplicity with Complexity

Topic:
Posted on:Mar 8 2017
Method:
Captured by:

The best strategy is a “complication” of simplicity and complexity. Simplicity of vision is different than complexity of execution. This calls for a shift in thinking. A simple vision often requires a (especially) complex execution. This complexity can become a significant competitive barrier. It also serves as a trap wherein those competitors seduced by the idea’s simplicity underestimate its complexity.

On Leadership and Cutting Through Self-deception

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Mar 7 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

It may be possible to for one to cut through self-deception and understand themselves better, it may be easier for one to determine their life’s aim, by posing a series of simple questions structured in a three-part framework: To be, to build, to win. I think this thought experiment could be more powerful if one were particular in framing the questions with items of interest, but for the purposes of this observation, I will only suggest this approach: Would you rather be the greatest ‘X’, or build the greatest ‘Y’ (and someone else get the credit), or win the greatest ‘Z’ (but no one would know)? 

 

On the Power of Influence

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Mar 4 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The universe is a construct of influence. It is the influence of stars and planets that create a solar system. It is the influence of protons, neutrons, and electrons that create the atomic substructure of reality.  It is the influence of philosophers and theologians that launches entire revolutions. The power isn’t in the bullets; the power is in the ideas. We think the man with the gun has the power, but true power lies with the man with the ideas that influence the man with the gun

 

On Leadership and Achieving the Extraordinary

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Feb 28 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

In leadership, you get what you settle for… The leader must beware of settling for the “mere extraordinary”. In today’s rapidly evolving world, yesterday’s extraordinary is the new norm. With all that we have at our disposal, we must demand of ourselves more, we must transcend today’s exceptional, with yesterday’s impossible.

 

On Leadership and the Currency of Influence

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Feb 24 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Trust is the currency of influence. Too often, we try to achieve influence by impressing people, when in truth, authentic influence is achieved by building trust. The leader must decide whether they want to be admired or followed; the two are not the same

 

On Leadership and the Artful Communicator

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Feb 22 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

At the essence of leadership is communication. The artful communicator must be an artful translator. The most difficult work in translation is not translating the other person’s words into yours, but rather translating yours into theirs. The best communicator is as conscious of the other person’s meaning as they are of their own. 

On Leadership and the Danger of Reports

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Feb 21 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

A leader must beware of reports. Reports can serve the same role as an Aspirin: they mask a problem, they provide a false sense of comfort, and they offer no cures. The leader may find unwarranted comfort in his steady flow of reports, but the reality is the report is no substitute for intimate understanding.

 

On Leadership and the Danger of Balance

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Feb 17 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The leader must beware of balance. Balance itself must be balanced. One must balance the need for balance with the need for extremes. The artful leader does not balance weakness with strength, she minimizes weakness, focuses on strength, and aggregates the gain.

 

On Leadership and the Difference between a Good Decision and a Right Decision

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Feb 15 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Every leader is required to make decisions, but in most cases, she will never have all of the data she desires. The art of making decisions isn’t about making the right decision, it is about making a good decision. A good decision occurs when we have followed a right process. A right decision occurs when we have followed a right process and we are fortunate in our judgment. If the leader consistently makes good decisions, she will more likely make right decisions. 

On Communication and Allowing The Audience To Optimize You

Topic:Philosophy, All
Posted on:Feb 9 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Presentations often begin by puzzling through a riddle. The speaker can often feel the presence of the riddle before she/he can articulate it. Sometimes it is in the articulation itself that the problem is solved. I use time and imagination to get closer to the audience. The closer I get to the audience, the clearer I can see the elements of the riddle. The moment I can articulate the riddle, I can form the essence of the answer. In the end, the speaker does not optimize the presentation, the speaker allows the audience to optimize himself.

 

On Leadership and the Nuanced Decision

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Feb 6 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The success of your company turns on the slightest nuance in your decision process. There may be three ways forward that will work, a nearly infinite number that will not work, and of the three that will, one that could work with exponential impact. The artful leader discerns her way forward, never excelling the speed of fluidity.

 

On the Difference between Life as “Good” and the Good Life

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Feb 4 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The good life is concept contemplated by philosophers around the world and across the centuries. What constitutes the good life? In most cases, philosophers think about this life against the context of its impact on something or someone. The good man is good to those around him, i.e., “the good life is experienced by the good man, which is expressed by the good he bestows on others.” Clearly, this is not the only view.  But I think it’s important to consider the possibility that the good life cannot be understood apart from what it means to say that life is good. Now these two concepts may appear at first to be identical but the first may inadvertently position life as a means of achieving good while the second may recognize life itself as the potential expression of good. 

 

On the Problem with Focusing on Your Brand

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Feb 3 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Too much emphasis on brand takes a company’s attention off its value proposition. Focusing on your company’s brand is like focusing on your reputation instead of your behavior. This is a grave mistake. The person who focuses on their reputation instead of their achievement will likely suffer on both counts. The same is true of the leader who focuses on brand instead of the value proposition; choose substance over form.

 

On Marketing and Doing the Right Thing

Topic:Miscellanea
Posted on:Feb 2 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Doing the right thing is more important than doing the thing right. The marketer must deliver the right message to the right prospect at the right time – or it is no longer the right message.

On Metrics as the ‘Why So’

Topic:Miscellanea
Posted on:Feb 1 2017
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

We ‘listen’ to customer data in order to ‘hear’ customer insights. Metrics are not about ‘how many’; metrics are about ‘why so’.

On Leadership and the Meeting as a Single Building Block

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jan 31 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

A leader should beware of the need to conduct a “make-or-break” meeting; this is particularly true of internal meetings. Indeed, the fact that the leader needs a remarkable meeting is sometimes an indication that the regular cadence and quality of meetings is not right. Companies are healthier when their meetings are constructive. Productivity is the norm; pep rallies are unnecessary, and emergency meetings are few. Don’t try to build the whole edifice in a single meeting; a meeting is a building block and we achieve the edifice one block at a time.

 

On Leadership and the Danger of “When”

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jan 28 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The leaders job can be understood through the lens of two interrogatives; the “what” and the “when”. We have to get the “what” right, but we also have to the “when” right. It is the “when” that makes fools of us. More often, we are right about the “what” and wrong about the “when”. The artful leader is bold with his “what” and cautious with his “when”. 

 

On Leadership and the Brilliant Fool

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jan 26 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The leader must constantly learn, and this means learning from all of those around her, regardless of their status. Every brilliant man is a fool in some way, and (most) every foolish man is brilliant in some way. One can learn from each, and one must beware of each.

 

On Leadership and Managing Negative Space

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jan 26 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Artful leadership does not begin with AN answer; it begins with THE question. Indeed, leadership is not so much about managing what you do know (positive space) as it is managing what you do not know (negative space). The artful leader must create methods and processes for reaching into that void, and they must make it safe for information to come out of that void.

 

On Leadership and the Fallacy of a Balanced Life

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jan 24 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Great leaders are deformed; we follow them not because they have a great weakness, but because they have great strengths. No one ever changed the world because they lived a balanced life.

 

On Leadership and Losing to Win

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jan 23 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

A wise leader allows his enemy to win; he just makes sure that they are fully engaged in winning the wrong battle. Indeed, while they celebrate their victory over an attractive piece of ground, he takes the strategic piece of ground. 

 

On Leadership and the Distinction Between Vision and Purpose

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jan 20 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The leader must understand the difference between vision and purpose. Vision is a picture; purpose is a reason.

 

On Leadership and the Capable Team

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jan 20 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

A leader must be careful about how he solves a challenge. If he solves a problem for his team, the best he can hope for is that they are grateful. If he solves the problem with his team, he can help them become more capable. A leader surrounded by admiring people is building a cult, a leader surrounded by capable people is building an organization.

 

On Becoming Too Busy to Slow Down and See

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jan 19 2017
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Leaders can become overwhelmed by all that must be done. However, the No. 1 reason we carry the burden is not because we have too much to do; it is because we have too much to “see”. We have not fought hard enough for perspicuous clarity. Beware of the “leadership fog”. We should not rush forward faster than we can truly see.

 

 

On Leadership and Ontology

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jan 18 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

What makes a great leader is not so much what she does, but rather who she is. Developing trustworthy character, unflinching courage, and a transcendent vision requires a move beyond systems and programs. By focusing on our “being”, we elevate our “doing” so that the leader’s ontology is more important than her methodology. 

 

On Leadership and the Management of Energy

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jan 13 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Leaders are masters of energy. They master their own, and they shape the energy of those around them. Leaders have an ability to cultivate and extend positive energy within their organizations. This concept transcends, but is connected to the notion of culture. The first job of the leader is to manage energy. 

On Self-heroic and Ordinary Moments

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jan 12 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Be careful about judging a man by his self-heroic moments; you must judge him by is ordinary moments. Judge him by those things which to him are ordinary, but perhaps exceptional to others. Every man who aspires to fulfill the image he has of himself has moments where he does something “self-heroic”. But these moments are his exception, not his norm. An extraordinary man truly is defined by his ordinary moments. 

 

On How Structure Can Impose Confusion

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jan 12 2017
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

As I seek to try and build a beautiful organization, I realize that structure is closely associated with one’s concept of beauty. Structure is foundational to design. I find it difficult, however, to devise the ultimate structure for my multifarious operation.

Every form seems flawed. I’ve learned to survive with ambiguity, and the tradeoffs associated with business, but I suspect that there is a different kind of problem at work here. Overt structure can distract from seeing the natural structure associated with wholeness, health, and beauty. This requires one to think more of business as organism rather than organization.

If the human body were “organized”, we would all be dysfunctional, if not dead.


 

On the Inability to Achieve Precision

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jan 11 2017
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

Because we are finite beings, we cannot experience precision. What we consider precise, is only an illusion. The beauty of math is that it allows us to achieve precision in the abstract. The tragedy of math is that this precision cannot be birthed into existential – at least not with our tools. We can conceive of a perfectly straight line, but we cannot create one. I’m weary of our approximate existence.

On Aggregating Activity

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Jan 9 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

If you want it to rain you first have to fill the clouds with water. Sometimes activity produces an outcome, even when you can’t draw a direct cause and effect relationship. Working smart is better than working hard, but working hard is better than not working at all.

 

On Leadership and Self-deception

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jan 6 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

As a leader, our greatest danger is never the blatant crime that we commit, but rather the lie we tell ourselves first. Our greatest weakness is not our surrender to vice, but rather our enormous capability of deceiving our self. Behind most of our worst deeds is an even worse lie. The number one threat to the leader is self-deception. 

 

On the Song that Writes You

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jan 5 2017
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

My best music is constrained so that I only compose what I cannot say in prose. The subtleties of sound with no meaning but inexplicable symmetry, and of words with indirect meaning but penetrating message, form a canvas for the heart.

You do not write a song; the song writes you.

On Playing from the Song You Experience

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Dec 9 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

When I play the piano I prefer to work with my own composition. It is not that I don’t value the work of others, it is that I do not believe that anyone can truly play someone else’s song. I have to play what I hear, and I cannot hear what they have heard. Playing someone else’s number maybe a useful way to practice. But in the end, I can only play what I truly experience.

 

On Leading From Weakness

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Dec 8 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

I have observed that some leaders display flaws, significant weaknesses, yet somehow develop healthy, thriving organizations. On the other hand I have observed that some leaders display an almost invincibility, serious capabilities, yet somehow foster a weak fractured organization. I think we directly equate talent with success. But this thinking oversimplifies the matter. It is possible to lead from weakness, rather than strength. 

It is difficult to convey how this is possible, but I suspect that every leader is replete with weaknesses. Some however are transparent. In the end; they endear such trust, that their core values are communicated in ways that impart life to an organization.

On Uncertainty and Possibility

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Dec 6 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:Dec 1 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 29 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 17 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.

 

On Leaders and the Danger of Focusing on the Particular

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Nov 9 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Effective leaders have a distinct ability to view the panorama and not just the particular. Indeed, they use the particular to better understand the panorama.

People in authority, who are not true leaders, are always focused on the particular. Much of the literature on management is focused on the particular. Indeed, some of the best writing about execution drills down into the sequencing of the particular.

The leader cannot avoid the particular. Indeed, without the particular, the leader cannot grasp the panorama. However, the effective leader brings to an organization more than a view of the future; he brings a view of the whole. 

 

On the Futility of Attempting Pure Expression

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Nov 9 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:

I’m struggling, yet again, as I try to express concepts in linguistic form. As a child, I developed a language that allowed me to think more efficiently. It was based on a zero plus tri/binary system. At that time, there were no PCs and I did not understand what binary was except through theoretical wonderings. It occurred to me that counting did not have to repeat itself at the one zero combination, but I could use zero as the place holder, and one, and two, as the only numerators, or as the base integers. In this way, I was able to devise a set of symbols that represented the finest application of one and two lines. These symbols were then combined in order to provide an infinite counting system. I was able to match it to phonetic sound, and start creating words with a more logical flow of ideas.

As time passed, I realized that the language could be more effective if it could adapt the grammar or any user’s existing syntax. The value of the language was found in its ability to provide clarity. Because lines were tied to numbers, which were tied to sounds, I had a language that could be expressed, geometrically, mathematically, or phonetically. I use this approach today, but I still find myself befuddled when I try to express an idea in its purest form.

I spent this morning in anguish trying to state something in theology that I cannot express. I pray for God to preserve my sanity.

On the Tension between Rules, Principles and the Fundamentals

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Oct 31 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Rules and principles in business are important. Nevertheless, every great business is an exception. Indeed, the greater the exception, the greater the business. While one must not forget this point, one must also balance it against the need to respect the fundamentals. The effective leader must strike the proper balance between ought and could.

 

On the Impact of Relationships Building instead of Lead Building

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Oct 19 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

When one understands the significant difference between lead generation and relationship building, they position themselves in such a way as to take “the addition impacts of lead generation and amplify them with the multiplication impacts”. A true relationship with the right person can establish more opportunities for us than all of our lead generation activities combined. We have to focus on building genuine relationships. We have to focus at the exclusion of wasting energy on lead generation. Nobody wants to be a lead, but everyone enjoys being a trusted friend.

 

On Leading from Behind

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Oct 17 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

There is much talk about leading from the front, this observation is valuable when one considers that a leader must be in the trenches with his team. But one should consider the importance of leading from behind. Great leaders lead through their team. They support them. Leaders place their team in the front when it comes to credit, they place themselves in front when it comes to risk. 

 

On Life as a Cycle

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Oct 13 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Life is a cycle of cycles. We seem to prefer to freeze our self in the most desirable phase of such cycles. We attach our true identity to this desirable phase; we say, “I am.” all the other aspects of the cycle are exceptions. This is a deception and while momentarily satisfying, it blinds us to the truth about ourselves. 

 

On Dyads to Triads

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Oct 11 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

In a triad of concepts, the major leg can typically be folded into a dyad. I use the triad form of conceptual thinking only when it’s necessary to achieve the greater clarity. I think we often work through one framework, but wisdom sometimes comes through the application of multiple frameworks. The application of dyads and triads to the same concept allows me to see it through different perspectives. If possible, I need to change perspective and even change dimensions. In this way I am able to apprehend more deeply essence. 

 

On Hammurabi’s Strengthening of the Center

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Sep 23 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

In 1792 BC the Amorite chief of Babylon died. He was replaced by a son, Hammurabi. This new leader was trapped between two major kingdoms: Rim-sin and Shamashi-adad.

Hammurabi was not strong enough to fight either city, so he patiently prepared. “He bided his time, building canals and temples, reinforcing cities.” In effect, he quietly strengthened his center.

When the time was right, he edged towards the margins of Rim-sin’s kingdom. There he captured a smaller, less-important city, while being careful not to threaten the heart of Rim-sin’s kingdom. Next, he forged alliances with Rim-sin’s enemy, Shamashi-adad. Then he quietly waited.

In the end, Hammurabi conquered the entire region, defeating both his enemies and his allies – whereupon he only intensified his efforts to strengthen his center: Hammurabi unified the kingdom with a detailed set of laws, and then he established control of the shipping routes, requiring a royal passport at key checkpoints.

The lesson for me is this: Strengthen the center first. I can only engage in two activities: I can increase output or I can increase capacity (for output). There will be times, when I must quietly wait for opportunity. It is best, in those times, to focus on increased capacity.

On the Medium as Grafted into the Message

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

The medium changes the message. We may wish it were not so but that does not help. One must be sensitive to how the medium necessarily contextualizes the message. This is why, for instance, trying to take the transcript of a lecture and turning it into a book is so difficult. The medium is grafted into the message.

On Marketing as a Key Responsibility of the CEO

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Sep 22 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

When you disconnect the CEO from the marketer, you have two different operations taking place. This is why thinkers like Drucker realized that marketing is a responsibility of the CEO (Drucker rightly connected innovation and marketing). The CEO must bring parity between what the marketer says and what the business is. So, the CEO must understand (and guard) the business’ value proposition, and then enable its effective communication. Ultimately, the CEO must guarantee alignment between the claim and the reality.

On the Great Man and Multiplicity of Perspective

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Sep 20 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

At the heart of understanding is multiplicity of perspective. To understand a great man, one must see the world through his eyes, see him through his peer’s eyes, and see his work through history’s eyes.

On Leadership and the X/Y Axis of More and Better

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Sep 19 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Matthew K

When one is trying to improve results, they should keep in mind a sort of geometrical relationship. In my mind I visualize two dimensions at an angle. They represent the concept of “more” or of “better”. In many cases the only way to improve results is to perform more of the key activities or to perform those activities better. The distinction provides a useful x, y axis in which to analyze all of your efforts. Sometimes doing more keeps you from realizing that you need to do better. Sometimes doing better keeps you from realizing that you could do more.

 

On the Means to the Right Answer

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Sep 16 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

To build a great organization, the leader must develop an effective team that knows how to engage in a “thorough process.” This is a strength that could become a weakness. This thorough process can be an impediment. Deliberation may become delay. The leader needs to understand when a thorough process is unnecessary. The key is this: We are after the right answer. “Thorough process” is a means to that end. In situations where risk can be properly controlled, the leader may engage in a simpler way to get to the right answer. In the end, the leader will be judged by the right answer, not the beauty of the process.

 

On Listening While Talking

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Sep 16 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Most people stop listening when they start talking, but the greatest communicators listen even more as they talk.


 

On Considering the Extremities of the Human Condition

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Sep 14 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

The human condition must be considered along with its extremities. It has poles. On one hand, you have extreme ecstasy, and on the other, you have extreme agony. However, we work out most of our theology and philosophy within the confines of a small segment in the middle.

The people who experience life outside of that limited segment often find our theological and philosophical formulations insufficient. Indeed, they cannot even relate to us because we have no authentic frame of reference. Whatever life system we embrace should consider the entire spectrum of human experience.

 

 

On Transcending the Ordinary Understanding of Productivity

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Sep 13 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

We need to transcend the ordinary understanding of what it means to be productive. We need to transcend our mind with fiction – even “comic book” heroics. I sometimes imagine my life and work unfolding while I am chained to a wheelchair. How could I extend, expand my thinking if my body was limited? It is a thought that has occupied my mind since I was a child. Once I have worked through the implications of this hypothetical condition, I add back my full physical capabilities and ask myself, “What does it mean to have all of this health – this robust capacity – and to be only a thought away from life-changing, world-impacting discovery”?

On the Danger of Leadership Literature

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Sep 12 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

I think much of the literature on leadership has done more damage than good. The great leader is not focused on leadership; the great leader is focused on mission. A great leader achieves a mission with the people around him. When one thinks too much about leadership they run the risk of becoming internally focused instead of externally effective.

On the Purest Philosophy

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Sep 8 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

People at their moments of greatest joy, and especially at their moments of deepest grief, break spontaneously into the most profound of philosophies. It is after a great loss that you hear a person, who is normally absorbed in the day-to-day grind of activities, suddenly break into a profound soliloquy. All of us are philosophers. Philosophy is how we cope. Philosophy is how we survive.

 

On Balancing Creativity and Craft in Writing

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Sep 6 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

When writing, one must allow for both creativity and craft. However, you cannot think simultaneously about both. If you think about craft, it mitigates creativity, so you must give creativity precedence. In essence, creativity initiates the work; craft finishes it.

 

On the Things You Cannot Learn from a Teacher

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Sep 2 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

There are some things you can learn from a teacher; and there are some things you can only learn from life itself. Intelligence is no substitute for experience, and there are kinds of knowledge you can only “own” if you have acquired them directly. The talented youth must purchase experience with his most valuable asset – time.

The irony of this purchase is poignant on two levels: First, that is he unable to appraise this asset until it is almost gone. Second, that he rarely values what he received in exchange for it – experience.

 

On Leadership and Escaping Intellectual Corners

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Sep 2 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

Sometimes a leader needs to appear to be unreasonable in order to become truly reasonable. We are often presented with false dichotomies, or we are pushed into intellectual corners and asked to make a decision. We need to get out of the corner and we need to reject the false dichotomies. We need to push back against the social system with grace and with strength. In this way, we determine the actual constraints as opposed to the artificial constraints.

 

On Marketing and the Priority of Conclusions Over Claims

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Aug 31 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

Marketers are too concerned with claims. The work of the marketer is more subtle. We should be more concerned with fostering conclusions than forcing claims. Our work is to create a special mental condition. Indeed we arrange words to nurture “inevitable” cognitive conclusions. When someone is challenged by your claim, their natural posture is defensive – they fight it. When someone arrives at their own conclusion, their natural posture is offensive – they own it.

On the Infinite Value of Existence

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Aug 30 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The older I get, the more I appreciate the value of existence. The more I appreciate the value of existence, the more I realize that it can only be fathomed in small doses.

I have tried to live strategically, but I find a growing need within me to engineer value out of each day. In one sense, factoring aside for the moment the presence of evil, the value of a day may be considered mathematically.

If nonexistence is zero, and if we assign a value of one for each day, then it becomes easy to determine the difference between existence and nonexistence. You cannot divide one into zero. You cannot divide zero into one. The difference between the two is infinite. A single day is of an inestimable value.

Now, once I establish within my mind some approximate appreciation for the addition of a day to my lifespan, I then consider the quality of that day. Once again, this makes me want to engineer that 24-hour period for a maximum experience. It also gives me cause for further reflection.

We are like wealthy kings who live as paupers never drawing on the true capacity we have inherited.

 

On the Proper Allocation of Simplicity and Complexity in One’s Life

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Aug 29 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

One must understand the difference between simplicity and complexity as it relates to the individual and their life. There are a lot of simple people who live complex lives. This creates stress and difficulty. I would rather be a complex person that lives a simple life. The simplicity of my outer life enables the complexity of my inner life.

On Leadership and The Need to Separate the “What” from the “When”

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Aug 26 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The leader knows “what” before he knows “how,” but he knows “how” before he knows “when.” It is the “when” element which makes fools out of wise men. We often know what will happen, but we seldom know when (precisely when). If we are not careful, our careless assignment of timelines may undermine our team’s trust. The leader needs to separate the “what” from the “when,” or else the latter will jeopardize the credibility of the former.

 

 

 

On the Problem with Biographers

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Aug 25 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Beware of biographies written by biographers. The problem is some people cannot be truly understood except by someone who is like them. Biographers are not like CEOs, poets, or inventors. The good biographers bring a necessary objectivity, but they lose an even more essential subjectivity.

On the Simultaneous Experience of Joy and Agony

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Aug 23 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

I do not understand how joy and agony can co-exist within the same person, even within the same instant. Life is an inversion of paradoxes. One can be full of joy and, yet, full of agony. The human container is too frail. A soul cannot contain the whole truth. This is what separates me from the ultimate. I cannot bear what I know. I cannot bear the knowledge of what I do not know, either. However, amidst the overwhelming desperation, is a sense that the edge of beauty is only experienced at the edge of frailty. When all I experience is too much, I come to value the marvelous potential of life. Joy and agony can co-exist. Beauty is evidenced when they touch.

 

On My Work as an Expression of Experimental Philosophy

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Aug 18 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

I need to consider the impact of rational choice theory as it relates to my research on the value proposition. I think I hold to a subjective theory of value, at least on a practical level. And I would lean towards methodological individualisim. The danger is this: my work does not belong in any of these particular categories.  I am not an economist, and I developed my thinking independent of these disciplines. In effect, I have been engaging in experimental philosophy before experimental philosophy was a recognized approach.

On Conflating the Two Concepts of Convergence Theory and Enterprise Locus

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Aug 16 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

I am conflating two concepts: convergence theory and enterprise locus.

Transformation assumes an external force working against an entity. In the event that force is being applied to an entity in a given dimension, the force must be channeled. In those cases where the energy itself is the only force, then the energy is all that is necessary. Nevertheless, if there is an item, such as a message being delivered, then you will have the content and the energy. The means of reaching the entity becomes the distribution. One might argue that this is not the means but, rather, the action of distributing the energy. Nevertheless, energy by its very nature distributes. It implies motion. Thus, one might be able to unify content distribution and energy as a single factor, depending on certain circumstances.

 

On Existence as the Unification of Subject and Predicate

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Aug 15 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

Reality may be interpreted as vertical and horizontal. Vertical reality manifests itself in levels; horizontal reality manifests itself in parts. My vertical reality is experienced in layers (they form my subject). My horizontal reality is expressed in actions (they form my predicate). – These actions can be combined to form the subjectification of predication.

The delineation between subject and predicate is useful, but misleading. I am not a subject who predicates. I am the whole of my subject and predicate. The distinction between subject, action, and object fails to recognize that the act of acting becomes subject, and thus object for another. The difference is more than semantic. The difference is perspective. Most of us labor under this illusion: I am (this person); I do (these things). But it is impossible to separate the “aming” from the “doing” (can there be space without time?).

The unification of subject and predicate, as the essence of “I”, points to the importance of tense. Every infinitesimal expression of the absolute “now” is a distinct instance of identity. What was before is no longer “I”. Moreover, the notion of predication collapses into an interval no longer than the absolute minimal instance of the present. The world sees my existence as a whole; I see it as an ever-renewing opportunity to express. Who “I was” does not have to be who “I am”. And while the tenuous strands of pattern may appear to stretch across my present-tense instances, I am relieved to know that the power of pattern is no more than the strength of its always-breakable strand. My past does not own my present.

 

On How a Leader Galvanizes Action

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Aug 12 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

A leader galvanizes action. He spends his solitude in determining and discerning his way through decision processes. It does not mean he makes those decisions on his own, but he does come to a certain peace about what should be done.

When he steps out of his solitude – from the personal dynamic to the social dynamic – he galvanizes action, maximizing the production capacity of everyone around him. If he is a mature leader, he does it in a way that empowers his team. If he is an immature leader he does it in a way that (often) injures his team. Either way he does it. This is true, whether he is Gandhi or Attila the Hun.

 

On the Marketer as Both Scientist and Mystic

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Aug 12 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The marketer must be part scientist and part mystic. While many would agree with the science aspect, others would challenge the mysticism. But the marketer is dealing with the complexities of the human being. The method of science cannot span the void in our understanding into the spirit and the mind. An essential aspect of the marketer’s work is to predict behavior. This is not an exact science. Intuition, perception, and sometimes an almost mystic apprehension are necessary.

On Negation as the Determination of Possibilities

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Aug 10 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

A movement in the space-time continuum represents (ultimately) a negation. The positive cancels other possibilities. The positive is the concrete that fills the void of the possible.

If I move my hand to select an item from a shelf, I am negating all of the other items I may have selected instead. I am negating all of the other movements I might have made instead of selecting anything. I am negating a myriad of possibilities. Sartre understood the power of negation as it relates to the positive, but I see negation as directly connected to the termination of possibilities. 

If I had a large house with many items burning to the ground, imagine I am only able to rush in and bring just one out. That particular item serves as an indicator as to who I am and what matters to me. Its power is not derived only from what it is, but rather from what it is not. What about the other 10,000 items I abandoned? If I had $50,000 hidden in the closet but a photograph of my child on the borough, and if I choose the photograph over the money, what does that say about me? Not choosing the $50,000 tells me more about the photograph. It provides additional information. The myriad of negations in my life, the elimination of possibilities in favor of what I move from possible to actual, is a profound indication of my essence.

