Sunday, December 21, 2008

The anarchist's cookbook. With some spicy Curry.

As I write this it's Friday and it's snowing and it's 4 o'clock and I can't reach anyone I need to reach in New York (which probably went home en masse two hours ago), so I'm killing time watching this dapper Brit dipstick on Oprah, Marcus Buckingham, who—she tells us—is a top-selling author, coach and all-around expert on human potential. He helps people get the most out of their lives both at work and at home. Here's what I've gotten so far:

1. You are the best judge of your strengths. Don't focus so much on feedback from others. Focus on what makes you feel good about you.

2. If your child comes home from school with 2 As, a B, a C, and an F, most parents will concentrate on the F, because that's where we think help is needed. Wrong. We should focus most of our energy on validating the As. Put the emphasis where the strength is.

3. You have to do what you really want to do, because otherwise, though you may be outwardly successful, you will feel like an inner failure.

4. If you're doing things because you think "no one else will do them"...you should stop.
First of all, No. 1, of course, is warmed-over "follow your dreams." We've already covered that line of thinking on SHAMblog, and I would only add here that American Idol kicks off a new season soon; in the early episodes, we'll all get a textbook lesson in how many people exist who are following dreams that they clearly shouldn't have. 'Nuff said?

Widening the lens, I ask you to consider what would happen if any meaningful percentage of us actually followed Buckingham's "advice." Right off the bat, you'd probably have half of all American kids flunking out of school. Remember, the guy's not talking about college, by which point a student is nearly self-governing and would be expected to have a better sense of personal direction; one could make the case that by that juncture, a student's time is indeed best spent on vocation-minded strengths. But Buckingham is talking about grade school, where kids must master core competencies. (And Marcus, I invite you to try selling Step 2 in an Asian household, where the emphasis on education reigns supreme, and where anything less than an A is actually considered an F. Let me know how that goes.)

In the overall, you'd have anarchy.
Marriages would fall apart. Yes, maybe some of the faltering marriages would be ones that never should have occurred. I still think that the application of these precepts (and there were others) would take as its casualties a lot of good marriages, too. Buckingham's counsel seems to rule out (or at least seriously devalues) little notions like obligation and sacrifice and conscience and moral duty.

And yet women in Oprah's audience are crying. Crying! They are crying at the brilliance of this Brit-inflected window into their tormented souls.


I also want to make a stronger point about No. 4 above, and people who do things because "no one else will do them." If you've read SHAM, you know my feelings on codependency, which I've also made clear on the blog: God bless the "codependents" and deliver us from a world without them. But it's more than that. Often, it takes someone who's willing to do things no one else will do in order to right a wrong, fix a chronic problem, make life run more smoothly. It takes personal sacrifice and a willingness to go the extra mile that other folks won't goand such an undertaking usually entails discomfort. It might stress us out, upset us, even overwhelm us. And what do we call the people who take on such burdens anyway?

We tend to call them heroes.


(By the way, in a more global sense, haven't the great breakthroughs almost always been achieved by people doing things "no one else would do"?)

I grant you, we all know that some people
women in particular—take on too much and it's killing them. The answer is not a simplistic five- or seven-step program that urges them to (a) abandon everything they've been up to now so they can (b) "embrace" dramatically different behaviors that entail grave risks in a society structured as ours is. Especially a society facing the turmoil ours now faces.
[Hypothetical conversation between woman, Laura, and boss, Debbie:
Laura: "You know what, Deb? I'm just not going to be able to get this done for you by tomorrow morning's meeting. I have too much on my plate at home tonight. And besides, it doesn't make me happy. It doesn't make me feel strong. It makes me feel small and victimized and...."

Debbie: "You're fired. I'll get Jack to do it."
But let's end with a quote from Oprah herself: "The Universe speaks to all of us all the time."

Riiiiiight.

********************************



Anyone else see Ann Curry's interview of pastor Rick Warren Friday night on Dateline? If so, perhaps you'll join me in wondering: What is wrong with this woman?

(NOTE: The above clip from YouTube is just a small segment of an extended interview.)

