Things Look Different Up Close

So this was interesting. 


I was coming up the highway. 


In the distance, there looked like there was a large tractor-trailer heading towards me.


I had to take a double take, because this truck was on my side of the divider…Oh shit!


It was only as I got closer that I could see that the truck was really being towed in reverse by a tow truck. 


Yes, “seeing is believing!”


This is a lesson in life:


Things may look one way from a distance, and very different up close. 


Sometimes, my wife tells me:


“Andy, don’t look too close!” lol


But the truth is that you may not really see what you heading towards until it’s right in front of your eyes.


So it’s important to look out over the horizon and study what is coming your way. 


But don’t take your eye off the ball (or Mack Truck as it may be). 


Things can change your perspective the closer you get to it. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

When You Need To BLUF

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Most professional (and even personal) communications should start with…

________________________


BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front).


This means that you start with the ending–in mind, on paper, verbally, and in digital format. 


You provide the conclusion and/or recommendations right up front.


Rather than first wadding through all the details–context, analysis, considerations, assumptions, risks, etc. 


Let the reader know right away what it is you want. 


Generally, this is different than an abstract or summary that provides a synopsis and leading evidence for the argument put forward. 


Tell me what I need to know and get right to the point! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

How Great Are You?

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INDISPENSABLE?

      Sometime, when you’re feeling important,

      

      Sometime, when your ego’s in bloom,

      

      Sometime, when you take it for granted,

      

      You’re the best qualified in the room.

      

      Sometime when you feel that your going,

      

      Would leave an unfillable hole,

      

      Just follow these simple instructions,

      

      And see how it humbles your soul.

      

      Take a bucket and fill it with water.

      

      Put your hand in it, up to the wrist;

      

      Pull it out; and the hole that’s remaining, 

      

      Is a measure of how you’ll be missed.

      

      You may splash all you please when you enter,

      

      You can stir up the water galore,

      

      But stop, and you’ll find in a minute,

      

      That it looks quite the same as before.

      

      The moral in this quaint example,

      

      Is just do the best that you can,

      

      Be proud of yourself, but remember,

      

      There’s no indispensable man.

            

      – Saxon White Kessinger

(Thank you to my daughter, Minna Blumenthal, for sharing this)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

See The World Through The Eyes Of Others

Earth
It’s not only important what we think, but also what and how others see things. 

 
One the things, the folks that work with me frequently hear from me is “Let me put myself in the other person’s shoes for a moment, and give you feedback on that.”
 
We are what we are and not as our customers are, and while we may strive for excellence in customer service, our customers may have completely different notions of what that means.
 
For example, I may think a 24-hour turnaround on something is pretty good given everything on our plate, but when I imagine myself in the customer’s shoes for a moment, I may change that expectation to “We need to get this done by noon today (or sooner)!”
 
People are different, our experiences, our cultures, our context and the way we interpret things. 
 
So when it comes to work or family or even social issues, being compassionate often means seeing the world through someone else’s eyes. 
 
There was an interesting article in the New York Times called “Imaging The Lives Of Others” by psychologist, Paul Bloom. 
 
While he notes the importance to “behold the universe through the eyes of another,” he also says how difficult this really is. 
 
If you haven’t done something, how can you really imagine what it was like, let alone know what it was like for someone else to experience it?
 
Without the access to the particular significant life experience, the duration, the controls (so you can’t just say stop like in an experiment), perhaps a person can never fully know what it’s like. 
 
For example, if you haven’t been through a devastating war, can you truly know what it’s like to be in a foxhole and have the bullets whooshing by your head and the tanks rumbling over it?
 
Yes, we can imagine, but that is probably a far cry!
 
Yet, to really empathize with others, do right by them, and to make good leadership decisions, we most certainly need to at least try to see and experience the world the way others do. 
 
Thinking about the over 805 million hungry people in the world today, it is much more impactful to imagine myself hungry and starving, then just to say the mere fact that these poor people exist.
 
We can probably never know someone’s else pain and suffering the way they do, but through our own experiences, extrapolation from them, and our imagination, we can at least try to elevate ourselves for a purely self-centric universe of one that is of billions (under one G-d), and who need our understanding, compassion, support, and help. 😉
 
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Doctor In Context

Dr and Bottles
I took this photo in the doctor’s office. 



No, this is not my doctor, but a statue of one on the countertop.  



What’s funny to me is how he looks in context of the bottles and anatomical models all around him.  



Either the doctor has shrunk or the other things are really huge.



My dad used to tell me that doctors only know what G-d tells them, so we should pray that G-d gives them the wisdom to help us. 



And my grandfather used to say in German that “G-d is my doctor.”



Maybe that’s why the image of the doctor is looking up–to get the guidance from the one above to help us. 



That’s the intersection of medicine and faith–where truly big things can happen. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What If They Can Read Our Redactions?

What If They Can Read Our Redactions?

The New Yorker has a fascinating article about technology advances being made to un-redact classified text from government documents.

Typically, classified material is redacted from disclosed documents with black bars that are technologically “burnt” into the document.

With the black bars, you are not supposed to be able to see/read what is behind it because of the sensitivity of it.

But what if our adversaries have the technology to un-redact or un-burn and autocomplete the words behind those black lines and see what it actually says underneath?

Our secrets would be exposed! Our sensitive assets put at jeopardy!

Already a Columbia University professor is working on a Declassification Engine that uses machine learning and natural language processing to determine semantic patterns that could give the ability “to predict content of redacted text” based on the words and context around them.

In the case, declassified information in the document is used in aggregate to “piece together” or uncover the material that is blacked out.

In another case prior, a doctoral candidate at Dublin City University in 2004, used “document-analysis technologies” to decrypt critical information related to 9/11.

This was done by also using syntax or structure and estimating the size of the word blacked out and then using automation to run through dictionary words to see if it would fit along with another “dictionary-reading program” to filter the result set to the likely missing word(s).

The point here is that with the right technology redacted text can be un-redacted.

Will our adversaries (or even allies) soon be able to do this, or perhaps, someone out there has already cracked this nut and our secrets are revealed?

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Newspaper Club)