On Age as an Increasing Acuteness of Angle

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Aug 9 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

[Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from one of Dr. McGlaughlin’s short stories. Read the full story here.]

It took Kierkegaard nine pseudonyms and a lifetime of artful indirection laced with riffs (parables, even Socratic irony) to unsay his theo-philosophical position. Often debated, mostly misunderstood, his work as a whole was more of a Zen koan than a doctrinal declaration. He lived as a poignant protest against despair, all the while bleeding ink. His background became indistinguishable from his foreground. This can happen when the angle of view becomes more obtuse.

For some of us, age is not a foreshortening, not a linear regression, but rather an increasing acuteness of angle. This is happening to me. My foreground is recessing into my background, till at some point my whole perspective may collapse into itself. What shall I do?

On Leadership and the Question Beneath the Questions

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Aug 8 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Phillip A

When making a decision of significant consequence, the first question that a leader should ask is this: Have I asked the right questions? In particular, the leader needs to go down to the level beneath the levels and make certain that he sees the biggest possible picture across the longest possible term. From there, he can move to the granular thinking of the particulars. Most decisions will make themselves if the leader is clear about the underlying principles. 

 

On Communication as a Means of Actualizing Perception

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Aug 5 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

It would seem to me that there is more to communication than imparting information. The best communicator articulates what his audience has already intuitively perceived. Often the audience recognizes the truth, though they have never been able to express it. In some sense, effective communication brings to the surface those insights deeply submerged within the subconscious. In this way, effective communication is a matter of helping the audience to realize what they already know.

On Shifts in our Paradigm and Future Action Sets

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Aug 5 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

At the foundation of our thinking is an essential philosophy, a self-paradigm (a view of ourselves as we relate to the world). When we process from this perspective it is difficult for us to imagine ever performing certain actions. Indeed, some actions seem completely “out of bounds.” But if we experience a shift in our essential philosophy, our future action set can appear quite different. More importantly, our interpretation of our past actions can appear different. A shift at the foundation of your self-paradigm impacts your perspective – not just on the future, but on the past. It makes possible a future action set that would have previously been unthinkable.

On the Danger of Mistaking Activity for Productivity

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Aug 4 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

While I have stressed in other observations, the importance of being able to develop a proper list and check it off, it is a mistake to substitute list-checking for productive thinking. Our processes need creative input. We need to make certain that we do not lose that special energy necessary to superb performance. We never want to drop below the level of our list checking activity, but we never want to be satisfied with staying at that level.

Creative thinking actually generates a more useful list. Otherwise you are left dealing with urgent interruptions and logical next steps. These two categories, urgent interruptions and logical next steps can promote a hidden lethargy – we unknowingly substitute activity for productivity.

 

On the Leader’s Energy and Clarity

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Aug 2 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

The leader is constantly faced with the inertia of reality. Every initiative drags.  Every deadline is challenged. Every idea is undermined. Books on leadership do not go far enough. The leader must generate “inertia-overcoming” herculean energy matched with Wittgensteinian clarity.

On the Importance of Oscillating between Planning and Writing

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Aug 1 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

The author needs to know how to oscillate between planning and writing. In my case, I can plan so far (but in great detail), then I need to write my way forward. This calls for a constant shift from the plan to the text. Back and forth I move. The writing itself positions me inside of the reader’s mind, which in turn, enables me to evaluate the contents. Maturity in this process leads to an intuitive sense of when to stop outlining and when to start writing. Never plan beyond your capacity to “feel.”

On the Illusion of the Past

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

The older I grow, the less certain I am in the reality of the past. It is difficult to comprehend what it means to be non-existent. The past does not seem to exist. To say that it is, at least in some way, is to say that remnants of the past exist. But the past itself cannot exist, unless you subscribe to certain theories of time, and those theories have little correspondence to my own experience.

I realize that my son is today what he is today. He is not just the boy of yester-year who has grown. The dynamic between him and I is very present tense. The past has influenced the reality of the present, but it does not exist within the present. This is important because it helps me understand the transience of life (it is fleeting).

I think time, as we conceive it, is an illusion. I am not saying time, as an element, is an illusion, but rather time as we conceive it. We are specters living from present to present, grasping at the passing moment as if we could seize it and hold it still. But time, like water, slips through our fingers.

 

On Being Productive and Indulging in Self-Importance

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jul 28 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

Sometimes it’s difficult to detect the difference between an extreme focus on productivity and an extreme focus on luxury. In both cases, the leader may invest in support systems that appear lavish. One man has a driver because it makes him feel important; another has a driver because it helps him achieve more. In both cases, the leader may appear self-important. The difference is in the motive, and the indicator of the motive is in the functional outcome. 

On Leadership and the Danger of the “Promising” Opportunity

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jul 27 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

When presented a “promising” opportunity, eight out of 10 times I run for my life. The number one difference between a seemingly effective leader and a truly effective leader is the manner in which they spend their time. Both seem to be doing the same thing, but one is seizing “promising” opportunities that will never yield, while the other is refusing to waste a single moment.

On Leadership and the Essential Nature of Communication

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jul 26 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The leader may better understand the importance of communication if he understands that communication is not just essential; it is essence. All that I have in this world is the projection of my consciousness. I am communication. And more, I am predicating myself into a social context, which is why I cannot ignore the social dynamic, which is why I cannot deny the importance of empathy. Empathy is identification (incarnation). Identification is the ultimate act of hearing. Hearing is the prerequisite of communication. Without hearing, the communicator cannot encode in the language of the receiver. The effective leader understands communication as essence and empathy as identification.

 

On Philosophy and Preventing the “Pathway” from Becoming a “Trench”

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jul 25 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The leader or writer must never let the pathway become a trench. When you start with existing material, you start with a natural bias. This bias can turn the edges of the path into barriers. These barriers constrain your thinking and prevent you from finding the true (intellectual) path.

 

On Learning from a Flash of Pain

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

Sometimes, in a flash of pain, I am able to experience life with some form of direct insight. It is (thankfully) a fleeting glimpse of reality. The stark truth, my plight as incipient, becomes unbearable, and I realize that much of what I believe to be important is trivial, and much of what I believe to be trivial is important. I am a fool, but foolishness has its own balm.

On Passing Style vs. Timeless Style

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jul 21 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

One needs to discern the difference between passing style and timeless style – whether it’s choosing clothes or writing prose. There may be a reason to consider passing style, but there is always reason to honor timeless style.

On Building into Your Leaders the Capacity to See

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jul 21 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

Leadership consists of far more than the series of techniques and tactics that contemporary leadership literature often teaches. You build a great leader by helping him expand his capacity to see and thus his capacity to do. A leader who cannot see might learn to do, but he may do the wrong things. The ability to lead is not enough, one must lead in the right direction. 

 

On Influence and the Cultural Wave

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jul 19 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Anthony W

The men and women in history who had the greatest influence are often those that caught a “cultural wave” at just the right time. There are probably a hundred others just as capable, but the world has never heard of them…

It is ironic, but their timing was mostly accidental. The same person, under different circumstances, might have been obscured in the grind of the ordinary.

This observation is not meant to impugn these historic leaders. Even catching the wave, riding it well, and maximizing its force deserves enormous respect. But I fear that many today underestimate the importance of the wave and the chaotic, seemingly randomness of perfect timing.

On the Danger of Living Every Day as if It Was Your Last

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Jul 18 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

How can one focus their life? I’ve often heard this advice: “Live as though today is your last day”. On one level, I find it helpful, on another I find it lacking. If today were truly my last day, I would spend it radically different – not just because of a change in priority, but rather a shortage of time.

I think it might be more helpful to ask, “How would I live my life, if I just had one more year (or some other prescribed period)?” In that context, I am able to prioritize more effectively. I find it helpful to think in 50 year increments, but to do so, with a constant awareness that the next moment is never guaranteed. Good wine does not taste better because you drink it faster.

On the Nuanced Capacity to See the Present through the Lens of the Future

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jul 16 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The leader must live with two horizons in view. We need to think in the short-term and the long-term. One who thinks only in the short-term never wins strategic advantage, and one who thinks only in the long-term never gains tactical position. Our operation must be a fluid paradox of short-term and long-term focus.

Mid-level leaders find themselves vacillating between the two perspectives – they are trapped in a contradiction, struggling between the urgency of the short-term and the necessity of the long-term. Senior leaders have the nuanced capacity to hold both perspectives at the same time – they resolve the contradiction with a paradox, seeing the present through the lens of the future.

 

On the Danger of an Attractive Opportunity

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jul 13 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

We are all in danger of becoming the products of the attractive opportunities that present themselves in our lives. It is difficult to say “no” to an attractive opportunity. The most important part of knowing who you are is knowing who you are not. This knowledge can protect us from grasping for that which is good but not best.

On Leadership and the Danger of Internal Drift

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jul 12 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

 The enemy of intention is drift. Drift marks the movement from the place one intends to the place one did not intend. The leader must guard against this threat. More often than not, our plans are foiled not from the external force, but from the internal drift.

On Developing a Throughput Line in Sophisticated Literature

Topic:
Posted on:Jul 11 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

I have written about the need for an attractant in sophisticated literature, such as poetry. Sometimes I have called it a “throughput line”. I realize that there have been great narrative poems which have incorporated story-form and some of the key elements of an attractant.

But still, when you analyze these works, they often fail to intensify the dramatic element to an extent that draws you forward in a compelling way. The language often has priority over the line (the “throughput line”).

I am searching for that approach which incorporates the beauty of carefully chosen words, of subtle lyricism, and of evocative contrasts. Such a form would enable a unique means of expression. Indeed, this expression would be powerful especially because of its widespread appeal.

On Honesty as the Ultimate Virtue of Being

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jul 8 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

The familiarity of the word “honesty” interferes with its remarkable meaning, and more, its remarkable implications. Honesty is the ultimate virtue of being. To “be” fully is to be honest. Honesty, in this sense, must first be understood as a technical term. It is structure. It is structural integrity. It is an alignment of parts. What is the ultimate alignment of parts? Unity. A unified whole is (precisely) ultimate honesty. When the parts are so aligned that they become one, they are ultimately aligned.

 

On the Dangers of Living in a Time of Sustained Peace

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Jul 7 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

The great danger of living in a sustained period of peace is that it creates a mental fog. One begins to operate within an artificial world.

Typically, a period of sustained peace is relative to one’s geography. It becomes difficult to comprehend the act of surviving amidst life and death dangers. Most of history’s titans fought not just from an intellectual plain but also on a physical plain. Their very lives were often at stake. This is true of heroes from Washington to Gandhi.

I must be wary that sustained peace does not create lethargy.

On Leadership and the Importance of Knowing what Needs to be Done

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jul 6 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Sometimes the leader must focus his entire energy on what must be done, not how can it be done and not when can it be done. The second two questions are so pragmatic that they get in the way of essential thinking. Once the leader decides what must be done, everything else can be brought into harmony with that decision. Never let your limitations constrain your values. 

 

On the Danger of Floundering between Perception and Reality

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jul 5 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The challenge for many companies is misunderstood – It is not finding prospects that need what it has to offer, but rather finding prospects who know that they need what it has to offer. Managers flounder in the gap between perception and reality. They are trained to think about data, facts, and rules. This strength obscures a corresponding weakness. They fail to account for the difference between “what is” and “what the prospect believes is.” The latter initiates the experience of the former and thus takes initial precedence.

On the Different Meanings of “Yes”

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jul 1 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

For many years, my research has focused on why people say “yes.” But I think it is important to note the variance in the meanings of the word yes.  When someone says, “do you love me” and the other replies “yes,” they have provided an answer, but have done so with a range of meanings.  That “yes” can mean so much and so little at the same time.  But when one says “yes” on one “particular” option over another, then that “yes” has a “particular” clarity. I mentioned these two examples only to emphasize that the nature of “yes” itself must be carefully understood. Two people can reply “yes” and yet give two different answers. 

On the Connection Between Honesty and Performance

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Jul 1 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

What is the relationship between honesty and excellence? As I reflect on the question, it seems to me that the periodic surges in performance capacity that are characteristic of the long term pursuit of excellence are preceded by a series of painful experiences. These experiences often yield a bitter-sweet revelation – a kind of “forced” realization.

I see now, for the first time, how these experiences motivate a new depth of honesty. And I wonder if a vigorous pursuit of self-honesty, now, could enable me to achieve a dramatic surge – It might be possible with this level of intense honesty to forgo many of the painful experiences so often necessary to performance gains.

It comes down to a choice between internal pain and external pain. If I can bear the extreme internal pain of self-honesty, I might be able to avoid some of the (nearly) unbearable external pain of life. The former choice seems best, but it requires the suffering NOW, while the latter choice defers the (greater) suffering till later.

I am in danger of choosing momentary relief.

On Leadership and the Danger of the Lie

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jun 30 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

Behind every leadership problem is the “lie.” There is always the lie that we have told ourselves and have bought into. We do not think of it as a lie, but it is a piece of self-deception that keeps us from being able to see the real obstacle, timeline and opportunity (see Sir Walter Ralegh’s “The Lie“). If we begin to solve our problem by searching for the lie, we can save ourselves untold amounts of delay and grief. The leader’s first responsibility is to face the lie. 

 

On Why a Great Artist Must Hate as Much as He Loves

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jun 29 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The artist or writer who tries to create art that everyone likes can never transcend. The writer writes because he must write, even if he cannot persuade a large enough audience to achieve widespread appreciation (fame). Those writers who can appeal to everyone are likely failing to take a stand with their craft. I don’t mean with the message; I mean with their craft.


I am not decrying those very special writers who create stories that impact all of us,
such as Tolkien. But Tolkien did so much that never made it into his book. The development of his world was personal, selfish. He created detailed maps, languages; he envisioned epics. Lord of the Rings may have widespread appeal, but its artistic consistency precisely consists in its authenticity. Its authenticity is derived from the author’s selfish, perhaps total, personal investment.


There is a danger in this observation. Its point can be used to justify some of the most wretched work. Great art exists on a knife
’s edge. One can fall off at any moment. The prose poem in the hand of Elizabeth Smart is exalted expression; in the hand of most other writers, it is a wretched exercise not just awful, but God-awful (not a pun; a theological category). A great artist or writer must hate at least as much as he loves, but probably more. 

 

On Beauty as the Antidote

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jun 27 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

The darkness kills us. Many great men have suffered for the sake of the darkness. As the French philosopher Camus has said, “Suicide is the problem.” The darkness eventually suffocates any one of us who cannot either find an intellectual or emotional sedative or who cannot legitimately counter it.

The legitimate counter of darkness requires courage, but courage is not enough. Such courage can only be sustained by a transfusion of power that transforms courage into victory. Courage is never a guarantee of victory, but it is often essential to it.

For me, beauty is the antidote to my suffering. I have discovered, as I have aged, that the horror of the darkness is greater than even I have conceived. But, wonder of wonders, I have also discovered that the beauty is so fantastical as to justify my struggle for every single breath. If I have committed many great errors, indeed, sins against my soul, perhaps the greatest is my failure to apprehend the true beauty around me.

On Life as Best When the Best is Lived Over and Over Again

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Jun 24 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

In the early years of life, time stretches forward in linear fashion. You look forward to what will come. You look forward to what you will become. In the latter years of life, time (perception) becomes circular. You find yourself looking backward and looking forward. You recognize patterns. Events repeat themselves.

These phenomena may be experienced on different levels. Here is a simple example: I have been hunting for the past two days. Unlike my youth, the experience is not typified by new discoveries. It is typified by past memories. The sounds and the smells evoke traces from my past. I’m filled with reminiscence as much as I am with anticipation. Life is meant to be more than a linear experience. It is best when the best is lived over and over again.

On the Danger of Using Anecdotes

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jun 23 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The leader often expresses himself by anecdote. In doing so, he is representing a false picture of who he is. This may win the admiration of his followers, but it imposes an inaccurate model – one based on the exception instead of the norm.

The followers compare their norm with the leader’s artificial super-norm and believe there to be an unbridgeable gap. For the leader, this secures his “high-place” among those around him. For the follower, this motivates a sense of utter futility. The practice of presenting the exception as the norm is patently dishonest.

 

On Words as the Expression of an Illusion

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jun 22 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

I am fascinated by the subtleties of conversation. The more words, the less meaning. I have observed that conversation sets down a sort of outline, with each subsequent word shading in the details. At the end, there is an image, but more often than not, it is not a true image.

Words are not expressions of a reality; words are expressions of an illusion. Those concepts which are most real cannot be captured by words. The moment one employs a word, we attach an artificial, though sometimes useful, meaning.

I am a communicator. I speak often. However, I think I could achieve more by listening more. I have watched how words are used to color-in a distorted image and even reshape it. Somehow, I find it difficult to combine all of the utterances into a whole that feels real. This is true of my words and of others’.

 

On Being Convinced in the Face of Uncertainty

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jun 22 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

What does it mean to say that I am convinced of something? What does it mean that anyone says that they are convinced? I suspect that the limitation of words makes this particular declaration dangerous. It likely means different things to different people. Being convinced might be a state of mind, based on something someone feels in terms of certainty, or probability. It might be a decision made in light of the fact that one cannot establish probability. One man needs a criterion, such as “inference to the best explanation,” another, needs a sense deep down in their spirit.

For me, being convinced is a very important statement. It is important because it is distinguished from being certain. I may not be certain, but I can be convinced. All of my life must be lived out of this place. I cannot live out of a condition of absolute uncertainty. Though I recognize my inability to ever be certain, I affirm that I can reach a place where I am convinced. For me, this convincing equates with risk. It is a statement that embraces risk.

I am not certain of anything, but I am convinced of many things.

 

On the Presence of Beauty

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Jun 21 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The presence of beauty does not guarantee the absence of ugliness. But the absence of beauty guarantees the pervasiveness of ugliness. 

 

On Leadership and the Priority of Wisdom Over Intelligence

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jun 17 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Men often substitute intelligence for wisdom. This is a grave mistake. One may be born with intelligence (it is a gift), but wisdom must be purchased over time (it is a reward). Men are often chosen for leadership positions because of their intelligence, but intelligence is never enough. We have too many intelligent leaders and too few wise ones. 

 

On Art Speaking More from the Background than the Foreground

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jun 16 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

I think there is a place in art for the background to say more than the foreground. Indeed this inverse approach bears experimentation. In some ways, Henry James achieved this in the dialogue of his characters. What they did not say was louder than (even contradicting) what they did say. 

The best poetry speaks from the background, not the foreground. In music, proper attention is placed on the foreground, either the voice instrument or the direct message of the lyrics. But the more powerful compositions seep down deeper into the sub-soul of the listener.

 

On Achieving a False Equilibrium

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jun 15 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

As human beings we are by nature challenged with internal conflict. This conflict manifests itself in multiple forms, but perhaps the most essential is our struggle between right and wrong – at least as we perceive it. The challenge can emerge as a battle. Over the years the battle wears us down. True peace might come if the good or the right defeats the bad or the wrong. As time passes, this seems impossible. We then approximate a truce. We accept the measure of the wrong, and try to seize or hold on to a measure of the right. With this acceptance comes this sense of peace. One must be careful with this approach. Is this peace or a just a resignation to death?

On the Dilemma of Knowing What You Cannot Say

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Jun 14 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Paul C

There is a dilemma in life that comes not from what you do not know, but from knowing that you cannot say what you do know – it defies articulation. How does one say the “un-say-able”? The fact that something is “un-say-able” does not make it less real/true. The truest elements of our existence transcend articulation.

On Leadership and the 60/40 rule

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

Leaders need to understand the 60/40 rule as it applies to certain types of communication. In articulating his values, the leader also reinforces them personally. We err when we think that such communication is just for the benefit of our team. There is something about verbalizing a position that solidifies it within. If the team is benefiting at 40 percent, then the leader is benefiting at 60 percent. It is not just that THEY need to hear it; it is that WE need to say it. 

On the Difference Between “What Is” and “What the Prospect Believes Is”

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jun 10 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The challenge for many companies is misunderstood – it is not finding prospects that need what it has to offer, but rather finding prospects who know that they need what it has to offer. Managers flounder in the gap between perception and reality. They are trained to think about data, facts, and rules. This strength obscures a corresponding weakness. They fail to account for the difference between “what is” and “what the prospect believes is.” The latter initiates the experience of the former and thus takes initial precedence.

On Impact and the Shadow Beyond the Grave

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jun 8 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

We often find ourselves awed by the great intellects of the past. Plato, for instance, has cast his shadow on all the millenniums that followed his brief life. We look to these men as icons of greatness. Indeed, some of us aspire to a measure of such influence, but I wonder, does any of this acclaim really matter to Plato? As I consider the aim of my life, I am often haunted by the single thought: is Plato smiling?

If there is some form of conscious existence beyond the grave, perhaps Plato enjoys his achievements. If not, then the only value he (Plato) could have derived from all of his work was extracted long ago in the brief presence of his existence.

On Leadership and Decision Making

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Jun 7 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

We often misconstrue the leader’s task; we think that he must make decisions and that these decisions must be right.  We categorize his decisions into right or wrong.  In fact, sometimes the leader’s decisions are neither right nor wrong. They may be both. What’s more important is that they are consistent in their fit.  If a decision is wrong then it is wrong. Certainly, this isn’t beneficial, but even a wrong decision that is consistent with right decisions may produce a gain. At the very least, it shows the leader to be consistent.

Beyond this point, some decisions are neither wrong nor right, they are just decisions with consequences.  In such cases, it’s more important to view the decision within its cluster.  It represents a node within a cluster of decision nodes. If the leader makes decisions that are consistent, he is establishing direction and even velocity.  For some organizations, this direction and this velocity is more important than the individual outcome of a particular (but not a high impact) decision

 

On Leadership and Knowing What You Do Not Know

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jun 6 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The most important thing to know is what you do not know.  This is a statement that applies to the role of leadership. But actually, as is often the case, it applies at the most fundamental level of existence.  When you consider the operating software of your life, you must consider, first of all, its limitations.  I have allowed myself over many years to be pleasantly deceived.  I could not face not knowing what I did not know. As I have come to face as much of it as I can bear, I realize its binary impact on every moment.

 

ON Leadership and Providing an Empowering Framework

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jun 3 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The leader has essential task that is often neglected in management literature. He does more than inspire a mission; he develops a model (framework). This model allows the team to conceptualize all the action steps necessary for alignment with the mission. Organizations are complex; a myriad of working parts. Great leaders do more than communicate a mission; they communicate a robust framework that empowers the mission with action.

 

On Leadership and Carefully Choosing the Field of Engagement

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jun 3 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

Leaders must choose the field of engagement.  Sometimes you have to win the conceptual war before you win the detail war.  The conceptual war involves getting the right people to buy into the most important conceptual aspects of your agenda.  Once that has been achieved, you can go back and win at the detail level. Winning at the conceptual level establishes social momentum that can be intensified with wins at the detail level. You win the opportunity to win at the conceptual level then you win the war at the detail level.

 

On Identity in the Absence of an Internal Compass

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Jun 1 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Matthew K

A man is defined by the choices he makes when he loses his internal compass. It is one thing to conduct yourself with “virtue”, when you are safely ensconced within a systemic set of moral constraints, it is another thing to do so when the constraints are gone, and when you have nothing more to go on than what compels you from within your deepest essence. I am truly who I am when I discover that I could be no one else.

On Leadership and the Difference Between Knowing Information and Knowing People

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:May 31 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

It is bad when the leader does not, but needs to know something important to his organization. It is worse when the leader does not, but needs to know something somebody else already knows within his organization. With the former, the leader must seek an answer. With the latter, the leader must seek a person. We often fail to put forward our best because we have not heard from our best.

On Marketing Translating Science to Art

Topic:Communication
Posted on:May 27 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The discoveries of science can never fully bridge the mystery of the human mind. We need art to discern the difference. The effective marketer converts experiments and metrics into elegant forms of communication. For the marketing organization to be truly successful, it must respect both the science and the art. Indeed, marketing translates science into art.

On the Essence of Wisdom

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:May 26 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

At the essence of wisdom is pattern recognition, this phenomena occurs across a sequence. Wisdom is costly; it is typically achieved through experience, the ecosystem of pattern recognition. Experience is closely connected to the passing of time and thus it consumes our most limited resource. The best way to extend this (seemingly un-extendable resource) is through pattern recognition. It allows us to live from one experience extending into another before it actually happens.

 

On Discovering What You Want the Most

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:May 25 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Steven S

Discover what you want the most. It is the only way you will have the power to achieve internal alignment. We live the first part of our lives kidding ourselves about what we want the most. We say what we want the most, but it is not the truth.

For instance, we say that most of all we want to build a beautiful family, but that is not true. Indeed, it is not until our kids are almost gone that we realize what we wanted most was to achieve an image of success. And so we live a life of contradiction.

The lies we tell ourselves are more potent than the lies we tell others. And one of the greatest self-deceptions is the lie we tell ourselves about what we really want the most. Living your whole life in a web of inter-linked activities that serve what you think you want the most, but not what you really want the most is a life doomed to dissatisfaction.

On Moving Away So One Can Move Towards

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:May 24 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Some leaders move away from threats while others move towards opportunities. There is a time for both actions, but at certain levels in the organization, the leader may achieve success by concentrating on the former. This can be problematic – for often this person, by virtue of their success, is elevated to the top position.

At the top, the leader will only achieve success by concentrating on the latter – they must move towards opportunities. Indeed, moving away from the wrong place does not get you necessarily into the right place. Moving “away” is valuable in so much as it enables you to move “towards.”

 

On Story as Pharmacia

Topic:Communication
Posted on:May 23 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

The mind responds to the construct of story. Certain authors, especially in Europe, and now in much of contemporary America, reject the beginning, middle, and end approach to story. They rightfully perceive that many stories do not have immediate resolve. They advocate a “slice of life” approach to writing. But I think we err when we conceive of story as an external sequence.

Story is a drug – It bypasses our critical sensors and alters our consciousness. If one is to write an effective story, one must match their representation of reality to the realities of the person experiencing that representation. This requires one to consider the impact of the combined ingredients on the mental/physical components of the recipient.

The artful author is not just writing a story; he is mixing a drug.

 

On the Quest for Wholeness

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:May 20 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

I think the internal quest to be fully human is a quest for wholeness. Our divided selves reflect our distance from the ideal. As we pursue full integration; an undivided heart, we are in fact moving towards the actualization of our person. This pursuit inevitably integrates all of the pathos within an individual. Such an integration artfully encompasses symmetry.

On the Priority of Momentum over Scale

Topic:Communication
Posted on:May 19 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Be more concerned with momentum than you are with scale. It is not the size that matters it is the velocity. 

On Communication and the Distinction between the Logical and Perceptual

Topic:Communication
Posted on:May 19 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Anthony W

There are two kinds of patterns in our conversation. The first is essentially logical. The second is essentially perceptual. It reminds me of the difference between English and Hebrew poetry. The former rhymes and contrast sounds. The latter rhymes and contrasts thoughts. The difference between Milton’s Paradise Lost and the Sefer Tehillim is apparent, but the similarity is disguised by the different forms of patterns.

On Leadership and Reading as Dialogue

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:May 16 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

For most people, reading is a monologue. But, the leader must make reading a dialogue. As we read certain content (hopefully not just business content), we should be asking, “How does this impact me?” We should be looking at the meaning beneath the meaning, and this only occurs when we slow down enough to turn the typical monologue we call reading, into a dialogue we call self-examination. 

 

On the Paradox of “Focus”

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:May 13 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

Focus is a necessary activity for all leaders, yet focus involves an apparent paradox. It requires two activities at the same time: the action of doing something and the (continual) choosing of not doing something. Thus, the first act of focus is the choice (itself involving focus) on what you are not going to focus upon.

