Detecting Lies

As a leader, people are going to lie to you occasionally. Even if it is simple lies of omission.

Here is a video from Dr. Romie about some signs that someone might be lying to you:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lR8a84opGZY

This is a good video, probably worth watching, but let me summarize it for you. How do you know when someone is lying?

  1. Use of negatives - A person who is lying about calling you back might say, "My phone is so stupid!", "I hate my cell phone provider!"
  2. Use of complex stories and run-on sentences - A person who is lying will tend to provide a more complex explanation, "I had a flat tire and then my boss called and then I ran into an old friend and couldn't get away."
  3. Use of third person - A lying person may avoid talking about themselves and their emotions.

I think as a leader you have to be aware that people are going to lie to you and hide the truth from you sometimes. There can be a lot of different reasons for this.

The big question for you is: what are you going to do about it?

Creativity, A Theme - Part 2

I didn't originally plan on writing a second part but this didn't make sense as part of the first post, so here it is.

I think there's more to creativity and innovation than inspiration. Some times (though not always) inspiration is what comes easily.

It's the things that come after - the work, the persuasion, the rework, the second ideas, the pivots - that may prove to be hard. You need additional creativity to work through these things and you also need humility and resilience.

If you're feeling like your current position or career doesn't provide you with the opportunity to be creative, that may be true. It also may be that you're going through a different phase - one that is about building up something, in this case you still need creativity, but you need other things to.

Creativity, A Theme

I've recently been talking with my son about all the ways in the world there are to be creative. This stems from some rivalry with his brother and his feeling that his brother is somehow more creative than him.

He's 10.

So, I guess it is good to have these conversations now. I had similar conversations with my father a few years back about the ways in which he was creative in his career. His own feeling was that somehow he wasn't creative because he wasn't painting or writing or poetry or something in the fine arts. This is in spite loaning money to business throughout the community and fighting for what he believed was the right way to do this. And he was very successful at it.

That's very different than what I do, but it's still a creative endeavor. It helped a lot of people build a lot of businesses. It's probably more creative than what I do.

We had these conversations after he was retired.

We probably all have days where we don't feel creative enough. It's possible that what you do is not creative in the same way as others and not creative in the same way as some Big-C Creative endeavor. If you're worried about it you might reconsider who you're comparing yourself to. It might be more creative to look at the world and look at the ways you're having an impact, whether you're inspired that day or not.

The truth is my son is pretty creative in his own ways, and I do my best to reassure him of this (as I did my father). It's interesting that it is something that he feels strongly about at a young age - that's good and its a place to build from.

Learning, Like Falling in Love

I used to ask an interview question about what analogy someone would use to describe their relationship to learning new things. I had a couple of examples (drinking a glass of water, winning the lottery) and then I would turn them loose.

I always considered this an interesting question because I was trying to understand what their relationship was to learning new things and I was trying to set expectations in the interview process about what was expected. In this case it was, "I hope you like learning new things, because that is a big part of the job here."

Anyway, I got a lot of "it's like travel to a foreign country" or "it's like climbing a mountain." All of which had some element of both process and destination, and I always considered these to be pretty good answers.

Until one day when I got the title of this blog:

"Learning something new is like falling in love."

How remarkable that was - it was ALL process and no destination, and yet who can argue with the process of falling in love? You're compelled by the very nature of the thing to want more of it, wherever it may take you.

This was a fine answer. It was, in fact, the best and only answer. I stopped asking the question because I couldn't help comparing every other answer to it.

Interviewing can be stressful, much more so for the candidate than the interviewer of course, but to do a good job you have to prepare on both sides.

Here is what makes it all worth while though - whether you get the job or not - in the interaction the opportunity to answer a question and offer insight. It's worth thinking about in any interaction of course, but in a job interview something to definitely seek out.

What if there was no opportunity to offer insight? Would you still want the job?

What if you offered the insight and still didn't get the position? What does that tell you?

Monopolies: Here, There, Everywhere Until Their Not

Did you know that US anti-trust laws are designed to protect consumers and not competitors? And did you know that not every one looks at it this way?

Here is a good article on the subject.

Irish Times Article on Google Judgement by EU

And that led me to this article, which is older but gives some more context:

Wired Anti-Trust Article

This is why Amazon doesn't get prosecuted for monopolistic practices, but Apple did for price-fixing on books. Amazon lowers prices (good for consumers, bad for competitors) and Apple was trying to raise them (bad for consumers).

