Thursday, January 2, 2020

Year of articulation

This year I want to focus on articulating my thoughts. I want to have and express an opinion on things that are relevant to my work. I want to be able to persuade people to see my point of view. I want to practice using logos, ethos, and pathos to be an effective communicator. This will be the focus of my speaking, reading, listening and writing practice. 

I to use this to communicate my thoughts, persuade people to use my design, debate the merits and demerits of my architectures. I want to use this to make allies, to motivate people and generally be an effective communicator. 

I want to do this so that I don't try to translate things from my mother tongue and waste precious time or create awkward pauses when speaking. I want to do this to sound confident and fluent. 
I want to be able to do this to move to a better role and to make a bigger difference in the world. All my heroes are very articulate and great speakers. In the direction where my work is taking me, this is a superpower and I want to learn that and wield that. 

Year of Focus - Update

Last year my main goal was to work with focus. Though I cannot say I have achieved it 100% of the time, having that goal helped. I was able to work with focus when I was intentional about the work I wanted to do.

I also found that the Deep Work Manual helped a lot in maintaining the focus. I also found out ways I can overcome getting distracted. This is still though a work in progress. The top things that helped me stay focussed were

1. Being intentional about what I  do
2. Periodic check-ins to see what I focused on
3. Eliminating distractions in the environment as much as possible.
4. Ritualizing and having strict rules about using the internet
5. Recommitting every time I slip out of focus
6. Performing regular self-care maintenance - sleep, water, exercise, and meditation

I built up a focus routine that I can enter into whenever I can create the intention for focus.
This year, I will improve further by starting every task with intention.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Plan your day

My default state is distraction. What that means is that if I'm doing something, I can suddenly jump to something unrelated and not return at all.  From the time I've reflected upon myself, I found that I'm easily distracted.

I've been trying to understand how best to live with this state and how to be productive in spite of this. Cal Newport's books - Deep Work and Digital Minimalism helped with ways to work with that.

The first important step that defines my day is whether I have taken the time to plan my day out. Take a day where I start my day without planning when I'll do what. I'll find myself starting with my first task and it taking most of the day if not the whole day.
The only solution that worked to avoid this is to take the time to plan the day. In the morning,  sit in front of you calendar and plan all the things you want to do that day in the calendar.  This step will create an intentional day. It will make it easy to resist the distractions and plough ahead. It also is the rock to which we can return to if we have wandered somewhere unrelated. This sounds simple but simple things make all the difference. Pair it with the following deep work rules to have a focused day -  Don't use the internet for entertainment and use internet during a specified time.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Interesting ideas from Digital Minimalism - Cal Newport

Cal Newport wrote about digital Minimalism which is about the tools to beat digital distraction. As you know I'm a fan of Cal's so good they can't ignore you and Deep work. So though this topic felt familiar I felt compelled to read it. And boy I am not disappointed. There are many great tools about beating digital distraction. So you should just go and read the book. What follows are things that I found interesting and would like to remember.

After convincing us of the fact that being distracted always is not doing is any good, he asks us to do a one month digital detox. I.e completely do cold turkey on digital media. Then after one month deliberately bring back those tools which you feel add value to your life and only if that tool is the best way to add that value. Then after adopting that tool develop a strict standard operating procedure for using it basically about when you're allowed to use it and for how much time. This is the gist of the process.

Then he goes on to give various practical tactics about using digital tools effectively. Following are the things that felt very useful to me.

Create a seasonal leisure plan. This is a great idea as the kind of things we can do varies by season and by thinking and planning your leisure for the season you can follow them effectively.  Pair them with weekly plans to make it concrete.

Choose active leisure. - Mr Money Moustache who is a millionare buys and fixes up houses and his leisure consists of making things.

Join a group - There is a cafe in Canada called the snakes and Lattes cafe where you go in a play board games with whoever is before you.

Life 3.0 - Interesting things I learnt from that

I read an interesting book called Life 3.0 written by <>

Memory and computation are substrate independent.

AI can grow and develop very fast

Once it develops there are various ways in which it can takeover

Earth is doomed in millions and billions of years. So the way for human race to live is by becoming an interplanetary species. If we develop vehicles which can travel very fast we can go and that is where we should focus.

There are multiple theories of studying consciousness. According to an interesting theory, consciousness is how it feels when our body is processing and reconciling the data with existing data stored 

The wonder of scientific development

The story I'm about to tell may be obvious to lot of you but it was not obvious to me at all.

This is about how scientific inventions and discoveries happen. 
Since ancient times it was evident that rubbing fur on a smooth thing have people shocks. But it was not possible to study the nature of electricity. Then Volta found a way to create electricity on demand. People started to play with it and then slowly the principles surrounding electricity were discovered. Then in one experiment someone discovered that electricity can cause magnetism and playing with that again caused people to play with it and they discovered electromagnetic effects and then it revolutionized everything and more and more secrets of the nature opened up.

