Monday, May 21, 2012

I "met" a remarkable man today ......

I have been casting the net in the (internet) to see what I pull up .... a mix of nutrition and detritus but mainly nutrition because I have cast the net mainly in promising places.

One such is a video on Richard Feynman's last journey. It is about 5 minutes short of an hour but, to me, so very worth it. The link should you be interested, and I hope you are is:

Each one of us will get a different message from the video for we are shaped by our perceptions. But also watch if you can find an hour and 17 minutes the 1979 lecture he gave at the Univ of Auckland. This is the link

I just absolutely love the way the man thinks, and the way he treats others, and the honesty he portrays.

One particular chord that struck more than others was when (in the Univ of Auckland lecture video) he says that he tries to find an explanation or a reason for something - but is not biased by thinking what the expected outcome should be. He talks of removing from his mind "I like" or "I do not like". That has to be among the hardest things to do when trying to solve a problem.

In reading what I am about to write please do not assume that I am even contemplating equating myself to the man. I am only stating why that particular chord struck.

When I was at Dow Chemical, I was unpopular for many reasons - but one was my unrelenting focus on in finding out the real answer to a problem given to me. Why for example was the business analysis of the plant in Indonesia so glowing for the future but every historic report so dismal.

When I was at J.P.Morgan I was removed from a project because I specifically stated that I would report my findings - this on a call where a "senior" who went on to become one of the youngest SVP's was telling me that my work was good, but needed to support his conclusions more (never mind that his conclusions were based on thin air). Another "senior" actually had me do work outside of my job description (up to 70% of what I did for about 4 years was outside the job description). What was the work? Well the product folks would make Case A for something and the sales force Case B. This senior would tell me, we need an unbiased opinion on "what it really is" and knew that I would deliver.

A person I worked for in another organization actually told me that he used to make two sets of presentations with completely different recommendations and presented one that at the last minute he felt, better represented the views of the executive he was presenting to. Needless to say, this person is actually considered an expert!!!
What was more shocking was that this person actually thought he was being very clever. What a shame that an organization pays someone so much to be so deceitful - though often the "organization" or system has to be blamed, for it encourages such behavior.

Biased as it may seem, I have always held that honesty in assessing something to the best of your ability is what is so very key. Do not kid yourself or look only for the explainable. It will probably not do much good, it will prevent you from a a truer understanding, and it is not much fun - if your quest is for what is really happening.

In a world where EQ has somehow become how to be fake and get what you want, in a world where we are driven by ambition for all the wrong reasons (there are many right ones), in a world of scarce resources, I believe that when tasked with evaluating something we should do so without a bias for anything other than the truth.

I hope to have the courage to test myself again in this aspect as I go about trying to figure out how to enable entrepreneurship - or another related problem. The courage comes from the fact that you never do know if the attempt at discovery will result in failure. Honestly done, your effort though a failure in terms of one result will probably result in success on another front - key is to learn from your failures. To remember them and to connect the dots.

Stay well. Stay true.