Saturday, June 27, 2009


What is the meaning of work? In The Art of Living series' novel Work, Lars Svendesn takes the reader on a philosophical exploration of this question. Using views of philosophers like Socrates, Aristotle, Marx, and Adam Smith, to that of contemporary celebrities like Woody Allen, Svendesn paints a very broad picture for the reader to examine. The book reads exceptionally well, and is highlighted by Svendsen's clever witt. It is a far cry from your standard philosophical text.

Svendsen covers a wide range of topics including: being managed, getting paid, life without work, distribution of work in society, and even the effects of technology on work. At the end of it all though, here's my favorite quote:

I believe that we should rather commit ourselves to work, as such commitment is a precondition of finding genuine meaning in it, but on the other hand, work should only be ragarded as one source of meaning amoung others.

Whether you decide to read this novel or not, I highly recommend taking a step back and truly asking yourself what work means to you.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Input Overload

I haven't written a blog post in more than four months! Yes, just like everyone else in this day and age, I've been crazy busy. But I don't want to go on about that for three paragraphs. I've actually learned something over this hiatus, and I want to share that with you.

I'm a big proponent of reading and learning. As my craving for knowledge has increased over the last few years, I've realized that there's one thing I've been doing really poorly; managing my inputs. (By inputs, I really just mean sources of information, but I'm nerdy like that.) Think about the number of inputs one has nowadays: blogs, newspapers, books, articles, magazines, facebook, Twitter, text messages, voice mail, multiple email accounts, etc. For me, it's gotten to the point where these things have started to control my schedule. I realized this a while ago when I decided to give up reading newspapers, but that was only a tip of the iceberg. After taking a 10,000 ft. view of all this, I've come to this realization:


Now, I know I've talked a lot about books such as Getting Things Done, which are primarily based on queuing your work, but recently, my queues have started to erupt. Take a look at the number of unread items in my Reader:

Getting my inbox to empty everyday is also starting to take it's toll on me. And the number of unread books on my bookshelf just keeps increasing. Keeping up with Facebook hasn't gotten to me yet, but it's probably just a matter of time. I can't keep up!

Twitter is the latest social phenomenon, and I feel that its lack of queuing has been an important part of its success. It's very easy to keep up with Twitter, and that is something that everybody is yearning for nowadays.

So what's the solution to all this mess? Well, here are a few methods for managing/eliminating queues that I've come across through various sources:
  • Limit the amount of time you check email. You can even have set times during the day.
  • If you are reading something, and you're not enjoying it, put it away and move on to the next thing. Reading for personal development shouldn't be a chore.
  • Try to set up automated ways of shrinking queues. e.g. auto archiving your email after a short period of time (like two weeks)
  • Stop reading the newspaper :P
Sadly, I don't have much more than that. What are some things that you've done to eliminate or manage your input queues?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Absolutely Unique

If you've spoken to me or read this blog recently, you'll know that I'm a huge fan of Tim Ferriss. I even follow the guy on Twitter... and this is where I saw one of the boldest statements in Web 2.0 history. Check out the following screen shot:

In a world where imitation is commonplace, mentors are sacred, and internet ego is considered unnecessary, Ferriss tells us that 14,757 people are following him and he could care less about the reciprocation. I think it's awesome. But you decide for yourself.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Scrabulous, I Mean Lexulous, is Back!

I've blogged about my passion for Scrabulous before. And when those idiots at Hasbro sued the creators, I made my contention very clear. But now, the lawsuit has been dropped, and the game is back under its new name, Lexulous. Best of all, all users' statistics and games have been restored! Here is the new link:

Please let this be a lesson to every business out there. When a third party creates a product that breaks your brand copyright, don't react like a child. If they increase your exposure and revenue, embrace them with open arms! Don't be the next Hasbro.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Work Sucks!

Have you ever wondered why working from 9 to 5 is the social norm? Have you ever thought about how silly and childish it is to gauge people by their attendance in the workplace? Have you ever thought that there must be a better and more productive way to work? How stupid are office politics? Do you think it's time that knowledge workers get treated like adults?

take a second...

This rant was inspired by my latest read, Why Work Sucks and How to Fix it. In this book, Calie Ressler and Jody Thompson of CultureRx completely tear apart the office protocols that exist in most workplaces today. This includes everything from ridiculous work schedules to unnecessary meetings. Their solution, which is really bold, is something they've coined as the Results Only Work Environment (ROWE). This new work framework is pretty self explanatory, but can be summarized by the following:
  • People work whenever they want, as long as the work gets done!
  • People work from wherever they want, as long as the work gets done!
  • Every meeting is optional.
  • Nobody talks about how many hours they work.
  • People are measured by results!
I know there are a lot of people shaking their heads right now and saying, "This would be impossible in my big company!" Well, believe it or not, ROWE was actually born in the corporate offices of Best Buy! Today, every single one of their offices works in a ROWE! Furthermore, a lot of big tech companies have worked in similar frameworks for a long, long time.

The school system is an ironic example that bolsters the argument for a ROWE. In college/university, students have complete control over there time. They are also measured by results (marks). Classes, although not recommended, are completely optional. Believe it or not, at the age of 19, students are living in a ROWE! How funny is it that you actually have less control over your life after you graduate? This shouldn't be the case.

