Idea Surplus Disorder #7

In this edition: Filament's grand opening, our Facilitator's Forum, optimism, problem picking, consulting B.S., iffermations, plumbers, mulleted presidents, 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: Filament's grand opening, our Facilitator's Forum, optimism, problem picking, consulting B.S., iffermations, plumbers, mulleted presidents, and more.

Filament's Grand Opening:

Save March 21st on your calendar for Filament's grand opening in our new space at Cortex.  The day will include a mix of programming, a Thinksgiving preview, and a fun "Filamentized" happy hour.  Look for a full agenda in next week's newsletter!

The Facilitator's Forum

We're launching a new invite-only program that's kind of like an "open mic night" for experienced facilitators.  We'll share best practices and lessons learned – and each session will have time for members to test something with the group they'd like to try at work.  You can apply to participate here.

Ideas + Insights

Do you have a mix of affirmations you say to yourself every day?  What if you thought in "iffermations" instead?

Instead of saying to yourself something like “I am confident and strong” you ask yourself “What if I am confident and strong?” Asking it in the form of a question forces your brain to search for evidence that this might be true.

From the "do the work" department:  we're most creative when we work at being creative:

We prefer to attach creative success to a combination of innate talent, acquired ability and passionate commitment. Placing such significance on chance appears to cheapen the achievements of great artists, inventors and scientists.  Yet perhaps it’s because we’re so uncomfortable likening creativity to a lottery that this perspective is undervalued. Over a surprisingly wide range of pursuits, creativity is productivity, and we will have more hits if we take more swings.

I love this call to action from Seth Godin!  Pick your problems, pick your future:

Problems don’t really care whether we acknowledge them or not. They still exist. What matters is how we choose to direct our energy, because our tomorrow is the direct result of the way we spend our resources today.  

Is back-to-the-office driven by bad bosses?

Another theory for why managers might be stubbornly fighting the rising tide for remote work in industries where it's completely feasible is that maybe some of them are control freaks. After all, freeing workers to work remotely is about more than simply having to chat with them via Zoom. It can also be about giving them the freedom, trust, and respect to do their work how they see fit. Some bosses apparently have angst about not being able to constantly look over their employees' shoulders and monitor exactly what they're doing and how many hours they're doing it.

Optimists are wrong more often, but perhaps that's a feature and not a bug:

Optimists are more often wrong, but it is a necessary delusion, motivating people to make changes and to persevere against adversity, to be more resilient. That increases your odds, giving you more goes at bat. It is in hope that advertising operates, making promises to people that products can improve their lives, offering companies the chance of growth. Optimism, according to Noam Chomsky, is a “strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, it’s unlikely you will step up and take responsibility for making it so. If you assume that there’s no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope.”

Nirvana record engineer Steve Albini shared his payment philosophy with the band.  Imagine if all contracting experiences were this straightforward:

I think paying a royalty to a producer or engineer is ethically indefensible. The band write the songs. The band play the music. It’s the band’s fans who buy the records. The band is responsible for whether it’s a great record or a horrible record. Royalties belong to the band.  I would like to be paid like a plumber: I do the job and you pay me what it’s worth.
I have to be comfortable with the amount of money you pay me, but it’s your money, and I insist that you be comfortable with it as well.... I trust you guys to be fair to me and I know you must be familiar with what a regular industry goon would want. I will let you make the final decision about what I’m going to be paid. How much you choose to pay me will not affect my enthusiasm for the record.

What if the future of collaboration was framed as multi-player experiences?

Despite the fact that humans are wired for collaboration, single-player is our default mode of operation. Single-player game mechanics are baked into our infrastructures and platforms; in Western cultures, they’re baked right into society itself — school, social life, you name it. Everything has been designed with the mechanistic worldview in mind; for exceptional individuals, for scarcity, for separation.  To choose to operate in multiplayer mode is to swim against the current.

Yet another day the new AIs blew my mind: clever ways to use Bing's new ChatGPT-powered AI engine:

Overall, Bing is immensely more powerful than ChatGPT, but also a lot weirder to use. I would urge you to experiment with the AI. Try to automate aspects of your job, try asking it hard questions, and try challenging it improve your writing in specific styles. Experience is the best teacher, and there is no instruction manual for Bing. Taking the time to learn how to use this unusual, but powerful, AI now will help you adjust to the increasing pace of AI development in the coming months. If Bing is an accurate harbinger of the power of future AI systems, things are only going to get weirder from here.

Most consulting is B.S.:

There’s no question that these companies have taken extensive time to study and develop approaches to solving common business challenges in a repeatable, scalable, and measurable way. The issue is that companies aren’t static. Plugging and playing a “tried-and-true method” into an environment unsuited to implement it is a recipe for poor outcomes.

Fun Finds

These days, nobody wants to work anymore (well, at least since 1894).

A movie trailer expert deconstructs classic trailers.

Your iPhone has built-in background sounds like rain, ocean, or stream to mask unwanted noise. You can also play ambient noise while you play other media like music or podcasts to further drown out environmental sounds. Find it under Settings > Accessibility > Audio Visual > Background Sounds.

Diaries of Note shares a full diary entry from famous diarists each day.

Every American President, but they're all cool – and sporting mullets!

Words of Wisdom

“I know most people try hard to do good and find out too late they should have tried softer." – Andrea Gibson
Autonomy is the desire to steer our own ship. Mastery is the desire to steer it well. And purpose is the need for the journey to mean something. – Peter H. Diamandis
Sometimes magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect.” – Raymond Joseph Teller
“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are” – Anais Nin
"The problem with history is that there are too many people in it." – Nick Hornby
“Every great and difficult thing has required a strong sense of optimism.” – Kevin Kelly
“Fanaticism consists in redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.” – George Santayana
"Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation." – Alasdair Gray
"The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The work of life is to develop it. The meaning of life is to give your gift away." — David Viscott

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