Welcome to The ContraMind Code.
The ContraMind Code provides you with a system of principles, signals, and ideas to aid you in your pursuit of excellence.
The Newsletter shares the source code through quick snapshots for a systems thinking approach to be the best in what you do.
The Code helps you reboot and reimagine your thinking by learning from the best and enables you to draw a blueprint on what it takes to get extraordinary things done. Please share your valuable thoughts and comments and start a conversation.
Take a journey to www.contraminds.com. Listen and watch some great minds talking to us about their journey of discovery of what went into making them craftsmen of their profession to drive peak performance.
Note-taking Lessons From America’s Greatest Biographer
In this fascinating account of the article by Jillian Hess, an English professor at the City University of New York (CUNY) and the author of How Romantics and Victorians Organized Information, writes about the critical stages of Robert Caro’s research and writing process.
Here are some thoughts from the article to reflect on:
Collecting information requires deep curiosity, and tagging them with detailed notes and observations requires focus and patience. Deconstructing this massive overload of information requires synthesis and an ability to connect the dots from diverse sources, and storytelling with this vast information is an art.
Information in silos is of little value. They can, at best, be great independent sources of truth. It’s how you see, cross-reference, and imagine hidden patterns in them when you bring them together is where actual value can be derived.
You must develop the ability to understand, question and explore what’s behind the information you usually see or shown.
Looking at orthogonal information that may initially seem irrelevant but may hold and bring new insights to the information you already have. Remember to consider the value of orthogonal information.
Collecting more facts leads you to a core source of truth. Don’t jump to conclusions with a thin collection of facts.
Not getting lost in information collection but being accountable to yourself daily for the end goal is vital.
Read the article here.
#321 - Working With Jeff Bezos
In this engaging episode that will open your mind, David Senra, who reads a biography of an entrepreneur every week, shares his learnings from the book - Working Backwards: Insights, Stories and Secrets from Amazon in Founders Podcast.
Here are vital questions to ask yourself:
Have you set for yourself a broad working philosophy? This can help you serve as an anchor for many things you will do or not do every day.
Do you track the time you and your team spend trying to communicate rather than focussing on getting things done?
Do you wait to make decisions with complete information or just about sufficient information?
Do you spend much time discussing dependencies, bandwidth, and resource availability?
Do you write enough about what you think? Do you demand that from your teams?
What do risk and failure mean to you?
How much time do you spend with customers and walking the market?
What is the ratio of your time spent on ‘differentiated heavy lifting’ vs. ‘undifferentiated heavy lifting’?
Also, listen to the entire episode on:
A great idea doesn't always translate into a great product.
Watching this talk about converting great ideas into great products threw up some interesting insights:
The ability to understand and appreciate a tremendous amount of craftsmanship is needed between a great idea and a great product.
It requires tremendous skill in not losing sight of the big picture but focussing simultaneously on the most important little things that add to the big picture.
A trade-off in product building is not compromising but packing what’s best possible. For teams working on products, it is not about giving up but being able to give in to the best ideas collaboratively.
Good product teams positively push each other, accept counter viewpoints, and are willing to argue but not take things personally, and only such teams can add sheen to the product.
A-players don’t take things personally but try to find meaning in the criticisms and suggestions.
Watch the entire video by clicking the above link.
The Magic Of Taking Notes
Note-taking is not a skill that is only sometimes taught in schools, colleges or workplaces. It’s also a skill that is not celebrated enough at workplaces. Hence, when people walk into meetings, debriefing sessions, customer visits, conferences, and feedback conversations, they rarely come prepared to take notes.
The question is how does one learn to take notes. To answer the question, maybe the best way to start is by asking - ‘What will you do with notes?’. People often don’t have any defined or overarching objective; hence, they randomly scribble a few things in a notebook or paper and then leave for the next meeting. People rarely refer back to the notes.
Therefore, the first step is to set aside a few minutes every day at the end of the day to read the notes you have written. You will surprised to see that you may not be able to comprehend what you have written. It could start with fixing that first. You may not begin with having any big or significant objective, but give the notes a topic that you want to slot it into - like it is not the agenda of the meeting or the person who you are meeting but the outcome the meeting is expected to have like product quality, project delay, customer feedback, sales growth, cash flow, collections etc. Also, spend a few quiet minutes before you get into the meeting by asking yourself what you want out of the meeting. Then, slot your notes into what is being done, what needs to be done, what can be done, and by when. Have an expiry date for action to be taken. Also, have a slot in the notes on who can help you get this done. When you sit at the end of the day to see the notes again, note down who can help you or how you can help address the opportunity or the problem. Try to connect common threads or themes that are coming across in meetings or conversations you are having with people, partners, customers, competition, etc. Try to eliminate bias and judgment that can creep into these conversations. It may make sense to carry and write notes on broad topics that meetings are trying to address rather than move meeting to meeting taking notes. During the meeting, slot the points discussed in the relevant broad topics.
At the end of the week, look back at all the notes, build a broad outline needed, and identify where you can intervene, direct and help. Looking back at these notes over time can also help you develop solutions and ideas as the opportunity or the problem may be interconnected. You can use the new tools and software that can help you accomplish this, which are now available. But they cannot replace the cognitive skills and processes that you will need to apply to them. Simply put, you can outsource your thinking to them.
The magic of notes will happen when you start cross-referencing, zooming in and out on broad topics and themes, and building a broad outline of potential opportunities and solutions from your more deeper observation of these notes.
Notes can be a goldmine of ideas and potential solutions if structured, written and managed well.
Some of the lessons we learnt from this week’s mission:
Information collection, interpretation and presentation require curiosity, patience, synthesis and storytelling skills.
Define your work philosophy and align people along with the work against them. It serves as a great mirror to decide what must be done or not done.
Converting ideas into products is a long, arduous journey that requires craftsmanship, teamwork, and keeping sight of the larger purpose of the product vision.