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The ContraMind Code
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.
How to Become a Better Conversationalist
Eliot Peper is the author of 11 novels, including Bandwidth, Cumulus, and, most recently, Foundry. He also works on special projects, helping founders tell stories that empower the people they seek to serve. In this article, he talks about why it is essential to be a conversationalist and the benefits of being a great conversationalist.
Here are some thoughts from the article for you to reflect on:
It’s not enough to care—you must also show that you care. Eliot shares some interesting research findings about this.
Beware of canned responses. People with media training are the worst offenders.
When you ask a question, rather than seeking an explicit answer, you can challenge yourself to use the question as a prompt to get your interlocutor's most interesting possible response.
Wrapping your idea in a narrative enables others to engage with it more deeply, understand it more fully, and remember it later.
One way to be interesting is to be interested.
Read the article here.
How To Handle Challenging Conversations
We often encounter situations where we need to have challenging conversations. How do you manage these conversations? Are there rules and tips we can follow to have these conversations?
This is precisely discussed in the Think Fast, Talk Smart Podcast. Think Fast, Talk Smart is a podcast produced by the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Host Matt Abrahams talks with Collins Dobbs, a lecturer in management at Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Here are some thoughts from this conversation for you to absorb and think about:
Dobbs discusses the importance of ‘Space, Pace, and Grace’ when giving or receiving others’ feedback and handling emotions during tough discussions.
He also brings an important insight - “A lot of people are uncomfortable with the smallest modicum of silence, but learning often happens when we create distance for useful reflection.”
He also talks about an essential aspect of ‘Connecting and Coaching’ if you are having challenging conversations, especially giving advice, feedback, etc.
He also reiterates the importance of listening and silence when having these conversations.
You can listen to the podcast on:
How AI Could Save(Not Destroy) Education
There are two camps that claim AI will disrupt and eliminate specific industries and jobs, while others think it can transform and add value if you use and implement it right. Sal Khan, the Founder and CEO of Khan Academy, thinks it can transform and add tremendous value to education - both in terms of learning and teaching.
Sal thinks artificial intelligence could spark the most incredible positive transformation education has ever seen. In this TED Talk, he shares the opportunities he sees for students and educators to collaborate with AI tools -- including the potential of a personal AI tutor for every student and an AI teaching assistant for every teacher -- and does a demo of some exciting new features for their educational chatbot, Khanmigo.
Here are some thoughts from this talk which can help you reflect on AI and its benefits:
He talks about the idea of a ‘Super Tutor’, which conceptually can become reality with AI. This can be achieved by scale and scope, which will become possible only because of AI.
He also makes a compelling point about how AI can help teachers teach better. Khanmigo - an AI-powered chatbot- can support the teacher in exploring how to teach concepts and then help them tutor the students better.
He also talks about opportunities like adding innovations like how language models can be adapted to guide, improve and help Khanmigo and then respond interactively to queries that the students may have.
You can watch the entire video on top by clicking it.
Innovate Intelligently with AI
Learnings from the industrialised era
An article from MIT Sloan Management Review titled - ‘Learning from Automation Anxiety of the Past’ provides some brilliant anecdotal evidence of this kind of anxiety:
On the night of April 24, 1907, New York’s lamplighters left the lights out and went on strike. Their profession was almost 500 years old, but it would soon become a distant memory. Thomas Edison’s invention of the light bulb unquestionably made the world better and brighter.
Continued technological progress is not inevitable. Historically, resistance to technologies that threatened workers’ skills has been the rule rather than the exception.
The industries and people who succeeded were the ones who had adopted and adapted their businesses and enhanced their skills when widespread automation or technology transformation happened at that time. New kinds of jobs and skills were required after the Industrial Revolution.
National Geographic, in its article titled ‘Industrialisation, Labor and Life’, brings forth another perspective on changes that have happened in the past:
The preindustrial family was fundamentally both a social and an economic unit. Married couples and their children often worked side by side on a family farm or in a shop or otherwise divided their labour for the family’s overall benefit.
Before industrialisation, when the most significant economic activities in most European countries were small-scale farming and artisan handicrafts, social structures remained essentially as they had been during the Middle Ages.
Before the Industrial Revolution, artisans with specialised skills produced most of Europe’s manufactured goods. Their work was governed by the traditions of their craft and the limits of available resources.
Is AI the automation revolution of the knowledge and information era?
With AI becoming increasingly mature and intuitive, what Sal Khan’s talk demonstrates is the fact that there is a lot of innovation waiting in the wings to be developed through the use of large language models like Chat GPT 4, etc. His examples of using it for reading comprehension, clarifying mathematical concepts, etc., are groundbreaking.
So, if you are in a manufacturing industry, using these AI-based tools for quality testing, design, inventory optimisation, production training, resolving machine breakdowns, etc., could be significant use cases that may not have been possible hitherto due to the scarcity of human resources, fragmented knowledge repositories etc. Or if you are in healthcare, seeking a second opinion, taking references of treatment methods, uploading reports and seeking advice from the best physician who may help you anywhere in the world are examples of innovation waiting to happen. In the customer service industry, intuitive handling of customer queries as if there is expert support right at anybody’s fingertips, new ways of resolution of product problems, new formats of service handbooks, etc., can get AI-powered, which till now could not be scaled due to lack of human resources or limited expertise availability.
The future could increasingly become ‘Hybrid AI Experiences’. There will be a mix of human intelligence enhanced by Artificial Intelligence. There will be a seamless handshake between human intelligence and experience on one side, along with AI acting as a catalyst with an ‘incredible intelligence repository’ that could be leveraged to solve problems or extend help wherever needed.
Like how robots transformed manufacturing, AI will change the current knowledge economy, which is now severely constrained by the availability of expert human resources. Hence, using Super Tutors in education to provide personalised learning support, Super Coaches to train young but talented sports beginners, Super Docs to lend second opinions, and Super coders who can write codes for any problem could become a reality soon.
If any industry or firm looks at AI through the ‘lens of scarce resources’, which is limiting the scalability of their services or offerings, there could be a host of AI-powered product innovations or platforms that can enable ‘transformational innovation’ which can redesign and reimagine ‘production experiences’, ‘transactional experiences’, ‘service experiences’, ‘engagement experiences’ etc.
The industrial era automation drove the ‘Scale of Production of Goods’. In contrast, the knowledge and information era automation will drive the ‘Scale of delivery of Services’ using the power of AI. If the industrial era displaced the artisans, the AI era will replace today's knowledge workers, and there will be a renaissance of artisans!
AI can truly help and transform businesses if they adopt ‘intelligent innovation’ rather than ‘mindless automation’. And if you are a knowledge worker, hoarding expertise for premium pay will not work anymore. You will need to learn to be a part of a network of experts rather than a siloed specialist.
Some of the lessons we learnt from this week’s mission:
To be interesting, be interested. This is a fundamental need to be a great conversationalist.
Challenging conversations require adequate care and connection from the person who delivers the message to the person who receives the message.
AI will be a saviour rather than a destroyer of many industries and business models.