I Love Bias!

narrowmind

I love bias! And by loving bias, I mean understanding more about the tricks, filters and timesaving tools our brains use to preserve energy that were probably great in caveman times but are often unproductive, counterproductive or just embarrassing these days. This article and the following infographic capture neatly quite of few of them. I’m a sucker for the first two, even though I know they exist. Awareness helps but it’s not a foolproof solution. Daniel Kahneman’s book ‘Thinking Fast And Slow’ is great on this topic and I found it reassuring that he too confessed to falling prey to biases even though he’s a nobel winner. His best advice for us and himself was to slow down.

Biases

Social Media Engagement Via Images

I read an article about shameless self-promotion via Twitter and getting engagement on your tweets. I only ever signed up in the first place to see what the fuss was about but over the years, I’ve had bursts where it’s prompted me to write a joke, or make an observation, or share a useful article or resource. I’m primarily a trainer and speaker around engaging people at work but I do get a lot out of my comedy sideline.

So, as a test, I plan to tweet a self-written joke a day using an image and see what it does to my social media engagement. I’m posting the same images on FaceBook and LinkedIn. Today is day 4 and they’re getting a lot of ‘likes’. Ideally, there’d be a lot of ‘shares’ but we’ll see.

Anyways, here are the first four. Let’s see what happens. Worst case, I end up with 30 new jokes.

Miracle Diet Miraculously Works Miracle – Buzzwords Transform Universal Harmony

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For some reason my doctor has this thing about preventing illness, as opposed to exclusively waiting for people to get sick, then charging them for treatment. A couple of years ago, my medical centre’s database sent me a ‘Dear middle-aged guy’ letter (I paraphrase.) “Give us some blood and we’ll predict your future.” (Again, I paraphrase.)

I gave the blood. Although, to be more accurate, I showed up and they took it. I had to show up in person for the results. As they read them out, I thought to myself that this is proof I’m even more amazing than I thought I was. Less than a 2% chance of a heart attack? I’ll bank that. And the 2% is probably just them covering their butt statistically. I was about to stand up, thank them and exit to applause (I presumed.) Hold on cowboy, we’ve saved the best for last. Let’s talk blood glucose. Why don’t you talk blood glucose – I don’t know what it is but it sounds delicious.

It turns out there’s a scale. 50 or more is actual type 2 diabetes. Less than 40 is cool. (I initially said “Less than 40 is sweet” but they said that was just mean in a blog about diabetes.) I was a 41. The nurse said 40-50 is technically termed ‘pre-diabetes.’ But 41 could be a statistical blip so let’s not get crazy. Let’s re-test in a while. A year later of avoiding the issue and figuratively wandering round with my hands over my ears going “La la la la la la la!” (Sometimes, literally doing that.) I figured that as a trainer, speaker and comedian, constantly travelling, sometimes with a suitcase containing kilograms of candybars – you know, for workshop prizes, that I probably ate most of those myself and I should probably not do that.

Last July I got re-tested. They tell you that if the results are fine, they won’t call. If the results are non-fine, they’ll call. I appreciate that many people have genuine health problems and genuine life-and-death test results coming through. I’m not dramatising my situation. But I do now have a greater appreciation of the Pavlovian effect of hearing the phone ring.

As at last July, I was a 43. Again, they play the ‘let’s not get too fussed’ card. But I’m a trend guy and I didn’t like where this was going. They said if it gets any higher, we should consider medication. I’m not a medication guy. I just told you before – I’m a trend guy.

At about the same time of the original test, I was writing a book called ‘Live Work Love’ about how to add ten quality years to your life. Having written it, I can’t actually swear on a bible (not written by me) that I’ve ever sat down and read it. I did a stack of research for that book and interviewed some smart people. I read it. I appreciated the irony.

I wasn’t fat and was gymming or basketballing 4-5 times a week. Inactivity wasn’t my problem, yet still my blood glucose was ikky. I didn’t do any additional exercise but I did stop eating stupid carbs. From July to November I religiously went over-the-top – definitely consuming no obviously sugary things, not any floury, ricey things. I still probably ate too much at times portion-wise and had the odd cornchip orgy. But, generally for those months, I was saint-like. (One of the good saints, not one of the many reprehensible ones.) I’m pretty sure I annoyed my family. From a non-chunky base, I lost 10kg. But, come December with Christmas and me losing interest cos I have a short attention span etc, I fell off the wagon a bit. January, I spent most of the month in the USA on a predominantly Denny’s-based diet. Did a lot of walking though. I gained none of the weight back.

On my return, I decide to get a re-test. Knowledge is power. I then discover than the test somehow magically can tell your blood glucose level over the previous three months! OK I think, my saintly months are off that timeline but my Christmas party and Disneyland churro period are on that timeline. (Note – I never ate a churro but I did inhale.)

A week goes by and I hadn’t heard back. Is this because my results are below 40 or because they’re being passed around the office out of morbid amazement? I call them…

Now, I’m a 39!!! (Totally appropriate use of exclamation points.) My first impulse was to eat 47 TimTams to celebrate. (Cos I’m worth it.) Then I wondered if I tried hard enough, could I get my blood glucose level to zero. If 50 is terrible, zero must be awesome, right? Probably, if you’re a piece of paper.

