Closed 33 per cent of the time

Chef Andoni Aduriz (owner of Mugaritz, a restaurant near San Sebastian in Spain) is considered one of the most creative chefs on the planet. He has an interesting tradition – he shuts Mugaritz down for 4 months every year.

Chef Aduriz first shut down his restaurant for 4 months after a fire in 2010 and has made it an annual tradition. He has come to appreciate the need for a complete break to give the team the space to be creative.

Mugaritz, thus, is closed for business 33 per cent of the time and is consistently rated among the top 10 restaurants on the planet.

There’s a powerful lesson in there somewhere for me/us.

Smartphone -> 3310

My first commercial mobile phone experience was with my mom’s now-iconic Nokia 3310.

Image result for nokia 3310

Inspired by the simplicity of that experience, I am currently treating my phone as a 3310 until the new year. Outside of Waze for navigation, the 3310 only allowed for texts and calls. There wasn’t any email, browsing, or other media. For those things, I have to open up my laptop and do so. And, it’s been a fun experiment.

Two reflections – first, adding a relatively small dose of friction forces a disproportionate amount of intentionality. And, next, it is amazing how intentionally reading the same content on a larger screen feels slower and calmer.

Here’s to a slower, calmer holiday season then.

Violent communication

When I was recommended “Nonviolent Communication” after I asked for resources on productive communication in October, my first reaction was wondering if the book was for me. “Violent” sounded like a strong word.

Then, I heard this passage…

“If “violent” means acting in ways that result in hurt or harm, then much of how we communicate – judging others, bullying, having racial bias, blaming, finger pointing, discriminating, speaking without listening, criticizing others or ourselves, name-calling, reacting when angry, using political rhetoric, being defensive or judging who’s “good/bad” or what’s “right/wrong” with people – could indeed be called “violent communication.”

…and realized I’d found the exact resource I needed.

Putting the lessons learnt from this book into action is going to be one of my top 3 themes for next year – so, plenty more to follow on that journey in 2019. The immediate next step is for a second read of the book over the holidays. :-)

5 books that might change your mind – 2018 edition

Here are 5 books I read this year that might change how you see the world –

1. Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg (my review/notes, Amazon): Putting this book into practice will be my most important theme in 2019. Since the last 7 weeks, it has already made an impact on how I think about communication (and hopefully communicate). It is a “beginner’s guide to communication” of sorts as Marshall Rosenberg explains how communication should be done – with a focus on observation instead of evaluations and by taking the time to articulate feelings and needs. A game changer.

2. Great at Work by Morten Hansen (my review/notes, Amazon): Over the years, I’ve come to realize that the books that resonate the most are those that I read because they are “just in time” instead of “just in case” (H/T Naval Ravikant for that articulation. I was at a place where I was mulling my themes for approaching work better in 2019 and this book resonated deeply. The first principle of the book is “Do less, then obsess” – it is what I need to learn in 2019. I wish I had the opportunity to read this book when I started my first job.

3. The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin (my review/notes, Amazon): Josh Waitzkin shares his journey becoming a chess and martial arts champion while articulating his learning philosophy. As someone who obsesses about learning, there were many notes in the book that touched chords deep within. Profound in pars, inspirational in parts, and thoughtful throughout.

4. This is Marketing by Seth Godin (my review/notes, Amazon): Seth’s blog is my favorite blog. Every day, Seth shows up and talks about marketing in a way that is applicable to our businesses, our work, and our life. He explains that we are all marketers because marketing is about driving change in the people we seek to serve. And, doing it well involves showing up, earning trust, and creating tension. In many ways, this book reads like a conversation with Seth on his approach to thinking about marketing. And, in many ways, the experience was very meta – the brand he has created as a result of showing up everyday on his resonates deeply with me. So, I expected the book to make me rethink how I think about marketing at work and in life in 2019 – and it did.

5. Skin in the Game by Nassim Taleb (my review/notes, Amazon): I think of Nassim Taleb as a brilliant jerk. In being who he is, he challenges (provokes?) you to think deeper about ideas you take for granted, pokes holes in research you thought was bulletproof, and brings together ideas from history, psychology, and probability together with impressive skill. You may disagree with him a bunch. But, that’s almost why you have to read his work.

H/T also to When by Dan Pink (my review/notes, Amazon) , The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath (my review/notes, Amazon),

More book resources:

Dollars or love per square foot

There are many of us who dream of homes with plenty of space. We dream of space to keep all our “stuff,” to host our friends, to have our family sleep over, and to work on projects we care about. As we think of owning or renting these homes, the metric to optimize for would be dollars per square foot.

As time passes, however, I realize that dollars per square foot matters far lesser than another more important metric – love per square foot. What are the decisions we might make if we maximized for love per square foot?

For instance, we might buy a home in a place we’d love to spend our time even if it limits our career opportunities. Or, we might buy a slightly smaller home so we spend lesser personal time fretting about our finances. Or, of course, we might rent instead of buy because we’re happier with the prospect of having options. And so on.

We’ve all been to homes where we feel an abundance of love. Some are large and some are small. Regardless, homes where there is more love than space are a special sight. Maybe the love per square foot will be a metric we’ll think about as we make that next decision?

Mistakes and good judgment

December marks the beginning of reflection season in our home. And, as I reflect on the mistakes I made over the course of the year, I expect to find myself repeatedly going back to the quote – “Success comes from good judgment. Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.” 

There are many ways to account for mistakes – the normal place to start is by marking them in red ink in the “loss” category. But, this quote never fails to reminds me to think of failures in the investment category for the future.

The only mistakes and failures that deserve to be counted as losses are those that we repeated. The rest are investments that will pay themselves forward many times over in the form of good judgment if we invest in learning from them.

So, here’s to that.

The wrong kind of perseverance

Perseverance is defined as the steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. While it is often portrayed in the media as one of those heroic traits that “they” possess and we don’t, there is a big difference between the right and wrong kind of perseverance.

The difference between the right and wrong kinds is on what you are steadfast/stubborn about. The wrong kind of perseverance is stubborn on a solution or a way of approaching a problem. There is rarely a happy ending to these stories as this flavor makes it all about us and how we want things to be done.

On the other hand, the right kind of perseverance involves being stubborn on the problem and flexible on the solution. When we’re focused on solving a problem for the people we seek to serve, we keep experimenting on approaches until we find one that works.

Like most good things, we find the right kind of perseverance when we do things for reasons that require us to get over ourselves.