The ultimate diversity is not about external attributes, but internal ones. Many people can get around one’s look and background, but it is the different perspectives and attitudes that really cause the conflicts. Today’s UN sponsored “World Day for Cultural Diversity” captures that spirit with ‘Culture” planted right in the heart of it.
In the spirit of embracing the failure to conform, I’ve written a number of posts extolling the world of weird. Michael Lazerow elaborates articulately with a number of further perspectives of the wonder of weirdness in his own post “Why Weirdoes Outperform Normals”. He starts with mini-portraits of ‘weirdoes’ in his life…
Lazerow goes on with both strong advocacy for weirdness and a catalogue of their strengths…
- Weird is good, I tell them. Normal is blah. You don’t want to be blah. Blah is boring. Boring people are forgettable. I like weirdos. They are interesting. They have crazy ideas. They have passion. Weirdos separate from the pack. Weirdos change the world. Weirdos lead. Weirdos make us think. When did weird become so weird? Why does the Merriam-Webster dictionary define the word so negatively? (“a person who is extraordinarily strange or eccentric.”)… The world would suck if it weren’t for weirdos. Instead of trying to get our kids to fit in, we should help them celebrate why they are different. Let’s start to teach kids to embrace weird. Weird is good. And let’s not stop until weird is normal.
- Weirdos see the world as a blank slate for them to paint their masterpiece. Forget marching to their own drums. They make up their own instruments. Forget thinking outside the box. They don’t see boxes. They see circles and horizons and trapazoids.
- Weirdos don’t see anything as impossible. Anything is possible. Just give us enough time.
- Weirdos are contrarians. They think differently and act even more differently. Normals try to fit in. Weirdos stick out without really trying.
- Weirdos aren’t driven by money. Money is a destination. Weirdos are all about the journey.
- Weirdos don’t care what others think. They only care THAT they think and want to change HOW they think.
- Weirdos come in all shapes and sizes, colors and countries. And they’re not new to the tech industry, or industry in general.
The unfinished novel or film script is one of the classic dream bubbles. Many of those converging on Cannes this week will be the hopeful carting their inflated aspirations in folios and CDs. Perhaps few as fervently and messianically as Melvin Van Peebbles (played by his son Mario Van Pebbles in the 2003 production “Badassss”) did with his 1971 film “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song”. The 1971 script was about breakthrough ambitions for African Americans. And the 2003 script doubled down on this dream by charting the 1971 filmmaker’s odyssey to bring this story to life.
I especially love the quote from Bill Cosby (who was one of the one of the critical backers of the original film) which is a apropos adage for the death of dreams – “Follow your dream. But the first thing you have to do is wake up.”
The Cannes Film Festival continues with its parade of lesser known gems. Like ‘Requiem for a Dream” which premiered there in 2000. The title screams out ‘Death of Dreams’ and the film itself doesn’t disappoint. It explores a range of dreams from starting a being successful, being famous, and being loved. Unfortunately, its perspective is through the artifice that preys on vulnerable dreams and turns them into empty bubbles..drugs.
Sara Goldfarb’s speech in the later part of the movie, played superbly by Ellen Burstyn, captures much of the dream downtrodden desperation depicted through the film…
- Sara Goldfarb: I’m somebody now, Harry. Everybody likes me. Soon, millions of people will see me and they’ll all like me. I’ll tell them about you, and your father, how good he was to us. Remember? It’s a reason to get up in the morning. It’s a reason to lose weight, to fit in the red dress. It’s a reason to smile. It makes tomorrow all right. What have I got Harry, hmm? Why should I even make the bed, or wash the dishes? I do them, but why should I? I’m alone. Your father’s gone, you’re gone. I got no one to care for. What have I got, Harry? I’m lonely. I’m old.
- Harry Goldfarb: You got friends, Ma.
- Sara Goldfarb: Ah, it’s not the same. They don’t need me. I like the way I feel. I like thinking about the red dress and the television and you and your father. Now when I get the sun, I smile.
Dreams are powerfully uplifting forces. Dream bubbles are hazardously precarious traps.
Cannes has endless interviews with the stars, but none as deliciously #FAIL as this one. Talk about breaking all the rules. But, what’s there not to like. The interviewee, a charming Mila Cunis (who just rose in my estimation by leaps based on her embrace of this total failure) called it “the best interview of the day”. The publicist whose exposure of the movie and the actress went viral. The rookie interviewer who, never mind bolting out of obscurity, had the best minutes of his life.