Let's consider the theory of gravitation.  He wondered how Earth and moon are hanging in balance and why is an apple falling to earth. Building on Galelio and Kepler's theories and with his grip on maths he calculated and proved that the attraction between objects varies based on the square of the distance between objects. In doing so he also created a new field of calculus. It was a giant leap for mankind in unlocking the secrets of nature.

What I'm trying to say here is that there are few true new inventions, most of the things are invented in the adjacent possible whenever a new invention happens. Just by playing with the new invention, combining, applying that to multiple unsolved problems, diligently experimenting and analysing the results  that have us 90% of the inventions and discoveries and that doesn't take a genius but just a committed,  diligent and curious person. There is also a role of serendipity in this. Lot of times speaking and working with other intelligent people can help break a logjam. So the learning here is that keep up to date with new discoveries in the field, experiment with it, talk about it and share your learnings. You might find or do something that can push mankind forward. 

Friday, August 9, 2019

Notes from Five Stars - The communication secrets to get from good to great - Carmine Gallo

Why Great Communicators Are Irreplaceable 

Five Stars is for those who believe their ideas matter 

  • It’s easier to rally a team around one common goal than to divide their attention
  • Frame the argument within a grand purpose 

To make an argument easy to follow and exciting to hear, use the following techniques

  • Antithesis - juxtaposing two contrasting ideas “Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is a necessary evil” 
  • Anaphora - repetition of the same word or words in successive sentences or within clauses - “It is not an affair of a city, a country, a province, or a kingdom, but of a continent. “
  • Alliteration - Repetition of similar letter sounds in two or more words in a group - “By referring the matter from argument to arms,...”
  • Parallelism - Express several parts of a sentence in a similar way to show the ideas are equally important, adding balance and rhythm to a speech - “ I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments and common sense.” 

  • Qureshi interview prep :Consider yourself a character in the story and structure your story with a beginning, middle and an end. There should be inflection points, characters and easy to understand motivations. Keep it short while preserving the color that’s interesting. Qureshi practiced the stories he would tell again and again. He recorded himself telling the narrative and asked his friends for feedback

Top leaders believe communication skills as the lubricant of execution that gives the company its competitive edge. 

Nothing happens voluntarily in an economy or society, unless someone changes her mind. Behavior can be changed by compulsion, but minds cannot.

In free societies, free talk rules. Persuasion - sweet talk - affords the greatest opportunity to leapfrog from where you are today to where you want to be. 

Rhetoric is ultimately the art of happiness. The end goal of persuasion is to use language to encourage both parties to flourish, to find  happiness. Aristotle said there at two steps to achieving it. 
First step is articulating the theme of the argument itself. Second, the speaker must prove that the argument is solid and logical.

  •  A speaker must back up the argument using three rhetorical proofs. Logic, credibility and emotion. Logos, Ethos and Pathos
Logos - Logical reasoning
Ethos - The character of the speaker
Pathos - emotion

Emotion is the fastest path to the brain. Emotion grabs our attention and emotional memories are unforgettable. 

There’s one thing that only humans can do, and that’s dream, so let us dream big. -Gary kasparov

Successful companies and entrepreneurs create a narrative around their products, services and brand. If I want to have an impact on your life or to sell you something. If I want you to use something I have created, I’ve to fit that into your narrative. I have to tell you a story that is compelling enough for you to want to be part of my story because I’ve created change, something new and interesting. And that narrative is something I want you to be part of. That is how humans have created our civilization. We tell a common story that holds us together. 

Ahrendts father said - “I can teach you anything. But I can’t teach you to feel. I can’t teach you to care.” 

Lessons of 5 star hospitality providers

  • Get the customers name right
  • Beat the greet - Be the first to say hello, to step out from the desk to say - “Good Afternoon” 
  • Anticipate Needs -  A three star employee meets, a five star employee anticipates
  • Daily Storytelling - Tell stories that reinforce the company culture. 

Who’s Earned Five Stars

  • Neil DeGrasse Tyson: The secret of communicating science and other complex topics is not to “translate” the content - but to explain with enthusiasm and where and when necessary, link the concept to something embedded in pop culture, where we all have active receptors. Take complex ideas and embed it in familiar ground. 
He wrote the following demoting Pluto from planethood. 
E.g. if Football were the sun at the 50-yard line, Earth would be at the 15-yard line. Pluto a quarter mile away, get over it. 

People are responsible for the state of the world. We are managing the world. Great communication skills empower people to lift themselves up from their current situation and to join together in a systematic effort to create a higher quality of file for everyone. 

The most important messages are not the ones that inspire you to do something easy. The most important messages inspire you to achieve your highest potential and that’s hard. It’s always hard. But it’s worth doing. 

Dollar Shave club bought by unilever - guerilla marketing of DSC 

Burning a message into a person’s skull is a rare art. In order to do that, it must be memorable, clear, vivid, and have an element of emotion associated with it.  - Micheal Moritz, Investor 

Sharon - revolutionized adult diapers by trying them on. - What sets you apart - “Passion and empathy” - The people who stand out, stand up for customers.” 