 

On Self-Optimizing Systems

Topic:Personal
Posted on:May 13 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

The tendency of a process is to leak efficiencies (it is related to The Second Law of Thermodynamics). This applies to any activity. It is in writing. It is in manufacturing. And you don’t fix this problem with periodic assessments and/or efforts. You must design a system that is self-optimizing – a system that refines itself at every cycle.

In one way, I am trying to do this with organizations and systems around the world. In another way, I want to do this in my own thinking process.

On Leadership and the Value of Complexity

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:May 11 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

There is a competitive advantage in simplicity but there may be greater advantage in complexity. Simplicity of vision is different than complexity of execution. One way to secure an enterprise is with a careful mix of the two: a simple vision established by complex execution. 

 

On the Use of Symmetry in Writing

Topic:Communication
Posted on:May 10 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

There is no such thing as pure symmetry. The writer must decide what elements he is going to emphasize as a matter of symmetry.Then he must be careful to break symmetry with what remains, so that what remains does not seem like a failed attempt at symmetry. Break the pattern intentionally but not by negligence. 


 

On Elegance as an Indicator of Coherence

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:May 9 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Elegance is an indicator of coherence. The danger is being seduced by an artificial elegance which then constrains the chaos of truth seeking. In this case elegance, or the attempt to achieve an artificial elegance, blinds the thinker.

On the one hand we must value elegance, on the other we must be willing to accept an elegance that transcends our ability to discern patterns. Chaos is apparent, but not necessarily absolute.

 

On Being Honestly Evil vs. Dishonestly Good

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:May 6 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

I would rather be honestly “evil” than dishonestly “good”. Transparent wickedness is safer than feigned goodness. And of all vices, dishonesty is the most dangerous. 

The Difference Between Category Definers and Category Conformers

Topic:Communication, Documentaries
Posted on:May 6 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

In product driven market places, like publishing, the breakaway successes are category “definers” not category “conformers.” Once the category has been defined, all of the experts come along to make you conform to one of the successful categories.

This is dangerous. You will never transcend or duplicate the success of a category definer with a category conformer approach. But, every expert has every reason (it is in the numbers) to tame, constrain, and shape your work so that it can conform to the category that has now proven successful.

Here is the irony: Had the breakaway success been shaped in the same way it would have never become a breakaway success. The artist must ask himself/herself, “Shall I imitate the imitation, or shall I imitate the radical genius that defied all imitation before he inspired the imitation after?”

On Removing Obstacles to Growth

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:May 4 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

In most cases, for an organization (read organism), growth is not so much the result of something you do, rather growth is the result of something you stop doing. A healthy enterprise will grow naturally if you remove the restraints and obstacles. A good leader will focus on health, as opposed to growth.

On the Problem with Systemizing the Un-systemizable

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:May 3 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

By nature, I am a systemizer. It has taken every fiber of my will to keep from systemizing, what I fear, is unsystemizable; I suspect even the system of “self.” I spent, at least twenty years, trying to understand the difference between pneuma, psuche, and sarx. The delineations escaped me. Today, I find the notion of “I” suspect. What is the “I” in “I am”?

When I use this language I reference a concept. I do not think of my hands and feet as each part or even a picture of my body, my physical organs, my spiritual center, or any other specific part. I refer to a totality of my being, of which in itself, is an assumed concept. We may be trying to form a complete alignment in our spirit, when we are dealing with alternate streams of agency or intelligence. I want to believe in a unified “I”. I feel that I must face responsibility for my actions as a unified “I”. However, I cannot even explain the way my dreams take work.

I’m often involved in a dream and then surprised by its outcome. I’m careful to experience the experience of my dreams, and in doing so, I’m stunned by the way they unfold. Characters that speak in ways I’m not familiar, familiarity I have with the unfamiliar, endings other than the one I planned, etc. I realize that referring to the notion of dreams is in itself a way to cast doubt on everything I’ve said before, but dreams are part of my empirical experience and I do not ignore them. I also realize that Christianity has explanation for such, including the role of supernatural spirits, but even Christianity posits a responsible, unified “I”. In fact, Christianity offers a way to restore the “I,” to a place of original unity.

Wittgenstein’s transition from the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus investigations represents a dramatic change in his understanding of the mind. If I am a pluralistic set, in any sense, then it may be that I need to recognize that my “I” set is a set within sets. I find this particularly fascinating when searching for a moral “standard”. If I am “I” is a pluralistic expression, at the least a compound noun, then I am born into a social dynamic which in turn, informs my thinking about my relationship with those other pluralistic “I’s” whom surround me.

 

On the Difference between Sacrifice and Compromise

Topic:Personal
Posted on:May 3 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

A man needs to know the difference between compromise and sacrifice. The same activity may be construed as one or the other. When I make a change to an important priority in my schedule I must ask: Is this a compromise (am I doing this against my better judgment in response to the pressure)? Or is this a sacrifice (am I doing this because it is right and in fact I wish it were not necessary)? It is a different mindset; it is a different heart-set. The irony of a sacrifice is that it is often interpreted by others as a compromise.

 

On Leadership and the Wisdom that Only Comes from Carrying its Weight

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Apr 29 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Part of being a leader is bearing the weight of your decisions. Wisdom, true wisdom, does not come from those who merely observe the leader carrying the weight; it comes from those who have truly carried the weight. With the weight comes a certain innate knowing. The leader can feel the weight of each decision, and thus has a special perspective. Beware, most of all, of those who have never carried the weight on their shoulders (consultants), but who offer you prolific advice about how to do so.

 

On Recognizing Artificial Arrangement of Facts

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Apr 29 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

We must beware of “story-ized” facts. It is our nature to take a series of facts, or data points, and arrange them into a story fashion. This can be useful, but it can also lead to distortion.

Whenever you hear a compelling story, and before truly accepting its implied “moral,” one must deconstruct the story down to its essential data, down to its stand-alone quotes and facts, then the facts must be considered independent of any artificial arrangement.

At this point, one may decide that the facts, taken as a whole, support the conclusion/moral. On the other hand, one may decide that the arrangement of the facts has enabled the storyteller to promote a conclusion which cannot be established. Beware, particularly of inspirational stories. They almost always have a contrived arrangement of facts, even an omission of certain other facts, so as to promote the storyteller’s message.

On Philosophy without Rigorous Argument

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Apr 27 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

I find it fascinating that Hegel, Heidegger, and even Sartre could gain so much respect in the world of philosophy, while ignoring the most sacred (and there are very few) rules. It’s hard for me to conceive of promoting philosophy without offering rigorous argument. Yet these thinkers, in many ways, chose to ignore this standard. I am not impugning them on this point; I am only fascinated by it. If I were to take some of their most seminal work, change the name (in an alternate universe where their work is not known), and hand it in as an assignment, the average philosophy department would not even give it a passing grade.

Again, this does not mean such work is to be discounted, but it must be properly understood. It is one thing to employ a weak argument, it is another thing to employ no argument. In the first, you demonstrate a weakness and lack of ability. In the second, you demonstrate a deliberate protest. I know this was Nietzsche’s point, but were these men incapable of sophisticated argument, or did they simply choose to disregard the norm?

 

On Life in the Abstract

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Apr 27 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

I like triangles in the abstract. There is no such thing as a triangle in the actual world. The perfect angles expressed in mathematics cannot be expressed in actuality. For this very reason, I am drawn to the digital world. Regardless of the scratches on my computer, the content is the expression of zeros and ones. It is life in the abstract. It is not that I am attracted to the abstract. It is only that I am attracted to the perfect. And the perfect does not exist in the world that I find myself.

On Leadership and the Danger of Overplaying Your Strengths

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Apr 25 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

If the leader wishes to discover his blind spot, he must first ask a revealing question: What is it about my greatest strength that naturally blinds me to its necessary weaknesses? Some of our greatest weaknesses are impossibly entangled with our greatest strengths. Beware, because your strength will dominate you. It will dominate your time, it will dominate your method, and it will constantly reinforce itself. The leader must monopolize his strength, while at the same time, maintaining acute awareness of its inherent weakness.

On Communication and My Acceptance of Misunderstanding

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Apr 20 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

I am used to being misunderstood. My profession is communication and you might think that being misunderstood would vex me. It does not. I have come to a point in my understanding of communication where I (finally) realize that only a fraction of what I am processing should be understood (or is even worth being understood), and of that fraction, only a smaller fraction should be communicated directly. If I could, I would never write another line of prose. My work would all be story and poetry.

On the Arrow of Time

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Apr 19 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

I am fascinated by Eddington’s reference to the Arrow of Time. Moreover, I am fascinated by translating its application from physics, (particle, quantum, radioactivity, etc.) to philosophy. I am reminded of Augustine’s view of the present tense. How can one contemplate the present tense? The Arrow of Time does not pause for reflection. The future represents an unknown, and the past supposedly represents a known. But in point of fact, both are unknowable.

For the Chinese, the day before yesterday is called the front day, while the day after tomorrow is called behind day. The Arrow of Time is understood as a function of irreversibility. But such notions are dependent on some kind of solid past. In reality, we can neither be sure of the past nor the future. We are helpless. Grace is our only hope.

Bibliography: A.S. Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World, Cambridge: The Ferris Printing Company, 1928.

 

On Achieving Discipline from the Whole

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Apr 18 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

Many of us struggle with self-discipline, and these struggles are characterized by attempts to achieve consistency in a number of different areas. We try to achieve discipline in our eating habits. We try to achieve discipline in our prayer life or discipline in our studies.

Most of the time, discipline is approached in piecemeal fashion. We are trying to achieve this virtue with a specific focus. I have noticed that there is a more fundamental and, perhaps, effective approach. When we have our spiritual compasses set, there is a kind of integrity at the core. From this place, self-discipline may emanate. We are too focused on peripherals instead of the center. Get the center right and it is easier to align the peripherals.

 

On the Misery of the Right Person in the Wrong Job

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Apr 13 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Never underestimate the degree of misery that a conscientious, self-aware person experiences when they are underperforming. Lavish encouragement will not compensate for putting the right person in the wrong job.

 

On the Making of Great Art

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Apr 13 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Great art isn’t made by the artist, it only escapes from the artist. The moment you try to construct the parts and the multi-layered magic that makes art, it becomes contrived. That’s why creative writer teachers seldom write the great stories. That’s why those who teach music in schools seldom compose the great songs. You can’t break art down in parts and build it in any orderly fashion. It falls together as it escapes out of the soul of the artist. 

 

On Loving with Wholeness

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Apr 9 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Honesty empowers love. One may counter that we are honest because we love. I think this could be true. But one must acknowledge that I can only love out of an honest place. What does it mean to say, “I love?”

For me to speak of “I” is to denote the wholeness of my “I(ness).” One may love from only a part of one’s “I(ness)” (King David’s divided heart). However, one would wish to be loved from the wholeness of another’s “I(ness).”

 

On the Priority of Energy Management over Time Management

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Apr 8 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Remember that when you are managing time, you are actually managing energy. The true unit of capacity cannot be measured in minutes. It is burned across a period, but it is not the fuel that powers results. All minutes are not created equal. At different times of the day, your energy, your fuel, is much higher and will achieve much more in less time. Consider the ratios carefully. The key to maximum productivity is not time management, but rather energy management. One must allocate their energy investment where (strategy) and when (timing) one can achieve the most.

On Leadership and the Art of “Making Yourself Small”

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Apr 6 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

One of the most important (and overlooked) skills of a leader is this: to get out of the way. Sometimes, we are the obstacle. Many times, our presence or voice hinders the growth and the expression of our team. The leader must practice the art of closing his mouth, of making himself small, and of just “leaving room” for others.

 

On Divine Mercy and the Prayer of the Agnostic

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Apr 5 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

It seems to me, that atheism is a form of religion, and ultimately dogmatic.  I could lay out the propositions behind my reasoning, but I care not to… Atheism and theism both require a form of faith.   Agnosticism is different (while I am not claiming to be in this category).

The agnostic can worship authentically; the agnostic can pray authentically.  The agnostic is not certain, but by virtue of this fact, they cannot be certain that there is no God. Thus, there are certain prayers that seem highly appropriate. Above all, there is this (Eastern Orthodox) prayer, “God have mercy on me.” 

Mercy is thought of as a Christian concept, but the word and its essence existed long before the Judaea Western Christian ethic.  It is as old as the first wrong done to a human being. We have “Christianized” the word, but we must not lose the transcendence of its meaning.  If there is the ultimate, then the incipient can utter in a desperate mix of fear and hope, “God have mercy on me.”

 

On Messaging as Intention Actualized

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Apr 4 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Messaging is intention actualized. One might argue that messaging may disguise a true intuition; however, the intention to disguise is a part of the message formation. The marketer needs to understand the essential nature of their work. We are doing more than toying with some product campaign; we are working near the very core of existence. Messaging is projection. It is a projection from the internal to the external. There is much in our work related to ontology, to metaphysics, to epistemology. It is important for marketers to realize the deeper implications of their discipline.

On the Difference between Hope and Possibility

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Apr 1 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

The essence of hope is possibility. Hope does not exist where there is no possibility. But hope is not identical with possibility. Hope is a condition within me that exists because of a possibility beyond me.   

 

On Selecting the Best Option

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Mar 31 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Too often the “new” is selected over the “old” only because it is new. We need a bias for the “old” that can be cogently, even quickly, overcome by the “new,” but only when the “new” is better. Our absolute predisposition should be not for the “old” or the “new” but for the “best.”

 

On Leadership and the Difference between a Good Decision and a Right Decision

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

Every leader is required to make decisions, but in most cases, she will never have all of the data she desires. The art of making decisions isn’t about making the right decision; it is about making a good decision. A good decision occurs when we have followed a right process. A right decision occurs when we have followed a right process and we are fortunate in our judgment. If the leader consistently makes good decisions, she will more likely make the right decision. 

On the Poet’s Need to Determine a Precise Receiver

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Mar 29 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

Can poetry ever become a popular venue for communication? It seems as though poetry is the rarified form for an elite group who have either an innate or acquired taste for it. Indeed, in most cases, it is probably a bit of both.

But, I think that while the nuance of poetry can create some degree of proper obscurity, much of the form relies on its lyrical beauty to attract us. I use the word lyrical in a very broad sense. In doing so, does the form get in the way of the substance? More importantly, is the poet writing to be read, speaking to be heard, or writing and speaking in order to express themselves regardless of their reception? If it is the former, then we have an obligation, indeed a solemn obligation, to draw the reader in. It is reasonably evident that in any form of communication it is incumbent on the communicator to do so in such a form as to be received by the intended receiver.

The poet must determine precisely who the receiver is, and then encode their communication so it achieves the essential purpose. I am not suggesting that an emphasis on craft should dilute the poet’s effort to tap into their creative epicenter. On the contrary, I am concerned that an emphasis on form is getting in the way of purpose.

I make allowance for that poet who writes with no particular purpose, or who writes as a form of expression, or even as a form of personal therapy. However, for that writer who intends to achieve an objective, who has an acknowledged purpose, we might want to rethink the structure of our approach. Art, in general, is more than an end. It is also a means.

 

On Crafting an Argument and Determining the Desired Cognitive Outcome of an Opponent

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Mar 28 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

When arguing for a point, one has to determine what the aim is. If the aim is to simply win on points, then argue and build strong reasons. If the aim is to change someone’s behavior, you have to achieve something besides a “win.” You have to move the other party toward a cognitive conclusion that can be can best be described as an “of course.” When an argument is laid out cogently and done in a way that does not produce a “you win” or “I lose” mentality, but rather an “of course” mentality, then the person is in the right place to alter behavior. The goal of most arguments should not be to achieve a “you win,” but rather an “of course.” The two are very different cognitive states.  

 

On the Danger of Pattern Recognition and the Perception of Truth

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Mar 24 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

Truth often defies the patterns we expect. We miss the truth because we expect it to come in a familiar form. The problem with pattern recognition, despite its usefulness, is that it blurs realities with preconceived filters. The truth will often surprise you, and not come when you expect it, or the way you expect it.

 

On the Difference Between the Grand Act and the Grand Man

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Mar 23 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Anthony W

Beware of the leader whose style is typified by grand moves. There is a difference between being humble and preforming a great act of humility. There is difference between being generous and performing a great act of generosity. 

I find the greatest acts of generosity are often performed by the most selfish of men. I find the greatest acts of humility are often performed by the most arrogant of men. It is our nature to disguise the underlying condition with a major action. I would rather work with a man who quietly operates with humility and generosity who rarely indulges in great deeds, but constantly exhibits such virtue in his nature. Never confuse a grand act with a grand man.

 

On Writing as Mere Performance

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Mar 22 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

It is easy to confuse writing with performance. For many writers, the written piece is a piece of performance. The writer must determine whether or not he is saying something worth saying or whether he is just performing on the paper stage. 

 

On Viewing Your Life Across the Horizontal and Vertical Planes

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Mar 21 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

To get proper perspective, I think you need to reflect on life from the horizontal and vertical planes. When I refer to the horizontal plane I am speaking of other lives from around the world. When I speak of the vertical plane I am referring to other lives across history. I don’t want to compare myself across too small a sample; I want to compare myself to all that have been and all that are.

Comparing does not mean that I am just trying to determine who is best. That is one-dimensional thinking. I am trying to understand the possibilities. What limitations do I have that have been overcome in the lives of others? How can I take the possibilities, my potentialities and thoroughly maximize them? I want my life to be lived with the greatest possible focus in view of the broadest possible canvas.

 

On Making Peace With the Unknowable

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Mar 18 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

There is great danger in contemplating infinity. The great mathematicians that have gone down this path have not been able to return. Many of them have been declared insane. The problem lies in seeking an unfathomable answer. There is something inherently dangerous about an equivocal passion to know. I reflect on this danger, because I must be alert to it in my own life. Making peace with the unknowable is one of the ways to preserve my sanity. 

 

On a Leadership and Mental Topography

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Mar 17 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Upon entering a room, the leader must be aware of both the physical topography and the mental topography. He must consider his message a journey. While he may have a map or plan to get to his destination, he must remain prepared for the realities of the topography. Ultimately, plans never matter; outcomes matter.

 

On Aligning your “Wants” with your “Oughts”

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Mar 16 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

The secret to a life of wholeness is this: getting things “lined up inside of you” so that your “wants” match your “oughts.” This condition is a spiritual-architectural state of integrity. One must align what they say they want with what they actually want. Any other condition promotes a deadly deception. We deceive others, but worse we deceive ourselves.

In those cases where we cannot align our “oughts” with our “wants,” we tend to challenge our wants (a religious approach), but there are insights to be gleaned with the inverse perspective. Sometimes we should challenge our “oughts.

Indeed, no matter how wrong our “wants” appear to be, they often hold the key to wholeness and even spiritual authenticity. Breakthrough can occur when we purify a surface “want” (even if it appears to be “sin”) by discovering the “want” within the “want.

At these deeper levels, one may discern his own spiritual DNA and, in doing so, discover a new epicenter of spiritual energy. This energy serves as source and also as direction. For when energy is aligned, it is focused. And when energy is focused, it is intensified. And when energy is intensified, it is (most) potent.

 

On Messaging as Intention Actualized

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Mar 15 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Messaging is intention actualized. One might argue that messaging may disguise a true intuition; however, the intention to disguise is a part of the message formation. The marketer needs to understand the essential nature of their work. We are doing more than toying with some product campaign; we are working near the very core of existence. Messaging is projection. It is a projection from the internal to the external. There is much in our work related to ontology, to metaphysics, to epistemology. It is important for marketers to realize the deeper implications of their discipline.

 

A Leader’s Ability to Sustain an Organization

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Mar 14 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Many leaders cover their ineptitude by shifting jobs just before the consequences are visible. Beware of the leader who is a career builder rather than a company builder.  

 

On Leadership and the Improbable

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Mar 11 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

There is a fine line between the improbable and the impossible. Great leaders know where that line is, but the greatest of leaders move the line.

 

On Leadership and the Importance Maintaining Perspective

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Mar 10 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Never let the present tense experience distort your perspective on the entire timeline. This is particularly true in relationships. One of the traits that distinguishes a leader is their ability to live in the present tense but to maintain perspective across the past and into the future. Without this view, the leader becomes too reactive.  Live in the present, but remember the past, and look to the future. Reflection on the future or the past is only valuable when it enhances the present.

 

On the Two Prerequisites to an Existential Transformation

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Mar 9 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

There are a series of conditions that are a prerequisite to an existential transformation. The first is awareness. One must become aware of the differential gap. The second is dissatisfaction. The term “dissatisfaction” is mild, but it may be thought of as encompassing a continuum. The end of that continuum is despair, or even hopelessness.

Until there is awareness, and dissatisfaction, true change cannot take place. The hardest man to transform is the man that has deluded himself into a state of self-satisfaction. Blessed are the poor in spirit; they shall see God.

 

On the Danger of the Understanding That Is “Almost There”

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Mar 8 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The worst place to be in your understanding is “almost there. It is at this particular point when we are most likely to make our most dangerous decisions. Judgment that is almost right is judgment that is still wrong.

 

On the Multiplication of Complexity in Literary Criticism

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Mar 7 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

One of the problems with some critics, particularly when it comes to works of poetry and fiction, is that they introduce into the text more nuance than the author intended. Critics multiply complexity and obscure the pure message. Indeed, even if the text has layers, the layers can be interpreted in so many different ways that the critic finds a remarkable flexibility for their commentary. In this way, essential works lose their essential force. The average reader becomes insecure about their ability to understand the message. The critics provide a whole new level of fascination, but it is the wrong kind of fascination. They employ a monologue which sparks penetrating insights, nevermind that the insights are unrelated to the original intent of the author. Sometimes after you read the critics you are afraid to read the poem  “My God, what am I missing?” The real observation? “My God, what are they confusing?” 

 

On Leadership and the Difference Between “Seizing” and “Chasing”

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Mar 4 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

The leader must be able to understand the difference between those opportunities which must be seized and those which must be chased. Some opportunities need merely to be seized as they slip by. Others must be chased with all of our might. These opportunities present themselves, but do not come to us. The leader must conserve his energy achieving the most for the least; this requires balance between the “seizing” and the “chasing.”

 

On the Difference Between Pleasure and Satisfaction

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Mar 3 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

I think utilitarians sometimes confuse the notion of pleasure with the notion of satisfaction. In fact, the word “pleasure,” I fear, interferes with a deep understanding of utilitarian aims. Men seek satisfaction, not pleasure. Pleasure may satisfy, or it may not.

I am not intentionally using the word “satisfaction” in a fallacious, self-defining way. I have known people who were satisfied by the strangest of conditions. I have known some who overindulged in pleasure and lost the ability to experience its potency. If life consists of pursuing satisfaction, then one must begin by trying to understand its antithesis: What is it that promotes our dissatisfaction? 

 

On the Danger of Living Life Solely in Pursuit

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Mar 2 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

One must be careful not to spend their life solely in pursuit. Achievers are wired to pursue. We pursue knowledge, success, wealth and so on. The feeling that we are drawing close to that which we pursue is a kind of narcotic that keeps us moving. But the urge to pursue can blind us to the value of the present tense.

Life must be lived in the present, and pursuing a goal must somehow be experienced in the present. If one’s attention is only on that which one is pursuing, then one’s attention cannot be on the experience of the pursuing. The full impact of living is thus drained away from our present tense experience. I do not want to live to pursue; I want to pursue to live. 

 

On the Difference Between Churning and Evolving in the Creative Process

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Mar 1 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

In the creative process, we must recognize the difference between churning and evolving. Churning is a painful process of trying to discover the way forward. It can become an endless loop of second guesses. Evolving is at least as painful as churning, but there is progress, forward motion, a moving from stage to stage.

 

On Leadership and the Seduction of What We Do Well

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Feb 29 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The greatest danger for the leader is not what we do poorly, but rather what we do well. We recognize what we do poorly and most often seek help. “What we do well” seduces us; it steals energy away from what we do best.

The greatest danger for the leader is not what we do poorly, but rather what we do well. We recognize what we do poorly and most often seek help. What we do well seduces us; it steals energy away from what we do best.The greatest danger for the leader is not what we do poorly, but rather what we do well. We recognize what we do poorly and most often seek help. What we do well seduces us; it steals energy away from what we do best.

 

On the Illusion of Future Tense

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Feb 26 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

I am perplexed by a question of tense. Suppose we live our life in a carefully constructed plan. The objective is to maximize our reputation for the sake of history. What tense are we really living in/for?

One might argue that it is certainly not the past tense. It is perhaps the future’s sense of the past.

But none of this will matter to a person who is no longer present. If, for the sake of exploration, we allow the warrant that, at the point of death, no one will care about this existence, then we might argue that nothing in the future’s sense of the past is of any consequence. In a sense, we are still living for the present. We are trying to obtain a feeling in the present.

In a sense, we are living for an illusion. This illusion acts as a placebo for our current condition. 

 

On Unfolding Story and the Experience of the Moment

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Feb 26 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

Life is a series of present-tense instances which become past-tense the moment we perceive them. For this very reason, it is easy to lose context. I think there is a way to live which brings more meaning to the passage of these moments. I think we can live within the context of story.

There is a state that I sometimes approach, where I can feel my “moment” the way it would look as if I were reading about it or watching it. I become conscious of the unfolding story of which I am a part. I know that there are intellectuals that have an anti-story mindset, but I am not one of these. I think human beings resolve reality through story.

For me, being conscious of my unfolding story and where I am within the natural plotline changes the way I experience the moment.

 

On Decisions and How One “Yes” Equals Many “No’s”

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Feb 24 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Anthony W

Every time a person says “yes,” they are saying no “10,000 times.” Indeed they are saying “no” to the full universe of options. One “yes” equals many “no’s.” The power of “yes” is not in its affirmation but in its negation.

 

On Leadership and the Importance of Passion

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Feb 23 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The leader must cultivate his passions. If you take away a man’s passion, all he has left is the grinding of gears in his soul. Eventually the “gears” will seize. Passion lubricates the soul.

 

On the Essential Questions That Define the Direction of Life

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Feb 22 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

As I ponder those essential questions that each human being might want to consider, I find I have to express my way into the answer. The irony is that the answer itself can take the form of two more questions. 1) As a human being, what are my limitations? 2) How does the possibility of a transcendent being, unrestricted by these limitations, impact the way I should live my life?

With regards to question one: I am a finite being. I am insipient. I cannot be certain (in the absolute sense). I am terminal. I cannot be certain that I exist beyond death. In effect, I do not think I can know for sure, and there is much that I cannot do, and soon enough I may not be able to know or do anything.

With regards to question two: In the absence of an ultimate answer, I still must make essential decisions. These decisions have to do with the meaning, thus the purpose, and thus the values of my life. How do I set my internal compass? Is it possible that the ultimate exists (in some form that may transcend my understanding of existence)? How shall I live my life in view of this possibility? What if the ultimate is uninvolved? What if the ultimate is evil? What if the ultimate is good?

 

On the Difference Between Breathing and Living

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Feb 20 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Any man who does not live as though he could be gone at any moment is hardly living. There is a difference between breathing and living. Truly living is contingent on an appreciation of dying.

 

On the Disproportionate Amount of Effort Required to Achieve Quality

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Feb 18 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

Sometimes with art, writing for example, it takes ten times as much effort to achieve the last ten percent of quality, but it is the last ten percent that often makes the difference. 

On Leadership and Leading from Consensus

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Feb 18 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

The leader should operate from consensus rather than for consensus. One of the first jobs a leader must do, when implementing a new initiative, is to get all of the right people at the table. Inexperienced leaders get the people on their mind at the table. An experienced leader steps back and says “Wait a second. Who (totality) should be here?” and “At what point (sequence) do I bring them in?” In this way, the leader begins with consensus and, thus, leads with influence rather than authority.

 

On the Invisible Form of Self-Sacrifice

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Feb 16 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

What may look like self-aggradation is actually a form of ultimate self-sacrifice. If you allow yourself to be lifted up, you are allowing yourself to be set up. As Robert Knowles observed, what goes up generally comes down.

