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Did Dinosaurs Know They Were Becoming Extinct?

My view of the mainstream media is not something I tend to hold back on. Anyone who has had anything more than a cursory glance at this blog knows my low opinion of the vast majority of the financial and general media. I have little time or respect for people who did media studies and spent 3 years watching tv to earn a degree. So it was with some trepidation that earlier in the week I attended a media and business workshop. The aim of this workshop was to enable business to get an understanding of how media works and to meet representatives from the legacy media organisations such as print, radio and television. Right there you can see a problem – these are legacy content platforms that are rapidly being displaced by their more nimble and more niche digital competitors. Facebook and other platforms now extend their reach to more individuals than any traditional form of media ever did.  Yet despite this development there was no one at the meeting from any of the newer forms of communication.

The day began with a panel Q&A session and the beginning of this session saw each of the participants try and outdo each other as to how early they got up and how much work they did. It was very reminiscent of the wonderful Monty Python sketch called The Four Yorkshiremen .  Once the dick contest of the various introductions was out of the way it was on to the Q&A session and most of the questions were fairly innocuous such as how to get in contact with the media, what form should the approach take and how it should be structured.  Then Gary Stone of Share Wealth Systems asked a very important question, he questioned as to how much of a show such as the  Channel 9  Today show was devoted to serious evergreen issues such as the perennial problem of home ownership and the producer from the show proudly trumpeted that they set aside 3.5 minutes each morning for such issues. In that simple statement the irrelevancy of mainstream media was brilliantly encapsulated. A show that runs for  210 minutes proudly devotes 1.6% of its time to something serious. Granted morning television is aimed at a certain demographic and in my eyes seems to have its content based around generating bogan outrage, what toilet paper third rate celebrities use or general gossip. And I accept that there will always be more stupid people than smart people so they have to have something to watch whilst Rome burns because it is very much a give them games so they are distracted from reality.

I spent the rest of the morning wondering if dinosaurs knew they were on the verge of extinction but more importantly whether any of us know when we are also on the cusp of irrelevancy either in our work, our relationships or even our own lives. If there was an overarching theme of the morning for me it was irrelevancy and how it seems to creep up on not only institutions but also individuals and I began to think of the times when either I had become irrelevant in a given situation or when things had become irrelevant to me. The central thread through all of these events in my own life was that I hadn’t really noticed the drift towards becoming irrelevant. The realisation that you are only tangential or peripheral to a situation comes as a sort of a ha moment but one that comes after the event. It was somewhat akin to everyone else getting the joke whilst you stand there scratching your head going I don’t get it. The only rationale I could come up with for this was that because you are wrap up in events you find it hard to take a more global view of what is occurring, your view of things is obscured by the noise of your own participation

The lesson for me from the morning was to be more mindful of the things that go on around me so that you don’t drift into irrelevancy.

ON POWER LAWS AND TIME

 

The most precious commodity in life is TIME. We never have enough of it.

I personally squandered a lot of time in my twenties and thirties doing all sorts of random things. I was just busy being busy.

It wasn’t until I turned 40 that I realized a couple of big things about TIME.

 

Here’s a simple idea that made my life simpler and created time:

Find the key 20% in anything I do that is key.

Focus and execute well on that key 20%.

Completely ignore the rest.

More here – What I Learnt On Wall Street

News is bad for you – and giving up reading it will make you happier

In the past few decades, the fortunate among us have recognised the hazards of living with an overabundance of food (obesity, diabetes) and have started to change our diets. But most of us do not yet understand that news is to the mind what sugar is to the body. News is easy to digest. The media feeds us small bites of trivial matter, tidbits that don’t really concern our lives and don’t require thinking. That’s why we experience almost no saturation. Unlike reading books and long magazine articles (which require thinking), we can swallow limitless quantities of news flashes, which are bright-coloured candies for the mind. Today, we have reached the same point in relation to information that we faced 20 years ago in regard to food. We are beginning to recognise how toxic news can be.

More here – The Guardian

I’m Not O.K. Neither Are You. Who Cares?

Most self-help books make exhausting demands of their readers. The endless list-making and inventorying. The frequent deployment of the encomium “Yay, you!” The tacit assertion that “journey” has not been overexposed as a result of the “Don’t Stop Believin’” glut. It’s easy to conclude, why can’t someone just write a self-improvement book called “Canceling Lunch” and be done with it?

Cynics, take heart. A new literary genre, which might be called anti-self-help or anti-improvement, is upon us.

Granted, reading a book that coaches you on how to reject self-help is like downing a shot of Patrón to get the nerve to stop drinking. But it appears to be working. Both “A Counterintuitive Guide to Living a Good Life,” by Mark Manson, and Sarah Knight’s “How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have With People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do” were best sellers. (Those are the subtitles. The titles use a pointedly vulgar phrase synonymous with “not caring one bit.”)

Now comes one of the better-written entries in the genre, “Stand Firm: Resisting the Self-Improvement Craze,” which made its author, Svend Brinkmann, a psychology professor in Denmark, a media star there.

More here – The New York Times

Living a Lie

People mislead themselves all day long. We tell ourselves we’re smarter and better looking than our friends, that our political party can do no wrong, that we’re too busy to help a colleague. In 1976, in the foreword to Richard Dawkins’s The Selfish Gene, the biologist Robert Trivers floated a novel explanation for such self-serving biases: We dupe ourselves in order to deceive others, creating social advantage. Now after four decades Trivers and his colleagues have published the first research supporting his idea.

