May 31, 2012

You Really Don't Want That Job

Recently, I was talking to a friend of my mine who works as a professional political blogger - about his ideal long-term career goals.

I was surprised he didn't mention any sort of political office - even as a pie-in-the-sky fantasy job. So, I asked him why?

He replied, "Dude, those jobs are awful. They're no fun at all. The campaign is ok. But the day-to-day...if you want to do it right...reading thousand-page bills, taking angry phone calls... it's the worst job ever."

And it made me wonder if the jobs we all think we want aren't nearly as romantic as we'd hope. The fantasy of the chase might get us through the day. But, good God, if we were to actually catch these new careers?

When it comes down to it, I think I just want to be paid a whole lot more money and worshiped for my current work, without any new real responsibility.

May 30, 2012

The Secret to Having No Regrets

The easiest way to make decisions you'll never regret - is to simply decide not to regret the foolish things you've already done and will continue to do.

Of course, that level of self-deceit can be difficult.

You better decide to not regret that, too.

May 29, 2012

How a 20-Year Old's Design Fair Helped me Realize I'm Still Needed

I recently attended my friend's student design gallery, and was floored by the talent of these 20-year olds.

To the point of fear, in fact. That if this was the future, I'm falling behind.

But, then I started talking to them about their work.

One student had designed a 12x3 flipbook-style calendar. The imagery was amazing.

I opened it up to January, and the calendar snapped back closed because of the size and weight distribution. I asked him how you're supposed to hang it? He said, "Oh, I don't know. I just wanted to do something different."

Another student won an award for her beautifully designed wine bottle, branded "Lonely Housewife".

No one will buy wine that labels them as a stay-at-home boozer. No one will buy a calendar that doesn't work.

These kids are phenomenally talented. I can't do what they can.

But they still need me...for now.

May 24, 2012

4 New Rules for Staffing Your Business

1) Hire less people.
2) Hire only great people.
3) Give the people you hire highly strategic roles.
4) Outsource the busy work.

Way better output. Way less $ to get there.

May 23, 2012

"Entertaining" Means Being Others-Focused

I recently had a friend visit, and offered him something to drink. He asked for a soda.

Embarrassed, I told him we didn't have any. We don't carry soda in our refrigerator, because we don't drink it.

But, my diabetic grandparents kept Coke in theirs. Why? For me.

I'm still learning.

May 22, 2012

Do You Have the Same Diet as a Poor Person?

Do You Have the Same Diet as a Poor Person?

Soda? Burgers?  Fries?  Pizza? Ice Cream? Cookies? Chips?

You live in a better house. You drive a better car. You wear nicer clothes.

And yet, you eat like a poor person?

May 21, 2012

I Will Not Volunteer My Opinion Unless Asked: Challenge Results

Final update on my For one week, I will not volunteer my opinion on ANYTHING unless I am EXPLICITLY asked for it." challenge.

VICTORIES:

"I believe in democracy and free speech and all that, but..."

Before I had even heard the rest, I had made up my mind to remain silent.

An argument arose concerning whether it was possible to "spam" e-mail your friends.

I stayed out of it.

RESULTS:

My ideal end-game for this week long challenge was delusional - I was hoping by the end of the week to be explicitly asked for my opinion on something.

It never happened.

I did get a "You've been awful quiet this week, Eric." But that's it.

And honestly, that's really good feedback to get. Because it means I had merely been noise. That those around me had not been waiting with baited breath for me to make my decrees. So what a waste of time to act like it.

I'm going to try to stick to this silence. And I'll let you know if this actually ends up increasing my respect/authority over time.

It reminds me of my grandfather. He wouldn't say much. But when he did, it was something that mattered.

May 17, 2012

I Will Not Volunteer My Opinion Unless Asked: Day 2 Results

Update on my For one week, I will not volunteer my opinion on ANYTHING unless I am EXPLICITLY asked for it." challenge.

VICTORIES:

I was caught in a roundtable discussion about the best methods for introducing (forcing exposure upon) your kids to different activities (piano lessons, tee-ball, dance class).

This was easy to stay out of, because my daughter is still 0, and I haven't had to think about it yet.

Then, the topic shifted to how awful video games were for kids.

