Friday, December 28, 2007

** Why choose this book by Read Montague

Why choose this book? Good title, because I was wondering that even while I finished reading it. This book gets off to a good start, loses its target in the middle, and finishes well. All in all, it should only be a 100 pages long and you'd come away the same thesis, and you'd do it efficiently as the author says you should. Shame on you Read for not sticking to a parsimonious approach.

The fact that we replace every atom of our soft tissue every couple of years clearly shows that our minds and even our bodies, portrayed as patterns of information processing, are stable to enormous amounts of turnover of underlying parts. We are the ultimate eddy current, a flesh and blood holding pattern, hovering for 70 to 80 years, and then dissolving back into the earth. P12

A human being sitting comfortably consumes energy at a rate of 100W, equivalent to the average lightbulb. And this consumption is running everything – digestion, bloodflow, breathing, and thinking. The brain consumes 20% of this rate. The brain, compared to electrical rates, uses about a $.05/day in electricity. Now that’s an efficient machine. P26

In the cerebral cortex, transmission speeds range from 1 to 30 m/s along axons, and 1/3 m/s along dendrites… Compare these speeds to the near light speed transmission along the wires in a PC, where data rates are 30 million times faster… Neural impulse are not just slow in transit, they are also wide in time (wavelength). Each neural impulse is about 1 to 2 milliseconds (total time for an impulse to rise from resting value to max, back to resting). This may seem fast, but it is miserably slow in computing terms, where things happen over 1 million times faster. P35

The brain must possess something akin to a random number generator. All biological decision makers need a source of irreducible uncertainty. Thus a predator chasing prey can’t in principle know exactly when and where the prey will make his next move. If not for randomness, a clever predator might recognize the prey’s algorithm and attempt to model it. P76

We should expect our mental representations of ourselves to possess a calculable amount of true uncertainty, that is, true self-deception… Why? In a 2 party exchange, what ingredient could allow both parties to maximize their yield, regardless of what is exchanged? There must be a way that prevents one party from always winning at the expense of the other, since this would eventually erase all of the loser… During a social transaction with another human, I must model myself and my trading partner. My suggestion is that my simulation of myself must possess some irreducible uncertainty that neither my brain nor my partner’s brain can model. This will insulate both of us from exploitation by the other. And to make this mechanism efficient, I should advertise clearly that I indeed use internal randomness in my trading algorithm. Without this advertisement, my trading partner will expend a lot of energy trying to learn my strategy – more energy than is necessary since some part of my exchange, the irreducible part, is not learnable… The trading partner must be willing to put up with this element of [randomness] risk, and this should not happen unless the exchange is balanced; the potential loss from the uncertain behavior equals my expected gain from the transaction. And this need is symmetric – both parties need this to be true… Truly non-risky trading partners can eventually be exploited so they would be quickly eliminated from a population. P78

What gives meaning to biological computations? Valuation is meaning, and valuation arose because of costs… Living systems all run on batteries – energy is limited, and life is desperately hard. This is why the ability to choose evolved. Evolution selected for organisms that could value their computations wisely by using past experience to make best guesses about the likely future. If these valuations build in guesses about the likely future – what might happen – they why not include that information along with past experience? Why not include all possible pasts and possible futures and their evaluations? What might have happened and what might happen help us decide what to do… Natural selection chose individuals with decision making machinery that took into account of what ‘could have been’ in the past, present, and future. P223

If life had unlimited energy (like a computer), our brain’s mechanisms for choosing would be different. Choice might not even exist… Choice is about relative value and relative valuation arose because energy was limited. Energy must be distributed to computations according to their expected payoff. This is how we choose, and this is why biological computations are so freakishly efficient. Energy distribution systems in the brain know exactly how much energy to commit to a computation: an amount proportional to its current value. This is why your forehead is merely warm to the touch [compare that to a computer processor]. P225

The brain must possess dynamic distribution schemes if it is to be efficient overall. Some problems may require more speed and others more precision… Suppose my brain committed once and for all to represent any number to 3 decimal places. If I’m trying to throw a rock at quick moving prey, my brain may not be able to speed up enough by dropping the precision for the sake of speed or I will raise my total energy consumption considerably. By limiting precision my brain may actually use more energy overall… Dynamic resource allocation like this is the perceptual capacity we call ‘attention’. P244

Saturday, October 13, 2007

* The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes

An interesting expose of the Hoover and FDR administrations during the Great Depression. You'll be struck by how left leaning the FDR policies were, how bone headed macro-economists were, and how close the country came to the brink of revolution. The hero of the book will turn out not be a president, but a businessman.

In 1925, the Federal gov’t was a pygmy. Its size was less than 2% of the GDP, smaller even that of state and city gov’ts. P20 Why is this important? Today’s gov’t is over 10 times larger, and gov’t spending or saving can therefore make a big difference in the overall economy. A massive 50% increase in federal spending in 1925, could only increase the GDP by 1%.

“The way to wealth is as plain as the way to market. It depends chiefly on 2 words: industry and frugality. That is, waste neither time nor money, but make the best use of both.” – Andrew Mellon p24

“Find a man who can run a business and needs capital to start or expand. Furnish capital and take shares in the business, leaving the other man to run it except when he is in trouble. When the business has growth sufficiently to pay back the money, take the money and find another man running a business and in need of money and give it to him, on the same basis.” – Andrew Mellon, the first VC? P25

Income taxes in those days applied only to the rich and those rich paid extremely high rates, the top being 73%. Mellon believed that rate was prohibitive [Mellon by the way was worth over $200M in 1925 dollars, which would be many billions today]. It killed investment, and therefore jobs… When a gov’t overtaxed, it hurt itself, for it got less revenue. Taxes that were too high simply were not paid. In the end lawmakers wrote loopholes that enabled high earners to escape. P31

Hoover created a Division of Simplified Practices, whose job it was to standardize and harmonize the distressingly fractious and unresponsive manufacturing and construction sectors. In those days roads were often paved with brick, and brick was a typical example: 66 different sizes were being produced when Hoover ordered research on this topic. This was sheer waste as far as the utilitarian Hoover (who was a Stanford educated mining engineer) was concerned. He therefore pulled the nation’s paving brick firms into a room and settled matters; the range of sizes dropped from 66 to 11. Hoover also looked into brick for home; here he claimed victory outright, for the number of sizes went from 44 to 1. Then there were beds. 74 different sizes were available; as a result of encouragement from Hoover the figure went down to 4. p37

William Graham Sumner [Yale philosopher] and Irving Fisher [infamous Yale economist who will be eternally known for his bad call on the 1929 stock recovery that never occurred in his lifetime] disagreed on many things. Sumner had told Fisher that if life came down to a choice between socialism and anarchy, he would take anarchy. Fisher would choose socialism… Fisher believed that the gold standard slowed growth. One of its problems was that gold was too unpredictable, and that a stabler currency might be arrived at by linking the dollar to a group of commodities instead of gold. P40

In 1927, many of FDR’s future policy leaders would go on a junket to visit most notably communist Russia and fascist Italy. In their summary speaking about the achievement of revolutionary Russia, one penned “I have been to the future and it works. I would like to spend the evening of my life watching the morning of a new world.” P51 Many would later criticize FDRs policies as being socialist. Could this trip, where Stalin carefully orchestrated what the Americans would see and witness, have had an impact on those who shaped the policies later? If so, their experience was not an objective one on which to base policy – as the history of Great Depression proved.

After the October 1929 market crash, many investors were losing their livelihood. Most famous was the pair of men who committed suicide by leaping out of the window while holding hands: they had maintained a joint account… But the despair was not uniform: indeed, on November 13, 1929, NYC’s chief medical officer reported that there had been 44 suicides in the proceeding 4 weeks, 9 fewer than the 53 for the same period in 1928. As for banks, some were failing, but the rate was not outside the norm for the 1920s. Total bank failures for 1929 would be lower than the same statistic for 1924, 1926 or 1927. The nation’s first impulse was correct… The miracle of the 1920s had followed a rough downturn at the start of the decade, and then a comeback. Such crashes – or panics – did not make a lengthy slump inevitable. P88

In previous economic downturns [which are deflationary], companies were able to trim losses by cutting wages… Hoover’s humanitarian policy sent a signal nationwide: do not lower wages. In the end, business had to choose between lowering wages and shutting down. Often, they shut down…Albert Wiggin of Chase Bank argued that Hoover had his logic backward about wages. ‘It is not true that high wages make for prosperity. Instead, prosperity makes high wages.’ P94

Many Americans wanted to see Stalin’s experiment for themselves. Some 2500 had visited the Soviet Union in 1929. The next year it doubled, and it more than doubled again by 1931. That same year, Amtorg of Russia announced it had 6000 skilled jobs to fill, and it received over 100,000 US applications. P117

The maximum top rate when the income tax was first introduced, less than 2 decades back, had been 7%, and that was only on incomes over $500,000. p131

The deflation of the Great Depression had become so severe, that there was enough money for the basic economy to function. Bartering came back into vogue.
Salt Lake City had now gone further than barter. The townspeople banded together and created a group that made its own money. They had given their unit the reverberating name of the vallar. Citizens could work to earn vallars, and they in turn could use those vallars to buy oil, soap, coal, food, meals, etc… By the end of 1932, some 10,000 people would be in the vallar system… In Arizona, the legislature, by a special act, ordained a state script, to be issued into denominations up to $20. As it happened the script was not used. But that didn’t stop other private firms from generating their own. The Nogales (AZ) Herald issued its own bills. In areas near the border, Mexican pesos began to trade at a premium; the peso become another form of American currency… The barter systems kept growing; by the spring of 1932 there would be some 150 barter/script systems in operation in 30 states. Perhaps 100,000s used script, and barter enthusiasts claimed the number of those engaging in some form of barter had hit a million. P138

To the outside world, FDR and his coterie of scholars, seemed to be basing their policy on sound academic theory. Well if they only knew…
One morning, FDR told his group he was thinking of raising the gold price by $.21. Why that figure?, his entourage asked. ‘It’s a lucky number because it’s 3 times 7’. Morgenthau later wrote ‘If anybody knew how we really set the price of gold, I think they would be frightened.’ P148

There was little escaping the National Recovery Administration (NRA). Some 22M workers came under its 557 basic codes… The NRA had the authority to set production quotas, an authority used to curtail supply in the name of driving up price. For example the price of oil had dropped to $.04 per barrel by May of 1933. In other industries, the NRA rules were equally specific. The NRA code determined the precise components of macaroni; it determined what tailors could and could not sew. Customers could not choose their chicken from the coop… The idea was to increase efficiency. P151
And now the socialist notions price and work controls started to rear their ugly heads, making the economic downturn even worse.

