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Work you love vs. Love your work1

There are plenty of great critiques to the idea that we must follow our passion and do work we love. All these critiques point to people who became passionate about what they did after they got good at it. Besides, few know what they’re passionate about, anyway.    On the flip side, there’s good evidence to show that interests matter. We all gravitate toward certain kinds of work. And, it is better for us to find careers in those kinds of work. I have experienced that myself – there are certain jobs that I intuitively feel more excited about over others.    My sense is that, over time, we’ll come to accept that this debate has no right answer. Instead, like all great opposing questions, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Interests matter, but don’t let yourself get fixated on which one is the right one. Instead, once you are in the proverbial ball park, cultivate that interest, get good and create options to find exactly what you’d like to do. So, if you know you gravitate toward research, go get a Masters in something that sounds interesting to you. Over time, you’ll move toward the right subject in time for your P.hD.   My thesis in this debate, aside from the strong belief that the answer lies somewhere in the middle, is that our dominant strategy is to enjoy the process of doing good work. This is irrespective of what we choose to do. You don’t have to love that boring excel spreadsheet task to put in your best effort. Neither do you have to love to march to do it well. The rush from doing good work is addictive. In time, we tend to recognize and love the process of intense preparation, sustained effort and thoughtful follow up. The results of the work matter – but, far less than we imagine. Besides, good processes ensure good outcomes in the long run anyway.    The process of doing good work is our dominant strategy because good work opens up opportunities. And, these opportunities help us get closer and closer to what we gravitate toward.   As kids, we are told that what matters is that we gave it our best shot. That advice turns out to be incredibly wise. Share this: Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Like this: Like Loading... Related https://alearningaday.com/2017/10/16/work-you-love-vs-love-your-work/

Street sweepers and lives that matter1

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” This quote from Martin Luther King Jr., makes a profound point – we get to decide how much our work and life matters. We know this deep in our hearts but, often, choose to bury it amidst the busy-ness of day-to-day living. But, whenever we stop and decide to do a small thing with extraordinary care, it matters. And, when we decide to demonstrate extraordinary care in what we say and do consistently, we make a difference. Share this: Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Like this: Like Loading... Related https://alearningaday.com/2017/10/17/street-sweepers-and-lives-that-matter/

Heavy bags on long hikes1

If you’ve ever gone on long hikes, you know that heavy bags don’t work. Every extra bit of weight on your bag weighs heavily on your shoulder in the long run. It turns out life works the same way. On this hike, the longest of them all, every bit of mental or emotional baggage weighs us down. So, if you’re finding yourself taking baggage into the weekend – annoyances, frustrations, grudges and the like – this is a great time to reset and drop them off. The lighter we travel, the easier it is to enjoy this journey. Share this: Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Like this: Like Loading... Related https://alearningaday.com/2017/10/14/heavy-bags-on-long-hikes/