At this place in my life, I see the peculiar combination of the nonsense and pain that comes with elevating a man’s profile and I find it distasteful. It may be true that some part of it attracts me, but not enough to overcome the distaste. Obedience, or even a sense of mission, the execution on your personal value proposition (which is synonymous with mission), dictates a layered level of sacrifice.

In some ways, the greater sacrifice is the one who disappears in its converse. The most spiritual man may not be the one who lives in the impoverished shack, but the one who lives in an upper-middle-class home looking quite ordinary. In the case of the former, one lives there because he has no choice and, quite possibly, he owns the shack/home. In the case of the latter, one lives there out of choice (he could have more, he could have less), but the home does not own him. This is a brief observation, but an essay needs to be written on this topic: the greatest form of self-sacrifice is the invisible form.

 

On The Danger of Misplaced Courage

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Feb 15 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

Some men brag that they have changed while others brag that they have not. There is no virtue in either condition. We confuse the means with the end. The point is not the change, or lack thereof; it is only the resulting state. It may take courage to change or resist, but misplaced courage makes fools out of well-intentioned men. I would rather be right than courageous.

On Communicating with Entrepreneurs

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Feb 11 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

Communicating with 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 with 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 Leadership and Permeation

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Feb 10 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

Despite my emphasis on management as shaping the efforts of people, I think there may be room for the understanding of a new concept: permeation. It seems to me that the greatest leaders somehow permeate their organizations. It is more than training people. It is more than tasking people. It is infusing them and thus the entire organization.

 

On Trying on Decisions

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Feb 9 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Sometimes making decisions is like trying on a pair of shoes. I can tell if they look good by the way they appear on the rack, but I cannot tell whether or not they wear well until I put them on and walk. Decisions are best stepped into rather than leapt into. 

 

On Capital as Idea Actualized

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Feb 8 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

I want to deal in the capital of ideas. I remind myself every morning that it is the ideas that have preeminence, that capital follows ideas, that capital is only an idea actualized. I must resist the temptation to define success as the product of an idea, instead of the idea itself. This does not divorce the idea from execution; it only establishes priority of the idea.

 

On the Leadership and the Importance of Matching Work Type to Mindset

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Feb 5 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The leader knows that, to do the job properly, there are a series of mindsets within which he or she must enter. It is essential to match work type to mindset. It is also essential to be on guard against trying to do the right work in the wrong mindset. Your circadian rhythm is an important part of understanding your flow. The leader who performs the appropriate work type within the appropriate mindset experiences what positive psychologists call “flow” (a much-coveted state of high performance). The effective leader achieves “flow” as the norm, rather than the exception.

 

On the Paradox of the Learner-Teacher

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Feb 4 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

It is in helping others to understand that we increase our own understanding. Perhaps 40 percent of my teaching benefits the student. At least 60 percent benefits me. The paradox of the learner-teacher is this: one teaches so that one may learn.

On Leadership as Sacrifice

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Feb 3 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

A prerequisite for leadership is to be willing to sacrifice. Many of us are willing to sacrifice time and energy. Most of us are not prepared to make the sacrifice of honor. If one seeks leadership as a means of self-validation, they should flee before it is too late. It will be better for that individual to become a policeman or teacher. Leadership will strip you. It is not the road to confidence.

The effective leader will constantly be second-guessed. He must be prepared to be wrong and then admit it to his entire team. He must be prepared to be right, and still be thought of as wrong by his entire team. You will not gain status; you will lose status. The only relief comes when you have reached the age of one like Billy Graham, and during those final hallowed years you may receive some recognition. If one desires to lead, they need to lay down the need to be respected. Leadership does not equate with popularity.

 

On Philosophy as the Software that Runs Your Life

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Feb 1 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

Philosophy is the software that you run your life with; theology is just the higher elements of that philosophy. Men who attempt to find some form of peace in the midst of a chaotic world have a philosophy and a theology (or anti-theology), whether they declare it or not. Their inner conflict arises from the difference between their declared values and their actual actions. Indeed, every man is a philosopher; some of us are just (very) poor at it.

 

 

On the Two Levels of Thinking

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Jan 30 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

I think while I am thinking. I’ve been told you can only concentrate on one thought at a time, but there is a way to articulate in your mind while at the same time there is a way to ruminate at an even deeper level. The first is a “λέγω” experience; it is progressive. The second is a “λαλέω” experience; it is iterative. And so, while I am speaking with my mind, I am also “feeling” (but this is still a form of reason) with my mind. It is here, at this deeper level, where my most important insights occur. Strangely enough, the second level occurs only when the first level is active. Sometimes it is best to occupy the foreground of my attention so that I might ruminate with the background of my intention.

On Brand Promises vs. Brand Expectations

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Jan 28 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

The problem with the notion of “brand promise” is that it places the origin on the sender rather than the receiver. The fact that you tell me that I can trust you (i.e., a promise) does not mean that I actually trust you. In fact, I might even have a negative response to the claim.

We need a notion of brand that starts with the receiver, and that takes the form of an expectation as opposed to the form of a promise. Brand represents the aggregate experience of the value proposition — not just my experience as a customer, but the market’s experience, and the reputation associated with the same. That experience fosters an expectation, and the brand must deliver on that expectation.

A promise does not have the impact of an expectation because a promise originates with the sender, whereas an expectation originates with the receiver — and thus is more powerful. Brand delivery works better when we understand that it is not about making a claim, but helping a prospect arrive at a conclusion. People challenged with a claim naturally resist it. But people who arrive at a conclusion will naturally defend it.

 

On the Need to Transfer a Leader’s Spiritual DNA

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jan 27 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The source of the value proposition is typically derived from the spiritual DNA of the founder. An essential mission for the founder/leader is to impart his DNA to the organization. This means transferring the distilled essence of his primary gifting from his person into the “corporate person.” This is an artful procedure that begins most of all with purposeful intention.

 

On Wisdom as the Aggregate Experience of Choice

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jan 26 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

Wisdom is derived from choosing and then perceiving the resulting pattern. Wisdom is not a past tense quantity that accumulates; it is a present tense experience that only aggregates as you choose. 

 

On Feeling Ungrateful and the Poetry of Edward Doyle

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Jan 25 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

If for a moment I am feeling ungrateful, I need only to reflect my way into a tiny sliver of reality. It is with this gradual glimpse that I can escape the foolishness of my dissatisfaction. If I cannot reflect, then at least I can read – I read Edward Doyle, the blind poet from Harlem:

To A Child Reading

My darling, spell the words out. You may creep
Across the syllables on hands and knees,
And stumble often, yet pass me with ease
And reach the spring upon the summit steep.
Oh, I could lay me down, dear child, and weep
These charr’d orbs out, but that you then might cease
Your upward effort, and with inquiries
Stoop down and probe my heart too deep, too deep!
I thirst for Knowledge. Oh, for an endless drink
Your goblet leaks the whole way from the spring–
No matter, to its rim a few drops cling,
And these refresh me with the joy to think
That you, my darling, have the morning’s wing
To cross the mountain at whose base I sink.

On the Challenge of Understanding the Composite Customer

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jan 22 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

Unfortunately, marketers work with approximations. Underneath our stochastic sampling, and even embedded within our conversion heuristics, is an understanding that while the model seems rational, it is not. The cognitive calculus being conducted by the customer segment is always a matter of perception and not of reality. The customer is doing simple subtraction. They are subtracting total cost from total value, but they may have a completely unrealistic conception of either or both. The principle challenge of the marketer is to understand what the representative customer is truly thinking, and the representative customer is not a person; it is a composite. We are predicting the actions of a composite.

On Substituting Clarity for Action

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jan 21 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Never substitute clarity for action. Moving forward does not matter if you are not moving in the right direction. Some leaders substitute “reflecting” with “charging.” But the action should be born out of the reflection. Get clarity, then act. When you do, your actions will be far more elegant, far more fluid, and far more effective.

 

On the Danger of Reading a Philosopher Without Reading His Biography

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jan 20 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Paul C

Do not read a philosopher without reading his biography. Some biographers claim that Marx let four of his children starve to death while he was writing a theory about how to make the world better. Educators tell us that the life of a philosopher does not matter, that we should focus only on his thinking. But a man’s thinking must be interpreted through his life.

On the Difference between Being Loud and Being Heard

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jan 19 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

Some men, when they enter the room look big but the more you listen, the smaller they become. Some men, when they enter the room, look small but the more you listen, the larger they become. Being heard is not necessarily a matter of volume. Sometimes the quietest voice in the room is the loudest.

 

On the Ultimate Form of Communication

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jan 19 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The ultimate form of communication is not sales or public speaking; it is “discipleship” — and not simply in the religious sense of the term, but rather the idea of giving yourself to the development of a few select individuals. It is allowing your life to communicate its ultimate message.

On Leadership and the Value of Process

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jan 15 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

Process sets you free. Value it, but never let it shackle you. It will either empower you or hinder you. The leader’s job is to achieve the former while guarding against the latter. Good process institutionalizes quality. Bad process petrifies mediocrity.

 

On Existence as a Form of Projection

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

In some ways it seems that existence is a form of projection. I’m not certain if it is a projection from the static state; I’m not certain if there is a static state. To be is essentially a form of projection. Elsewhere I have written that life can be understood as “entity acts within place.” This point is suggested by the structure of our subject/predicate language. This is characteristic of active and passive sentences. A passive sentence is still an expression of action. It is a form of projection. When I say “John is good,” I am stating that the subject “is,” and that this “is” (projection) occurs within “place.”

 

On the Danger of Defining Your Life by the Exceptional Moment

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Jan 13 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Beware of defining your life by the exceptional moment. One needs to consider their norms, their regular patterns. We often live within a repeating pattern, but we pick particular moments of that pattern and try to typify our entire life by them. This is illusion; this is deception. Our life is the whole, not the exception.

On the Medium as Grafted Into the Message

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jan 12 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The medium changes the message. We may wish it were not so but that does not help. One must be sensitive to how the medium necessarily contextualizes the message. This is why, for instance, trying to take the transcript of a lecture and turning it into a book is so difficult. The medium is grafted into the message.

On History’s Tendency to Distort Human Strengths and Weaknesses

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jan 11 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

History tends to distort both the strengths and the weaknesses of its greatest contributors. If you succeed, it will certify you. In fact, it will make your weaknesses enduring. If you fail, it will bequeath you the ultimate punishment — infamy, or at least anonymity. 

 

On Rousseau’s Difference between Man and Beast

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jan 8 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

Rousseau argued that the difference between man and beast is man’s “perfectibility” — roughly, that is man’s ability to improve “self.” I find this a fascinating distinction. Whether it is right or not depends upon how you define the concept (a Wittgensteinian problem). Nevertheless, the general notion is stimulating. There is, at least to some extent, a propensity for man to grow, to extend his person, to expand on multiple levels. Moreover, I find that many of us capture a peculiar delight when we sense that we are moving upward — learning, progressing, improving.

What is it about us that drives this particular instinct? The secularist could connect this proclivity to evolution. If this is the case, then why does this trait seem more fundamental to the human being? What staggers me, and what motivates me the most, is when I see personal growth in those I am influencing, and when I experience personal growth within myself.

Moreover, if I relate this to a concept of the Ultimate, it produces a fascinating definition of deity. This is a definition that is derived from a characteristic, and yet encompasses that characteristic to become a certain descriptor (from at least one angle). I can grow forever, learning, developing, acquiring capacity/power and yet never reach the Ultimate. In other words, if I conceive of myself in the form of an arrowed line, that is a linear extension, which projects forever, I still cannot reach the God-concept. This bears deep reflection.

Perhaps I am distinguished from the animal, by the very nature of my potential to be this line. Perhaps I am distinguished from the Ultimate by the impossibility of me ever reaching the Ultimate, even though my project extends forever.

On The Problem With Nice Men

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jan 8 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

A nice man is slightly worse than a bad man. I like good men but I am suspect of nice men — too often they are hampered by their desire to please. The problem with the words “nice man” is more apparent when you emphasize the modifier “nice”; the whole term becomes an oxymoron. It is hard to be fully nice and fully man.

 

On My Work as Art

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jan 6 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

All of my work needs to be approached, not as academic, not as an entrepreneur, but rather as an artist. I am creating beauty and I must find my satisfaction from the same. Anything else will leave me empty, disillusioned. 

 

On Leadership and Mental Topography

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jan 6 2016
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Upon entering a room, the leader must be aware of both the physical topography and the mental topography. He must consider his message a journey. While he may have a map or plan to get to his destination, he must remain prepared for the realities of the topography. Ultimately, plans never matter; outcomes matter.

On Leadership and Knowing When Not to Compromise

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jan 4 2016
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

One of the key insights a leader must have is in the area of compromise. A good leader compromises all day long, but there are some issues on which he should never compromise — knowing the difference requires wisdom.

 

On Story and Converting Curiosity Into Suspense

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Dec 31 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Curiosity is when the audience wants to know, “What does this mean?” Suspense is when the audience wants to know, “What is going to happen?” The intensity of the second question is related to the audience’s concern for the character. The more they care, the more they want to know. Curiosity may capture the audience’s attention, but suspense sustains it.

On the Difference Between Finding an Answer and Making a Decision

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Dec 29 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Paul C

There is a difference between finding an answer and making a decision. A decision may recognize a probable answer, but do so with full knowledge of the potential error. We spend too much time on “I know,” when we should be investing in “I choose.”

 

On Work as More Than a Protest Against Nonexistence

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Dec 28 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Work needs to be viewed differently. Work can be viewed as a protest against nonexistence but, even more, it can be viewed as an act of worship in the face of the possibility of the ultimate. Elsewhere in my writing I have spoken of nonexistence as zero and existence as “at least” plus one. I have also spoken of the absence of the ultimate as a zero, and the possibility of the ultimate as “at least” 0.5. I do not want to debate the mathematical possibilities. Any scholar that does so may miss the point. The point is (at least for this observation) that existence is predication and work is the predication of myself into the world. This predication can be more than a protest against nonexistence. It can also be an act of worship even with just the possibility of the ultimate. 

 

On Art as the Overlap of Mechanistic and Spiritual Spheres

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Dec 22 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

I wonder if we might think of life systems as existing within three spheres. I imagine these three spheres in the form of a Venn diagram. In the first is the mechanistic; in the second is the spiritual. The two circles overlap forming a third. It in this third space we place the artistic. Much of what passes for theology is art. Much of what passes for mathematics is art. Indeed, there may be a place where the mechanistic and the spiritual overlap and this place may be the nexus in which art exists. It is here that the ultimate elegance is achieved. One is not searching for balance between the mechanistic and the spiritual; one is searching for that inexplicable, multilayered overlap of the two. In this place, what can be known and what cannot be known come together in the form of the artistic. It is in this place that man may achieve beauty.

 

On Wisdom and Weighing a Particular Piece of Advice

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Dec 21 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

Beware of thinking that a wise man (as evidenced by achievement, not attested to by claim) is wrong; he is probably right. If you cannot see how he is right, then you are still probably wrong. I like to determine an estimate of the other party’s experience-based wisdom as a whole so that I can apply it as a weighted factor in favor of a particular piece of advice. Often this makes the difference. It is easier to discern the particular within the context of the whole.

 

 

On the Clarity that Stems from Knowing What I Do Not Know

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Dec 18 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

I spent years trying to understand why people say yes — why they select one option over another. I have tried to understand why I have said yes and, in doing so, I have endured great anguish.

I have moved painfully far from where I started. I have abandoned truths that I believed fiercely. And, in the end, I have lost faith in faith, but I’ve also gained a certain clarity. And this clarity is priceless. There is much I do not know. Indeed, the scope of my knowing has diminished. But for this I am grateful: My clarity is not grounded in what I now know; now it is grounded in knowing what I do not know.

 

On the True Danger of Entrepreneurship

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Dec 17 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

America has made celebrities of entrepreneurs, but in doing so it hypes the exception and not the norm. In reality, the road the entrepreneur takes is so dangerous, so fraught with risk, and ends so often in failure that most people should not consider entrepreneurship if they have any other feasible option. You are to be an entrepreneur when there is no other way you can imagine living your life.

 

On Seeming and the Motive of My Writing

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Dec 17 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

What is the motive of my writing? I fear that the wrong motive will distort the outcomes. What, then, should be the motive of my writing? Can I impact the thinking of others? If so, why is this important? I can fall on the Kantian version of the universal ethic, or I can follow Mill to some sort of utilitarian end. But in both cases I am imposing a rational framework on my activity. When this happens, the framework becomes another layer of motive.

I seek simplicity but the reason is intuitive. Simplicity seems best; the notion “seems” is important. “Seeming” is a powerful concept that deserves far more reflection. So often what passes for reasoning is just “seeming.” This is not to say that “seeming” is a lesser operation. For many reasons, it may be a greater operation. I can posit many instances where “seeming” is dangerous, but I find myself in many situations where “seeming” is all that I really have.

It seems right to do “X,” but without an authoritative standard (perhaps a Christian weltanschauung), I have a hard time justifying “X.” Kant falls back to the categorical imperative. But his “practical reason” is grounded by “seeming.” There is perhaps a tension in my soul arising from the tenuousness of “seeming.” The paradox is this: It seems like I should have a better reason, but I don’t.

 

On Truth Actualized

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Dec 15 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

I think the value of the future tense (i.e., thinking about the future) is derived only from its impact on my present tense activity. I think that thinking about the future in a negative way impairs the present tense. As an example, consider the negative aspects of anxiety (though there can be positive aspects as well). The same can be said of the past. It can empower the present tense, or it can impair my activities in the present tense. My past failures, my past patterns, can keep me from actualizing my present-tense potential.

With this preliminary conceptual framework, I’m able to reflect on the importance of doctrine. Doctrine may not exist in the past or the present; it may exist in what I will call the ethereal dimension (i.e., the abstract). Until I bring doctrine from the abstract into the present, it is of little value. Doctrine must be actualized. The truth is more than an object of argument; it is meant to be lived, not proven. Proving is a means, not an end.

On the Efficient Dispersion of Energy

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Dec 14 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

Dispersion of energy is the enemy of excellence. This is particularly true when you are looking at the products offered in a given commercial opportunity. We multiply products because the core product is insufficient. But adding is never a substitute for improving.

 

On Leadership and Creating an Organization Brick by Brick

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Dec 11 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

Leadership, in many ways, can be better grasped if we understand it in the form of building, not achieving. The leader who is creating an organization is building. You do not create a building one wall at a time; you create it one brick at a time. The effective leader is effective by virtue of the fact that he knows which brick goes in which place and at what time. Indeed, he must have the ability to envision the whole building while working at the level of a single brick. No matter how high up you are in an organization, the investment of your day is a matter of carefully selecting and placing the right bricks. 

 

 

On Making Decisions Before Discoveries

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Dec 10 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

We often try to discover a truth when, in actuality, all that we can do is try to make a decision. Decisions do not always wait on discoveries.

 

On Story as the Contextual Framework for Offer Response Optimization

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Dec 9 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

For some time now, I have been considering how the worldview/paradigm/story model within theology and hermeneutics could provide the contextual framework for the new offer response optimization science. Essentially, I think optimization can be understood within the context of story. This is an essential breakthrough. Its potential as an interpretive framework is significant, but its potential as a communication tool is even more significant.

 

On the Predication of My Existence as Value Proposition

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Dec 9 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Existence is subject-predicate. When Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am (Je pensé, donc je suis),” “think” was predicate. Predicate is evidence of existence. Predicate is more than evidence; it is existence in time. In the structure of a sentence, we can separate the subject from the predicate. This is an artificial separation. In reality, the subject (the “amness”) is always “ising” — and so am I.

The “ising,” the predication, the subject in motion, is the ultimate expression. I may not have ultimate answers, but I am an ultimate expression. I am certainly not the ultimate expression, but I am a culmination of subject-predicate. And in this place, the special concept of the value proposition becomes especially germane.

My articulation of “am” in the world can be one that achieves a kind of spiritual “yes.” The force of my ultimate expression is measured in the same four quadrants (or dynamics) used in my select work for commercial application: appeal and exclusivity, clarity and credibility. These four form two interdependent dyads.

To some extent, I must predicate myself into existence with clarity. This does not mean I cannot be nuanced; this does not mean that I must “tell all.” This does mean that, on some level, if I want to be heard, I must be understood.

It also means that the understanding must be accompanied by acceptance — I must be believed. Clarity and credibility are the foundation of my life as predication. If the first dyad is effective, then I am heard and believed. But this does not automatically translate into sufficient value.

In the same way, my message must have appeal; that is, my life must have appeal. It must have appeal to my “ideal customer,” the one or ones my life serves. Thus, at the outset I must determine who I am serving.

Clarity is not enough. Credibility is not enough. Appeal, even appeal, is not enough. There remains the second half of the second dyad: exclusivity. My articulation (my life) can be, in some respect, unique. It is not that I must strive to be different; it is only that I must strive to understand how I am different and how I can predicate this difference into the world.

 

On Balancing Focus With Balance

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Dec 7 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

I have observed that men who do exploits are sometimes unreasonably focused. They are so focused that they often neglect many other vital areas in their lives. Balance is important, but it can serve to undermine such intensity. What is the right approach? After reflection, it seems as though the best approach can be described in a paradoxical term — a balanced focus. One must balance focus with balance. This double layered truth supports itself by its own construct. A balanced focus is that focus which is as intense as possible while still maintaining the other essentials. One must focus, then, on a balanced focus.

 

 

On the Role of Empathy in Any Kind of Relationship

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Dec 4 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Empathy is the essential element of any relationship, be it with a friend or a foe. With a friend, it is the key to communicating your heart. With a foe, it is the key to predicting their action. The power of empathy is underestimated.

In the great spiritual texts, love is emphasized, but it is empathy that enables authenticity. Love without empathy (for your friend or your foe) is discipline without emotion. There is a place for such discipline, but I am suspicious of it. When I can feel what the other person feels, I am able to care in a way that empowers genuine understanding.

 

On Presentations and Allowing the Audience To Optimize You

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Dec 3 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Presentations often begin by puzzling through a riddle. The speaker can often feel the presence of the riddle before she/he can articulate it. Sometimes it is in the articulation itself that the problem is solved. I use time and imagination to get closer to the audience. The closer to the audience, the clearer I can see the elements of the riddle. The moment I can articulate the riddle, I can form the essence of the answer. In the end, the speaker does not optimize the presentation; the speaker allows the audience to optimize herself.

On Our Inability to Help Truth

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Dec 2 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The truth is where you find it. We should invest more in discovering rather than defending. We work too hard trying to prove our truth. What we are doing, in fact, is trying to prove ourselves with “our” truth. The truth does not need help; you cannot make the truth truer.

 

On Leadership, Decisions and the Emotional Audit

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Nov 30 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Every time a leader makes a decision, he needs to do an audit of its impact on the hearts of his team. Simple, quick decisions are often undertaken without any sense of their emotional consequences. The leader must perceive the people consequences — not just the physical consequences — of his decisions. However, it is best to separate the decision into its two categories. This leaves two questions:

1. What is the cogent choice of action?

2. What is the compassionate choice of action?

 

On the Danger of Lying to Yourself

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Nov 24 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

When you get good at lying to others, you get especially good at lying to yourself. The former will hurt you; the latter will kill you. We don’t lie to ourselves without fooling ourselves about the nature of a lie. Our skill at self-deception is prodigious. We lie by degrees, and so it becomes impossible to tell where the lie begins and where the lie ends. This process produces not an error but a condition. And this condition strips us of more than truth; it strips us of our true identity. We cannot see ourselves and so we cannot see anything else.

 

 

On the Impact of Climax on Perspective

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Nov 20 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

A story is, essentially, character plus action. Its atomic unit is the sentence — subject plus predicate. Predication brings the story into time. It powers the forward motion or, more accurately, it characterizes the forward motion. Story is a microcosm. Its ending is not necessarily culmination. In fact, the nature of the ending, the measure of its character’s success, is not so dependent on the general structure as it is on the specific timing. There are stories where the character’s death is the tale’s terminus. But outcomes outlast particular characters. Endings bound meaning. In my own story, it is either satisfactory or unsatisfactory, depending on where you position the climax.

 

On Pursuing Dynamic Wisdom More than Static Truth

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Nov 19 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

It may be better to pursue wisdom before truth. Without wisdom, one could not recognize the Truth (capitalization intended) even if one encountered it. One may argue that wisdom is a form of truth, yet I use the word “wisdom” to represent a (dynamic) means. And I use the word “Truth” to represent a (static) end — a sort of ultimate designation. The latter may not be possible, but the former may be just possible. In some sense, wisdom could enable a man to function “well” in spite of his inability to obtain (ultimate) Truth.

 

On Leadership and the Improbable

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Nov 18 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

There is a fine line between the improbable and the impossible. Great leaders know where that line is, but the greatest of leaders move the line. 

 

On the Need for Leaders, Not Holders

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Nov 16 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The day a leader stops the relentless progression towards the new and the better is the day the leader stops leading and starts holding. Companies need leaders not holders.

On the Illusion of Original Thought

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Nov 13 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

Often in my life I have developed series of propositions that seemed original. On some of these, now, I look back and smile. As a child, I worked out a theory that I thought was my own. Its essence was an understanding of existence. I wrote the words, “I think, and so I exist.” I could not know, at that point, that my seemingly original thought was little more than a rework of Descartes.

As a boy I found a copy of Spinoza. I read it through and, for the most part, disagreed. Tragically, I was more disappointed in his thought structure than I was in his theory. At first, his work promised to organize my inner chaos. It did not. Nothing in philosophy has been able to tame my churnings.

At times, though, I’ll reach out and touch a truth that seems profound enough to at least medicate my condition. Invariably, I discover it somewhere else. This morning I read in the works of Pyrrho of Elis, a series of insights that relates to some of my earlier thinking. I’m not disappointed to find this work. I’m not surprised anymore.

Now, as thoughts occur to me that seem new or profound, I experience them as satire. Who knows? If there be any consolation, it is only this: experiencing an insight from within — before experiencing it from without — produces a different effect in my soul. Sometimes the dark liquor of a new discovery gives me temporary relief.

 

On Avenging a Fool

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Nov 12 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Avenging a fool is a waste of time. You don’t have to worry; you don’t have to get even. Life does it for you.

 

On Art and the Extraction of “Becoming”

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Nov 10 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

In discussing art, I have said to my daughter “Every story is a song, every song is a painting, and every painting is a story.” When you distill the essence of any one of these art forms, you extract a becoming, and that becoming is the force of all great art. The becoming cries out to be revealed.

 

On the Danger of Taking Art Lightly

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Nov 9 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

Do not take a person’s art lightly. Either do not take it at all, or take it seriously. Taking it seriously does not mean liking it, but you must respect the effort. It is better to have no opinion than a weak opinion.

 

On the Difference Between Proper Basic Understanding and More Advanced Understanding

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Nov 5 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:

It would seem that there is a kind of proper basic truth that is readily grasped by ordinary thinkers. On the other hand, there seems to be a much more complex understanding of truth that is grasped by great thinkers like Edwards or Augustine.

One must ask whether or not the deep exploration of truth that yields greater understanding provides an adequate return on energy. The whole notion of an adequate return of energy implies a certain kind of ethic. But if we warrant, for now, that one’s life must be dedicated towards some significant achievement/output, then we might ask whether or not a satisfactory grasp of the proper basic truth is enough.

My inclination is to delve deeply, but I must wonder as to whether or not all this “delving” will yield a return that will justify its cost. In any event, I can’t stop.

 

On the Priority of Achievement over Brilliance

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Nov 5 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The men remembered for their genius are not necessarily the most brilliant. Rather, the most brilliant men are remembered for their achievements. Their intelligence serves a greater end. The leader should not draw attention to his intelligence, but rather to the achievement of the team.

On Becoming Present Within

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Nov 3 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

I fear that my unity could fracture. Was Hume correct? Is my consciousness only a collection of phenomena received as one? Do I exist before I predicate? I think so. But on the other handexisting is predication. The deeper question is this: Is the very nature of existence, is the very essence of existence, a unity of subject/predicate?

