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Book Reco: The Age of Spiritual Machines, by Ray Kurzweil

What is consciousness? What makes something real? What are feelings? If I can think, therefore I am. If a machine can think, are they real?

These are some of the deep philosophical and ethical issues we will have to face in the coming decades.

In the book, Kurzweil masterfully presents these issues and more while creating a vision for what the future of humanity will look like with artificial intelligence.

I highly recommend the book and you can buy a copy HERE or request a FREE one from your local library.


Telling the Story

Memory is a fragile thing. In fact, neurologists are still figuring out how the brain and memory work. They have a good idea, but are not 100% about it.

Generally, when we remember something we are creating copy of what we think we remember, not accessing a file like on a computer that’s been in storage for a while. That copy presents itself as reality and often is different is some way.

One way to connect your message to others is through telling a story.

The reason why stories are powerful is that they can more effectively connect with an audience and evoke an emotional response, which in turns strengthens the likelihood of something being remembered.

I can’t remember what I had for dinner three nights ago, but I can remember the high and low points of my life because I have an emotion connected to it.

If you want people to remember you, your idea, your product or service, work toward having them remember your story. The rest will take care of itself.

Child Reading (1915-1918), H. Lyman Saÿen

“Grandpa, What’s an iPhone?”

I showed my kids recently a 3.5″ floppy disk. They had never seen one before and didn’t know what it was or how it was used.

One day, kids will think we were weird for carrying around these mini computers with a slab of glass on the front of it that you have to touch with your fingers. My first cell phone was a bag phone that stayed in the car with a cord connected to it.

The world is constantly changing.

Businesses know this and they adapt or die (hello Blockbuster). The same is true for people. We must continually adapt to the changing world or risk being left behind.

Checkers, Chess, and Poker

I’ve been a gamer my whole life. My grandmother (who was also a teacher) taught me to count playing gin rummy. She also taught me checkers. My uncle, Eric, taught me chess.

Checkers are fun, but a pretty simple game. There is strategy involved, but no where close to what chess offers.

Chess is like life, very complicate with many potential paths to take.

But, chess is fair. You and your opponent get the same amount of piece in the beginning. It’s your mind against your opponent.

Poker is the most like life. I do not gamble (I would lose every time), but you can play correctly every hand and lose. That’s poker and sometimes that’s life.

In every game, you can give yourself an edge in how you prepare yourself. We just have to keep playing, working toward and hoping for the best.

That’s life.

Being Uncomfortable

We are hard-wired for two things: pleasure-seeking and pain avoidance.

We avoid pain when possible.

The problem is that growth happens in pain because we have to expend effort. This is why your muscles ache after a workout. This is why your brain is tired after studying. This is why you feel uncomfortable doing something you’ve never done before.

But, that temporary efforts leads to something better down the road. Somewhere where we are accomplishing our goals and achieving the best version of ourselves.

There’s a comfort in that.

Where Does “Fun” Fit In?

It’s called work for a reason. Because it’s work. It’s not intended to be fun.

If you’ve ever studied management theory, Theory X assumes people are unmotivated and avoid work and Theory Y assumes people are naturally inclined and motivated to work.

Motivation theories exist on a spectrum. Self-Determination Theory posits that people seek out mastery, novelty, and relatedness.

Mastery, or how good they are at something.
Novelty, or how interesting something is.
Relatedness, how connected they feel to something.

If we can make work more novel, or fun, we can increase someone’s motivation to do good work. Who wants to be miserable all day long at work? No one, right?

How an we make our approach more novel? Where can “fun” fit in?

That’s for you to figure out.

People at the Fairground (1980), Alkmaar Holland

Book Reco: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff . . . and It’s All Small Stuff, by Richard Carlson

This is another gem I read a long time ago (maybe two decades), but it has stuck with me for that length of time.

In brief, the things we worry about day to day in the grand scheme of life are really small things.

We worry about what’s for supper tonight (continues to be a ongoing deal at my house). We worry about what someone said about us or what someone might think about us. We worry about a bill coming due.

All that worry really messes with your quality of life NOW. Mindfulness is a movement for a reason. All we have is RIGHT NOW, this moment. The future is uncertain. Yesterday is gone.

Stop worrying. Start living. This book will help.

Don’t forget, you can get a FREE copy from your local library or purchase a USED copy (cheaper) HERE (they have copies for $0.94 at the time of this writing).

Capt. Kirk vs. Capt. Picard

If you are a Star Trek fan, you know exactly who Capt. Kirk and Capt. Picard are and what they did in the Star Trek universe. I find a LARGE portion of my students nowadays have no idea who I’m talking about (sign I’m getting old or TikTok is winning the culture war over scifi).

Kirk was an aggressive leader.

He would jump right into the center of danger and go after the enemy. He was a brilliant tactician. He thought a few “moves” ahead and always managed to outmaneuver his opponents. He was brash and arrogant.

Picard was a measured leader.

He tried to avoid confrontations as much as possible. He took an ambassadors approach to dilemmas. He worked to get everyone involved in the decision-making process. He was paced and thoughtful in his approach.

Two different leadership styles.
Both were captains of the Enterprise.
Both were effective leaders.

Leadership comes in different shapes and sizes. What matters is how they treat their people and the outcomes they create.

P.S. we are not going to talk about Capt. Jellico

P.S.S. I’m “Team Picard” by the way

P.S.S.S. don’t hate, I grew up on ST:TNG

Kirk and Picard

What Does Leadership Look Like?

What does art look like?
What does love look like?

Like resume writing, leadership is both an art and a science.

I heard a colleague years ago remark that they did not see the merit in studying business and leadership. There is tremendous utility is studying both. Every organization has a business concept within it. Organizations, businesses, and people need leaders.

Leadership is a something that if I asked 1,000 people to tell me one word they associate with leadership, I’d get a large variety of words, with a few themes emerging.

When I ask students a word they associate with leadership, they say: strong, honest, powerful, integrity, empathy, and dozen of other traits.

When I ask you what does leadership look like, who is the first person that comes to mind? Why that person? What makes them a leader?

Malala Yousafzai

“What’s in it for ME?”

This is the lens through which people view the world.

Anytime you present some information to someone OR present something that can potential create a change in their life, they ask themselves (and sometimes will ask you), “what’s in it for me?”

People do not care about issues, ideas, or trends until it affects them personally.

People want to know what’s in it for them. Why does it matter?

The trick is to present, explain, sell your ideas, products, and services through the lens of what’s in it for the end user.

“Let me tell you why this matters to you…”
“This is why this is valuable to you…”
“This is why you should care about this…”

If you can do this, you’ll find great levels of achievement.

That’s why this matters. That’s what’s in it for you.

The Attic Window (1920), Mildred McMillen