This was harder to stay out of, but I did.

I found out my friend started smoking again.

I didn't try talking him out of it. But honestly, it's 'cause I really don't care. He's awesome. When some people take up bad habits, I try talking them out of it, thinking that by correcting all of their flaws, they will somehow be transformed into a person I enjoy being around. But, this guy's already awesome.

FAILURES:

I'm a worship leader at my church, and we had practice last night. It's a fairly autocratic gig. You have to be the one to make the call. Perhaps that's where most of my tension in this experiment comes from. I'm used to those dictatorial parts of my world, and want to unleash this power upon the others.

For those of you who participating, any stories yet on your end? It's hard, isn't it?

May 15, 2012

I Will Not Volunteer My Opinion Unless Asked: Day 1 Results

Update on my For one week, I will not volunteer my opinion on ANYTHING unless I am EXPLICITLY asked for it." challenge.

VICTORIES:

This was said in my presence.

"I don't just think the drunk driver should be held responsible. I think EVERYONE in the car should be held responsible."

And I didn't say a thing.

FAILURES:

I'm not sure what to do about meetings. I'm in the room. So, by default, I'm at least passively being asked for my opinion? To be short, some stuff was being decided on that was going to be decided on wrong, and I spoke up. But, I was super Socratic about it - they totally thought it was their idea...yes, I know this was cheating. I'm going to try avoid meetings the rest of the week.

For those of you who participating, any stories yet on your end? It's hard, isn't it?

May 14, 2012

I Will Not Volunteer My Opinion Unless Explicitly Asked: 1 Week Challenge

Ok, late notice. But, I am issuing a week-long challenge.

"For one week, I will not volunteer my opinion on ANYTHING unless I am EXPLICITLY asked for it."

For me, this is going to be incredibly hard.

Because this is more than just not being the individual to raise the topic. But, this means not participating AT ALL unless specifically asked to.

There is an end-game I'm hoping comes out of this. But, we'll see at the end of the week if it happens.

Until then, I will be sharing the flawed logic that arises, how desperate I was to shout it down, and if I let anything slip.

Let me know if you're in.

May 10, 2012

The Practicality of Obama's Evolving Embrace of Gay Marriage

He probably only loses a handful of voters - individuals from liberal churches that don't consider themselves THAT liberal.

And he gains millions of dollars from Melissa Etheridge for his campaign this Fall.

It was the smart decision.

Do you really care if he actually believes it?

May 08, 2012

The Creator Gets to Decide What Their Creation Is

Yesterday's post spurred a couple of great offline conversations regarding the difference between art and pornography - specifically, who gets to decide. Here were our takeaways.

So recently, I had a little fun playing the role of 'subversive' in this political video.




For the most part, those who knew me understood what I was doing. While strangers who stumbled across this video mocked me in the comments as a nutball with a speech impediment.

The point being: the creator gets to decide what their creation is.

You can decide if it's funny. But you can't decide if it was supposed to be. Content can only be judged against the creator's intention.

And that was my point from yesterday. My realization that the ancient artists were indeed trying to mimic sexualized perfection. And with that knowledge, I now judge it as pornography, since that seems to be what they were going for.

May 07, 2012

Venus de Milo Pornography

As a kid, I was embarrassed to walk through The Art Institute of Chicago.

Because you couldn't turn a corner without a fat naked lady painting or sculpture jumping out at you.

And I remember my teacher saying something about artistic merit, and our evolving perceptions of beauty - and I simply rationalized this as yet another thing I didn't really understand.

But just last week, I learned an artist has decided to re-create the famous Venus de Milo statue (a topless and armless depiction of the Greek goddess Aphrodite), by updating it to our modern-day perceptions of beauty.

Because it turns out, that's what the Venus de Milo was originally designed to be. In fact, it turns out that's what ALL of these naked paintings and sculptures were intended to be.

Not creepy, fat "realistic" depictions of women. But incredibly sexualized depictions of the female form.

So, now I'm not sure why it's art and not pornography?

May 04, 2012

The Knowledge Economy: Rethinking Higher Education

This week, we are discussing the entity of Higher Education. The costs, the curriculum, the desired outcomes, and the alternatives.