Landowners had historically hired sharecropper labor because they themselves made profits from their share of the crop that the tenants planted and harvested. The relationship had become more tenuous as crop prices came down, and there was less for the landlord and tenant to share. The tractor, a new arrival, was already obviating the need for the sharecropper – and now the gov’t was paying the landowners not to farm the land (to drive up crop prices). Removing the tenants began to make sense. P168
Thus another policy to increase income ends up causing more unemployment.

Nascent power companies would sell irons [and other electrical appliances] at cut prices to housewives to boost demand. P184
Today, that same power company gives you a big rebate for buying appliances that use less power. Go figure?

FDR had understood something that the Republicans had not. The contest not Democrat vs. Republican but rather the classical republic vs. the classical democracy. Gov’t was less a representative republic than it had once been, more directly controlled by the people. The change had started back in the 1910s with the constitutional amendment to permit the electorate to pick senators directly rather than through state legislatures. Suffrage for women had accelerated it. And the depression had accelerated it again… Voters were asking in a very democratic way what gov’t was doing for them. P266

Citizens were using old tax breaks – legally. But FDR was now set on erasing the old distinction between evasion (illegal) and avoidance (legal)… He set out to prove that the intention of taxpayers who failed to complete returns correctly was malign; where there was ambiguity, taxpayers ought to be presumed guilty. This was especially disingenuous of FDR because he would submit an ambiguous tax return for 1937. His income would be $75k as President, but there would be other issues that complicated the return. As he would write to his IRS commissioner ‘I am wholly unable to figure out the amount of the tax for the following reason…’ His own tax problem was something only experts could solve. P312

On June 24, 1937, the IRS commissioner named 67 ‘large wealthy tax payers who by taking assets out of their personal boxes and transferring them to incorporated pocket books have avoided paying their full share of taxes.’ The tax decisions of these men were, the Treasury acknowledged, ‘perfectly legal’ but still not conscientious. P313

Now that FDR wanted to balance the budget, and some WPA jobs had to go. Instead of accepting change, as FDR expected, the WPA workers were mimicking their private sector brothers and striking. This seemed like ingratitude. How much, after all, could the gov’t pay them? P323

The Wagner Act had been created to provide a legal basis for protest. But instead of staying within the safe confines of the law, the protestors were pushing the envelope, seeing how far they could take the country. The strikes had the effect of escalating the battle… The pattern – concession followed by escalation and radicalization – seemed far too much like not only Italy but Russia after Kerensky or Germany after Weimar for comfort. P324

The problem in 1937-8 was not that the New Deal was mismanaging or punishing one sector of the economy over another. It was that it was competing with the private sector, and frightening it. The solution to the depression within the Depression was not anything special… If FDR wanted the economy to thrive in peacetime, he had to call off the gov’t competition. P351

“If the war should be over before the election in Nov 1940, and I am running against Willkie, he would be elected.” –FDR

FDR knew that he needed more than economy that looked good. He needed an economy that was actually strong. A war on business (New Deal) and a war against Europe could not happen at the same time. P379

Roger Baldwin – cofounder of the ACLU was initially a leftist group supporting Communism. But by 1959, Baldwin stated ‘We went wrong, we were starry-eyed. We didn’t see the potentiality of totalitarianism.’ P385

Sunday, September 16, 2007

**** Mindset by Carol Dweck

These 4 star books are few and far between, but they pack a punch. I really wish I found this book 20 years ago. In any case, it will change your mindset and possibly your life. Use it carefully and wisely.

Self-delusion, the hallmark of the fixed mindset
We found that people greatly misestimated their performance and their ability. But it was those with the fixed mindset who accounted for almost all of the inaccuracy. The people with the growth mindset were amazingly accurate. When you think about it, it makes sense. If like those with the growth mindset, you believe you can develop yourself, then you're open to accurate information about your current abilities, even if it's unflattering. What's more, if you're oriented learning, you need accurate information about your abilities in order to learn effectively. However, if everything is either good or bad news about your precious traits - as it is with fixed mindset people - distortion almost inevitably enters the picture. Some outcomes are magnified, others are explained away, and before you know it you don't know yourself at all. P11

Learning is about making mistakes - not proving yourself
You've decided to learn a new language by taking a class. A few sessions into the course the instructor calls you to the front and starts throwing questions at you. Put yourself in the fixed mindset. Your ability is on the line. Can you feel everyone's eyes on you? Can you see the instructor evaluating you? Feel the tension, feel your ego bristle and waver… Now put yourself in the growth mindset. You're a novice - that's why you're here - to learn. The teacher is a resource for learning. Feel the tension leave you; feel your mind open up. The message is: You can change your mindset. P14

If it requires a hard effort on your part, then it means...
In the growth mindset, failure is about you not growing. Not reaching for the things you value. It means you're not fulfilling your potential… Effort is what makes you smarter… In the fixed mindset, failure means you're not smart or talented. Effort is a bad thing, it like failure, means you're not smart or talented. If you were, you wouldn't need effort. P16

Who do you want to marry?
People with the fixed mindset said the ideal mate would:
Put them on a pedestal
Make them feel perfect
Worship them
In other words, the perfect mate would enshrine their fixed qualities. People with growth mindset hope for a different kind of partner who would:
See their faults and help them to work on them
Challenge them to be a better person
Encourage them to learn new things
Certainly they didn't want people who would pick on them or undermine their self-esteem, but they did want people would foster their development. They didn't assume they were full evolved, flawless beings who had nothing more to learn. P19

We showed 5th graders a box and told them it had a test inside that measured an important school ability. First we asked them: How much do you think this test measures an important school ability? All of them had taken our word for it. Next we asked them: Do you think this test measures how smart you are? And does it measure how smart you'll be when you grow up? All students had take our word that the test measured an important ability, but the growth mindset students didn't think it would tell them how smart they were. And they certainly didn't think it would tell them how smart they would be when they grew up. In fact, one student said 'No way! Ain't no test can do that.' [Lucky for him because it seems that he has some more learning to do before he grows up.] Fixed mindset students didn't simply believe that the test could measure an important ability, they also believed that it could measure how smart they were. And how smart they'd be when they grew up. They granted one test the power to measure their most basic intelligence now and forever. They gave this test the power to define them. That's why every success is so important [and every failure so devastating]. P27

Sometimes not knowing is better than knowing
George Danzig was grad student at UC Berkeley. One day, as usual, he was late for class and quickly copied the 2 problems on the board. When he later went to do them, he found them very difficult, and it took him several days of hard work to crack them and solve them. When he returned back to class he found out that these problems were not homework problems at all. They were 2 famous math problems that had never been solved. P38 [Ignorance can not only be bliss, but it can help you be unrestrained in your effort.]

How to study in school
Many students study like this: They read the textbook and their notes. If the material is really hard, they read them again. Or they try to memorize everything they can, like a vacuum cleaner. That's how students with the fixed mindset study. If they did poorly on the test they will conclude that Chemistry was not their subject. After all I did everything possible, didn't I? Far from it. They would be shocked to find out what growth mindset students do. Instead of plunging into mindless memorization, they look for themes and underlying principles across lectures, and go over mistakes until they are understood. They study to learn, not just to ace the test. And actually, this was why they get higher grades - not because they are smarter - just that they study smarter. Instead of losing their interest when the course got harder, they motivate themselves to stay interested in the subject. P61

How to mint a new liar
We told students after a series of test problems that "We are going to go to other schools and those kids would like to know about the problems you did here." So we gave them each a page to write out their thoughts and to self report their own scores. Now we had randomly divided the class into 2 groups: one group had been praised on their abilities [a fixed mindset cue], and the other on their efforts [a growth mindset cue]…Would you believe that 40% of the praised ability kids lied about their scores, while hardly hand of the other group did. In the fixed mindset, imperfections are shameful - especially if you're talented - so they lied them away. What's even more alarming is that we took ordinary children and made them into liars by telling them that they were smart. P73

So telling children that they are smart, in the end, made them feel dumber and act dumber, but claim that that they were smarter. I don't think this is what we're aiming for when we put positive labels like 'gifted', 'talented', and 'brilliant' on people. We don't mean to rob them of their zest for challenge. But that's the danger. P74