Evidently Curry has strong feelings on the topic (gay marriage), or she was trying to be a tough interviewer* in, say, the Chris Matthews tradition. Whatever her story, she was, well, ridiculous. She'd say things like, "Your critics want to know how a man who says he stands for reconciliation could possibly oppose gay marriage," and Warren would begin his explanation with something like, "I've always thought marriage was between a man and a woman, because..."
—and before he could get out the next word, Curry would blurt, in a very combative, in-your-face manner, "Why?" Which was totally gratuitous, because Warren was already in the process of telling us why. (Hint to Curry and other interviewers: Usually when people begin a phrase with "because," it means they're about to tell us why they feel a certain way.) She did this again and again, interrupting him and even browbeating him for no reason I could discern except perhaps to play to the camera. Speaking of which, the whole thing seemed staged and unnatural, an effect amplified by the strange editing, which spent as much time showing us Curry grimacing and looking skeptical as it did showing us Warren giving his answers. Clearly Curry's message was, We're all supposed to be in favor of gay marriage. It's just the right way to be! And I say that as someone who is avidly in favor of gay marriage. But the newspeople shouldn't be!

Stick with The Today Show, Ann. Do yourself (and the rest of us) a favor.

* And to get this out of the way before anyone brings it up, no, it's not because Curry is a woman, and "men think tough-minded women are bitches." There's a difference between (a) a hard-nosed, savvy interviewer and (b) a moron. I don't normally like to organize people professionally by gender, but for the purpose of making the point here, CNN's Candy Crowley is a tough interviewer, and very good at it. She lets people talk, but won't let them talk their way off the hook; she knows when to interrupt and when to follow up.
Campbell Brown, also of CNN, is also, generally, quite good. The View's Joy Behar, believe it or not, is in my opinion a smart, tough interviewer. (Watch her sometimes when she subs for Larry King.) Barbara Walters can be tough, if she wants to, and when she's not telling presidents to be good to us, or asking movie legends what kind of tree they'd like to be.

35 comments:

roger o'keefe said...

I must confess you've surprised me again, Steve. I would've thought you'd be delighted at someone going after a god-fearing man like Rick Warren, with his "silly" traditional values. I saw the interview and agree with you that Curry was way out of line, and probably way out of her depth as well.

I'm almost embarrassed to report that my verif word this time is "hotlikng", and as you like to say, I swear I'm not making that up.

Dimension Skipper said...

I didn't watch the whole interview and don't generally watch the news magazines, but I was channel flipping that night and caught just the short exchange where Curry cut off Warren with her "Why?!" as he was indeed in the process of flowing right on into that very explanation. And I my reaction was the same, that she seemed to have an agenda of some kind, be it the topic of gay marriage or just self-promotion or both. And right in there somewhere was a reaction shot of just Curry with an arched eyebrow of surprise and it definitely seemed gratuitous to me.
__________________

In a completely unrelated blog techie note...

I happen to follow this and other blogs via iGoogle where I gather various RSS feeds. I track the SHAMblog feeds of both posts and comments. I especially use the comments feed when there is significant commenting overlap going on with more than one post at a time.

For some reason now for several days the comments feed has retrogressed such that the most "current" comments shown are a cluster for your post from April Fools' Day of this year. (The posts feed seems to be OK.)

So now I have to manually click the last two or three SHAMblog posts to check for any new comments rather than just looking through the overall comments feed. It's slightly annoying, but I'm guessing it probably only affects me (I doubt many folks utilize comments feeds). It's probably not a major big deal and might even straighten itself out in time through whatever Blogger.com powers that be.

I don't know that there's anything you can do about it, Steve, or any good way to even investigate it, but I just thought I'd mention it for what it's worth. If anyone else tracks comments this way and has noticed it too (or NOT noticed it), I'd be interested to hear it just so as I'd know it's not somehow only me (or is). Thanks.

Dimension Skipper said...

P.S. I like parmesan cheese.

;-)

Anonymous said...

Steve:

Does anybody else see gay marriage as a blatant money grab? Back when there was a "Marriage penalty" built in the tax code (married couples paid higher taxes than two single people living together), the message from the gay community was "We're queer; we're here, and we're in your face." Now he message morphed into "We're just like you".