I’m not entirely sure what the moral of the story is. But I would like to share with you the photo at the top of the blog. It’s my entree and main from espnzone in Anaheim. I also had a pint of Stella with it. Those pulled pork nachos have cornchips of three different colours. Three! Say what you like about America but they put a man on the moon and who knows how many colours of cornchip they’re capable of, even if they can’t spell colour correctly? (The hotdog and side of fruit are my son’s.)

I think my points are:

  • measure things that are important and that you can affect
  • walk more
  • don’t eat stupid carbs (if you have to ask what a stupid carb is, you’re a stupid carb.)

You Know How You Walk Into A Room…

walkingintoaroomYou know how you walk in a room and you get a whole bunch of things done and then, just as you’re about to leave the room, you realise that you didn’t do the main thing that you actually went into that room to do? Now think about that, but instead of a room, it’s your life.

walkingintoaroom

2 Dangerous Things A Year

Every year I resolve to do two new dangerous things (by my own definition of dangerous.) One of my goals for this year was to learn guitar and singing, then to perform both in public – with a view to developing a new show incorporating some comedy songs. This is my first public performance with some singing students so the audience wasn’t really expecting any comedy. Pretty happy with it as a platform upon which to build.

Get Your Ducks In A Row

PDT Ducks in a row

I’m working with an Australian company and have only communicated electronically. My primary contact is originally from Eastern Europe. Apparently I talk funny (see above photo)… Delightful! I intend to pepper my emails with a lot more of these and start making some up. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it change its spots.

Father’s Day

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The dirty little secret that the multi-national Father’s Day corporations don’t tell you is that there is more than one cup with the words ‘World’s No 1 Dad’ on it.

Do You Have A ‘Best Friend’ At Work’?

waffles-friends-work

I sometimes flash the Gallup (and others) engagement questions as a prompt in workshop activities. One question that always raises a few eyebrows (and rolls a few eyes) is, “Do you have a best friend at work?’ While I get the vibe they’re trying to tap into in terms of workplace culture, is that really the best indicator and really the best question? This article suggests an alternative that I quite like: Do you have many strong working relationships at your job? You don’t have to donate them a kidney or go to their barbeque but positive and constructive connectivity is crucial. Even then, they don’t all have to be positive in the sense of friendliness – an argument can be positive.

This article offers alternatives:

BI Worldwide Rodd Wagner’s (new) key questions

  1. Do managers support each employee as a unique individual?
  2. Is pay fair, if not generous?
  3. Are leaders transparent?
  4. Is there a clear mission and do employees feel a strong connection to it?
  5. What paths do people have to advancement?
  6. Do more junior people sometimes get to take charge?
  7. Are employees well recognised?
  8. Is this a cool place to work?
  9. Do people feel energised or fearful?
  10. How well do colleagues work together?
  11. How often do people feel a sense of accomplishment?

A good friend will donate you a kidney. A great friend will donate you a kidney… that isn’t their own…

Employee Happiness? Who Cares?

VillaincI’m not suggesting that employees should be made to be miserable. Ultimately, that’s up to all of us individually. The point I’ve been trying to make for ages and this recent article captures nicely is that employee happiness and employee engagement are quite separate and different things. If you want to gift chocolate fish and back rubs (no non-consensual touching!) that’s up to you and your spare time and resources. Happy employees can be unproductive and unhappy ones can be productive. Engagement is about the observable application of discretionary effort at work that on average leads to greater productivity, revenue and profitability. Who knows how happy people are? (Including themselves.)

Here’s an extract. Note that happiness is cited as one of many components of engagement, so it’s not all doom and gloom. I don’t think they’re in order so don’t get excited that happiness is “number 1.” The article talks about a dashboard which also is an interesting idea. It’s all about trending.

Here are the 10 metrics that are proven to have the biggest impact on employee engagement:

  1. Happiness

    How happy are employees at work and at home?

  2. Wellness

    How much energy do employees have at work?

  3. Feedback

    Are employees getting feedback frequently enough?

  4. Recognition

    Are employees being recognized for their hard work?

  5. Career Satisfaction

    Are employees satisfied with their work environment?

  6. Relationships with Managers

    Do employees and their managers get along well?

  7. Relationships with Colleagues

    Do the employees get along with each other?

  8. Company Alignment

    Do employees’ values align with the company values?

  9. Ambassadorship

    Are employees proud of where they work?

  10. Personal Growth

    Do employees have opportunities for career growth?

 

Rotary’s Paul Harris Fellowship Award

Terry Williams Rotary Paul Harris Fellowship Award 2015

Just received Rotary’s Paul Harris Fellowship Award. Much appreciated. Probably uncool for me to blog about it… but nice to see comedy appreciated for being put to an even ‘gooder’ use than it’s original purpose which is pretty good as it is. Some of my comedy festival shows and subsequent roadtrip shows raised money for ROMAC and Shelterbox which help out in areas with disasters and emergencies who have hard enough times when there aren’t disasters and emergencies.http://www.shelterbox.org.nz/ Thanks to everyone who supported and / or attended the shows. Next time you attend, I’ll show you my medal, whatever.

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