These questions, especially to me, are more than an academic exercise. On one level, they are the relishing of existence itself. They are not queries; they are memories. Deeper still, they lead me to the conclusion that I could take consciousness deeper, that there is a level of inner awareness that cues presence. I have worked on being present without, but can I become present within?

 

On the Post Modern Consumer’s Predisposition to Doubt

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Nov 3 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

The Post Modern Consumer just doesn’t believe us anymore. They have endured too many empty promises, too many exaggerated benefits and too many artful disclaimers. The predisposition now is to doubt every claim. That’s true whether you’re selling soap or hope.

 

        – This is an excerpt from an interview of Dr. McGlaughlin in the Washington Post. You can read the full article here: Romney’s tax returns, Obama’s birth certificate and the end of trust.

On the Margin Between What I Say and What I Live

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Oct 30 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:

I have noticed a margin between values professed and values actualized. Clearly each of us lays claim to essential values. But often a void exists between the profession of the value and the actualization of it.

While this difference is often constrained to an either/or framework, I believe there are depths within our value structure — not that I have a value on honesty, or that I do not, but that I value honesty to a certain degree. I must admit that circumstances of life serve to impact the depth of my values.

In great times of crisis, I am tested with decisions. The outcome of these tests may drive the value deeper or it may do just the contrary. After the crisis, I may profess the value vociferously, but my profession may be accompanied by an even greater margin between that profession and actuality.

This is not to say that the depth of my values is only impacted by the major events in my life. The accumulation of small events or the exposure to certain personalities/models can also impact the depth of my values.

What I am most concerned about is this margin between what I say and what I live. I must yield to the process that deepens those values. I must resist oversimplifying this growth process.

 

On Seeing Beneath the Problem and Into the Process

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Oct 29 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

When something goes wrong around a leader, even if it is a simple scheduling problem, or confusion about a speaking engagement etc., the leader must ask penetrating questions. If the leader is not careful, this will feel to the team like they are being policed, or worse, being accused.

The leader needs to make certain that he is thinking deeper than the existing problem; he should always get to the process beneath it. Was it a simple error on the part of his team or a flaw in the underlying process? This kind of questioning leads to a self-optimizing organization.

As leaders, we must be careful that in pursuing these improvements, we don’t send the wrong message to our team. People are more important than process.

On Honesty as a Missing Element in the Construct of Faith

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Oct 28 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

Sometimes I envision a construct of faith that involves totality, a unity of the parts. This concept unites one’s intellectual, spiritual, and physical components. While all three terms are inadequate and even artificial, they serve as an approximation for my point.

A true faith response is inseparable from action. This is a point that is touched upon by other thinkers, but the essential component of honesty in that response has often been missed or underemphasized. Without responding to the truest part of one’s knowing, the rest of the process is impaired. I don’t think faith can be understood without a deeper understanding of honesty. Honesty is “hearing.”

On the Long Cycle and Epic Patience

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Oct 27 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

I need to accept the fact that my life’s work is a long cycle. It has taken me decades to set the foundation, and it will take decades more to see the full impact of the strategy. It is not that I formulated the entire plan in advance. It is that I have been given a few pieces and I have actualized those, while waiting for more, all the while watching in wonder as each fits together into a design that exceeds my capacity to plan. I must live a long time, or else I cannot see the work in its fruition. I do not need to see this end. Nevertheless, I would like to be able to ensure, from a human standpoint, the execution of the final stages. This calls for an epic patience.

 

On Music as a Right and Proper Drug

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Oct 26 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Music is, in my estimation, what a drug is supposed to be. It is a right and “proper” drug. Music produces an altered consciousness. Everything I do can be related to an understanding of music. The composition of music is a microcosm for the production of beauty. Indeed, when composing, every superfluous note interferes with the elegance of the piece.

 

On Transcending Organizational Archetypes

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Oct 23 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

When thinking conceptually about new creations in the world, particularly organizations, we often gravitate towards archetypes. These archetypes can pull us in the wrong direction. We become one or the other, or a hybrid of the two. In each of these cases, we have allowed ourselves to be defined or shaped by the conceptual archetypes that already exist. One must be careful. Sometimes, a unique expression only achieves its maximum potential by transcending all archetypes.

On Achieving Predication Within Limitations

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Oct 23 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

My life is a predicated “I am”, which is to say, “My I is ising (I hate the sound of this word, but I need the sense of its meaning).” My “aming” is “ising”. My “ising” is expressing. My expressing is existence. My subject is predicate (no this is not syllogism), and my subject/predicate is predicated. 

I, as a finite being, must achieve this predication with limitation – I merely am. This is what distinguishes me from the concept of the “I am that I am”. The very expression connotes absolute sufficiency. I, on the other hand, am insufficient and thus dependent.

It is conceivable that the “I am that I am” transcends existence itself, that the “I am that I am” is not contingent on expression, that the “I am that I am” precedes the category of existence, and that the expression of the “I am that I am” is in itself the force of all existence.

On the Propensity for Crises to Interrupt the Ordinary

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Oct 19 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:

Crises are by definition aberrations. They are an offense to normalcy. As one studies various personal and/or corporate catastrophes, it becomes apparent that they strike in the midst of the ordinary.

For me this brings a kind of fear mixed with awe. On any given day, one can wake up and begin the routine, never knowing, never sensing the impending assault.

How then should I live? Should I steel myself with a kind of deliberate oblivion or should I remain ready – always on the alert? Sometimes knowing, even if it is only that you do not know, is too much.

On the Broader Implications of Marketing

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Oct 16 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Because of the broader implications of marketing, I often speak of it in ways that are more encompassing. I could be accused of allowing my interest in the field to color my own judgment. One might say that “when you have a hammer in your hand, everything seems to be a nail”, but I would argue that for me it is different: One day I looked around and saw, everywhere, the nails, and thus started searching for something with which to pound them.

On Leadership and the Difference Between Momentum and the Momentous

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Oct 16 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The leader must beware of confusing momentum with momentous opportunity. A little momentum can distract you; it can take you down the wrong course. It looks like success, but it is a tactical gain without a strategic upside. Great leaders discern the difference between momentum and the momentous, and they focus their energies on the latter.

On Age as Friend or Foe

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Oct 15 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

I determined long ago that age would take from me much of what I value. But it occurred to me that I could force an exchange. For instance, I might give up physical capabilities yet, at the same time, gain certain masteries. In this way, I began to overcome the impatience of youth.

Time can bring to you as much as it takes from you. Age can either be your friend or your foe; each of us should determine to make it our friend, to invest our lives in such a way as to demand from time more than it is demanding from us.

 

On Theology as Wishful Thinking

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Oct 13 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:David J

Theology should be done in the face of suffering. I think every theologian should spend some time in a children’s hospital, or someplace where we can see the combination of innocence and horrific suffering. Theology in the abstract is not theology. It must be grounded in the realities of existence. Until theology can speak to and from such reality, it is not theology. It is mental exercise. It is wishful thinking. It is a placebo.

 

On the Disillusionment over “Synonyms”

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Oct 12 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Great writers hate thesauruses. At the start of my career I was open to this promising reference, but I grew to despise it over time. It began with disappointment, but then disappointment after disappointment lead to disillusionment. Disillusionment led to despite. There is only one right word; there is no such thing as a synonym.

 

On the Difference Between Growing Old and Growing Up

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Oct 9 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Some people grow old, and some people grow up. Some people stop growing up and just age. I want to be growing up for the rest of my days.

 

On Leadership and Failure

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Oct 8 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

One of the key roles of the leader is to model failure. If the leader models failure properly, he leads the way for his own people to fail successfully. The leader who models failure can demonstrate how one can admit their mistakes, and incorporate them into the larger cycle of a success. It is important that the leader does not maintain the illusion that he always succeeds. No one always succeeds. He must make it possible for his team to fail in a way that delivers a positive outcome.

 

On Carefully Choosing Your Obsessions

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Oct 7 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Some insights are too practical to be genius, but their practicality is their genius. They ground the highest thoughts. Virtually every mathematician who has studied infinity has lost their sanity. As I have pondered infinity, I have found myself falling into that dark tunnel.

I realized that pondering the imponderable is fine as long as one does not seek an explanation. If you are striving for an answer that cannot be found, it sets up a structure inside the mind that leads to absolute instability. A wise man chooses his obsessions carefully.

 

On Influence as the Product of Proximity

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Oct 6 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Some of the most important teaching occurs when we are not trying to teach. The teacher should be more motivated by genuine concern than by the content of a curriculum. The object of the teacher’s focus should not be the content; the object should be the person.

Sometimes I can teach more by being near than by saying more. Natural proximity is essential. Influence is always the product of proximity (even if it isn’t geographic). Often the teacher can achieve more through (subtle) influence than through (overt) instruction.

 

On Coping With Uncertainty

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Oct 6 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:
    What Shall It Profit?
    By William Dean Howells
    If I lay waste and wither up with doubt
    The blessed fields of heaven where once my faith
    Possessed itself serenely safe from death;
    If I deny the things past finding out;
    Or if I orphan my own soul of One
    That seemed a Father, and make void the place
    Within me where He dwelt in power and grace,
    What do I gain by that I have undone?

Howells poem reminds me of my own journey…

When I was a child, in a moment of personal crisis, I etched out these words: “Everything is uncertain.” Then I crossed out the word “is.” Then I crossed out the word “everything.” Then I laid down my pen and wept. In time, it occurred to me that the notion of “everything” and of “is” represented some form of being and of doing (subject/predicate). From there, I concluded that I am “being” and that my effort to ascertain is “doing”. Eventually, I restored all three words of my simple sentence, and in a way, I have never moved past them. It is true I have embraced a life of faith, but not from the victory over uncertainty, but rather because of it.

On the Existential Importance of Considering the Means as an End

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Oct 1 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

The world talks of ends and means, of telos. But if existence is confined to this side of death, then one may consider their end as the end and their means as an end. Every moment is precious. To relegate it to “means” is to strip it of its existential impact. One may strive towards an end, but one lives a fuller life when the means is also an end in itself.

 

On the Danger of Refining Plans

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Sep 30 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

We can spend too long trying to refine a plan. A plan is (just) a way. It describes how to achieve a specific aim. It is almost never right, yet it can establish direction. Plans are best refined in the cycles of action; a good plan is self-optimizing.

 

On Differing Opinions and the Multiplication of Uncertainty

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Sep 29 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

Among the multiplicity of differing opinions about ultimate truth, there should be at least general agreement that there is a multiplicity of differing opinions. Everyone does not agree. Furthermore, most would agree with this proposition: that at least in some ways the contrary positions cannot all be true. While there may be those who disagree with this proposition, their argument is negated by the fact that there are others who disagree with their insistence to the contrary – and surely these last two positions are contradictory. Such conundrums multiply uncertainty.

On Organizing Through the Concept of Domains

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Sep 25 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

It may be useful for the one who creates organizations to organize their world with the concept of domains. In the age of the Internet, the word “domain” has taken on new meanings. But I’m thinking of a term that transcends all present uses.

The artist needs to “flow from”. For me, the domain from which I “flow” is essential to the nature of my creation. I may achieve more by shifting my attention from the collection of activities to the beauty of my domain(s).


 

On the Momentum of Mediocrity

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Sep 24 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

Mediocrity tends to perpetuate while excellence tends to diminish. Momentum favors mediocrity; inertia resists excellence. Great work requires a dead run uphill.

 

 

On Wisdom That Arrives Too Late

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Sep 22 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

I am generally able to discern the wisest course of action, but all too often it is after I have already made the decision. Wisdom comes even to the fool; it just comes too late.

 

On Social Media and the Value of Portables

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Sep 19 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

We must transcend the concept of a “quotation” with a “portable.” In the age of social media, a “portable” captures the essence of a thought and makes it easy to transport. A thought that is easy to transport can proliferate.

 

On Not Being Central to Anyone’s Thinking

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Sep 16 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

I’d like to influence lives in a good way, but I don’t want to be central to anyone’s thinking.

Life should be lived from one’s own center. The world is full of leaders who want you to build your world around them. There is no substitute for your own soul.

 

 

On Learning to See Through the Darkness

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Sep 15 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

If we do not learn to see through the darkness, all we will ever see is the darkness. Around us, there is so much death. Life can be grim. But there is something else beautiful – something more, something that transcends the bitter reality. We must fix our gaze there, or the immediate “truth” will overwhelm us.

If we do not learn to see through the darkness, all we will ever see is the darkness. Around us, there is so much death. Life can be grim. But there is something beautiful — something more, something that transcends the bitter reality. We must fix our gaze there, or the immediate “truth” will overwhelm us.

 If we do not learn to see through the darkness, all we will ever see is the darkness. Around us, there is so much death. Life can be grim. But there is something beautiful — something more, something that transcends the bitter reality. We must fix our gaze there, or the immediate “truth” will overwhelm us.

 

 

On Superior Strategic Positioning

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Sep 11 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

Strategy is better than skill. This is true in combat, but it is also true in business. Management ineptitude is not a guarantee of failure. Some businesses have a strategic position so superior that they can survive despite inferior practices.

In my own group, we have placed a high value on management. We want to see excellence across all of our processes. Still, this is not enough. Strategy is better than skill. Being the best at what we do is not a guarantee of first position. Improving our performance is not enough. We need to seize superior strategic positions.

 

On the Test of a Man’s Character and How “We Do What We Are”

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Sep 10 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The test of a man’s character goes beyond how well he behaves in public, or even in private.  If you want to know who someone is, then watch how he conducts himself when he has lost all of his bearings, when his moral compass is gone, when the entire paradigm within which he has been living his life has been shattered. What does he do then?  Why does he choose “right” then?  How does he determine “true north” then? It is not just that we “are what we do”; it is that “we do what we are.”

 

 

On the Value Proposition as a Tool for Literary Critique

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Sep 9 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Jon P

The value proposition is typically understood as a marketing tool. However, the framework represented in my work may be used in a variety of ways, one of which is literary critique. For reflecting on fictional narratives, this involves at least five key steps:

  1. Study the defining decisions of the story.
  2. Determine the respective value proposition at the prospect level for each.
  3. Focus on the difference between value and perceived value, and then the differences in perception.
  4. Reflect on how this difference indicates the nature of the characters.
  5. Show how this impacts the outcome of the story.

Decisions are not just means (for motivating action). Decisions are ends (the sum of perceived value differentials).

 

 

On the Difference between a Copied and a Competing Value Proposition

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Sep 8 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

When it comes to value propositions, do not be as concerned about the company that attempts to copy yours. It is difficult to copy an authentic value proposition. An empty, mimicked value proposition will not ring true with customers. Be more concerned about the company that has an authentic, but competing, value proposition. That competitor is a genuine threat.

 

 

 

On Leading with People vs. Leading with Ideas

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Sep 5 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

A leader cannot lead with ideas; a leader must lead with people. Ideas are valuable in so much as they shape and motivate the actions of people. The ideas disconnected from people have all the power of the unwritten story. The unwritten story may be elegant and beautiful in the imagination of the writer, but until it is written, it exists only as a fantasy in the mind of a dreamer.

On the Difficulty of Grasping the Concept of Non-Existence

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Sep 4 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

Is death a form of existence? If the opposite of existence is non-existence, then the opposite of to exist is not to exist. Even for the scientist who does not believe in the afterlife, there is a belief in matter. A person, who dies, does not cease to exist. At the very least, their corpse simply changes its form. So, whether in life or death, we exist (though perhaps not consciously).

I don’t think it is possible to conceive of non-existence. Every aspect of the thinking process engages contradiction. I question at what point birth becomes existence. There is something here that I cannot fathom. Does birth (in the early stages of the womb), itself, produce existence? I cannot think so. Existence precedes birth. I don’t think I can marshal an argument for this point, yet. So I only hold the proposition tentatively. But one point, at least, seems clear: The greatest miracle is not resurrection, it is coming into being.

On the Danger of the Indispensable Leader

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Sep 3 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

The better a leader appears, the more likely it is that he is underperforming. You judge a leader not by his own prowess, but by the prowess (and particularly the achievements) of his team. The indispensable leader is wholly dispensable – must be dispensable. Indeed, until he becomes dispensable, he is underperforming.

On Editing with your Ears

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Aug 31 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

Beware of editing with your eyes. The proofreader works with his eyes; the editor works with his ears.

 

On My Work as Art

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Aug 21 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

All of my work needs to be approached, not as academic, not as an entrepreneur, but rather as an artist. I am creating beauty and I must find my satisfaction from the same. Anything else will leave me empty, disillusioned.

 

On the Role of Authority in Answering Questions

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Aug 19 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:David J

An answer necessarily proceeds from authority. Therefore an answer is constrained by that authority. Philosophy endeavors to answer the question.

I need to draw the connections between question and answer in the role of philosophy. I must do this only after I have built a logical case for the limitations.

A question is an appeal to an authority. An answer is an expression of authority. These two propositions must be illustrated. A question about a competing authority necessarily negates the second by its appeal to the first.

 

On the True Nature of Consciousness

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Aug 19 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Paul C

It is interesting how we use the phrase “I feel”, and “I think”. While one seems to suggest the emotional and the other suggests the rational, we often use them interchangeably.

This may seem like a simple matter of semantic confusion. But is it more? It may indicate the true nature of consciousness. It seems our most meaningful states of consciousness are moments when the “thinking” and the “feeling” are identical.  

 

On the Difference Between Definition and Explanation

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Aug 17 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

A definition is more than an explanation. An explanation is descriptive, but a definition is essential. Definitions are the working units of explanations. Never be deceived by a definition that is merely an explanation.

 

On the Priority of People over Process

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Aug 14 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Management does not make you money — people do. I operate with three reports: the SAR (Sales Action Report), the MAR (Management Action Report) and the CAR (Content Action Report). The reports inform our process, but the process is driven by people. You can use your people to build your company, or you can use your company to build your people. The latter way is the best way for it leads to the former. The job of the CEO is not to build a company. The job of the CEO is twofold: to build people, and to create customers.

 

On Utilizing the Subconscious Mind to Solve Problems

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Aug 14 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

In creative thinking, the best approach is not always the direct approach. Sometimes the way you solve a problem is to put your conscious mind somewhere else, while giving your subconscious mind ample space to engage.

On the Predicate as Existence in Time

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Aug 12 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Existence is subject-predicate. When Descartes said, “I think therefore I exist (Je pense donc je suis)”, “think” was predicate. Predicate is evidence of existence. Predicate is more than evidence; it is existence in time. In the structure of a sentence, we can separate the subject from the predicate. This is an artificial separation. In reality, the subject (the “amness”) is always “ising” – and so am I.

On the Strength to Make Tough Decisions

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Aug 11 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:David J

When you know what you stand for and what you do not, you can make the tough decisions. Every right action strengthens you.

 

On Writing and the Danger of “Mind-Candy”

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Aug 10 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

In the creative process, a writer must be careful not to allow any writing that sounds good to get in the way of any writing that is good. The writer reaches down deep, yet her work is not so much to pull out as it is to prevent. Once you open the “right channel,” the pure work will come. The danger is tainting that work with artificial, fine-sounding embellishments. Beware of the “sugar” in your writing. It tastes good at first, but then it makes you ill. The writer must avoid all “mind-candy.”

 

On the Difference Between Specialized Knowledge and High Intelligence

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Aug 8 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

One must be careful not to confuse specialized knowledge with high intelligence. It’s easy to be impressed with a dense document, detailed with specialized language and concepts (particularly if they are mathematical). One might read this document and assume that the writer is highly intelligent but this is not always the case. There is a substantial difference between one with specialized knowledge and one with high intelligence. There is an even greater difference between one with specialized knowledge and one with creative intelligence. One must learn to detect the distinctions.

 

On the Importance of Knowing What Not to Do

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Aug 6 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Sometimes it’s more important for the leader to know what he won’t do than what he will. In the decision process, one may consider multiple options. Three may be viable, while another may be lethal. The job of the leader is not to choose the “right” option (as there may be more than one). The job of the leader is to make certain his team does NOT choose the lethal option, and that whichever of the other options is chosen, it fits consistently within the previous set of decisions. 

 

On Vulnerability as the Key Attribute of the Effective Teacher

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Aug 5 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

The teacher is often most effective when relating to his audience through the experiences of his own life. Typically, it is not his victories that achieve the greatest impact on his audiences’ hearts; it is his struggles. The teacher does not have to wait until he has overcome a given struggle to teach upon it.

The key element is a kind of transparent vulnerability. This is not to say that the teacher should engage in an egocentric lament about his life. He can trace a truth as it is unfolding in his life, and he can show the audience how he is working through it.

The mark of a great teacher is not his victory; it is his transparency. 

 

On Leadership and the Importance of Infusing Organizational “DNA”

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Aug 4 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

There is a difference between the work of the first generation (founding) leader and the work of the next generation leader. Both carry the supreme responsibility of guarding the value proposition. The former has the additional responsibility of infusing the organization with the “DNA” from which the value proposition was derived.

 

On Personal Peace as a Function of Our Choosing

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Aug 3 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Personal peace is a result of our (present tense act of) choosing; it is the result of how we allow ourselves to interpret (see) the phenomena that effects our person. The way we choose to see (focus upon) a phenomena stimulates the nature of our reaction (and thus our condition). One should not work for peace; one should work from peace.

 

On Leadership and the Difference Between Hard Work and Intense Obsession

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jul 30 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The leader should understand the difference between hard work and intense obsession. You are not a hard worker if you are only good at working hard on tasks with which you are obsessed. Obsessive people work hard for the sake of their interest. Hard workers work hard for the sake of their integrity. The best leaders harness their obsessions, but work from their integrity; the combination is potent.

 

On the Leader’s Solemn Obligation to Panic

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jul 29 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

The leader has a solemn obligation to “panic” before the rest of the team. Panic, in its most accurate sense, does not reflect my meaning. I’m using intense language to try to express an important point. The leader must see the impending threat and respond early. He must treat it with urgency, extreme urgency – even before his team is fully aware of the problem.

On the Difference Between Observation and Inference

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jul 28 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The classical understanding of the difference between observation and inference is difficult to maintain. One may be able to make some type of general distinction by using loose, emphasis-based categorization.

The difference between observation and inference becomes difficult to detect because the process is not linear; it is cyclic. The process of observing involves some form of inference. If the mind moves, the mind infers.

 

On Avoiding the Semantic Tug-of-War between Truth and Word Choice

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jul 27 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

When crafting theoretical statements, you need to know the difference between an elegant choice of words (that is something you select) and a properly accurate (and hopefully true) statement (that is something you discover). If you do not know the difference you will get caught in a semantic veil. The beauty of your words will obscure the accuracy of your claims. Honesty is beauty of a higher order.

 

On the Danger of Attempting to Answer a Futile Question

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jul 25 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

You need to recognize when your mental gears are “grinding” and you need to stop and ask why. Most of the time just “pushing through” yields an unsatisfactory result. It is essential to understand why those gears are grinding. You may be asking the wrong question or you may be trying to attempt a solution that can’t be discovered yet. Many thinkers have damaged their long-term capacity, in their futile attempt to answer a futile question. Thinking, even difficult thinking, should be fluid – beware of “the grind.”

On the Difference between a Leader and a Winner

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jul 23 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

Many large companies are run by men who can be more aptly described as winners than leaders. They have obtained the position by winning over their peers. They have built their career on a series of successive wins. These wins have translated into the culminating victory of their focused assignment.

However, there is a significant difference between a winner and a leader. A winner is more concerned with achieving the next personal gain. A leader is focused on the authentic wins of his team. He is empowering their victories. Their gain is the organization’s gain and the organization’s gain is his gain.

The true leader must transcend winning with serving. He must change his focus from goals to mission.

 

On Choosing as Existing

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jul 22 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

The hallmark of the rational agent is choice. How can reason be separate from choice? Even the acceptance of a proposition represents choice. We need to delve deeper into the nature of choice. Indeed, for the rational agent, choosing is existing. The present tense is a steady stream of choice.

 

On the Problem with Trying to Fit Into Cultural Stereotypes

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Jul 21 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

As I grow older, I grow wary of adopting life-shaped stereotypes. Our culture has a series of forms and we try to fit people into those forms. It’s a kind of mental shorthand. It allows us to distinguish Person A from Person B; it allows us to predict behavior.

The problem is that these stereotypical forms are restrictive. As I try to fit into any of them, my edges break off. I don’t mean my rough edges, but rather the sharp edges of my soul. It can be very wearisome fitting oneself into someone’s ideal of a “scholar,” or of an “entrepreneur,” or of some spiritual archetype. There is a kind of integral honesty that comes from relaxing into who you are; that is the first step on the path to becoming who you were made to be.

 

On Speaking and Allowing the Audience to Optimize You

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jul 20 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Artful speaking is a combination of careful planning and purposeful abandonment. The speaker plans, makes notes and outlines their remarks. When it comes time to step onto the platform, the speaker subjects all of this preparation to the imminent priority of the audience’s response. This requires a different type of preparation — preparing one’s self. One must be prepared to surrender their mechanical plan to the realities of the action. You do not optimize a presentation so much as you allow the audience to optimize you.

On the Danger of Confusing a Reason With a Belief

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jul 18 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

We must beware of conflating our reasons with our beliefs. When asked to support a position, we often offer a reason. However, what we view as a reason is likely just another belief. One might argue that even data or a fact requires a measure of belief. If we support a belief, by marshalling another series of beliefs, have we supported it at all?

 

 

On the Danger of Reducing the Decision Process to the Rational

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jul 16 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

We must be careful about trying to reduce the decision processes to the rational. A person may use a reasoned framework, while employing reasons that are unfounded. In the same way you cannot negate the left brain from the right, you cannot fully separate reason from emotion. When justifying a position, we always employ reasons, even if they are grounded in emotion. Never confuse a reason with rationality.  

 

On Humility and the Unevenness of Virtue

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jul 15 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Humility, for most of us, comes in pieces. We don’t fully achieve it, but we illustrate it in glimpses. If we’re not careful, we confuse the parts with the whole. We view ourselves as humble by adding up our humble moments. This is another form of self-deception. It’s important to distinguish our actions from our motives. In doing so, we can start to understand the unevenness of our virtue.

 

 

On Family as a Patchwork Quilt

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Jul 14 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

A family is not a fine silk tapestry. It is more like a patchwork quilt: scraps of material, bits of cloth, “this-and-that” — all stitched together. At first, it may not appear as beautiful as the tapestry but, in your old age, it will keep you warmer.

 

 

On the Immortality Bestowed by the Written Word

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jul 11 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Socrates would have gone unknown were it not for the work of Plato. Seneca might have been a footnote in history had it not been for his work. The same could be said of Epictetus.

In each of these cases, there is but a single reason they occupy our thoughts today: they were enshrined by the written word. The written word transcends ordinary activity; it can preserve for the mind the long gone. It can outlast the greatest of the stone monuments, and it can come closer than any elixir to bestowing immortality

 

On Empathy as the Essence of Communication

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jul 9 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Empathy is at the essence of communication. The gifted communicator is not talking to an audience; he is listening from the audience. He hears himself with the ears of those to whom he is speaking.

On the Artificial Distinction Between Work Life and Personal Life

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jul 8 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

Work performance is a composite of the employee’s entire life. Never view their work life and their personal life as totally separate. These categories are mere expressions of time, not absolute internal delineations. Problems in our personal life impact our work life. Problems in our work life impact our personal life. The effective leader cannot afford to ignore either.

 

On the Implied Commitment Accompanying “I Love You”

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jul 7 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Young people and some adults (age is not the determinant factor) are often confused on the subject of love. The words “I love you” spoken between a couple are not simple expressions of a deep feeling. They are more. They represent an internal awareness — a recognition — of one’s genuine preference for another. They also represent an intention. It is an intention in the form of commitment. Because the words “I love you” generate a certain expectation on the part of the other party, one must be very careful about expressing these words without being cognizant of the perceived obligation. For this reason, I choose (as opposed to “have discovered”) to see the expression of “I love you” as representing both an awareness and a commitment.   

 

On Music as the Means of Experiencing the Texture of My Life

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jul 7 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

How can I be more intentional about the use of music in my life? Music is a drug. I feel its capacity to alter my conscious state. I suspect it has the capacity to alter my subconscious state (although I do not believe in a clear delineation between these two).

