There’s no better way to get leverage than to optimize your own brain.
With other forms of discrimination, the solution has always been just to increase exposure, which increases tolerance. But what do you do when everyone is already exposed to the subjugated group?
The thing that makes gender bias so much worse than other forms of discrimination/intolerance is that other forms come from lack of exposure, whereas gender bias exists *despite* exposure. This makes people’s perspectives on gender particularly gnarly to untangle.
With other forms of discrimination, the solution has always been just to increase exposure, which increases tolerance (this is why denser geographies are more tolerant, and I believe it’s also why cross-geography internet communities are more tolerant). But what do you do when everyone is already exposed to the subjugated group?
The biggest sub-problem of the gender bias problem is that so many good, well-intentioned men simply don’t *believe* it’s a big problem, because to believe in it would be to admit things that are perhaps uncomfortable about ourselves (namely that our opinions and perspectives are more a product of our upbringing & culture that we like to think, and that our upbringing & culture are more gender-biased than we like to think).
If your customers are developers, your developers should be doing support.
More customer empathy + happier customers = virtuous cycle.
If a VC firm isn’t any good at online branding for themselves, there’s a good chance they undervalue branding advantages in the pitch room.
If I’m building a team, I’ll take generalists who are addicted to learning over specialists who are addicted to thinking they already know.
If your automated emails don’t have one-click unsubscribe, it makes me hate your company a little bit.
If Facebook is a reunion, Twitter is a cocktail party. No wonder I spend so much more time on Twitter!
The thing about a PhD is that it’s a criminally stupid way for highly intelligent people to train other highly intelligent people.
It’s important not to worship any hero wholesale
It’s important not to worship any hero wholesale, but to recognize which attributes in them you wish to emulate and which attributes you do not.
For example, this letter shows one of my heroes, Steve Jobs, as a coercive bully (written to Ed Colligan, then-CEO of Palm, in August of 2007 [source]):
This is not satisfactory to Apple. It is not just a matter of our employees deciding they want to join Palm. They are being actively recruited using knowledge supplied by Jon Rubenstein and Fred Anderson, with Jon personally participating in the recruiting process. We must do whatever we can to stop this.
I’m sure you realize the asymmetry in the financial resources f our respective companies when you say, “We will both just end up paying a lot of lawyers a lot of money.”
Just for the record, when Siemens sold their handset business to BenQ they didn’t sell them their essential patents but rather just gave them a license. The patents they did sell to BenQ are not that great. We looked at them ourselves when they were for sale. I guess you guys felt differently and bought them. We are not concerned about them at all. My advice is to take a look at our patent portfolio before you make a final decision.
The backstory here is that Apple had hired over 2% of Palm’s workforce, and Palm had hired a whopping three people away from Apple. So Jobs went to work, in essence threatening to sue Palm for patent infringement if they didn’t come to an agreement regarding poaching.
Steve was always secretive (often paranoid) and at times aggressive (even bullying). There are people who admire these traits in him, but I am not among them: I find this sort of interaction reprehensible. But Steve was also innovative, anti-dogma, talent-focused, futuristic, and an amazing presenter and communicator. When working with a person directly, you have to take the good with the bad, but when building a personal philosophy, you don’t.
It’s important not to worship any hero wholesale for the same reason it’s important not to worship any text wholesale: fundamentalism creates an environment where rationality cannot flourish, where innovation and improvement are impossible, where power structures calcify and suppress new power. This is a Bad Thing.
I’ll end this rant with a fitting quote, also from Steve Jobs — but this time, from Steve Jobs the envelope-pusher, whom I so admired:
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.