My business partner Peter Viliesis and I have a clear focus going into 2021 after this rather different year. In order to stay on track we’ve created a list of words to remind us of our mission. Here it goes in random order:
Each of these words has an important part in the overall business plan. I put this list here first on the personal website using my non business persona to get it out and to document it for myself. There are more we could add but for now this will do.
There are books I read which leave me empty. Not because they were not good, because I simply did not want them to end. On occasion I have remedied this sense of loss by flipping the pages to the beginning and reading it all over.
John Steinbeck’s The Pearl is one of those books. I remember coming to the end and asking myself, “What did I just read?” I wanted to remain in La Paz and was not ready to leave Kino, Juana and Coyotito. Steinbeck took me to a places I was not ready to leave.
I Heard the Owl Call My Name is a lesser known book written by Margaret Craven. It had the same effect on me as The Pearl did. Her first novel published in 1967 in her mid 60’s, the setting is Kingcome in British Columbia where First Nation people have lived for thousands of years. This is where Mark Brian, a young vicar is sent by the Bishop.
Even today as I think about these books I feel the profound sense of loneliness, starting deep inside me after just a few pages in. The loneliness I found in these books has never resolved itself when I return to their pages.
Okay maybe a bit of a harsh title but worth thinking about. Billions of people in the world play and drink water from a source where their own piss and shit flows to. Watching the first Netflix episode of “Inside Bill’s Brain” you understand what a monumental problem this is. Children are dying from diarrhea because of the lack of sanitation where they live and Bill and Melinda Gates set out to look for solutions after reading an article written by Nicholas Kristof.
I’ll admit I was uncomfortable watching the episode so focused on human waste yet at the end I was inspired by the story and the journey. If you have Netflix it is well worth watching and learning, but perhaps not during dinner.
A documentary that tells Bill Gates’ life story as he pursues solutions to some of the world’s most complex problems.
If you have not watched the movie Spotlight or if it has been a while or if you did not really pay attention it is worth seeing right now. It is on Netflix now and I’m not sure for how much longer.
It is the devastating story of how the Catholic Church covered up years of predatory sexual abuse committed by priests and others.
The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core.
Now I’ve watched this movie several times over the past few months to study great writing and to think about how systems work and why we need to know more about them. How does a system like the Catholic Church allow this to happen and let it go on for years? How did it not protect thousands of victims? It wasn’t just in Boston, it was discovered to be a global problem. Wherever the Catholic Church was it most likely had priests who were sexual predators. In the end you realize the system enabled it. The Catholic Church covered it up and then moved the offending priests to other positions where they abused all over again.
The same thing has happened in the Boy Scouts. There are over 82,000 sexual abuse claims against the Boy Scouts of America. Keep it quiet and cover it up.
Everyone is a part of many systems to varying degrees. It is important to identify the systems we are a part of and look critically at those systems. Are they good or bad? What is the history of the system? Systems influence our daily life and sometimes they make our lives easier and sometimes they make our lives more difficult. Systems which benefit me may put others at a disadvantage or do outright harm to them. This is where the systems break down.
Have you heard about Humans of New York? Created by Brandon Stanton it has over 25 Million Followers. A few years ago I had the privilege to hear him in person with my daughter Jessica. It was her Christmas gift to me. Tim Ferriss interview Brandon and if you need a great listen this weekend check this out.
You can fast forward through the first part until you get to the interview. Brandon lays is all out when talking about his journey.
Understanding constraints can help you get things done. At the same time they can help you do better work and create better stuff. Seth Godin writes about this in his new book “The Practice” and he too recognizes having constraints enhances the creative process.
It is worth studying. I’ll give you an example. Time is often a constraint when you are working on a project. If there is not a deadline you are likely to get the project done. With the deadline of let’s say, the end of the week, you now know you need to have something done and this will force you to do two things. The first thing is you will get to work to meet the deadline. The second is you will accept your work even if it is not perfect. You only had so much time.
Constraints can also be resources, money, size, materials and many more things. You are more creative about preparing dinner if you only have a few items to work with in your refrigerator. The constraints will make you more creative. I am not explaining this the way I would like however my constraint is I want you to hear about this. So as flawed as this post is you have it in your hand.
Understanding and embracing constraints will help you in every area of your life and give you the courage to put your work out there. Perfect never comes.
You might be interested in the video. If you don’t have the time here are a few quotes from the TedTalk. Thank you for Ding Ling for providing this summary.
I have two WordPress personas. One is JDougMar and the other is PeterDoug. When I first worked with WordPress I created an account with the user name JDougmar. When I started to create a business web site for Marshall+Viliesis I created a WordPress account for the partnership and decided to call it PeterDoug. At the time I did not know I was creating a second WordPress persona.
It is easy to stick with both and so I will always have the reminder that partnership is important and I some may remember me as PeterDoug long after I am gone.
Having two of these personas has required me to switch back and forth between accounts and since I spend more time on the work side you will see more posts from PeterDoug but it is still me.
I came across this today. If this posts correctly and you click on the picture of Chuck Heston it should take you to the Twitter thread. This is a series of 25 posts and it is rather fascinating and it will make you think.
The pluralistic.net link takes you elsewhere. My focus here is on the Twitter Thread.
“We create systems to make things easier.” – Andre Henry
This is a revisit to a post made back in July of 2020.
Now past Election Day it is worth taking a few moments to contemplate how everyday our lives are made better or less better by all of the systems we are a part of.
There are natural systems and human created systems. We can sometimes alter natural systems through our actions and creations. The systems I am most interested in are those we created. They were all created to solve a problem.
We like systems which make our lives better and we do not like the ones which make life more difficult. Understand those we do not particularly care for were put in place by other people to make their lives easier. Some systems I suppose are Zero Sum in nature. For a system to work enough people have to agree about its structure.
I could write from now until the end of time about systems but mostly I want us to think about them and take a hard look at the origins of those we are all a part of. I want us to think about the good and the bad. Think about why these systems exist, who they are for and the problems they were created to solve.