Students of communication climb the career ladder. 

All leadership takes place through the communication of ideas to the minds of others. - Charles Cooley

Google’s CEO  doesn’t use bullet points, and neither should you. 

Google’s project aristotle found that effective teams have the following qualities 

Psychological Safety 
Impact of Work 

David Feinberg - President of Geisinger Health 

CICARE. Program Acronym Description - Doctors use this to communicate with patients and it improved their satisfaction scores. 

Make a great first impression, greet patient by name where possible
Introduce yourself, your name, and your role
Explain what you’re going to do
Ask Permission and Anticipate 
Ask questions - Also anticipate needs and concerns
Respond to a patient’s needs or requests promptly and positively 
End with Excellence 
Close the loop, communicate next steps, and manage up by explaining who the patients will be meeting next

Inspiring Leaders wear SCARF 

Wallace said that a real leader’s authority comes from the power we give that leader and we give them power because of the way they make us feel.We like the way we feel in the presence of a great leader. We like the way they persuade us to work harder, to push ourselves and to dream bigger than we ever imagined. 

TED Stars:

  • Replace bullet points with pictures
  • Make the audience laugh
  • Share personal stories
  • Make presentations easy to follow
    • State one headline
    • Use the rule of three
  • Promise the audience that they will learn something new 

The ability to inspire people to look beyond their circumstances and to imagine worlds that have yet to exist is a gift that should be shared, nurtured and sharpened. One great idea can light the world. Let’s shine a light on yours. 

How to Get from Good to Great 

People are dying because we can’t communicate in ways that allow us to understand each other. That sounds like an exaggeration, but I dont think it is. - Aland alda

The tool is storytelling and by including tension, conflict and hurdles within a story, you’ll add a little stress that keeps your listener glued. Stories are irresistible because we are wired to think in story, process our world in story and share in story. 

Three kinds of stories you can tell 
  •  Stories about personal experiences 
  • Stories about real customers or clients
  • Stories about signature events in the history of a brand or company

An impactful story contains the following elements

  • It’s a story with a beginning, middle and an end
  • It’s intriguing - thought provoking, novel, informative, interesting and entertaining
  • It’s authentic - The characters, settings and challenges must feel true. 
  • It includes details - Small, vivid or important details enhance the authenticity of the story
  • It reveals a surprise 
  • It introduces empathetic characters -  The listeners should be able to see themselves in the shoes or the context of the hero. 
  • It has conflict and tension - An empathetic hero overcoming a meaningful hurdle and succeeding in the end is irresistible. 

Persuasion cannot occur in the absense of Pathos, an appeal to audience’s emotion. 
Stories are the best linguistic tool we have to build Pathos because humans are wired for it. 

The three act story structure

The setup - intro and current state
The confrontation - world turned upside down and obstacles are revealed. 
The resolution - The problem is solved and everyone is happy 

Stories with an emotional trigger alter our brain chemistry which makes us more trusting and open to ideas. 

Deliver the big picture 

You have five seconds to grab my attention - Geoff Ralston 
  • Don’t cram all you know on One Slide 

Hollywood has a log line of the story
This is the logline of Godfather - The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandesitine empire to his reluctant son

  • Introduce one big idea within 15 seconds of starting your presentation. 
Use simple words 

He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary - about Ernest Hemmingway 
  • Use grade school language
  • Sell your idea in 10 minutes as brain tunes out after 10 minutes. 
  • Download text readability software like the Hemingway app 
  • Edit your work again and again

The computer is a bicycle for our minds

  • Use analogies and metaphors
  • Start to keep an eye for analogies and metaphors. You’ll find them everywhere. 
  • To be a master of metaphor is the greatest thing by far… it is a sign of genius

(B) - Book to read -  Shortcut: how analogies reveal connections, Spark Innovation, and Sell our greatest ideas. 

It’s rare that a fresh idea comes up out of nowhere. More often we put together disparate ideas that nobody has put together - James Patterson

  • Connect ideas from everywhere
  • Find your theme song - songs that motivate you
  • Read more books to become a better speaker
There are very few problems that a new challenges
Reading enhances the leader's ability to create powerful, emotional rhetoric to galvanize a team. 
  • Take a trip to the unfamiliar to spark to new ideas
  • When planning a presentation to deliver your original ideas, don’t start with the slides. Put yourself in a creative space and think through the elements of the narrative before creating slides or documents. People are not moved by slides, they’re moved by the emotional components of your story. 

Conquer the fear that holds you back

Reappraise your experience
Rehearsal - train under pressure 

Great communicators are made not born. All of them have overcome stage fright. You can too. 
There are two techniques that help. Reappraisal means reframing your experience from negative to positive. Then put in the practice. Repeating a presentation over and over will boost your confidence for the big day. 

Find the tune that makes your heart sing. 

Words from the heart enter the heart - Jewish Proverb