Psychologists have identified several ways of fooling ourselves: biased information-gathering, biased reasoning and biased recollections. The new work, forthcoming in the Journal of Economic Psychology, focuses on the first—the way we seek information that supports what we want to believe and avoid that which does not.

More here – Scientific American

Life Lessons by Bob Lefsetz

1. We all want to be listened to.

Everybody’s got a story, everybody wants to tell it, but too few people have the patience to extract it from them. If you listen to someone’s story, they’ll be your best friend forever. You’ll bond. Everybody’s got something to say, something you find of interest, everybody got here on a different path with moments of intersection. But beware of the taker, the person who only talks and never listens. They’re to be avoided at all cost. I’m not sure why these people act the way they do, why they refuse to be reciprocal, why they’re incapable of being interested in you. It’s to their detriment.

2. Tell your story.

Look for the openings. If no one is listening, find a different audience. The myth is we’re all alike. When you sit at home and you feel that you can’t relate to a certain group, believe it. Sure, work on your skills of integration, but even more search out your peers. We’re led to believe there’s a hierarchy, of rich, popular and good-looking, and if you’re not one of them, you’re a loser. Also, there’s all this fake nerddom going around, winners who tell you they’re losers, ignore them. That’s another problem with America, for all the people telling you how great they are there are even more who are self-deprecating, making you wince when they say they’re just lucky. We’re looking for honest connection, if you’re honest, you’ll draw people to you.

3. Life’s too short to do something you hate.

But since money is king, a plethora of people are doing jobs they dislike while others are thrilled just to have a job. That’s the challenge of life, fulfillment. Unfortunately that comes after food, money, shelter and love. But no one is gonna be remembered and no one is judging you in the end and the longer you live you realize it’s all about forging your own path. If you need others for validation life is gonna be lonely. Do what satiates you.

4. Life boils down to dreamers who act and dreamers who are afraid.

The dreamers who take a chance believe it’s easy but complain when they fail. Or, they blow up their life or their world and walk away like there are no consequences. When someone tells you they got divorced yesterday and are over it today, run. Emotional scars run deep. Even if many are afraid to look at them and accept them. Then there are those who are afraid to take a risk. Either they never end up taking one or their back is up against the wall and they do. Desperation makes people do crazy stuff, like lie, cheat and steal. But it also inspires you to jump off the cliff. Dylan’s lyric is correct, when you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose.

5. Not everybody can win and there is no scorecard.

This is hard to fathom after years of schooling, after being inundated with the ravings of the social media entertainment complex. America is about making you feel inadequate, so you’ll buy stuff. You’re no more inadequate than the rich and famous, and the sooner you realize this the quicker you’ll be on the road to happiness. What you think you want is often not what you need. What you need is someone who listens to you who’ll support you, who’ll call you on your b.s. but won’t run away from you.

6. He who speaks loudest first is oftentimes wrong.

Some people are incapable of speaking up. Some people are afraid of blowback. And then there are those who always grab the mic and blather on. There might be a first mover advantage, but it’s often squandered. Evaluate people on more than their image, on more than their public behavior. We’ve got an incredibly insecure President, who can’t endure hate in a world where it’s never been more prevalent. Don’t be him. Not everybody’s gonna like you. Let it slide off your back, not inhibit you. If you worry about what others say you’ll never get started.

7. Know when to quit.

Perseverance is key, but it does not always yield rewards. Stay the course until the odds are low and then pivot. Forget all the stories of people who believed but were broke and then triumphed. The key is to always be looking for the pivot. But to honor your commitments. This is complicated, because too many people can’t complete anything, and completion comes first. But for those who can finish, sometimes you shouldn’t.

8. Just because everybody else is jumping off the bridge, that does not mean you should.

Remember the dot com era? You couldn’t find anybody who said it was gonna come to an end, but it did. Which is why Warren Buffett is so successful. He looks at the fundamentals. You can’t be a doctor without going to medical school and if there’s no obvious revenue stream chances are the business will fail.

9. Sex and cunning and flirting will move you up the corporate food chain.

But it won’t make you a success. Stop worrying about those utilizing their assets to get ahead, stabbing you in the back, sucking up to the boss. They’re gonna Peter Principle themselves out of a gig or hit a ceiling. People know when you’re dedicated and do good work. And if you’re dedicated and doing good work and not reaping the rewards, you’ve got to change your situation. The corporation does not care about you, never ever, unfortunately you’re in this all by yourself.

More here – Lefsetz Letter

Twitter

A Rant….Again

I like to open all my office windows when I can and since my office sits at the front of the house I get to hear the sounds of my suburb and you get used to the background noise. So I was surprised a few weeks ago to hear the sound of pan flutes gently wafting in through the window. I thought it cannot be the builders a few houses up since it is definitely not their style. So I thought it was one of my dodgy neighbors planted over a bong giving their chakra a furious rubbing and thought no more of it until a few hours later when it started up again. It couldn’t be one of my neighbors since by now they would have rubbed their damned chakra red raw so I stuck my head out the front door and doing my best bat impression tried to lock onto the sound and lo and behold it was coming from the Catholic primary school at the top of my street. The bell has apparently been replaced with pan flute music because the bell was upsetting their chi or some other such new age fuckerry. But it got worse, later on in the day they were subjected to a guided mediation and pan flute music over the loudspeaker. So multiple times a day so I, the neighborhood and the poor little buggers at the school are bombarded by pan flute music that blasts out of the school.

I cant wait to be told that feng shui, homeopathy and numerology  have been introduced to the science curriculum.

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