In order to go further with ROWE, you need to understand the concept of Sludging. This is "the negative commentary that occurs naturally in the workplace", and its primary purpose is to judge people about frivolous things. Here are a couple examples straight from the book:
  • "Coming in at eleven again?"
  • "Another vacation? How many vacation days do you have?"
  • "I wish I smoked. Then I could always be on break."
Does any of this sound familiar? According to Ressler and Thompson, the first step in creating a ROWE is eliminating Sludge. The way to do this - which is exactly what we started doing at I Love Rewards - is to call people out whenever you see/hear anything that resembles a Sludge. Simply yelling the word is sufficient, and tends to make it funny. But the underlying point is to make it clear that Sludging is absolutely unacceptable.

Obviously, there is lot more more involved in implementing a ROWE. The book goes into great detail about the process, so read it if you get a chance. CultureRx has even created a ROWE Launch Kit which I found pretty amusing.

Ultimately, giving people control over their time and trusting them to get work done is the way of the future. If businesses aren't willing to accept this, then they'll be left in the dust. We have more than enough technological infrastructure to allow people to work whenever they want, wherever they want. Clinging on to labour laws that were created before the Computer is absolutely ridiculous. We need to move forward as a society, constantly questioning the way we do things. A ROWE will do nothing but help employers as well as employees. "When you start to treat people like adults, they will respond like adults." This, in the end, will produce the only thing that maters; results.

Agree? Disagree? Comments are always welcome!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Zeitgeist and The Venus Project

Have you ever watched Zeitgeist or Zeitgeist Addendum? If not, these mind-blowing documentaries will surely make you question a lot of things, including religion and politics. They are both available for free download here. The first movie, Zeitgeist, argues the following:
  1. Christianity is a myth that builds on past religions and beliefs (i.e. Jesus didn't exist)
  2. 9-11 was an inside job that was used to push the United States' own agenda
  3. Corporations, including the Federal Reserve, are the real people running the world, not governments.
I know that sounds like a lot of ground to cover for a single film, but the creators did an amazing job of weaving things together. I am not a big fan of conspiracy theories either, but the manner in which the film presented its points made me watch in utter concentration.

The second film, Zeitgeist Addendum, focuses more on the 3rd argument put forward by its predecessor. It deconstructs the economic system piece by piece, and exposes its absurdity.
I'm not going to delve into the above arguments, because I truly think it is worth everyone's time to watch both films in their entirety. Let me re-emphasize that they are available for free... you have no excuse.

What I am going to talk about though, is The Venus Project. This was regarded to as the solution to world corruption in Zeitgeist Addendum. In a nutshell, this project is a proposal for a new social structure. It is based on these fundamental premises:
  1. There is no money/currency
  2. There is no government
  3. The focus of humanity is on science, technology, and smart utilization of the Earth's resources.
It sounds utopian, I know, but you have to look at with an open mind. Jacque Fresco, founder of the Venus Project, argues in Zeitgest Addendum that there are enough resources (including energy sources) for everyone in the world to live well. The only thing stopping us from making this a reality are financial/political/religious barriers that have been falsely created by society in the first place. He is an amazing person to listen to, and you can check out his YouTube Channel for more. Here's an interview with Jacque from 1974!

Once again, check out the Zeitgeist films if you haven't already. If you become as influenced as I am, then go ahead and join the movement.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

4HWW Lesson 1: The Low Information Diet

Timothy Ferriss' book, The 4-Hour Workweek, is easily one of the best non-fiction books I've read in the past few years. The key concept in the book is lifestyle design; the art of mastering the use of time and mobility to live the lifestyle you want. What makes this book so good is that Ferriss provides real, tangible, concrete ideas that you can act on right away. This is a true escape from the airy-fairy personal help books we're all used to. Although some of his ideas are a little extreme (including outsourcing your mundane tasks to India), there are a few that hit home so hard that I'll be writting about them over the next few weeks.

The Low Information Diet

This is the idea of cutting out all unnecessary sources of information that we are addicted to, and in turn focusing on things that will move our life in the direction we want. Ferriss claims that he has "never bought a newspaper or watched the news for five years". Wow. He provides many arguments for his reasoning, but the statement that "most information is time-consuming, negative, irrelevant to your goals, and outside of your control" is a real trump card.

We've been taught since childhood that reading the newspaper daily is great for your development. But this chapter made me ask the question, when was the last time that a newspaper article ever made a huge positive influence in my life? Never. Now when I tell my friends that I canceled my newspaper subscription, and their jaws drop, I just bring out the flurry of Ferriss' arguments. That's right, I canceled my subscription.

Before you start calling me lazy, realize that the key to the low information diet is "replacing input with maximum output." I took this into my own context, and now the time I spent reading the paper is going to be replaced with things that I want to do for my own personal development. Not sleeping. Not watching TV. I still read in the morning, but it will be focused blogs that teach me something, or books that I actually want to read.

In case you're worried about how you/I can be well informed on worldly affairs, Ferriss provides an answer for that too; talk to your friends about it. Ask Bob, "What's going on in the world?" and if things are that important, you'll hear about them. This makes educated people very uncomfortable, but we have to decide for ourselves what information is actually important to us. The last thing you want to do is read something because someone else told you it's important.

Lastly, the low information diet isn't for everybody. But what Ferriss suggests, as do I, is to go on a "one-week media fast". Give it a shot. Focus on working towards your lifestyle, rather than reading about other people living the lifestyle you want:P

"The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers." - Thomas Jefferson