One of the things that's been really cool for me here at the blog is watching the crowd that hangs out here develop.
The big thing I set out to do with the site was create a place I'd want to hang out online. I hang out at some pretty good places, but I wasn't able to find anywhere that was unabashedly pro-victory, pro-winning, very expansive, practical, pragmatic, and says it like it is. There's plenty of places with good people online, but not too many where people are willing to take the heat for saying it like it is. I try to do that - say it like it is, even though you sometimes suffer for it.
The community's really responded - I think there's a lot of people who've been looking for something like this. I know I searched for it, couldn't find it, and that's why I started building. So it's been thrilling having all sorts of smart people write great letters and emails to me, great comments, great stuff happening.
I love it, I feel so blessed. The site's my site - it's got my name on it. But the community can transcend that, and that's why I'm so thrilled that I can feature great comments and letters.
One such talented person is Jess, our resident merchant marine. She's left a number of really insightful comments, and it's a joy to read her thoughts. She's talented writer and talented thinker. Here's some of her latest insights from a letter, reposted with permission -
I recently started reading about Miyamoto Musashi and Bushido after reading a post you did on the topic. Did you know that many Japanese executives practice martial arts in the mornings before work, as a part of developing their business strategy/abilities? I thought that was quite a bit of dedication, very impressive. Also indicative of how the teachings of war/warrior's strategy can apply in so many endeavors outside of war and battle. My favorite concept to consider of late is "Even though it is a path of 1000 miles, you walk one step at a time. Consider this well." The simplicity is astonishing when you consider the depth, and breadth of what it can cover. This specific idea helps me on the days that are less than ideal. I've been considering how I'd rather be working somewhere else, but that there is a possibility that I am right where I need to be, that there is some valuable thing to learn here not found elsewhere. I'm working on making that happen, making this one 'step' count. Some of the Bushido concepts (especially on focus and not wasting time, as well as presenting a facade of strength and not giving into weak moments to summarize roughly) are really helping me reach that goal. I've opened my eyes to a lot of things I've missed in the past due to my focus being elsewhere, or not done in earnest. Thanks for that post.
Good stuff. If you like it, you'd also like the previous top level posts that featured her insights -
Finally, she's got some really good comments here too, though I don't know an easy way to see the comments by anyone in particular... there's been lots of smart comments by Jess, Phaed, Michael, Evgenij, Stephanie, and so on - if anyone knows an easy way to view all of a person's comments, please let me know in the comments or via email, and there will be much gratitude from me. In the meantime, I recommend you read Jess's comments when you see 'em, because they're really smart, and thanks again for the insights Jess.
So, I've mentioned Derek before around these parts. He's a very sharp guy. Actually, I think his book reviews here - http://sivers.org/book - are basically the best on the internet.
You can get more nuanced, flowery, beautifully written reviews elsewhere. But you can't find as much raw distilled practicality as you will in Derek's reviewing. He takes notes and excerpts as he's reading, and puts his notes online when he's done with the book. 90% of one of his reviews are excerpts, with only 10% commentary.
This in and of itself is actually kind of rare, but other people do that too. What really sets Derek's reviews apart is that he picks the right stuff to excerpt. He's able to separate the fluffy parts of a book from the most actionable and impactful parts. A long, fluffy story that's meant to rouse the heart might get a single line in a Sivers review, but then he'll distill down the most practical elements into a mixed summary checklist that becomes extremely valuable. Since I personally look for practical advice rather than flowery emotional content, this suits me very well.
For instance, check out his review of Chet Holmes "Ultimate Sales Machine" - http://sivers.org/book/UltimateSalesMachine - first, I gotta agree with him on the 10/10. It's one of my top five favorite business books. But then look at how he chooses to excerpt -
TEN STEPS TO IMPLEMENT ANY NEW POLICY: 1. Get everyone to feel the pain 2. Hold a workshop to generate solutions 3. Develop a conceptual solution or procedure 4. Leader personally performs procedure or task 5. Set a deadline for testing the conceptual procedure 6. Document step-by-step procedure or process 7. Have show-and-tell role playing 8. Have another workshop on how to improve 9. Monitor the procedure directly 10. Measure and reward the outcome
Where is Linda?
Everyone looks for Linda at some point. Linda might be a set of keys, that girl from the bookshop or a switch blade with the worn but reliable handle. Eventually, you have to find Linda, no matter what. Last week I was looking for a literal Linda.
There are many things about working for a huge multi national bank that give you a sense of deep foreboding but the most vomit inducing one would have to be the atmosphere. Everyone acts like they spend their weekends caring for their frail grandparents rather than scouring Redtube and investing in hedge funds. On the surface the atmosphere is one of unrelenting compliance; where people are veritable pious process drones. No one speaks unless absolutely necessary and even when they do, they keep it as concise as possible in their huge effort of efficiency. Most of the time I'm too numb to notice what is happening in other peoples matrix inspired fuel cells, but every now and then I can't hep but enact my own form of morale building corporate sabotage, as it were.
Last week, I needed a book because in the Viper eyes of a bank it's an imperative that everyone understands how prime brokerage works, even if you don't have anything to do with it. Linda has said book. She coverts them, in the Hannibal Lectur sense, trawling the corridors with shawl and chain, handing out text books and selling pink gin. Linda needs to give these books to people to fulfill a pivotal aspect of her important job. I need this book to appear more engaged in my job because there is every chance they will continue to pay me if I insist on showing up. Linda sits on level 2 where one of the militant arms of management sit. I sit on level 1. I need the book and she is up there. I need it from her, she doesn't need it from me. You understand the predicament. I go to level 2.
Because I'm a Gen Y'r I decide I don't need directions. I use IM to ask Linda where she sits and she tells me she has her back to meeting room 2C13. If you work at a bank, this number means something to you, the eccentricities of which you, dear reader, have no interest in. So, I go to level 2 and find said meeting room. There appears to be about twenty people "with their back" to 2C13. People embody the banks culture perfectly on level 2 and no one speaks as if they were channeling Japanese samurai who themselves were fiercely applying the laws of Bushido. The tension rises every minute no one needlessly speaks. This whole situation, rather than giving me an erection simply makes me start to sweat. I really don't want to speak right now but I also don't want to have to come back here with slightly better directions.