Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Are you a happy person?

I read about someone who tries to only work with "happy people". His argument is that most people have an innate level of happiness regardless of their circumstances. So, when interviewing candidates to work with him he tries to determine whether they are naturally happy. He does this by asking them about their past and measuring how happy they were, regardless of what happened.

The boys agreed they would rather spend time with happy people. So I encouraged them, when deciding who to spend time with, to try to determine their attitude and innate level of happiness. I also encouraged them be aware that others might be measuring them in a similar way. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Time Management

Paco spoke to us about time management. He goes from shorter to longer, from more predictable to less. For example, when he has a test he starts with the multiple choice questions, then does the short questions and leaves longer problems or essays for last (to which he devotes as much time as he has left).

I suggested that one should also pre-determine how much time one wants to spend on each thing. For example, on a three hour three part test, you might set aside half an hour for the first section, an hour for the second, and an hour and a half for the third. Otherwise, you risk spending too much time on a specific area.

Ale mentioned that some standardized test, such as the SAT, force you to spend specific amounts of time on each section. The negative though is that if you complete a specific section early you can't take advantage of the extra time to work on another section.

On the "real world", I often work with entrepreneurs who are so busy with their day-to-day challenges they have not time left to work on longer term strategic issues. My advice to them is to block time in their calendars for their "non urgent" strategic stuff, because the day-to-day often takes up all the time you have, no matter how many hours per day you work (so working harder is rarely the answer). Besides, a few extra hours to fight fires is unlikely to make a big difference long term - but a few hours spent on strategic issues are crucial.

Another approach that I like to take in tests is to take a quick pass at each section first, then take another pass to improve things a bit, and keep iterating for as long as I have time. That way you make sure you get all the "low hanging fruit" and spend appropriate time across all areas.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Smoke but don't inhale. Drink but don't swallow.

The legalization of marihuana in Colorado got us talking about pot. Difficult conversation to say the least... I made the case that scientific evidence shows that alcohol is worst than marihuana in a number of ways, and the fact that alcohol is legal and marihuana isn't is an accident of history. Which, btw, might not be the case for too much longer (at least not in the "civilized" world).

So, do I think it is OK to smoke marihuana? It depends. Absolutely not wherever it is ilegal. We should never break the law. But, in a place where it is legal, then I think is is similar to drinking alcohol. You can do it as long as you do it responsibly.

Nico asked why not make alcohol ilegal as well, since both substances can harm us. Ale mentioned that that was already tried during prohibition, with poor results. In general, making something ilegal is rarely the best way to address abuse. Those who abuse it will continue to do so, and those who would have used it responsibly are the ones that stop. Not to mention the creation of ilegal mafias and cartels... Better to keep things legal but regulate them. For example, cars are very dangerous and kill millions of people. Yet we can't make cars ilegal. Instead, we require licenses, have speed limits, traffic police, etc.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Eating a lion doesn't make up for being eaten by a lion

A relative shared some potential good news with me yesterday. She didn't want to get too excited though, because it wasn't yet a "sure thing". I told her she should get excited and enjoy the "good news". Worst case, if things didn't really work out, at least she felt good for a few days.

I mentioned this to the boys this morning and asked them if the agreed with me. They didn't. They all preferred not to get excited because the disappointment if things didn't work out would more than offset the benefits of assuming the good news would pan out. Nico said that bad news stay with him longer than good ones.

Ale mentioned research that shows most people are more negatively impacted by a loss than positively impacted by an equal gain. In terms of money, for example, winning $100 then loosing $100 is worst for most people than not winning or loosing anything (even though they should be indifferent between the two scenarios). Or, in a related situation, people prefer a certain gain of $45 to a 50% chance of winning $100 (even though they should prefer the later).

I am not so sure... Maybe it is the entrepreneur in me, but I like roller coasters. Give me pleasure and pain. Don't give me dullness.

Nico put their point of view best: eating a lion doesn't compensate for being eaten by a lion.