All Our Good Guys are also Bad Guys: Steve Jobs

Last night my wife and I watched the documentary  Steve Jobs-The Man in the Machine. It is now available on Netflix, and I think it is worth your time.

The film is a depiction of his life that includes his darker side, which was largely lost in the hero worship of the wider culture. It is full of original footage and lots of interviews with people close to him.

This essay reflects on some of the themes in the film. While I don’t agree with all that the author says (who ever does?), the big picture is spot on. All of our good guys are also bad guys. One point that comes across so well is that Steve Jobs was celebrated and promoted even though he was such a bad person. Those around him, and the broader culture was willing to accept so much evil because he gave people what they wanted. When and why we turn a blind eye to evil may be one of the most revealing tests of character there is.

That is a sobering reality.

Here is the conclusion of the essay:

“Jobs did not need to be cruel, but he chose to be; we did not need to reward him with our dollars, but we chose to. Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine shows us, because we desperately need to be reminded, that all our good guys are bad guys. Lest the viewers judge too harshly, though, the film’s implicit concluding argument is, essentially, that we are allbad guys—not just Steve Jobs, but also Steve Wozniak, Bob Belleville, you, and me—because we tolerate and even admire such outward cruelty. The screen of an iPhone dims after 30 seconds, but, thank God, grace shines the light of forgiveness when we are alone in the darkness we allow and the darkness we create.”

Only in the grace of God do we find the hero and leader that instead of exploiting us, lays down his life for us.


Driven to distraction: Our wired generation – Colorado Daily

motorcycle phone distraction

Do we need any more research confirming that we are VERY distracted As a culture?  Do we need more experts warning us about the danger of being constantly wired? Do we actually need someone to tell us that being distracted hinders students from learning?

I am convinced that we need to hear more about this for several reasons. First, the situation isn’t getting any better.  Mobile devices are now universal, especially for the younger generation. But gradually older folks are jumping on board. There is no turning back.

Second, the longer we live with connected devices, social media, mobile phones, etc. the more “normal” our distracted state becomes. We become numb to the side effects, and even forget that an undistracted life is possible.

Third, this much distraction is bad for us. The longer we study this subject the more we realize that distraction is hurting our brains, our relationships, and our joie de vivre.

Here is what Larry Rosen has to say:

“Recently my research team observed 263 middle school, high school and university students studying for a mere 15 minutes in their homes. We were interested in whether students could maintain focus and, if not, what might be distracting them. Every minute we noted exactly what they were doing, whether they were studying, if they were texting or listening to music or watching television in the background, and if they had a computer screen in front of them and what websites were being visited.

“The results were startling considering that the students knew we were watching them and most likely assumed we were observing how well they were able to study. First, these students were only able to stay on task for an average of three to five minutes before losing their focus. Universally, their distractions came from technology, including: (1) having more devices available in their studying environment such as iPods, laptops and smartphones; (2) texting; and (3) accessing Facebook…

“So, what was going on with these students? We have asked thousands of students this exact question and they tell us that when alerted by a beep, a vibration, or a flashing image they feel compelled or drawn to attend to that stimulus. However, they also tell us that even without the sensory intrusions they are constantly being distracted internally by thoughts such as, “I wonder if anyone commented on my Facebook post” or “I wonder if my friend responded to the text message I sent five minutes ago” or even “I wonder what interesting new YouTube videos my friends have liked.” Three-fourths of teens and young adults check their devices every 15 minutes or less and if not allowed to do so get highly anxious. And anxiety inhibits learning.” (emphasis mine)

Source: Driven to distraction: Our wired generation – Colorado Daily

Essentialism Ch. 5 Questions for Discussion- The Escape


Solitude Quote Picasso

Questions for Essentialism  Chapter 5

This is a list of discussion questions to help work through the content of the book “Essentialism” By Greg McKeown.

Download a pdf of these questions here: Essentialism Questions Ch. 5

Major principles:

In order to figure out what is essential we need designated times and spaces in order to think.  These must be free from other obligations and distractions.

