These Are Not the Droids You Are Looking For

If you don’t understand the product, it’s not for you.

If you’re offended by it, it’s not for you.

If you’re searching for objections, it’s not for you.

If you’re eagerly anticipating a “gotcha”, it’s not for you.

If it’s not for you, it doesn’t need to change to become for you. Because it’d never be for you anyway.

The Tempo of Conversation

We pound the importance of lightning quick email and professional communication at Praxis.

It’s not just about speed, it’s also about tempo.

Early in your career, when you need others more than they need you, it’s especially important to not break the tempo set by your interlocutor.  This applies to in person meetings, video interviews, phone calls, and emails.  Especially if you’re in sales (and to some extent, we are all always in sales), keeping the tempo increases the odds of getting the result you want.

If you enter an interview and the other party asks a long, slowish question and pauses, they’ve set a slow tempo and you can and should be deliberate as well.  If they hit you out of the gate with a quick, no BS, “Why do you want this job?” they’ve set a quick tempo.  Follow suit.

For email this is under-appreciated and maybe more important.  If someone takes a day or two to respond, though speed is always the side to err on, you can take a day or so if need be.  You’re not breaking out of the tempo they set.  But if they respond in ten minutes or one hour, they’ve created a tempo that you need to maintain!  Get on it and respond now!

You’d be surprised how much this matters.

Collectivism is a Mind Killer

When people appeal to group identity, the problem is not that they’re trying to frame their group as too different and unique from all the rest.  The problem is that they’re not going far enough in that direction.

Your struggle and triumph do not just belong to abstract categories you’re defined into, they belong to you.  The sooner you define your goals and challenges as your own, not some group’s, the sooner you’ll make progress.

“The smallest minority on earth is the individual.” — Ayn Rand

The Most Pervasive form of Censorship in the U.S.

Imagine if you were prevented by force of law from emailing certain people, adding certain friends on Facebook, or texting people.

Imagine a government body that excluded vast swaths of the population from the list of those you are allowed to communicate with.  Imagine if every Facebook friend request or Twitter follow had to go through some months-long approval process, and most got denied.

Imagine how your world would shrink.

We’d cry “censorship!” and “I have a right to free association!” and we’d be right.

Immigration restrictions do the same thing, only with even more grave consequences.  Lives and livelihoods are at stake.  Bureaucracies and armed agents preclude you from hiring, renting to, selling to, or inviting into your home or business the majority of the earth’s population without near impossible approval processes.  I can think of no greater violation of human rights and dignity.

Government logic:

If you don’t do business with someone based on circumstances of birth, you’re illegally discriminating.

If you try to do business with someone born elsewhere, you’re violating immigration law.

The Market Process is Efficient, the Market is Not

It’s pretty hilarious to me how many people have a latent tendency towards efficient market hypothesis. Suggest an improvement or question the status quo in their favorite industry, and they’ll insist it is the way it is because it’s exactly what consumers want and the market demands.

Bullshit. It can always be better.

Success Comes When You Do Statistically Risky Things

Success in life comes from defying statistical predictions.

Someone shared a video with me recently called, “You’re not special enough to NOT go to college.”  It was about some statistics of average employment rate among those with degrees vs. those without.  The message was,  “Don’t be an arrogant idiot.  Stats show that you need a degree to succeed.”

I can think of few better exercises in faulty reasoning.

The video was posted on Facebook.  Did the creator realize that they are not special enough to post a video to Facebook?  The overwhelming majority of Facebook videos fail.  It was narrated by an actor…does he not realize that statistics prove acting is a terrible profession to pursue?  Doesn’t he know how many wannabe actors fail?

You aren’t special enough to play sports, start a business, or have a happy marriage.  Statistics.  You aren’t special enough to eat healthy foods either.  Most who try fail. Statistics.

In fact, everything every successful person has ever done has been in defiance of statistical averages.  That’s almost the definition of being good at something.

If one person jumps 5 feet, and another jumps 10 feet, would it be wise to say, “Don’t get any ideas in your head about trying to jump more than 7.5 feet, stats show you won’t”?

If you live your life by averages, you’ve already lost.

How to Be Deep and Wide

I realized today that my old content consumption pattern has been abandoned for the past several years.  Time to return to it.

When I first awoke to the world of ideas I was about 16.  I read The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis and it flipped a switch.  I bought and read every single book by Lewis I could (I think I have read nearly everything he wrote).  Then Aristotle.  Then I found David Hume and Adam Smith and read most of their stuff.  Then Milton Friedman, Frederic Bastiat, Ludwig von Mises, F.A. Hayek, and Henry Hazlitt.  Again, I read just about everything they wrote.

This was my natural pattern.  I’d read a book I liked, then proceed to read everything I could by the same thinker.

These days, I read totally different stuff all the time, and rarely read more than one book by an author.  I realized that this reveals a weakness.  If I read a book and am not immediately compelled to read more from the author, the book probably wasn’t good enough for me to read in the first place.

The deep dive approach is so much more self-driven by interest, since you won’t deep dive into weaksauce.  The results are excellent too, as you can’t forget a line of thought if you’ve read it from the thinker in many books and many different ways.

Think of music.  The stuff you love best is usually from a band you know very well.  When you hear a song so good you must listen to more from that band, it’s the beginning of something great.  When you know the whole body of work you begin to hear themes and notice things that deepen not just your love for the band, but your musical understanding in general.

Going deep into a single thinker doesn’t mean you can’t be a broad generalist.  Think about it, if you read five books on one subject you will know more about it than 95% of the population and be able to converse with specialists.  Yet it’s only five books.  You can repeat this tons of times for whatever topic/thinker strikes your fancy.  It’s so much more fruitful than a single book in passing.

If it doesn’t make you want to read more, it might be time to put it down.  That’s the new rule I’m testing out anyway, hoping to return to my roots of multiple deep dives instead of tons of surface scratching.

James C. Scott currently on the docket!

*Indebted to TK Coleman for the analogy to musicians.

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