Don’t Trust Your Gut Alone

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “The Snake That Appeals To Your Gut.”

The truth is, following one’s gut feelings alone is a way to avoid confronting or dealing with real data about what’s going on. While it’s true that information can be tough to get as well as to interpret, we certainly have to look not only at people’s words, but also at their deeds. We have to see them over an extended period of time, so we see whether there is consistency and if their integrity holds up under different situations and stressors.


We have hearts and minds and we need to make sure we are using both in making important decisions. Otherwise, see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil—and what do you think you are precisely going to get?


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Selling By Customer Stereotypes

Saw this displayed on the wall inside a Free People clothing store…


It categorizes their female shoppers into 4 types:


1. Candy (hearts): Sweet, girly, flirty, whimsy, and femme  


2. Ginger (cherries): Sexy, confident, edgy, attitude, and mysterious


3. Lou (baseball): Cool, tomboy, laid back, tough, minimal


4. Meadow (sunshine): Flowy, bohemian, embellished, pattern, worldly


So this is how they stereotype their customers “to be helpful”?


Interesting also that they don’t see that people can be complex with: multiple traits that cross categories or even in no category at all.


Moreover, people can have different sides to themselves and reflect these in different situations. 


Perhaps in an effort to market and sell more, what they’ve done is reduce people to these lowest common denominator of idiot categories.


And what makes this worse yet is that it seems to be based just on snap judgment of how someone looks coming into the store and all the biases that entails. 


How about we look at people a little more sophisticated than this and treat them as individuals, with real personalities, and not just as another empty label?  😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The DIVIDED States of America

Our nation is increasingly polarized with little to no tolerance of others wants, thinking, or actions. 


– First under Obama.


– Then with the election between Hillary and Trump.


– And now over Judge Kavanaugh.


The result has been some of the worst behaviors seen since the Civil War–with not only disrespect, restrictions on freedom of expression, but even threats and actual violence!


This nation is no longer the UNITED States, but much more like the DIVIDED States. 


And that just plays into our enemies hands and could lead us to eventually lose our very democracy to totalitarianism, dictatorship, and tyranny.  


So now may be a good time to review for yourself how many biases are driving your thought processes and behaviors and creating dangerous fundamentalists and extremists all around us instead of thoughtful dialogue, negotiation, and compromise. 


Here are 20 biases that may be affecting you more than you realize:


– Do you overestimate the importance of the information you have or feel good about (Anchoring,  Availability, and Choice-Supportive Biases)?


– Do you seek out and perceive information that simply validates your preconceptions (Information,

Confirmation, and Selective Perception Bias)? 


– Do you overemphasize information that is more recent or recognizable (Recency and Salience Biases)?


– Are you ignoring information that doesn’t “fit your script” (Ostrich Effect/Omission and Conservatism Bias)?


– Are you tied up in the groupthink of your peers (Bandwagon Effect)?


– Do you see patterns in random events or conspiracies that don’t exist (Clustering Illusion)?


– Are you overconfident in your thought process and conclusions (Overconfidence Bias)?


– Do you tend to overvalue the usefulness or success of something, but not recognize its limitations or failures (Pro-Innovation and Survivorship Bias)?


– Do you fail to take risks because you prefer certainty (Zero-Risk Bias)? 


– Does your thinking something will happen actually cause it to happen (Placebo Effect)? 


– Do you use the ends to justify the means (Outcome Bias)?


– Do you judge people by their race, class, gender, religion, sexual preferences, or national origin (Stereotyping)?


– Do you fail to recognize your own biases (Blind-Spot Bias)?


Perhaps if more people would open their minds to information and engage in genuine thinking and critical thinking, rather than a lot of fake news and hype, we would be a far better and stronger nation. 😉


(Source Graphic: Business Insider)

Breaking The Paradigm

So a colleague has this sticker (with a do not image) on their computer that says:


“But we’ve always done it that way.”


They told me a funny story about the lady that made the ham with the head and tail ends always cut off.


One day, her daughter asked, “Why mom do you make the ham with the head and tail ends always cut off?”


