I’ve been playing Breath of the Wild while I’m lying flat and my experience is identical to that of Craig here. All the way back to the gold cartridge I used to have for the NES as a kid.

Not being able to walk for a couple of weeks has been hugely ameliorated by being able to walk, scramble, climb across the continent of Hyrule. The walks and the ‘boredom’ of the game are worth leaning into.


Highlights for Rise

You need to use your time differently. You need to rise above the work. You need to figure out how to make yourself less busy with your current workload to make room to do higher-value work. No one will do this for you.
She was trying to teach her team this lesson: you can’t work yourself to death and succeed over the long term. It was a hard cultural challenge, because her team believed that this overwork was not only highly valued by the company, but demanded.
You don’t win the game for running up and down the court; it’s the points on the board that count.
But if they are successful, the other thing that you will notice is that they have a ruthless focus on the things they care about. It may seem that they are not doing a good job—but maybe that is just on the part that you are looking at. You need to understand: what else are they doing?
Welcome to being a leader. This is your job. Your job is not to deliver work when everything lines up to support you. Your job is to get the most important stuff done despite everything that lines up to kill you.
I know that what I wanted from my staff was for them to catch all the work, analyze it, make judgments about business priorities, and come back to me and negotiate. I wanted them to debate with me about what is most important and why and suggest how to rework the plan to do the most important things first.
This is how you keep your boss from continuing to pile things on. Get him on the hook for the same critical business outcomes—your Ruthless Priorities.
Yes, you need to find a way to succeed if your boss is being stupid, but if your plan requires you to win against your boss, you will lose, even if you are right.
If you’re tempted to work on everything because it feels less risky, just realize that you will remain unremarkable because you have not given yourself the opportunity to really excel on something that has a big impact on the business.
Only when you are mind-numbingly bored with talking about your Ruthless Priorities will your organization really know you are serious and feel confident about acting on them.
Getting big things done is so powerful that you will get smarter as you do it. Getting things done helps you see around corners. You learn, because you can actually test the reality of the impact of what you got done.
But you must focus. If you don’t, you will work very hard but fail to deliver significant business outcomes. So you will fail. This is one of those lonely leadership moments. All leaders face this. The most successful ones get on top of it. They rise above the work.
It’s critical to recognize that your job as a leader is to collect and respond to all of the requests that come from above, but not to try to actually do them all. You are expected to tune the workload, to change the game, to figure out better ways to do things.
If your executive management could figure out which of the things, in all of this work they assign to you, were truly critical to the business, they wouldn’t need you. That’s your job.
It is a core trait of the most successful people to rise above being overbusy. If there are any secrets to what really successful people do, this is one of them. They make more time.
When communications are not clear, the number of questions and individual conversations rises exponentially. Be really clear about decisions, priorities, and issues, and find a communication mechanism to distribute the information. You will increase the capacity of your team greatly if you simply communicate better.
If you are good at fixing things or just can’t stand unanswered questions, open loops, or disorganize data, get over it. You can’t fix everything, and most of it doesn’t matter anyway.
Make three lists on one sheet of paper, in three columns. In the first column, list the things on your to-do list that you are actually getting done. In the second column, list things that you have committed to get done to your boss or your customers or your peers or your team—but are not getting done. In the third column, list the things that you know are really important, but that you have no chance in hell of being able to do because of the existence of the first two lists.
Having more energy multiplies your time. You don’t just work faster; you take on things you wouldn’t otherwise. You solve bigger problems and pursue bigger challenges. You have more to give to others. You help your team and your peers more. You have more confidence and make better decisions.
Do things on purpose that help you recover your energy, but don’t give yourself too hard a time for being in a slump along the way. If you keep moving forward in your life and your work, even if you are not at your most brilliant, the slump will eventually pass.
Once you realize that your job is both your job description and dealing with all the crap that gets in the way of your doing your job description, and that what you are actually getting paid for is dealing with the crap, not the enjoyable parts, it all makes more sense.
The first and biggest hazard of taking your strengths for granted is that you waste too much time trying to fix your weaknesses. As humans we tend to focus on the things we are not good at. I don’t believe in investing in fixing weaknesses. It is a waste of time and energy, especially compared to building on strengths.
