09 February 2010

Professional Advice & Finger Food

The day I turned 50 an AARP application arrived in the mail. Screw AARP.

One advantage of being a gray beard is that the Ski Patrol lets you stray outside the ski area boundaries without bothering to check your pack for an avalanche beacon or a shovel. 
The Ski Patroller assumes you've had a good life and is comfortable knowing that hypothermia is a pleasant way to die. 

The other advantage is that one earns the right to give advice knowing it's rude for polite folk not to listen to gray beards.

Professional Advice
  1. Be Flexible
  2. Cultivate Humility
  3. Question Assumptions
Be Flexible

If someone gives you a doll-house-sized white plate attached to a ring, then make a tiny sandwich and call it finger food.

Longevity in the work force depends on Yoga and Jujitsu rather than Power Lifting grunts and Bruce Lee theatrics.

Make it a habit to be flexible, agile, and accommodating. You might think you're destined to be a tennis ball...
I think Pringles original intention was to make tennis balls... but on the day the rubber was supposed to show up a truckload of potatoes came. Pringles is a laid-back company, so they just said, "Fuck it, cut em up!"

   ~Mitch Hedberg

Cultivate Humility

One could spend a life seeding and watering humility, then never have a bumper crop. That's okay. The penultimate in humility is an okay crop. The ultimate in humility is its dastardly flip-side hubris.

You'll probably never have the right amount of humility. Still, you can be diligent about weeding out hubris.
We are all one black swan from being homeless.

   ~Bobtuse
Toyota's hubris is about to tank its quality reputation (see How Toyota Can Find Its Way Back). The black swan of electromagnetic interference that seems to be causing gas pedals to stick has Toyota engineers scratching their heads and Toyota management too proud to fess up to systematic flaws.

Question Assumptions

Be as pesky as a corn-stealing crow with assumptions. It's human nature to be lazy so most of us formulate strategies based on notions and whims, rather than on data. Is what you think is true really true?
If we worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true really is true, then there would be little hope for advance

   ~Orville Wright
Usually data are better than notions and whims. VP of Search Products & User Experience at Google Marissa Mayer expresses a familiar Google mantra,
Data is apolitical. 
Of course, data might be biased, misunderstood or misapplied. If your assumptions are based on data, are you collecting the right data?

There are assumptions made in this seemingly far-fetched laissez-faire capitalism scenario:
First sharks grow legs to become LAND Sharks. Then LAND sharks morph into LOAN sharks. These LOAN sharks offer unsecured loans to unsuspecting consumers at astronomical rates by burying the terms of the loans in fine print.
Implausible? Perhaps. Yet stranger things have happened.

Most things we consider to be facts are little more than hypotheses that have yet to be disproven.