Now gays, who have often struggled for years if, not decades, with their sexuality and how the will present themselves to the outside world, expect all of America to accept that a gay relationship is the exact same as traditional marriage. And as such, gay couples should have the exact same rights when it comes to pension benefits, insurance coverage, estate rights, adoption and parents' rights - you name it.
I agree with Sir Elton John on this issue - gay marriage is not marriage at all. Rather, it is a civil union which is distinct and certainly different.
Since voters have defended traditional marriage at the ballot box time and again, there has been a savage attack launched by the gay community to silence, if not humiliate those who defend traditional marriage.

Stever Robbins said...

Steve, this is one case where we disagree. Buckingham's Strengths books are based on a couple of decades of field research by the Gallup Organization. Although Marcus may be presenting the results in a self-helpish, easy-to-digest format, there are rigorous research underpinnings to what he's saying.

I've talked to some organizational behavior researchers at both Stanford and Harvard about the Buckingham and the Strengths research, and they seem to find the background evidence and research compelling.

What I don't know is whether the results can be applied to report cards and education. It's been a while since I read the books, but the original studies were done on 20,000 managers and validated against another few tens of thousands.

Managers, who are well past the point where they are learning basic survival skills, may have different action implications than children, who still need minimal competence in basic subjects just to get by in the world.

Steve Salerno said...

DS: I am not too high on the tekkie scale, but I'll see what I can find.

Stever: I can only go by what I hear and see. Some folks might say it's unfair to critique someone based on the way he comes across on Oprah--but then again, that is the face he's presenting to the public, and if it's simplistic and short-sighted, then that's how I'm going to react to it. Thanks, however, for adding some useful context here. I'll check into it.

Elizabeth said...

Will try to make it short and sweet (OK, at least short):

1. Buckingham's career advice was thoroughly sound and totally lame. (Why haven't I written a self-help book yet, goddamn it? Apparently there is nothing easier, or more profitable to do in the US.) Yes, we need to focus more on our strengths. Yes, too often we get bogged down in repairing our unrepairable weaknesses -- and yes, that applies to school-age kids as well. Why, Steve, you do what you like to do -- you write -- and you tap into your strengths in the process. Somehow I don't think you could or would like to be an accountant, no? Same goes for school-age kids -- I deal with this every day in my job -- those unrealistic expectations of "well-roundedness" on the part of teachers and parents that not only kill the joy of learning for too many kids, but also lead to serious school adjustment problems (and other issues).

Having said that, Buckingham did not say anything we already did not know (I think), nor is his advice a universally applicable one-size-fits-all. For example, my dream is to bum somewhere in the shade of palm trees, doing just nothing. Straight bumming, in between great meals and fabulous shopping trips. I would be really good at that (downright amazing, according to my husband). And it would tap directly into my greatest strengths. I could also write, from time to time, an insanely overpaid pissed-off column a la Hitch for Slate (for example), happily spewing my bile on assorted life issues. Another strength of mine. But guess what? Nobody is gonna pay me for doing that, especially not for the bumming part, so I, like so many of us, need to stick to my plan B, which is less glamorous and not as geared toward my strengths, but it brings some income at least (not according to my husband, though).

2. Buckingham is darn cute, the main reason why that Oprah show held my attention for the whole 5 minutes. I would take *free* advice from him any day, why not. :)

3. C'mon, give Curry a break. So she showed some emotion during that interview -- so what? It was not a strategically ideal move on her part as the Warren's interviewer, but the woman is human. (I do have my doubts about Warren, though.)

4. Despite my doubts, I like Warren (gulp -- how politically incorrect is that of me, huh?) And I really liked his "Purpose driven life," sans its religious aspect (don't snicker), starting with its first sentence, which should be etched in our heads: "It is not about you." No kidding.

Don't agree with him on some issues and think his arguments against gay marriage are ridiculous -- as are all arguments against gay marriage, let's face it -- but like the guy overall and respect many aspects of his work.

5. Buckingham is really cute... Wait, did I already say that? OK then.

Well, it was meant to be short and sweet and it's turned out neither. As it's usually the case. What can I say, we tries our bestest. But will look for plan C now, just in case. :)

Elizabeth said...

