Who Are You and What Do You Do?

Jon Strande at Business Evolutionist has written a short questionnaire for bloggers that’s making the rounds. I found it through Aleah’s blog Incite By Design. Kind of a Friday Five type self-revelation, but with questions more oriented to what you do in your work life. Anything that adds context to what we write is helpful, so I’m in. They’re great questions, but if the superficial answers to these questions trip easily off your tongue, maybe it’s time to think deeper:

What do you do?
I write. I learn. I think. I design. I plan. I transfer ideas. I create dissatisfaction with the status quo. I foment dissent. I help people imagine a better world, or at least a better workplace.

What are the challenges?
Human nature. We fear change. We crave reassurance. We’ve forgotten the critical natural abilities of imagination, instinct, awareness, agility, collaboration, the sense of being an integral part of the whole. When you foment dissent, and make people unhappy with the status quo when they feel helpless to do anything about it, they don’t exactly thank you.

How do you overcome them?
I trust my instincts. They tell me we all want to do the right thing. Teach people, show them a better way, help them imagine, help them believe what’s possible, and you can overcome anything. And Cyndy at MouseMusings has taught me a process for dealing with challenges: Sense, Self-Control, Understand, Question, Imagine, Offer, Collaborate. It works well.

What is a typical day like?
Three hours a day reading, studying, and learning; three hours a day writing; three hours a day conversing, in one medium or another, with others; three hours a day in contemplation — thinking, walking, sensing, solving problems, imagining.

How do you manage information?
My blog is my filing cabinet. It contains everything of value I’ve ever learned or produced. Lately I’ve started using a simplified version of Getting Things Done, using a single spreadsheet, to organize, prioritize and process work-activities and information.

What are your favourite books?
Most enjoyable: Natural Selection by Frederick Barthelme.
Most powerful: Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban.
Most worldview-changing: Story of B by Daniel Quinn, one of the books on my Save the World Reading List.
Favourite poem: Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot.

What are your favourite web sites/blogs?
I have hundreds of different favourites (on my blogroll) for different reasons and purposes. I recently wrote that the blogosphere is like a railway network, with each blog being a station that provides certain amenities on the way to where you are going, or on your way home.

What tools/technology do you use?
My blog — which is both my filing cabinet and my memory.
My network/community — about 300 people, who I access in many different ways (RSS, Thunderbird and GMail, Skype etc.) Google and Google Desktop.
My own proprietary Creative Problem Solving process, which uses 24 different tools and methodologies from brainstorming and mindmapping to research and tapping the Wisdom of Crowds.
Because all these tools (and my complete music library) reside on my laptop, I use no other, more portable technologies. My laptop is my office — I have no physical office and haven’t for nearly twenty years.

What’s your favourite quote?
No one favourite. I’ve often quoted Einstein, Daniel Quinn, Bucky Fuller and Margaret Mead. Lately I like this one from Kurt Vonnegut: ” Human beings will be happier – not when they cure cancer or get to Mars or eliminate racial prejudice or flush Lake Erie but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again. That’s my utopia.”. And this one from Daniel Quinn: “People will listen when they’re ready to listen and not before. Probably, once upon a time, you weren’t ready to listen to an idea than now seems to you obvious, even urgent. Let people come to it in their own time. Nagging or bullying will only alienate them. Don’t preach. Don’t waste time with people who want to argue. They’ll keep you immobilized forever. Look for people who are already open to something new.”

What is your “secret to success?”
I’ll let you know when I’ve succeeded. It might turn out to be “Show, don’t tell” (ironic, perhaps, for a writer). As Eliot said “For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.”

What are your greatest accomplishments?
I’ve learned two important skills that I definitely wasn’t born with: How to write competently, and how to be creative. I’m very proud of my two step-children and two grand-daughters, and pleased with the small part I’ve played in their lives. I’m proud of this blog, and some of the writing of different types on it. But an accomplishment is something you do that has an effect that endures after you’ve gone, so thus far my accomplishments have all been small. But I’m not through yet. My novel, my Model Intentional Community, and my public Think-Tank to collaboratively solve the world’s greatest problems will be my three greatest accomplishments.

What are your hobbies? Or, how do you break the monotony and stay energized?
My twelve hour daily regimen, outlined above, is enormously fulfilling and doesn’t really give me much time for anything else. I listen to music to relax and to be inspired. I occasionally compose my own music, play volleyball and poker, do crossword puzzles, try different cuisines. I’m never bored and never have writer’s block. There is far too much to do, and far too great a need that it be done soon, and well.

Illustration, like yesterday’s, is from Gaping Void.

This entry was posted in Our Culture / Ourselves. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Who Are You and What Do You Do?

  1. daniel says:

    Hi, great blog.How do you create the spreadsheet for Getting Things Done?.Is it in Excel?.Can you upload an example please?.Thanks

  2. Dave Pollard says:

    Al: Thanks. I included a sample of the GTD layout I use in this earlier post. Works fine with a simple word processor or spreadsheet software, anything you can sort by column.

  3. daniel says:

    Hi, the black top file is clickable in your program?.I never did anything like that in Word, will have to ask someone.

  4. daniel says:

    I think you just select the column and order it right?

  5. Dave Pollard says:

    There’s probably an easier way but I highlight the whole table and select TableSortColumn3 Ascending

Comments are closed.