“The beauty of Africa is not what we can do for it, but what it does to us.”
– Jean Margaritis.
“The beauty of Africa is not what we can do for it, but what it does to us.”
– Jean Margaritis.
“Your home is whatever in this world you love more than you love yourself. So that might be creativity, it might be family, it might be invention, adventure, faith, service, it might be raising corgis, I don’t know, your home is that thing to which you can dedicate your energies with such singular devotion that the ultimate results become inconsequential.“
“Look, I don’t know where you rightfully live, but I know that there’s something in this world that you love more than you love yourself. Something worthy, by the way, so addiction and infatuation don’t count, because we all know that those are not safe places to live. Right? The only trick is that you’ve got to identify the best, worthiest thing that you love most, and then build your house right on top of it and don’t budge from it. And if you should someday, somehow get vaulted out of your home by either great failure or great success, then your job is to fight your way back to that home the only way that it has ever been done, by putting your head down and performing with diligence and devotion and respect and reverence whatever the task is that love is calling forth from you next. You just do that, and keep doing that again and again and again, and I can absolutely promise you, from long personal experience in every direction, I can assure you that it’s all going to be okay. Thank you.”
- Elizabeth Gilbert.
Here’s the transcript of Guy Kawasaki’s commencement speech at Menlo College:
Congratulations to all the graduates and their families. What a great day it is for all of you. And what an honor it is for me to be your commencement speaker.
That said, the implications of being a commencement speaker frightens me. This is because, typically, “old” people give commencement speeches.
When I was your age, the last person I would believe is someone who is my age. The fact that one even says “when I was your age,” says a lot.
I am going to provide ten hindsights today. Hindsights that I’ve accumulated in the 35 years from where you are to where I am.
Don’t blindly believe me.
Dont take what I say as “truth.”
Just listen. Perhaps my experience can help you a tiny bit as you enter this next phase of life.
1. Live off your parents as long as possible. They worked very hard to give you a better life. Don’t deprive them of the pleasure of watching you enjoy it. You have your whole life to work for bozos. Why rush?
2. Pursue joy, not happiness. Sure, the future is bright and all that stuff, but life is not uninterrupted, pure happiness. You will go through difficult times. But what balances and overcomes difficulty is episodic joy. Joy does not come from the possession of material things—it comes from experiences such as falling in love, making close friends, creating products and services that delight people, and eventually raising children—especially if they move out.
3. Challenge the known and embrace the unknown. Many people challenge the unknown and embrace the known. Do the opposite: question the status quo because, quite frankly, the status quo is over-rated. Embrace, accept, and even better, cause change and enjoy the unknown.
4. Change your mind. This a sign of intelligence. Steve Jobs changed his mind all the time. Complete, total, utter 180 degree changes. And he made you think he was right both times. The ability to change your mind means that you’re thinking, questioning, and courageous enough to admit mistakes. As Martha Stewart would say, “It’s a good thing.”
5. Don’t worry, be crappy. Don’t wait for perfection. Life isn’t perfect. Do the best you can and ship. Real people ship and then test and then ship again. And test again. And ship again. And one day you wake up and by golly, you have something insanely great.
6. Suck it up. Think of Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs. He’s The Man because he’s willing to do the dirty job like working in factories, cleaning out sewers, and performing artificial insemination on pigs, chickens, turkeys, and llamas. Life isn’t easy. Suck it up.
7. Don’t ask people to do something you wouldn’t do. This is the best test for everything you want to ask or expect others to do. If you wouldn’t do something, you have no right to expect anyone else to.
8. Let me give you secret to succeeding in business: learning how to use PowerPoint. The optimal number of slides in a PowerPoint presentation is 10. You should be able to give these ten slides in 20 minutes. The optimal font size is 30 points or ½ of the age of the oldest person in your audience.
9. Learning and schooling are not the same thing. Learning is lifelong. Schooling is not. Arguably, you will start a new kind of learning tomorrow because learning from this point is mostly internally driven. When you stop learning, you mentally die. It’s that simple.
10. Obey the absolutes. The greatest temptation in the work place is relativistic morality: I don’t cheat on my taxes as much as others. I don’t pad my expense report as much as others. I don’t goof off as much as others. This is the slippery slope that causes people to lie on their resumes, cheat customers, and defraud the government. Right is right. And wrong is wrong. Don’t ever forget that.