DS, I like parmesan cheese too, but don't know what it has to do with "spicy Curry"?

And I'm perplexed, having understood almost nothing of the second part of your post (other than the April Fools Day phrase). That language you speak there, that's some obscure dialect, right? :)

Elizabeth said...

Steve, as it happens, the area of learning strengths and weaknesses (and educational challenges they present) is near and dear to my heart. Some years back, I wrote a piece about it called The Myth of Well-Roundedness, which was subsequently published in the March 2007 issue (21) of
2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter -- a publication devoted to gifted kids and adults with learning disabilities and other problems: http://tinyurl.com/9se7cq

Elizabeth said...

P.S. I've just visited Marcus B's site... Sigh. I've been doing this work (assessment of individual strengths and weaknesses, re-framing one's pathology -- or 'pathology' -- in light of one's strengths, providing educational and professional counseling, etc.) for, oh, at least 15 years -- glad others are finally catching on. :)

But that sound you hear are my teeth grinding. Why, oh why do I have such an aversion to self-help and its literature? Jeebus, I could be bumming under those palm trees already... Evidently (and unfortunately), salesmanship is not one of my strengths. (And that's probably a massive understatement.)

Elizabeth said...

What I don't know is whether the results can be applied to report cards and education.

I'm sure they can, Stever -- and they already are being applied, albeit in a still limited way. There is quite a large body of research (and its practical applications) in the area of identifying and accommodating learning strengths and weaknesses in the classroom. Look, for example, into Schwab Foundation or Mel Levine and his "All Kinds of Minds," or any organization devoted to learning disabilities (LD).

While LD have been a primary focus of special school programs and accommodations for years (and we still have quite a lot of work to do in the area), there is an emerging understanding that the recognition of a student's strengths is at least as important, if not more so, than his/her weaknesses.

Furthermore, we (and it's a generous "we," I have to say) are beginning to see, if not yet fully understand, the patterns of strengths and weaknesses associated with various learning styles as well as character differences (personality types, but also conditions considered pathological). For example, a typical profile of someone with Asperger's Syndrome would include excellent verbal skills, abstract verbal reasoning abilities and often (but not always) abstract visual reasoning. Among their most pronounced weaknesses would be gross- and fine-motor coordination, concrete reasoning, and social skills. The amazing thing is that some of our most brilliant scientists fit the AS profile to a T -- and that it cannot be otherwise, i.e. you usually cannot have the often stunning strengths without the accompanying often equally stunning weaknesses. That's a necessary trade-off in the brain organization, a trade-off that we do not fully understand (if at all). Same goes for dyslexia, whose "victims" usually display excellent visual-spatial reasoning abilities, often amazing artistic skills, a great interpersonal sensitivity, and a drive to... stir trouble (aka leadership skills :). A similar pattern can be found in those diagnosed with ADHD.

I see these patterns routinely now, after doing this work for some time, and I take a great pleasure in "translating" the child to his/her parents and teachers by explaining their strengths and weaknesses and coming up with suggestions for educational interventions, including accommodations of weaknesses in the classroom and outside of it. Oftentimes it is a life-changing experience (no exaggeration) for the parents, who not only see their kid in a new, more positive light for the first time in years, but also recognize their own difficulties and struggles at school, in the past, and later in life, in a similar way.

The bottom line, for all educators -- if I could convey just one bottom-line message -- is that schooling is not a one-size-fits-all proposition, and insisting that it should be so, can be (though isn't always) damaging (to some kids, and grown-ups, as well, including teachers who fight unwinnable battles on a daily basis, trying to squeeze their students into stiff, pre-ordained sets of scholastic expectations).

Steve Salerno said...

Eliz, you've written a mid-sized novella so far today--no criticism intended. Actually, it just makes me feel somewhat inadequate because I know I can never do justice to it all.

