LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner

On Sundays, me and my lady run away, far far away, across the river, to the mystical land of Cambridge. There, among the locals, we mingle with the plebeians at a watering hole of our spontaneous choosing. There, we read the New York Times over cappuccinos and pastries. There, I turn to a favorite column of mine: Corner Office by Adam Bryant, in the SundayBusiness section. There, last Sunday, he interviewed LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, who was asked, “What career advice do you give to business school students?” His response is below. Challenge yourself. Do the exercise he mentions as soon as you read it.

The advice I give about their career path and realizing their dreams starts with me saying: “I’m going to ask you a question, and you’re going to have 15 seconds to answer it: Looking back on your career 20, 30 years from now, what do you want to say you’ve accomplished? Go.”
If they can’t answer it in 15 seconds, it probably means they haven’t thought about the answer before that moment, or they don’t have a definitive answer, which is fine, because for some people that’s a lifelong journey. But you can’t realize your goal if it’s not defined. It sounds so simple but it’s true.

So? What did you get? I enjoy these different ways of finding one’s life vector / heart song / master purpose. This take is more from the approach of looking back and being happy, versus doing what rings true with you now and every day. Ideally, the latter leads to the former.

So? What’s your answer?

Measure Life To Manage Life

A quote attributed to management consultant and writer Peter F. Drucker goes:

You can’t manage what you can’t measure.

Makes sense, right? How can you tell if you’re getting better without a means to measure progress? Let’s apply this to the idea of life improvement. Want a better life? Measure it! Measure life? (Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred miiiiinutes… ‘Rent’, anyone?) I find this an interesting concept.

This harkens a conversation I had with a smart man in grad school. I argued that we measured what we valued. He argued that we valued what we measured. I now say the peanut butter and the chocolate (the chicken and the egg?) coexist together peacefully in a tasty treat (chicken parmesan?): both are true.

Accepting the duality of the above, whatever thing about life we measure, we’re going to value it, so we better choose something good. Now, what is it about life that we value? Ain’t that a juicy question.

Let’s approach this via quantity and quality. Live a long life? Yes please, at least on the longer side. Live a high quality life? Hm… can we say this equates to happiness? This allows us to point to a previous post that links happiness to excitement and initiative. Thus, we have:

How much excitement and initiative do you have in your life? How along your path and mission are you?

These should reflect your values, so now you’re measuring what you value – bingo! And this is what I love about ScrumOfOne. It is a framework for managing personal development with metrics, as well as processes for addressing these metrics, built in. It is a way to manage life by measuring life.

Don’t Have A Fine Day

Don’t do it. Just don’t. Whatever it takes.

If somebody asks you, “Greetings, citizen! How fares your day?” and you say, “Fine!” …then… think about that.

Fine? Do you really want a fine day? Just… fine? It’s your day, so if you could chose an adjective to be associated with it, would you really want it to be ‘fine’? Come now, fair citizen, surely you wish this not.

This line of thinking comes from ‘Tribes’ by Seth Godin, where he says that if you are having a fine day, then you’re not leading, because leaders are the heretics, out causing trouble, passionately speaking out against the status quo and creating change because the marketplace demands it. To be a leader, I can see this definitely applying.

To be a living human being, I can’t see why this shouldn’t apply.

If you’re having a fine day, then it is not an exciting day. Could you have an exciting day and honestly say it was just, well, y’know, fine? This echoes a definition of happiness from ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’ by Tim Ferriss, where he equates happiness to excitement. If you are doing things that excite you (excites you to your core), then you are living life happily.

Let’s take this a step further and rock the boat a little: If you’re having a fine day, then you are not happy.

Ending on a lighter note, I challenge you to not have a fine day. Ever. Fo’ realz. Don’t float along the currents of everybody else’s life. Wake up every morning and tell yourself to make waves. I make this a part of my morning Scrum.

Stay in trouble, citizen.

My Vision Sources

This ScrumOfOne adventure has repeatedly given me a great appreciation for the role of a Product Owner. Yes, as a ScrumMaster, I maintain and grow a well-oiled machine that produces business (personal) value, transforming stories into functionality and their associated benefits.

Which stories? Which benefits? I’m saving up for my CSPO.

To this end, that of discovering my vector, vision, direction, bliss, heart-centered purpose, drive, excitement, or any of the other ways of describing this happiness-related concept, I have been exploring a number of sources.

  • Tribes by Seth Godin
  • The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
  • Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  • On Being A Man by David DeAngelo
  • Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson
  • StevePavlina.com by …um… Steve Pavlina
  • The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss
  • The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

From my study of the above, my goal is to determine and execute a method that will result in giving me what I need as a Product Owner – vision for the product of me, and my various facets. This method may be an intersection or union of the relevant sections from the above… I have yet to decide.

Happiness

In ‘Tribes’ by Seth Godin, he essentially states:

happiness = initiative

The book is about leadership and creating movements where he encourages you to become a heretic – create something people will criticize because you so passionately and fanatically believe in challenging some status quo… and you’re most likely not the only one. Congrats – this makes you a leader, you suddenly charismatic sonuvagun, you. You feel that fire burning in your chest, driving you forward? That initiative? Seth calls that happiness.

In ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’ by Timothy Ferriss, he essentially states:

happiness = excitement

The book steps through his method for nixing the deferred-life plan of typical retirement and designing a luxury lifestyle that values freedom in time and freedom in mobility. Once you set yourself up with more time and a greater ability to travel… now what? He argues that answering “What do you want?” and “What are your goals?” are insufficient for filling this new void and nailing the essence of what we are all after. Drawing on the analogy of indifference being the opposite of love, not hate, he submits the opposite of happiness being boredom. Playing the ‘opposite game’ again, we get the opposite of boredom being excitement. (This is confusing on first read, but if you sit with it a while, it should make sense.) Tim calls that happiness.

When I now hear the phrase, “Follow your passion/bliss,” I can see how this thing called happiness, that oh so sought after goal/state, would entail an element of “Yee-haw!” excitement, and “Get out of my way or join me: I’m on a mission!” initiative.