Healthy solitude

Nicholas Bate, always a favourite

With healthy solitude comes profound insight. Seek more of the former and make life easier.

As work rushes on, and I overwork again. It’s the quiet and alone moments, when time is allocated to sit still and pat the needy cat, that some form of clarity awakens. Then I realise that the path is so clear.

As the meaningless options fade away.

What is complex becomes simple.

Too big to care

Too big to care.

As brands get bigger (and bigger might be as small as an organization with just two people in it), policies kick in. Policies and budgets and bureaucracy.

The brand has become too big to care. I mean, it might be big enough to pretend to care. To have policies that appear to set things right. But they don’t really care.

The only way to really care is to have human beings who care (and to give them the authority and resources to demonstrate that.)

Once you’ve got that, it’s pretty easy to show that you do.

A sexism questionnaire to filter sexist candidates

How the female CEO of a mechanical engineering Indian startup dealing in menstrual hygiene solutions avoids hiring sexist candidates.

“We have very abstract questions to check for sexism,” says Mohan, who refers to the questionnaire as a “sexism filter.”

…more nuanced questions—one, for instance, that presents a scenario of inequality, and asks how the employee would behave in it—are more useful for identifying whether the candidates are indeed feminists, or just playing the part in the interview. The questions also draw from news and current affairs, trying to gauge the candidate’s opinions on socially-divisive issues, such as caste politics or sexist religious practices.

The best evidence is in the numbers of unfit candidates it helped identify. “We have actually rejected a lot of technically good candidates because of it,” she says. “When there is a cultural misfit, it creates conflict sooner or later,” she explains. “So, from past experience, we prefer waiting to find the right fit, rather than hiring someone and asking them to leave.”

Is your business a junction or a destination

What is your business about?

Yahoo grew as a place to stay. They built one service after another, hoping for time on site.

Google, on the other hand, began as a place to visit when you wanted to go somewhere else. That’s their entire business model. Time on site wasn’t as important to them as the accuracy of their direction. Come to leave.

Facebook, on the other hand, is organized to be a one-way street, with people staying on the site as long as possible.

Of course, it’s not simply web sites that work this way. Either we organize for junctions and trajectory, or we build our place as a destination, physically or as metaphor.

How social separation leads to tribalism and affects not just those ostracised, but the world.

But as measles cases in the U.S. climb to an all-time high after the disease was declared eliminated in 2000, U.S. public health officials have been looking for ways to address the problem.

As a researcher on religious politics and health, I believe that Nigeria’s highly mobilized efforts to eliminate polio can teach America how to reverse the increase in measles cases and shore up its public health infrastructure. Working with international partners, Nigerians have combated misinformation, suspicion of vaccine science and religion-based boycotts to go from ground zero for polio on the African continent in 2003 to nearly polio-free in 2019.

Nigerians understood that simply ostracizing religious communities would not work. Anti-vaxx politics tapped into mistrust of government and “others” that ran deep in a diverse but divided society, where religious, regional and ethnic loyalties took priority over national unity.

To foster reconciliation, Nigerians engaged in efforts to break down tribalism. One experiment, started in 1973 and still going, is compulsory service of college graduates in the National Youth Service Corps in “states other than their own and outside their cultural boundaries to learn the ways of life of other Nigerians.”

… we should work to depoliticize public health. Scapegoating religious communities evokes ugly histories of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

As different people, we have different mindsets. A way forward is agreeing to disagree and keep civilised communication going.

This applies to any form of interaction, including work and home.

Playing to your strengths as a leader doesn’t make you a good boss – in fact, it can make you a bad boss.

So, you have to ask yourself: Are your actions feeding your team, or your ego?

Focus on what you’re good at, and the team never becomes good at it themselves. Focus on what you’re good at, and you never see things for what they really are.

Resist viewing your strengths as the only way to make the team strong. Resist falling in love with the short-term results of doing what feels good to be doing.

Find someone who will tell you the truth. Your co-founder, your coworkers. Ask them if what you’re doing that you’re good at is really helping move the team forward.

Our strengths are our weakness, our weakness our strengths.

Also, the entire Know Your Team blog is amazing.