100% life from concentrate
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written by don peck for the atlantic:
In 2003, thanks to Michael Lewis and his best seller Moneyball, the general manager of the Oakland A’s, Billy Beane, became a star. The previous year, Beane had turned his back on his scouts and had instead entrusted player-acquisition decisions to mathematical models developed by a young, Harvard-trained statistical wizard on his staff. What happened next has become baseball lore. The A’s, a small-market team with a paltry budget, ripped off the longest winning streak in American League history and rolled up 103 wins for the season. Only the mighty Yankees, who had spent three times as much on player salaries, won as many games. The team’s success, in turn, launched a revolution. In the years that followed, team after team began to use detailed predictive models to assess players’ potential and monetary value, and the early adopters, by and large, gained a measurable competitive edge over their more hidebound peers.
That’s the story as most of us know it. But it is incomplete. What would seem at first glance to be nothing but a memorable tale about baseball may turn out to be the opening chapter of a much larger story about jobs. Predictive statistical analysis, harnessed to big data, appears poised to alter the way millions of people are hired and assessed.
Yes, unavoidably, big data. As a piece of business jargon, and even more so as an invocation of coming disruption, the term has quickly grown tiresome. But there is no denying the vast increase in the range and depth of information that’s routinely captured about how we behave, and the new kinds of analysis that this enables. By one estimate, more than 98 percent of the world’s information is now stored digitally, and the volume of that data has quadrupled since 2007. Ordinary people at work and at home generate much of this data, by sending e-mails, browsing the Internet, using social media, working on crowd-sourced projects, and more—and in doing so they have unwittingly helped launch a grand new societal project. “We are in the midst of a great infrastructure project that in some ways rivals those of the past, from Roman aqueducts to the Enlightenment’s Encyclopédie,” write Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier in their recent book, Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think. “The project is datafication. Like those other infrastructural advances, it will bring about fundamental changes to society.”
Some of the changes are well known, and already upon us. Algorithms that predict stock-price movements have transformed Wall Street. Algorithms that chomp through our Web histories have transformed marketing. Until quite recently, however, few people seemed to believe this data-driven approach might apply broadly to the labor market.
But it now does. According to John Hausknecht, a professor at Cornell’s school of industrial and labor relations, in recent years the economy has witnessed a “huge surge in demand for workforce-analytics roles.” Hausknecht’s own program is rapidly revising its curriculum to keep pace. You can now find dedicated analytics teams in the human-resources departments of not only huge corporations such as Google, HP, Intel, General Motors, and Procter & Gamble, to name just a few, but also companies like McKee Foods, the Tennessee-based maker of Little Debbie snack cakes. Even Billy Beane is getting into the game. Last year he appeared at a large conference for corporate HR executives in Austin, Texas, where he reportedly stole the show with a talk titled “The Moneyball Approach to Talent Management.” Ever since, that headline, with minor modifications, has been plastered all over the HR trade press.
The application of predictive analytics to people’s careers—an emerging field sometimes called “people analytics”—is enormously challenging, not to mention ethically fraught. And it can’t help but feel a little creepy. It requires the creation of a vastly larger box score of human performance than one would ever encounter in the sports pages, or that has ever been dreamed up before. To some degree, the endeavor touches on the deepest of human mysteries: how we grow, whether we flourish, what we become. Most companies are just beginning to explore the possibilities. But make no mistake: during the next five to 10 years, new models will be created, and new experiments run, on a very large scale. Will this be a good development or a bad one—for the economy, for the shapes of our careers, for our spirit and self-worth? Earlier this year, I decided to find out.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about why I believe every able teenager in America should work as a server before entering the world of adulthood. It’s been wonderful to hear echoes of support and concurrence and to the seven of you who made positive comments, thank you! But since then, I’ve had this little inkling of guilt that perhaps I focused a bit too much on the Front of House. I have too many friends who cook professionally and too much respect to not give proper love to the kitchen as an amazing place to learn life skills. In my defense, it is much more difficult to get kitchen jobs because most of them require some form of training. That being said, if I had my druthers, everyone would know what it’s like to work in a commercial kitchen. Here are the top 10 invaluable skills they would learn:
1. PERSONAL APPEARANCE:
I’ve never met a chef whose hair wasn’t clean and off her face. I’ve never seen a chef with dirty nails or schmutz on his clothes (except food). Enough said.
Professional cooks learn day one that their jobs depend on a certain amount of respect. Respect goes beyond people. It extends to the kitchen, the equipment and the ingredients. Cooks learn early on to clean and store equipment properly and keep their heads down and their stations clean. Our chef at Haven’s Kitchen, David, carries on the Thomas Keller torch with the constant reminder that “ingredients don’t come from the walk in. They come from the farmer.” It’s not just a piece of meat or a potato; it’s someone’s hard work. Or in the case of the meat, a cow’s life.