The European Union would look at this differently. They say that one company possessing too much market-share is inherently bad for the marketplace.

Can you really trust an Amazon to keep having a focus on low prices? What about when there is no more competition?

To answer that question I found one more article. You have to dig, but it's there at the bottom of the top paragraph of page 4:

Comparison of USA and Europe Anti-Trust Policies - PDF

Basically, you can trust them if their anti-competitive (but pro-consumer) price lowering has to stay low because any raising of prices will result in new players immediately entering the market.

What does all this have to do with technology? Well it helps explain some differences between the US and Europe.

The other thing that is related is that there isn't really a software or online business that isn't susceptible to a new competitor.

To create software you may need software developers and servers, but you don't need other raw materials or a factory, so the cost is much lower than in analog industries.

Software business are inherently winner take all because world-wide delivery is so simple, there are no geographic restrictions on products, therefore the best will win and when they win they will win very big.

But they can only stay on top if the innovate relentlessly or buy companies who do.

Otherwise someone will find away to come along and eat their lunch.

Saying it First, Saying it Best

Sometimes the person who says something first doesn't say it the best. It takes courage to articulate a new thought that is different from others.

It also takes courage to articulate a thought when you know may stumble because of it's novelty and freshness.

Say it anyway. Go first.

To help with this, surround yourself with people who can help echo your thoughts, improve them, and will still give you the credit for it.

Having people who can say it better than you means that your ideas will have legs and go further. You're more likely to see them out in the world running around in the future.

They'll be another idea that will come along. You should go first next time too. And the time after that.

Creativity and Habit

Being creative is a habit.

If it's a habit that's hard for you, never fear. It's simply a matter of developing the habit.

Here are some things you can do to start a habit of creativity:

  1. Write a blog post
  2. Tell your kids a story
  3. Learn to fix something you've never fixed before
  4. Draw an org chart for your team or company that looks different than what you have today.
  5. Talk to a friend about a new opportunity
  6. Start a club or meeting
  7. Take a class in something you're interested in
  8. Learn a new language
  9. Build a website
  10. Introduce two people who you think could be friends

Sure, some of these are harder or easier than others. But the difference is a matter of degree or scale, not in the fundamental creative act that sits behind them.

Positivity Bias

I'm in the midst of reading Hardwiring Happiness.

I am really enjoying it which is why I am sharing this before I'm even half done.

The book digs into Negativity Bias (which I've written about before here) and the reasons why it exists. AND, it provides you with ways to combat it and develop help develop Positivity Bias.

The exercises/practices it provides are related to mindfulness practices but are even simpler to get started with. The tools this book provides are designed to specifically attack Negativity Bias by changing your brain to be more receptive to positive experiences and hold onto them longer.

So, while these simple practices are behavioral (they are things that you decide to do and you develop the habits of doing them), the goal is much more than that, the goal is changing your brain.

This is pretty exciting and you can get started with them quite easily.

As a leader this is a crucial tool to develop if it doesn't come naturally to you. And Negativity Bias tells us that it won't come easy to most of us.

Check out this amazing book.

Journeys and Guides and Maps

It's hard to draw a map of a place if you've only ever been through it once, going in a straight line in a fast moving vehicle.

For a guide, you may want someone who can draw a map from memory. You may want someone who has been lost where you're going. You may want someone who has, at least, been there a lot of times, walking in more of a zig-zag pattern and seeing what's around.

OR you're accepting a guide who knows a little more than you but can't draw the map.

Both can work, but understand what you're getting and accept the advantages of the latter if you choose it. That is, you will be getting lost along the way, but you will also be a guide at the end of the journey.

Sometimes there is no map and never will be - for the country is forever new. In these cases we can only compare it to country we have been in before and offer help to one another.

Leadership, Budget, and the Speed of Light

You always have a budget.

Anyone who says, "There is no budget," isn't a leader and hasn't met the CFO.

Budgets can be a great driver of creativity and a path to finding the winning solution.

Don't look at your budget as a limitation. Look on it as the form in which you create, like a sonnet, a canvas, or the force of gravity (for you sculptors and architects out there).

The trick is to know your budget and understand how it drives your creativity.

What's your budget?

  • Money?
  • Your personal time?
  • The calendar year or fiscal year?
  • Composition of your team?
  • The speed of light?