Earlier this week the news broke that Yahoo! had bought Tumblr for a remarkable $1.1-billion in cash. Shortly after, Marco Arment, the initial software developer for the platform, posted an article on his site reminiscing about the early days of Tumblr and how it developed over time. Near the end Mr. Arment admitted that the purchase of Tumblr means that he will have enough money in the bank to offer a nice safety net should anything happen. Dan Benjamin and Merlin Mann brought this subject up in their most recent episode of Back to Work[1. Back to Work - Episode 120: Egg MacGuffin] and they asked a really good question regarding safety nets: Just how much is required, and what would we do if we had one?
Frustration is a normal part of life for many of us and it can lead to some incredibly useful creations. Necessity is often attributed to be the mother of invention, and there's no better fertiliser for necessity than frustration. Yet when frustration occurs on a daily basis it's often a signal that we need to introspect and determine the root cause of the issues. Are the problems coming from without, or are they completely from within?
The look people make when they're the last one to board a train on a Friday night is sometimes enough to instigate a rage dump. They step onto a crowded public vehicle at the last minute and, ignoring the number of people standing, look at the benches full of passengers. The face is often the same; a look of disgust and disappointment that there are no seats remaining. The thought of waiting 5 minutes for the next empty train to arrive never crosses their mind, though. They have to get home as soon as possible. They are, after all, the most important person on the planet.
There are commencement speeches, and there are commencement speeches. Yesterday I listened to one that was recently put to video and shared with the world. David Foster Wallace delivered a very thoughtful piece on some of the unsaid truths of being an adult. Although the video only offered a segment of his speech, it was incredibly powerful and spoke to me on a number of levels. If you have the chance, I suggest you take a look.
A recent conversation with an HR person has shed some light on a question I've long had since coming to Japan. I have seen time and again people being assigned to jobs that they are neither interested in or particularly enthusiastic about. There are also a number of people that have told me about being moved from a job they enjoyed to a completely different department in order to "balance things out" in a particular section. The balance has little to do with what the organisation actually needs, though, and instead focuses on an imaginary metric that companies have imposed on themselves regarding what sorts of staffing numbers are required in a particular area … whether it's actually needed or not. This lead me to ask a number of questions about how HR views their people.