Owing in part to that respect, professional cooks learned ages ago how to use the entire vegetable, or pig, or what have you. They’ve known forever how to manage waste by thoughtfully planning, storing and utilizing. On top of the fundamental understanding of what went into those ingredients, chefs know more than anyone how expensive those ingredients get. And restaurants need as close to zero waste to be close to economically viable.
4. APPRECIATION OF LEARNING:
Chefs know better than anyone that we learn by doing. But when there are paying customers out in the dining room, there can’t be any mistakes. So the kitchen is a veritable hotbed of education. Line cooks build on the technical skills they’ve learned in a real time environment. It’s what separates the cooks from the chefs. And while the chefs who work at Haven’s are actually teaching classes, all chefs learn from other chefs, and all chefs teach other chefs. Chef David phrased it this way “We’re all constantly learning and constantly teaching.” It’s a beautiful system and one that has remained mostly untouched.
5. APPRECIATION OF PROCESS:
Building on #4, no young cook eager for a career in the food world would dream of opening a restaurant before working her way up the ranks at other restaurants. In the chef world you start at A and maybe, with a ton of hard work, burns, cuts and blisters, maybe get to C. Or G. Or whatever. But if you’ve ever heard a 20-something question why he shouldn’t just be hired as a CEO, you may agree that the idea of working one’s way through the ranks seems like an anachronism to many of our young people. I see that as a problem and it’s virtually non-existent in the restaurant community.
6. BE PREPARED and CLEAN AS YOU GO:
This goes back to neatness and respect, but watching the pros work is like watching a beautiful ballet. It’s passionate and full of talent, but the technical piece is critical to a truly special end result. Chefs learn to make their mis en place, which literally means, “putting in place” before they turn on a burner. Everything is cleaned, measured, chopped, and then laid out on the prep station, making the process smoother and easier, not to mention less vulnerable to mistakes. For the most part, chefs are trained to clean their workspaces and tidy up after each step of the preparation. I’ve adopted both techniques in my home cooking and it’s made a world of difference (plus I feel cool).
7. MAKE THE BEST OF THINGS:
If you’ve ever been in a professional kitchen, it’s most definitely not smooth sailing all the time. Things get messed up. It just happens. And there’s no ordering take out if the main course burns. So chefs learn to improvise, use what they have and make it work. I wish we could all do that… instead of hitting a brick wall and breaking down crying, chefs say, “Huh. A brick wall. Let’s see how I can get over, under, around or through it.” Admirable.
While we see a lot of big egos on television food shows, the world of restaurant chefs is all about mutual respect, admiration and working together to make beautiful food. For every component on the plate at your next restaurant meal, there was probably at least one cook responsible for the dicing, slicing, par boiling, shocking, pickling… you get it. It takes a village to make a restaurant meal.
9. APPRECIATION of SCIENCE AND NATURE:
I’ve covered the appreciation and respect of ingredients, and this is a bit of an extension of all that. Jonathan Benno, who trained David at Per Se and was trained by Thomas Keller, has a famous quote in the chef world that is something along the lines of, “show me how to use NaCl and then I’ll show you the rest.” Molecular is great, foams are fabulous, but good cooking is already all about chemistry and alchemy. The fundamental understanding of natural laws and reactions is a part of a chef’s daily work. Wouldn’t it be amazing if that was how they taught high school science?
10. DO WHAT YOU LOVE, LOVE WHAT YOU DO:
The most wonderful part of working with professional cooks and chefs is the absolute love they have for feeding and nurturing people. Some are quieter than others. Most I know are somewhat introverted. But watching them work and transform their ingredients to create the food we eat is a privilege I enjoy every day. Even if its as simple as olive oil, salt and some acid, chefs touch their food with a certain magic, and as I watch, I’m struck by how lucky these people are to have figured out what gives them pleasure. And then they figured out how to make a living doing it. That’s a skill more of us need. I know perfectly well that not all cooks are in the kitchen out of love, but I bet if you asked the vast majority of them if it’s just a job, they would say no. It’s too challenging, too hot, too intense to be just a job. It’s a labor of love.
a 20-year-old jean-michel basquiat did what many people do at that age: made a resume. however given that he was more financially well-off/indifferent than most of his peers at the time, his CV was more of an artistic/recreational pursuit. highlights:
i wouldn’t imagine anybody getting a regular job with this on merit (though the references might do wonders). still, sotheby’s listed it for a solid working salary ($50,000). first spotted at black contemporary art.
update…nino reached out and provided some background on the bottle:
Wondering if the job you have now is “the one”–or just another stop on the way to something more fulfilling? Check out this list to know whether it’s time to settle in or keep moving.