I do realize that schooling shouldn't be a one-size-fits-all proposition--but right now it pretty much is, especially in the earlier grades. So it sounds to me like your new heartthrob's real audience should be educators/administrators, not (yet) parents. Because if parents implement the advice he appears to be giving amid the current educational ethos--i.e. before any reforms have been made in the system itself and its universal expectations--I think it's a surefire recipe for (a) lots of failure and (b) a fair amount of that stress that Buckingham claims to want to alleviate. On everyone's part.

Finally--sorry, I can't let this pass, because it's so seldom (if ever) that I get a chance to chide you on technical grounds--"that sound you hear are my teeth grinding"?

I are somewhat surprised... ;)

Anonymous said...

Have you considered the possibility that you're insane?

Steve Salerno said...

Anon, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Elizabeth said...

Eliz, you've written a mid-sized novella so far today

That's how the deep freeze affects my brain. Let's hope it warms up soon, or there is no telling how verbose I may become.

So it sounds to me like your new heartthrob's real audience should be educators/administrators, not (yet) parents.

I see your point, but it has to be -- and it is -- both, Steve, school and parents.

Finally--sorry, I can't let this pass, because it's so seldom (if ever) that I get a chance to chide you on technical grounds--"that sound you hear are my teeth grinding"?

I are somewhat surprised... ;)


LOL! Me is too! As I said, we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Either that, or it's the brain freeze.

Now, more seriously, why would you ever want to chide me -- on any grounds?? ;) [shaking head in disbelief]

P.S. I feel obligated to point out that Marcus B. is no "new heartthrob." Sigh. Can't a gal note (or even stress) the obvious -- the guy is cute -- without the charge of heartthrobbing? (Wait... Is that even a word? OK, you may chide me on this one.)

P.S.2. I think that helpful suggestion from the last Anon may have been, quite understandably, directed at me. :)

Dimension Skipper said...

Elizabeth said: DS, I like parmesan cheese too, but don't know what it has to do with "spicy Curry"?

And I'm perplexed, having understood almost nothing of the second part of your post (other than the April Fools Day phrase). That language you speak there, that's some obscure dialect, right? :)

Elizabeth, the parmesan cheese P.S. was simply a very minor afterthought reference to Steve's new sidebar explanatory thoughts (new to me anyway as I'd only just noticed it and read it prior to commenting). At the very least it seems to be new in its sidebar placement, but it actually appears to be an old, old, post from 2005 (before my time lurking here) whereby he set forth some explanation for any perceived inconsistency of reason from topic to topic. In it he mentions (to aid in illustrating a point) that apparently the Mrs. does not care for parmesan cheese. I see now that Steve has shortened it to just the intro bit with a link to the rest.

As for the other bit, yes, you pegged it... it is indeed an obscure dialect. Do not be alarmed. ;-)

And Steve, I wouldn't worry too much about it. I strongly suspect it's some sort of blogger.com issue, but I don't know. Could even be an issue specifically related to iGoogle. I doubt it's a direct result of anything you've done, so I there's probably not much of anything you can do about it. Still, I figured it couldn't hurt to at least bring it to your attention just in case it might mean something to you and/or there might be anything you check into about it. Unless at least one other person mentions it, it's not worth losing any sleep over (in case you were planning to). It's an inconvenience for me personally, but I'm hoping it's just a temporary mystery quirk that will magically disappear on its own soon enough.

WV: "firmsy"—seems like it should be an actual word meaning the opposite of "flimsy." His reasoning is not flimsy, but firmsy.

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth,
I found your mini-novella interesting and highly educational, no sign of insanity to my reading, not even very much indication of Aspergers.

Reminds me of a friend's ten year old boy who was diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed Ritalin. It took a sensible grandparent to point out that the child had no difficulty playing shoot-em-up video games for hours at a time.

No attention deficit apparent when he was doing something that he was interested in. The child's 'attention problem' only came to light when he was forced to take, or pretend to take, an interest in a subject raised by the teacher.
My friend has accepted that her child is probably not academically inclined but has superb hand/eye co-ordination and is now better informed about developing his strengths.

Thank heaven we are no longer trying to force everyone into the same limited mould.

Elizabeth said...

