Episode 68: Let’s Do a Job Interview, with Daniel Myers

A young tech company builds software for small businesses. It employs around 10-15 people and is currently hiring. That is a hypothetical situation which myself and Daniel Myers go through in this episode of the podcast, with me being the recruiter and Daniel a young prospect.

Some standard questions that appear during almost every interview are covered, along with some of the ones that I personally like to ask on interviews. After the mock-up we also go through some of the basics concerning job interview preparation and the point of view that interviewees should take.

Get in touch with Daniel on LinkedIn.

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, YouTube, and Stitcher.

The Justice-Morality Matrix

There’s a lot of discussion about whether particular policies or outcomes are just or moral.  Often the terms are used synonymously or never really defined or distinguished.

I have written about what I see as crucial and fundamental differences between justice and morality in this post.  I claim that justice is public and subjective – an emergent phenomena to deal with conflict and coordinate peace – while morality is private and objective – and internal compass to deal with self-regulation and coordinate peace of mind.

“Justice is about living with other people, while morality is about living with yourself.  Justice is about right relation to others as measured against the mores of society, while morality is about right relation to right itself, as measured against your own beliefs”

To further illustrate what I mean by this, here’s a matrix showing four actions and where they might stand in relation to justice and morality:

Justice-Morality Matrix (1)

Just-Moral is pretty easy to accept and needs little clarification.  No parties are harmed and the actor feels no guilt.  We’re assuming this action was not in violation to any belief or commitment to abstain from boat-buying on the part of the buyer.

Just-Immoral depends more on your own beliefs about right and wrong, but regardless of belief systems or acceptance/rejection of any divine or natural morality, all humans have a sense of guilt.  The just-immoral quadrant is for those actions that cause no one else any harm, but harm the actor by giving him/her a sense of guilt and wrongdoing, regardless of its origin.  The point is that the act feels wrong to the actor, and they in fact believe it to be wrong.

Moral-Unjust is when an act clearly causes harm to someone even though the actor feels complete confidence it was the right thing to do.  Justice, in service to maintaining cooperation and peace, might demand recompense, but no guilty feelings are associated with the action.  Third parties observing may be inspired by the morality of the action, but to conflate that with justice is unfair to the harmed party.

Immoral-Unjust is pretty easy as well.  A party was wronged and the actor violated conscience or belief in right/wrong.

These examples may be flawed, but I think the fact that justice and morality are not the same thing is incredibly important.  When they become conflated, and far worse when either become conflated with government edict, moral atrocities and grave injustices unfold on small and large scales.

The key for both is an open, spontaneous, evolving system of give and take – a market for norms and institutions – rather than a tightly defined universal and centralized enforcement.  Common law and basic manners are good examples of this, whereas criminal law and legislation are the opposite.

Episode 67.5: FwTK – Blame Readers not Writers, Creativity Means Losing Control

Did Malcolm Gladwell really get it wrong?

People love to point out when a writer shares an idea that’s oversimplified or could be misapplied if not interpreted wisely.  Why don’t they pick on the readers who are dumb enough to misinterpret it instead?

Do ideas come first and bring about changes in technology and social institutions or do those changes come first and bring about new ideas?  What does the answer mean when it comes to creativity?  Can you control your ideas without stifling creativity?  What does it mean to have 100% equity in the startups in your head vs. 5% in those you actually create?

Mentioned in the episode: The Nirvana Fallacy, Kristen Stewart, Twilight, Malcolm Gladwell and his detractors, Scott Berkun, Agere Sequiter Credere, Paul Cantor’s Commerce & Culture, Blake Lively, The Waking Life, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Apparition, The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Bruce Levine, Thundersqueak, Youth Pastors, and more that I’m forgetting.

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, YouTube, and Stitcher.

Try Before You Certify

Most of the time most people get it backwards.

They spend tons of time and money trying to learn about or get certified in something before ever really trying it.  You can’t know what you enjoy, what you’re good at, or whether it even needs study unless and until you go out and play around with it.  Experiment.

Get out of the permission-based, credentialed classroom mindset, and go try some stuff out.

 

Four Visions of the World: Constrained, Unconstrained, Stasist, Dynamist

About half a dozen years ago, I read two books in succession that I did not expect to have much to do with each other.  They both proposed intriguing dichotomies.  These dichotomies cut up the world differently, but I began to see interesting ways they could be layered on top of each other.

The books were The Future and Its Enemies, by Virginia Postrel, and A Conflict of Visions, by Thomas Sowell.

Both books are phenomenal and I highly recommend them.  Let me briefly describe the central dichotomy presented in each.