They decided it was important to thrive. They redefined the terms under which they were willing to work. They stopped trying to do their job as it was defined for them, focused on what they were really good at, and worked with other people to cover the areas they were not good at.
Leaders emerge because they are seen to get the work done through their leadership, not by their personal effort.
When you are a workhorse, people value you for your work output; they don’t value you. They don’t care how hard you work; they only care that the work gets done. Your company can absorb an unlimited amount of work from you.
It’s about figuring out how to do things better when the world and budgets are set against you
If you don’t enable and allow your team to make you bigger, you shouldn’t have a team.
if, as a leader, you are not sure what to do, talk to everybody.
Build a plan to drive the overall strategy for your team and its contribution to the business. Look for game-changing opportunities. Clarify Ruthless Priorities. Tune everyone’s workload to ensure that they deliver on the most important things. Ensure that there is strategic alignment of your team, peers, and boss with priorities and values. Assess your organization’s fitness for what it needs to do, and make changes, train, and/or upgrade talent where necessary. Create systems and frameworks to execute, track, and measure the work so you can feel comfortable that you know what is getting done without diving into the details. See also chapter 7, Delegate or Die. Create a specific learning agenda for your team, such as understanding the financial realities of the business, getting closer to customers, or competitive awareness and positioning. Develop talent. Help your team become better leaders and support them. Focus on the development of their top talent. Improve communication inside and outside your organization. Find ways to steadily reduce the cost of things you do every year to make room for new things. See also chapter 8, Better with Less. Continually make connections outside your direct organization to create positive visibility for your team and create a broader base of support.
You need to be prepared emotionally for not being the expert any more and for finding your value elsewhere. You need to earn your team’s respect with your leadership skills, not by trying to stay as smart as they are on the detail.
Don’t think of delegating as just giving work to other people; think about it as making sure the highest-value work gets done at the right levels.
Let some important stuff go undone, or get done poorly, so you make it clear that you really need the hire.
Always think of delegating as a teaching opportunity. Remember, delegating is about taking responsibility to ensure that the highest-value work gets done at the right levels. It is about pulling your people up and making them more capable.
You may be more comfortable with the deliverables, but you are completely cutting off the possibility that, with your encouragement and support, they could become even better at it than you. In fact, you are limiting them to never being any better at it than you.
If you overmanage people, they will not be motivated to excel; they will just be motivated to get you off their back.
As a leader it is your job to cut the cost of doing the same stuff year over year—full stop.
Dealing with shrinking budgets and increased responsibility is a way of life. As a leader you can’t let that prevent you from raising the bar and driving higher-value business outcomes each year. No one will help you with this. Your team will get annoyed that they have less money to do the same stuff. It’s up to you to lead.
A high-trust environment is a fast, competitive environment. A low-trust environment is a slow, dysfunctional environment.
If you try to avoid all negative discussion or always put a positive spin on everything, you will be seen as clueless by your people who are experiencing the reality. That will destroy trust. If you acknowledge difficult issues, then get your team focused on what they can do during times of uncertainty, you will build trust.
You must get comfortable with differentiating. Treating everyone equally is not fair to your high performers.
Do this now. With each of your reports, say the following: “As your manager I am going to worry about what matters to you. When I worry about you, what should I worry about?”
But it is imperative that you have a “What happened? This is unacceptable. What are you going to do about it?” conversation. Although these are not fun, comfortable conversations, if you avoid them, you are degrading trust.
Good work does not stand on its own. Delivering results alone does not ensure you will get recognized and rewarded. It’s sad but true. You need to take it upon yourself to make your work visible and make it count.
You need to show that you can think like a general manager about the whole business and put the business first, at the center of your thinking and discussions.
Doing your job well, as defined, keeps you from getting fired. What makes you stand out is finding additional ways to add value to the business over and above what is in your job description. Otherwise, you are just one more person doing what is expected of them.
Bringing the external voice of the real world back into your business sets you up as highly credible because most people don’t bother.
