Monthly Archives: November 2017

Thanksgiving: An Attitude of Gratitude

This is a holiday about gratitude, about family and about possibility. It brings people together to celebrate the harvest, to look each other in the eye and share something magical.

What is Gratitude, really?

Gratitude is a virtue. Gratitude is a habit. It is the virtue that Job leaned on during challenging times in his life. Gratitude is a catalyst to all christlike attributes. A thankful heart is a parent of all virtues. Practicing gratitude allows you to experience more happiness, improve your mental health, and be more productive. It is a choice. It is not difficult. But it is easy not to do. You can choose to develop a habit of gratitude and gain the benefits. Or you can allow yourself to slip into negative thoughts, walking around muttering to yourself, “I hate my life.” Gratitude is a disposition. A way of life that stands independent of our current situation.

How does Gratitude Help You . . . At Work?

Those who are happy experience 31% higher productivity, 37% higher sales, 3x greater creativity and 23% fewer fatigue symptoms. Happy people are also up to 10x more engaged, 40% more likely to receive a promotion, and 39% more likely to live to age 94.

Master this one skill and you become invincible! When something bad happens in your life, look for three great things in your life. If you can learn how to position your mind in gratitude, things cannot hold you down. It’s impossible to take a grateful person and beat them down! It’s like a superpower. You can become invincible just by being grateful. As you build this muscle of gratitude, you’ll begin to even feel grateful for the hard times. The hard times make you tough. The hard times tear you down, so you can build a stronger you!

Take Advantage of the 2-20 Rule.

Shouldy Thinking. There are two forms of “Shouldy thinking”. Shouldy is a play on words: it sounds like sh*tty and is at the core the first type. If gratitude develops happiness, then entitlement develops depression. Entitlement is when you believe something should (shouldy) be happening that isn’t. You are not owed anything. Step out of expectation into genuine appreciation & gratitude.

That is not to say that there are not real injustices in the world that should be remedied. But let me ask you, would you be better prepared to tackle these injustices with a clear positive mind, or a crippled negative mind? This isn’t about the world and what everyone else does, this is about your inner place.

The second form of shouldy thinking is (are?) automatic negative thoughts. Or ANTs. Like real ants these just creep up on you. And there are more than one.

Did you know your brain is 2% of your body’s weight but consumes 20% of the calories you consume. This thanksgiving think about that. Seriously. One fifth, that is 400 calories, or a piece of pumpkin pie. What you eat affects what you think, that is the 2-20 rule.

It is a gratitude that heals the heart and expands the mind.

What do I have to be grateful for when my world is falling apart?

We can choose to limit our gratitude, based on the blessings we feel we lack. But those who set aside the bottle of bitterness and lift instead the goblet of gratitude can find a purifying drink of healing, peace, and understanding. It might sound contrary to the wisdom of the world to suggest that one who is burdened with sorrow should give thanks to God.

It is easy to be grateful for things when life seems to be going your way. But what do you do when what you wish for is far out of reach? It is difficult to develop a spirit of gratitude if our thankfulness is proportional to the number of blessings we can count. Instead of being thankful for your circumstances, focus on being thankful in your circumstances.​

In times of distress expressing gratitude does not require you to also be pleased with your circumstance. It does not stop you from looking beyond present-day challenges and seeing through eyes of faith what can be. This is not a gratitude of the lips but of the soul. It is a gratitude that heals the heart and expands the mind.​

Develop Gratitude with this ONE simple tool. And it’s FREE!​

Write down three new things that make you happy. Each day, see if you can rewire your brain’s for greater optimism and benefit from a boost of happiness. By actively finding ways to practice gratitude, joy and social connection, your brain will retain a pattern of scanning the world for the positive first rather than the negative. You can also use journaling time by recognizing negative thoughts (ANTs) and challenging their validity. Recognizing them for what they are is 70% of the battle.​

There are some common results you will experience by doing this simple gratitude journal. Many experience feeling calm, re-energized, and more ready to tackle the day; the ability to see things more clearly, feeling grounded, seeing opportunities rather than limitations; and the joy of spreading positivity to others.​

References & Additional Reading:

I straight up stole most of this blog from different sources that are greater than I. If this was a school assignment I’d get hit for plagiarism, no doubt. But this isn’t a school assignment. If I was a better person with more time I could write something more original. The reality is my deadline has passed and frankly my dear I don’t give a damn.

Here they are. Happy Thanksgiving.

Grateful In Any Circumstance - Dieter F Uchtdorf

The Thanksgiving Reader - Seth Godin

The Happiness Advantage - Shawn Achor

Hume’s Turkey: A Tale of Thanksgiving.

