I publish WendellNotes for significant books I read to make their perspective available to friends and GIN subscribers who may not otherwise have time for them. Before I started writing WendellNotes in 2011, book notes were part of my Journal. [Brackets separate my comments from the author's.]
All nodes prefer to attach to other nodes with the most connections. Leaders can outsource all kinds of professional skills, but not the interpersonal skills needed to build deep and resilient relationships. Human networks are based on the exchange of social capital, which serves as a vehicle for the transaction of other network commodities such as money and information. The more you have, the more you get—the “Matthew Effect.” People will forget what you did or said, but not how you made them feel. They abide by the “cult of failure” and stress the formative nature of failures, setbacks, and disappointments. Relational capital creates network capital, which increases the return on relationships. Networks need platforms to form, expand, and strengthen. As finance takes up an increasingly larger share of GDP, investment in the real economy falls. In every system network dynamics eventually lead to greater levels of homogeneity, interconnectedness, and complexity. [Read this in view of the relationship superhubs developing within the Kingdom of God.]
Surprise the World: The 5 Habits of Highly Missional People
Missional habits--what we do and say that alerts others to the reign of God--shape our missional outlook. When our lives become questionable, our neighbors invite us to proclaim the reign of God. Habits unleash our values naturally. Discipleship is about changing the behavior of people. Jesus’ purpose in coming was to serve, to seek and save the lost. His method was eating and drinking.
Tattoos on the Heart
The poor had some privileged delivery system for giving me access to the gospel. Disapproval does not seem to be part of God’s DNA. Shame is at the root of all addictions. “My spirit is so sore. It hurts to be me.” The principal suffering of the poor is shame and disgrace. Assume the answer to every question is compassion. If we long to be in the world who God is, then somehow our compassion has to find its way to vastness. The great encounter with the “father wound” is every homeboy’s homework. The absence of self-love is shame, just as cold is the absence of warmth. We seek a compassion that can stand in awe at what the poor have to carry rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it. The opposite of depression is not happiness, it’s delight. Bad behavior is recognized for the language it is: the vocabulary of the deeply wounded and of those whose burdens are more than they can bear. I want to lean into the challenge of intractable problems with as tender a heart as I can locate, knowing that there is some divine ingenuity here, “the slow work of God,” that gets done if we’re faithful.
Team of Teams
We cannot force the square peg of complexity into the round hole of the complicated. Performance improvements have a ceiling as long as adaptable traits are limited to the team level. Engagement is the central predictor of productivity. We found that, even as our speed increased and we pushed authority further down, the quality of decisions went up. We had our leaders provide information so that subordinates, armed with context, understanding, and connectivity, could take the initiative and make decisions. I was most effective when supervising processes, not actions or operational decisions. Just as empowerment without sharing fails, so does sharing without empowerment. We used shared consciousness to pump information out, empowering people at all levels.
TED Talks Storytelling 23 Techniques
The best speech opening is a story. A well-told story is irresistible. What makes a story irresistible is conflict. Share a personal story. Character => Conflict => Spark => Change in Character => Takeaway Message.
Thank You for Being Late
In this sequel to The World is Flat, Friedman describes the world as starting to operate differently in many realms at once to make old things work better, new things possible, and to do old things in fundamentally new ways. Technology, globalization, and climate change are all accelerating at once. The world is starting to operate differently in many realms at once. The rate of change is now above what most people can absorb. Lives are changed when people connect. Life is changed when everything is connected. The last time there was such a significant change in the cost structure for the dissemination of information was when books became popular. Suddenly complexity is fast, free, easy, and invisible. All the learning is being immediately applied to make old things work better, new things possible, and to do old things in fundamentally new ways. Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. All industries are becoming computable, moving from being digitized to being disrupted to being democratized. Data flows exert a larger impact on growth than traditional goods flows. The principal factor promoting significant social change is contact with strangers with new and unfamiliar skills. Those societies most open to flows of trade, information, finance, culture, or education, and those most willing to learn from them and contribute to them, are the ones most likely to thrive. In every major economic shift a new asset class becomes the main basis for productivity growth, wealth creation, and opportunity. Stempathy jobs require and reward the ability to leverage technical and interpersonal skills—and they are booming. Terrorists are perennial wound collectors, bringing up events from decades and even centuries past without allowing forgiveness.
The Churchill Factor
This is a biography of Winston Churchill, who was always looking for the large unfolding themes playing out in the world. He missed some of the details but got most of the big stuff right. Our world is markedly better because he lived.