Being inconsistently good just pisses people off. It creates a high expectation and then a big letdown.
When you observe me at work or life, what is always true? What do you always see? What is my manner of communicating? What do I “look like” when I am delivering? What am I expert in? How do I relate to others at work: What do I give? What do I expect? How do my personality and values affect what I offer? What outcomes do you associate with my being involved in something?
By focusing on her brand, she gave herself the opportunity to sell her strengths without hesitation.
If you operate in your own department most of the time and don’t have personal relationships or functional reasons to talk to your boss’s boss, your boss’s peers, and leaders of other organizations, you can consider yourself invisible. And you can consider yourself stuck.
When the executives talk about who is the best, the people whose names are known (even if nothing else is known about them) come out way ahead of the more-talented people whose names are not known.
You can be doing a fantastic job, but if some of your key stakeholders either don’t know about it or have an incorrect, not-that-impressed perception of your work, it can be a huge block to your success and your ability to get promotions and resources for your team members or approval for projects you care about.
If you are remote, it is up to you to not disappear.
Are you being clear, succinct, and compelling? Have you tuned the presentation to be highly relevant to each audience? Do you get to the point? Are you sure you are not boring? Have you made sure you won’t be tempted to go on and on about details? Do you show strong personal presence? Do you show confidence rather than defensiveness? Can you deal with disagreements and attacks and not get drawn off track? Can you field questions succinctly and not get nervous? Can you continue to be succinct and not babble on and on when you get drawn off topic? Can you regain control of the conversation?
For example, don’t talk about needing data on something. Ask questions like, “What decisions will you be making based on this data?” or “What action do you need this data to inform?”
You first need to get yourself there. Once you are there, learn really fast, do the job, and get more comfortable and confident as you go. Then leap again.
The world is not waiting for you to check all the boxes; they are merely watching to see if you’ll step up. The ones who step up and go for things are the ones who get them. The ones who are fearless get there faster.
Any executive is much stronger after having spent significant time with customers where the business really happens. Spending time in sales changes your perspective forever, for the better.
This is one of the reasons it is so important to make more time, as we talked about in chapter 3. If you are completely consumed by your current job, you will not have any time or energy to do the things you need to do to get a better or bigger one.
You are already committed to your day job. Your extra work that you volunteer for should serve your personal purpose to get ahead.
A key test of executive presence is to look like you are doing your job with ease and grace. Even if behind the scenes it is chaos, what people should see is you being calm and in control.
The bigger the role, the broader your influence needs to be. As a top executive your impact needs to be on a much broader and more external stage. You need to prove that you know how to impact business growth and transformation internally and externally in a big way, if you want a big job.
However, building your career and letting your life go to hell does not work either. The trick is, if you want to do better at either work or life, you need to get better at both.
Your company wants you to have a good life that you enjoy. They know they will get more out of you at work if you are happy outside of work.
Anything north of half a million a year is the hazard pay for the company acting like it owns you, letting you know your time is not your own, and finding seemingly laser-targeted ways to torture you.
If you have a toxic or useless boss who is damaging you and your career, you need to get out. It’s not worth your time, your health, or the money that lured you into this in the first place.
Bluffing is just another example of why being an executive takes a fair amount of guts, and you need to be OK with the fact that from time to time you are going to be scared and way out of your comfort zone. That is a requirement of the job—get comfortable with it.
As long as you demand rigorous accountability to the business and measure and manage performance accordingly, you can be nice to people.
Along these lines, I often get asked whether you can or should be friends with a boss or employee. Yes, you can be friends, as long as the friendship does not keep you from being tough on accountability and results in the business. If you are the kind of person who can keep those separate, friends at work are fine. But if you end up holding your friends less accountable, or not imposing consequences because they are friends, and this makes you uncomfortable, then don’t make friends with employees. If you don’t seriously manage performance with employees who are friends, everyone will see that you are letting your friend get away with things. You will squander huge amounts of trust. People will accept your friendships as long as they see you being fair.
I am a firm believer that growing businesses come from growing people, and to be highly successful, you need to make the people supporting you successful too.

