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Regardless of seniority, every good manager will:

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  • Order pizza.
  • Give feedback.
  • Listen.
  • Take out the recycle/trash. Not a metaphor.
  • Need to find additional things to delegate.
  • Try to support their direct reports to eventually become better than them.
  • Consider constructive feedback regardless of who delivers it.
  • Do what they say.
  • Have regular, un-cancelable 1:1s.
  • Protect their team, push for greatness, and prepare for the future.
  • Get their hands dirty when called for.
  • Focus on helping their team to be wildly successful.
  • Put people first.
  • Give a shit.
  • Relentlessly hustle for their team.
  • Tell the truth.
  • Care.
  • Feel deeply and profoundly awful for disappointing someone on their team.
  • Make mistakes and learn from them.
  • Remove fear
  • Be the bullshit umbrella and not the bullshit funnel.
  • Remember (and maybe learn from) the time when they weren’t a manager.
  • Say please and thank you.
  • Work harder than their employees.
  • Educate.
  • Provide consistent and predictable structure.
  • Back up their team when they say “no” to something.
  • Not be a prick.
  • Model the culture and spirit they want to develop in their workplace.
  • Translate corporate bullshit into normal-speak.
  • Empower their staff members.
  • Move thing out of their way, including yourself.
  • Regularly feel self-doubt.
  • Be an advocate.
  • Be an ally.
  • Amplify the good in people.
  • Fight the grapevine confusion.
  • Be first the first to metamorph to the chrysalis phase.
  • Define reality and say thank you.

(Sourced via the fine humans on Twitter.)


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107 days ago
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105 days ago
I'm trying, Ringo. I'm trying real hard.
Louisville, KY

The candy diet

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The bestselling novel of 1961 was Allen Drury's Advise and Consent. Millions of people read this 690-page political novel. In 2016, the big sellers were coloring books.

Fifteen years ago, cable channels like TLC (the "L" stood for Learning), Bravo and the History Channel (the "History" stood for History) promised to add texture and information to the blighted TV landscape. Now these networks run shows about marrying people based on how well they kiss.

And of course, newspapers won Pulitzer prizes for telling us things we didn't want to hear. We've responded by not buying newspapers any more.

The decline of thoughtful media has been discussed for a century. This is not new. What is new: A fundamental shift not just in the profit-seeking gatekeepers, but in the culture as a whole.

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler."*

[*Ironically, this isn't what Einstein actually said. It was this, "It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience." Alas, I've been seduced into believing that the shorter one now works better.]

Is it possible we've made things simpler than they ought to be, and established non-curiosity as the new standard?

We are certainly guilty of being active participants in a media landscape that breaks Einstein's simplicity law every day. And having gotten away with it so far, we're now considering removing the law from our memory.

The economics seem to be that the only way to make a living is to reach a lot of people and the only way to reach a lot of people is to race to the bottom, seek out quick clicks, make it easy to swallow, reinforce existing beliefs, keep it short, make it sort of fun, or prurient, or urgent, and most of all, dumb it down.

And that's the true danger of anti-intellectualism. While it's foolish to choose to be stupid, it's cultural suicide to decide that insights, theories and truth don't actually matter. If we don't care to learn more, we won't spend time or resources on knowledge.

We can survive if we eat candy for an entire day, but if we put the greenmarkets out of business along the way, all that's left is candy.

Give your kid a tablet, a game, and some chicken fingers for dinner. It's easier than talking to him.

Read the short articles, the ones with pictures, it's simpler than digging deep.

Clickbait works for a reason. Because people click on it.

The thing about clickbait, though, is that it exists to catch prey, not to inform them. It's bait, after all.

The good news: We don't need many people to demand more from the media before the media responds. The Beverly Hillbillies were a popular show, but that didn't stop Star Trek from having a shot at improving the culture.

The media has always bounced between pandering to make a buck and upping the intellectual ante of what they present. Now that this balance has been ceded to an algorithm, we're on the edge of a breakneck race to the bottom, with no brakes and no break in sight.

Vote with your clicks, with your sponsorship, with your bookstore dollars. Vote with your conversations, with your letters to the editor, by changing the channel...

Even if only a few people use precise words, employ thoughtful reasoning and ask difficult questions, it still forces those around them to catch up. It's easy to imagine a slippery slope down, but there's also the cultural ratchet, a positive function in which people race to learn more and understand more so they can keep up with those around them.

Turn the ratchet. We can lead our way back to curiosity, inquiry and discovery if we (just a few for now) measure the right things and refuse the easy option in favor of insisting on better.

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108 days ago
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Questions to Check Cognitive Biases

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I'm reading both Kahneman's "Thinking Fast and Slow" and Michael Lewis's "The Undoing Project" at the same time, which is fun.