I have written this narrative of The Flow as a message to my younger self--what I would have loved to know at 20-something].If you want to know your place in the Kingdom of God, follow the dream in your heart. And if you want to know how to get there, follow the relationships you’re in. What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful. Our competence is helpful—but our vulnerability is transformative. You can either impress people or influence them. Those who influence you are those who believe in you and think the best of you. Integrity, beauty, hope, and love are all in the same category as prayer. You can’t define them because they are too close to God’s image. The downward journey is the gospel story. Since Jesus’ death, no one has been able to tell a better one. Flow is an optimal state of consciousness where we feel and perform at our best. Group flow is considered the most pleasurable state on earth. Adults learn best from their own experience. In a Culture of Honor we develop a process for problem solving and create or dismantle culture--defining and refining our values (what’s important). A healthy APEST culture may sustain the next revival. Free people are difficult to lead and require Apostles and Prophets to show the way. They establish both an environment for others to gain freedom and a government for them to keep it. The gospel doesn’t take the poor out of poverty; it takes poverty out of the poor. Story is a sense-making mechanism. When we use a story, we create a map. The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. Perhaps the whole creation came under our curse because it was under our stewardship.
The Future is Faster than you Think
[This book is a sequel to Abundance (2012), also in WendellNotes, which describes how accelerating technologies are demonetizing and democratizing access to food, water, and energy, making resources that were once scarce now abundant, and allowing individuals to tackle impossible global challenges such as hunger, poverty, and disease.] We want to make it economically irrational to own and use a car. Computing in quibits will usher in a golden age of discovery in new materials, chemicals, and drugs. Flow is an optimal state of consciousness where we feel and perform at our best. People who score off the charts for deep meaning and overall life satisfaction are those with the most flow in their lives. Group flow is considered the most pleasurable state on earth.
The Gift of Years
This is a highlight of the treasure of our experience and perspective. Perhaps the most important dimension of aging well lies in the awareness that there is a purpose to aging. Each period of life has its own purpose. This later one gives me the time to assimilate all the others. We’re too old to get a job, they tell us— but they want us to volunteer all the time.
The Man who solved the Market
Simons’ pioneering methods of machine learning have been embraced in almost every industry and reach nearly every corner of everyday life. The clout of his senior executive, Robert Mercer, is perhaps the individual most responsible for Donald Trump’s presidential victory in 2016. Baum-Welch enabled the first effective speech recognition system and even Google’s search engine. About 60% of investments that experienced big, sudden rises or drops would snap back. There will likely remain pockets of the market where savvy traditional investors prosper, especially those focused on longer-term investing that algorithmic, computer-driven investors tend to shy away from.
The Master Algorithm
'Learning algorithms' are the seeds, data is the soil, and the learned programs are the grown plants. Machine learning automates automation itself and is the scientific method on steroids. Bayes’ theorem is just a simple rule for updating your degree of belief in a hypothesis when you receive new evidence. It is a machine that turns data into knowledge. It is the algorithm that gave rise to Google itself. The Master Algorithm can learn to simulate any other algorithm by reading examples of its input-output behavior. The Master Algorithm is what the hand is to pens, swords, screwdrivers, and forks. Humans have one constant guide: their emotion. We seek pleasure and avoid pain. Children explore and adults exploit. A midlife crisis is the yearning to explore again after many years spent exploiting. The value of a user to the internet advertising industry is about $1200/year.
The Next 100 Years
The inherent power of the US coupled with its geographic position make it the pivotal actor of the 21st century. China will not become the next challenge to the US, as many predict. The single most important fact of the 21st century is the end of the population explosion. European power was about money and geography. US control of the sea meant that the US was able to define global maritime trades and gave the US a huge political advantage. Al Qaeda is fighting for [their] traditional understanding of the family. As the sophistication of industry advanced, the economic value of children declined. The decline of economic necessity removes a powerful stabilizing force in marriage. The computer is reshaping American culture. Those who don’t adopt America’s ways can’t have a modern economy. The total size of an economy determines what percentage of resources can be devoted to military matters. Roughly every 50 years the US has been confronted with a defining economic and social crisis. Where humanity goes, war goes. Control of space means the same thing strategically as control of the sea. US Space Forces, will become the biggest branch of service in terms of budget, if not troop size.
The Seventh Sense
Power—the ability to make things happen—is determined by structure and pulses through structure. Strategy imagines how whole structures such as nations or corporations might be directed in the service of the most ambitious goals. Power pulses through structure. In spreading market capitalism the world is digging an ever-deeper moat between rich and poor. Grand strategy in our future will hinge on a mastery of gatekeeping. In connected systems, power is defined by both profound concentration and massive distribution. What makes a city and a platform for network power? The answer to both is density. Systems can be fast, open, or secure, but only 2 of these 3 at a time. The battle for our future will be decided in a contest over time itself. Nations and corporations and ideologies that can deliver this liberty of velocity will grow, thrive, and accelerate. Power is in the construction and control of gated space--Gatelands. The process of linking everything is unstoppable and produces gatelands.
The Signal and the Noise
The Signal and the Noise complements The Culture of Growth with a new way to sort through economic complexity at which Fed and the SEC are becoming less proficient and intelligence agencies are becoming more proficient. Bayesian logic and prediction may reduce the noise of economic data to further refine and strengthen the GIN model.