Connecting Insights: 10/31/16

I spend a lot of time reading — books, articles, op-eds, blogs, newsletters, the backs of shampoo bottles — you name it. My aim here is to share with you every one to two weeks my favorites — those that provoked in me some movement of energy, insight or interesting question(s). Topics will vary widely, from Machine Learning to Spirituality, and will often connect in unexpected ways. This week: American Interventionism, Corporate Culture and Conflict, and Virtual Reality.

Photographer: mindluge (image cropped by author)
  1. (Podcast) Shouldering the Burden of History (from: Waking Up With Sam Harris) — I love listening to two smart, interesting people discuss big ideas, especially when they don’t always agree. Sam Harris is a neuroscientist and philosopher who tackles some of the big questions of our time, and Dan Carlin is the host of two of my favorite podcasts (Common Sense and Hardcore History) and never fails to bring into the room context and perspective, two things that as a society we chronically ignore. In this conversation, they discuss topics ranging from American interventionism, the war on terror and domestic perspectives of our role in the world. I don’t agree with these gentleman on a number of points, but I appreciate their willingness to dialogue and put opposing perspectives into the room together. If I could change anything its that once in awhile I would have loved for them to step back from debate mode and ask “What’s really here? What’s the deeper question we’re dancing around?” [2 awesome hours of listening — great for road trips or running]
  2. Every Founder Should Be Live Streaming — Here’s Why (from: Mitchell Harper on Medium) — Harper brings up an interesting idea here, that founders and leaders should connect with their customers in close to real time using new live streaming apps, though I think Harper’s reasoning here may be missing far more valuable benefits from this: 1) Live streaming your thoughts and impressions on what your business is or could be will only help you process and solidify the answers to those questions, 2) By being vulnerable and transparent you’re increasing trust, and 3) Consumers want more than functionality and style now, they want a narrative they can relate to — including the “trust and like-ability” Harper mentions. I don’t think companies whose CEO fails to do this will be left behind, but I think companies that fail to do this at all certainly run the risk. [4 min read]
  3. The Tyranny of Positivity is Killing Your Company Culture (from: Inc. Magazine) — We’ve entered a professional world where all conflict, including healthy conflict, is avoided like a plague. But what we’re forgetting is that great ideas and changes don’t come from places of comfort, they come from sharp edges and times of rough sandpaper-like grit. We’ve abandoned our abilities to make space for seemingly negative emotions and to help each other navigate through them and find out what’s really there. Perhaps this is what the article refers to as “emotional agility”. In the workplace we tend to treat emotional conversations one of two ways, we either feed into the other person’s emotions, or run from them. Rarely do we get curious about it and wade through the discomfort to find the deeper truth. [3 min read]
  4. What The Next Few Years Look Like For VR (from: Kyle Russel on Medium) — I’m enamored with Virtual Reality. I think it has the potential to accelerate growth in our individual and collective consciousness like nothing the world has ever seen. It’s already proven to increase empathy, decrease physical pain, and allow people to see the world literally from someone else’s perspective. (Perhaps it can even help companies train leaders to live-stream their company’s story or handle healthy conflict, or even help Americans understand terrorism…) If you’re at all interested in VR Russell does a great summary here of where VR is, and where it’s likely to be in the next few years, focusing on the consumer and gamer markets. And just remember, the VR we have now is basically analogous to the Atari 2600 or the brick cell phones. In other words, we’re only just beginning to understand what’s possible. [8 min read]
  5. Insanely Virtual (from: The Economist) — Sticking with the VR theme I included this article because it sheds a different light on VR and where it’s likely to go. Whereas the prior article sees expansion in the individual consumer market, this article points out that commercial use is already exploding in China, despite the technology’s beta-like performance. The first time I put a basic NY Times cardboard VR adapter for a cell phone on my head I was awestruck. And someone had to tell me to move my head around! I was interacting with the VR headset like it was a static movie screen because a static screen is the only think I had ever known. With just the turn or tilt of my head, I was suddenly walking and looking around the streets of Kathmandu. [5 min read]