This month marks the nine-month anniversary of the most natural and obvious, most joyful and energizing decision of my life: to fully commit 100% to my life’s work.
I’ve spent every day falling more madly in love with how I live my life and spend my time, the contributions I’m making to society, and the discomfort and growth that I feel each day.
My journey getting here was both arduous and enthralling. It was not at all straightforward. I had numerous experiences that collectively brought me here, teaching me what I’m capable of and showing me what does and does not resonate.
Though I’ve known for many years that my purpose is to unlock human potential, it took me some time to fully embrace my intuition, to figure out how to actualize this vision, and to build the courage to lean into my fears. (And it’s still, and always will be, an ongoing learning process.)
I’ve made the mistake of plunging headfirst into a business commitment that wasn’t fulfilling, spending more time trying to make it work than actually getting stuff done. I’ve felt red flags early on in a startup but waited nine months to listen to my intuition. I’ve put off my own ideas to help others actualize their visions because it was less scary. Though I would relive my mistakes all over again in a second (and I believe making more mistakes helps you grow and gain confidence), I’d love to save you some time and energy along your journey.
Inspired by an article by MeiMei Fox about finding “the one” in love, and based on my own experiences and conversations with friends who are in love with how they work, live, and play, here are 8 signs you’ve found your life’s work:
1. It doesn’t feel like work.
Your life’s work is not a “job”–it’s a way of living. Your work enables you to create the lifestyle you want for yourself and your lifestyle includes your work. You frequently stop and think to yourself, “Wait, am I seriously working right now?” You can hardly distinguish between work, play, and life–as they are all intertwined. In everything you do, you are constantly pursuing your vision of optimal living.
2. You are aligned with your core values.
Your life’s work is an extension of your beliefs and worldview. You live in integrity because what you do is in accordance with who you are. This alignment will inspire you to move a small mountain if that’s what you have to do to realize your vision. Every day you work to manifest and actualize the world you imagine because by making it so, you’ll make the world more alive, beautiful and well.
3. You are willing to suffer.
Passion comes from the Latin word ‘pati,’ which means ‘to suffer.’ Your life’s work is less about following a passion and more about your willingness to suffer along the way. The journey will be immensely challenging at times. You’ll be exposed to unexpected challenges and setbacks and you may endure hardship, rejection, and sacrifice. These roadblocks will motivate you. In fact, you see the short-term pain and discomfort as tremendous opportunities for learning, growth and depth; they’re critical to appreciating the beautiful and joyous moments.
4. You experience frequent flow.
You naturally and often fall “in flow,” deeply immersed by your work and the present moment. At 1:13 p.m. you realize five hours have gone by since you looked at the clock last. Or, you look up and realize it’s 12:21 a.m. and your instinct is to keep creating. Flow isn’t something you have to force; it just happens.
5. You make room for living.
Your work provides you the ability to live fully and enjoy life. Though you feel captivated and enthralled by your work, you make room for healthy routines like fitness, connection, spontaneity, and play. These activities re-energize and enable you to live a holistically fulfilling life.
6. Commitment is an honor.
When you discover your life’s work, the question of commitment is easy. There is no hesitation as to whether or not the work is right for you. Your heart says yes. Your mind says yes. Your body says yes. Commitment to your work feels like breathing. You cannot imagine spending your time dedicated to any other purpose.
7. The people who matter notice.
“You look vibrant!” and “I’ve never seen you so healthy and happy!” and “This is without question what you’re meant to be doing!” are among the comments you may hear from the people closest to you when you’re on the right path. It’s important to note that these people who care for you deeply may also be the first to question and worry in the early stages. But, once you are thriving, they’ll notice and lovingly support your efforts.
8. You fall asleep exhausted, fulfilled, and ready for tomorrow.
You go to sleep each night grateful for the day. You know you’re on the right path, you gave the day your all, and you can’t wait to do it all over again tomorrow. This is your life and you cannot imagine living it any other way.
related: how to find work that you love
Back in 1976, two economists, Michael Jensen and William Meckling, published a paper looking at why managers don’t always behave in a way that is in the best interest of shareholders. The root cause, as Jensen and Meckling saw it, is that people work in accordance with how you pay them.
Many managers have come to believe this, too: you just need to pay people to do what you want them to do, when you want them to do it.
The problem with thinking about incentives in this way is that there are powerful anomalies that it cannot explain. For example: some of the hardest working people on the planet are employed in charitable organizations. They work in the most difficult conditions imaginable; they earn a fraction of what they would if they were in the private sector. Yet it’s rare to hear of managers of nonprofits complaining about getting their staff motivated. The same goes for the military.
