October 30, 2012
I Is an Other (5): Metaphors at Work
In business, psychology, science and politics, successful metaphors should be as common as one-liners at a comedy convention, as numerous as drunks at a tailgate party, as bountiful as bribes in Chicago politics.
In advertising, GEICO, the insurance company, has successfully grabbed attention with its use of metaphor (or it's close cousin, the analogy) in its "Happier Than" campaign.Continue reading "I Is an Other (5): Metaphors at Work"
May 16, 2012
Don't Just Spot the Future, Make the Future
Our desire to know the future seems limitless. Our ability to know it, however, is very limited. So how are we to satisfy those longings that even Snickers can't satisfy? Here's a clue: it's not measuring how many hits you get when you Google something because everything gets a gazillion hits.Continue reading "Don't Just Spot the Future, Make the Future"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 9:12 AM
October 28, 2010
To Change the World 3: Between Presumption and Hope
What’s the central dilemma for Christians who want to change the world? James Davison Hunter answers: Even though populism is organic to American Christianity, what actually brings about change instead is the combination of powerful institutions, networks, interests and symbols. And when it comes to the latter, American Christianity is decidedly on the outside looking in.
The ten biggest independent foundations give away billions; the ten biggest religious foundations give away millions (pp. 82-83). Professors at Christian colleges have twice the teaching load of their counterparts at elite and research universities—so they are at a huge disadvantage in any ambition to lead their academic disciplines (p. 86).
Then he quits preachin’ and starts meddlin’.Continue reading "To Change the World 3: Between Presumption and Hope"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 7:27 AM
June 17, 2010
Solving a Puzzle
I am known to work on the occasional crossword puzzle. Maybe every week or two I try my hand. I'm not like some friends who can whip through one in thirty minutes. In fact, it usually takes me a few days to finish. But I've seen a remarkable pattern in how I manage to solve them.Continue reading "Solving a Puzzle"
April 28, 2010
Miss Whitebread Was Wrong
“Always make an outline before you start writing.” Isn’t that what your fifth grade teacher told you? Well, I’m sorry to break this to you, but Miss Whitebread was wrong. In my continuing series of Stupid Things You Were Taught in School (see here and here), let me deconstruct this bad boy.Continue reading "Miss Whitebread Was Wrong"
March 29, 2010
The Technical Term for No ChangeContinue reading "The Technical Term for No Change"
February 10, 2010
To Sociologists: Duh!
It's tempting to roll our collective eyes when someone recognizes the obvious. Now we learn that sociologists have got religion. They have made the absolutely amazing discovery that religion is actually important.Continue reading "To Sociologists: Duh!"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 7:39 AM
November 17, 2009
Thaw Out Your Brain
Coming up with good, new ideas is the hardest thing I do. Some people seem to have a hundred ideas a day. Often they are entrepreneurs driving their people nuts with their lack of focus, and usually most of their ideas are bad. But if one percent are good, that's one good idea a day--a very impressive output!
What about the rest of us? How can we get creative?Continue reading "Thaw Out Your Brain"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 7:49 AM
March 10, 2009
The Familiar and the Unfamiliar
Do you have a favorite book title? One that is memorable and interesting, all the while telling you just what the book is about?
Here's another perspective on what makes an ideal nonfiction book title. Previously I wrote that the ideal title employed two elements: content and creativity. You can also think of them as the familiar and the unfamiliar.Continue reading "The Familiar and the Unfamiliar"
March 2, 2009
February 23, 2009
Bad Title Strategies
If one of the most difficult tasks in publishing is coming up with a good concept for a book, surely a close second is coming up with a good nonfiction book title. It's so hard that even when you are trying to do a good job you often end up making a baboon out of yourself. I'll be saying more about titling in upcoming posts. For now, here are two opposite and equally bad directions to go in titling a book.Continue reading "Bad Title Strategies"
October 21, 2008
The Frenetic, Jagged Pace
Last week I worked away from the office. I had a project that required large chunks of uninterrupted time. There was no way I was going to find that at work. So I left.
I’ve said before that my job is to be interrupted. And it is. As a manager, one of my primary tasks is to help others get their jobs done. Sometimes they can’t proceed until they have an answer to a question or a piece of information. My job is to grease the wheels of their workload so they can be as productive as possible. But sometimes I’m the one that needs to get something done. So twice in the last six months I’ve taken a week to work alone.
Even though it was work, just the different rhythm was refreshing. (And sometimes getting away is a source of great new ideas.) I find that emails, papers piling on my desk, phone calls, meetings, people at my office door—the frenetic, jagged pace of one hasty thing after another wears me down. Too often I have woken up in the middle of the night and not been able to go back to sleep for an hour or two—even when there are no major problems worrying me.
The feverish demands of work are not likely to diminish. They won’t go away. A fragile economy can only make us feel greater pressure to work harder and longer and faster. But we can control our pace rather than let it control us. Limits and boundaries and discipline are the tricks of that trade.
I have a couple friends who simply don’t do email—one because he won’t and the other because he can’t. (A true troglodyte.) They have the luxury, however, of having assistants through whom all their email come. Not all of us are so fortunate. But I can choose to limit when I do email at two or three times during the day rather than have it open and active every minute of every day.
What about when I'm on the road? The technology exists, of course, for me to be able to check my work email while I'm away from the office--at a conference, for example, or working offsite. But I've deliberately set a boundary by not asking our IT department to set me up with this capability. I don't want to be wired (or, more accurately, wireless) 24/7.
I don’t text. I don’t twitter. Maybe someday I will, but I hope I’ll have limits on them if I do.
April 7, 2008
Why You Should Leave Work
Several years ago I loved reading The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes.
For my reading tastes it was the perfect combination of science, history, politics and World War II.
One thing that struck me, however, was how time and again during the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-centuries brilliant physicists like Niels Bohr would get stuck on a problem for months or even years. After working tirelessly they finally were compelled to take a vacation and—boom (metaphorically)—the solution would come. Remarkably, the author never pointed out the pattern.Continue reading "Why You Should Leave Work"
Posted by Andy Le Peau at 3:33 PM