Sunday, October 23, 2011

On Week 42 of the Year, on book 45

Checking in on Serial Experiments Bett on week 42 of 2011. I started with the goal of a book a week, and I am on schedule to be three books ahead. This is a good thing since next month I am participating in National Novel Writing Month. I am very concerned I won't have time for many of my other hobbies. My main goal will be getting the 50k word novel completed in the 30 days of November.

I am bracing myself.
Wish me luck!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Creativity Tools

Last month, September, was National Sketch Writing Month. I did my duty to write one sketch everyday. The first two weeks I found it quite difficult to write a "good" sketch. I wrote anyways. The last two weeks I would get ideas from everywhere. I'd over hear bits of conversation that made me grab my note pad and type it in. The news gave me ample material. I could barely pick which thing I wanted to turn into a sketch from the multitudes of ideas.

This gives me three insights into my creative process which I shall share with you. I am also giving a speech on Creativity at a Creative Communications conference on the 29th. Please come out if you are in the Tampa Bay area.

First, I manufactured motivation. For me being part of an event helped me focus on writing sketches. I had to write them otherwise I wouldn't keep up with everyone else. Know what motivates you. Think back to a time you were productive and recreate it. You can control your life. Manufacture motivation today.

Second, I fed my mind. Once I figured out what made a good sketch, I listened to things around me. I absorbed all the inspiration that was flowering everywhere. I let it soak in. I also started reading other sketches and comedy materials. I tuned my ear to it by feeding my mind.

Third, I sat down and wrote. Sometimes you just need to force yourself to do it. Often when I started writing I had no clue what I was going to write. I sat and put my fingers to the key board on a blank page as an act of faith and started typing. I needed to have the will power to sit and start.

This is just a very high level overview of what I learned. To learn more come out to hear my speech on Saturday Oct 29th.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lead like Oppenheimer

In the Pulitzer Price winning book, American Prometheus, by Kai Bird and Martin J Sherwin, the authors describe the amazing life of J Robert Oppenheimer. What I found amazing was Oppi's leadership during the Manhattan project. I'd like to share the three lessons I learned from the book.

First, Oppenheimer adapted to his environment. Oppi had never led anything more than his lectures before he became the leader of the Manhattan project to develop the atom bomb in 1942. The project slowly grew to staff 130,000 people. In the beginning everyone knew that Oppi was very unprepared. He showed this by creating a very elementary org structure in the beginning. But after only a few months he had adapted to be a skilled administrator. Everyone, even those who didn't like him were amazed at his change. Being adaptable is a key part of leadership. No team or situation will ever be the same as the last one you lead. You have to listen and observe your new situation and adapt.

Second, Oppenheimer was a consensus builder. Often arguments would breakout between scientists and Oppi would listen very carefully to both sides. Then he rephrased each person's argument and when he was done there would be no conflict, just harmony. He did this over and over. He saw both view points and showed how the two sides had much common ground. In this way he built consensus. There was very little time and everyone worked long hours, so each time he cut through the noise and brought the consensus forward, he brought them another step closer to victory. Even if you are not leading a team in such a critical project, you should still build consensus and seek common ground.

Third, Oppi's presence brought clarity to a room. He didn't even need to say anything, but just his being in the room with the team helped them. He brought energy and urgency to the meetings that made everyone be their best. They wanted to be as brilliant as he believed them to be. They were reminded of their mission and focused when he was there. Any leader needs to imbibe her team with that type of focus and energy to make a project successful.

These are the three main leadership lessons I learned from reading about Oppenheimer. I felt very inspired by his leadership and I think everyone can employ these tips in their own situations to be successful.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Learning at Krav Camp

Last weekend I went to Krav Camp. At Krav Camp weekend we learned the basics of self defense against many attacks including choking, grabs, holds, knives, sticks, and guns.

During the time I learned a few lessons that critical to learning a new technique.

First, I trained with a lot of different people. Training with certain ones was incredibly energizing. I thought about each one as I trained. I realized the difference between the ones who energized me and those who didn't was the ones who energized me were giving me 100% of their focus and energy. They brought a level of intensity and realism to each drill. Training with them cemented the techniques in my mind.

Second, deliberate practice became the primary focus. When you learn how to defend your very life, you realize there nothing more important than getting it right. The whole camp focused on deliberate practice and coaching. Deliberate practice ensures that as you get more and more fatigued you will still execute the technique correctly.

Third, I learned how much stamina I have. We trained at 12 hours plus a two hour test. During that time we were physically active in the heat of the Florida day. The final test measured our intensity level after the 12 hours of training. Shihan wanted to know how'd we react to a threat when we were exhausted. He wanted to know if our techniques would fail as we got more and more tired. The tired factor is something we often forget. We need to train for stamina.

Training for 12 hours plus testing really clarified the best way to learn a new technique. I am totally wiped out now, but I am thankful for the experience and for the knowledge of what I am capable.

Check out more about Krav at