The moral of this week's story is that we are getting closer to the point where the self-determined individual can receive a world-class education, for free, online, from the comfort of their home/hut.

So, what does that mean for us as Americans? It means our head-start is over. Because currently, our wealth affords some us us the exclusive luxury of going on to these higher levels of education. And therefore, we're getting the higher-paid strategic jobs and outsourcing the manufacturing/labor overseas.

But, what if our respective levels of education are no longer unique?

What if 1 billion 22+ year olds soon have the equivalent of a highly advanced undergraduate education?

Then, what does your differentiation become? Who gets the great jobs? The Masters degrees? The PhDs?

Or the innately creative?

If I can train a bright 16-year old to take over a large portion of your current 8-hour work day, you're not going to have that job 10 years from now.

Everything's changing for the better. Everyone's getting smarter for free.

And it's going to be awesome.

In the future, the losers will not be the poor, but the apathetic.

May 03, 2012

Alternative Certification Badges: Rethinking Higher Education

This week, we are discussing the entity of Higher Education. The costs, the curriculum, the desired outcomes, and the alternatives.

Yesterday, we explored some of the amazing, world-class, and very FREE educational resources sprouting up due to the wonders of technology - that could essentially replace, at the very least, the "liberal arts" part of a college education.

But, this only works if either:
A) Colleges recognize this alternative as official transfer credit, essentially halving one's out-of-pocket costs for a college education
OR
B) Human Resource managers stop caring whether or not you have a degree

But right now, having a bachelors degree is the single easiest assurance a company has that you'll be a productive fit. After all, you made it through college. Your degree is an field related to the skills we're looking for. You can't be a complete bozo?

But some of the free resources we went through yesterday aren't just "equivalent" to Gen Eds, but in many cases, are arguably superior to them? And if I'm a hiring manager, and see that a prospective employee enrolled in Khan Academy, I might actually prefer that individual? After all, they're intuitive, tech-savvy and resourceful. As long as I can prove they actually "attended".

Because at a traditional college, you are penalized if absent from class (your body if not your mind), and tested to measure some sort of knowledge retention (regurgitation).

But, the Khan Academy is doing that, too. They have implemented testing and "badge" certifications. Once you test proficient in all skills related to a particular subject, you receive a "Proficiency Badge" in Calculus I, Algebra I, Geometry I, etc. Mozilla is trying to help create a universal Open Badges System to mainstream this idea. Other institutions like Microsoft don't offer the education itself, but offer the certification test itself that you can prepare for in whatever way you desire.

For example, let's say someone learns graphic design on their own time. Through library books, and YouTube tutorials.

Two candidates walk in your office.

One has their degree in Graphic Design from Bradley University.

One has their Liberal Arts education Proficiency Certification from Khan Academy, Crash Course certifications in Color Theory, Typography, Logo Design and Digital Photography, and Adobe Master Certifications in InDesign, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Flash, Premiere and AfterEffects.

Now, I'm not sure what looks better. I think the first is still safer.

...but the second one is FREE.

May 01, 2012

Making College Free: Rethinking Higher Education

This week, we are discussing the entity of Higher Education. The costs, the curriculum, the desired outcomes, and the alternatives.

MAKING COLLEGE FREE

There is a big political push right now saying Higher Education should be free. Ok, but does "free" mean the Federal Government subsidizes our tuition to traditional Universities, or does "free" mean free access to the education itself? Because, as a currently debt-laden nation, the latter seems more achievable? And here are a couple of my favorite options.

Khan Academy
Dedicated to providing a free world-class education to anyone, anywhere. This site currently has 3,100 lessons and counting, all produced by site founder, Salman Khan. Bill Gates' kids learn via the Khan Academy. This is the biggest non-profit stand-alone educational resource out there right now.



Crash Course
This new venture offers super high-quality and beautifully produced liberal arts overviews, currently only for the fields of "World History" and "Biology". But this is incredibly exciting. Let's say like-minded professors help create these full courses for 60 different fields, the wide spectrum of liberal arts "Gen Eds"...



Could these free options essentially replace one's first two years of college?

Sure...if schools begin to recognize them. But, that's a big "if". And that's where we'll start tomorrow.