Embarking

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may remember that I moved to Portland for grad school.   It has been simmer for about two years, and now I’m finally ready to turn off the crock pot and dish out some fun.  In that sense, I am imagining a renewed interest in blogging.  To be honest, in the past several months, I don’t feel like i’ve really had much to say, so I’ve stayed silent.  But now, like a prism scattering light, my mental energies will be directed in a thousand new directions (interesting ones).

So perhaps I’ll have things to say, and perhaps you’ll read them.

To bring you up to speed: For the next 3 months, I will be taking pre-requisite classes as a crash course in business jargon and financial what-not.  As a humble elementary school teacher, this is mostly new territory.  Then begining this September, I will start a very intense 15-month 75-credit Master’s of International Management. at Portland State University.  One of the highlights will be learning Chinese.  Since I love learning languages so much, that will likely be a running theme here.  Also, the degree really focuses on Asia, which I think is a neat place, so I might write about various goings-on in that part of the world.

June 12, 2009 at 3:48 pm 3 comments

Why I love Wikipedia

Wikipedia has its critics to be sure.  How can an encyclopedia written by anonymous amateurs be considered a reliable source?  Why do so many people turn there to settle factual disputes in the heat of an argument.  (I’ll admit, one of the reasons I wanted to buy an iPhone was so that I woud have unbridled access to this treasure trove of knowledge).

The argument goes someting like: Wikipedia articles can’t be trusted.  ANYONE can simply write whatever they want, or edit an existing article, maliciosly (or unwittingly) re-writing history.  That is a valid concern.  I’m not sure I want my grandmother to be the one writing an entry on WW2.  (Her memory might not be very trustworthy).  But I believe this weakness is Wikipedia’s greatest asset.  It is the quintessential peer-edited jounral.  Errors are quickly dealt with.

In their book “The Starfish and the Spider” Brafman and Beckstrom write about the power of community collaboraion: “..put people into an open system and they’ll automatically want to contrubute.” (pg 74)  Wikipedia has a large user base that thrives off the chance to write, re-format, or edit erroneous information.

Of course it is a bonus that the real-time nature of an internet resource means that mistakes do not come with a costly printing price tag.

Everything (no matter the source) shold be read with a grain of  salt.  This applies to your printed textbooks and newspapers as well.  Errors find their way into all sorts of places.  We cannot escape that.  What we get from Wikipedia though is a vibrant community of collaborators who are excited about spreading and imporving human access to a limitless body knowledge.

January 16, 2009 at 6:47 am 4 comments

Finding a Group to Lead

Have you read Tribes by Seth Godin?  If not, I highly recommend it.  It’s a quick read.  If you are armed with a good pot of coffee and a warm spot to sit, you might tackle it in a day.  But it is the kind of book you can consume in bite-sized pieces if you wish.  In his conversational style, Seth writes about the phonomenon of tribes.  Now before you get your warpaint and blowdart gun ready, it’s not that type of tribe (although I imagine Seth might support your quest to lead such a tribe.)

Tribes are simply groups of people united around a common interest, goal, or idea.  There are literally dozens of groups like this that are waiting to be activated. It could be a group of Korean langugae enthusiasts (shameles plug), civil-war era stamp collectors,  or it could be your sales team at work.  Whoever it is, these groups need someone to lead them.  Seth encourages his audience to be the leader for some group.  To find it, and lead it.  In fact, in the modern internet age, these groups are even easier to find.  The internet also makes collaborating with these groups incredibly easy.

What groups are you a part of?  What groups could you lead?  Isn’t there something about which you are passionate, and around which you could gather people to collaborate?

