Issue #31

In this edition, our worst review ever, some fun Filament events, longcuts, hard things, guess culture, random bees, Johnny Cash, Kmart music, and more

Issue #31

Welcome to a holiday edition of Idea Surplus Disorder. I know everyone's off for the long weekend, but I had this one done Friday, so I'm sending it anyway even though only a few of you will open it today.

In this edition: our worst review ever, some fun Filament events, longcuts, hard things, guess culture, random bees, Johnny Cash, Kmart music, and more.

I’m Matt Homann, the founder of Filament, and I’m glad you’re here!


  • September 5th | Bookstorming: This month, we're reading three different books by Seth Godin. It's not too late to sign up, as our next Bookstorming is on September 5th.
  • September 8th | Filament Friday: Back by popular demand, join us Friday, September 8th, to work in our space, meet some innovative folks, and play some bocce!
  • September 13th | NSFW – Your Meeting Muse: A lot of people have asked how I'm using ChatGPT, Claude, and other AI writing tools. In our next New Skills For Work on September 13th, join me as I share ways Filament is partnering with our new robot overlords to work faster, think smarter, be more creative, and make meetings better.

Our Worst Review Ever

Last week we got a one-star Google review, so I wrote about it here. If you'd like to leave us a good one, you can do it here.

Ideas + Insights

Where in your work should you avoid shortcuts and take "longcuts" instead?

The decision to actually not take shortcuts—to longcut—is where a lot of the work that ends up really resonating in terms of impact, experience, ROI, etc. Paradoxically, these little, or big, longcuts accumulate into advantages that no shortcuts can create.

Speaking of longcuts, here's why it is important to prove you can do hard things:

The ability to do hard things is perhaps the most useful ability you can foster in yourself or your children. And proof that you are someone who can do them is one of the most useful assets you can have on your life resume. Our self-image is composed of historical evidence of our abilities. The more hard things you push yourself to do, the more competent you will see yourself to be.

I had an amazing meal at an incredible restaurant two weeks ago, so this article on the rise of the Open Kitchen fascinated me:

The rise of the open kitchen hasn’t just changed how diners experience their meals; it’s influenced the way chefs have to approach their work. Now there is an expectation of performance involved, whether that means cleaning an apron stain that otherwise could have waited or trying to politely turn away drunk customers who want to talk while you’re in the middle of dicing peppers.

We always talk about making "Unreasonable Requests" here at Filament, so I really liked the advise on how to move to an "Ask" Culture from a "Guess" Culture:

Get more comfortable with people saying no to you. If people are not saying no to you, you’re probably still only asking for things that you already know people will say yes to (which is guess culture). Ask for more budget, ask for an uncomfortable amount of PTO, ask for professional development budget, ask to purchase only vaguely-work-related books on your company card.
Ask yourself, “If I could have my way…”, which is a useful hack to bypass thinking about others’ needs and honing in on exactly what you want. Use this to think about your role, your next project, your work schedule, your title, your salary and equity, your team. From that thought exercise, ask for some things you want.

I'm wondering how many of the ways we imagine ourselves in the current tense only stick (from others' perspective) in the past tense:

We only call someone an entrepreneur after the fact when they have been successful. People who fail miserably trying something that would be defined as ‘entrepreneurial’ if it had succeeded are called failed businesspeople, not entrepreneurs.

This is a fun icebreaker question:

What's something you find relaxing that most people probably don't find relaxing?

From the "I just learned this today" category: what can bees teach us about making room for randomness in our lives?

20% of bees ignore the information about where food is is fly off at random. They bring food home far less of the time, but when they do, it pays off the misses. Let creative wander. Put out work ideas that fail. Approach branding like an investment portfolio. Fund 10 startups betting on one to hit.

Got a terrible, recurring status meeting on your calendar? Make some room in it for connection:

There’s also an opportunity to transform the sometimes-routine information-sharing meeting into a richer venue for connection. Try setting the expectation that these are opportunities to learn more about one another’s challenges and strategies, and encourage questions. These meetings also provide the opportunity to celebrate wins or invite help from another department. Use the time to help team members build connections with one another — a matrix — instead of hub-and-spoke connections with you at the center as the go-to problem solver. Finally, try to include a time for collective reflection in a regular team meeting.

What's the best advice from your profession? Mine (from when I was a lawyer): Whenever your clients tell you "it's not about the money, but about the principle of the thing" it is 100% guarranteed to be about the money.

  • Doctor: Never be afraid to get a second opinion. If your doctor is offended, that's one more reason to get one.
  • Teacher: Read to your kids from infancy, make books commonplace, and point out things in the pictures. This helps them develop literacy skills from an early age.
  • Plumber: Check your basement weekly for leaks or signs of damage, and change your air filter regularly.
  • Government worker: Find life satisfaction outside of the workplace.
  • Sales: Never celebrate until the money is in your account, regardless of how many times the client said yes or if there are signed documents.

Fun Finds

Words of Wisdom

"Being a human means accepting promises from other people and trusting that other people will be good to you. When that is too much to bear, it is always possible to retreat into the thought, 'I’ll live for my own comfort, for my own revenge, for my own anger, and I just won’t be a member of society anymore.' That really means, 'I won’t be a human being anymore.'" – Martha Nussbaum
"Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the furthest thing from it." — Stephen Colbert
Of all the virtues we can learn no trait is more useful, more essential for survival, and more likely to improve the quality of life than the ability to transform adversity into an enjoyable challenge. — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
“Imagination allows us to conceive of delightful future possibilities, pick the most amazing one, and pull the present forward to meet it.” – Jason Silva
I think we’re creative all day long. We have to have an appointment, to have that work out on the page, because the creative part of us gets tired of waiting, or just gets tired. – Mary Oliver
"The cleverer we get, the more 'civilized' we become, the more we seem to hunger for that old sense of mystery that must have brimmed up in us when we looked out across our extraordinary world and understood none of it." – Waldemar Januszczak
"People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home." – Dagobert D. Runes
“Here I understand what is meant by glory: the right to love without limits.” – Albert Camus
“By the time you come to the perfect solution, the problem has already changed.” – Jessie Shefrin
“There are three states of power: what you have, what you’re willing to show, and what you’re willing to use." – Drew Hays

Subscribe to Idea Surplus Disorder

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.