Like most turkeys, Hume's turkey lives on a farm. From this turkey's perspective life is good. Of course, there are bad days: the weather might turn cold, the older turkeys might box him out from the best seed and grass, a fox might get into the coupe. Life is good because of the farmer. The farmer loves his turkeys.

The farmer keeps the coup, which protects the turkey from the weather. The farmer defends the turkey from the fox. The farmer makes sure the turkey gets enough to eat. The turkey is happy because the farmer loves him.

The turkey lives his life, without concern for the future. The turkey has no way of knowing, based on experience, that he will soon be dinner.

We put ourselves at risk when looking to the past as a predictor of what will be. That is the problem with knowledge gained from induction, that is the turkey's dilemma. 

Bertrand Russell is credited with the idea of the turkey's dillema in highlighting the holes in David Humes arguments about knowledge gained by induction.

Adapted from The Black Swan, by Nassim Taleb.

How Great Leaders Inspire Action

Often I get a question that reveals a fundamental mistake we all make every day.

This is my answer.

It gets asked a lot. Maybe. Maybe it's just that to a hammer everything is a nail.

This is my hammer.

You might be leading a team, crafting the bullet points on your resume, making a recommendation on Facebook. What do you say to persuade others to take action?

What do you say?

Jamie Dimon puts it like this, "Leadership is relentless storytelling. We all forget. We all need to be reminded of our purpose." So,

What's your story?

​The Mistake That Is Costing You

​See if you catch yourself doing this the next time you have to write a performance evaluation. Do you focus on what you did? Take a look at your resume. What is the focus? Is it on what you did? Think of the last good movie you saw or book you read. In the comments below, write me a recommendation for why I should see / read it.

Are you tempted to give away the plot? You (and just about everyone else) is focused to much on the what.

You need to start with Why. Simon Sinek wrote a whole book on why. But you can get away with just watching the TED talk.

Anyone (and everyone) can tell you what they do.

Some can talk about how. This is 90% of what marketers will focus on: differentiating value proposition, proprietary process, secret sauce, or USP (unique selling proposition).

Very few people will talk about Why, Purpose, Cause, Belief. Why do you get out of bed in the morning? Why should anyone care? People don't buy what you do they buy why you do it. And the what serves as the proof of what you believe.

The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe. It is not making money; that is a result. Start with Why, then follow it up with How and What.

How to Start with Why​

​I bought Start With Why hoping to learn how to start with Why. It's a good read. I've read and re-read it. The book comes up short at the end where Sinek up sells a $100 course to help you find your why. I opted to figure it out on my own. It took a little over a year to nail down a repeatable process. But it was free! If you are interested in learning how I did it, keep reading.

Articulating your Why is difficult. It's innately fuzzy. Your goal is to bring it into sharp focus. That might take some time. Just keep coming back to it.

My first attempts were heavily influenced by the Strengths Finder 2.0 Assessment. I highly recommend this exercise. It's free when you purchase the book, Strengths Finder 2.0. This is a great tool if you are looking for an objective measure of your innate strengths. Here is the catch, even as I explored my strengths I knew that strengths are not the same as purpose. This answers the question How, not Why. And that is valuable. Your strengths set you apart from the crowd, they are your USP, your secret sauce. So the exercise is worth taking the time to do. It's just not the final destination.

It's ironic that the question Simon Sinek leaves unanswered in his TED talk is answered by another TED talk: How to know your life purpose in 5 minutes by Adam Leipzig.

I'm sure you have heard of the idea of an elevator pitch. Adam goes through a series of questions so you can articulate yours in under five minutes: your own elevator pitch that starts with why. You can check out mine on my LinkedIn Profile. Or my Instagram Bio. Even the intro of my Facebook page.

​But that is not going to be enough. It isn't going to weather the storm. And the storms will come. Believe that.

What's It All For?

What's it all for? Tour bus, studio, and the fans

What's it all for? Chicks and whips with twenty inch rims

What's it all for? To feed my family and my friends

What's it all for? To change your world the best I can

~ What's It All For​

Bazaar Royale

The final piece came after I read Mark Manson's The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck. I think he is a terrific writer. He utilizes a strong voice (and language, consider yourself warned).

I could not have come across his book at a better time, it was actually one of the most awful times in my life. I was suffering from shouldy values. One in particular, which I'll call "big house nice car." The house wasn't even that big, just bigger than mine. The car wasn't that nice, just nice to have. And somehow this justification made it less shallow. Have you ever heard someone say,

"When I'm done with school . . . "

"When I get that internship . . . "

"When I graduate . . . "

"When I get a job  . . . "

"When I get a better paying job that is actually in my field . . . "

"Once I make X per year . . .

. . . then I'll be happy / set / successful."

Have you ever heard those words? Was it you saying them? It was definitely me. These are dangerous words. They are a symptom of shouldy values.

