You catch every wave the same way.
Watch for a wave that you want to ride. Lay on the board, begin to paddle, allow the wave to take your board, and pop up to enjoy the ride to shore. It really is that simple. But simple doesn’t mean easy.
When surfing, it seems the trick is to allow yourself to just jump up on a board that naturally floats on a water. The board is going to go with the wave anyway, you just happen to stand on it.
Sometimes you are a little early; sometimes a little late.
Most of the time you miss the wave because you stop to wonder if you’re doing it right.
I’ve been living and working in Bangalore, India — practicing Transcendental Meditation, leading international teams, and eating with my hands. For more, download my book on Living and Working in India.
I learned a lesson in sales from a street vendor in Pondicherry, India. When I asked, “what can I get for 200 Rupees?” she arranged a beautiful set of handmade drawstring bags and said, “this is 400.”
Show people what they want, not what they think they can afford.
She doesn’t have a shop or a stall. She simply keeps her bags tied together in a colorful bundle. When it’s time to move on, she picks up her wares and walks down the street.
This level of entrepreneurship is commonplace in India. Across the street from my flat, a teenage boy sets up a pani puri snack cart after school. People invest in stalls that serve coffee, rolling carts of fruits or tee-shirts, folding tables of wallets, or simply an armful of handmade string bags.
Alex Salinsky been living and working in Bangalore India, leading international teams, practicing transcendental meditation, and eating with his hands.
For 50 beautiful pages of photos and insights from living and working in India, download my FREE eBook.
Here are are some beautiful images that were taken during my time in India, perfect for your Desktop or Mobile lock screen. Enjoy!
My mom used to say, “Never make a promise that you can’t keep.”
Which says a lot about honor and responsibility in relationships.
For a long time, I took that to mean “make only promises which I am absolutely sure I can keep, and if there’s any chance I might slip up or the world might prevent it, negotiate a lesser promise.”
So, I only made lame promises like:
“I promise to be there on time, so long as I remember to set my alarm, my car works, the traffic isn’t bad, and my best friend isn’t in the emergency room due to a freak ironing accident.”
“I promise to complete this project to 80% of the features, because time is tight and some of the work will probably be difficult and I don’t know how difficult yet.”
Or I refused to make promises at all.
Today, I’m changing my mindset.
Earlier this year, I was introduced to the concept of “Commitment Over Circumstance,” the idea that we take on challenge before we second-guess ourselves with things like logistics. The benefit of making the commitment before evaluating the circumstance is that it opens us up to do something we would not have thought possible. It allows us the think big, to find that risk can lead to reward, and to realize that we are more powerful than we give ourselves credit for.
Commitment doesn’t mean you don’t mess up.
Commitment means that when you mess up, you clean it up.
- Acknowledge your broken agreement to the people you’ve broken it with.
- Burrow into what happened to figure out what you valued over your commitment.
Did you value feeling comfortable in your bed for 30 more minutes? Did you value looking good to someone by not ending a conversation early so you could leave on time?
- Commit again.
And what happens if you fail?
Then you got to experience the passion, the intensity, the strength of the committed life. And you probably achieved a lot more than you otherwise would have.
When was the last time you committed to something bigger than you, and promised to do whatever it takes to succeed? When will the next time be?
Our team has always included a variety of faces in our products. It’s a credit to the design and casting of our instructional designers and media team. Even so, new eyes provided to us by a partnership with an organization that has been serving people with disabilities for over 30 years have led us to a higher sensitivity to equality in diversity. Our friends have further increased the variety of faces and also led us to notice a potentially prejudicial moment in one of our games just before release. We corrected it instantly.
And this is why…
We will not allow anything to stand between our learners and their learning!
If you take anything away from our swift action in modifying a game, let it be the above sentence.
We will do our best to identify and speedily resolve technical crashes, tricky user interfaces, and scenarios that cause any group of our students to feel that they are less supported than any other group.
Maintaining sensitivity to issues around diversity is especially important to our audience from a business perspective:
- 60% of Community College enrollees identify as female (source)
- 48% of Community College enrollees identify as non-White (source)
- 11% of Community College enrollees report having a specific disability (source)
And these numbers are felt by school faculty and deans. While one of our salespeople presented our Writing Game Series to the faculty of a local college, heads in the audience nodded knowingly during a short conversation praising the minority representation in management positions in one of our simulations. That’s the reaction we are looking for!
If you’re interested in exploring the current, very loud conversation on accessibility and diversity in the workplace, check these out:
- Gender: Elephant in the Valley.
“84% of women [in the workplace] have been told they were too aggressive.”
The instant popularity of this report, published a few weeks ago, says a lot about our country’s interest in whether the cards are stacked against women in technical roles. It was picked up instantly by FastCompany, Newsweek, and TechCrunch.
- Disability: Roger Ebert: Remaking My Voice
This one is a video (and you might cry)!
“People talk loudly and slowly to me. Sometimes they assume I am deaf. There are people who don’t want to make eye contact.”
- Race: The ugly everyday racism inside tech’s diversity problem
“I feel like I have to walk a tightrope to avoid reinforcing stereotypes while still being heard.”
- Race: 21 Racial Microaggressions You Hear On A Daily Basis
This one has fun pictures!
“Microaggression […] brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.”
An Imperfect Process for Adopting Innovation
People come to us with ideas for features, but they’re not sure what to do with them. And if we say we’ll look into them, our innovators aren’t sure when (and if) that will really happen. So a passionate committee offered thoughtful feedback that informed the following imperfect process, consisting of 2 Commitments.
Commitment 1: A Space for Innovation
Bi-weekly review days (already scheduled as part of our Agile sprint) can showcase innovations, mockups, and prototypes, alongside other work. Just let us know what you’d like to share, and if you want help thinking through how to share it, we can provide guidance.
Presentations can be:
- Functioning Code
- Powerpoint/graphic mockups
- Construction paper
- Whiteboard drawings
Commitment 2: A Timely Investigation
After showing off an innovation, the natural question is “What next?”
The Product Manager will add it to the backlog and prioritize it’s investigation. The following has to happen:
- A possible refinement of a prototype for further demo
- A tight definition of scope
- An inquiry to stakeholders
- A weighing of the return on investment (how much value added to how much investment)
- A weighing of the feature alongside already planned activity
- A decision on whether the feature is assigned a version or remains in a backlog until the next time we go spelunking.
Answers to Questions I would ask:
- What does “timely” investigation mean, anyway?
Unfortunately, timely may not mean fast. It means prioritized and handled in accordance with organization needs, but not ignored. In some cases, timely is a day and in others it’s a month. It also means that innovators have an idea of when they will hear back. I would like to offer a 30-day maximum turnaround.
- When will my innovation be in a product?
Possibly never. That sounds harsh, and maybe it is, but to be unclear is to be unkind.. Not all innovations are right for us right now. Even really cool, slick, or simple ones. Building a prototype doesn’t guarantee adoption. In Research and Development labs around the world, about 1 out of 100 new innovations go to market. We’ll probably be closer to 1 out of 10.
That said, if an innovation is selected it will likely be picked up in the next release that it is available for.
Dear friends, colleagues, and people I met on the subway:
This is one of those messages where I ask you to support a cause… with money! Because for my birthday this year (December 9), I would like to raise $6000 to aid the 1300 students supported by Alternatives in Action.
Alternatives in Action is helping kids in one of America’s most dangerous cities – and they need your contribution. Donate Here.
…or you could read a little more. Continue reading
I made this for you, to get you out of your funk.
The goal was to tell a story through simple drawings.
Made in a few minutes of reprieve during a rapid prototyping session.
Did it work?