Monthly Archives: February 2014

Happiness

Happiness

Those who wander in the world avowedly and purposely in pursuit of happiness, who view every scene of present joy with an eye to what may succeed, certainly are more liable to disappointment, misfortune and unhappiness, than those who give up their fate to chance and take the goods and evils of fortune as they come, without making happiness their study, or misery their foresight.

-Frances Burney (1752–1840), British author.

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MIT BRAIN SCANS SHOW THAT ENTREPRENEURS REALLY DO THINK DIFFERENT

Original article

brain

A BRAIN SCAN STUDY AT MIT SUGGESTS THAT ENTREPRENEURS ARE MORE LIKELY TO USE BOTH SIDES OF THEIR BRAINS WHEN MAKING DECISIONS.

Your widgets are selling slow and steady. But the kids are demanding widgets with Wi-Fi. Should you bet the farm on a new product line or concentrate on incremental improvements in widget production?

Our brains have two basic problem-solving strategies. Exploitation means taking advantage of what you already know, concentrating deeply on a current task to optimize performance and efficiency. Exploration means taking a step back from the task at hand to allow your mind to roam flexibly among alternatives. Leadership in the age of flux calls for “ambidextrous” minds that can switch back and forth between the two strategies when called for. A new study from MIT suggests that one component of this ambidextrousness involves tapping your creative and logical sides at the same time.

Researchers from the neuroscience department and business school collaborated to scan the brains of 63 subjects, divided between self-described entrepreneurs and managers, when engaged in a game. The game involved virtual slot machines; to maximize returns you had to decide when to keep playing the same machine (an exploitative choice) or try a new one (an explorative choice).

The entrepreneurs in the study, perhaps surprisingly, weren’t any more likely to engage in exploration. But when they did, they were more likely to activate both the right and left sides of their frontal cortex. Managers mainly stuck to the left side, which is associated with logic and structured thinking. The right side, on the other hand, is associated with creativity and emotion.

Successful decision-making isn’t necessarily about doing more exploration than exploitation. It’s in the timing–knowing when to shift between the two forms of thinking. A question for further research is whether entrepreneurs’ brains function this way because of the kind of decisions they’re used to making, or whether people with these more coherent brains are more likely to end up as entrepreneurs. “It’s a nature versus nurture question,” said Professor Maurizio Zollo, the lead author of the study.

-BY 

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What is the most shitty thing about becoming an adult?

It’s hard to explain, but for me it’s that the sense of being part of some story where you are the protagonist kind of fizzles out unceremoniously and leaves you drifting for the rest of forever.

As a kid, you’re on a path, there’s a plan laid out for you, and whether you intentionally break from the plan or follow it to the letter, there’s this linear progression of growth, and an ultimate goal to strive for. You have allies, you have enemies, you have trials that you pass or fail, you have moments of catharsis, etc. You feel like part of a beautiful narrative, like the heroes in movies and books and tv shows and stories. You feel like there’s a right and a wrong way to go, and some ultimate fate waiting for you at the end that will sum up what all of it meant.

When you get to be an adult, that illusion crumbles away as you realize that you don’t have a narrative, there is no path or plan, things aren’t always linear, and you’re nobody’s hero. There are no allies, because friends can be both good and bad for you simultaneously. There are no enemies, because frankly no one cares enough to wage a personal war for long. You don’t have a destiny. You make choices that are more a product of random chance than you want to admit, and sometimes the consequences make sense, sometimes they don’t. You may flounder around in a bunch of different directions for many years, ultimately not making any progress, and having nothing of import to show for it. You’re not a good person or an evil person – you’re just an ant wandering around looking for crumbs. No, worse than an ant, because an ant has a purpose in life, to serve its queen and colony. You can choose to align yourself with a purpose, but it may never fulfill you or reward you. And nobody will be waiting with a shiny gold medal for you if you stick to it.

Life as an adult seems less and less like an exciting adventure story and more and more like a delerious, confusing fog of random developments and passing phases that raise more questions than they answer.

Edit: I somehow put my first edit in the middle of the text, which made it weird. But it said thank you very much for the gold and comments. I appreciate all the insights and solidarity, and the disagreement too.

I haven’t always felt this way about adulthood, and I probably won’t always feel exactly this way. It’s not as if everything’s hopeless, or that I’ll never try to find a direction for my life. It’s just that the realization of how small your impact actually is, and that you are not destined for anything great, and how subject you are to forces bigger than yourself – that’s a tough pill to swallow.

calliope720

The last direct descendant of Genghis Khan to rule his own kingdom.