January 15, 2009 at 6:45 pm Leave a comment

Integrative Thinking

As I wrote before, I am currently reading Roger Martin’s The Opposable Mind. Martin believes that for some business leaders, a certain method of thinking has contibuted to their success. Integrative thinking, according to Martin is the ability to keep multiple options, which may even be contradictory, in play as viable options when facing any business decision.mm

For example, Red Hat is a software company offering Linux, a FREE computer operating system. When open source software like Linux was first introduced and becoming popular, distributors made money by selling disks for a nominal fee (perhaps around $15). This is of course much more attractive than the hunderds of dollars competitors like Microsoft were charging for a proprietary system. Bob Young, co-founder of Red Hat rejected the tradtional model used by Micrsoft et. al. He much preferred the collaboration and innovation that the open source community could provide in a very nimble way. He also knew that selling CD’s for $15 was not going to be a profitable business model.

Hindsight is always 20/20, so it may not appear to be such a breakthough using the lens of today, but These two models were accepted as reality in the industry. There was an impasse. But Martin identifies Young as an integrative thinker, to revoltionized the open source software community by ofering the software for FREE (as an internet download) and combining that with services (training, installation, consulting, etc). The prodcut price enabled Red Hat to undercut practically the entire market, giving them substantial penetration. The high-margin services gave them an immediate and lucrative path to profit.

Young excercised integrative thought in finding this solution. From the incongruity of 2 traditional models, he saw the oppotunity for a innovative third model.

January 14, 2009 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

The Opposable Mind

I’ve started reading The Opposable Mind (Harvard Business School Press) by Roger Martin.  It is just the latest in a slew of books I’ve been reading recently.  Look for a new series of posts here about the books I am reading.

The Opposable Mind takes a different angle than many other popular business books today.  And this might be a great reason to check it out even if you aren’t interested in “business literature.”  Martin takes the approach that the success of some business leaders can be traced to their thinking process as much as the things they did  He suggests an “opposable mind” is one that as F. Scott Fitzgerald observed, “…[has the] ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

Martin goes on to describe his interviews with several noted and less conspicuous business leaders.  He believes there is a common theme found in their success that can be traced back to a willingness and ability to consider multiple solutions has having merit, and ultimately plotting  a hybrid course.

It is important to add that Martin believes a) this thinking is NOT a necessary condition for success in business, but simply a common thread in the leaders he profiles, and b) the process can be learned.

I’ll be sharing some additional thoughts of my own as I read this book.

January 3, 2009 at 11:53 am 1 comment

A new project!

As I wrote before, I am really having a great time exploring this city.  I keep finding awesome things to do; I keep meeting awesome people.

I’ve started a Korean language club.  I found some other people interested in studying, and we have started to meet and practice Korean!  So far it’s just been once, but it will become a regular thing.  I’ve made a blog to complement this group, you can find it here:

http://portlandkorean.wordpress.com

December 16, 2008 at 3:14 pm 1 comment

A truly amazing city

OK.  So now I’ve spent just over 3 weeks here.  It has been really exciting.  I almost feel like a new person.  I’ve been doing a lot of things differently than in times past.

picture-3 Here is the house I’m living in.  Sorry, the picture is dark.  I decided to update the blog at the spur of the moment, and well, you get what you get.  Anyway, it is a 108 year old house that apparently is modular.  The landlord says it (and the 3 houses nearby) were shipped on on trains and then assembled on site.  Turns out it was also assembled without inuslation.  No minor issue, but at least we don’t live in Minneapolis!

I have also been going to a number of different groups.  If you are new to a city (or if you just want to make friends in your current one) I strongly suggest meetup.com.  I have used that site to meet a lot of new people.  I found Spanish languge groups, professional networking groups, and I’m sort of starting a Korean language group as well.

I am also trying to be more intentional about eating well.  I mean, in my previous life, I was content to just eat chicken nuggets and call it a day.  Or ramen.  On occasion I would get really enthusiastic and make something more special.  I decided it was time to grow up in this area, so I subscribed to a weekly shopping list/recipe website.  I need that because I am so clueless otherwise.

I have joined zipcar.  Read about it.  It is awesome and fun.

December 7, 2008 at 5:30 pm 2 comments

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