DS, thanks, I got the cheese reference eventually, after finally noticing Steve's "explanatory thoughts." For a while, however, I thought it was your own contribution to The Anarchist's Cookbook. Let's face it, it doesn't get any more rebellious than proclaiming, unprompted, one's love for parmesan cheese. (And that's a pretty firmsy statement, if I may say so myself.:)

Steve Salerno said...

That's actually a pretty good title for something: "The Unprompted Love of Parmesan Cheese." Sounds like a sequel to "The Secret Life of Bees" (and even rhymes with it, no less). Or maybe a film Lena Wertmuller might have made.

Elizabeth said...

Elizabeth, I found your mini-novella interesting and highly
educational, no sign of insanity to my reading, not even very much indication of Aspergers.


LOL! Thank you, Anon. You are too kind.:)

Reminds me of a friend's ten year old boy who was diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed Ritalin. It took a sensible grandparent to
point out that the child had no difficulty playing shoot-em-up video games for hours at a time.

No attention deficit apparent when he was doing something that he was
interested in. The child's 'attention problem' only came to light when he was forced to take, or pretend to take, an interest in a subject raised by the teacher.


You know, Anon, that can be tricky. ADHD folks have the ability to hyperfocus on things that highly interest them and provide continuous instant gratification, such as video games, reading, playing with favorite toys, etc. Their troubles arise when they are required to switch attention and/or focus for longer periods of time on less appealing activities (such as work). It's not that their attention skills are non-existent, it is that they are impaired in certain aspects (such as switching or sustaining attention without continuous gratification, for example). I often have parents say, "But he can play games (read, watch TV, etc.) for hours on end! He cannot have ADHD!" Well, he can. But attention skills are usually the first ones to go in a whole variety of problems (visual processing difficulties, specific learning disabilities, anxiety, depression, etc.), so it's important to do a proper assessment to figure out whether it is ADHD or something else. And if it is ADHD, I'd almost guarantee that the kid has some pretty great strengths in visual-spatial reasoning (and likely other areas too).

My friend has accepted that her child is probably not academically
inclined but has superb hand/eye co-ordination and is now better
informed about developing his strengths.


That makes a lot of sense, developing the kid's strengths will serve him well now and later.

Elizabeth said...

"The Unprompted Love of Parmesan Cheese."

Could be a dark French drama, of the kind where they frown a lot and exchange meaningful silent glances throughout the first 70 minutes.

Well, that or a porn flick. ;)

RevRon's Rants said...

"Well, that or a porn flick. ;)"

According to a particular Robin Williams' fantasy, it would be an extended Fromage a trois. :-)

RevRon's Rants said...

Perhaps we could gear the educational system so as to take advantage of the strengths of both students and teachers. I failed algebra in high school, yet really enjoyed doing my older sister's college calculus assignments. In my junior year in HS, I failed my civics class, yet made an A when I re-took it. The difference? The first "teacher" stressed rote memorization of dates, places, and names. The second taught the principles and motivations behind the founders' actions. Given the context in which the formation of government took place, it became natural to remember the minutiae. Since I wasn't instantaneously "healed" of a learning disorder, I have to assume that the difference in the teachers' approach was the significant variable. I barely made it out of high school, yet did very well in college.

And now, I find myself slipping back into stupid again. :-)

Anonymous said...

I can't stand the smell of Parmesan, it smells like vomit to me but find it very palatable when mixed into food.

'The Many Faces of Parmesan'
'Parmesan, the Dark Side'

Steve Salerno said...

Anon, that is my wife's objection in a nutshell. More specifically, she says it smells like what would happen "if someone vomited on your feet right after you came back from a long workout in old sneakers." Lovely, appetizing imagery, eh?

Elizabeth said...

"if someone vomited on your feet right after you came back from a long workout in old sneakers."

Yep, definitely a French drama.

Elizabeth said...

Off-topic: hey ya'all, check this for some comic relief (if you like The Onion, but have a short attention span, like I do, you'll enjoy it*). It's a weekly riff on the most recent news:

The Ironic Times
http://www.ironictimes.com/

*It's decidedly left-leaning, so Roger, my friend, enter at your own risk! :)

Mike Cane said...