Vulnerability afflicts many of the most able, high-achieving females. Why should this be? When they're little, these girls are often so perfect, and they delight in everyone's telling them so… Girls learn to trust people's estimates of them 'Gee, everyone's so nice to me; if they criticize me, it must be true.'… Boys are constantly being scolded and punished. In grade school, boys got 8 times more criticism than girls for their conduct. Boys are also constantly calling each other slobs and morons. Such evaluations lose a lot of their power… Taking the fixed mindset, plus stereotyping, plus women's trust in people's assessments: I think we can begin to understand why there's a gender gap in math and science. P79

Want to lower your kids IQ? Just tell him he's wicked smart!
Do you label your kids? This one is the artist and that one is the scientist? Next time remember that you're not helping them - even though you may be praising them. Remember our study where praising kids' ability lowered their IQ scores. Find a growth mindset way to compliment them. P81

The Nyad Diet - eat a full meal every hour and still lose over 1 lb per hour
Diana Nyad wanted to swim 100 miles - in open water without stopping… NASA experts were brought in for nutrition and endurance guidance since she needed 1100 calories/hour. Her new record was 102.5 miles and she lost 29 lbs. p105

Malcolm Gladwell [in Blink] concludes that when people live in an environment that esteems them for their innate talent, they have grave difficulty when their image is threatened: "They will not take the remedial course. They will not stand up to investors and the public and admit they were wrong. They'd sooner lie." Obviously a person or a company that can't self correct can't thrive. P109

Groupthink Avoidance #1
During WW2, Winston Churchill setup a special department whose job was to give him all of the worst news. Churchill could then sleep well at night knowing that he had not been groupthinked into a false sense of security. P135
Groupthink Avoidance #2
Alfred Sloan, former CEO of GM during its heyday was leading a group of high level policy makers who seemed to have reached a consensus. "Gentlemen, I take it we are all in complete agreement on the decision here… Then I propose we postpone further discussion of this matter until our next meeting to give ourselves time to develop disagreement and perhaps gain some understanding about what the decision is all about." P135
Groupthink Avoidance #3
Herodotus over 2500 years ago, reported that the Persians used a version of Sloan's techniques to prevent groupthink. Whenever a group reached a decision while sober, they later reconsidered it while intoxicated. P135

How to pick and refocus your disappointed kid
Imagine if your 9 year old child is heading off to her first gymnastics competition. She did well, but by the end of the competition she had received no ribbons and was devastated. What would you do?... Let's look at 5 possible reactions from a mindset point of view.
1. Tell her you thought she was the best. This is insincere. She wasn't the best, both she and you know that. This offers her no recipe for how to recover and to improve.
2. Tell her she was robbed of a ribbon that was rightfully hers. This places blame on others when in fact the problem was mostly her performance, not the judges. Do you want her to grow up blaming others for her deficiencies?
3. Tell her that gymnastics is not that important. This teacher her to devalue something she doesn't do well in right away. Is this really the message you want to send?
4. Tell her she has the ability and will win next time. This may be the most dangerous message of all. Does ability automatically take you where you want to go? If she didn’t win this time, why should she win the next?
5. Tell her she didn't deserve to win. This seems hardhearted, and we don't suggest that you say it so succinctly. But that's pretty much what you need to say. Here's an example:
"It's disappointing to perform your best and not win. But you have not really earned it yet. There were many girls who've been in gymnastics longer than you and who've worked a lot harder. If this is something you really want, then its something you will have to work hard for like them." P175

How to react when mistakes (inevitably) happen
Sometimes children will judge and label themselves. Here's an example of a 14 year old boy working with his dad on a project. The son spilled nails all over the floor, and guiltily looked at his dad and said:
Son: Gee, I'm so clumsy
Dad: That's not what we say when we spill something.
Son: What do you say?
Dad: I say, the nails spilled and I'll pick them up!
Son: Just like that?
Dad: Yeah, just like that.
Son: Thanks Dad. P177

Why punishment seldom works
Many parents think that when they judge and punish that they are teaching, as in 'I'll teach you a lesson that you'll never forget.' What are they actually teaching? They are teaching their children that if they go against the parent's rules or values, they'll be judged and punished. They're not teaching them how to think through the issues and come to mature decisions on their own. And they're not teaching that the communication channels are open. P181

False praise and lower standards just leads to dumb kids who crave false praise.
Many educators think that lowering their standards will give students success experiences, boost self esteem, and raise their achievement. It comes from the same philosophy as the overpraising of student's intelligence. Well, it doesn't work. Lowering standards leads to poorly educated students who feel entitled to easy work and lavish praise. P187

Dinner routine
At the dinner table ask each child "What did you learn today? What mistake did you make that taught you something? What did you try hard at today?" Go around the table with each question, excitedly discussing your own and one another's efforts, strategies, setbacks, and learning. You talk about skills you have today that you didn't have yesterday because of the practice you put in. You dramatize mistakes you made that held the key to the solution, telling it like a mystery. You describe with relish the things you are struggling with and making progress on. Soon the children can't wait each night to tell their stories. "Oh my, you certainly did get smarter today." If your child tells stories about doing things better than others, everyone should say 'Yeah, but what did you learn?'. When he tells you about how easy everything in school is for him, you say 'Oh, that's too bad. You're not learning.' When he boasts about being a champ, you say 'Champs are the people who work the hardest. You can become a champ. Tomorrow tell me something you've done to help you become a champ.' P229

Saturday, September 01, 2007

** The Power of Play by David Elkind

This book reinforces the age old wisdom that children should be free to play and use their imaginations. The current lifestyle of ‘play dates’, structured extracurricular activities, toys for one purpose, and scheduled agendas, doesn’t leave much free time for the child’s mind to flourish.

When it comes to toys, less is more… Thanks to the automation [and electronics] of so many toys, it gets harder to choose toys that encourage fantasy and imagination… Only when a child spends time with particular toy can she weave it into a story tapestry of her own invention. P16

Mothers spent 25.05 hours a week w/their children in 1987, but 30.89 hours with them in 1997. For fathers the figures were 18.51 and 22.73, respectively. Guilt then is not the most likely explanation for the profusion of toys given to contemporary children… Advertisers target children directly and encourage them to pester their parents… They create needs for toys and parents give in because they want to ensure that their children don’t feel different or left out. The unintended consequence of using toys to promote social acceptance is conformity. Children see toys not as launching pads for imagination, but as vehicles for social acceptance. P17

Skill toys are a dying breed. Children today learn computer skills without ever understanding how the computer works. In contrast, a boy who decades ago built a crystal radio set knew how it operated as well as how to use it. P32

‘Do you know who make the best engineers?’, the dean of an engineering school recently answered this question by replying ‘Those young men and women who grew up on the farm and had firsthand experience with machinery.’ Those young people gain a practical understanding of how machines work, what they can and can’t do. P33

Children that watched educational TV (eg. Sesame Street) did better on academic skills of reading and vocabulary than did children that routinely watched entertainment programs… Preschoolers who spent the majority of their TV time watching educational programs also had different outcomes at adolescence by earning higher grades, reading more books, valuing achievement, showing greater creativity and less aggression than did those did those preschoolers who preferred non-educational entertainment programs. P41

Children think, but they don’t think about thinking; adolescents can think about thinking. Young teens become secretive precisely because they appreciate that they can have private thoughts to which no one else is privy. With this new ability they make an understandable error, they assume that other people are thinking about what they are thinking about – themselves… They thus create an imaginary audience… This explains why they are so self conscious and susceptible to peer pressure. P65

In 1994, a Federal investigation of more than 12,000 charges of child molestation at day care centers didn’t find a single charge that could be physically substantiated… Programs to help children defend themselves against abuse or ‘No Touch’ policies in child care facilities have any evidence to prove their value. P71

In the past, when we were an agricultural society, parents provided for health, vocational training, and education of their children. Free public school education in the 1830s effectively removed that function from the parental role. Early in the 20th century, schools began screening for vision and hearing, and checking vaccinations. Since the 1940s schools have provided for special need children. Later they expanded to include free lunches (and breakfasts). Now schools also teach sex, drug, and character education, while offering day care facilities, sport, art, and music activities. Teachers and coaches have absorbed almost all parental functions. Parents are only expected to provide some food, clothing and shelter. P73

The common assumption that commitment transfers from one activity to another is wrong… A child who puts her things away neatly at school doesn’t necessarily do the same thing at home. In the same way, a child who spends the night at a friend’s house may behave better than she does at home. P77 Judith Harris does an excellent job of explaining the difference in child behavior between the shared environment (home) and the non-shared environment governed by peer interaction in her book ‘The Nurture Assumption’. I can’t say enough good things about that book. An absolute must read for all parents.

Skilled teachers know that children can only imitate actions that they can already perform. They can’t learn new, complex skills simply by imitating or watching. Imagine trying to learn the piano just by observing a skilled pianist… Because of this, the ‘watch me’ approach to teaching often takes the form of the parent/teacher imposing a different activity onto the one in which the child is actively engaged. In effect the parent is saying ‘never mind what you’re doing, watch me.’ What the child learns is that learning priorities are not valued by those whom he is attached. P92

Once children become more advanced verbally, you’ll see them play many different forms of wordplay to go beyond the usual meaning of the words. One form of this is that they start to understand pose riddles. Here are a few good ones:
What is the difference between a piano and a fish?
You can’t tuna fish!

What did the octopus say to his date?
I want to hold your hand, hand, hand, hand, hand…

What do cows give after earthquakes?

What kind of shoes are made out of banana peel?