Today’s start of the Cannes Film Festival is a great excuse to break out the popcorn and failure embracing film. My first nominee is ‘The Pale Blue Dot’. A great montage of film’s finest moments to portray Carl Sagan’s inspired monologue on humanity’s humble place in the universe (thanks Ricky)…
- “I thought it would be a good idea, just after Saturn, to have them take one last glance homeward. From Saturn, the Earth would appear too small for Voyager to make out any detail. Our planet would be just a point of light, a lonely pixel hardly distinguishable from the other points of light Voyager would see: nearby planets, far off suns. But precisely because of the obscurity of our world thus revealed, such a picture might be worth having… We are too small. On the scale of worlds, humans are inconsequential: a thin film of life on an obscure and solitary lump of rock and metal… Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity—in all this vastness—there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand…It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. It underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the only home we’ve ever known. The pale blue dot.”
A vision of the future…picture of perfection…clear direction where we are going.
When you ask a diverse group consisting of a football club director, oil company executive and Microsoft board member their views on Leadership, those words about ‘direction’ and ‘vision’ echo again and again. At least they did at Clarity’s “Leadership” event at OXO Tower this week where they were the keynote attractions. But why just the Leadership of envisioning the ‘goal’ (sometimes a ‘big, hairy, audacious goal’). Why not the Management discipline of envisioning the disaster, the complete and utter failure?
Gary Klein proposes the notion of a ‘premortem’. Sort of a pre-emptive 5 Whys…
- “Imagine that we are year into the future. We implemented the plan as it now exists. The outcome was a disaster. Please take 5 to 10 minutes to write a brief history of that disaster.”
The speaker who I came to hear in the first place, Philiippa Snare (one of the top marketing execs in the UK) placed a big emphasis on positivity in attitude an emotion from everyone on her team. Her dismissal of ‘devils advocates’ sparked a discussion in the Q&A where she clarified her position. Naysayers who challenge the goal itself she has little patience for. Gadflies who challenge the path to the get to goal, but are totally committed to the goal, are embraced. The focus of the latters’ challenges are in the end (or for the ‘ends’) completely positive.
It echoes another term of Klein’s which embraces this failure of conformity – the ‘adversarial collaborator’. A sort of a personal whistle-blower who injects a diversity in thinking.
How can man expect to beat a powerful computer who makes flawless calculations? Embrace its failure.
That is the lesson from the historic match (16 years ago today) between neuron and number cruncher – Deep Blue v. Kasparov – as Devin Coldewey recounts in his NBC piece ‘Glitch may have helped supercomputer beat chess champ in historic match’…
- “Deep Blue won the deciding final match after three consecutive draws. But in Nate Silver’s new book ‘The Signal and the Noise,’ one of Deep Blue’s operators suggests that a glitch in the computer’s software might have been at the heart of at least one of the games. At the end of the first game, Kasparov had forced Deep Blue into an unsalvageable position after 43 moves, and Deep Blue’s response was to move its rook in a way that didn’t make any sense to its human opponent. This may have rattled Kasparov, who could not understand the move and may have decided the computer was playing at a higher level than him. As it turns out, the move really didn’t make any sense. According to an anecdote from the book, initially recounted by the Washington Post, a bug in the program, which the engineers thought had been fixed, made it so that when Deep Blue was cornered, it picked a move completely at random. Murray Campbell, who worked on Deep Blue and other supercomputers for years, told Silver: ‘A bug occurred in the game and it may have made Kasparov misunderstand the capabilities of Deep Blue. He didn’t come up with the theory that the move it played was a bug.’ Silver’s book is about how people and machines make predictions, and why some work and others don’t. In Kasparov’s case, his internal model of Deep Blue could have been thrown off by the bug, making him overestimate the computer’s cleverness.”
Perhaps my first introduction to the world of strategy was playing in my junior high school chess club. I really soaked up the game and studied it. In my reading, I was fascinated by the ‘sacrifice’ strategies where you surrender pieces in the short term for superior position in the long term. More novice players seem to approach chess as a race to capture as many pieces as possible and are easily drawn into such tactics where embracing the downfall of a noble piece leads to strategic advantage.