Learning

Why We Crave Joining Exclusive Groups

Why We Crave Joining Exclusive Groups

In school we were all “equal”. As pupils, part of mass education program, we had no formal way to organise ourselves into preference based groups. But we did it anyway. I can bet that cool kids formed a very tight band in your school, one where admission was invitation only. You may have been part of one but the majority was excluded from the cool kids club and chose to join geekier ones. 

The behaviour does not change after school. Unlike schools, workplaces have very deep formal hierarchies. But the tendency to group ourselves into affinity-driven informal groups remains. In any corporation there are unofficial crowds where decisions are being made. It’s what people mean when they complain that there is too much politics in a company or that decisions are not transparent enough. 

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The Twilight of Humanity & the Rise of Home Deus

The Twilight of Humanity & the Rise of Home Deus

I have a tendency to avoid hyped books. Sapiens and its sequel, Homo Deus, were definitely part of this category, having been praised by presidents or thought leaders (whatever that means). But an article about the meditative practice of the author, who’s also a jewish gay historian, spiked my interest. So.... I finally read both of them.

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Armchair Strategising, Marx and Entrepreneurship

Armchair Strategising, Marx and Entrepreneurship

Marx reminds me of something that I call “armchair strategising”: felling in love with my own thoughts and  starting to believe that my grand theory of the world is somehow an accurate representation of it. Rather than the distorted, myopic interpretation that it really is.  

Like Marx, there is a large group of workers who are very susceptible to be caught in this narrative fallacy. I am part of this group: Entrepreneurs, product managers, executives. Knowledge workers in general, people working with abstract concepts and shipping equally abstract outputs: plans, strategies, models etc. Like Marx the theories we put forward are not just a hedonistic compressions that we use to entertain ourselves during otherwise boring cocktail parties. Our beliefs are tools in our daily work. 

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How do we protect ourselves against fake news?

How do we protect ourselves against fake news?

My dad, a high-school history teacher, discovered "fake news" in early 2000s. He was always a big believer in self-study and gave his students assignments to encourage this behaviour. The assignment that sparked his observation asked the students to come up with a general characterisation of Mao's regime. He gave this assignment prior to any actual teaching about the period, expecting his pupils to research the period using the Internet. Most of the papers were exactly what you would expect, reproducing the main accepted narrative of communism gone wrong, persecution and death. As with these home-works originality was never a strong mark, a lot of the papers being copy-pasted from various websites. 

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Why do things catch on and become viral?

Why do things catch on and become viral?

I was always curious about the way people make decisions as this could have a huge impact on the products I may be building or the content that I put out. In the past I read all the typical popular books claiming to offer a scientific deconstruction of human behaviour. "Contagious" by Jonah Berger, a Wharton professor of marketing, is my most recent read in this field of behavioral economics. Jonah's book is focusing on virality and promises to offer a theory of virality and to answer the million dollar question: "Why do things catch on?".

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How to Grok Everything You Read

New year, new resolutions. And a very popular and recurring item on everyone's list is the desire to read more in the new year. Reading more books, not Facebook statuses.  I now find it a bit peculiar how most people focus on quantity when it comes to reading. And to quote from Napoleon (while completely butchering the context), "quantity has a quality of its own". But I am yet to find someone who wants to increase the quality of the book reading.  Quality in this context can be a complicated topic, but let's try to narrowing down by focusing on memorization andunderstanding.

Let me start by asking you "Do you know the books you read last year?". If you are like most people, this question alone will trip you into opening your Kindle, Audible, thinking about the paper books you have on the nightstand etc.  What if we were to step it up a notch and I would ask you to summarize the main ideas from one of them. I did that a few times with some close ones and all I got back was blabbing. Ask about a book from 3 years ago and very few people can recall reading the book in the first place, let alone the content that they remember. We want to read more but even if we do, we seem to forget most of it anyway. Why bother then?

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