Why did the tomato blush?
Because it saw the salad dressing

Why do you call a fly without wings?
A walk

How do you fix a broken tomato?With tomato paste

There is a therapeutic function to the game of PeekABoo played by young children dealing with their first experience of separation anxiety… What is the pleasure of such games? If the disappearance and return of loved ones is such a problem to the child, why should the baby turn all of this into a boisterous game? First by repeating the disappearance and return under conditions that he can control, he is helping himself overcome the anxiety. Secondly, he turns a situation that would, in reality, be painful into a pleasurable experience. P114

Regression is common among young children when a new sibling arrives on the scene. [Don’t] try to prevent these regressions. The child is not just playing at being an infant again, but insists upon acting as one. After a few months [!] of this regressive behavior most children will replace it with mature behavior, and may become extremely caring towards the new baby and to her playthings… Having, in the regressed state, identified with the coming infant, she now – post-regression - identifies with her mother. P114

It is simply a fact that young children think differently than older children and adults. Their mode of thinking is concrete. For example: If I eat spaghetti will I become Italian? Please turn off the sun, I want to go to sleep. In these forms of thought, there are no levels of conceptualization and everything is on the same plane. And it includes the belief that parents (and adults) are all-powerful and all-knowing. P120

Parents and grandparents are often misled by young child’s verbal precocity and assume its an index of intellectual giftedness. It is not. An easy check is to ask the child to draw or copy a diamond. You will be surprised… In order to draw a diamond, the child must understand vectors – the idea that the same line can move in 2 directions at once. The child must make the line go down and out at the same time, and that is a problem for concrete thinking child. P121

Another example of concrete thinking is the fact that one thing can’t be 2 things at the same time. A preschooler will answer “Do you have any brothers?” with a yes, and be able to name them. Then ask, “Do your brothers have any brothers?” No is the usual answer. At this level of thinking you can’t have a brother and be a brother at the same time. P123

Young children have problems with many rules that we try to inculcate, such as putting their toys away, picking up things, not getting up from the table, and so on. If we appreciate that these lapses reflect intellectual immaturity rather than rebellion, we can handle them in a playful way. When we do this the child is more likely to learn the rule than if we criticize him for something he can’t help. Introducing an imaginary mediator is one way of doing this. Mr Rabbit tells me when you get older you won’t leave the table w/o asking. P124

Young children have a natural talent for observation and classification, but not experimentation where they hold some variables constant while varying a few. Introducing experimentation too early can kill the child’s interest and inclination to engage in science activities. P143

Games with rules are the child’s initiation into social institutions… Games provide a set of rules that govern how to behave under certain circumstances. Like all social institutions, games exist only to the extent that there are individuals willing to participate in them. P148

Until 8 or 9, children have a rather superstitious concept of rules. They assume that the rules were created a long time ago by adults and can’t be changed. Also, the youngest children usually don’t fully understand the rules, but they make believe they do in order to win social acceptance by the group. P154

Consider the following tale: a boy is helping to set the table, but breaks 3 plates by accident; a girl was trying to get some cookies that she wasn’t supposed to eat, and breaks 1 plate while doing so by accident. Children under 7 said the boy should be punished more than the girl. Children over 9 said the girl should be punished, but not for breaking the plate, but for breaking the rule. P155

Preschool children can play with members of the opposite sex without being stigmatized. By age 7 or 8, play becomes gender based… The earlier acceptance of cross gender playmates is lost mainly as a result of the negative sanctions of a peer culture. P161

Sharing our passions, even by example, is far different than teaching or giving lessons. It reveals ourselves as people, and we free our children to engage in activities they are not obliged to perform. P185

** 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave

A very dry book. Stick to the blog. Important points to implement in any job with more than 2 employees.

Employees begin to disengage and think about leaving when 1 or more of 4 fundemental needs are not being met: p19
Need for trust
Need to have hope
Sense of worth
Feeling competent

Employees are frustrated about pay because they have observed the following inequities:
Superior perf reviews have little effect on pay increases
Experience is discounted when new hires paid as much or more as veterans
Higher education doesn’t translate into higher pay
Increased stress isn’t worth the money
Extra hours and overtime make the pay worth less p26

7 Root Causes for turnover: p29
Job/workplace doesn’t meet expectations
Mismatch between job and person
Too little feedback and coaching
Too few growth and advancement opportunities
Feeling devalued and unrecognized
Stress and work/life imbalance
Loss of trust and confidence in senior leaders

Good interview questions p64
What is your greatest strength/weakness?
Which of your talents was most under utilized in your last job?
Which talent would you most like to use?
How would you like to be challenged in the coming year?
What appeals to you in the job description?

Coaching/feedback should help a person answer these questions: p73
Where is the company going
How is it getting there
How do you expect to contribute
How are good are your contributions

Recognition can’t replace pay; it can only add to it. It is retroactive, while variable pay is forward looking. Recognition is most powerful immediately after it follows the accomplishment. Any employee can recognize another, but only management can affect pay. P125

Ways to make new hires feel welcome p137
Send gift basket to their home to impress their family.
Put candy/pastries in their cube to attract others to stop by
Assign mentors for the first few weeks
Spread out orientation over a period of weeks to be better absorbed

Toxic work culture warning signs p153
Treating workers like they are lucky to have a job
Expecting/demanding workers to give up personal time
Controlling rather than empowering
Hoarding information at top levels
Infighting between departments
Lying or being unethical
Constantly changing corporate direction

Shareholder’s interests are important, but employees know when they are being given short shrift. Companies which perversely don’t put shareholders first, do better for their shareholders than organizations that only put shareholders first… “When you take care of your employees, they take care of your customers. And your shareholders wind up winning anyway” – Dick Kovacevich, CEO WellsFargo… “It takes a week for an employee to start treating customers the same way the employer is treating that employee.” – Sam Walton p186

A major corporation claimed to be committed to work/life values by drawing up an excellent plan. The company gathered its top 80 officers to review the plan – but scheduled the meeting on a weekend… One company displayed its code of conduct in its lobby, proclaiming trust was a driving principle, yet it searched employee’s belongings each time the entered and exited the building. P189

Exit Interview questions p222
If you had 3 months to work over again, what would you do differently
What have you learned that you can take with you to your next job
What are you proud of from your time here
Would you consider returning and under what circumstances

** Dreaming in Code by Scott Rosenberg

A book for all software programmers to read since we've all been there and done that. Also, it is a book for all non-programmers to read who depend on or work in software companies to understand how in the hell software is 'engineered' if you can even call it that. My personal opinion is that software is a still cottage industry and has not entered an industrial revolution. When will that happen? I think when Moore's law finally slams into physical limits of quantum, and devices no longer become twice as fast and twice as small every 18 months, that all of the efforts and research will go into designing and building efficient software. Ultimately, the authors of this generation of software will be our own machines. Just like the machines took over for the laborers in the industrial revolution. Software developers will become line workers in software factories of the future. For the time being enjoy your job security and artistry.

Software programmers’ work is 1% inspiration, the rest sweat-drenched detective work; their products are never finished or perfect, just varying degrees of less broken. P10

Brooks’ Law: Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. P17
Frederick Brooks is the author of the “Mythical Man Month”, and was the manager for the development of the OS for the system360 mainframe in the 1960s.

A 1995 survey of 365 IT managers found that only 16% of their projects were successful (on time and on budget). 31% were impaired or canceled – total failures. 53% were project challenged, a euphemistic way of saying that they were over budget, late, and/or failed to deliver all that was promised. 10 years later, the numbers for success have increased to 29% from 16%, failures have decreased to only 18% from 31%. But challenged is holding steady at 53%. P50

If you want to change the world you need pessimism of the intellect, and optimism of the will. – Antonio Gramsci p54

The memory banks of the earliest computers were build out of wound wire coils known as ferrite cores. Ever since programmers have referred to the computer’s memory as ‘core’. P65

The Python programming language is named in honor, not of the snake, but of the famous Flying Circus of Monty Python. Spam for unwanted mail is from another Flying Circus skit featuring a luncheonette menu featuring nothing but variations of eggs, sausage, spam, spam, spam and spam. P70

Yahoo= Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle p100

There’s an old project manager saying: I can make it for you fast, cheap or good. Pick any 2. p119

With manufacturing, armies and hardware development, the managers can walk through and see what everyone is doing. If someone is doing something wrong or unproductive, the manager can tell just by watching for a few minutes. However, with a team of software developers you can’t tell what they are doing by merely watching. You must ask them or carefully examine what they have produced… Most developers would be glad to tell their managers where they stood on the job. The problem is that with current software practices, the developers don’t know where they stand any more than the managers do. P129

IT staff vs. the general population
77% of IT staff prefer a Thinking decision making profile vs. Feeling. This split is 50/50 in the general population. 41% of IT staff are introverted, which is twice the frequency in the general population… This group is the least likely to engage and connect interpersonally with others, and may avoid creating personal bridges of trust and openness with colleagues. P133

FUBAR= Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition p196 This has become FooBar over time.