>>>(And Marcus, I invite you to try selling Step 2 in an Asian household, where the emphasis on education reigns supreme, and where anything less than an A is actually considered an F. Let me know how that goes.)

ROTFLMAO! That should be a Pay Per View event. I'd pay to watch his dismemberment.

Hundredth Monkey Magazine said...

Steve:

I love your take on "the strengths movement." Personally, I've worked with too many strongmen (and women) who have been allowed to ignore their interpersonal "bad breath" to applaud an approach that potentially gives American business more of what we don't need right now: megalomania, narcissism, instant results at all costs...

Buckingham's advice in Go Put Your Strengths to Work "STOP YOUR WEAKNESSES" (That's the title of Step 4") reminds me of the Bob Newhart psychologist sketch from MAD TV, in which Newhart keeps saying "stop it!" when his patient tells him one of her issues.

I guess we've been a nation looking for Ron Popeil solutions to David Ogilvy problems.

Steve Salerno said...

I guess we've been a nation looking for Ron Popeil solutions to David Ogilvy problems.

Love that line.

Mike Cane said...

1. You are the best judge of your strengths. Don't focus so much on feedback from others. Focus on what makes you feel good about you.

2. If your child comes home from school with 2 As, a B, a C, and an F, most parents will concentrate on the F, because that's where we think help is needed. Wrong. We should focus most of our energy on validating the As. Put the emphasis where the strength is.

3. You have to do what you really want to do, because otherwise, though you may be outwardly successful, you will feel like an inner failure.

4. If you're doing things because you think "no one else will do them"...you should stop.

-- those are why we have calls like this:

Time to Reboot America

Anonymous said...

Just remember Anne is a graduate of a Journalism school which means she had no real college education to speak of in a liberal arts sense.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I am shocked you did not write about the newest hoax that fooled the Big O! I thought she would have learned with James Fey, but I guess she needed a refresher course with a make believe Holocaust love story of Herman Rosenblat. Maybe if I make something up the Big O will have me on her show too? Oh, I already do that and it's called fiction!

Randy White said...

“Widening the lens, I ask you to consider what would happen if any meaningful percentage of us actually followed Buckingham's "advice." Right off the bat, you'd probably have half of all American kids flunking out of school.”

We certainly know if executives follow Buckingham's advice they run the risk of "flunking" out.

Also, @ Stever, On the Strength's issue, I applaud the work you've done to look into the research behind Buckingham's method. Yet there’s also extensive evidence against the dangers of a Strength's-based approach.

A number of researchers, including myself, have put together over 13 chapters worth of data on the issue.

The point: Only the self-aware, not the strong, survive.

A few specifics:
The most effective leaders are able to embrace uncertainty where a pattern set of leadership behaviors may not be useful.
A 2002 study of global executives found that what was a strength in one culture could be a decided disadvantage in the next. Global leadership demands that you change course, reassess, let go and adapt.
A study on leaders who derail found it was the "jack of all trades" who survived failure.
In this same study, many managers who derail can turn it around and get back on track if they're will make an honest appraisal of strengths and weaknesses.
A Cornell University study in 1999 found that most people don’t accurately identify their "strengths." Often times the most talented people underrate strengths.
If your peers develop the same strengths necessary to compete in your field, nothing distinguishes you from the rest.

Besides, didn't our strengths -- growth at any cost -- bring us to this point of weakness in the economy? Choosing instead to narrowly focus on numbers, and not the development of people and creative solutions has left us in a lurch for the never-been-tried ideas. How can we be innovative if we only rely on what's been done – our strengths? We have to try what's never been done before.

Steve Salerno said...

Randy, thanks for weighing in. The question you raise at the end forms a paradox that bounces around in my mind all the time: On the one hand, I'm not someone who believes that a person should doggedly "follow your dreams" when everyone around you is telling you that you're wrong and/or living life in a far more conventional manner. And yet there's no denying that the great innovations--the huge leaps forward--almost always come from people who do exactly that: break the rules and keep plodding on even when all around them say "no," etc.

So how do you know if you're a visionary who's destined for greatness...or if you're just a silly dreamer, a modern-day Quixote destined for a life of failure and rejection in the end?

Short answer: You don't.