Still, music brings a special sort of inverse attention to the present tense connectedness of my life. I can allow it to play in the background and feel some of its effects, but if I step outside of myself and look at my living, while the music is playing, I experience a sort of cinematic awakening.

Music highlights the texture of my life. If existence is as precious as it seems to me, then every moment is of unique value. Music enables me to maximize the value of my present tense experience.

 

On the Beauty Resident within the Flaws of Existence

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jul 2 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

I wish I were a triangle. Not the triangle that exists on the writing pad of the mathematician. It is imperfect no one can create a perfect line. Rather, I wish to be the triangle conceived in the abstract and represented (only poorly) on the pad.

I know the poets speak of beauty resident within the flaws of existence. Such beauty has more luster in their anthologies than it does in the gritty realities of life. They too are mathematicians, but they sketch imperfect representations of even more imperfect realities.

I hate flaws. I prefer not to romanticize them. I tolerate them because I have no other option within the confines of sanity. If it were possible, I would indulge in the unspeakable loveliness of existence without suffering the unspeakable horror of its consequences.

I wish I were a triangle. Perfect.

 

On Teaching and the Need to Sequence Truth

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jul 1 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Sometimes all you need to understand about a truth is enough to enable you to fully understand it later. Teachers sometimes try to teach too much. We seek to cram into the minds of our students “everything in the room” when all we must truly do is teach enough to get the student to “hold the door to the room open.” As life passes, which is to say “as time passes,” the student will encounter each of the items in that room, but the operative word is “each” instead of “every.” “Each” requires a succession of time, “every” happens in an instance. The teacher’s job is to make the way for “each,” not to cram the mind with “every.”

 

 

On the Need for Leaders to Incarnate “What Matters Most”

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jun 30 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

Leadership does not just set priorities; it sets the priority. The leader communicates “what matters most.” Indeed, the leader must incarnate this communication. It forms the axis around which the entire organization rotates. This priority is the epicenter of the organization’s vision. Its core is formed by the leader’s “yes(s)”; its edges are formed by the leader’s “no(s).”

 

On Mistaking Talent for Truth

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jun 29 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Do not mistake appealing writing for truthful content, and do not mistake a great intellect for a great theologian/philosopher. There is a difference between being skillful and being right.

 

On the Battle That Cannot Be Won

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jun 26 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Anthony W

In a battle that cannot be won, the question changes from “How can I win?” to “How do I cope?” At this point, the combatant becomes a philosopher.

 

On Trusting the Process More Than the Decision

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jun 26 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

We need to trust the process more than we trust the decision. At the micro level, it is important to achieve the right decision. At the macro-level, it is important to develop the right process. The leader cannot wait for certainty; it is rare to obtain such a state. Instead, the leader must strive for clarity; it is possible to obtain such a view. Even if we are not absolutely sure that the decision is right, we may be reasonably sure that the process is right. The effective leader gets the process right so that he can hope to get the decision right.

 

 

On Leadership and Understanding the Difference between Direction and Directions

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jun 24 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

As the leader progresses towards a long-term objective, he unintentionally may create an illusion which distorts the vision for those who look from the outside-in. To those around you, it may appear as if you have strategically engineered a myriad of details. In truth, vision is more about direction than it is directions. The leader knows “where” before he knows “how.

 

On Writing and the Danger of the Ornate

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jun 23 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The writer must be careful not to confuse movement with adornment. Often, we put too much furniture in the hallway, but the point of the hallway is to get to a point — to transition to the next doorway. Just because a piece of furniture is beautiful doesn’t mean that we need to buy it. Writers lay down their elaborate, sometimes ornate, descriptions. They paint beautiful scenes and, in doing so, display their artistic ability, but they do so at the price of their art itself. A story is always a movement and anything that stops the moving is an obstruction. 

 

On the Philosopher as Merely the Man Who Tries

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jun 22 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

When reading the works of a philosopher, it is a mistake to think of the writer as a philosopher. The word “philosophy” can distort our understanding of the human being. Every philosopher should be considered only as this — a man trying. Philosophy is effort, not a study. Philosophy is effort, not attainment. Philosophy is effort, not a profession. Philosophy is trying. If there is to be any virtue in philosophy, it is only because the philosopher tries in a world where many never make the attempt.

 

On the Difference between Vision and Clarity

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jun 19 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

The leader needs to develop a forward-looking clarity. Most of us fail not because we did not have the right opportunity, but because we did not seize it when it came. As leaders, we must develop a peculiar kind of clarity. It is not vision that separates the leader; it is right-seeing.

 

 

On the Difference Between Total Rationale and Incidental Rationale

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Jun 19 2015
Method:
Captured by:

I think the marketer or even the individual in general must determine the difference between total rationale and incidental rationale. A person may do something that seems illogical when considered against and within its full context. But the same person may employ logic and rationale to achieve a specific irrational aim.

For example, it might be that the individual recognizes that cigarettes are harmful for them. They might concede at an unbiased time that using tobacco could injure their health. Yet the same person, during a time of intense desire, may employ a distinct rationale to obtain a cigarette. They may use this rationale to justify why they are smoking a cigarette and/or they may use their powers of reason to develop a way to obtain (and possibly hide) their cigarettes. It is a mistake to consider the two behaviors irrational.  

This is more than a paradox; this is an insight into the stochastic probabilities of human behavior at the point of transaction. Marketers cannot ignore the power of reason, even when appealing to the most basic needs. There is almost always a form of rationale involved (at least in any non-voluntary physical action that requires any sort of processing).

The manipulative marketer may abuse the power of reason to justify an act that is ultimately irrational. We must be careful. We must consider how reason is employed at an incidental level as opposed to a totality level. And, on a more personal note, we should reflect on how many of our own actions are incidentally rational but, in fuller context, absolutely irrational. 

 

On the Value of Passion and Polarity

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jun 17 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Sometimes you don’t know what you are for until you know what you are against. In public, it is wise to withhold criticism, to guard your tongue. In private, as part of the creative process, you must sometimes work with the ricochet principle or the “anti-x” principle. 

You don’t know what ideas you are trying to say until you know what it is you are not trying to say. You don’t know what it is you believe until you are clear about what it is that you do not believe.

And so, while one must be guarded in public as to their comments, it is sometimes useful in private to allow your passion to escape in the form of a diatribe. Ask, “What is motivating this intense response?” Ricochet off the opposite intellectual pole to understand the current one. Exploit polarity, but guard against polarization.

 

On Leadership and Choosing Joy Over Survival

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jun 16 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Jon P

The leader should be mindful of his mindset when facing a true crisis. It’s important to do more than prevail; it’s important to enjoy (a lovely, underestimated word). Sociologists have long recognized that, in the hierarchy of motivations, survival proceeds comfort. Cultures develop accordingly. Indeed, we can deduce that moving from enjoyment (“thrival”) to survival is a reversal of progress, primal in the negative sense. While (with a nod to Maslow) I acknowledge that achievement can be connected to enjoyment, I would rather make the distinction between achieving and achievement while ignoring the distinction between enjoying and enjoyment. If we dance with tense, then I want joy in the present tense. However, I want to move from joy towards joy, which only magnifies the present tense experience of the same. Thus, I choose to equate survival with achievement, and the effort to do so (achieving) as the experience of joy (present tense) while moving from joy towards joy. Survival is boring.  

 

On Poetry as a Polaroid of the Heart

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jun 15 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Poetry is a means of expressing the inexpressible. But I have found another use — sometimes I author poetry to capture the emotive state of a particular moment. In this way, a poem serves as a polaroid of the heart. It can freeze-frame the spirit in action.

 

Leadership and the Danger of the Social Wall

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jun 12 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Jon P

The leader needs to beware of the “us and them” mentality of teams. A team forms an ethnos — a people group. It necessarily runs on a social dynamic that is intrinsic to the nature of human beings. This has negative and positive implications. A team, by its nature, forms a “social wall.” People are viewed differently on the other side of that wall. The leader needs to know when such walls become an obstruction to progress. The integration of two teams (which requires integration of objectives) can be one of the most effective ways to recognize, and also obliterate, the negative consequences of a “social wall.”

On Philosophy and the Importance of Hatred

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jun 12 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Beware of becoming too “good” in the moral sense. To be a great lover, one must become a great hater. The absence of either makes you less than half a human being. Love, by its nature, polarizes. This does not mean that you must hate another person, but, if you love a particular person then you hate, for instance, the very possibility of losing them. Hatred is the Siamese twin of love  — you can’t separate the one without killing the other. Religious goodness tries to sanitize us rather than cleanse us; it tries to quarantine us rather than vaccinate us. The truly good person must cultivate a heightened sense of hatred.

 

On Living within the Terror and Beauty of the Unfinished Sentence

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jun 10 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:

All of life is subject to predicate. My essence is “among.” My life is a sentence. When I die, someone finishes it with a period. I live within the terror and the beauty of the unfinished sentence. What will I say?

 

 

On Philosophy and Influence as Force

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jun 5 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Everything awesome or awful in the universe derives its “awe factor” by virtue of its capacity to influence. Influence is a function of force meets object. Structure is a static description of force in action. Space is the field of force, time is the measure of force, and matter is the object of force (It is the “influence” of protons, neutrons, and electrons that forms the atomic sub-structure of reality).

Moving from physics to sociology, it can be the influence of a single thinker that launches an entire revolution.  We suppose the man with the gun has the power, but power lies in the man with the ideas that influence the man with the gun.

 

 

On Philosophy and Knowing Enough to Hope

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jun 4 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Jon P

Uncertainty is the definitive characteristic of the incipient. However, not to know for certain does not mean not to know (en totum) at all. I survive by arbitraging the difference. Slivers of light cannot help me see enough, but they are proof that the darkness can be penetrated. When I cannot know enough to know, I seek to know enough to hope.  

 

On Leadership and Having a Balanced Perspective on Process

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jun 3 2015
Method:
Captured by:Jon P

The leader needs to have a balanced perspective on process. Entrepreneurial leaders tend to undervalue process, but process allows you to institutionalize quality. For this reason it is essential. On the other hand, process can blind leaders by obstructing insightful thinking with method and routine. The leader needs to value process while, at the same time, remaining prepared to transcend process with the right actions. 

 

On the Biggest Problem with Marketing

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jun 2 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The biggest problem with marketing is the word “marketing.” It has a connotation that interferes with its denotation.

I have no interest in “marketing,” but I have an abiding interest in marketing – if it concerns itself with the reasons people say “yes.” Indeed, knowledge of this process has enormous explanatory, and thus predictive, power – in science, in politics, in life.

 

On Leadership and the Good Leader vs. the Effective Leader

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jun 1 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The leader must beware of focusing on “leadership” rather than mission. I don’t know that one can always be perceived as a good leader and also be an effective leader. There is a difference between the reality of good leadership and the perception of good leadership. There is so much new literature on leadership itself that some leaders may find a subtle shift in their focus that is detrimental to their mission. One must ask, “Do I want to be perceived as a good leader, or do I want to get the mission accomplished?” Good leaders should be measured by the mission they choose and by the efficacy of their achievement. One may argue that the way a person leads is important, but this counterpoint is subsumed in the first two measures. Leadership is a means, not an end.

 

On My Life as the Sum of the Source of My Output

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:May 29 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

Am I the sum of my output, or am I the source of my output? The latter seems obvious, but there is reason to consider the former. It is difficult to be the source if I am confined to the present tense. Because what is becomes what was, so that what is, is necessarily generated at a moment that is identical to my present tense existence. 

One may say that this only means the source expressed in a finite instance of its output. But without clear continuity between what was and what is, it becomes difficult to provide any sum other than the sum of one if we let one represent the single instance of my expression. This becomes even more difficult when we consider the fact that by the moment I can reflect on an instance, I am already reflecting on its passing and within its passing. What is the length of the single instance of the present tense? It may be possible to argue that it is the most finite of all expressions. If this is so, how finite is this one? 

In a sense, I am arguing between my life as the sum of a set theory and my life as the single instance within the set. If it represents the single instance, then there may be a third way: My life may be identical. It may be a unity of source and output, and this unity may be expressed in the single most particular instance in the present. This implies many possibilities. Most of all, it implies a stunning freedom that exceeds even that described by Sartre. If it describes this freedom, it also implies the sheer and utter loneliness of individual existence.

 

On Leadership and the Danger of Being Well Liked

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:May 28 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Steven S

An effective leader is rarely judged to be a great leader by his immediate team. That is a judgment passed by a much wider audience and in the light of history. The leader must focus on getting the mission done. If he works hard to be popular or to be thought of as a great leader, he will often pay in the form of an unacceptable tradeoff. He may be well liked, but he may not be as well accomplished.

As leaders, we must get the mission done. We do so through people. We need them to be influenced by us, but we do not need them to love everything about us.

 

On the Essence of Entrepreneurship

Topic:Communication
Posted on:May 27 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

The essence of entrepreneurship is marketing. The fundamental instinct of the entrepreneur arises from his or her capacity to discern a market. Capital is important and management is important, but the leverage between these two factors is dependent upon the entrepreneur’s ability to discover a customer.

 

On Cataloguing Great Thinkers by Their Life-Course

Topic:Method
Posted on:May 26 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

It might be helpful to catalogue all of the great thinkers/philosophers, not by their theory but by their life course… One might categorize them by how their life was lived. I have never seen this project undertaken. Yet, it may be more instructive to see how these philosophers “cashed in” their theory, to see who died even pretending to be satisfied. Would we elevate Nietzsche, as a model for our life? I suspect we might admire his thinking, but would we emulate his living?

On the Pursuit of Goals

Topic:Personal
Posted on:May 21 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

One must be careful not to spend life solely in pursuit. Achievers are wired to pursue. We pursue knowledge, success, holiness and so on. The feeling that we are drawing close to that which we pursue is a kind of narcotic that keeps us moving. However, the urge to pursue can blind us to the value of the present tense.

Life must be lived in the present, and pursuing a goal must somehow be experienced in the present. If one’s attention is only on that which one is pursuing, then one’s attention cannot be on the experience of the pursuing. The full of impact of living is thus drained away from our present tense experience. I do not want to live to pursue; I want to pursue to live.

 

On Choosing as Existing

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:May 20 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

The hallmark of the rational agent is choice. How can reason be separate from choice? Even the acceptance of a proposition represents choice. We need to delve deeper into the nature of choice. Indeed, for the rational agent, choosing is existing. The present tense is a steady stream of choice.

 

On Leadership and Appreciation of Your Organization

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:May 19 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

One of the most important ways that people learn to appreciate your organization is to experience someone else’s.  We do not know how good it is until we have to remember how good it was.

 

On Marketing and the Importance of Fostering Claims

Topic:Communication
Posted on:May 18 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Jon P

Too many marketers focus on claims.

A claim is an offensive move that puts the prospect in a defensive posture. Excellent marketing does not put the prospect on the defense. It recruits the prospect to be a proponent, not an opponent.

 

 

On Communication and True Profundity

Topic:Communication
Posted on:May 16 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

It’s important that your profundity (or your seeming profundity) isn’t derived from your obscurity. Some thinkers are just obscure enough to impress the thinkers who can barely understand. Other thinkers are just brilliant enough to make complexity appear simple. The thinker must determine whether or not his work is designed to make himself look brilliant or to make his work be brilliant.

 

On Communication and the Test of a Story

Topic:Communication
Posted on:May 14 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

The test of a story is not whether it conforms to some critic’s opinion of the rules but, rather, how it impacts those for whom the story was written. 

 

On Leadership and the Sword vs. the Shovel

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:May 13 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Paul C

The leader needs to know how to balance his work between the sword and the shovel. With the sword, he is driving revenue, making deals. With the shovel, he is building an organization that institutionalizes revenue growth. If the leader spends all his time with the sword, he forfeits the long term for the sake of the short term. If he spends all his time with the shovel, he forfeits the short term for the sake of the long term. As leaders, we must balance our time between the sword and the shovel. However, one thing is certain; as long as you lead, you must carry the sword. You don’t get to lay it down. You must carry it until the final moment you lay down the final responsibility.  

 

On Compass-Setting Decisions

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:May 13 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

The leader makes many decisions, but he needs to have an awareness of the categorical difference between an ordinary decision and a compass-setting decision. Compass-setting decisions align the leader with true north. The thing to remember is that a directional setting (a truth north decision) points the leader in only one direction while eliminating from the leader’s path every other point on the compass. We focus on where the leader is going, but it is more telling when you focus on where the leader is not going. Throughout the day, the leader makes decisions. Never make the mistake of confusing a compass-setting decision with an ordinary decision.

 

On Leadership and Subtle Breakthroughs with Profound Implications

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:May 11 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Many of the most important things you do as a leader are subtle. These subtle changes have profound implications but, in the beginning, their impact is difficult to detect. A slight shift in someone’s responsibility, a different pairing for a team or a minor change in a deck can all have profound consequences. There is a way for a leader to change the course of an organization without fanfare or announcements. Some breakthroughs are left better to emerge, rather than declare.

 

On Using the Objective to Shape the Writing

Topic:Communication
Posted on:May 8 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

When you are writing, the objective is more than an end. It is the sharp tool by which you carve away everything that does not belong in the text.

On Moderating Balance with Extremes

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:May 7 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Exaggeration is at the heart of artful choices. There are some decisions you cannot make until you have gone too far (at least conceptually). It occurs in design. We try to be precise with our imaginings. It occurs in pricing research. Until your experiment has taken you to the point you are charging too much, you’ll never know if you are charging enough. The scientist and the artist alike must moderate their balance with extremes.

 

On Leadership and the Speed of Fluidity

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:May 6 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Never move faster than you can move fluidly. The fastest speed at which one may move sometimes looks deceptively slow. This illusion is caused by its fluidity. The “herkimer jerkimer” motions of the frantic may appear fast, but they demand corrections and then corrections of corrections. Never confuse the speed of a single motion with the true time it takes to complete the total movement.

Younger leaders may rush at full speed from stoplight to stoplight; they alternate between the accelerator and the brake. Mature leaders determine the speed that “catches,” which synchronizes with the green lights. Their foot rests lightly, but consistently, on the accelerator. It is true they do not move as fast between the lights, but it is also true that they do not have to stop as frequently. In the end, they get there faster.

 

On the Illusion of the Past Tense and the Fierce Pursuit of the “Knowing”

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:May 5 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Is the present tense a blank canvas? If the past, as we conceive it, is a present tense experience (and it is), then one may conclude that the present is separate from the past. But is this conclusion wholly accurate? The “stuff of me” is a composite of the past so that even my present tense conception is shaped by the chain of present tense events, which have become my history. I want to escape the past, and I can develop a series of propositions that insulates me from my intellectual past, but it cannot protect me against my ontological past.

I am trapped within time. It is only as I experience this phenomenon that I am able to reflect on the possibility of existing outside of time. Still, I struggle with the notion of existing and the notion of timelessness. The “ing” of the concept “exist” implies time. Existence is some sort of forward projection. If this is the case, then one needs a new expression that is somehow connected to existence but is fundamentally different. My tiny mind cannot reconcile existence and timelessness. There must be another property that transcends both a god-property.

However, how can the mind trapped within time contemplate such a property? What is infinity without time? How could the ultimate be both infinite and timeless? If the two concepts are identical, then we must eliminate their notion of duration. I cannot separate infinity from at least one “end” of forever, and yet I cannot reconcile infinity with any concept of time. My incipient nature is killing me on every level.

I cannot know, yet it seems better to know that I cannot know then not to know that I cannot know what I must know. There are some who say that I do not need to even try to know, much less know that I cannot know However, once one reflects on the nature of existence and the ultimate risk of nonexistence or, more importantly, when one reflects on the possibility of the ultimate as transcending existence, how can one not seek to know? Either way, I am dying. Either way, I am fading into nonexistence (or so it seems). I would rather die in a fierce, if futile, charge toward the knowing.

 

On the True Measure of a Writer

Topic:Communication
Posted on:May 5 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

I wonder how one should judge a writer. When one has written as many books as Trollope, there is no doubt (as Trollope conceives himself) there will be a wide variance in the quality of the work. However, do you judge a writer by A) his best work, B) his worst work or C) the overall body of work? I think the best answer is A. If a writer is more concerned with being thought of as a great writer than he is about producing a work that truly serves the reader, he may turn out consistently good projects. However, in playing it safe, he may fail to achieve the ultimate with his ability. I suspect that a great writer is one who puts his or her work first. A great writer is one who puts the work above his reputation. This writer may start writing while young, and his work may mature over time. This writer might take risks and thus produce inferior work. However, this writer who will spend himself for the hope of creating something truly helpful, for the hope of doing his ultimate best is the writer I respect.

Ultimately, a writer must determine whether or not he is writing for the sake of the audience or writing for the sake of his name. 

 

On Leading with Ideas vs. Leading with People

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:May 2 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

A leader cannot lead with ideas; a leader must lead with people. Ideas are valuable in so much as they shape and motivate the actions of people. Ideas disconnected from people have all the power of the unwritten story. The unwritten story may be elegant and beautiful in the imagination of the writer, but, until it is written, it exists only as a fantasy in the mind of a dreamer.

 

On Creative Energy and Idea Generation

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Apr 30 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

I’ve noticed that the creative process, as it results in idea generation, can fill one’s mind with a difficult-to-describe-but-ecstatic-to-experience “creative energy.” When this occurs, we often stop and relish the new idea. This can be a mistake. The delay should be minimal. One should contemplate the new idea just long enough to intensify the force of this creative energy.

The best time to generate a powerful idea is right after you have generated another. Powerful ideas tend to come in succession. At times, it is even helpful to challenge the first with a counter. In any event, we often stop too soon. We need to learn to extend our creative energy. Creative concentration should be less exhausting and more exhaustive.

 

On the Sterilization of Philosophy

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Apr 30 2015
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 than 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. 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.

 

On a Fundamental Difference Between Sales and Marketing

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Apr 29 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Sales is focused on the individual, and marketing is focused on a unity of individuals. Sales can quickly bridge “the customer gap.” In sales, you are talking to a single individual, synchronizing the thought sequence.

In marketing, you are talking to a representative individual, a collective, and you must use a message that is general enough to appeal to that group. Specificity converts, and marketing will always have limitations to its absolute specificity. The gap — the customer gap — comes from not knowing how the representative individual is thinking.  We market only when we cannot sell.

 

On the Uselessness of the Plan That Cannot Be Executed

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Apr 28 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Plans can be an illusion. They represent an ideal, and they are built on the warrant that we can predict behavior, even if it is only our own (this is more difficult than it seems). To some extent, plans are necessary, but we can give them an improper mystique. A plan derives all of its value from its execution. Otherwise, it is not a plan; it is an attempt at art. If a plan’s value is derived from its execution, then we should engage in the planning process only in so much as it enables execution. One moment more is waste.

On Life and the Sweet Bitter

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Apr 24 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

When one has lived long enough and yet somehow maintained a grateful heart in the midst of the human condition, life itself may be thought of as bittersweet. There is the bitter, the horrific pain. There is also the sweet, the inexplicable joy. Either side of this reality can come upon one suddenly. Indeed, I am often ambushed by the bitter, but just as often I am ambushed by the sweet. I might, then, think of life as the bittersweet, but I choose to see it as the inverse: the sweet-bitter. This may seem like a semantic difference. It is more. It is a choice to emphasize the “sweet.” It is a choice to allow one’s gratitude to outweigh one’s horror.

My life is sweet-bitter. 

 

On Communication as Playful Existence

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Apr 23 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

I am intrigued by the notion of “communication play.” I somehow sense that communication itself represents essence in existence, that communication is a form of predication. I also sense that there is a need for multiple approaches. I want to communicate methodically with structure, but I also want to preserve freeform with its transcendent leaps of insight. At times, my soul shivers with anticipation. I sense how much there is that can be said, despite all there is that cannot be said, and, in the saying, I experience the living. Life is present tense. Saying is expression. Expression is existence. 

 

On Oscillating Between Creativity and Intention

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Apr 22 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The more intentional you are about what you need to say, the harder it is to say it well. Creativity is often stifled by intention. To maintain craftsmanship and the creative spirit, one must learn how to oscillate. Let the subconscious initiate and the conscious shape.

 

On Moderating Balance with Extremes

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Apr 21 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Exaggeration is at the heart of artful choice. There are some decisions you cannot make until you have gone too far (at least conceptually). It occurs in design. We try to be precise with our imaginings. It occurs in pricing research. Until your experiment has taken you to the point where you are charging too much, you’ll never know if you are charging enough. The scientist and the artist alike must moderate their balance with extremes.

 

 

On Influence as a Means

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Apr 20 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

I have often said that a leader should lead with influence as opposed to authority. However, it is important to remember that the ultimate goal is not to build influence; influence is just a means to an end. More importantly, influence is an ethereal concept that approximates the way people feel toward you, which is the result of the way you treat people. The way you should treat people is not governed by your desire, but it should be governed by your values. Influence is not the goal; it is a natural result. Furthermore, influence is not the end because the end is not popularity; it is achievement. Every leader should ask three questions: What is the extent of my influence?  What is the source of my influence?  What is or will be the result of my influence? 

 

 

On Consciousness as the Knowing of My “Knowing”

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Apr 18 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Somehow my (self)consciousness seems as though it is more than a unity of subject and object. When I dream (or when I am on the edge of sleep), my thoughts are projected in images. Some of these images are extraordinary. I say extraordinary because they are visually so different from what is happening in the mental. Different or not, they are connected. It is as if my rational becomes visual. (Is this symbiosis at the root of art? Was Schiller correct? Is art the highest expression?)

Is consciousness the knowing of my knowing? Is there a lesser state that is delineated by degrees of the same? Or is it wholly other in its classification? My consciousness seems a doubling of myself. It is self, knowing self. Consciousness is viewed within context, but does consciousness change when I reflect upon myself? At this point, my subjective becomes my objective. I am both subject and object. Is this a unity, or does it only seem to be a unity?

I’m asking many questions, but some of these are not questions. They are answers disguised as questions. I worry over my plurality. I fear my plurality could be confused with unity. Unity is the one; plurality is the aggregate. Unity may be reconsidered as a compound noun, and in this form, it betrays its disguise. With this disguise, the knowing of my knowing may be perceived as an infinite loop. 

 

On Mistaking Patent Inability for Profound Expression

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Apr 16 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Do not mistake arrogance for confidence. This leads to a plethora of horrific artistic expression. A person without confidence tends to be one of two extremes: They are either too tentative, or they are too arrogant.

In a pluralistic society, we are afraid to say what we know deep inside. If you cannot draw or paint, please do not call what you produce “modern.” You are not special, and you are not genius. You are passing off your patent inability as profound expression. Don’t fool us, and don’t be fooled. The only thing worse than deceiving us is deceiving yourself. 

 

On Achieving a False Equilibrium

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Apr 14 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

As human beings we are by nature challenged with internal conflict. This conflict manifests itself in multiple forms, but perhaps the most essential is our struggle between right and wrong – at least as we perceive it. The challenge can emerge as a battle. Over the years the battle wears us down. True peace might come if the good or the right defeats the bad or the wrong. As time passes, this seems impossible.

We then approximate a truce. We accept the measure of the wrong, and try to hold on to a measure of the right. With this acceptance comes a sense of peace. One must be careful with this approach. Is this peace or just a resignation to death?

 

On the Ability to Transcend Selflessly

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Apr 13 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Anthony W

Consciousness of transcendence often keeps one from transcending. The conscious focus on the effort keeps one from transcending the effort. I have noticed that when I meet someone who is transcending the “norm,” it might be because of a marriage that has lasted for 65 years, or it might be because they have molded an authentic life of pervasive prayer, but for whatever reason, that person is unable to tell me the answer to the question asked by everyone: “How did you do it?”  The focus on how to do it is often the greatest obstacle to actually doing it. We need to learn how to transcend and do so in such a way as to trace our path without allowing our steps to get in the way.