A friend and I were having coffee today and he made me agree to write down twelve questions I thought might aid in helping us check our cognitive biases outlined in the books.

Of course, I am not a Nobel prize winning psychologist or social scientist and I have done no work to verify whether these questions actually accomplish this at all or where they might even harm our ability to off-set cognitive biases, but I said I'd do it so I did it.

I'm working off of Kahneman's conclusion that there isn't any way we can actually remove the biases and instead must figure out how to work within them. The only advice Kahneman gives in the book is to bring other people into the question and seek their advice, so that's my first one, but I don't think that's the only one.

Anyway, disclaimers now aside, here are twelve questions. I broke them out into two groups: "normal" questions which we can apply to just about any question we might have, and "mathy" questions which tend to focus on statistics (the original topic of Kahneman and Tversky's research was focused on whether humans are good inherent statisticians. The answer? NO!)

Normal Questions

  • Who else can I bring in on this decision to check my answers?
  • If I'm wrong, what would that look like?
  • How can I change the context or reframe this question?
  • What other evidence can I gather before I make a decision?
  • Am I overcompensating to avoid loss?
  • Am I oversimplifying the question?
  • Am I being overconfident in my ability to make this decision?

Mathy questions

  • What is the base rate?
  • Is the sample size statistically significant?
  • Have the results regressed to the mean or is there a lot of variance with each new added result?
  • How different is this answer from random chance?
  • Am I trying to fit this to an oversimplified or inappropriate model?

What do you guys think of them? Where are my own biases coming into play to manipulate these questions? Email me at mike@mikeshea.net to let me know.

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112 days ago
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If not now, when?

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Care a little more.

Show up.

Embrace possibility.

Tell the truth.

Dive deeper.

Seek the truth behind the story.

Ask the difficult question.

Lend a hand.

Dance with fear.

Play the long game.

Say 'no' to hate.

Look for opportunities, especially when it seems like there aren't any left.

Risk a bigger dream.

Take care of the little guy.

Offer a personal insight.

Build something magical.

Keep your promises.

Do work that matters.

Expect more.

Sign your work.

Be generous for no reason.

Give the benefit of the doubt.

Develop empathy.

Make your mom proud.

Take responsibility.

Give credit.

Play by a better set of rules.

Choose your customers.

Choose your reputation.

Choose your future.

Thank the ref.

Reward patience.



Because we can.

It really is up to us. Which is great, because we're capable of changing everything if we choose.

All we can do is all we can do, but maybe, all we can do is enough.

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166 days ago
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New York City LEGO Mosaic

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tater-tots has added a video to the pool:

New York City LEGO Mosaic

Finally done after a year-and-a-half! Turned out to be a beautiful LEGO mosaic plus some CRAZY lights - 600 of them. Mosaic is 8ft tall (300+ studs) and 16 ft across. Programmed routines by Lifelights and installation by 3 electricians from Rossi Electric. Couldn't have done it without them! If you watch the video a couple of times you can see all the different effects - fireworks, Times Square, and Radio City Music Hall. Hope you're inspired :-) I've never done anything this big and certainly learned a lot along the way. Gotta give props to Steve W. for funding the project and pushing the bounds of what I thought I could build.

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297 days ago
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What are you competing on?


It's pretty easy to figure out what you're competing for—attention, a new gig, a promotion, a sale...

But what is your edge? In a hypercompetitive world, whatever you're competing on is going to become your focus.

If you're competing on price, you'll spend most of your time counting pennies.

If you're competing on noise, you'll spend most of your time yelling, posting, updating, publishing and announcing.

If you're competing on trust, you'll spend most of your time keeping the promises that make you trustworthy.

If you're competing on smarts, you'll spend most of your time getting smarter.

If you're competing on who you know, you'll spend most of the time networking.

If you're competing by having true fans, you'll spend most of your time earning the trust and attention of those that care about your work.

If you're competing on credentials, you'll spend most of your time getting more accredited and certified.

If you're competing on perfect, you'll need to spend your time on picking nits.

If you're competing by hustling, you'll spend most of your time looking for shortcuts and cutting corners.

If you're competing on getting picked, you'll spend most of your day auditioning.

If you're competing on being innovative, you'll spend your time being curious and shipping things that might not

work.If you're competing on generosity, you'll look for ever more ways to be generous with your time, your insights and your


And if you're competing on always-on responsiveness, you'll spend your time glued to your work, responding just a second faster than the other guy.

In any competitive market, be prepared to invest your heart and soul and focus on the thing you compete on. Might as well choose something you can live with, a practice that allows you to thrive.

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398 days ago
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