And may I make one more observation? When you were young, you believed your parents were always right. As a teenager, you questioned them—perhaps thinking that they were clueless and you were right. As a young adult, you’ll start to see that your parents weren’t so clueless and were often right. And as you get older and older, you will eventually become your parents. Now that is a scary hindsight.
As I said, don’t blindly believe me. Don’t take what I say as “truth.” Just keep what I said in the back of your mind. Perhaps my experience can help you out a tiny bit. And now go forth and kick butt.
- Guy Kawasaki
“If I start by assuming the worst and work backwards, I can make sure that the protections we build work for both expected and unexpected use cases.”
“Given that I spend my days and nights imagining the worst that could happen, it wouldn’t be surprising if my worldview was gloomy. It’s not. The vast majority of interactions I see — and I see a lot, believe me — are positive, people reaching out to help or to connect or share information with each other. It’s just that for those of us dealing with scale, for those of us tasked with keeping people safe, we have to assume the worst will happen, because for us, a one-in-a-million chance is pretty good odds.”
“I got my start in writing and research as a surgical trainee, as someone who was a long ways away from becoming any kind of an expert at anything. So the natural question you ask then at that point is, how do I get good at what I’m trying to do? And it became a question of, how do we all get good at what we’re trying to do?”
“In the last few years we realized we were in the deepest crisis of medicine’s existence due to something you don’t normally think about when you’re a doctor concerned with how you do good for people, which is the cost of health care. There’s not a country in the world that now is not asking whether we can afford what doctors do. The political fight that we’ve developed has become one around whether it’s the government that’s the problem or is it insurance companies that are the problem. And the answer is yes and no; it’s deeper than all of that.”
“The cause of our troubles is actually the complexity that science has given us.”
“We’re all specialists now, even the primary care physicians. Everyone just has a piece of the care. But holding onto that structure we built around the daring, independence, self-sufficiency of each of those people has become a disaster. We have trained, hired and rewarded people to be cowboys. But it’s pit crews that we need, pit crews for patients.“
“Our experience as people who get sick, need help from other people, is that we have amazing clinicians that we can turn to — hardworking, incredibly well-trained and very smart — that we have access to incredible technologies that give us great hope, but little sense that it consistently all comes together for you from start to finish in a successful way.”
“Having great components is not enough, and yet we’ve been obsessed in medicine with components. We want the best drugs, the best technologies, the best specialists, but we don’t think too much about how it all comes together. It’s a terrible design strategy actually.”
“Now a system, however, when things start to come together, you realize it has certain skills for acting and looking that way. Skill number one is the ability to recognize success and the ability to recognize failure. When you are a specialist, you can’t see the end result very well. You have to become really interested in data, unsexy as that sounds.”
“Which brings us to skill number two a system has. Skill one, find where your failures are. Skill two is devise solutions.”
“And so we looked at what other high-risk industries do. We looked at skyscraper construction, we looked at the aviation world, and we found that they have technology, they have training, and then they have one other thing: They have checklists.
Could we design a checklist for surgery? Not for the lowest people on the totem pole, but for the folks who were all the way around the chain, the entire team including the surgeons. And what they taught us was that designing a checklist to help people handle complexity actually involves more difficulty than I had understood. You have to think about things like pause points. You need to identify the moments in a process when you can actually catch a problem before it’s a danger and do something about it. You have to identify that this is a before-takeoff checklist. And then you need to focus on the killer items. An aviation checklist, like this one for a single-engine plane, isn’t a recipe for how to fly a plane, it’s a reminder of the key things that get forgotten or missed if they’re not checked.”
“And that brings us to skill number three, the ability to implement this, to get colleagues across the entire chain to actually do these things. And it’s been slow to spread. This is not yet our norm in surgery — let alone making checklists to go onto childbirth and other areas. There’s a deep resistance because using these tools forces us to confront that we’re not a system, forces us to behave with a different set of values. Just using a checklist requires you to embrace different values from the ones we’ve had, like humility, discipline, teamwork. This is the opposite of what we were built on: independence, self-sufficiency, autonomy.”
“Making systems work is the great task of my generation of physicians and scientists. But I would go further and say that making systems work, whether in health care, education, climate change, making a pathway out of poverty, is the great task of our generation as a whole. In every field, knowledge has exploded, but it has brought complexity, it has brought specialization. And we’ve come to a place where we have no choice but to recognize, as individualistic as we want to be, complexity requires group success. We all need to be pit crews now.”
How parasites turn our thinking sideways: Ed Yong at TED2014. A fascinating talk on behaviours and manipulations.