 

On Selfishness as the Primary Driver of Sales Velocity

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Apr 10 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

The primary value proposition is necessary but not sufficient. Beginning with the primary expression, the marketer must craft a particular expression around the “private aims” of the prospect. Selfishness, if a benign version, is the primary driver of sales velocity. Even as the selfishness of the marketer can prevent us from connecting with the prospect so too can the selfishness of the prospect enable us to capture their transaction.

 

On the Need for Strategy to Be Embodied in a Person

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Apr 9 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

I don’t want my team to focus on strategy; I want them to focus on becoming strategists. Strategy is stilted. The field has been relegated to a specialist’s discipline. In doing so, leaders have come to rely upon experts to inform their direction. However, it is only when strategy is embodied in a living, breathing person that it can be actualized. The separation between strategy and the strategist has created a gap between planning and execution. It fixes strategy as a periodic event rather than an unfolding process. A winning strategy is not declared; it is lived into.

 

On Learning from a Flash of Pain

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Apr 8 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Sometimes, in a flash of pain, I am able to experience life with some form of direct insight. It is (thankfully) a fleeting glimpse of reality. The stark truth, my plight as incipient, becomes unbearable, and I realize that much of what I believe to be important is trivial, and much of what I believe to be trivial is important. I am a fool, but foolishness has its own balm.

On Confusing a Decision with an Answer

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Apr 7 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

Some of us are seekers. Our passion, our hunger for truth, is intense. But, we must be careful or we will create an intellectual trap we cannot escape. One of our problems is oversimplifying the process. We think it involves a dyad of elements: questions and answers. In reality, it involves a triad of elements: questions, possibilities, and decisions.

We cannot wait for certainty. As Hume has demonstrated and Kant has clarified, there are some answers that lie beyond our reach. But still, we must live, we must survive without an absolute knowing (we are incipient – limited beings with limited knowing). This calls for a nuanced understanding. We need to understand the difference between an answer and a decision.

Reason asks an ultimate question. Faith weighs a possibility and chooses; it reflects a decision in the absence of a certain answer. We cannot be certain because we are limited beings. We cannot be certain, but we can choose. Dogmatism stems from confusing a vital decision with an absolute answer.

 

On the Two Dyads at the Heart of Value Exchange

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Apr 6 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

When expressed as a noun, the offer feels too static. The offer is action, and the action is communication. The efficacy of this speech act is determined by two essential dyads. The first is grounded in the communication itself, the second is grounded in the satisfaction/value itself. The first dyad should be expressed in states to give it a noun/name is insufficient.

The business communicates in a way that results in two states on the part of the customer. The first is I understand it, and the second is I believe it. These two states form the communication dyad of the offer. The satisfaction/value-based dyad is also communicated in states. The first is I want it, and the second is I can’t get it anywhere else. These four states are at the very heart of value exchange. All four represent conclusions on the part of the prospect/customer. The work of the business is not to make a claim but to stimulate a conclusion.

 

On the Problem of That Particular Moment

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Apr 2 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

What is that particular moment? The phrase captures my attention, not the least of which is because each word tends to deny the other. What is answered by that if we remove the is. A moment is always particular, but particular is not always a moment. What is that particular moment? is a question that appears rhetorical but in the end becomes philosophical.

One might be asking, What is that particular moment? with the emphasis on that, as in that instance. One might be asking what that particular moment is. One might be asking what is that particular moment? Particular might be conceived of as the key modifier. It is, in fact, the only modifier. It tries to describe a moment, but isn’t every moment particular?

Language can be a game, and I am playing one now, but not simply to amuse myself. Underneath this is a conception that troubles me. I cannot seem to capture any moments. By the time I reach for the moment, it has passed. What I consider the present tense has already become the past tense. The moment I conceive of it (pardon the pun), the moment is past.

The moment past is not the present. I cannot actually reference any particular moment in reality. What I must reference is the memory of a moment gone by. If I could reference the immediate moment, it might be particular and real, but by the time I point toward it, it is past. Thus I am no longer referencing my moment but only my memory of the moment (which is rather imperfect).

 

On Leadership and the Courage to Be Misunderstood

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Apr 2 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Courage is an important asset to the leader. However, there is a rare form of courage, more subtle and less obvious than the typical expression. It is not necessarily the courage to stand against external threats. It is the courage to be thoroughly misunderstood, even by those who know you the most. The first form of courage wins the respect of all, even your enemies. The second form of courage goes unnoticed, unrewarded, except for the results it produces. The first is noble; the second is subtle.

 

On Life Being Characterized by Your Decisions

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Mar 31 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Life will be more characterized by your decisions than by your answers. The best answers motivate decisions. 

 

On Equating Age with Experience

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Mar 30 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Paul C

One of the few benefits of growing old is the opportunity to develop best-in-class teams. If we equate age with experience, it does not, necessarily, become a complete negative. Indeed, a man that has surrounded himself with the right team has dramatically increased his odds of success.

The longer I live, the more care I give to building out key relationships with the best people in each important specialty (finance, real estate, tax, intellectual property, etc.). Age is taking something from me every moment. I demand that it give me back something better in return.  One of those “better somethings” is a set of highly capable support teams.

 

 

On the Strategist’s Ability to Enter the Mind of Another

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Mar 28 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

Strategy is more about the “strategist” than it is about the “strategy.” The strategist employs a fundamental ability to predict behavior. This ability is grounded in a deeper gift: the ability to enter the mind of another. All other strategic decisions are contingent upon this gift. 

 

On Clean Pain vs. Dirty Pain

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Mar 25 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

There are two kinds of pain: clean and dirty pain. Here is an example of clean pain: someone you love dies. It is like a sharp knife cut; it heals evenly, with less scarring.

Then there is dirty pain. Here is an example of dirty pain: Someone you love betrays you. This is like a jagged knife cut; it heals poorly, with more scarring.

I am trying to live a life that allows me to survive clean pain and that minimizes dirty pain. Age is not just a function of years; it is a result of injuries. The injuries, and particularly the scarring of your soul, costs you more life energy than the simple passing of time. 

 

On Identity and The Difference Between Our Fluid and Static Self

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Mar 24 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

The irony of life comes from answering three questions: “who I am,” “who I thought I was,” and “who I want to be.” The contemplation of these questions can cause one to feel like three distinct people, but peace will only come, when you realize that you are not the three, and you are not even the one. If you are not careful, such thinking will lead to abject disillusionment. Peace comes when you realize that you are not static, but fluid, just a child becoming… One is never “I;” one is always “I-ing.” The “on the way” is who you are. 

 

On Leadership and Determining the Scope of Focus

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Mar 23 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

One of the greatest decisions a team leader will make is the scope of their focus. How wide? How narrow? You must be narrow enough to achieve concentrated excellence. You must be wide enough to maintain sufficient relevance. This is true when you are the individual researcher thinking of your life work. This is true when you are the CEO of an organization. Most err on the side of too wide, not too narrow, and achieve a pseudo-profundity that is four inches deep and four miles wide.

 

On Courage in the Absence of Ultimate Answers

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Mar 19 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

Elsewhere I have written of the dyad, questions and answers, as it relates to the triad, questions, possibilities and decisions. The point of this observation is simple: When we embrace the implications of this triad as it relates to our condition as incipient, we realize the need for a particular virtue.

I use the word “virtue” with deliberate vagueness. It could take many observations to reflect on the various ways in which this word has been used across 4,000 years of debate. But for the purpose of this observation, it is sufficient to say that we need certain qualities of character.

One of the most important of these is often overlooked; it is courage. We think of courage in many ways, but rarely do we think of it in the nuances of spiritual pursuit. However, when one does not have an ultimate answer, and yet must make an ultimate decision, the operational virtue is courage. The most courageous acts in our lives may be those ultimate decisions we make (and truly live) in the absence of ultimate answers.

On Craftsmanship as Directional, Not Definitive

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Mar 19 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

I love to see symmetry in the presentation of words and terms. However, I am painfully aware of the fact that the symmetry is never truly symmetrical, that the aesthetic quality of my craftsmanship is directional but not definitive. The best that I can hope for is a fragment of beauty.

 

 

On Leadership and Transcendent Knowing

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Mar 17 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

There is a difference between pattern recognition and revelatory knowledge. A leader must realize when their perception is connected to the extension of a familiar pattern because such patterns can be disrupted, leading to a surprise outcome. Beyond this, whether the leader has a strong theological orientation or not, there is a sort of revelatory experience that the leader sometimes experiences. It comes in the form of an inexplicable knowing. A leader will somehow know, absolutely know, without any plausible explanation, a fragment of vital information (perhaps an event which is coming). 

This knowing transcends pattern recognition, and it very well may transcend explanation. That does not change its remarkable power. Whether he can explain why he knows or not, the (brute) fact that he knows is still important. There is a categorical difference between pattern recognition and this sort of inexplicable knowing. The leader can move tentatively around the implications of pattern recognition, but he must move decisively when he experiences that sort of transcendent knowing. This is when discretion and courage become an essential dyad.

 

On Stress-testing Our Philosophy

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Mar 16 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Philosophy should be tested across multiple conditions. This is particularly true of philosophical life-systems.” We need to ask, How do these principles work under conditions (x)“? Let the variable (x) represent a set of diverse and extreme conditions. Let these conditions be extracted from a carefully considered selection of life experiences. 

Most philosophers fail to account for the direct experience of radical evil or intense agony. Moreover, they fail to personalize these conditions. The philosopher must ask how they might endure such horror within the constructs of their “life system.” This cannot be an objective question; it must be a subjective question. One must get near the trauma or, at the very least, experience it within their mind.

Let (x) represent the kidnapping, molestation and torture of our own child. The variable (x) is offensive. Indeed, most of us can hardly bear to dwell on such a scenario. However, it is foolish to ignore the possible intensities within our life system and thus prescribe operations for its norms only. Our philosophy must be stress-tested.

 

On Delicious Prose and Structural Draw

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Mar 12 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

Brilliant writing, the work of artists like Wordsworth and Elizabeth Smart, can awe me with its sense of sheer beauty. Nevertheless, it feels to me as though these remarkable writers rely primarily on their delicious prose to draw me in and forward. Something is missing. There is no structural “draw.” Their work is widely read, but couldn’t it find a larger audience if a structural “draw” could be integrated. There is something essential, something revolutionary (and likely offensive to critics) in this approach.

 

On a Leader’s Performance

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Mar 11 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Paul C

The performance problems in a leader are magnified by his organization. A leader’s mistakes are amplified by virtue of his influence. So, a leader must be careful. The best way to correct an organization is to correct himself.

 

On Loving Someone “In Spite Of”

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Mar 10 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Anthony W

The foundation of the deepest relationships is not a discovery of a perfect person; it might not even be a discovery of the right person. It is more of a mutual decision between two people, and its basis is this: I will put up with you if you will put up with me. In situations like marriage, we must approach it with this concept, “I will love you in spite of.” And in some ways, the three most important words in that formulation are not “I love you,” but rather, “in spite of.” Because it is the “in spite of” that makes the “I love you” true.

 

On a Leader’s Ability to Make Decisions

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Mar 9 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

A leader has to genuinely know the difference between what can be done now and what cannot be. He cannot demand what cannot be, but he can’t sacrifice what can be. Most leaders dwell in the middle of these two positions, and so they suffer in their execution.

 

On the Danger of Presenting the Solution before the Problem

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Mar 6 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Our “truth” only matters when it matters to the customer. You cannot solve a problem that does not exist, and existence in this case is a matter of perception. The value of the value proposition exists only in the mind of the (right) prospect. This leads to a simple principle: Never present the solution before the problem. If the problem is already perceived, the marketer needs only to reference it. If the problem is not perceived (at an acute enough level), the marketer must emphasize it.

 

On the Difference between Searching for an Ideal and Working for Satisfaction

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Mar 6 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

In John Stewart Mill’s autobiography, he said, “Suppose that all your objects in life are realized; that all the changes, institutions and opinions, which we are looking forward to, could be completely effective at this very instant. Would this be a great joy and happiness to you?” The answer, he realizes is “no.” He says then that his heart sank; “I seem to have nothing left to live for.

Mill thought he was searching for an ideal, but instead he was working for satisfaction. The philosopher that confuses these two points, wastes a stupendous amount of energy in pursuit of that which is only an illusion. The tragedy is that Mill could never achieve the former objective, but he might have achieved the latter.

 

On the Value of Contingent Decisions

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Mar 5 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

Leaders need to understand the value of a contingent decision. This is a decision based upon assumptions/warrants that can be later validated. The contingent decision is a precursor to the definitive decision. Its value is that it moves the leader from a state of deliberation paralysis and into the flow of execution. It allows the leader to “live their way” into the definitive decision.

On Craftsmanship as Directional, Not Definitive

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Mar 4 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

I love to see symmetry in the presentation of words and terms. However, I am painfully aware of the fact that the symmetry is never truly symmetrical, that the aesthetic quality of my craftsmanship is directional but not definitive. The best that I can hope for is a fragment of beauty.

On Art and the Priority of Relentless Thinking over Generous Criticism

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Mar 2 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Likeness indicates essence. Art is an extreme universe populated by rare achievements of genius nearly smothered by bland, mundane, “me-too” frauds. You cannot be a generous critic; you must be a relentless thinker. But criticism begins with the self, not the artist. You cannot critique the artist until you have launched a full assault on your own self-deception. What I fail to see in myself blinds my appraisal of another’s work.

 

On the Importance of the Connection between The Mission, The Work, and The Person

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Feb 28 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

It is important for every person who works for you to know that they are important. If you treat them like they are important, they will treat their work like it is important. The effective leader must recognize the interconnectedness between a triad of key elements: he must connect the importance of the mission, to the importance of the work, to the importance of the person.

Achievement within an organization always follows an achievement within an individual. An organization cannot grow beyond its people. The growth of a company is inexorably linked to the growth of its people. The leader’s focus, then, should be upon growing not his company, but rather his people. The latter will stimulate the former.

 

On the Practice of Marketing as Science and Art

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Feb 27 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Stephen Brown, from the University of Ulster, in 2001, wrote a paper now considered a classic: Art or Science? 50 years of marketing debate.[1] Brown is an exceptional thinker, but an even better writer. The purpose of this observation isn’t to critique his piece, but only to touch on the concepts of art and science. At MECLABS, we emphasize the science aspect. But, I fully appreciate the artistic aspect as well. I think this debate between “marketing as science” and “marketing as art” misses the point. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Science can be employed in order to help ground the art form. One needs science to develop appropriate metrics and even suggest the nature of the creative for the campaign. One needs art to transcend the gap between what we know about the customer and what we should know. There is art in the work of Claude Hopkins, Rosser Reeves, and David Ogilvy. There is art not just in the beauty of the creative, but also in the innate ability to connect with another human being – to connect with their mysterious thought process. In marketing, we need not abandon the science, to appreciate the art.



[1] Brown, S. (1996). Art or science? fifty years of marketing debate. Journal of Marketing Management, 12(1), 243-267.

 

On the Importance of the Decision Process over the Decision Outcome

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Feb 26 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

Our purpose minded programming predisposes us to focus on outcome instead of process. This is particularly true of the decision cycle. Decision-makers need tools. Too much focus on the decision itself can keep you from developing an accurate tool.

Consider a man estimating the weight of three similar looking objects. He may form theory after theory as to which object weighs the most. This theorizing can become an industry (hence the birth of academia). There is fodder for constant debate. There may be three camps: Those who believe the heaviest object is only A or only B or only C.

Then there are the compound camps: those who believe object A and B weigh the same, or some other hybrid possibility. Then you have anti-camps: those who question whether the objects weigh at all, or who protest the act of questioning what the objects weigh, etc., ad nauseam.

All this focus on the end distorts the importance of the means. The best way to resolve the debate is to develop a tool that can accurately weigh each object. I know that ends are ultimately important, but I fear that we have lost the significance of means. Furthermore, I fear that we have artificially separated the two and created a sort of mechanistic dualism.

 

On Leadership and the Need to See through Three Sets of Eyes

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Feb 25 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The leader must develop a rare ability to see through three sets of eyes. He must see himself, his team, and his customers through his own eyes, but he must be able to see these same three entities through the eyes of his team, and of his customers. The leader who loses the ability to see through his own eyes loses the ability to shape the future. The leader who loses the ability to see through the eyes of others loses the ability to draw others to that future.


 

On Marketing and the Power of Specificity

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Feb 23 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Specificity converts. In marketing there should be no such thing as a general message. The marketer communicates with an aim. This aim should dictate everything else we say. This aim should influence, even constrain, every word we say.

Hemmingway said, “Make every word tell.” In marketing, the principles are the same. In the average agency, there is far too much energy expended on the general. Generalization, in marketing is only acceptable where specificity cannot be achieved. 

 

On Art as Light Yielding Perspective

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Feb 20 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

All of art is a form of poetry. Art cannot be judged by the criterion of the efficient, nor is it’s inherit inefficiency a form of subtle glorification. Art is recognized by its ricochet effect. It strikes first in the heart of an artist.

Art is related to a penetration of darkness. All art takes a form of light. It is the angle, the expression, the limitation, the breakthrough…

Art is most often an unexpected light. When you hear art, it changes how you see. Art often begins from a different perspective. Art often yields a different perspective. There is no perspective without light. Darkness is the absolute void of perspective.

 

On Speaking with the Background

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Feb 19 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Often, I occupy the foreground of my mind in order to ruminate with the “background.” I have little confidence in the accepted classification of conscious and sub-conscious phenomena. Nevertheless, I am aware of levels within the collection of activities that constitute the “presencing” of my “I-ness” (think David Hume).

Moreover, I think there is a place in art for the background to say more than the foreground. Indeed this inverse approach bears experimentation. In some ways, William James achieved this in the dialogue of his characters. What they did not say was louder than (even contradicting) what they did say. (At MECLABS, I have occupied the world with the foreground of my research, but the more interesting message lies ever-so-faintly in the background).

The best poetry speaks from the background, not the foreground. In music, proper attention is placed on the foreground, either the voice instrument or the direct message of the lyrics. But the more powerful compositions seep down deeper into the sub-soul of the listener (think Leonard Cohen).

Excerpt from: Short Story: On the Merciless, Relentless Pressing

 

On the Three-Question Path that Defines My Becoming

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Feb 18 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

The question, “Why do people say yes?” is different than the question, “Why does a (particular) person say yes?” While the two questions seem similar, the difference is in the movement from the general to the particular. My initial work has focused on stochastic samples, and I have looked at these stochastic samples as they relate to commercial application.

However, the human mind is a mystery, and a particular individual may say “yes” for reasons that defy easy analysis. I have emphasized the importance of perceived value and perceived cost. In doing so, I’m drawing attention to the notion of perception, and in doing that, I am hinting at the next layer of research: Why two different people might look at the same value/cost set and perceive two different “sums.”

The answer to this question takes all of my current work to an entirely new level. Personally, I have found this second question leads to an especially revealing third question. In the final analysis, the most important question is not “Why do people say yes?,” and it is not “Why does a person say yes?” It is only this: “Why am I saying yes?”

On Frustration as a Corrective

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Feb 17 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

Frustration is seen as a negative, but frustration, like pain, serves as an important corrective. When we experience pain, we alter our actions (if we touch the hot coal, we withdraw our hand). However, when we experience frustration, we tend to “wallow” in the condition.

Frustration is an indication that something is wrong. Thinking should be fluid. One must be careful not to accept, and thus get trapped, within a condition of perpetual frustration. Sometimes the answer to the question is only this: Did I ask the right question? This leads to another: What is the right question?

 

On Leadership and the Need to Harness Fear

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Feb 14 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

A good leader will create some fear. Popular literature has made us afraid of fear. But a team that does not experience some fear is not dealing with reality.

There are many things in the marketplace for which we should have a healthy fear, and if the leader has a healthy fear of such things (competitive threat, the erosion of the value proposition, etc.) then his team needs to have a healthy fear as well. The leader should not always allay fear; sometimes it is better to harness it.

 

On Intensification as Variance in Literature

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Feb 13 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

How can one bring more craftsmanship to short reflective passages? One of the key moves within quality literature is to introduce disharmony into a seemingly harmonious structure. Parallelism, which is essential to many of the modern forms, is only powerful when the second branch introduces variance. This variance often takes the form of intensification.

 

 

On the Power of Ideas over Money and Bullets

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Feb 11 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

There are two ways to conquer. History teaches us that the Greeks were conquered by the Romans, but who conquered who? Greek art, Greek culture and Greek philosophy dominated Roman life a thousand years later; indeed, it is still dominant today. You cannot achieve with money what you can achieve by thought. The world is not ruled by money or bullets, but by ideas. The former two are always directed by the latter.

 

On Divine Mercy

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Feb 10 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

It seems to me that atheism is a form of religion and, ultimately, dogmatic. I could lay out the propositions behind my reasoning, but I do not care not to. Atheism and theism both require a form of faith. Agnosticism is different. The agnostic can worship. The agnostic can pray. The agnostic is not certain, but by virtue of the fact that the agnostic cannot be certain, there are certain prayers that seem highly appropriate. Above all, there is this prayer (Eastern Orthodox): “God have mercy on me.” 

Mercy is a Christian concept, but the word and its essence existed long before the Judaea Western Christian ethic. It is as old as the first wrong done to a human being. We have “Christianized” the word, but we must not lose the essence of its meaning. If there is the ultimate, then the incipient can utter in a desperate mix of fear and hope, “God have mercy on me.”

 

On the Power of the Wave

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Feb 6 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Never underestimate the power of the “social wave.” Catching the right wave at the right time can make an ordinary man seem like an absolute genius. We often look back at extraordinary men and try to understand what it was about them or what it was about their work that yielded such a dramatic impact. However, in many cases, it was not the man or his work that served as the primary catalyst; it was the wave. Cleary, it took all three, but we would not even have known these people if it was not for the wave they caught.

Darwin is an example. When he proposed evolution, the world’s intellectual culture was searching for a cosmic explanation that was not dependent upon an involved “creator god.Charles Darwin said himself that his ideas took off like wild fire that he was surprised. The same can be said of Martin Luther. His 95 Theses came at precisely the right time in the sociopolitical culture of Europe. Examples could be multiplied, but I am fascinated with a more intriguing observation: 

Have we considered the difference between those men who were brilliant, but did not catch the wave (Galileo), those men who were brilliant and did catch the wave (Einstein) and those rare, very rare, leaders who deliberately initiated “the wave”? 

 

 

On Dwelling in Possibility

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Feb 5 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

A leader may envision the ideal so clearly that it becomes present tense in his own mind before it is actually present tense in the world around him. In some cases, this tense differential will create communication gaps. I will naturally operate as though I have a reality that is yet to come (Emily Dickenson said, “I dwell in possibility”). I must be careful not to get too far ahead of my team or to over-communicate my position. It is a constant challenge. The future is already present in my mind. Still, I must remain acutely aware of the differential between where we are and where we need to be.

 

 

On the Term ‘Particular’

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Feb 4 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

What is particular? Now, I know that there is a long-standing exploration amongst philosophers between the universal and the particular. I cannot engage in this debate for multiple reasons. First, I am completely unprepared. Leibnitz might have been the “last man who knew everything,” he could and did read every important book in the western world (I assume). I cannot do this. I cannot go back far enough nor can I read wide enough to understand the difference between the universal and the particular as it has been debated these last few thousand years.

What, then, am I to do when I try and understand the notion of the particular? On the surface, this reflection seems as though it concerns the universal and the particular, but in particular, it concerns the notion of understanding anything when I must first engage in a full understanding of what has been said before, in a world where what has been said before has multiplied so exponentially that I cannot get to my saying because I am so worried about what has been said. I hardly think that a literature review is sufficient in most cases, and even if it were, it only captures what somebody has said in print. If I want to stand above all of those previous findings and debates and then, in their context, add knowledge, I must somehow have been able to grasp the expansiveness down to the particular, down to what has been said before. I do not think I can do this.

This leads to a problem that is, in particular, more particular than my focus on the particular – that if I were to try to understand the particular in light of all that has been said, I cannot even begin. The thought is overwhelming. I am left to try to understand the particular through my limited context, and in particular through my own reason. This leads to an intellectual insecurity. Why should I start this over? Should I know what has been said so that when I think, I can at least begin further down the intellectual trail?

It seems as though I am destined to come to a tentative meaning of any particular notion, faltering in particular because I cannot possibly do what is necessary to grasp the whole of the subject matter. This leads me into a sort of trap. I am held hostage by my capacity to absorb information. I cannot transcend this point if I am confident that my own thinking is sufficient. But is it? I do not think so, and so I consign myself to knowing something. The problem is something is not sufficient. In fact, if I were to agree with Descartes’ intuitive grasp of the whole, as expressed in his geometric method, then I might say this leaves me “stuck” somewhere in a conundrum between one inferential point and another, never grasping the end-to-end sequence, unable to provide a unity. Perhaps then I should express my thinking within the safety of ambiguous language a la Nietzsche. I cannot say, but then that is the problem. I cannot say precisely because I cannot know.

 

On Marketing and the Importance of the Offer

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Feb 3 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The marketer says many things so they can say one thing: the offer. Without this main thing, all the rest is of no importance.

On The Difference between the General and the Particular

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jan 30 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

This is the key to understanding the difference between the general and the particular: The man speaking of the general talks about guns and bullets; the man speaking of the particular aims a gun and at another’s heart. One man makes a claim; the other impacts a life. The value of the general is only important when it reaches the particular. The moment you stop impacting life, you stop existing. Don’t confuse the effect with the cause.

 

On Limitation as the Way to Ultimate Performance

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jan 29 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Specialization is almost always forced by limitation. Restriction (enforced from the inside) rarely works. Limitation (imposed from the outside) is the only force powerful enough to ensure true specialization. Without specialization, we do not find extremes, and without extremes, we do not find giants in terms of performance. A multitude of abilities and capacities is sometimes more of a curse than a blessing. Rarely is it accompanied by the will to enforce enough restriction. Limitation must be imposed, or this remarkable set of abilities will never coalesce into ultimate performance. 

On the Priority of the Immediate over the Important

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jan 27 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

Strategy yields to the immediate. A general can carefully plan his strategy for winning the war, but put him in a firefight, and he will drop his pen and start shooting back at whoever is shooting at him.

On Content That Does Not Fit within a Container

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jan 22 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

When my mind is engaged in layers of introspection, the structure I embed my thoughts within can sometimes prove inadequate. This can catch me by surprise. I am focused on the content, not the container, but in the depths of the reflection, I discover that the content no longer fits within the container. I have to modify the latter to absorb the former. In such cases, I look for the most flexible container. This is how we developed the observation system. It provides maximum flexibility for capturing thoughts. It legitimizes chaos.

 

 

On the Difference between a Good Decision and the Right Decision

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jan 21 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The leader does not lead with internal certainty; a leader leads from internal peace. Certainty and peace are not the same. I have often experienced peace with a decision, even though I am uncertain as to its outcome. The leader who strives for certainty will live a life of anxiety. There is a difference between a good decision and the right decision. The leader’s goal is to make a good decision. Indeed, the leader’s goal should be to embark on a pattern of good decisions. Often enough, this will lead to the right outcome.  

 

On Transcending Value with Satisfaction

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jan 20 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

Commerce can be understood through the lens of the subject-predicate concept. The entity predicates. The essential predication can be described by two sets of activities: 1) They create satisfaction and 2) They offer satisfaction.

I use the word “create” to suggest any activity that results in a product. I use the word product to encompass any form of value offered via a hard good or a service. I use the word offer to describe the special activity of communicating the potential satisfaction or value.

The average CEO underestimates the import of this secondary type of predication. A business that does not offer will not remain a business. Indeed, a business that does not offer is not a business an intentional contradiction. This leads to two operative words: “offer” and “satisfaction.”

I could use the word “value” instead of the word “satisfaction,” but I am transcending value with a customer focus. Value that does not satisfy is meaningless. One may argue that it is not even value. It was value in the mind of the business, but it is not value in the mind of the customer. If it is not value in the mind of the customer, we do not have a customer. Thus, we do not have value. Therefore, we do not have a business.