Building reputation and incentives into marketplace products | Thinking Product1

This is a “Thinking Product” post where I have more outstanding notes questions than concrete thoughts or a framework. I haven’t given the subject of reputation in marketplaces much thought. But, I thought about reputation this week as I took four Uber rides during a day of travel. The driver side of the marketplace. I read an interesting post today titled “Give me my reputation back” in which Gavin Kelly lays out a case for portability of reputations. He writes – The popular image of this segment of our economy is of free-wheeling, hyper-flexible freelancers who come and go as they please. Gig-workers can, after all, work through whichever platform they wish, for as long as they wish. The free-market distilled.  Yet this is a partial account. It overlooks a barrier to mobility: the non-portability of their customer ratings and reviews. This is no side-show. You can’t, as Henry Ford said, “build a reputation on what you are going to do.” Ratings crystallise hard-won reputations; they are the passport to future earning power. Lose them and, regardless of experience or prior standing, you are pretty much starting from scratch. This state of affairs is all the more odd given that, to avoid being treated as legal employers, platform-companies like Uber present themselves as mere online notice boards used by independent businesses to pick up trade. Strange, then, that these businesses can’t move these reviews with them. I think this is a valid thought and one that is similar to the argument that we ought to be able to take our data on centralized platforms and move it. I don’t expect the gig economy companies to take action. But, our regulators need to pay more attention. The rider side of the marketplace. Uber has been more upfront about the rider rating (i.e. the average rating you receive from drivers) and you now see it the moment you touch the options menu. I had a few thoughts here and questions here – Rating manipulation: Uber says it doesn’t reflect individual changes to ratings, for example. But, it is pretty easy to tell. For example, I received three 5 star ratings and one 1 star rating on Wednesday. It was easy to tell because I saw an immediate change in my rating and the last change involved a large fall from 4.74 to 4.64. So, is it possible to manipulate your own rider rating? Here’s an example – what if I gave a 5 star rating and a generous tip to the driver right after I finish the ride? Wouldn’t the driver know immediately and reciprocate? Similarly, what if I “got back” at the driver who rated me one star by giving him a one star rating? Could Uber update ratings after a 24 hour period instead? (I did neither – but am curious) Feedback for a one star rating: I was really curious about the reason for my one star ride. I was waiting for the driver, greeted him, stayed quiet until he needed directions within our apartment boundaries and got off. I wondered if the rating was a mistake and asked Uber support if there was a reason for this. But, Uber support just gave me a list of generic tips. What if the rating system persuaded both riders and drivers to give at least a line of feedback if they gave an extreme rating – e.g. one or two stars? Introvert bias?: I would be really curious for studies on the correlation between introversion and Uber rider ratings. If I’m taking an Uber after a work event or a social occasion, the last thing I want to do is have a conversation with my Uber driver. But, an extrovert would be have differently and my hypothesis would be that extroverts have higher Uber ratings, on average. Kids bias?: Another bias I’m more certain of is that against parents traveling with young kids – especially if the driver isn’t a parent himself/herself. How do you correct for such biases in these rating systems? Do you bother? As we move toward a world with more marketplaces enabled by mobile phones, I wonder what the consequences of such rating and reputation systems will be. I’ve heard great things about an episode of Black Mirror where everyone is obsessed with their overall rating. What happens in a world where we feel constantly watched and judged? While I was curious about ratings and reputations in marketplaces during my Uber day, I definitely felt judged when I got my one star rating. For some reason, I’ve had issues with the Lyft app on my phone over the past few months. But, the one star rating with no explanation pushed me to uninstall and reinstall the app so I could use Lyft next time. I’ll be back with more notes and questions after using Lyft on my next travel day in the coming months. :-) Share this: Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Like this: Like Loading... Related https://alearningaday.com/2017/10/15/building-reputation-and-incentives-into-marketplace-products-thinking-product/

Self taught and self talk1

As we grow, the proportion of our learning that is self taught increases. There are a few reasons for this. First, completing formal education removes formal teachers and cohorts who’re going through what we go through. Second, work doesn’t lend itself naturally to coaching. So, it is on us to teach ourselves the skills we need. And, finally, we hopefully understand ourselves more and our able to absorb what we need from the world and tailor our curriculum to suit our needs. The good news is that, with a bit of practice, we can become pretty good teachers. But, the bad news is that it requires us to master the art of good self talk. We’ve all experienced this with our teachers. We’ve had great teachers who have so much wisdom to dispense that we hang on to every word they say. But, we’ve also had teachers who’ve played havoc with our self esteem. Well, we can have the same effect on ourselves except ours is multiplied by a million given the amount of time we spend with ourselves. There’s a lot that can be written about self talk. But, it boils down to one question – how do you respond to going through something disappointing?  There tend to be three responses – running away from the situation, accepting the facts and beating ourselves up or focusing on the learning and moving on. The most important first step is understanding which of these is your default response. Not too long ago, mine involved beating myself up. And, as you might imagine, the consequences of understanding it and, over time, fixing it, are immense. Share this: Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Like this: Like Loading... Related https://alearningaday.com/2017/10/11/self-taught-and-self-talk/