Everything is an Investment

“Mental models” seem to be the latest and greatest thing. Popularized by folks like Charlie Munger, Ray Dalio, and even the Mental Model of the Month Club, they’re essentially a higher level way of looking at life’s challenges, situations, and opportunities. The 80/20 rule, aka the Pareto Principle, is one example.

I recently realized that I’d developed a mental model of my own that helps me make decisions. I don’t have a fancy name for it, but it’s really nothing more than considering everything an investment of some sort. This, then, helps frame decisions based on expected returns.

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The Cost of Failure

We often judge opportunities based on the potential benefit or “up side” as it’s often called. If we do ‘X’ we get ‘Y’. Typically the risk we consider is simply not getting ‘Y’ if we fail to accomplish ‘X’.

I’ve come to rely on an additional approach to judging both opportunity and risk. I call it the “cost of failure”.

It’s quick, easy, and now one of my most important evaluation tools.

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Back. Up.

The moderator of one of the groups of which I’m a member posed the following (paraphrased) question:

“If you had a chance to send a message to 20,000 people in 100 words or less, what would you say?”

Took me about a second to come up with a two word response:

Back. Up.

There. 98 words to spare. (99 if I’d chosen “backup” instead. 🙂 )

Read moreBack. Up.

Why I Stopped Reading “Enlightenment Now”

Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker gained notoriety of late because of Bill Gates’ statement that it was “My new favorite book of all time.” Bill’s hard to ignore, especially when something reaches the top of any of his lists. I picked up a copy and dove in.

It’s a great book. Not sure it makes the “favorite book of all time” list for me, but even having not completed the book I can already heartily recommend it. And yet, I’m setting it aside.

Why? Because of something I stumbled across elsewhere, and the fact that I agree with the message behind the book.

Read moreWhy I Stopped Reading “Enlightenment Now”

Facts, Misinformation & Priorities

  • Fact check before sharing. It makes you more authoritative, and makes the world a better place.
  • Misinformation shared only serves “the opposition.”
  • Focus on what’s truly important.

My morning was derailed by three separate articles that really struck a nerve. The concepts are so simple and important, and yet so often ignored, I’m having a hard time thinking about much else.

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We All Fear What We Don’t Understand

We all fear what we do not understand.
― Dan Brown, The Lost Symbol

I suspect that this quote actually pre-dates Mr. Brown’s 2009 book, but the original source is proving elusive. A longer, perhaps more telling version:

What we don’t understand, we fear. What we fear, we judge as evil. What we judge as evil, we attempt to control. And what we cannot control…we attack.

The author seems to be the exceptionally prolific, and in this case insightful, Mr. “unknown”.

All I can say is that humans apparently don’t understand a great many things.

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Habit Fad

Two days ago I wrote that I’d “techniqued” myself into inaction. I was trying to do so many things, seemingly all at the same time, that I could do none of them well, and some of them not at all.

There’s what I’ll call a fad right now that says improving yourself — be it your productivity, your accomplishments, your health, your whatever — is all about establishing the proper habits. There are a multitude of blog posts, articles, and books on how to go about doing that.

It has a fad-like feeling to me. It wouldn’t surprise me if a few years from now we’ll haved moved on to a different productivity or self-improvement fadtechnique.

And yet, at a practical level, I’m paying attention. Fads often carry nuggets of wisdom.

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Technique Overload

I’m not a self-improvement junkie, but it’s certainly something that I have interest in. The process began years ago when one of my managers at Microsoft introduced me to an assortment of books and resources on the topic, most notably Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Since then I’ve done a lot of reading, tried an assortment of time-management tools, watched videos, and tried various … I’ll call them “techniques”.

I ended last year over-techniqued.

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Walter

Hello, my name is Walter. I’m a boy Pembroke Welsh Corgi, born in 2013. I live in Woodinville, Washington, but I do travel a little, mostly in western Washington. If you find me my owners would love it if you let them know. You can reach Leo Notenboom via the 206 number on my tag. … Read more

An Interested Interview

I was recently interviewed by Josh Spector, the man behind For The Interested, a curated newsletter of interesting articles and other information that Josh both finds and occasionally writes himself. There’s an associated For The Interested Facebook group made up of newsletter subscribers, and as part of an experiment to learn more about the people in it, Josh has been conducting a few short interviews.

Here’s mine, presented here with his permission.

Read moreAn Interested Interview

Not. My. Monkeys.

I have opinions.

(I’ll wait for everyone that knows me to stop laughing….)

I tend not to be terribly shy about sharing said opinions.

(Again, another pause for the audience to catch their breath….)

I recently read an article that discussed how the Dutch are somewhat more “brutally honest” when it comes to opinions, and are often puzzled when people don’t accept and understand that they’re offered with the best of intentions. My Dutch heritage apparently runs deeper than I thought.

Of late, though, I’m trying to take a different approach when I react and want to share something I think important. And a simple phrase is helping.

Read moreNot. My. Monkeys.

The Insidious Bubble

I was talking to a friend yesterday about our meditation practices. The observation we both made was that meditation, mindfulness, and related concepts were becoming more and more mainstream. What was once considered a fringe and somewhat “woo” activity had made its way into common discussions around everything from personal performance, to medical and mental health discussions.

But on one observation we differed in an interesting way.

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The Shallows

As revolutionary as it may be, the Net is best understood as the latest in a long series of tools that have helped mold the human mind.

Last week I finished the book “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains” by Nicholas Carr.

It brought a few things in to clarity for me, both with respect to my own ability to focus and dive deep into content, as well as how my audience is being impacted as well.

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Five Things I Learned Writing About Gratitude Every Day For Sixty Days

In mid-August, sixty days prior to my 60th birthday I started a writing exercise I called “60 Days of Gratitude“. Ten years ago I wrote a thought piece entitled “Half Century Mark“. I wanted to do something similar to mark the next decade, and using a writing exercise focussed on gratitude seemed an appropriate approach.

Now that I’m done I decided to capture some of what I learned in the process.

Read moreFive Things I Learned Writing About Gratitude Every Day For Sixty Days