Why we all have to plan by Watts Humphrey (he took over the System360 project for Brooks). P245
We all work for organizations
These orgs require plans
Unless you are independently wealthy, you must work to a schedule
If you don’t make your own schedules, somebody else will
Then that person will control your work

Agile Software Development Manifesto p252
Value individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Value working software over comprehensive documentation
Value customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Value responding to change over following a plan

Joel Spolsky’s engineering test. Joel authored Excel at Microsoft. P257
Do you use source control
Can you make a build in 1 step
Do you make daily builds
Do you have a bug DB
Do you fix bugs before writing new code
Do you have an up to date schedule
Do you have a spec
Do programmers have quiet working condition
Do you use the best tools money can buy
Do you have testers
Do new candidates write code during interviews
Do you do hallway usability testing (Rather than using an in-house, trained group of testers, just five to six random people, indicative of a cross-section of end users, are brought in to test the software)

Rosenberg’s Law: Software is easy to make except when you want it do something new. Collary: The only software that’s worth making is software that does something new. P268

If builders built houses the way programmers built programs, the first woodpecker to come along would destroy civilization. – Gerald Weinberg p284

Ultimately we need to stop writing software and learn how to grow it instead. We think our computing systems are unmanageably complex, but to a biologist – who regularly deals with systems that have many orders of magnitude more moving parts – something like a computer could not possibly be regarded as being particularly complex or large or fast. Slow, small, stupid – that’s what computers are. – Alan Kay, creator of SmallTalk. P286

Of all the things you can spend a lot of money on, the only things you expect to fail frequently are software and medicine. That’s not a coincidence, since they are the 2 most complex technologies we try to make as a society. Still the case for software seems less forgivable, because intuitively it seems that as complicated as it’s gotten lately, it still exists at a much lower order of tangledness than biology. Since we make it ourselves, we ought to be able to know how to engineer it so it doesn’t get quite so confusing. P292

With protocols you tend to be drawn into all or nothing high wire acts of perfect adherence in at least some aspects of your design. Pattern recognition in contrast assumes the constant minor presence of errors and doesn’t mind them. P293

The fundamental challenge for humanity is understanding complexity. This is the challenge of biology and medicine. It’s the challenge in society, economics. It’s also the challenge of software…Whatever path you go down, you come again and again into a complexity barrier of one sort or another. P295

Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s law. P331

Ward Cunningham created the wiki because he wanted his collaborators to fix their own documentation mistakes. The young developers who started collaborative project mgmt tool also built a small program to write a web journal and communicate with their users. That little project became Blogger. Ludicorp was an online role playing game that ended pretty quickly, but its creators revamped some of its parts and built Flickr. For that matter, who in 1991 could see that a little effort at a particle physics lab would evolve in the World Wide Web? P340

Why can’t we build software like we build bridges? Well maybe we already do. The project of replacing the 4.5 mile SF Bay Bridge was born in the 1990s after the 1989 earthquake. The original design called for a low slung unadorned causeway, but political rivalries and local pride led to the adoption of a more ambitious design… There was only one problem.: Nothing like it had been built before. And nobody wanted to tackle it. Only 1 contractor submitted a bid… Now the new bridge is scheduled for completion in 2012 – 23 years after the quake. And the cost will be astronomical. P347

** Banker to the Poor by Muhammad Yunus

Autobiography by the founder of the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh. Yunus also won the Nobel Peace prize for his work in helping the poor with microcredit. He was the one brave enough to try when everyone else said it could not and should not be done. And he has proven that all people have potential when given enough credit.

Conventional banks usually demand lump sum payments. Parting with a large amount of cash at the end of a loan period is often psychologically trying for borrowers. They try to delay the repayment as long as they can, and in the process they make the loan grow bigger and bigger. In the end, they decide not to pay back the loan at all… To overcome the psychological barrier of parting with large sums, I decided to institute daily payments. P61

Support groups were crucial to the success of our operations, we required that each applicant join a group of like-minded people living in similar conditions… We refrained from managing them, but we did create incentives that encouraged the borrowers to help one another succeed in their businesses. Group membership not only creates support and protection but also smoothes out the erratic behavior patterns of individual members. Subtle and at times not so subtle peer pressure keeps each member in line. A sense of intragroup and intergroup competition also encourages each member to be an achiever… Once the group of 5 is formed, we extend loans to 2 members. If these 2 repay regularly for 6 weeks, 2 more members may request loans. The chairperson of the group is the last borrower… To become a group, all of the members must undergo 7 days of training and pass an oral exam… The pressure provided by the group and the exam helps ensure that only those who are truly needy and serious will actually become members. Those who are better off usually don’t find it worthwhile. P62

We require all borrowers to deposit 5% of each loan in a group fund…as of 1998, the total amount in all of the group funds was over $100M – more than the net worth of all but a handful of Bangladeshi companies. P65

Loans last 1 year, and payments are made weekly- starting immediately. Interest rate is 20%. Payments are 2% of the loan per week for 50 weeks, and interest payments are 20 bps or .2% per week. P68

There are no legal documents between the borrower and the bank… Our experience with bad debt is less than 1%.... Our loans are paid weekly to a frontline bank manager in each village. P70

In rural Bangladesh, it is an unwritten rule that if one of the family members has to starve during a famine, it will be the mother, often this means that a breast feeding infant will also starve… A husband can throw his wife out any time by merely repeating ‘I divorce thee’ 3 times. P72

Grameen means rural in Bangladeshi. P93

People without previous work experience of any kind are often best suited for the job of working in the field at Grameen. Previous work experience distracts new workers from the ideals and unique procedures of Grameen. P100 All good brainwashers will attest to this.

When a new recruits 6 month training is complete, his task will be to create a branch of his own that will be better in every respect than the one in which he spent his first 6 months. P101

The women who are the most desperate, who have nothing to eat, who have been abandoned by their husbands and are trying to feed their children by begging, join Grameen no matter who threatens them (which is often and harsh in this Muslim country). They have no other choice. They must borrow from us or watch their children die. P109

Bangladesh is the size of Florida, but has a population of 120M. [Imagine] if half of the US population decided to move to Florida, and you would begin to understand the population density we have in Bangladesh. P133

UN studies in 40 developing countries show that the birth rate falls as women gain equality… Education delays marriage and procreation; better educated women use contraception more frequently and are more likely to earn a livelihood [to gain independence]… Female Grameen borrowers have a significantly lower birth rate than the national avg. Borrowers show remarkable determination to have fewer children, to educate the ones that they have, and to participate actively in our democracy. P134

I firmly believe that all human beings have an innate skill. I call it the survival skill. The fact that the poor are alive is clear proof of their ability. They don’t need us to teach them how to survive; they already know how to do this. So rather than waste our time and money teaching them new skills, we try to make the maximum use of their existing skills… Credit allows them to explore their own potential. P140

Govt workers, NGOs, and intl consultants usually start the work of poverty alleviation by launching elaborate training programs. They do this because they begin with the assumption that people are poor because they lack skills [not because they lack opportunity – access to credit being one form of opportunity]. Training also perpetuates their own selfish interests by creating more jobs for themselves without the responsibility of concrete results. P141

Of the $30B in foreign aid ‘given’ to Bangladesh, over 75% of it was not spent in the country. It was spent on equipment, commodities, and consultants from the donor country itself. Most rich nations use their foreign aid mainly to employ their own people and to sell their own goods, with poverty reduction as an afterthought. P145

Most foreign aid goes to building roads, bridges, and so forth, which are supposed to help the poor in the long run. However, these mostly benefit those who are already wealthy. Foreign aid becomes a kind of charity for the powerful while the poor get poorer. P146

Recipients of a monthly gov’t handout feel as afraid to start a business as the women in Bengali villages. Many calculate the amount of welfare and insurance coverage they would lose by becoming self employed and conclude the risk is not worth the effort. P190

Gov’t tries to help the needy by letting businesses earn a profit and then taxing those profits to provide services to the poor. But in practice it never works that way. The taxes only pay for a gov’t bureaucracy that collects the tax and provides little or nothing to the poor. And since most gov’t bureaucracies are not profit motivated, they have little incentive to increase their efficiency. P 203

Sunday, August 12, 2007

** The (12) Elements of Great Managing by Rodd Wagner

This is Gallup's follow up to the outstanding "First Break All the Rules". I would highly recommend the former, but you can skip this book. There is very little new ground to cover here.

The 12 elements of management that make a difference that emerged from the Gallup research of over 1 million employee interviews over decades were: p xii
1. I know what is expected of me at work
2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work well
3. I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day
4. In the past 7 days, I have received recognition for doing good work
5. My supervisor or someone at work seems to care about me as a person
6. There is someone who encourages my development
7. My opinions seem to count
8. The company’s mission makes me feel that my job is important
9. My fellow employees are committed to doing quality work
10. I have a best friend at work
11. In the past 6 months, someone has talked to me about my progress
12. This past year I had opportunities at work to learn and growth

The hidden cost of poor management: businesses with a surplus of disengaged workers suffer 31% more turnover than those with a critical mass of engaged employees… Engaged employees average 27% less absenteeism. P xiv

Element 1: Of the 12 elements, the first, knowing what is expected plays the largest role in generating money saving strategies. P4

Test if you’re group knows what to do: go around the room and ask this question ‘After introducing yourself, tell us how doing your job increases the profits for the company?’ p5

Hospitals whose staff scored in the lowest quartile on the ‘what is expected of them’ question suffer 21% more avoidable deaths than hospitals that score in the top quartile. P10

Element 2: Of the 12 elements, whether a person has the materials needed to do his work well is the strongest indicator of job stress. P23

Element 3: Imagine a group that plans to meet for lunch at the top of a mountain. There are 3 routes to the top. The first is a slow, winding path, while not steep, but it requires many miles of walking. The second is steeper and goes through the woods; requiring compass skills as well as greater stamina. The third route is almost straight up, climbing the rock face; it requires technical climbing skills, but it is the shortest route by far. If each member is allowed to choose their own path, and if each makes it safely in time for lunch, none of the routes can be said to be better than the other two. P41

