Saturday, September 17, 2016

Book I'm reading: Pivot

My uncle had one job for life. My job had a job almost for life. But these days, having a "steady" job is the least steady option. Be ready for change... all the time. Otherwise, you will be shortchanged.

Pivot is a book I stumbled upon. And here's the synopsis:
Careers are not linear, predictable ladders any longer; they are fluid trajectories. No matter our age, life stage, bank account balance, or seniority, we are all being asked to navigate career changes much more frequently than in years past.
The average employee tenure in America is just four to five years, and even those roles change dramatically within that time. Our economy now demands that we create businesses and careers based on creativity, growth, and impact. In this dynamic world of work, the only move that matters is your next one.
And this is its author, Jenny Blake's, advice in a nutshell:
  • Double-down on existing strengths, interests, and experiences
  • Find new opportunities and identify skills to develop without falling prey to analysis-paralysis and compare-and-despair
  • Run small experiments to determine next steps
  • Take smart risks to launch with confidence in a new direction

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Know why you want to be published

Lots of people like to be a published author. But when you ask them why they want to be published, a lot of times they are not clear exactly why.

Of course they could be many reasons. People rarely have just one motivation for wanting to do something. But even if there are a few of them, most people have trouble articulating why they want to get a book published.

The reason why it is important to be clear about your motivations is that these motivations should inform the choice you make in getting your book published. For example, do you go with an established publisher or do you go with an indie publisher or do you do self-publishing? If you do self-publishing do you go down the vanity publishing route or do you do print on demand or do you do everything yourself? Or do you opt for e-books instead? If so, do you do static e-books or interactive e-books? And with e-books do you go with an established publisher or do it yourself?

There are so many possibilities and each has its pros and cons. Which one you choose will depend a lot on your motivations. If you get them confused, you might end up choosing the wrong approach.

For example, I was once asked by someone for advice on getting a very niche book about the founding of a very old company. I asked the author "What is your main goal for this book?"

He started saying how important it is for people to know the history of how this company was founded and how it should be recorded for posterity etc.

"So you want as many people to know about this as possible, right?" I asked. "Right," he said.

I then told him he should have this book published as an e-book and made available as a free download. This will allow him to reach as many people as possible, which is what was his stated intent.

Free downloads? He was taken aback. "But how do I make money?" he asked.

I didn't know that making money was a key motivation. "You didn't mention that," I replied. "So, is making money important for this project?" I further inquired.

"Yes, it is," he said.

How important?

"Actually very important," he replied.

More important than actually getting as many people to read this as possible (because they two goals can be conflicting)?

He hesitated a bit. So, I helped him out by asking: "If given a choice (i) wide readership (ii) big profits, which would you choose, if you can't have both?"

He replied (ii), make big bucks.

Ok, so now we know the real motivation. (Why didn't he just say so at first?)

With that information in hand, he can now make the right decisions on how to maximize his profits from that particular project. What that decision entails is a topic for another blog post. But what this story illustrates is that it's crucial to be clear about what it is you want to achieve with the publication of your book.

You might want to do it for personal fulfillment. You might want to do it to honor somebody. You might want to do it to educate the public. You might want to do it for branding. You might want to do it to make money. You might want to do it for this or for that. There are many different motivations. Be clear what yours are.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Compatible working styles

When you collaborate with someone, you need to make sure that your working style and theirs are compatible. Clashes in style can lead to a lot of headaches.

For example, some people are the kinds who take their time to respond to messages and will do so as and when they like. Others like to respond immediately. That's a clash of styles.

Some like to discuss matters in person and prefer long meetings. Others prefer to chat via electronic means and like to keep the sessions short. Again, big clash in style.

Some like to stick the game plan and not get sidetracked, even by good ideas. Others view the project as a work-in-progress in every respect. That means anything can change and should change, if it's for the better. Yet another example of clashes in style.

We can change the way others work. And it may not make much sense for us to change our way of working to match others'. So the best is to assess and vet your prospective collaborators or partners-in-crime and make sure the working style does not clash. Otherwise get a bottle of Panadol ready.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

KFC's secret recipe?!?

It seems the secret is out!

11 Spices – Mix With 2 Cups White Fl.

1) 2/3 Ts Salt
2) 1/2 Ts Thyme
3) 1/2 Ts Basil
4) 1/3 Ts Origino (sic)
5) 1 Ts Celery Salt
6) 1 Ts Black Pepper
7) 1 Ts Dried Mustard
8) 4 Ts Paprika
9) 2 Ts Garlic Salt
10) 1 Ts Ground Ginger
11) 3 Ts White Pepper

The truth about lightning

We all fear lightning. Yet we know very little about it. When we think of lightning strikes we think of direct hits but lightning can kill or injure in other ways. This article about how lightning killed 323 reindeer in Norway sheds some light on lightning.

Here are the salient points:

How did lightning kill all of those reindeer at once? Did they need to be touching for this to happen?
When animals or people are in groups, most are being killed by the ground current. First, there’s a direct strike — this is what most people think of when they think of lightning — that hits the tree or maybe the ground nearby. The energy then spreads along the ground surface, and if you’re anywhere near that lightning strike, you absorb it and get shocked... Ground currents are the thing that’s responsible for the most lightning deaths and injuries in both people and animals.

What are some other types of lightning besides the ground current and the direct strike?
There’s the side flash. That’s when an animal or person is standing close to the tree, the tree is hit by lightning, and then the lightning jumps from tree to person or animal. The side flash usually kills one or a small number of animals, not large ones like with ground currents.
There’s also something called a "wall conduction," which is when something plugged into the wall is a direct connection to a wire outside. So if the wire outside is struck, the lightning will fo