So how do we explain what is motivating them–if it’s not money?
Well, there is a second school of thought, which turns this thinking about incentives on its head. It acknowledges that although you can pay people to want what you want, incentives are not the same as motivation. True motivation is getting people to do something because they want to do it, in good times and in bad.
Frederick Herzberg, probably one of the most incisive writers on the topics of motivation, published a breakthrough article in the Harvard Business Review focusing on exactly this. Herzberg noted the common assumption that job satisfaction is one big continuous spectrum–starting with very happy on one end, and reaching all the way down to absolutely miserable on the other–is not actually the way our minds work. Instead, satisfaction and dissatisfaction are separate, independent measures.
This means that it’s possible, for example, to both love your job and hate it all at the same time.
This thinking on motivation distinguishes between two different types of factors: hygiene factors and motivation factors. On one side of the equation, there are the elements of work that, if not done right, will cause us to be dissatisfied. These are the hygiene factors: status, compensation, job security, work conditions, company policies, and supervisory practices. It matters, for example, that you don’t have a manager who manipulates you for his own purposes–or who doesn’t hold you accountable for things over which you don’t have responsibility. Bad hygiene causes dissatisfaction.
But even if you instantly improve the hygiene factors of your job, you’re not going to suddenly love it. At best, you just won’t hate it anymore. The opposite of job dissatisfaction isn’t job satisfaction, but rather an absence of job dissatisfaction. They’re not the same thing at all.
The Balance of Motivators and Hygiene Factors
So, what are the factors that will cause us to love our jobs? These are what Herzberg’s research calls motivators. Motivation factors include challenging work, recognition, responsibility, and personal growth. Motivation is much less about external prodding or stimulation, and much more about what’s inside of you and inside of your work.
The lens of Herzberg’s theory gave me insight into the career choices that my own classmates made. Some of them had chosen careers using hygiene factors as the primary criteria; income was often the most important of these. On the surface, they had lots of good reasons to do exactly that. They had given up years of their working lives and viewed their education as an investment; they wanted to see a good return on that investment.
Yet, many of those same classmates had written entrance essays on their hopes for using their education to tackle the world’s most vexing social problems or pursue their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs. Periodically, as we were all considering our post-graduation plans, we’d try to keep ourselves honest: “What about doing something you really love?” “Don’t worry,” came back the answer. “This is just for a couple of years. I’ll pay off my loans, get myself in a good financial position. Then I’ll chase my real dreams.”
But somehow that early pledge to return to their real passion after a couple of years kept getting deferred. It wasn’t too long before some of them privately admitted that they had actually begun to resent the jobs they’d taken–for what they now realized were the wrong reasons. Worse still, they found themselves stuck. Their lifestyles had expanded to fit their incomes, and that’s a trap that can be very hard to find your way out of.
The point isn’t that money is the root cause of professional unhappiness. It’s not. The problems start occurring when it becomes the priority over all else, when you’ve satisfied the hygiene factors but the quest remains only to make more money. Herzberg’s theory of motivation suggests you need to ask yourself a different set of questions: Is this work meaningful to me? Will I have an opportunity for recognition and achievement? Am I going to learn new things?
Once you get this right, the more measureable aspects of your job will fade in importance. As the saying goes; find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.
lynda gratton, a professor of management practice at london business school, put together a list of things to help protect your livelihood going forward:
1. Don’t be fooled into walking into the future blindfolded – the more you know what’s in store, the better able you will be to meet the challenges and really capitalize on your options. So keep abreast of the forces that are shaping work and careers in your part of the world and think about how they will impact on you and those you care for. Making wise choices will in the end come from your capacity to understand – don’t rely on governments of big business to make the choices for you.
2. Learn to be virtual – we are entering a period of hyper technological advancements – avatars, holographs and telepresence are all just around the corner. If you are a young ‘digital native’ you are already connected to this – but if you are over 30 the chances are you are already behind on your understanding. Work will become more global and that means that increasingly you will be working with people in a virtual way – its crucial that you learn to embrace these developments and don’t let yourself become obsolete through lack of technical savvy.
3. Search for the valuable skills – think hard about the skill areas that are likely to be important in the future – for example sustainability, health and wellness, and design and social media are all likely to be areas where work will be created over the next decade. Also remember that jobs that involve working closely with people (chef, hairdresser, coach, physiotherapist) are unlikely to move to another country.
4. Become a Master – don’t be fooled into spread your talents too thinly. Being a ‘jack of all trades’ will mean you are competing with millions of others around the world who are similar. Separate yourself from the crowd by really learning to master a skill or talent that you can develop with real depth. Be prepared to put your time and effort into honing these skills and talents.