Element 3: Managers of the best workgroups were more likely to spend a disproportionate amount of time with their high producers, match talents to task and emphasize individual strengths over seniority. P41

4th Element: “In the past week, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.” At any given company, it’s not uncommon to find between 20 to 33% of the people disagreeing with item… Variation is this element are responsible for 10 to 20% differences in productivity and revenue… Because of its power, ridiculously low cost, and rarity, this element is one of the greatest lost opportunities. P52

While waiting for the professor before the lecture, the students organized the class to use the instructor as a guinea pig. The more the professor moved to the right of the classroom, the more the students feigned boredom, looking at their watches or notes. The more he moved to the left, the more they perked up, nodding in agreement, participating in the discussion and chuckling at his comments… Something strange happened over het course of the lecture. The longer he lectured the more he favored the left side. He wasn’t really conscious of this growing preference. But by the end of the class, the instructor was nearly pinned against the left wall, inexplicably unsettled by the idea of only spending time on one side of the room. P53

5th Element: In high turnover businesses, workgroups in the lower quartile of ‘someone at work cares about me’ average 22% higher turnover than the top quartile. In organizations where turnover is less, the difference rises to 37%... An employee managed by someone of a different race is more inclined to consider resigning than someone supervised by someone of his own race, a high degree of this element corrects this racial gap. P67

When Odysseus departed for Troy, he left behind his faithful wife - Penelope, his son – Telemachus, and all his property. Homer wrote that Odysseus’ matters were left to an old friend… and that among his duties, the trusted friend was to advise, counsel and nurture Odysseus’ young son. The friend was said to have ‘regulated the whole course of Telemachus’ life in order to raise him to the highest pitch of glory.’ The advisor became symbolic of a basic human need, an idea that reverberates through the halls of business today. His name was Mentor. P79

6th element: On average 40% who feel neither their manager nor anyone else is looking out for their development, a mere 1% of these folks are able to achieve real engagement with their employer through the strength of the other 11 elements. Conversely 66% who report having someone at work who encourages their development are classified as engaged, and only 1% are actively disengaged. These statistics indicate that regardless of what else a company does, having a mentor is a fundamental part of the unwritten contract workers anticipate when they are hired. P81

A few companies even try to dictate to a company’s workgroups which of the 12 elements to work on each month of the year – 1st Element is January, 2nd is February and so on… making July particularly ironic as the month when company higher ups command employees to work to make their opinions count. P99

7th Element: Improving the proportion of employees with high ‘My opinion at work counts’ scores from 1 in 5 to 1 in 3 has a substantial impact on customer experience, productivity, retention, and safety, all of which create on average at 6% gain in profitability. Incorporating employee ideas pays back twice. First, the idea is often a good one. Second, that the idea comes from the employees makes it much more likely that they will be committed to its execution. P101

8th Element: Business units in the top quartile for ‘The mission of my company makes me feel that my job is important’ average 5 to 15% higher profitability than the bottom quartile, suffer 30 to 50% fewer accidents, and have 15 to 30% lower turnover. P111

If a job were just a job, it really wouldn’t matter where someone worked… The job would serve its function of putting food on the table, and money in the kids’ college accounts. But a uniquely human twist occurs after the basic needs are fulfilled. The employee searches for meaning in her vocation… She looks for her contribution to a higher purpose. P112

Companies routinely adopt high ideals as part of their mission: Lowes aims to offer everything a customer needs to beautify and enjoy their home; Kodak doesn’t sell film, it expands the ways images touch people’s daily lives; Kellogg’s aspires to make the world a little happier by bringing the best [breakfast cereal] to you, etc. p113

How important to you is the belief that your life is meaningful and has purpose? 83% said very important, and 15% said fairly important – meaning that 98% feel that this is important! And such a belief is important to a person’s psychological and physical health. P114.

33% of hospital workers give a low score to this element (when they have the blatantly obvious meaning of helping and saving lives!). Less than ½ of workers in any industry feel strongly connected to their organization’s quest. Only ¼ of workers in retail, finance, and manufacturing strongly agree the purpose of their company makes them feel that their job is important. P115

During a career everyone encounters at least a few people who strive to do the least they can without getting reprimanded. Few factors are more corrosive to teamwork than the employee who skates through life taking advantage of harder work from others. P128

The IRS discovered that the rate of compliance had no correlation with whether tax rates were going up, but rather they were influenced by whether their neighbors, relatives, friends planned to comply to the tax code. P129

9th Element: 1 in 3 employees strongly agrees that her associates are committed to doing quality work… When a team perceives that one its members is dragging its feet, this drops to 1 in 5. If a team is free of deadwood, this rises to 1 in 2… At an Australian bank, variation in this element accounts for a 14% difference in profitability. In food manufacturing, it accounts for a 51% range in accident rates. P130

10th. Less that 1/3 strongly agree that they have a best friend at work… In service industries, customer ratings of groups with a high score on the 10th element are 5 to 10% higher than those of the lower scored groups… People look out for their friends. They remind someone to put on the hard hat, to spot a hazard and rush to steady the ladder… A team that has 2/3’s of its members strongly agreeing they have a best friend at work averages 20% fewer accidents than a team with only 1/3 agreeing. P142

Those who say that TV is their primary form of entertainment are less likely to attend church, to write letters, to attend clubs, or to volunteer. They are however more likely to give someone the ‘finger’ while on the road. One sociologist contends that TV actually tricks the viewer into thinking they have more friends than they do… Watching certain types of TV shows increases the viewers’ satisfaction with friendships in exactly the same way as real socializing. Watching TV is our form of participating in groups because we don’t really know that we are not participating in them. P143

Less than ½ of full time workers put even one coworker on their list of closest friends. P144

Commuting to work is consistently one of the least enjoyable common activities – unless one commutes with a friend. Then it becomes one of the most enjoyable. P145

One astute manager inquires into the interests of his new employees and tries to start them in a dept where another employee shares the new recruit’s hobbies. P147

Providing personnel feedback (reviews) is like gambling in the stock market: on average you gain, yet the variance is such that you have a 40% chance of a loss following such feedback. P156

360 degree reviews inject a juicy aspect of gamesmanship into the process, allowing underlings and peers to fire back. Such systems are more likely to grade style rather than substance, usually focusing on weaknesses rather than strengths. Asking employees to assess themselves poses its own dilemma… You really end up portraying yourself in 1 of 2 ways a) self flagellating lummox dumb enough to enumerate weaknesses that can be used against you at a later date b) self aggrandizing egomaniac who thinks ‘no’ means ‘yes’… More troubling self evaluations are terribly flawed… The worst performers estimate their performance 30% higher than it actually is… If an employee is not talented, knowledgeable or skilled enough to do a good job, there’s a good chance he’s not talented, knowledgeable or skilled enough to know he’s blowing it, and floats around naively thinking everything is fine… While those at the top can accurately estimate their own performance in absolute terms, they err in their estimates of other people – consistently over estimating how well others are doing relative to them… These results show that it is imperative that managers, coaches, mentors hold up a mirror to an employee. P158

Responsibilities can be divided into 2 categories: promotion jobs that require someone to think expansively, looking for new opportunities; prevention jobs that require the workers to ensure that something negative does not happen. P159

A manager who focuses on his employee’s strengths essentially inoculates them from being actively disengaged. Those who focus on weaknesses get more polarized results; the strategy rarely works as well as a strengths based approach, but the manager gets credit for focusing on the individual. The worst performing managers were those who ignore their team altogether. ¼ of all employees and 2/3s of folks actively disengaged say their boss is in this asleep at the wheel category. P160

Business in the top quartile of the 11th element realize 10 to 15% higher productivity and 20 to 40% fewer accidents than bottom quartile units. Yet only ½ of the employees say that someone talked with them about their progress in the past 6 months. P161

Employees perform better when they are working towards a specific difficult to attain target than when they are told simply to do your best. What are commonly called stretch goals are psychologically invigorating and good for business. P174

When employees feel they are learning and growing, they work harder and more efficiently. This element has as particular strong connection with customer engagement and profitability. Units in the top quartile surpass their bottom quartile counterparts by 9% on customer satisfaction, and 10% on profitability. P175

Higher pay doesn’t guarantee greater engagement. We all know that money can’t buy love or happiness. It doesn’t necessarily buy engagement either. ‘The belief that high income is associated with good mood is widespread but illusory. High income earners are relatively satisfied with the lives, but are barely happier than other in moment to moment experience, tend to be more tense (more to lose perhaps?), & don’t spend more time in particularly enjoyable activities.’ P187

Some incentives can backfire, decreasing employee motivation. Paying for a small act communicates to the worker ‘You wouldn’t normally want to do this, so we’re going to pay you to do it.’ While logically the reward should be a further inducement, it instead decreases motivation. What is meant to be a bonus the mind unconsciously takes as a bribe… When children are asked to collect money for a charity, those who receive a higher reward do in fact collect more than those offered a smaller incentive. But children who receive no inducement other than the knowledge that they are doing something good collect more than either group… If a small payment is given to induce more blood donations, the number of people who show up is less than if there is no payment. The stipend turned a noble act of charity into a painful way to make a few bucks (and placed a meager value on your noble act)… The joy of doing the work, separate from pay, is what makes the 3rd, 4th, 8th, and 12th elements powerful. P188

Executives must choose if they want a workforce that thinks “I have to fight for every extra dollar they begrudgingly pay me!” or one that feels “If I look out for company, they will look out for me.” Simple questions reveal where you stand. If a talented person does something extraordinary will it her manager or herself who initiates the discussion of a raise? Does the company spend more to attract outside talent than to cultivate internal ones? Does the company realize it underpays only after someone else woos them away? P195

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

**** China Road by Rob Gifford

An enthralling and illuminating tale as you ride shotgun with NPR correspondent Rob Gifford along his nearly 3000 mile journey across the heart of China. The people, the geography, the food, politics and history all come alive - with a bit of humor . This is a must read for 2007.

