On the Importance of Kindness at Work

Longtime Facebook employee Andrew Bosworth tells the story of how he learned he needed to be more respectful of others:

So why was I being sidelined? I demanded answers. Dustin did not disappoint.

He gave me a single sheet of paper. On it, in a dull monospace font, were anonymous quotes about me from my coworkers.

“Boz is one of the better engineers at Facebook” one read, and then the next “I would have a hard time working with him.”

These two statements struck me as incongruous. If I was a good engineer, why would it be hard to work with me? Of course that question was the very foundation of my problem.

“He is most interested in the truth…but more inhibited members of the team avoid any discussions with him.”

The realization hit me hard. In short, I thought my job was to be right. I thought that was how I proved my worth to the company. But that was all wrong. My job was to get things done and doing anything meaningful past a certain point requires more than one person. If you are right but nobody wants to work with you, then how valuable are you really? How much can you realistically expect to accomplish on your own? I was “winning” my way out of a job one argument at a time.

The Best Story You Will Ever Read about Iceland, Coffee, International Trade, and Culture

Adam Gopnik, writing in the The New Yorker:

There’s this:

The account of a richly complex foreign culture, based on a two- or three-day trip–beginning with the taxi from the airport, including the meeting with the minister of economics (always surprisingly young, and always with a degree from Harvard or Stanford)—is one of the least attractive of all American journalistic modes.

And this:

When my wife, Martha, recites the names of her grandparents to curious Icelandic strangers, they nod appreciatively and wrinkle their brows, rather as someone might who shares a common background in a small town in Wisconsin: if I don’t know them, I know folks all around them. Indeed, she and our children were referred to throughout our trip as “Western Icelanders,” not, as I’d assumed, because her family had originally emigrated from the west of Iceland but because “Western Iceland” is the Icelandic shorthand for Canada.

And this:

She has a fetishistic relationship to coffee, which she drinks in an impossibly thick brew from early morning until shortly before she goes off to a sound sleep at midnight. After dinner, she timidly asks if anyone wants coffee, real coffee—and, despite the hysterical rejections in this age of frazzled nerves and pervasive decaf, makes a pot, from which she drains a cup or two. In this, she is exactly like her mother, the only person I have ever met who would order a cup of coffee before dinner at a good restaurant, just to get in the mood.

And this:

One might even see the Icelandic coffee cult as one case of a too-little-touched-on aspect of the human comedy: our tactical amnesia about trade.

And this:

Iceland has rebounded, in large part, one senses, because Icelanders are accustomed to sudden switches in destiny—the politician in the three-piece suit who represents the city of Reykjavík at a reception for foreign authors turns out to double as the bass player of a metal band called HAM—and are also accustomed to displaying coöperative behavior in the world’s least coöperative circumstances.

And this:

Culture counts, but a culture is never a reduced essence of something indigenous. It is whatever particular recipe of cosmopolitanism its people have produced. In America, the recipe is so multipartite that it produces Kosher Thai restaurants. In Iceland, it’s one part coffee to one part anything else.

And finally, this:

Going to a beautiful, remote place reminds us, above all, how relentlessly interdependent the world is and always has been in supplying pleasures that are, almost by definition, imports. Hope, Emily Dickinson says, is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul. Civilization, one might say, is the thing over there at the corner table, drinking coffee in a cold climate.

Heck, just read the whole thing.

Subscribe to My New Email Newsletter, Newley’s Notes

2015 02 19 email1

Last Sunday I sent out the first edition of my new email newsletter*, called — you better believe it — Newley’s Notes.

You can read that dispatch here.

To be added to the list, enter your email address here.

I’ll use the brief dispatch, probably sent every Sunday, to:

  • Share links to my recently published WSJ stories
  • Highlight notable technology industry news, especially concerning tech in Asia
  • Point out other interesting stuff related to books, sports, music, science, journalism and more — much like the material I link to in my periodic links posts.

Note that the newsletter will not simply be a regurgitation of what you see on this site. It’ll point to some Newley.com items but will mostly link to other stuff.

*Long-time readers will recall that I’ve blogged about email newsletters several times in the past — as long ago as January 2002, in fact! — so I’m excited to be kicking off one of my own at long last.

Everything You Need to Know about Personal Finance in 833 Words

For his last Sunday WSJ column, Brett Arends provides some simple rules on personal finance:

Smart money moves aren’t more complicated than you think. They’re simpler.

Cut through all the jargon and pontificating and technical stuff, and everything you really need to know about personal finance fits into less than 1,000 words—no more than three to four minutes.

Click through for his 23 tips.

An Album You Must Listen to: Sturgill Simpson’s ‘Metamodern Sounds In Country Music’

I first heard about Sturgill Simpson on the NPR “All Songs Considered” best of 2014 podcast.

You just have to listen to his album that came out this year, “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music.” (It currently has 282 ratings on Amazon, 248 of which are five-stars.)

Here’s NPR’s take:

In case you need a clue as to where Simpson is coming from, the title comes in handy: Metamodern Sounds in Country Music nods to the genre-expanding Ray Charles classic Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, and tells you he’s going to fold country’s conventions over on themselves as if he’s trying to create some kind of musical space-time portal. He shows up on the cover in a photo that looks as if it had been pulled out of a Civil War-era locket, with long hair and untrimmed mustache. The background, of course, is outer space. Here’s a list of the jobs held by the eight people Simpson thanks in the album’s credits: molecular biologist, psychonaut, science-fiction author, astronomer, theoretical physicist, psychopharmacologist and computer programmer. The way Simpson is gunning, he’s going to freak some people out.

The funny thing is, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music is absolutely country, from the roadhouse-ready “Life of Sin” to the lonesome-skyline blues of “Voices” to the revival-tent call-and-response stomp of “A Little Light.” The two covers on the album are of Buford Abner’s “Long White Line” (which appeared on both Charlie Moore & Bill Napier’s Truckin’ Favorites and Aaron Tippin’s In Overdrive) and When in Rome’s 1988 hit “The Promise,” which appeared in the closing credits to Napoleon Dynamite. Both would sound at home at the Ryman.

Embedded above and on YouTube here: “Life of Sin.”

I’ve also heard good things about his first album, “High Top Mountain,” but haven’t checked it out yet. I will soon, though.

The 20 Best ‘Best of 2014′ Lists

  1. Best Books of 2014WSJ
  2. The books Quartz read in 2014 — Quartz
  3. The best books of 2014 — The Economist
  4. 10 best nonfiction books of 2014 — Stephen Carter at Bloomberg View
  5. The 10 Best Books of 2014NYT
  6. The Best Books of 2014 — Amazon
  7. The Best Book Covers of 2014NYT
  8. Longreads’ Best of 2014 — Longreads
  9. The Best Movies of 2014 — Richard Brody at The New Yorker
  10. Best movies of 2014 with behavioral economics themes — Cass Sunstein at Bloomberg View
  11. The 20 best movies of 2014 — A.V. Club
  12. The Best Movie Posters of 2014 — MUBI Notebook
  13. The 10 Best TV Shows of 2014 — Vulture
  14. Best TV Of 2014 — NPR
  15. Best albums of 2014 — Rateyourmusic.com
  16. The 100 Best Tracks of 2014 — Pitchfork
  17. Best iPhone photos of 2014 — iPhone Photography Awards
  18. Top physics breakthroughs of 2014 — Physics World
  19. The Best Tech Quotes of 2014 — Vauhini Vara at The New Yorker
  20. Embedded above and on YouTube here: Top 30 Goals World Cup 2014, by HeilRJ.