Questioning the obvious

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.

Mark Twain

Listening to this How to: Academy podcast raised loads of questions in me regarding online data safety and privacy, and reminded me of this Mark Twain quote.

In the podcast, Roger McNamee talks to Matthew Stadlen about his reckoning with the failure of Mark Zuckerberg to recognise the damage he is doing.

Roger McNamee was Mark Zuckerberg’s mentor in the early days of Facebook. He’s helped to create the behemoth, and now, he is devoted to stopping it.

Facebook is a platform that enables people to connect and great things to be shared, but at the same time, it also enables the spread of bad stuff. Question is whether Facebook is responsible as an enabler, or not.

This podcast interview is an eyebrow-raising conversation and a must-listen for sure. Just like The Great Hack on Netflix!

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Daniel Markovits on the meritocracy myth

This week, I attended a very illuminating talk, by Daniel Markovits, Professor of Law at the Yale Law School. In his new book ‘The Meritocracy Trap’, he delivers a fierce indictment of a system he grew up in and is still part of. A system which, he says, prizes achievement above all else, making everyone—even the rich—miserable. He argues that this is undermining democracy.

Ever since I’ve known about the concept of meritocracy, I thought about it very positively. Reading Principles from Ray Dalio reinforced this.

Ray Dalio speaks of idea meritocracy as a decision-making system in business where the best ideas win out. It’s a a system that brings together smart, independent thinkers and has them productively disagree to come up with the best collective thinking and resolve their disagreements in a believability-weighted way. He argues that this will outperform any other decision-making system.

Dalio believes in building a culture where everyone weighs in – but also where everyone knows each other’s strengths and weaknesses, so you know how to best weigh opinions.

Sounds good to me.

Markovits looks at meritocracy from an economical, philosophical and sociological point of view. One of his key arguments is that today’s wealthy, unlike the aristocracy of old, overwhelmingly work for a living, often in soul-crushing “extreme jobs” that demand 60, 80, even 100 hours a week.

By his calculation, about 75 percent of the top 1 percent’s increase in the share of national income from roughly 1970 to the present came from returns on labor, not capital.

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He gives examples where hardworking outsiders no longer enjoy genuine opportunity.

He argues that upward mobility has become a fantasy, and that the embattled middle classes are now more likely to sink into the working poor than to rise into the professional elite.

His book says meritocracy has created a competition that, even when everyone plays by the rules, only the rich can win.

Thought-provoking!

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“I’ve done all I can …”

A self-limiting phrase that hinders progress and limits thinking.

Instead, asking the question ‘what could I have done differently’, ‘was there something I didn’t try and I could have’ – that’s what brings progress.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”

Albert Einstein

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Creativity & ego – a lesson from Jeong Kwan

Volume 3 of the Netflix documentary series Chef’s table kicks off with South Korean buddhist nun Jeong Kwan who approaches cooking as a spiritual practice. Her meals have left some of the world’s most famous and best chefs in awe.

As I love fine dining and am curious about different philosophies, different ways of thinking and approaching things, it was mind-blowing to watch this particular episode.

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At one point, Jeong Kwan shares a valuable lesson:

Creativity and ego cannot go together. 

If you free yourself for the comparing and jealous mind, your creativity opens up endlessly. Just as water springs from a fountain, creativity springs from every moment. 

You must not be your own obstacle. 

You must not be owned by the environment you are in. You must own the environment, the phenomenal world around you. You must be able to freely move in and out of your mind. This is being free. 

There’s no way you can’t open up your creativity. There is no ego to speak of. 

Beautiful thoughts that may resonate with you too especially if you’re in the creative industry.

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