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
So I read this awesome post on buzzfeed: College Students Explain why Feminism is Important.
It kind of blew me away. As a woman, I've never considered myself a feminist. I grew up in a very conservative home and culture that did not emphasize gender equality. In fact, I would probably say the opposite - not that it was explicit that women did the housework and men mowed the lawn... I think more probably that it just kind of happened that way and my parents didn't do anything to change it. My dad worked away from home most weeks, so there was never a male role model to show my brothers what a man looks like doing dishes, vacuuming, or contributing to the household. My mom worked full time and managed most of that as well. From when I can remember, it was typically the girls who cleaned up before mom got home. We were the ones who scrambled to pick up the toys and tidy up. I mean, honestly, none of us did a very good job. But I will say that it would seem that it was expected that the girls were the ones in charge of making the house look good, keeping things managed, and organizing. Which is kind of funny, because my mom was an excellent model of what a working woman looked like. She's the reason I even went into the medical field and aspired to have a full time career.
That aside, I never fully realized until I got into the working world how frequently women encounter points of view that are demeaning towards them. Co-workers, clients... I have a list of comments made, mostly in jest, that have been said to me since entering the work force. Some of them even from my female friends, though said jokingly, have shocked me. One particular comment comes to mind in which a friend of mine indicated that I got my recent schedule changes because of sexual favors to my boss. While she was kidding, I was completely taken aback. I have also noticed that male opinions expressed confidently, and sometimes overly so, are at least tolerated. When a female expresses strong opinions there is a slight undercurrent that she is just being "hard to handle." If you read the article, I believe a young woman expressed this perfectly with a sign that states "I need feminism because speaking my mind shouldn't make me a bitch..."
I am married to a wonderful man who shares responsibility, values my opinions, and fully believes I can do anything. I think this helped cushion the blow a bit. I also know many wonderful women and gentlemen who hold very respectful and progressive ideals about women. But for each person that does, it would seem that there are just as many who are still unfortunately in the dark ages. And this is in America...I don't pretend to have any notion about those who have grown up in countries where rape is regularly overlooked, where women are not allowed to drive a car, where girls are married at 13 and treated as property. While this probably does happen in the land of the free as well, these are regular and accepted parts of life for many women, and that breaks my heart. The women who stand up for themselves, who fight against the "norm", these are the brave awesome women I hope to someday teach my daughters about. I would hope to teach my girls that no matter what they want to be they have that potential. It may be a stay at home mom. It may be a marine biologist. It may be a nurse. Whatever they decide to do, hard work can help get you there.
But we've still got a long way to go. For each flippant "but you're a woman. you wouldn't know anything about that" said jokingly in the staff office, the "girls aren't suppose to do that" shouted by each little boy on the playground, each "bitch" muttered under someones breath... there's a step backward. So often under the guise of "joking" we get away with sexism, and this truly bothers me.