The cure for shouldy values is to be mindful of great values. Your great values. Where I sit, people outsource this type of thinking to religion. Don't. For sure this is a great pool to draw from but, do your own homework. It's actually a fun exercise.

The Cure For Shouldy Values​

You are going to fill out bracket for your values. Think March Madness, but with values.

I've started you off with a pretty good list of values. Go through this list or feel free to google "list of values" yourself. Write down the ones that resonate with you on a post-it notes. One per note. Don't hold back, if a word catches your eye, write it on a post-it.​

​Don't skip this next step because if you do you will need to start over. You should have a pile of post-it notes now. Divide these post-its into categories: Personal Attributes, Activities, Relationships, Things, Skills. It's easiest to do this with Post-It notes. You might value certain categories more than others. It will become clear why this matters in the last step.

Finally you are going to fill a bracket hold a tournament (think March Madness) for each category. Each value is going to compete against another value. Consider a pair of Post-It notes. If you canonly have one, which do you choose to keep? The keeper advances to the next round. Do this until you have a clear winner for each category.

The categories are important because you might value one category over another. I found this was the case with me. Knowledge is one of my top values, but it is a thing and of all the categories I value things the least. Knowledge ended up getting killed by values in other categories. I saw it dropping down the ranks and knew something needed to change.

Which, brings me to the final step. The bracket is designed to spur your own intuition. It's not designed to be an objective measure. This isn't Highlander, there can be more than one. I actually created a top ten list for each category. You might even need different categories, if you do I'd like to know about it. Really. Tell me about it.

Tell Me Your Story.​

​Jamie Dimon once said, "Leadership is relentless storytelling. We all forget. We all need to be reminded of our purpose. So,

Tell me your story.

Now that you have done all of this work,

what story is yours to tell?

It's a story about you, your tribe, and what you do for them.

It starts with what you believe, what you value. But it can't just be about you. Your story is about what you do to help your tribe to reach their ideal, achieve their goals, or overcome their trials. You need to be really clear about who you are, what you believe and how you stand out. You need to be clear so you can clearly communicate to your tribe. How else will they know? If they share your values your Why will resonate with them. This is your contribution, what you do to serve them.​


A Look At the Fundamental Premise of The Book of Mormon Musical

A non-LDS friend of mine has been listening to the Book of Mormon musical on Pandora. That sparked some curiosity this week and I decided to write a reboot of a post I published . . . . a long time ago. #preIPHONE 

The Book of Mormon Musical is about a Mormon missionary called to serve in Uganda. Of course he doesn't know Uganda is in Africa because he is a religious character in American media. In America people of faith are portrayed as one of two stereotypes: (1) uneducated & naive, or (2) bat-shit crazy. In Africa he is forced to confront the harsh realities of life. This experience reveals his religious dogma as insufficient at best.

The premise is that a faith based life is too simple and naive to offer real help for the complex realities of life.​

Curiosity piqued. Just what does the church do in Africa? I looked up some numbers. Just the facts; no song and dance.

Number of Beneficiaries of Humanitarian Aid (2003 - 2010)

Immunizations (with other organizations)42,465,500
Clean Water3,953,601
Vision Care133,709
Neonatal Resuscitation Training53,130
Food Production/Nutrition1,000
Other health initiatives total100
Total beneficiaries46,644,893

Africa Church Statistics

Total Church Membership














I don't know if you have ever seen someone receive a wheelchair for the first time. I've seen a woman drag herself across the dirt floor to climb into her first wheel chair. 

It was transformative. She literally became a person in front of me. And it shames me to admit I couldn't see her until that point.

Looking at the facts, it looks like the church is doing a lot. And judging by the growth from 2010 to now, it looks like the message resonates.

I'm not hating on the musical. I haven't seen it. I'm listening to the soundtrack on Spotify. So far it's been really funny . . . and offensive. But still really funny. You know what they say? The book is always better.

I definitely want to pursue a PhD at some point, maybe.

I definitely want to do original research and forward the common knowledge of the developer space. Might as well get a PhD while I'm at it.

Still I've been shopping for a Master's degree. A lot of companies offer some type of leadership development / mentoring. If you combined that with Corsera work I'm sure I could match the curriculum of most MBA programs. I could create a more tailored program that would be preferable*. That is obviously not the same as a master's. But.

Let's look at the value gap between the two. Let's assume simple numbers. I make 50k and by getting a masters I expect to increase my earnings to 100k. Even if I finance my education, paying three times as much over time, It is a 90k investment over several years with a return of an additional 2.1 million in earnings over the course of my working life. So. No brainer right?

Well. No. I know plenty of MBAs starting around 60k. If you invest the same 90k in education for and additional 10k a year then you will break even for ten years to pocket an additional 234k over your working life. Valuing the additional time and effort, I don't think it is worth it.