Most westerners need to pay more attention to China’s problems because there could be crunch coming. The less the Communist Party deals with its pressing social problem and political problems now, the bigger that crunch will be if it comes. pXVII

Are the skills of Chinese software engineers really as good as those of their American counterparts?... Can you really become a player in the knowledge economy if you restrict your teaching and flow of knowledge? P70

The word democracy leads us to attribute certain advantages to India that don’t necessarily exist. Similarly the word dictatorship leads us to attribute terrible things to China that don’t necessarily exist there. P72

You’re twice as likely to lose a child in India before age 5 than in China… There is only a 60% chance that you can read, while in China the chance is 93%. If you are an adult woman, that goes down to 45% in India, and 87% in China. Per capita income is double in China than India’s. And life expectancy is 9 years lower in India (63 vs. 72). P73.

China has the highest rate of female suicide in the world, and it is the number 1 cause of death for women aged 18 to 34. p74

I find it scary that 2000 years of history might have done nothing to change the political system of a country. Imagine a Europe where the Roman Empire had never fallen, that still covered an area from England to North Africa and the Middle East, and was run by 1 man in Rome backed by a strong army. There you have roughly, ancient and modern China. P102

One reason why there is still so much attention paid to education in China and in all Confucian based societies is because there is no aristocracy, just as there is in the similarily meritocratic society of the US. Europe, where the university was historically a preparation for the church or finishing school for the hereditary upper classes. When I told people in Europe that I was going to attend graduate school in the US, the response was generally ‘Why? Haven’t you been in school long enough?’ No Chinese or American would ever ask such a question. P106

China produces 35% of the world’s coal, but reports 80% of the world’s mining deaths (over 5000 annually). And those just the ones reported. This is over 100 times the rate in America. P134

There is a dept of the Police that enforces the family planning laws in China. They go to the woman’s house and if she will not come, she is taken to the clinic by force. They make no exceptions, even if a woman is 8 months pregnant when discovered to have violated the rule. She is forced into giving birth to a still born (murdered) baby from her womb. P180

Some Chinese characters are made of interesting combinations of radicals (picture symbols). A pig under a roof is the character for home. A woman with a son is the character for good. P236

Sunday, July 29, 2007

*** Are We Rome? By Cullen Murphy

Everything old is new again! For Romanophiles like me you'll love this comparison and contrast between the worlds largest and most dominant empires of the past 2000 years. Does history repeat itself? Doesn't it?

The Roman road system was immense – more than 370 separate highways stretching some 53,000 miles in all told, about the length of the US interstate system. pI

Most people are aware that the Roman Empire was eventually split into western and eastern halves, the Latin-speaking and centered on Rome, the other Greek speaking and centered on Constantinople. It’s probably only a matter of time before someone sees in this the foreshadowing of the emergence of Red and Blue America. P11

Vomitorium is a myth; the Latin word refers to passageways that quickly ‘disgorged’ crowds into the streets. P11

The sack of Rome in 410 by Alaric was both a physical and psychic blow. By arrangement the sack was an orderly and not especially bloody affair, its terms spelled out in advance. Alaric demanded all portable wealth, and when a member of the Roman legation asked what the Romans could keep, he replied, “Your lives.” P33

Well before its collapse, as skills declined and building materials became harder to get (from outside of the capital), Rome began to plunder itself for spoils in a way that would seem edgily postmodern if it had been driven by academic theory rather bitter necessity… Blocks of marble and statues by the 1000s were burned for lime… The process of reversion will not mystify anyone who has visited Detroit and noticed trees sprouting on roofs of abandoned buildings, or seen how vacant downtown lots are being reclaimed by a hardscrabble urban agriculture. P34

Up through the year 2000, American presidents had collectively employed signing statements [the president’s practice of appending his own specific interpretation of how to enforce the legislation] on about 600 occasions. In the 6 years since then, Bush has added signing statements more than 750 times. P41 Has our congress and judiciary put themselves on a path to `become as impotent as the Roman Senate under Augustus?

Within any closed, insular system, the competitive pressure for status becomes intense. Roman officialdom’s taste for fancy forms of address is without parallel. Or is it? During the Kennedy administration, only 29 people held the coveted title of assistant, deputy assistant, and special assistant to the President; by the time Clinton left office, there were 141 such people. P55

The world is the way we say it is. In the most recent federal budget, $20M has been set aside for an eventual day of celebration marking American victory in Iraq and Afghanistan… In 476AD, the Roman Senate ordered new coins struck bearing the legend of ‘Roma Invicta” Rome unconquered. This not long after the remains of the empire and its last emperor were deposed. P58

The US has no military rival; its level of annual spending is equivalent to that of the next 15 countries – combined. P65

Military manpower shortages become a big problem for both Rome and America – and both arrive at the same unsatisfactory solution. P66

Two great military similarities stand out between Rome and America. One is simply the logistical capability of the 2 armies [the other is a man power shortage - see below]. If it were a private corporation, the Defense Logistics Agency, which buys and tracks all of the US military’s basic supplies, would rank number 50 on the Fortune 500, above Intel… In terms of logistics, the world had never before seen anything like the Romans – and once the Romans were gone it would not again see a fighting force as complex and well managed until the 17th century’s British Royal Navy. P68

In 55BC, Julius Caesar built a wooden bridge across the Rhine so that his legions could march into Germany, deeming it ‘unworthy of his own and the Romans’ dignity to cross in boats.’ Then, after marching back, he ordered the bridge destroyed, as if to demonstrate to the barbarians that such marvels were as nothing to Romans. P69

In Dayton, Ohio during 1995, American negotiators fostered the cooperation of Slobodan Milosevic, by seating him directly under a cruise missile. Once, to encourage a spirit of mature reflection among a delegation of barbarians, Hadrian ordered a unit of mounted cavalry – in full armor, in perfect formation – to swim across the Danube and back. The barbarians stood in terror of the Romans… p72

The Romans understood the technology of waterpower, but more widely used for sawing marble than for industrial processes that might sustain an economy or relieve a labor crunch. It’s as if America used electricity to power Disney World but not US Steel. P79

As the Army grew, quotas had to be levied on cities and big landowners. Then as now, physical impairment was one way out, and potential conscripts sometimes maimed themselves to escape military service – by cutting off their thumbs. But even that could prove unavailing. One emperor ordered thumbless ones to be burned alive; another decided to take the mutilated conscripts anyway and then doubled the quota on the localities they came from. Finally, an arrangement with the barbarians – land, power, and autonomy in return from military service. This seemed like a good idea at the time – outsourcing the national defense… Civilian contractors performing military chores number in the 100,000s; America makes greater use of the so-called privatized military industry than any other nation… The Iraq war is the most privatized major conflict since the Renaissance. P83

A bill now in congress targets the noncitizen children of undocumented immigrants: they would get legal status and become eligible for citizenship if they signed up for 2 years of military service. This takes a page from the ancient imperial practice of full Roman citizenship after 25 years in the legions. P 86

Roman commentators of their day had a standard bill of complaints against the barbarian forces in the military: their training did not match that of the Romans, they were hard to discipline, and when Roman legions saw what the barbarians auxiliaries could get away with, their own standards began to slip. Training in full armor became a thing of the past, to the point that they could no longer wear armor in battle because they were so physically unprepared to the strain of full breastplates, mail, and helmets… A recent study raises all the same concerns for our forces. Contractors operate outside military justice – they can’t be disciplined. Their pay and living conditions are better than those of ordinary soldiers – which is bad for morale. The US military can no longer operate without them, but their services are for sale. P88-9

Americans are well aware of the nation’s worsening income inequality, with those in the Top 1% earning 50 times more and widening than those in the bottom 20%. But in the Roman empire, that gap was 10,000 to one. P100

The expectation in Rome, maintained over many centuries, was that affluent citizens, as individuals rather than taxpayers, should provide for community needs. M Agrippa whose name adorns the Pantheon was its funding source. In a single year he repaired many of the public buildings, put statues in the public baths, distributed salt and olive oil to the masses, paid barbers to give everyone haircuts, and after cleaning out Rome’s sewers, sailed a boat through their main channel, the Cloaca Maxima, out into the Tiber… Closer to our own era, Agrippa might have been Rockefeller or Gates. P101

A bronze plaque affixed to a Roman public building provided a recommended price list for payments to ensure the prosecution and success of various kinds of litigation. We don’t have anything quite like that now, but here’s the Republican contribution hierarchy for the 2004 elections: $100,000 Pioneer, $200,000 Ranger, $250,000 Regent, $300,000 Super Ranger. P105

America’s public universities are fast losing their public character. These institutions were created by Lincoln in 1862, via federal land grants to the states as a basis for public financing of higher education. But state support is evaporating quickly so that less than 2/3s of the funding is coming from state legislatures. For some schools that figure is far lower. University of Michigan only receives 18% of its annual costs from public finances. The president of Penn State has warned of a slow slide toward privatization. P113

