Idea Surplus Disorder Issue #15

In this week's edition: a Thinksgiving kickoff, better big-group networking, quitting, phone rituals, antelope, field mice, German Hi-Fi, and more.

‌Welcome to Idea Surplus Disorder.  I’m Matt Homann, the founder of Filament, and I’m glad you’re here!

In this edition: a Thinksgiving kickoff, better big-group networking, quitting, phone rituals, antelope, field mice, German Hi-Fi, and more.


May is a busy month for Filament, and we've got great events nearly every week.  Here's what's on tap:

  • Thinksgiving Kickoff:  If you're curious about participating in Thinksgiving this year as a business partner, nonprofit, or volunteer, check out this video and then join us for our kickoff party on May 17th from 4-6 pm.  RSVP here.
  • Business Book Club:  Our unique business book club kicks off on May 10th with our book preview and an overview of how the club will work.  Our first book discussion is on June 14th.  RSVP here.
  • N.S.F.W. (New Skills For Work):  On May 24th, we're tackling ways to think small, innovate faster, and bring experimentation into all parts of your organization.  RSVP here.

Ideas + Insights

I love this framework that was shared by Daniel Stillman for a large networking event he attended organized by Andrew Yeung!

Andrew emailed a sub-group of 10 of us and gave our group a name - in this case, a color.
He gave us two jobs:  introduce ourselves with a simple three-part prompt in the email; and [use an] icebreaker prompt to figure out why we were put in the group together
When we came to the event, we got name tags and a giant color dot, and then, my group proceeded to find each other and have a deep conversation about what we had in common and why we were in a group together!
Over the course of the evening my group members would re-connect, and when we met other "colors" we asked them what *their* group had in common, creating a shared thread of conversation over the evening, without any heavy-handed mcing from Andrew.

Here's an exercise from the book Liberating Structures that might prove eye-opening for many teams:

1. “Make a list of all you can do to make sure that you achieve the worst result imaginable with respect to your top strategy or objective.”
2. “Go down this list item by item and ask yourselves, ‘Is there anything that we are currently doing that in any way, shape, or form resembles this item?’ Be brutally honest to make a second list of all your counterproductive activities/programs/procedures.”
3. “Go through the items on your second list and decide what first steps will help you stop what you know creates undesirable results?”

Is your organization hunting antelope or field mice?

A lion is capable of hunting field mice, but the prize would not be sufficient reward for the energy required to do so. Instead, the lion must focus on the antelope, which do require considerable energy to hunt, but provide a sufficient reward.
In whatever you are pursuing, are you hunting antelope or field mice? Are you focusing on the big, weighty, important tasks that will provide sufficient reward for your energy? Or are you burning calories chasing the tiny wins that won't move the needle?

Looking for a new career?  Use this prompt to have ChatGPT create a Venn Diagram of your skills:

I am going to paste my resume below. I would like you to use the framework of a Venn Diagram to identify 3 unique areas that represent my skills, experience, passion, and capabilities. I am doing this to help discover ideas on where my unique history makes me an ideal fit.

Deep Work is a team sport:

Instead of protecting our own time and attention, we try and protect the time and attention of the team as a whole and maximize the total time of deep work the team gets across the week.

Quitting is underrated:

Nature has a knack for cutting to the chase. There are no medals or accolades on the line. This is a no‑frills zone. Actions can’t be superfluous—they matter. The organism’s very existence is at stake. Quitting is a skill, a survival technique. It’s not—as we humans sometimes treat it—a moral failing. And resisting the impulse to quit isn’t necessarily brave or noble. It’s nonsensical.
Unlike humans, those other creatures aren’t burdened by some abstract idea of the benefits of perseverance. When a behavior isn’t getting them anywhere—or when it’s proving to be perilous to their continued existence—they stop.

Want to use your phone less?   Perhaps some rituals might help:

If you approach your phone with your own version of ritual propriety, you may end up using it more, or less. You may use it at different times, or in different ways. The Way is not the same everywhere at all times, for you or anyone else. Trusting in it means trusting that whatever you get, it will be more harmonious than what you had before, and different from what you thought you wanted.
By approaching technology with ritual, you don’t fall into the Luddite trap of seeing technology as a negative force that must be fought or limited. The problem is not with technology in itself. It never has been. Rather, as society changes, new forms of life emerge that need to be enchanted through new rituals. They are invented as means to ends, and it is up to us to transform them into ends in themselves.

Fun Finds

How names impact the jobs we choose.

How an 18th-century battleship worked.

Star Wars by Wes Anderson

The 21(!) Levels of Pen Spinning

Hi-Fi Nerd Warning!  Collection of Vintage German Electronics Catalogs

Words of Wisdom

“Your goal in life is to be able to say on the day before you die that you have fully become yourself.” — Kevin Kelly
“He who laughs most, learns best.” — John Cleese
“When you learn, teach. When you get, give.” — Maya Angelou
“Genius is eternal patience.” — Michelangelo
“If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.” — Zig Ziglar
“Sixty years ago I knew everything; now I know nothing; education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.” — Will Durant
“You can’t call yourself a writer if you can get the internet on your writing machine." – Jonathan Franzen

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