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6 posts from February 2023

Taste and Complexity

W. David Marx is doing an excellent job of explaining diversity of taste. When I take a relatively uneducated friend to an art museum, I'm often stumped to explain my taste.

Culture (An Owner's Manual): Three Ways of Enjoying Music (and the Reverse Snobbery of Ultra-Poptimism), 2023-Feb-21 by W. David Marx

Educated listeners grow bored with sensuous music with low syntactical complexity. They seek out music that offers new emotional and intellectual experiences, which require syntactical innovations that only experts can provide.

Where syntactical innovations are too complicated or alien, they often interfere with the immediate sensations of music and become unpleasant for less educated listeners. Herein lies the basic conflict between the two groups.


Just do it: marketing edition

A reminder from Michael Katz that doing something--almost anything--is better than doing nothing:

Blue Penguin Development: Language Lab Lessons, 2023-Feb-23 by Michael Katz

Nobody Ever Died From Bad Marketing*

Surgeons, firefighters, airline pilots … these are people whose jobs literally involve life and death.

Marketing, on the other hand, is about being “vaguely correct.”

About the most damage you and me can cause in this regard is writing “me” when you should have written “I,” or using a preposition to end a sentence with. And even then, many people won’t even notice.

There is one marketing mistake, however, that does tend to be fatal: invisibility.

*New Coke being the exception that proves the rule.


An example of the cool light switch plates at Studio Qalixto (

Our Favorite Peacenik on the Ukraine War

Nonzero Newsletter: The Ukraine Archives 2023-Feb-23 by Robert Wright:

I’m proud of the things this newsletter has published about the Ukraine war—not because I think they’re all great, but because collectively they represent a clear alternative to the perspective offered in mainstream media, where both reporting and commentary have tended to succumb to the conformist pressures that emanate from wars.  

So I thought I’d mark this dark anniversary by listing some of these NZN posts—both written pieces and podcasts—along with a brief summary and/or reflection for each. I’m confining the list of written pieces to the first six months of the war, but a few of the podcasts are more recent than that.

Almost all of these posts are “unlocked”—available to the entire reading public, not just paid subscribers.


Contributing as a Team Leader

The primary value of team leaders to an organization is in information gathering and disbursement. Managing your team members is actually about making sure they know what's important, and that information has to be gathered from outside the team because it's constantly changing. Information about what the team is facing and accomplishing needs to be pushed up and throughout the organization. 

Diamond Pencils: As a manager, your team is your peers (not your reports), 2023-Feb-19 by Benyamin Elias

Ok let’s TL;DR this whole thing:

Work with your peers at least as much as you work with your direct reports. This is a simple insight that surprises new managers (it surprised me, although luckily before I made the mistake). Focusing too much time on direct reports is what leads to under-performance and career risk; spending time with your peers leads to growth, results, and getting what you want.


The Ends and Means of Diversity

Increasing diversity is both moral AND productive in organizations. An organization with diversity of employees is more likely to thrive. Acquiring a more diverse workforce turns out to be expensive in the short run. Suck it up!

Digital Tonto: We Need To Learn How To Bridge Difference To Drive Creativity And Innovation, 2023-Feb-19 by Greg Satell

We are encouraged to think about matters of diversity in moral terms and, of course, that’s an important aspect. However, it is also a matter of developing the right skills. The better we are able to bridge differences, the more effectively we can collaborate with others who have different perspectives, which is crucial to becoming more innovative and productive....

However, it is at this nexus of identity and purpose that creativity and innovation reside, because when we learn to collaborate with others who possess knowledge, skills and perspectives that we don’t, new possibilities emerge to achieve greater things.


Warren Buffet's recommended strategy: Assault your bad habits

Powerful strategies allow you to navigate an ever-changing world. Warren Buffet's strategic advice is to attack your bad habits—habits that hold you back. Those habits don't always start out being bad. Your environment, goals, and strengths change over time. You need to be in the habit of evaluating your habits. Which ones are holding you back?

My current bad habits are junk food, rabbit-hole research, and reading without a purpose. What are yours?

Inc.: Warren Buffett Says There Is 1 Key Choice in Life That Separates the Doers From the Dreamers, 2022-Jun-2 by Marcel Schwantes

Warren Buffett once advised graduating students... to learn and practice good habits early in life. The key, [he said], is to catch and change your bad habits before [they change] you for the worse.