A considerable amount of tax collection is now done by casinos; rather than raise taxes to pay for services, legislatures legalize gambling and then take a rake-off. It’s tax farming for the modern age, recalling the hated Roman practice of selling the right to collect taxes to private individuals who were then allowed to keep anything over what they agreed to remit to the government. P115

On paper the federal workforce, leaving the military aside, appears to total about 2M people. But if you add in all of the people in the private sector doing essentially govt jobs with federal funding then the figure rises to over 12M. p116

The new globalized world is not exactly flat, but it is rather spiky – most of the wealth, creativity, and entrepreneurship on the planet is contained in some 50 city regions, and it is overseen by a class of people who move easily among these de facto city states and often owe allegiance mostly to the class itself… In Rome there seems to be a sharp cultural cleavage between the upper, Greek and Latin speaking, classes and the mass of the people who spoke in Gothic, Celtic, Coptic, or Punic – Rome’s version of the flyover people and the NASCAR nation. P147

Hadrian’s wall was the original Home Depot. It was initially 15 feet thick and tall and stretched for over 100 miles. Even in the best preserved stretches the wall is now only 6 feet high and thick. P153

Legionaries all wore something akin to dog tags – and so did their horses… There were some 20,000 status of Augustus publicly displayed around the empire, thanks to ingenious techniques for replicating marble sculpture. This makes the post office display of American presidents seem pathetically unambitious by comparison. P165

The migration of the Huns from central Asia pushed other groups into the empire along a broad front in 376 and 406AD. The Romans permitted some of these groups to stay and settle in designated regions under their own leaders with their own armies. This was a major break with long standing policy. What was the rationale for allowing these autonomous enclaves? The Romans seem to have been strong enough to fight them off as no major defeats were suffered between 350 and 500AD. It could be that concessions to the barbarians were safer than the domestic risks of efficient defense. Safer for instance than demanding more money and men from areas that were already drained of both. Safer than handing victories and armies to generals who might then harbor designs on the purple. P171

Today, NYPD officers can be found almost anywhere, from Rotterdam, to Istanbul, to Dubai. More than 1000 officers work the counterterrorism beat. NYC is deploying its own auxiliaries beyond its borders because it’s not depending on the imperial legion. P174 This is exactly how the city states of Europe split off from an impotent imperial yoke at the dawn of the dark ages by creating their own militias first for defense, and later for expansion and conquest. Will cities like London, Tokyo, Bombay soon follow suit?

On the great Roman estates, slaves vastly outnumbered free men; in Italy at the end of the Republic, slaves made up ½ of the population… Ever mindful of the need to keep the bondsmen in bondage the Romans had harsh statutes. One law stipulated that if any slave killed his master, all the slaves in that household must be executed – to discourage conspiracies and to give every slave a stake in the safety of his owner. P194

One unilateral decision that would buy a lot of breathing room and ought to be made regardless: to adopt a long range energy policy based as much as possible on renewable resources, allowing us to pull away from military oversight of the entire MiddleEast. This may be a 100 year project, but a society with pretensions to staying power thinks in those terms. Rome wasn’t built in a day either. P205

Saturday, July 21, 2007

* Wider than the sky by Gerald Edelman, Nobel Winner

The genetic code is made of triplets (codons) of nucleotide bases, of which there are 4 kinds: G C A T. Each triplet specifies 1 of 20 different amino acids that make up a protein. Since there are 64 different possible triplet combinations (4x4x4=64), but only 20 amino acids, the codes are degenerate (meaning that multiple codes map to the same amino acid). If it takes a sequence of 300 codons to specify 100 amino acids in a protein, then a large number of the differen base sequences in messages 3^100(3 to the 100th power) can specify the same amino acid sequence. Despite their different structure at the nucleotide level, these degenerate messages yield the same protein. p43

What is the consequence of evolutionary development in which value-category memory was dynamically linked to perceptual categorization? It is the ability to construct a complex scene and to make discriminations between components of that scene. As an animal moves, engaging in many global mappings in response to the world around it, the ongoing parallel signals reentrantly connecting different sensory modalities lead to correlations among complexes of perceptual categories stimulated by objects and events... Signals from the self systems begin even before birth and remain as a central feature of primary consciousness... The ability to construct a conscious state in a fraction of second is the ability to construct a remembered present... For example an animal in the jungle sensing a shift in sounds while the light is diminshed may flee even if there is no casual correlation between these 2 inputs. It is sufficient that the combination of such simultaneous inputs in the past history was previously accompanied by the presence of tiger. Such an animal however may survive without the gift of primary consciousness for some time in a niche. By contrast an animal with the ability to construct a scene can have greater discriminatory capacity and selectivity in choosing its responses. p56-8

No 2 brains are identical, so much so that the same stimulus and reported response triggers different neurons in our brains.

In one set of experiments, no 2 subjects had identical response patterns... Although each subject had a similar response to report (that they saw the same blue or red horizontal or vertical lines), the brain patterns recorded for each subject were individual and unique from those of any other subject... Given the complexity and degeneracy of the environmental and bodily input, there will be no singular mapping for each representation. [You don't have a neuron for President Clinton that lights up everytime you see his picture, nor does another person have a similar neuron.] p110

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

***Starfish and the Spider by Yuri Brafman & Rod Beckstrom

An excellent book to help you understand the phenonom behind the success of Wikipedia, Craigslist, open source software, P2P networks, etc. There is much for managers, teachers and parents to consider here as well.

Starfish have an incredible quality to them: if you cut an arm off, they grow a new arm. And with some varieties, the cut off arm itself replicates into a new animal… They can achieve this magical regeneration because in reality, a starfish is a neural network. Instead of having a head – like a similarly shaped spider, the starfish functions like a decentralized network. Get this: for the starfish to move, one of the arms must convince the other arms that is a good idea to do so. The arm starts moving and then – in a process that no one fully understands – the other arms cooperate and move as well. P35

It’s not that open systems necessarily make better decisions. It’s just that they’re able to respond more quickly because each member has access to knowledge and the ability to make direct use of it. P39

In a decentralized organization, anyone can do anything. A part of a decentralized organization is akin to a starfish arm: it doesn’t have to report to any head of the company and is responsible only for itself. P48

Hallmarks of a starfish, decentralized organization.
1. There is no person in charge.
2. There are no headquarters
3. There is no head to chop off to kill it
4. There is no clear division of roles
5. If you remove a unit or piece of it, it is not harmed irreparably
6. Knowledge and power are not concentrated
7. The organization is not rigid
8. You can’t count the members exactly
9. Working groups are self funded
10. Working groups communicate directly, not through intermediaries
P 46-53

What matters most in an open system isn’t the CEO but whether the leadership is trusting enough of members to leave them alone. P67

Because open system communities don’t have hierarchy and structure, it’s hard to maintain rules within them; no one really has the power to enforce them. But such communities aren’t lawless. Instead of rules, they depend on norms… Members enforce the norms with one another, because they realize that if they don’t the norms, no one will. In doing so, members begin to own and embrace the norms as their own. As a result of this self-enforcement, norms can be even more powerful than rules. Rules are someone else’s idea of what you should do. If you break a rule, just don’t get caught and you’ll be okay. But with norms, it’s about what you as a member have signed up for, and what you’ve created. P90

In letting go of the leadership role, the catalyst transfers ownership and responsibility to the group. Without Mary Poppins, the family takes responsibility for itself. A catalyst isn’t usually in it for praise or accolades. When his job is done, a catalyst knows it’s time to move on. P93

A leader is best when people barely know that he exists; not so good when people obey and acclaim him; worst when they despise him. – LaoTzu, ancient Chinese proverb

Rather than suggesting ways for a person to change or fix their problem, acknowledge their experience: “So you’re unhappy with your job. That must be difficult.”… As you focus on listening and acknowledging, something amazing will happen. The person will find his own solution to the problem. “You know I’ll look for a new job.” When people feel heard, when they feel understood and supported, they are more likely change. A catalyst doesn’t prescribe a solution, nor does he hit you over the head with one. Instead he assumes a peer relationship and listens intently. You don’t follow a catalyst because you have to – you follow a catalyst because he understands you. P125

Catalyst vs CEO
A CEO is The Boss. He is in charge and he occupies the top of the pyramid. A catalyst interacts with people as a peer, coming across as your friend. CEOs lead by command and control. Catalysts depend on trust. CEOs are powerful and directive. Catalysts are inspirational and collaborative; they talk about ideology and urge people to work together to make the ideology a reality. CEOs create order and structure; catalysts thrive on ambiguity and apparent chaos. P129

In an unnamed Muslim country – the govt had created small circles to combat Al Qaeda. By day, the members are police officers or military experts. By night, the members go out and hunt Al Qaeda cells. The govt supplies them with ammunition and doesn’t ask any questions. The members of each circle don’t know how many other circles, nor who’s a member. Terrorist cells, meanwhile, don’t know what hit them. Human rights groups may object that the govt is funding an undercover killing spree. We won’t go into the political or moral implications of creating such circles, but one thing is for sure. The programs cost 1% as much as all other efforts, and works better than anything else the govt has tried. It works because these guys know what’s going on in their communities. They know who’s a terrorist. They know where they live. And they know how to get them. P157 Is the solution really better than the problem? This is frightening when you think of the ramifications.

Assume that Everyone wants to contribute, and that everyone has something to contribute somewhere. P169 Psychologically we all want a purpose and meaning.

A community wants to interact with one another. P171 We are social and need some recognition and validation.