The hybrid stategy: Stock and Flow

There are two kinds of quantities in the world. Stock is a static value: money in the bank or trees in the forest. Flow is a rate of change: fifteen dollars an hour or three thousand toothpicks a day. Easy. Too easy.

But I actually think stock and flow is a useful metaphor for media in the 21st century. Here’s what I mean:

  • Flow is the feed. It’s the posts and the tweets. It’s the stream of daily and sub-daily updates that reminds people you exist.
  • Stock is the durable stuff. It’s the content you produce that’s as interesting in two months (or two years) as it is today. It’s what people discover via search. It’s what spreads slowly but surely, building fans over time.

Flow is ascendant these days, for obvious reasons—but I think we neglect stock at our peril. I mean that both in terms of the health of an audience and, like, the health of a soul. Flow is a treadmill, and you can’t spend all of your time running on the treadmill. Well, you can. But then one day you’ll get off and look around and go: oh man. I’ve got nothing here.

I’m not saying you should ignore flow! This is no time to hole up and work in isolation, emerging after years with your work in hand. Everybody will go: huh? Who are you? And even if they don’t—even if your exquisite opus is the talk of the tumblrs for two whole days—if you don’t have flow to plug your new fans into, you’re suffering a huge (get ready for it!) opportunity cost. You’ll have to find those fans all over again next time you emerge from your cave.

(…)

And the real magic trick is to put them both together. To keep the ball bouncing with your flow—to maintain that open channel of communication—while you work on some kick-ass stock in the background. Sacrifice neither. The hybrid strategy.

More here.

 

 

The most powerful animating force of art and creativity

The most significant animating force of great art, Dillard argues1, is the artist’s willingness to hold nothing back and to create, always, with an unflappable generosity of spirit:

One of the few things I know about writing is this: Spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Don’t hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now.

The very impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water.

Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful; it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.

I say the same goes for knowledge workers.


 

 

 

  1. https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/03/28/annie-dillard-writing-the-abundance/ []

On the opposite of confidence

In a recent blog post, Seth Godin states that “the opposite of confident is not-confident. Unsure.”1.

In fact, “not confident” is the absence of confidence, not its opposite – a point well made and illustrated by Taleb in his book Antifragile. For Taleb, the absence of fragility is robustness. And the opposite of fragility is… he couldn’t come up with a word…

What is fragile breaks under external pressure. What does not break under external pressure is robust. But what gets stronger under external pressure? THAT is the opposite of fragility. And for lack of a word that describes this, Taleb called it “antifragility”.

If the opposite of fragility is antifragility then the opposite of confidence is carefree.

 

 

  1. https://seths.blog/2020/08/the-opposite-of-confidence/, accessed 200827 []

Questions for the end of the day

… to be documented in the journal you should keep.

Where did my eyes linger today?

Where was I blind?

Where was I hurt without anyone noticing?

What did I learn today?

What did I read?

What new thoughts visited me?

What differences did I notice in those closest to me?

Whom did I neglect?

Where did I neglect myself?

What did I begin today that might endure?

How were my conversations?

What did I do today for the poor and excluded?

Did I remember the dead today?

Where could I have exposed myself to the risk of something different?

Where did I allow myself to receive love?

With whom did I feel most myself?

What reached me today? How deep did it imprint?

Who saw me today?

What visitations had I from the past and from the future?

What did I avoid today?

From the evidence – why was I given this day?

– John O’Donoghue, To Bless the Space Between Us

 

 

 

On paid employment, work, craft, and spare time

Even if a man’s whole day be spent as a servant of an industrial concern, in his spare time he will make something, if only a window box flower garden.1

A job is not the only work you do. Equating paid employment with work is at the root of the “work-life balance” discussion going nowhere.

What is your craft? What is the thing you do in your spare time? And if the answer is “what is spare time?”, therein lies the rub.

We might need to revisit our view of “time is money”, keep and eye on the family-to-work spillover effect, and wonder what is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?.

 

 

  1. Eric Gill, An Essay on Typography, 2nd paragraph, via laudator temporis acti, accessed 200915 []

We can overcome our empathy deficit

Given our current circumstances after six months of the pandemic, and not being anywhere near a new normal, you would think that we would be sensitive to the realities of the people around us. Well, according to Scientific American, it turns out we’re not.1

Empathy is a powerful force and human beings need it. Here are three things that might help to remedy our collective empathy deficit:

  1. Take the time to ask those you encounter how they are feeling, and really listen. Try to put yourself in their shoes. Remember that we all tend to underestimate other people’s emotional distress, and we’re most likely to do so when those people are different from us.
  2. Remind yourself that almost everyone is at the end of their rope these days. Many people barely have enough energy to handle their own problems, so they don’t have their normal ability to think about yours.
  3. Finally, be aware that what is empathy for one person may not be empathy for another person. It’s not a concept that speaks for itself. Asking your friends, family, and coworkers what empathy is for them might open a new door to understanding and helping those around us.

 

 

  1. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-us-has-an-empathy-deficit accessed 200918 []

A calling, a lifetime dedication to an audacious project, and the interview question

Towering above the nearby blocks in the Eixample district of Barcelona, the Sagrada Família is unmistakable for its colossal scale and its convention-defying architecture.

Looking like a Gothic cathedral seen through a surreal fairytale filter, this is the most audacious project of the influential Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926). More than 135 years after construction began and long after Gaudí’s death it is quite visibly still a work in progress.

Stone Cut is a brief profile of the Japanese sculptor Etsuro Sotoo, who, for 40 years, has made finishing Gaudí’s would-be masterpiece his life’s work. “I was awakened by a piece of stone.”

This last sentence is intriguing.

I say we don’t really know who someone is until we know their story; until we know what brought them here.

Come to think of it, that might be the best way to start a job interview.

Not unlike what doctors and lawyers do:

So, tell us, what brings you here today?

 

See also

Post-covid19 job interview

Questions and their purpose

 

 

 

 

 

Keep track of what really matters

I am a fan of keeping a journal. I keep one myself and I encourage the leaders I work with to do the same.

The format does not really matter (what you thought, what you did, what you said, how you felt, etc.) as long as you record it. By recording it you’re acknowledging that it mattered at the time and you’re making it matter now.

You don’t keep a journal to revisit it. You keep a journal to make a record, to state that your day mattered.

I’m reminded of this by a recent post I read on keeping a Good Times list:

to notice and record the moments and experiences in life that bring you joy, or that energise and fulfil you. This one thing will help you appreciate what really matters, and to do more of them. It’s simple to do, and you need nothing more than a pen and paper.

It’s another form of “counting your blessings”. And it will help you keep track of what really matters.

[photo by Dina Spencer]