With Corsera there is considerably less risk. It's $50 a month (about $1800 for three years). Corsera offers less risk, but at a cost. The market values an MBA more than comparable course work. So all things equal an MBA candidate should win out over someone who completed coursework on Corsera.

Should. But.

There is the argument that schools don't add value to employees. They are tools we use to signal employers. So if you have enough drive does it matter? I think it does. School will open doors.

There is also the marginal utility of additional earnings. Once you get over 76k the marginal utility of a dollar starts tapering off. Basically, you will have nicer stuff but you will not be any happier. More people are starting to realize that. Big house nice car is a dated value.

My question. Is an MBA 16 times better than online coursework? It costs 16 times as much. No doubt it is better, but 16 times better?

*Any program would have to include some type of social networking component.​

Difference in Difference Estimation [Notes]

difference in difference estimation

Difference in Difference estimation is a linear regression methodology used to analyse the effect of some event in time (the treatment) by comparing results over time. The idea is to compare data before and after the treatment. If the treatment was effective then you will find material differences in the outcomes for the target variable, or Y.

Before and After. This is a basic comparison of means for the time periods before and after treatment. For this specification we assume the target (Y) in the post-treatment period is equal to the target (Y) in the pre-treatment period in the absence of treatment. Thus, any change is attributable to the treatment.

Difference in Difference estimation is the natural extension of the before and after analysis is to include a control group for comparison. The difference in difference specification allows us to do this. We can compare Y as we did for the before and after analysis. We can also compare Ys between treated and untreated groups. To complete a difference in difference specification we use two dummy variables that partition the sample into four groups. The first dummy variable, treatment, partitions the sample in two halves based on their treatment status. The second dummy variable, post, partitions the halves in quarters based on the time period. We then interact treatment and post (Post*Treatment); the coefficient on Post*Treatment estimates the statistical difference in Y.

​The Model:

Y = B0 + B1*Post + B2*Treatment + B3*Post*Treatment.

  • Y, is the target variable we are interested in estimating.
  • Post, is a binary dummy variable indicating whether an observation is in the post treatment period.
  • Treatment, is a binary dummy variable indicating whether an received treatment or not.
  • B3 is the estimator, the coefficient on Post*Treatment.

Four Aspects of Leadership You Need To Know About

It is easy to get overwhelmed or even lost because of the many niches within the leadership & business development genre. I read a lot in this space. The more I read the more I feel I need to read. It can be discouraging. It is easier for you to digest if you break it down into chunks. Here are four to start: building relationships, business acumen, self awareness, & organizational strategy.

Building Relationships. Do you want to be my friend? Sometimes that is all it takes. My kids do it all the time. Building leadership starts with positive and effective relationships. This is a core competency.

Business Acumen. You need to be able to do something, attain goals with minimum guidance. Otherwise you are just hanging out. This includes the competencies of teamwork, performance & motivation. Although it also encompasses technical skills, managing work, and industry knowledge.

Self Awareness. Self awareness is the bud that flowers into leadership. If you think of these as stages then this is where a top performer starts to become a leader. That is why a lot of training starts here. Self awareness includes the competences of vision & values, sustainability, resilience, and emotional intelligence.

Organizational strategy. The ability to set the vision and direction for the long term success of the organization. Its comprised of the following competencies: political acumen, awareness. change, culture.

12 Core Competencies of Leadership

  1. Building Relationships
  2. Teamwork
  3. Performance
  4. Motivation
  5. Vision & Values
  6. Sustainability
  7. Resilience
  8. Emotional intelligence
  9. Political Acumen
  10. Awareness
  11. Change
  12. Culture

It's impossible to tackle all of them at once. That is the point of chunking it down. Pick one. Make a four to six week plan to focus on a skill in your chosen competency. Work to actively change your behaviors and habits. Habits drive change. It takes 4 to 6 weeks groove the behavioral and neurological pathways of the new habit you want to create. In a year to a year and a half you can make meaningful progress in each of the 12 competencies.

Some additional tips for developing leadership.

Create a masterminds group with professional peers. Focus: What is working?What needs improvement? Share challenges and successes. Support each other with suggestions, encouragement, ideas for improvement. Network to create mutually beneficial opportunities.

Attend leadership development programs. Some ideas on where to look for programs: at work, local universities, non-profits, LinkedIn Learning, Coursera.

Form a leadership development group. Read a book or take a course and come together to discuss implementing the changes.

Data Driven Leadership

Why talk about leadership on a blog about data? We have not talked about data or decision making. I don't have a lot of time to write. I debated including leadership as a thread of this blog. I decided the topic merited inclusion.

These 12 competencies are inputs that go into decisions. For a data driven organization, a data savvy manager, to make the best use of data an understanding of leadership theory is needed. The theory informs a leader of the right questions to ask when mining data.