The mother answers and says because “My mother always made it that way!”


So they went to her mother and ask the question and they get the same answer again.


Finally, they went to her great grandmother and ask, “Why do you always make the ham with the head and tail ends cut off?”


And the old lady takes a breath, pauses, and says, “Because, we didn’t have a pan big enough to fit the whole ham!”


Just thought this was a great lesson on critical thinking and also on “asking why.”


Change can be brought about by questioning underlying assumptions and historical ways of doing things and bringing an open mind and fresh light to it. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

In The Know or Dark

So here is one way that some people can (try to) manipulate you–positively or negatively. 


They can help either to keep you “in the know” or “in the dark.”


As we all know by now, information is power!


When you’re in the know–you are a trusted agent and a valuable resource; you have more dots and more connections between the dots to make; you are able to analyze what’s happening and make better decision going forward; you can lead with knowledge, wisdom, and hopefully understanding. People come to you for advice, guidance, and because you are a true asset to the team, your superiors, and the organization. 


When you’re in the dark–you are untrusted and unvalued, you may actually be seen as the enemy who needs to be marginalized, put out or taken out! You are kept out of meetings, uninformed or misinformed, and so you become more and more intellectually worthless. Further, others are implicitly or explicitly told that you are poisonous and not to get caught up in the pending slaughter.  A colleague of mine put it this way: “Don’t get between a man and his firing squad.”   


So with others, there can be information alliances as well as information warfare. 


To a great extent, you are responsible for keeping yourself in the know. You need to build relationships, bridges, and networks. You need to read, observe, and talk to lots of people. You need time to digest and analyze what you learn.  And you must build your information store so that it is ready and actionable. 


But to another extent, there are others–superiors, competitors, bullies, abusers–who just might seek to keep you in the dark and bring you down. Not everyone is your friend…some maybe just the opposite. (Wouldn’t it be nice, if we all were just friends!) But showing you the intellectual ass of the group is a powerful nut that once superimposed as an image, cannot be easily distilled. There is plenty of groupthink to go around. And taking out a perceived enemy diffuses their power to everyone else.  What a lousy coup by some nasty f*ckers!


Why some friend and others foe you–who the heck knows. Perhaps some is chemistry; some is tit for tat; some is personal bias and bigotry; and some just the crapshoot of fate. 


In the end, keep doing your part to enhance your value, your friendships, and your integrity. The rest, you have to be vigilant about and realize not everyone wants the lights kept on. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Politics On A Cow

I saw this “Antifa” (Anti-Fascist) symbol on this painting of a cow in Washington, D.C. 


As a child of Holocaust survivors, I certainly understand and can even sympathize with the view of the anti-fascist movement–certainly, we should all unequivocally appreciate, love, and want to protect freedom and human rights!


However, I think throwing around labels like fascist, perhaps where it is more about political disagreements doesn’t help to identify the really bad actors out there in the world and what they can and even would like to do to harm all of us. 


Anyway, I am pretty sure that this cow is no fascist.


I would also like to say that the red and black with this symbol here is way too close to looking like how the genocidal Nazi’s themselves portrayed the dreaded and infamous swastika in red and black.  


It would be great if we use symbols and labels carefully, and let the cows go back to being cows. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Take Off The Halo and Horn

Thought this was a learning moment. 


The halo and horn effects. 


This has to do with generalizing about people, things, places, or events. 


With the halo effect, if we like (are positive) about one or a few things about it, we may put a proverbial halo on it and and treat or rate everything about it as great.


Similarly, with the horn effect, if we dislike (are negative) about one or a few things about it, we may put a proverbial horn on it and treat or rate everything about it as horrible. 


This means were not really being objective or balanced in our assessment. 


Usually, it’s not all just good or bad, black or white–but good AND bad, black AND white.  


And obviously, this can cause us to make bad decisions based on poor analysis and judgement. 


Therefore, the importance of taking a step back, looking holistically at all the facts, and evaluating things for what they really are, rather than making snap calls to judgement–and poor ones at that! 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to darksouls1)