Stasists vs. Dynamists

Postrel defines two outlooks on human life and society, static and dynamic.

The stasist fears and resists change.  They wish to preserve things as they are, or possibly even return to an imagined glorious past.  Every change, whether social, technological, or environmental, is bemoaned as the harbinger of all manner of moral and civil decay.

It’s an obvious mindset to spot in many conservatives, exemplified in William F. Buckley’s mission statement for National Review, to “[S]tand athwart history, yelling Stop”, but it doesn’t just describe conservatives.  A great many modern liberals fall into this category as well.  Environmentalists who fear invasive species or believe any changes to any ecosystems are always bad, unionists who want to set work arrangements and productions methods in stone, or social justice advocates who wish to maintain certain ratios in material wealth between people.

The dynamist embraces change and does not fear it.  This includes fans of free markets, free speech, and economic growth, techno optimists and pioneers.  Dynamists are, by nature, less organized but also more prone to have a big impact on the world individually.  Again, it cuts through simplistic left/right political paradigms and includes some liberals who want mores to evolve and some conservatives who want industry to do the same.

Constrained vs. Unconstrained

Sowell has a different dichotomy.  It’s a bit more subtle, but like Postrel’s, it does not fit into left/right political rhetoric neatly.  He defines two visions of the world and humanity, constrained and unconstrained.

Those with a constrained vision see certain physical, moral, or spiritual realities as unchangeable.  Scarcity, self-interest, human fallibility, and evil.  This doesn’t make the constrained vision a pessimistic one, but simply, to quote the great economist Peter Boettke, “Puts parameters on utopias.”  You can improve the world only by first understanding the fundamental laws of both material and human nature.  You can’t achieve flight by wishing away gravity or achieve human harmony by wishing away greed.  The constrained visionary realizes these parameters and innovates in ways consistent with them.  Smith’s Invisible Hand and Hayek’s Spontaneous Order are fundamentally constrained concepts, as they accept human avarice and limits to knowledge and describe social orders that turn all that imperfection into progress.

Those with an unconstrained vision see everything as perfectible.  We can eliminate scarcity (this is very different than simply “have an abundance of stuff”, as it assumes time and choice can also be eliminated), we can remake man into a perfect version, we can stop playing by old stuffy rules and simply rebuild a society without greed.  If humans are flawed we can remake humans, instead of forming social orders that work around the flaws.  We don’t need institutions that channel bad desires to good outcomes, we simply need to remove bad desires.

Both conservatives and liberals alike throughout history have had both visions.  Individualists and collectivists are not neatly plotted into one or the other.  Jefferson had a more unconstrained vision, along with the French Revolutionaries and many early anarchist and socialist revolutionaries.  Modern anarcho-capitalists and Burkean conservatives alike share a constrained vision.

Let’s add them together and see what we get…

Yay, time for a 2×2 matrix!  Don’t take this too seriously.  It’s been a while since I read these books and I’m playing around with this ideas rather loosely and humbly, so don’t get caught up on specific verbiage.  Instead, see if you can gain anything from the intersection of these two dichotomies.

In each quadrant I include a single phrase that I think defines the dominant desire, then list a few ideologies, groups, and types of action and orientation that I think fit it.

Why now?

I got to thinking a lot about this recently when reading the phenomenal series, Breaking Smart, by Venkatesh Rao. (If you read nothing else this year, read this!)

Rao describes the implications of the fact that ‘software is eating the world’.  Part of the analysis involves the inevitable backlash against software-enabled progress and disruption.  Rao calls the resistors Pastoralists, and provides a very compelling look at the two apparently opposite ways pastoralism manifests.

One is a resistance to all change.  The other is driven by agents of change themselves who adopt a single vision of change and wish to force it on the rest.  You can see how the first might fit into Postrel’s stasist category, but the second doesn’t quite.  That’s where combining Postrel and Sowell becomes so powerful.

I think the three great threats to human freedom and flourishing today are constrained stasists (resist all change), unconstrained stasists (remake the world in the image of the imagined past), and unconstrained dynamists (force the right kind of progress on all these hapless idiots).

I think all the promise and joy comes from the outlook of constrained dynamism.  One that understands failings in human knowledge and virtue and the physical reality of scarcity and wishes to allow change to emerge and evolve organically within unplanned orders to address them in ways no one can imagine ahead of time.

See if you can map yourself or others on the matrix!

You can also check out other fun 2×2 matrices I’ve played around with on various topics:

Obedience-Entitlement Matrix

Rules-Intelligence Matrix

Work-Happiness Matrix

Episode 67: World Wanderers Ryan and Amanda Tell All

Most people see traveling as something of a luxury, instead of an investment into discovering different places and people. Most importantly traveling is an investment into discovering yourself.