Key examples/illustrations

  • “Do not call Monday” from Frank O’brien of Conversations
  • The at Stanford and their thinking spaces.
  • Isaac Newton and his time of solitude writing the Principia Mathematica
  • Jeff Weiner CEO of LinkedIn schedules 2 hours everyday where nothing is planned.
  • Bill Gates habit (think week) of taking 2 weeks off each year to read and think.
  1. Often our distracted schedules and frenetic pace prevent us from having time to think and reflect. How would you rate your life and schedule in this regard? Does the idea of carving out time for this seem like a reality in your life?
  2. Frank O’brien sets aside one day per month for his employees to get away to think and reflect. This helps them maintain a level of clarity and innovation.  Availability for this is also a barometer for him to understand his work force. “If somebody can’t make the meeting because of too much going on, that tells me either we’re doing something inefficiently or we need to hire more people.”   What does this barometer say about your life?
  3. It is often difficult to make time and space for reflection because of our daily demands.  We get caught up responding to needs and emergencies that we cannot extricate ourselves to improve the systems and organizations behind the emergencies. Which parts of your weekly/monthly schedule keep you from time to reflect?
  4. What is keeping you from scheduling uninterrupted time for peaceful reflection?
  5. Do you have a place where you can “escape” and think? How well is this working? List 3 possible locations you can use to escape the calls, tweets, emails, and emergencies that keep you from time to reflect.
  6. According to McKeown, “focus is not only something we have, it is something we do.”  What keeps you from “doing” focused work? Make a list of the top 5 interruptions and distractions in your life and business.
  7. What can you do to get several hours away from these top interruptions and distractions from #6?
  8. Does technology distract you? What aspects of your connectivity hinder you from the most important things?  (smart phone, social media, email, voicemail, etc).
  9. McKeown tells the story of the highly distracted executive that just couldn’t disconnect. In a moment of desperation he decided to give his phone away and to go to a motel with no internet access to get work done. He stayed there for 8 weeks until the major project was completed. What major project or life goal could you accomplish if you were willing to get away for just a day or two? Explore this idea before moving on.
  10. What nonessential things can you give up so that you can schedule regular (weekly/monthly) time for solitude and reflection?  List something to give up or “quit” this week for a higher purpose.
  11. Jeff Weiner of LinkedIn said his single most valuable productivity tool was planning 2 hours every work day where nothing else was scheduled.  (p. 68) Right now take a moment to dream (in writing) about how your life and work would change if you did this? What can you imagine would happen to your stress level? To your focus? To the way you treat others? To your productivity?
  12. Whether you take a whole day or week off to read and think, where can you build in a small amount of time to enrich your mind and soul through reading and thinking?
  13. List 3 books/articles that can help you understand your life/business/market better.  Take a moment to write out what the potential benefits of this. If you can’t think of any, write down the names of 2 people you can talk to for suggestions. What will you ask them?

An Important Observation on the Search for Meaning

The box is empty: On iPhones, religion and disconnection -

“Now, nine months later, I am not a different person. I am not more zen. I am not any nicer. I am not happier. I’ve saved a lot of money, and that is about it. The truth is I have not found new meaning in my slightly more ascetic life. But neither did I find it in that iPhone box. I don’t think anyone lined up on those sidewalks has either.”

Scott Gilmore was getting fed up with the hamster wheel of always buying new things, especially technology. This is the natural consumer response to planned obsolescence and the social pressure to have the newest device.  We don’t intend to do it, but after a while find ourselves carried out by the tide.  And before we know it we are a long way from shore. He decided to take a consumer “fast” and not buy anything he didn’t really need.  It sounds like the experience was helpful and he saved some money. But what he found was interesting.  He didn’t find meaning and fulfillment in all the stuff and technology. He also didn’t find it in the absence of all the technology and stuff.  If we want to satisfy the deepest hungers of the soul, neither trinkets nor self discipline will do the trick. We need the Bread of life.

via The box is empty: On iPhones, religion and disconnection –

15 Mobile Trends to Watch in 2015

15 Mobile Trends to Watch in 2015.

“2015 is, more than anything else, the year the smartphones and mobile tablets will be used more than all other devices in the market”

This from Mashable. Interesting stuff. I am not an old guy that hates technology, but to be honest some of this causes anxiety for me.  The changes that are coming along with our technology and devices is accelerating faster than our security, ethics, and our ability to navigate a connected world.  So… we will be able to be constantly connected all the time, everywhere, with every device. But is that actually going to help us live a good life? Questions that we need to ask before we quaff the whole bottle.

One big take away for me is the need for two factor authentication for accounts such as Google, Banking, Evernote, etc..  This is a procedure that requires 2 “passwords” to confirm access to an account. It prevents someone who may steal a password or device from accessing your stuff.  You can find more info on two factor authentication here.