Highlights for Thinking in Bets

The punch line of the John Hennigan–Des Moines story—“after two days, he begged to get out of it”—made it part of gambling folklore.

Everything is a bet.

Most people aren’t like poker players, around whom there is always the potential that someone might propose a bet and they will mean it.

Such interactions are reminders that not all situations are appropriate for truthseeking, nor are all people interested in the pursuit.

In the movie, the matrix was built to be a more comfortable version of the world. Our brains, likewise, have evolved to make our version of the world more comfortable: our beliefs are nearly always correct; favorable outcomes are the result of our skill; there are plausible reasons why unfavorable outcomes are beyond our control; and we compare favorably with our peers. We deny or at least dilute the most painful parts of the message.

In fact, as long as there are three people in the group (two to disagree and one to referee*), the truthseeking group can be stable and productive.

“a pretty good blueprint for a truthseeking charter:

  • A focus on accuracy (over confirmation), which includes rewarding truthseeking, objectivity, and open-mindedness within the group;
  • Accountability, for which members have advance notice; and
  • Openness to a diversity of ideas.”

In three sentences, he laid out all the elements of a productive group charter. “I don’t want to hear it. I’m not trying to hurt your feelings, but if you have a question about a hand, you can ask me about strategy all day long. I just don’t think there’s much purpose in a poker story if the point is about something you had no control over, like bad luck.”

We should also recognize that it’s really hard: the norm is toward homogeneity; we’re all guilty of it; and we don’t even notice that we’re doing it.

Coming from a community composed almost entirely of liberal-leaning scientists, the quality and impact of research can suffer.

Liberals would do well to take some time to read and watch more conservative news sources, and conservatives would do well to take some time to read and watch more liberal news sources—not with the goal of confirming that the other side is a collection of idiots who have nothing of value to say but to specifically and purposely find things they agree with.

Anyone can provide the narrative only up to the point of the decision under consideration, leaving off the outcome so as not to infect their listeners with bias.

The way we field outcomes is path dependent. It doesn’t so much matter where we end up as how we got there. What has happened in the recent past drives our emotional response much more than how we are doing overall. That’s how we can win $100 and be sad, and lose $100 and be happy. The zoom lens doesn’t just magnify, it distorts.

At the very beginning of my poker career, I heard an aphorism from some of the legends of the profession: “It’s all just one long poker game.”

Remember, the likelihood of positive and negative futures must add up to 100%. The positive space of backcasting and the negative space of a premortem still have to fit in a finite amount of space.

Out with Bungacast and their tankie/nutter agenda

Several online situations today where I think I’m going insane so I might as well document them.

I listened to the last episode of Bungacast with the authors of the new book “The Covid Consensus”.

Both the book and the episode are highly questionable. There is little more there than pandering to the COVID sceptic horseshoe left by fishing in the murky pond of anti-authoritarianism, pseudo-science and neoreaction.

Now I wouldn’t think it weird that COVID nutters would write a book. What is odd is that Bungacast would give that much prominence to something which is obviously dumb. Not sure if it’s a cynical play on the alternative/controversial left or whether the podcasters truly believe this way of looking at the world has any merit. In any case, for me this is Schluß with this particular pod.

A while back I had listened to an episode of Politics Theory Other which has long been a favorite podcast of mine where Richard Seymour utterly demolishes that very same book. PTO is actually serious, actually left, actually critical and very much recommended.

That episode is well worth a (re)listen and I’m now a fan of Richard Seymour who comes in like a sledgehammer.

If I lift this one level, the so called “Lockdown” is being used as a scapegoat for anything and everything that people don’t like. Here in Europe the lockdowns felt very long but were brief in retrospect. The longest probably being the 3 month school/daycare closure at the start of the pandemic during which we also suffered immensely. Real hard lockdowns happened in a country like China. Claiming that the relatively mild restrictions that we had for a couple of months (and then twice more) created irreparable damage in the general population is very fucking rich.

They may be right about Lockdown in one way that the concept of it has become big enough and detached from reality enough to house whatever theories or madness anybody wants to house in it. As such, lockdown was a huge psychohistoric event.

Despite not being the biggest fan of Shape Up or of 37s, I still really enjoyed watching this video by Ryan Singer about Shaping.

It’s very well done and though I wouldn’t recommend anybody to follow this by the book, you would do well to take inspiration from it.