Ryan and Amanda’s first trip together was just a great excursion, but after completing it they realized that what they want is to wander the world. Experiences that they had in different countries, how they fund their traveling, what strains they faced and their plans for years that come and much more are discussed in this episode.

Make sure to visit theworldwanderers.com where you can find great advice on traveling.

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, YouTube, and Stitcher.

Five Steps to Epiphany

Over at the Praxis blog, I challenge anyone interested in education, entrepreneurship, career success, wealth, happiness, or personal growth to read five books this summer.

Each book is described with an endorsement from someone in the Praxis network.  Check out the article.

The books are:

  1. The Education of Millionaires
  2. The End of Jobs
  3. The Last Safe Investment
  4. Zero to One
  5. How to Find Fulfilling Work

See the full text for details and links to the books.

Seven Deadly Mindsets

Dan Sanchez was kind enough to invite me to coauthor a little piece for FEE.org about mindsets inculcated by the schooling process and how a key step toward personal freedom and growth is recognizing and obliterating them.  This is what my friend Zak Slayback would call “deschooling yourself”.

Check out the article here.  The seven mindsets we outline are:

  1. The conveyor belt mindset
  2. The permission mindset
  3. The student mindset
  4. The teacher mindset
  5. The worker mindset
  6. The recess mindset
  7. The major mindset

From the article,

“The first step toward self-emancipation is certainly not supporting or opposing a presidential candidate. Neither need it be civil disobedience, evasion of government directives, or resistance to the authorities. There is much lower hanging fruit to be had than that.”

And,

“Only a people who first free themselves spiritually and individually can hope to free themselves physically and as a society. It is impossible to liberate people, as Voltaire said, “from the chains they revere.” And the first order of business in improving society is, as Albert Jay Nock said, “to present society with one improved unit.””

Read the full text.

Episode 66.5: FwTK – Wantrepreneurship, Quitting, Greatness, Golf, and other Questions

Today TK and I take questions in near real-time, submitted via Facebook while we were recording.  Careful, this one’s hot!

  • How to not get stuck being a “wantrepreneur”
  • How to test an idea before launch
  • How to get better at quitting stuff you hate
  • The psychological impact of entrepreneurship vs. FOMO
  • Why Kobe is greater than LeBron
  • Maps vs. territory
  • Grad school
  • Remote work cultures
  • The ‘corporatization’ of college
  • Drugs
  • Fixing your hook in golf
  • What parts of the college bundle will be next to get disrupted?
  • Egoism
  • My bad grammar
  • TK’s plans to remake the NBA to be more like the WWE
  • What’s the next fad career?

Thanks to: Matt, Tom, Ben, Jonathan, Liz, Carl, Gabe, Ken, Andrew, Daniel, and Michael for your questions!  Submit them anytime on this website or via Facebook.

Mentioned in this episode: Philip K. Dick, T.M.T.S., Osiris, Breaking Smart, Metaphors We Live By, a few of my Praxis Facebook videos, Abraham Maslow, The End of Jobs, and a bunch more stuff.

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, YouTube, and Stitcher.

How to Skip College and Gain a $200k Head Start

What’s the real cost of college as a path to a career?

It’s not just the time, the boredom, the low quality, or the money.  It’s also the opportunity cost (what else you could be doing) and the cost of entering the professional world with few valuable skills and a mistaken belief that you’re prepared.

This great article in TechCrunch details how universities created the skills gap – the gap between what the market demands and what grads actually have.  There is also a perception gap.  Employers are twice as likely to say that grads are not prepared than the grads themselves – students think college is preparing them for a career, but the market begs to differ.

82% of grads have no job lined up upon graduation.  62% of degree holders are currently either unemployed or working jobs that do not require a degree.

New numbers on student debt just came out, and it’s at a record-breaking $37k per student average.

My colleagues and I ran some back of the envelope numbers comparing college to the Praxis experience.  We’ve rolling out some enhancements to the program, making it a 9-month experience (3-month professional bootcamp + 6-month paid apprenticeship that leads to a full-time startup job at a minimum of $40k/year), and we wanted to see how it stacks up.

(I should make clear that Praxis is not just a college replacement or alternative.  We also love to help college grads that want a better start to their career than blasting out resumes and hoping for something decent.)

