Friday, May 31

People in the workplace: what makes you happy and loyal?

I've spent the better part of this month researching what makes people satisfied in the workplace or, at least, trying to find companies that do things that make people satisfied. The former's much easier than the latter. Of course we all want some level of respect, responsibility, guidance, flexibility and collegiality. How do you scale that up to a hundred thousand people and still get them thinking in the same direction?

Numbers are one way. But they're only useful in large organizations. Deloitte talks about its talent analytics in Forbes here, which I find only slightly less interesting than reading the official Google blog about PiLab, its in-house team of statisticians who sift through HR data.

Startup organizations that can't afford HR departments also have some tricks up their sleeve. The key to the startup is that you have a few people, closely tied to each other, with heavily aligned incentives and the chance for big financial gain if they work themselves to near death and get a few lucky breaks. So how to they avoid burnout? Eighty-eight suggestions are given here, which I found were good food for thought.

For example, would I generate the equivalent of a full week of output in four days if I knew that I had every Friday off? Probably. That would be an extraordinary motivator. Do I think I'd generate amazing content if every year my company or team took a one-month retreat to a crazy location and worked together from there? Absolutely.

An open question for me is what companies can do to remind employees during the bad times (long hours, tight deadlines, weekend work) about the good times (the value proposition of the firm, the reason you go to work in the first place, the deliciousness of the muffins you steal from your colleagues' desks). Organizationally, it's not just about creating the type of place that attracts people to want to work for you, it's also about finding the right time to remind them that, which is probably when they're stressed out.

Tuesday, May 21

Daft Punk gets quote of the day

Once you free your mind about a concept of harmony and music being correct, you can do whatever you want.
So nobody told me what to do and there was no preconception of what to do.

Monday, May 20

Should this make me happy, or sad?

Happy: Time and Google splendidly display thirty years of land use change via satellite imagery. Technology allows us to know more than we otherwise would and communicate it to people who don't understand the science.

Sad: We're gutting nature.

I want to renew my faith that we can R&D our way out of this, but I fear that environmental degradation is fundamentally a social, rather than a technical, problem.

Friday, May 17

I'm considering getting an inflatable kayak

From REII was expecting to use it for the following purposes:
(1) Chilling in the bay during ball games at AT&T park (getting a 2-seater means that you can bring a friend and just veg out. It's enjoying a baseball game without needing to pay for a ticket
(2) Replace my habit of an evening run from the office to the ferry building, and instead just inflate and paddle around the piers
(3) Take it with me when I go visit John and Kira in Santa Cruz
I can store it at the office, which is right at 4th and Townsend so very close to the water.

Here's the best piece of advice I've received yet:
Keep in mind other costs associated: paddle, life jacket, spray jacket, hat, whistle, lights, VHF radio, sails, bigger boat, crew, sandwiches for the crew, onions for the crew who refuse to eat your sandwiches  rum to appease the crew interested in mutiny, rum for the crew after the mutiny, rum to fire your blunderbuss at in order to detonate the ship's powder kegs and free you from the brig, powder kegs, a brig, an inflatable kayak for your escape from your now mutinied ship, a paddle, life jacket, spray jacket, hat, whistle, lights, VHF radio, sails, bigger boat, crew.... it can be a costly adventure you're taking on

When it's obvious your communications department doesn't review things

I was just reading an Aon/Hewitt research report on talent in BRIC countries that had the following quote:
"The small African nation of Botswana is another example of a lowly developed country with a less corrupt and much more effective government than their neighbors." Lesson: don't call countries lowly, even when you're complimenting them.

Saturday, May 4

Is this simplification of the categorical imperative accurate?

Abu did something stupid to save a moth that was trapped in sap. Abu, it turns out, intrinsically largely believes in Kant's categorical imperative, that morality is linked to duty. In his words, Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law without contradiction.

It's important to me that an alternative to the standard capitalist-democratic utilitarian ethic predominantly used today for decision making be introduced in my book. The challenge is boiling down duty-based ethics into fourteen lines.

Comments on the attempt below will be warmly welcomed:

“Repairing tragedy,” reply began,
“is never quite the aim of what I do.”
I’d rather seek to do as every man
would do in every case. It’s not value
that motivates, just knowledge that if each
and every human put in such a spot
would act as if his action would then teach
the masses, well, we’d rapidly be taught
by those who came before us. Following
a rule is easy on the brain: result
is programmed. There’s no space for wallowing
about what’s right and wrong amidst tumult.
No, Stella, what helped make that moth fly free
was zero virtue, just my bound duty.”

Friday, May 3

It's relieving to have zero plans on a Saturday

Thus, I know exactly not what I'll do. I'm hoping I'll be inspired to pound out more revisions in this book. After many failed attempts, though, I've found I can't predict how creative I'll feel in the future.

Good animals this week.

Sunday, April 28

Behind, but the end of the month is a good time to start again

In almost every aspect of my life this month I've been reactionary. I'd like to change that come May.

I have a job, two current projects on the table, and three more with potential. Four of the five could be revenue generating. The one that's not, sadly for my bank account, will take priority.

Last week I felt a lot of pressure. Shifting perspective and weight to my front foot rather than my heels in May will require getting a handle on that pressure and refining my scale for what matters and what doesn't. I still don't have the coffee-helps-thought-but-accelerates-burnout equilibrium established. But I'm getting better. There have been no Red Bulls since the drive to Seattle.

A recent New York sunset

There are 157 emails in my Gmail box and 62 of them require reply. That total is four times higher than I need it to be. When am I going to make time to find an illustrator and finish revising my book? Gah!

After seeing pictures of sleeping marsupials (Stacey, you do know me), I found another beautiful thing.

Monday, April 15

Saturday, April 13

A walk through San Francisco

Yesterday was Rylee's birthday, so we went for a walk. Nine miles worth of a walk, now that I've mapped it out.

There are many photos somewhere on Twitter or Instagram, links to which I'll need to get from her. Samples here.

Do NOT park underwater.

Thursday, April 11

Failed post card batch

I sent out about a dozen postcards earlier this year with my stamps from December. I've just realized that the postage rate went from $0.32 to $0.33 in 2013, so they were probably never delivered. Most of them were thank you notes, many to people in New York.

I feel like a jerk.

Post office, make postcard forever stamps.