 

On Thinking Fast vs. Thinking Deep

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jan 17 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

I need to let the passion for my organization’s value proposition to drive us forward, but I cannot let this same passion “break” us either… The leader must play the long game. We should work in multiples of five. While tasks should be achieved at the most fluid (which is the fastest) speed, values can only be instilled slowly. We should multiply our desired timeframe by five. For tasks, think fast. For values, think deep.

On Leadership and the Danger of Lavish Praise

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Jan 15 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Lavish praise loses its luster (as does everything else in which we lavishly indulge). Dale Carnegie is often quoted for advising his readers to be “lavish in your praise,” but I think the leader should be careful about taking Carnegie too literally. One’s praise should be specific and honest. Carnegie’s admonition is best translated into a high level of alertness for each meaningful opportunity to praise, and thus encourage, our team members. 

 

On the Need for a Meta-Theory of Optimization

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Jan 10 2015
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

Is there a general underlying theory of optimization that will allow you to improve results regardless of the medium or the business category? Isn’t there more to optimization than learning a set of rules? How can we gain a deep understanding of the optimization process? Is there some way for the average marketer to quickly identify the core psychological problems signaled by an underperforming page?

Optimization experts are proliferating. Books on the subject are multiplying. But as one philosopher observed, “the more words, the less meaning.” We are alternately reprimanded, or encouraged, to religiously apply the new “irrefutable laws of optimization”: Left Nav is the best Nav, use Alt tags with your images, keep the call to action above the fold, minimize the number of required field forms, ad nauseum.

At first, this growing body of knowledge is impressive. And in recent months, I have noticed that my students begin their certification training with a better grasp of the fundamental concepts. One might easily conclude an increase in expertise.

I beg to differ.

Knowing the “what” does not mean that you know the “why,” and if you do not know the “why,” you may not know the “when” – that is you may not know “when” a given rule applies in a given situation. Specific, tactical guidelines are applicable only to specific, tactical problems. Their limitation is in their adaptability. It is not enough to grasp a handful of common rules and then fling them at a poorly designed page. We need a theory that imparts the universal meaning beneath the “rules.”

 

On Great Organizations Being Built by Broken Men

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Jan 9 2015
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

Great organizations are built by broken men. It takes extreme strength to overcome the organic resistance of the perfect. Balanced men make solid managers, but they do not always make great entrepreneurs.

On Reviving the Appreciation of Management

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Dec 30 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

For some time I have been sensing and stating that the real key to accomplishing the most is valued in today’s leadership culture. It is the concept, “management.” I have fallen in love with this word.

The more I ponder the more I realize that management is the lever by which most can be accomplished. Somehow, in our society, the concept of management has taken a second position to the concept of leadership. I do not believe in a leadership model that is devoid of a core management competency. I prefer the word “management” over the word “leadership.” Management is a more humble term.

In the meantime, I have come across a text that seems to underscore my point. This morning I was reading Jim Collins and Gerry Porras’ book “Built to Last.” Its second chapter corroborates my recent perception. They constantly extol those organizations whose focus was on building the company as opposed to building the product.

The authors call it “clock building,” not “time telling.”

They prefer the word “architect” over the word “leader.” I know instinctively what they are trying to say. It does not surprise me that their analyzed data indicate that charismatic leaders have not been as effective in the long term as careful managers. These findings are so encouraging.

It takes one’s emphasis off, “the next big thing” and it puts one’s emphasis on building the organization.

On Communication the Danger of Gimmicks

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Dec 23 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

Most speakers confuse techniques with gimmicks. They regale their audience with a series of practiced gimmicks. In doing so, the man and the method get in the way of the message. A proper technique disappears; a gimmick lies shimmering and slippery on the surface

 

On Communication and the Bilateral Promise

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Dec 20 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

In the craftsmanship of the classic presentation, the writer or speaker is taught to develop a problem and a proposition. I have modified the proposition to a promise, but I do not believe in a unilateral promise; I believe in a bilateral promise. I promise the audience something, but only if they do something in return. This forms an intellectual and spiritual contract. It is honest, because if they do not do their part, I cannot do mine. It also creates an understanding and a mutual expectation that powers the forward momentum of the presentation.

 

On the Leader’s Ability to Lead from Failure

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Dec 18 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

The best way to give your team permission to fail, is to fail in front of your team. Your vulnerability attracts theirs. 

 

On Choosing As Existing

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Dec 16 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

The hallmark of the rational agent is choice. How can reason be separate from choice? Even the acceptance of a proposition represents choice. We need to delve deeper into the nature of choice. Indeed for the rational agent, choosing is existing. The present-tense is a steady stream of choice.

On Sustaining Velocity in the Purchase Process

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Dec 11 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The value proposition begins as an abstract concept, but the moment it is engaged by the prospect it enters the time-space continuum. It moves from “thing” to predicate. At this moment (pun intended), time becomes a key element. The value proposition’s force is sustained by velocity. This principle can be understood with four simple observations:

1. At various points in the micro-yes series we may have difficulty adjusting the force of the value proposition so that the perceived value outweighs the perceived cost. This is because of business rules and/or various constraints.

2. The key is to build enough forward momentum from the previous series of micro yes(s) so that the prospect will “roll on” through these potential “chokepoints.”

3. Now, if we aggregate too many of these chokepoints, or if we embed a chokepoint with too much constriction, purchase progress stops.

4. The momentum is initiated by the value proposition, but it is mitigated by the friction of the process.

At MECLABS, we have pioneered a fundamental understanding of the micro-yes/conversion sequence, but we need to account for the importance of velocity in the purchase process.

 

On the Leader’s Responsibility to Diminish Himself

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Dec 8 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Paul C

Sometimes a leader must diminish himself. His goal is not to raise his visibility, and thus his capability in the perception of his team, but rather it is the inverse. As he diminishes himself, team members rise up. Sometimes the worst possible thing you can do is impress your team. The leader needs to know how to make himself small so he can make his team big.

 

On Leadership and The Need to Separate the “What” from the “When”

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Dec 5 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The leader knows “where” before he knows “how,” but he knows “how” before he knows “when.” It is the “when” element which makes fools out of wise men. We often know what will happen, but we seldom know when (precisely when). If we are not careful, our careless assignment of timelines may undermine our team’s trust. The leader needs to separate the “what” from the “when”; else the latter will jeopardize the credibility of the former.

On Content as Marketing and Marketing as Content

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Nov 21 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

We are in a new advertising era. We are moving from advertising as interruption to advertising as utility. Advertising should not be served; it should serve – it should be useful. And we should be moving from the notion of “content marketing” to the notion of “content as marketing” and “marketing as content.” Why is this distinction important? Because the content is not just a means to an end; it is an end in itself – the best advertising is content.

On Leadership and the “Humble-device”

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Nov 20 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:David J

The leader should never confuse a state of humility with a “humble-device.” True humility is often feigned by the employment of such devices: self-depreciating humor, a moment of vulnerability, a calculated self-criticism. The problem is this: Humility is not a single action. It is an internal state from which all action should flow. 

 

On Leadership and Disagreeing Agreeably

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Nov 18 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

When a leader makes a decision contrary to the council of his top advisors, he needs to be careful that he does not misunderstand his task. He can agree with them, or he can agree to disagree with them agreeably. However, he should never just disagree. This third way costs too much equity, and even if you win by virtue of your authority, you lose the value of your influence. 

 

On Leadership and the Effective Message

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Nov 14 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:David J

Every leader delivers an offer — marketing is not limited to a division. The leader’s messaging must be guided by three maxims: Explanation precedes declaration; value precedes cost, and clarity precedes persuasion. 

 

On the Priority of Clarity Over Persuasion

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Nov 14 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Jon P

Start with clarity, then and add persuasion. An attempt to be compelling that does not involve clarity is neither clear nor compelling. 

 

On How a Temporary “Yes” Can Buy a Permanent “No”

Topic:Method
Posted on:Nov 13 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:David J

Sometimes one painful, yet temporary, “yes” buys you an opportunity for a smart “no.”  By saying “yes” once to something unpleasant, you create the opportunity for you to think through how you would (graciously) give a permanent “no” in the future. This can be a small price to pay for a strong relationship.

 

On Writing the Song That Cannot Be Said

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Nov 8 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Music must come from the part of you that cannot say, or be said. Try to write the songs you cannot put into words. If you can put it into words, it is probably not worthy of a song.

On Research Method as a Means to an End

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Nov 4 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

As I have said in the past, “the truth is where you find it.” Sometimes a poor research method leads to a “true” result. Sometimes a rich research method leads to a “false” result. We must always place the priority on the result, not the method. The method is a means to an end. It is important, but it is not most important. Unfortunately, at times the academy places more value on the method than the result. The value of the method is derived from the value of the result.

On the Concept of “I”

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Nov 3 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Jon P

The metaphor by which we understand ourselves stimulates both enlightenment and confusion. If we think in terms of multi-plexity, we think in terms of aggregate parts, which implies multiple units. If we think in terms of zone, we think in terms of area, which implies the movement of a point across a space.

Either metaphor is flawed.

Sartre is valuable in that he breaks down a single conception of “I”. His understanding, or misunderstanding, of Kierkegaard provides the lever with which he moves this mountain. And his adaption of Husserl teases out the implications of the “so moved mountain.”

But phenomenology begins not with what the writer is writing about, but with that which the “I” is in the present tense of the writing. It is more productive to contemplate the “I” of its writing, than the conclusions which are argued for. My predicate is my subject. My subject is my predicate. Predication creates the subject from reverse perspective. 

Consider the application to a single predicated condition: “I am guilty.” What does this mean?

It implies that “I” is the same as “guilty.” But I cannot use the two interchangeably. What’s more, it does not clarify if as to whether or not all of “I” is guilty, or just part of “I” is “guilty, or whether the action of “I” is guilty quite apart from the essence of “I.” The problem isn’t “guilty”, the problem isn’t “I”; the problem is “am.”

The only meaningful word in this three part phrase is the word “am.” And on this word all of the problems hinge.

It is difficult to separate my “am” from my “am-ing.” It’s like trying to reach into a stream and grasp the same water twice. I am not a point. I am the stream.  And guilt cannot flow in the same way as my “am-ing.”

Does this mean that there is not some approximation of some wrong doing that equivocates with a charge “guilty?” It does not. But it creates untenable problems.  For instance, how do I punish the guilty? If the “I,” which was “am-ing,” predicated in a form that can be condemned as guilt, then the only way to punish the “I” is to be able to grasp the water from the stream again.

Am I against all forms of punishment? No. I am against the darkness which oversimplifies the condition within which I must survive. And in saying so, I resort either to pathos, or to irony.  For the “I’s” which load the previous three sentences may not even be one in the same. I am this which is “is-ing.” And I cannot be captured by the cartoon of conceptualized existence.

I am both more and less. 

 

On Mistaking Talent for Truth

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Oct 31 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

Do not mistake appealing writing for truthful content, and do not mistake a great intellect for a great theologian/philosopher. There is a difference between being skillful and being right.

On the Value of Insights over Results

Topic:Method
Posted on:Oct 30 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

What we call “customer theory” might better be conceived as “customer wisdom”. Too often, marketers pursue quick results rather than rich insights. However, profound understanding of the customer can be translated into profound advantage over the competitor.

On the Decline of the Well Written Letter

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Oct 30 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

It occurs to me that letter writing, which achieved rare form in recent centuries, has been on a steady decline. The advent of technology has increased our output, but not our quality. It has also schooled us in shorter forms of communication. As I reflect over my life, it seems that some of the most compelling moments occurred as I read a thoughtful letter. I think that I could use the power of the letter far more effectively in my own work. I want to reflect on this more. I am busy writing books, busy sending emails, and event texts. In the process, I wonder if I have lost appreciation for the power of a well written, well timed, letter.

On Urgency and the Growing Organization

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Oct 28 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

Over the years, I have avoided developing a frantic work environment. I have found that frantic activity produces stress and errors — so much so, that the increase in work produces only limited results.

Nevertheless, I have grown to recognize that in the attempt to avoid frantic activity one must not lose a sense of urgency. It is easy to underestimate the impact of time on the quality of results.

This is the resolution: one must learn to cultivate a sense of urgency throughout the organization while avoiding a sense of panic. Frantic activity is wasteful; urgent activity is powerful.

 

On the Balance of Passion and Responsibility

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Oct 24 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Paul C

The leader must be careful not to let their passion for future opportunities eclipse their present tense responsibilities. Exciting visions and challenges are no substitute for doing what we have to do every single day.  It is not that we should ignore future opportunities, but that we must faithfully earn our way in…

 

On the Danger of Apprehending Beauty

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Oct 22 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Paul C

Beauty is not apprehended; it is appreciated. It is the apprehension of beauty that costs us beauty itself. The harder we grasp for it, the more damage we inflict upon it. That which is most beautiful is most free. The moment we capture beauty is the moment we diminish it.

 

On Leadership and the Importance of Unreasonable Demands

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Oct 18 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Anthony W

The leader must be careful of accepting good reasons for bad outcomes. When good people do good work, they may still experience a bad outcome. Thus because they are good, and because their work is good, they can sometimes offer a good reason for a bad outcome. The empathetic leader may be tempted to accept this good reason as a good excuse. Beware: Some outcomes are so important that no excuse is acceptable. In such cases, the leader’s team may believe their leader to be unreasonable, but unreasonable (unacceptable) outcomes demand “unreasonable” leaders. 

 

On the Quest for Wholeness

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Oct 17 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

I think the internal quest to be fully human is a quest for wholeness. Our divided selves reflect our distance from the ideal. As we pursue full integration; an undivided heart, we are in fact moving towards the actualization of our person. This pursuit inevitably integrates all of the pathos within an individual. Such an integration artfully encompasses symmetry.

On Leadership and Giving Your Team Ownership

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Oct 11 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:David J

Sometimes the leader knows the answer, or perhaps he knows the most efficient way to get to the answer. Still, it may be best to allow his people to overcomplicate the answer, to overcomplicate the method by which they get to the answer. By doing so, he gives them a sense of genuine ownership and contribution. Beware; your attempt to show them the best way may really be your attempt to show them your “superiority.” 

On the Difference between Clarity and Simplicity

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Oct 9 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:David J

Leaders must grow comfortable with paradox and nuance. Clarity does not equate with simplicity.  Simplicity does not equate with easy.  

 

On the Myth of Ends

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Oct 4 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Paul C

The danger of most projects, particularly when they are involved in creative production, is that we allow ourselves to strive for a condition of “stasis.” The hope for a stasis makes us feel that we are aiming toward an ultimate, and once we achieve this ultimate, we can rest, and perhaps move to something new. This entire way of thinking misses the fact that life is fluid from beginning to end and stasis does not truly exist. The present tense is gone before you can actually conceive it. We need to think of all these efforts as the initiation of a process, not the completion of an end.

 

On Leadership and the Balance between Strength and Humility

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Oct 3 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Flint M

There are two kinds of leaders: Those who are arrogant in a clumsy, overt way and those who are arrogant in a subtle and nuanced way (some are just better at hiding it). I have never met a truly humble leader. I have met a few leaders who exhibit “patches” of humility, but I have never met one clothed with it. Humility is important, but strength is important as well. Strength without humility is still better than humility without strength. Indeed, humility without strength is not humility at all; it is just thinly disguised insecurity. 

 

On Breaking Through the Last Great Breakthrough

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Sep 30 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

The greatest resistance to the next great thought breakthrough is the last great thought breakthrough. Einstein, despite his genius, resisted new quantum physics theories until the very end.

At MECLABS we cannot let the last great breakthrough get in the way of the next. The truth is where you find it, but also, the truth is when you find it. 

 

On the Writer’s Genius Getting in the Way of His Pen

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Sep 27 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

I am suspect of systems, yet I find some of those writers who are revered may, in fact, be revered because of the lack of clarity in their work.

There is no doubt that Kant was a genius, and to me, there is no doubt his work is important. But it is difficult to discern what he truly meant to say. There is a difference between a thinking genius and a communicating genius. He may have been the former, but I doubt he was the latter.

Kierkegaard wrote under nine pseudonyms. Existentialism, of which he is purported to be the “Father,” seems far removed from his original intent, but who can be sure?

Nietzsche’s work, Thus Spake Zarathustra, is ambiguous. I am shocked by the differences of interpretation.

Yet, when I read some other less respected but clearer thinker (perhaps C. S. Lewis), I am amazed by the quality of expression. His genius did not get in the way of his pen

 

On Differing Opinions and the Search for Truth

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Sep 26 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

Among the multiplicity of differing opinions, there should be at least a general agreement that there is a multiplicity of differing opinions. Everyone does not agree. Furthermore, most would agree with the proposition that, in some form or another, the differing opinions are mutually exclusive. At least, in some ways, the two contrary positions cannot both be true. While there are those that disagree with my point, their argument is mostly negated by the fact that we disagree on this very point (pettito principi).

 

On Balancing Humility with Good Judgement

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Sep 25 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Jon P

A leader cannot afford to let his humility get in the way of his good judgment. Sometimes a leader takes the blame because he is attempting to make peace, but we must clearly discern fault where it lies, even if we are silent about it. We have to “know” so that we can “do.” We have to know rightly so that we can do rightly.

 

On Uncertainty as the Absence of Power

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Sep 24 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

Darkness is not a color; it is the absence of light. Uncertainty is not a characteristic; it is the absence of power.

 

On Growing a Leader beyond Your Own Needs

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Sep 20 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Paul C

The more I train a person to become a leader, the more discontent they become in their current role. I do not own anyone, but it hurts to see them go. Yet, for some reason I draw satisfaction from seeing someone grow into who they should or could be rather than have them become who I need them to be.

 

On Conflating Parts with Layers

Topic:Method
Posted on:Sep 19 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:David J

People sometimes conflate levels with parts. At times, I seem to be operating from different parts — parts of my person. Because these parts display an independent intelligence (even if this is an illusion), it may seem as though I am living in contradiction. Nevertheless, sometimes what is perceived as parts (horizontal expression) is actually levels (vertical expression).

I am working on multiple levels, and I have laid my life down in (confusing) layers. Thus, within my own work, even within what appears to be a chaotic flow of observations, are intentional levels of application.  

 

On Attempts to Resolve the Uncertainty Condition

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Sep 18 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

Elsewhere I have written on the uncertainty condition. Attempts to resolve the problem produce only more “flailings” in the sea of uncertainty. In reality, the problem is not external, and the problem is not internal. The whole of the person is incipient. For this very reason, any warrants about warrants are subject to error. It is not enough for one to consider one’s condition as an incipient; one must consider it in comparison to the possibility of the ultimate. It is only when the incipient recognizes the possibility of the ultimate that the true gravity of the situation appears.

 

On the Illusion Created by Looking Backward

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Sep 17 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Paul C

The currents bear me forward, onward, toward the endless end. The drift is deceptive … it feels like a direction, but is it really? I see the path, but only when I look away; away from where I am going to where I have been. Looking backward creates the illusion that I have been looking forward.

On Leadership and Simplicity without Oversimplification

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Sep 16 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

People don’t let you occupy too many categories in their mind. You are either this type or that type. It is hard for people to imagine that you can be both types. It is harder for them to imagine that you can be multiple types. The wise leader will understand the difference between who he is and who people think he is. This calls for simplicity without oversimplification. The leader must communicate out of his complexity with unfeigned simplicity.

On Self-Defined Output

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Sep 11 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:David J, Phillip A

I fear that most of our lives are self-defined by what happens on the surface, when in fact they are truly defined by how we interpret what is happening on the surface. 

It may be easier to understand this if we think of a computer with its operating system, its applications and its output. A computer is not identical to its output. Indeed, the output is dependent upon the application, and the application is dependent upon the operating system.

Most of us spend our lives searching for new applications and working to achieve new outputs. But we fail to address the fundamental issue: our operating system. Philosophy challenges my personal operating system.

On the Implications of a Stimulated Response

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Sep 11 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:David J

One must be aware of the implications of a stimulated response. This seems self-apparent; indeed, it is necessary for a response to have a stimulus. However, I am referring to stimulus in the form of some external element, such as a lecture or a book.

We sometimes take up these choices as if the book or lecture were incidental, when indeed they are accidental. The very fact that they are accidental calls into question the purity of the resulting action. We all seem to feel better if we view our responses as deliberate actions. Indeed, there is comfort in viewing our effects as causes. This gives us a false sense of independence, but it obscures the truth and keeps us from understanding that our first (right) choice is to choose our stimuli.

On the Measure of a Man

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Sep 10 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:David J

The test of a man is what it takes to stop him. You measure a leader by the size of his problems. You cannot measure a leader by his last achievement; his last achievement is always outsized by his “new” greatest problem. The key in life is to trade up problems, not to eliminate them.

 

 

On the Website as Experience Set

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Sep 5 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:David J

To achieve the most with our e-commerce website we must go beyond the mundane concept of a catalog which displays products. There are two philosophical down-shifts:

 

  1. The first is the categorical shift from website to product –the website may be considered a product possessing a series of attributes that are likely to delight a customer.
  2. The second is the categorical shift from product to experience set –the product may be considered an experience set which involves a series of attributes that delight a customer.

 

These two down-shifts take us beneath the shiny glitter of our offers or our designs and deeper into the perceived value of the customer. Thus, we should not focus on websites or even products; we should focus on holistic experience sets. 

 

On the Two “Me’s”

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Sep 4 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

It takes real courage not to need to demonstrate that you have courage. It takes authenticity not to need to demonstrate that you are authentic. There is me, and there is my image of me. I am not a whole until both are the same. When we both are the same, I do not just have “an undivided heart.” I have an undivided tongue.

 

On the Danger of Numerical Sequencing

Topic:Method
Posted on:Aug 29 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

One must be careful of numbering systems. They often indicate sequence where there is none. They enforce linear perspective where lateral or even multi-dimensional perspective is necessary. This is yet another example of how our language can interfere with our thinking.

In most cases, I’m able to divide analysis into two components: elements and actions. In doing so, I can discern a solution by considering the whole in its elements (parts), and its actions (steps). This natural division, though somewhat artificial, becomes a useful device. Still, one must bear in a mind the danger of helpful devices. What is artificial can become artifice.

 

On the Danger of “Vision-Casting”

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Aug 28 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Steven S

“Vision-casting” is a dangerous undertaking. Once a vision is declared, it can be refined; but if it is changed too frequently and/or too radically, the leader loses his credibility and the organization loses its velocity. This does not mean that a leader cannot say, “I was wrong,” and then reverse direction. It only means that one cannot make such radical course changes too often.

So how does a leader declare a vision when he is not certain of the details? How does he leave room for the “adaption” process? I think the leader needs to learn nuance. Casting a vision should be more like describing a destination. The leader, even when they are cognitive of an important change, should learn how to embed that change within the broad perimeters of the organization’s primary direction.

The leader describes a destination, the organization moves in its direction. Imagine this “vision-casting” as an arrow pointing towards that destination. The arrow’s main line must be broad. This gives the organization space within which to make many shifts (if the length of the arrow is too narrow, the leader is too confined). Thus, the leader describes a destination, sets a direction, but allows a breadth of course for the inevitable adaptions.

 

On the Absolute Character of Honesty

Topic:Personal
Posted on:Aug 22 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Somehow I know that absolute honesty is the path. The problem with understanding its significance is wrapped up in a conflation of terms. Honesty, while important, seems only a virtue. It is much more than that. It is a state of wholeness. Kierkegaard said “Purity of heart is to will one thing.” Honesty is the agreement of all parts. It is a condition of integrity.

On Taking Humor Seriously

Topic:Method
Posted on:Aug 22 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:David J

Humor defuses intensities: 

1) It keeps people from taking themselves too seriously 
2) it keeps people from taking situations too seriously. 

The irony is this: humor is rarely taken seriously, and yet it is a serious tool in the hand of any leader.

On the Planning Process in Management

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Aug 21 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

The more I study management practice, the more I question its planning methodology.

Leaders do not seem to understand the difference between an objective and a goal. They do not know how to bring absolute alignment between the objectives and their goals. Their various plans are inflated. Their typical strategy plan is a mixture of objectives/goals and improperly connected insights.

I do not know how to build a company without re-thinking its entire management philosophy. The lack of consistency, the incongruence, is painful.

 

On Leadership and the Value of Reflection

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Aug 15 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Jon P

The Leader must have a bias for action, but this action should flow out of reflection. Never confuse activity with progress. Vigorous execution needs to be grounded in rigorous contemplation.

 

On the Transferability of Management Expertise

Topic:Leadership
Posted on:Aug 13 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Flint M

Some managers transcend a given company or industry. They are able to move from one organization to another and still effect significant growth. What is different about these leaders? I have pondered this issue and I have some initial observations. I might be able to summarize their unique giftings with these words: absorption, identification, and alignment.

ABSORPTION

 
I have noticed that these transcendent leaders have an unusual ability to synthesize the key elements of an organization. They have a voracious appetite to learn.

IDENTIFICATION


They are also able to identify the prime movers for the organization’s success (this is easier said than done). They quickly acquire a set of “instincts.” And they are able to transfer those instincts into a certain kind of knowing – a knowing as to what really matters the most.

ALIGNMENT


Having absorbed the key information and then having identified the prime movers, they are able to achieve alignment, focusing the efforts of the entire organization behind these prime movers.

Very few executives ever reach this level of management.

 

On the Web as a Living Laboratory

Topic:Method
Posted on:Aug 12 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

Senior leaders make the grave mistake of underestimating the true value of their organization’s website. It is not just another channel through which to pipe their message. It is a living laboratory for testing the company’s customer theory. It can be the center of the customer/company dialog. The Web is, without a doubt, the most remarkable breakthrough in the history of behavioral research. For the first time, we can measure, even monitor, human response, en mass, and yet in particular, in real-time – the implications awe me.

On the Role of a Customer Theory

Topic:Communication
Posted on:Aug 8 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:David J

At the apex of the inverted funnel is the customer theory. One must understand the customer theory before they can map the yes-path. The customer theory represents the sum of what the organization knows about its customers (and so what it may discern about its ideal prospects). Sustainable Competitive Advantage (a Michael Porter term) is derived from, I think, a robust customers theory. 

Too often, marketers are focused on results instead of reasons. We need to move deeper than “how much”, into “why so”, to answer an even more important question: What does this tell me about my customer/prospect? And so the goal of an optimization test transcends the notion of a lift and asks for learning. With sufficient insights we can obtain the ultimate lift. The more you know about the customer, the easier it is to predict their behavior. The easier it is to predict their behavior, the more you know about your value proposition.

On Human Beings as Plural

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Aug 8 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

I think that human beings are to be considered in the plural, even when referring to them as single individuals. This is indeed a paradox. At times I feel like I am human being(s) – plural intended. I’m not talking about a bi-polar mental condition. I am talking about streams of independent (and often conflicting) consciousness. I think a man may view a relationship from any one of these various streams and draw any number of tenuous conclusions.

As we look back on ourselves, we tend to select one and say, “That is who I am.” We then explain the others away (the other manifestations of our “isness”) calling them momentary lapses – the result of weakness or confusion. But in this way we distort reality, in all of its plurality, by subscribing to a select version of it. The Psalmist pleaded, Oh God, “Give me an undivided heart.” He, like me, was human being(s). Kierkegaard taught, “Purity of heart is to will one thing.” Unity is integrity is unity.

 

On the Value of Insights over Results

Topic:Method
Posted on:Aug 6 2014
Method:Previous Writings
Captured by:Austin M

What we call “customer theory” might better be conceived as “customer wisdom”. Too often, marketers pursue quick results rather than rich insights. However, profound understanding of the customer can be translated into profound advantage over the competitor.

On the True Nature of Empathy

Topic:Philosophy
Posted on:Aug 1 2014
Method:Dictation
Captured by:Austin M

There is a difference between listening and hearing. For instance, some of us listen, but we do not truly hear. Empathy, perhaps the most important attribute of the marketer/entrepreneur, is actually a form of listening (not with but) through the whole person. It transc