How do I know what I think until I see what I say?”
― E.M. Forster
It was Neil Postman’s book Technopoly (1992) that first alerted me to the idea that language is a technology for organizing and communicating thought.
And it is more than that.
Marshall McLuhan realized that we shape our technologies, and our technologies shape us back. That is, the technology of language not only helps us externalize our thoughts, but it also changes the way we internalize our perceptions. Thus, the purpose of language is more than a mere communication of messages. …
Universities are in the knowledge business.
Prior to invention of the printing press, knowledge resided primarily in the minds of the people who knew things. Books were expensive to reproduce, because they had to be copied by hand.
In fact, the very first university lectures were little more than a group of scribes, copying word-for-word. A Reader with a valuable book would stand at a lectern, reading from the text, so that the students could copy it over into their own notebooks in parallel, which was much more efficient than passing the book around so the students could take turns making their own copies. …
Every student in every class I’ve ever taught has, at some point, felt a loss of motivation.
I can relate.
When I was student, it was sometimes all I could do to drag myself out of bed and trudge thru the snow to get to my undergraduate physics lectures.
Even though I wanted to learn physics, there was something blocking me from showing up in class, taking notes, and following instructions.
It wasn’t the difficulty of the challenge. The material was always within my grasp.
So, what was holding me back?
One theory on loss of motivation is related to dopamine (e.g., Wise 2004). According to this theory, learning and memory are more effective when they are accompanied by dopamine supply to the brain. And when your brain is low on dope, it presents such a serious psychological problem that you’ll do almost anything to get it. …
In Does Your Company Know How It Makes Decisions? I pointed out that most people have no idea how decisions get made within their own organizations, and as a consequence the organizations lack decision-making skills. While I claimed that there were better processes available than “consensus,” I didn’t specify what those might be, or how to design them to replace the ineffective, bureaucratic, political waste of energy that constitutes most organizational decision-making processes in American organizations.
Now is a good time to correct this oversight.
Although people probably make hundreds of decisions a day, few have thought about, or are able to describe, what constitutes a decision. Ask a dozen people in your company, and several of them are going to tell you something like, “A decision is when you make up your mind about something. …
As a teacher, I work with hundreds of young people a year. My job is to teach them engineering business practices, which includes modules in ethics, leadership, communication, finance, and teamwork. I get to know some students better than others, and many stay in touch after graduation.
Because I teach Business Practices, those who do stay in touch are often the type that want to start their own businesses. They know that I’m also the CEO and co-Founder of a little startup company called Morozko Forge, and that I have some experience and wisdom that goes beyond the classroom.
Because our venture cannot grow any faster than the leaders within it are able to grow, one of my roles as CEO is to mentor younger leaders along their journeys of personal growth, and many of my former students seek me out for that kind of guidance. …
One of the unintended consequences of the personal empowerment/positive psychology movement has been social judgment of those who dare to admit they experience unhappiness.
Sometimes, people think unhappiness is some kind of moral failure — as if they lack the strength of character to WILL themselves to happiness.
That is dangerous, garbage thinking.
Although it is true that we can choose happier, more meaningful lives, that choice is not ours to make until we acknowledge that we have been shaped by experiences beyond our control. …
One of the greatest inventions of the Enlightenment was ignorance — i.e., the idea that there were some important things worth knowing that could not be found in the canonical texts of the dominant Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) — at least as might be interpreted by the Priests who were the only people capable of reading them.
Without the concept of ignorance, there is no Scientific Revolution. There is no Scientific Method. There is no Science (Firestein 2012).
Although religion and science are both systems of belief, the fundamental distinction between them is the basis for that belief. Science is evidence-based, and thus subject to constant revision and falsification. In contrast, religion is faith-based. …
Almost ten years ago, The Atlantic ran a story that claimed “a brand is the contract between a company and consumers.”
What a load of garbage that is.
A brand is the opposite of a contract. In fact, contracts are what traders use for specifying commodities, and because all commodities must conform to identical specifications, they are (by definition) without a brand.
I just completed the monthly evaluation process we’ve instituted at our startup, www.morozkoforge.com.
We make ice baths to facilitate deliberate cold exposure, which is kind of an unusual business. And we have some unusual approaches to assessing and incentivizing performance among our employees.
Tonight, our lone intern read her monthly performance evaluation and I think she recognized that, although she hadn’t earned a bonus, her base rate of pay was much more than she could expect to earn in any other job available to her. So she asked me,
What’s the benefit of paying people more than they’re worth?
And that is one of the great advantages of having an intern in a startup. When they ask great questions, they prompt me to think thru the practices and processes at Morozko Forge from a fresh perspective. After all, if I can’t explain our operations to our intern, do I really understand my own company? …
In the weeks since 6 April, when Medium deleted ‘The Curve is Already Flat,’ new medical and scientific evidence has emerged that supports the original thesis of the article — that SARS-CoV-2 arrived in the United States as early as November 2019, and that the signature of the virus could be found in the CDC data available from that time.