Being extremely conservative, assuming minimum pay (well below what our grads actually average), and no raises for 4+ years (a rare occurrence indeed), we sketched out a little comparison:

Praxis

  • Length: 9 months
  • Cost: $12k tuition – $14,400 earnings during the program = ($2,400)
  • Debt: $0
  • Job after graduation: 100%
  • Min. starting salary: $40k ($50k is the average)
  • Net benefit over 5 years: $2,400 (in program) + $170,000 (min. pay, no raises for 4.25 years after graduation) = $172,400

College

  • Length: 5+ years on average
  • Cost: $100k (minimum)
  • Debt: $37k average
  • Job after graduation: ??? (82% of grads do not have a job lined up. 62% of degree holders have no job or a job that does not require a degree)
  • Opportunity cost: $172,400 (assuming you had done Praxis instead)
  • Net benefit over 5 years: -$37k debt -$172,400 opportunity cost = ($209,400)

I’ll be the first to tell you that averages and aggregates are not a guide to your life decisions.  None of this can tell you what’s the best path for you.  There is no sense in remarks like, “College is a good/bad idea for young people”, and the same goes for Praxis.  There’s no answer for “young people” in general.

All that matters is each individual.

Take the time to examine your own life, goals, situation, and what makes you excited and fulfilled.  Consider what the next year or two or five could be like for you given your various options.  Don’t just follow the dominant path or rebel against it because you saw some numbers somewhere.

Don’t do stuff you hate.  Don’t do what others want or expect.  Don’t do what’s supposed to give you prestige.  Do what makes you more of who you want to be every day.

*If you go to the Praxis website and see it described as a 12-month experience bear with us.  As I said, we’re rolling out some enhancements to the program, pay, and timeline over the next few months.

Episode 66: The End of School, with Zak Slayback

Is it time to end school as we know it?  Zak Slayback makes the case in his new book, The End of School.

Zak excelled in school the whole way through, resulting in a scholarship to an Ivy League university.  Yet what he mastered weren’t skills and habits for success in life and career, but a host of dangerous mindsets that he’s had to fight against.  Zak describes why he had to ‘deschool’ himself and why you might need to as well.

Visit zakslayback.com for more of Zak’s work.

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, YouTube, and Stitcher.

How to Avoid ‘The Valley of the Shadow of Debt’

Talking with my colleague Zak Slayback, we were trying to visualize the typical process young people follow to get from high school to a career.  Many are unhappy with it, many come out no closer to a career or fulfilling life – often farther away, and burdened by debt.  They just don’t know what else to do.  They see only one option.

I call it The Valley of the Shadow of Debt.  You see people clamber down because everyone else is and they can’t figure any other way to get to the opportunity on the other side.

But after 4, 5, 6 or more years down there (some never return) you see some come out with a huge burden of debt and a cliff to scale on the other side.  They have no climbing experience or training.  They struggle climbing over each other, tossing resumes up towards opportunities, hoping for a lifeline.

This shouldn’t be the only way.

The Valley of the Shadow of Debt

That’s why we built Praxis.  To bridge the gap from where you are to a world of opportunities in dynamic businesses and startups.  To set you on the path of choosing what you want to do and be, rather than following the crowd down into the valley.

Praxis provides another way.  A direct line to real experience with real work and self-reflection and self-directed learning and coaching and so much more.  Why wait?

The best part?  After your bootcamp and paid apprenticeship, you get a full-time job at an awesome company, guaranteed.

Don’t get stuck in College Chasm.  Let us connect you to the rest of your life.

Praxis Bridge

Episode 65.5: FwTK – ‘Valley of the Shadow of Debt’, Patriarchy, Anarchy, Basketball, Internet Fame, and Listener Questions

Today we tackle a little bit of everything in this Fridays with TK episode, merged with “Ask Isaac”.

  • The Valley of the Shadow of Debt and how to avoid it.
  • Are boys are girls treated differently?  What does it mean?
  • How to sell unpopular ideas?  Should you reform or revolutionize?
  • What does Kobe Bryant’s 20 year tenure with a single team mean?
  • Can we survive without government?
  • What’s up with the graph about physicians and administrators?
  • How do you deal with internet fame you didn’t want?

Mentioned in the episode: Robert Anton Wilson, Karl Hess, James P. Carse, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kobe Bryant, John Hasnas, Howard Thurman, and probably more I’m forgetting.

Thanks to: Anonymous, Artie Duncanson, Phil Gross, Harold Serrano, Harry Miller, Byron Matthews, Phil Trubey, and Jim Taylor for submitting questions.  Submit your own any time via Ask Isaac!

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, YouTube, and Stitcher.

In Less Than One Year Get a Startup Job at $40k – No Degree Required

Learn more at Praxis!

