The Danger of Freedom: People Do What They Want to Do, Not What You Think They Should Want to Do

October 2, 2018 Delray Beach, FL – A Boston-based “people analytics firm” named Humanyze has instituted a mandatory parental leave policy for male employees. The motive is to “equalize” the work/parent experience. Why is it mandatory? Why not just give fathers the option? Because when given the freedom to choose, Humanyze’s CEO explained to the WSJ, two problematic things happen: The great majority of men do not take the time off. Even though they can, they choose to continue working. And the great majority of women choose to stay home. The fact that their husbands are free to take time off and help them out doesn’t seem to matter. This is what happened in Denmark after men were given the …

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Creating a Culture of Profit

Monday, October 1, 2018

Delray Beach, FL – You own four businesses in the same industry. They have the same sort of products. The same access to marketing intelligence. And they have unlimited access to cash. Three of them have been steadily growing their profits. One has not.

So you devote extra time and energy to that business. You work with the key people. You suggest ideas, make introductions, etc.

You feel certain that they are all working hard and with integrity. But even with your assistance, the bottom line is always red.

You wonder: What’s going on?

I have a theory about that…

It’s untested. It may be wrong. But it may be right.

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An Interesting Angle on Teamwork

Monday, October 1, 2018 Delray Beach, FL– You don’t have to be friends with your teammates. You just need something that Michael Bar-Eli calls task cohesion. According to Bar-Eli, when a team has a high level of task cohesion, each member will do whatever it takes to reach that goal as a group, even if it means sacrificing their own self-interest. In Boost!: How the Psychology of Sports Can Enhance Your Performance in Management and Work, he gives the example of the Bayern München soccer team in the mid-1970s. Members of the team were far from friends. And yet, on the field, they were all perfectly united in what they wanted to accomplish. As a result, they won three consecutive …

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Get Better by Todd Davis

Friday, September 28, 2018   Delray Beach, FL–I purchased the book because I liked the title – Get Better: 15 Proven Practices to Build Effective Relationships at Work. It seemed like it was going to be the sort of book that contains observations and advice that are sensible but not remarkable. Like it was going to be a book made by taking a listicle and expanding each bullet into a chapter. And that’s what it turned out to be. Not a bad book. But one that could be scanned (rather than read word-for-word) without fear of losing much. Below, you can see seven of its ideas along with my reactions… Idea #1: To be a good relationship builder you must …

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The Economy Is Looking Good: Don’t Get Giddy… or Scared

Delray Beach, FL– There are lots of reasons why many people today are excited about the investment markets. For the first time in 10 years, for example, the GDP growth rate is higher than the unemployment rate. We are seeing the strongest expansion of manufacturing activity since May 2004, according to the WSJ. Wages are rising. Not much in real terms, but more than we’ve seen since the last recession. And according to several sources, consumer confidence has rarely been higher. For some investors, Len Zachs (of Zachs Investment Research) argues in a recent report to his clients, this sort of economic environment creates a perilous paradox. Some will see data like this as a signal to go all in …

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The Lessons of History

Monday, September 24, 2018 Delray Beach, FL– On the recommendation of Tim Ferriss, I’m reading Will and Ariel Durant’s The Lessons of History. Published in 1962, it contains the occasional paragraph that seems chronologically quaint. But the sentences are lovely. The tone is pitch perfect. And it is dense with wise thoughts and observations. A few tidbits: * We are all born unfree and unequal: subject to our physical and psychological heredity, and to the customs and traditions of our group; diversely endowed in health and strength, in mental capacity and qualities of character. * Inequality is not only natural and inborn, it grows with the complexity of civilization. * Society is founded not on the ideals but on the …

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This Actually Happened

Saturday, September 22, 2018 Delray Beach, FL– We were talking about sexual harassment. Sally and Leslie and I. Sally said, “At my age, I could use a bit of it now and then. Leslie laughed, agreeing. “I’m way short on that kind of attention,” I admitted. “Bernie used to harass me,” Leslie said seriously. “He used to come up behind me and rub my shoulders as I worked.” Bernie was her boss. And my partner. “He did that to me too,” I said. “I took it as a fatherly thing. He did it to lots of people, including his kids.” “It felt creepy,” Leslie said. So there you have it. I have no doubt that it felt creepy to Leslie. …

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A Passing Jealousy

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Delray Beach, FL– Walking to my office, a woman passes me, going the other way. She is attractive. Tall, lean, and handsome. And I notice that she is dressed attractively too, in a linen skirt and matching jacket.

She pays no attention to me. She is looking ahead, walking with a confident gait, speaking animatedly into her phone. I hear one phrase: “I mean… you can’t wear it all at the same time, can you?”

And that sends me spiraling into that existential despair. No, not despair. More like ennui. No, not ennui. But a pang. A reminder of how much I’m missing.

“I mean… you can’t wear it all at the same time, can you?”

I’m not judging her, as they (imprecisely and insistently) say these days. I’m jealous of her. Truly.

She is living in a world I do not, have not, and never will inhabit. Yet it’s a full world and it seems to me to be in many ways a happier one than mine.

I try to imagine what things in life I loved that much – what material objects gave me such pleasure that such an idea would have occurred to me.

I am a little sad that I have never felt that way: that I wanted to have it all but at the same time.

Of course, that world is entirely open to me. I have only to wish to enter it to become a denizen. Why don’t I?

More on Caring Less: The Questionable Virtue of Restraining Desire

Tuesday, September 18, 2018 Delray Beach, FL-“The discipline of desire is the backbone of character,” wrote Will & Ariel Durant. That’s different from the Buddhist idea of extinguishing desire. The difference is profound. And it says something about two different worldviews. The Durant idea is very Western, very Christian – almost Puritanical. It is about self-restraint. About reining in one’s natural impulses. This is a view that sees desire (and the temptations that come from desire) as inherent to the human condition. The Buddhist idea is about letting go. It is about giving up desire. Energetically, it is the opposite of restraint. It assumes that desire is extrinsic to the self – that the self can be separated from desire. …

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