Highlights for Domain Driven Design

Good programmers will naturally start to abstract and develop a model that can do more work. But when this happens only in a technical setting, without collaboration with domain experts, the concepts are naive. That shallowness of knowledge produces software that does a basic job but lacks a deep connection to the domain expert’s way of thinking.
And with typical design approaches, the code and documents don’t express this hard-earned knowledge in a usable form, so when the oral tradition is interrupted for any reason, the knowledge is lost.
Use the model as the backbone of a language. Commit the team to exercising that language relentlessly in all communication within the team and in the code. Use the same language in diagrams, writing, and especially speech.
Object-oriented programming is powerful because it is based on a modeling paradigm, and it provides implementations of the model constructs.
If the people who write the code do not feel responsible for the model, or don’t understand how to make the model work for an application, then the model has nothing to do with the software. If developers don’t realize that changing code changes the model, then their refactoring will weaken the model rather than strengthen it.
But it is the crucial separation of the domain layer that enables MODEL-DRIVEN DESIGN.
Even deficiencies in requirements analysis can be overcome by releasing a prototype to users and then quickly changing the product to fit their requests.
Most flexible languages (such as Java) are overkill for these applications and will cost dearly. A 4GL-style tool is the way to go.
For example, a one-to-many association might be implemented as a collection in an instance variable. But the design is not necessarily so direct. There may be no collection; an accessor method may query a database to find the appropriate records and instantiate objects based on them. Both of these designs would reflect the same model.
Worse, as client code uses the database directly, developers are tempted to bypass model features such as AGGREGATES, or even object encapsulation, instead directly taking and manipulating the data they need.
The sheer technical complexity of applying most database access infrastructure quickly swamps the client code, which leads developers to dumb down the domain layer, which makes the model irrelevant.
You may find that the framework provides services you can use to easily create a REPOSITORY, or you may find that the framework fights you all the way. You may discover that the architectural framework has already defined an equivalent pattern of getting persistent objects. Or you may discover that it has defined a pattern that is not like a REPOSITORY at all.
A MODEL-DRIVEN DESIGN stands on two legs. A deep model makes possible an expressive design. At the same time, a design can actually feed insight into the model discovery process when it has the flexibility to let a developer experiment and the clarity to show a developer what is happening.
But moving the rules out of the domain layer is even worse, since the domain code no longer expresses the model.
Here we have an example of a “simplest thing that could possibly work” that actually becomes possible because of a more sophisticated model. We can have a functioning prototype of a very complex component in a couple dozen lines of easily understood code.
A lot of overengineering has been justified in the name of flexibility. But more often than not, excessive layers of abstraction and indirection get in the way. Look at the design of software that really empowers the people who handle it; you will usually see something simple.
If a developer must consider the implementation of a component in order to use it, the value of encapsulation is lost. If someone other than the original developer must infer the purpose of an object or operation based on its implementation, that new developer may infer a purpose that the operation or class fulfills only by chance. If that was not the intent, the code may work for the moment, but the conceptual basis of the design will have been corrupted, and the two developers will be working at cross-purposes.
I’m all in favor of learning advanced technology and design concepts, but we have to soberly assess the skills of a particular team, as well as the likely skills of future maintenance teams.
If you wait until you can make a complete justification for a change, you’ve waited too long. Your project is already incurring heavy costs, and the postponed changes will be harder to make because the target code will have been more elaborated and more embedded in other code.
Sometimes we overestimate the value or underestimate the cost of such a dependency.
Declare a BOUNDED CONTEXT to have no connection to the others at all, allowing developers to find simple, specialized solutions within this small scope.
Once they have been separated, give their continuing development lower priority than the CORE DOMAIN, and avoid assigning your core developers to the tasks (because they will gain little domain knowledge from them). Also consider off-the-shelf solutions or published models for these GENERIC SUBDOMAINS.
Not knowing what would be needed, it was assumed that it should be flexible enough to handle anything.
He had dutifully set out to build a time zone model a priori.
Reuse does happen, but not always code reuse. The model reuse is often a better level of reuse, as when you use a published design or model.
A team that uses the code as the sole repository of the model might use comments, maybe structured as Java Doc, or might use some tool in its development environment.
People knew roughly where to look for a particular function. Individuals working independently could make design decisions that were broadly consistent with each other. The complexity ceiling had been lifted.