The idea that you should spend four years and six figures in classrooms, shielded from the real world of opportunity, and cross your fingers and hope it gets you some kind of job is absurd.It’s time for a new era in education and career.  If you’re good you can prove it in the market without going into debt or dying of boredom.

That’s why we created Praxis, and that’s why we’re making it better every day.

Over at the Praxis blog is a description of current opportunities with business partners in Austin, Atlanta, Charleston, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, and San Francisco where we’re placing participants.  If you get in, you not only get paid to apprentice there, you get a job at $40k+ when you graduate.

From the post:

“Participants accepted into the Praxis program get an intense bootcamp where they gain the skills needed to succeed in their careers.  After the bootcamp they begin a paid apprenticeship with one of our business partners.  These aren’t dull corporate internships.  These are dynamic startups and small businesses where participants get a chance to create real value and do real work.  Entrepreneurship is the most valuable skill in the emerging economy, and there’s no better classroom than alongside entrepreneurs in the real world to learn it.

While apprenticing, participants get weekly coaching, access to a rich resource library, tailored modules to improve hard and soft skills, a world-class network, and a portfolio to showcase their work.

Upon completion of the program, graduates get hired full time with their business partner at a minimum of $40k/year.

That means in less than a year and at zero cost you begin your career.  No debt.  No wasted time.  No blasting out resumes to jobs you’d hate.  No fretting over GPA’s for four years just hoping it results in a job.  You join an amazing team doing meaningful work immediately.

Here are some of our current business partner opportunities, and we’re adding all the time…”

Check out the post to see what kind of companies we’re placing participants with.

A great career won’t come from classrooms or generic resume blasts.  It will come from you taking charge and going out and building the mix of experience, knowledge, network, skills, and confidence that can only come from working with dynamic people in real companies.

Applications are now open.

 

Take the ‘Cut it in Half’ Challenge and Improve Your Writing

…and your verbal communication, and time management, and thinking.

Good writing styles may be as unique as people but when it comes to bad writing there’s one nearly universal mistake.

Too many words.

Everyone begins their writing endeavors (whether emails or books) using too many words, too long sentences, and too bulky paragraphs.  It’s hard to economize on words.  The better your language skills and vocabulary, the harder it is.  You want to flex those wordiness muscles!

But good writing is clear and to the point.  Removing needless words makes what’s left more, not less important.  Words are too precious to be drowned in a sea of superfluity.

Here’s a challenge to quickly and dramatically improve your writing:

Cut everything you write in half.

I suggest doing this for at least two weeks.  It will hurt.  It will take a lot of time at first.  But compare results after the experiment.  You will be better.

Every Facebook post, email, essay, blog post, or memo (heck, you can try it with texts and tweets too, but that might be tough) should be halved.  After you write what you want to say, just before you click “send”,  “publish”, “post”, or “save”, go back and cut it in half.  Count words, divide by two and edit down.

I’ve done this and found almost no paragraph I write gets worse as a result.

Give it a shot and see for yourself.

If You Time Travel to the Past, Tell Yourself You’re Wrong

It’s really hard to break free from your past definitions of success.  I’ve met a lot of unhappy people who are doing exactly what they used to want to do.  The problem is, we change.  If you shackle yourself to the form of success envisioned by your past self, you’re a slave to a person that doesn’t even exist.

I’ve written before about how it’s good to be a failure when you’re failing at a past goal.

It can also be constraining to attempt future growth based on the models of past growth.

Check out the short video below.  What things do you and your past self disagree on?

Episode 65: Jeremy McLellan is a Business, Man

*Forgive the echo in the audio. New microphone and live interview gave us some issues.

Some forty episodes ago, comedy was just a side gig for Jeremy McLellan but now he is moving to make it his full-time job. On this episode we talk about corporate vs bar comedy and whether things that we like doing become less likable when people start doing them as their income sources.

Reputation is king in the comedy business, so we also covered the issue of joke thieving, dealing with hecklers, offending people, apologizing and other strategies, as well as one of the biggest questions every business faces – what is my price?

Check him out on Facebook, or check out his website.

This and all episodes are available on SoundCloud, iTunes, YouTube, and Stitcher.

Every Industry Gets Worse When Government Gets Involved

This is easily provable with Public Choice Theory, and consistently proven in practice.

Contrary to the absurdly naive belief that monopolizing an industry will produce “efficiencies”, it has the opposite effect.  All the wrong things are incentivized and no one has any clear signal of what creates value. (See “Socialist Calculation Problem“)

Antony Davies shared this depressing graph with me last week.  If you’ve been to a health care provider in the last few years, you’ve felt the pain this causes in the realm of customer experience.

 

Non-Physicians in Health Care