The last direct descendant of Genghis Khan to rule his own kingdom.

The guy in the picture is Alim Khan, Emir of Bukhara and the last direct descendant of Genghis Khan to rule his own kingdom. This picture was taken in 1911, the year his father died and he succeeded to the throne.

He was the last ruler of the Manghit Dynasty, from a tribe of Mongol warriors belonging to Nogai Horde. The Nogai Horde descended from Nogai Khan, the great-grandson of Jochi, the eldest son of Genghis. The Nogai Horde ended up being the most powerful confederation among the Golden Horde, which continued to rule central Asia for centuries after Genghis Khan’s death.

The Emirate of Bukhara covered much of what is today Uzbekistan, with Samarkand and Bukhara as its two major cities. This is another picture by the same photographer taken a year before Alim Khan’s portrait, showing Jewish boys with their teacher in Samarkand (1910). The Russians overthrew Bukhara in 1920 and Alim Khan fled to Afghanistan, where he eventually died. His daughter was a journalist who left Afghanistan when the Soviets invaded in 1979, and moved to the US. She worked for Voice of America and did propaganda radio broadcasts in Dari (local Afghan language) as part of the US effort to kick the Soviets out of Afghanistan. – EvanRWT

This picture is more than 100 years old. Using triple negatives of blue, red, and green filters on glass, combined to create a beautiful color photo from 1911.

Russia in color a century ago with images from southern and central Russia in the news lately due to extensive wildfires, I thought it would be interesting to look back in time with this extraordinary collection of color photographs taken between 1909 and 1912. In those years, photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) undertook a photographic survey of the Russian Empire with the support of Tsar Nicholas II. He used a specialized camera to capture three black and white images in fairly quick succession, using red, green and blue filters, allowing them to later be recombined and projected with filtered lanterns to show near true color images. The high quality of the images, combined with the bright colors, make it difficult for viewers to believe that they are looking 100 years back in time – when these photographs were taken, neither the Russian Revolution nor World War I had yet begun. Collected here are a few of the hundreds of color images made available by the Library of Congress, which purchased the original glass plates back in 1948. ( Via http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/08/russia_in_color_a_century_ago.html )

-lolwutroflwaffle–

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So you want to manage a product?

PM

What no one tells you about the role

What product management is

  • Being the heart, mind, and voice of the user
  • Facilitating cross-functional teamwork
  • Making product trade-offs
  • Meeting an end-goal with fixed time and resources
  • Leading people along a product journey
  • Being positive and practical
  • Making tough calls with little information

What product management is not

  • Being the most important voice
  • Being the only idea-generator
  • Being a designer
  • Being a programmer
  • Managing QA
  • Optimizing websites
  • Writing marketing collateral

Product management is not what you think it is.

  1. You’re not managing a product. You’re managing the problem it solves.
  2. Your product is only as good as a user’s perception of it.
  3. Product Managers are neither designers nor engineers.
  4. It’s not about being a star — It’s about managing a universe.

Rohini Vibha in Product Management

This article has a valid discussion/overview of product managers, but I would argue that product managers may have strengths in design and engineering as some are from those departments and promoted into PM position. They have a greater understanding for work in a cross discipline team, collaboration, and empathize with the developers. They may have the tendencies to have a more connected/closer connection and better perspective of customers needs. In hindsight, better decisions are made from a knowledgeable background/well rounded product manager.

Click on the title link above for the full article!

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Frozen Scandinavia

Frozen

Left to right: Svalbart as Elsa, Norway as Anna, Saami as Kristoff, Denmark as Hans, and Sweden as the Duke of Weselton.

I wasn’t going to do anything with Frozen until I was informed that all three of the Scandinavian countries are represented in the movie.

Arendelle is Magic Norway (very obvious), The Southern Isles are Magic Denmark (hint being that Denmark is mostly made up of islands and the most southern of the Scandinavian countries), and Weselton is Magic Sweden (hint being that Weselton is Arendelle’s closest trading partner, which is historically Sweden to Norway).

Saami is, well, the Saami character, though he’s not impressed with his clothes which doesn’t look like any real Saami clothes.

And it all make a fair amount of sense considering how Denmark and Sweden have been fighting over Norway for centuries.

-satwcomic