Confirmation bias

Key words: bias, confirmation bias, cognition, tunnel vision, echo chamber


ABOUT THIS SERIES OF CARDS: “Men follow their sentiments and their self-interest, but it pleases them to imagine that they follow reason. And so they look for, and always find, some theory which, a posteriori, makes their actions appear to be logical.” — Vilfredo Pareto

The sunk cost fallacy

Key words: sunk cost, fallacy, bias, loss, aversion behaviour


ABOUT THIS SERIES OF CARDS: “Men follow their sentiments and their self-interest, but it pleases them to imagine that they follow reason. And so they look for, and always find, some theory which, a posteriori, makes their actions appear to be logical.” — Vilfredo Pareto

This tyrant now rules the world: our screens

Key words: screen, device, attention, mind, productivity, entertainment, creativity


A restaurant, a waiting lounge, a family dinner: chances are that most people in front of you will be looking at a screen. Mobile phone, tablet, laptop: they grab our attention and hold it in a vice-like grip. The “Feeds”, and the algorithms that drive them, have taken over our minds and our ability to think independently.

In an article in the blog, Infinite Play, Nat Eliason writes about “The locus of entertainment.” He says that avoiding contact with other people and burying ourselves in our own sources of pleasure is not new. We read books and newspapers while traveling in a train or plane. But, something has changed in a major fashion. The locus of entertainment, according to Eliason, has been slowly wrested from within our own choosing and dropped onto our all-pervasive screens.

Here are the take home messages that I got from this article.

➡️ Backstory: “Screenworld”. We have given up the power to chose for the false luxury of endless choices. Eliason calls this the “screen world.”

➡️ Main idea: “Entertainment muscle atrophy.” Entertainment, until the advent of the Internet, was something we generated. Writing, music, painting, and the performing arts are some common examples.

Today, entertainment has become something that is generated for us. A complex web of data, obtained from our browsing, is mined with powerful tools. Algorithms control the list of choices on offer. Manipulations are made that are well beyond our cognitive capacity. Free will no longer exists.

We surrender totally. As couch potatoes, our “entertainment muscles atrophy.”

🔴 Eliason warns us that it is a very short, slippery road to “depression, addiction, and asociality.”

➡️ Call to action: Take back control.

There is a solution, Eliason adds, but it is not an easy one. You have to become the master of your devices; take charge of creating your own entertainment. You have to use these tools to build up your internally generated sources of entertainment. The apps and software available today are wide-ranging and powerful. We have never had so much power for creativity and innovation.

In a single sentence, Eliason’s recommendation would be: Switch from being a consumer to being a creator.

Read the article.

If you want to be a leader, you need this “X factor”​: Executive Presence

Image courtesy Pixabay


The “X” factor: Executive presence distinguishes leaders from the crowd of people with mere talent or merit.

First named and described by Sylvia Ann Hewlett, EP is:

“… an amalgam of qualities that true leaders exude, a presence that telegraphs you’re in charge or deserve to be. Articulating those qualities isn’t easy, however.”

Success does not naturally follow talent and hard work. There are studies in support. You need to have extra qualities that are not easily acquired, and can even be hard to pin down. The most well known is Daniel Goleman’s description of Emotional Quotient (EQ).

3 Qualities: EP is a mix of 3 elements.

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1. Gravitas: confidence + poise under pressure + decisiveness. This is the defining characteristic of leaders and is easily the most important.

2. Communication skill: speaking skills + deep, close listening + ability to read an audience or a situation. A powerful vocabulary needs to be a part of the territory. There is a direct correlation between vocabulary size and rank on the corporate ladder. Leaders have a much more powerful arsenal of words than those lower in the hierarchy and know how to tailor them to the audience at hand.

3. Appearance: Although not as critical as the other two, it completes the overall effect. A scruffy, distracted appearance does not go down well.

In addition, there are 3 more elements that complete the picture.

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1. A calm demeanor: Tantrums and prima donna-like behaviour turn people off. You may be a genius and endowed with rare abilities, but you are unlikely to be a leader if you can’t keep a firm grip on your emotions.

2. Self-awareness: Leaders are aware of their own limitations. They are not afraid to ask for help when they are out of their depth. They delegate effectively.

3. Getting things done: They strive for and achieve completion in all of their tasks. They don’t leave situations hanging and unresolved.

Next time you come across someone who is “charismatic”, use this EP list to see how many of the boxes they check. Ask yourself how you can build it into your persona. Executive presence is not an inborn gift. It can be learned and implemented.