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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.
The New Rules of Marketing
What Building a Brand Means in the 21st Century
Umair Haque is a British economist. He was the director of the Havas Media Lab. In this article, he writes about what he believes are the new rules of marketing.
There are thin and thick relationships, and thick ones are better: The most significant change in marketing and branding over the last few years is what’s come to be called “influencers.” That’s building thin relationships. In plainer English, that means riding on said Instafluencer’s fame. Plenty of brands, big and small, are beginning to pay influencers big bucks — but the results aren’t lasting, enduring, or meaningful.
Whether we like it or not, every brand has a deep political meaning. We haven’t thought about brands that way for a very long time — organizations have assiduously striven to be neutral, to court “both sides,” to pretend as if politics doesn’t exist. But now? Things are vividly different. The “culture wars,” as Americans call them, have come for your everyday brand, too.
Brand equity is a long-term investment. These days, marketing’s forgotten…how to be amazing, memorable, awesome, provocative, cool, everything. It’s transactional now, marketing. And that’s understandable because technology’s created the impression that all it can be, has to be, should be, is transactional. This isn’t what good marketing is at all.
Building a brand — which is just another word for relationships that matter, last, and endure — is hard, dangerous, and difficult work. Nobody can thread the needle in times like these perfectly, every single day. The most that we can do is get real about it. What are we trying to do in this world? What positive impact are we having? How are we shaping people’s lives for the better so that they respect us and, through that, form lasting relationships with us? In small ways, from everyday life to Big Ones, like climate change, stagnation, inequality, social fracture, and a widespread sense of pessimism and despair.
What does your brand mean in that context?
Read the article here. (This article is behind the paywall.)
Vishy Anand On Staying In The Game
Vishwanathan Anand, the 15th undisputed chess champion and undoubtedly the greatest Indian chess player of all time, is in conversation with Tyler Cowen, where he shares his perspective on a wide range of topics - different chess moves, his opponents, his preparation before the game, how the game will change in the future, about the upcoming Indian GMs and some best places to eat in Chennai etc.
Here are some thoughts to think about and reflect on:
On his preparation before the game: ‘I don’t get down to that level of detail. If I was playing a match, I could try incorporating that into my approach. But so much of chess is just getting the opening right, the moves right, the concepts right that you don’t have time to micro-target like that. It just doesn’t work, at least not for me.’
What goes inside his head during a match: ‘Surprisingly, how distracted we are. During a match, even in very critical moments, I’ll be thinking about what I can have for dinner, what I should have done yesterday; oh, I met that jerk yesterday and this kind of stuff. Your brain wanders off. It’s almost like taking your foot off the gas. Your brain wants to wander off for a while. You let it, and then you come back. Or you keep one part focused on what’s happening, but while your opponent is thinking, you can wander off.’
On his cognitive strengths: ‘The ability to pull out details from a mass of information that I’ve seen. In chess, we may see a thousand games from this, and then at the board, I may be able to distil the right idea from all that. Being able to extract useful ideas from a lot of information. Also, good visual intelligence.’
On what he looks for from young chess players: ‘If they’re very young, I want to see a certain amount of fanaticism. I think fanaticism is good when you’re in your teens, but quite a few of them have that. I think maturity is maybe the most important thing..’
What does it take for chess players or anybody to be happy: ‘Just like anybody who finds that they’re doing what they wanted to do, what they would be doing anyway, even in worse circumstances, but they’re able to do it in a pretty nice way and challenging way.’
You can listen to the entire conversation by clicking the above link or the following links:
How to turn a group of strangers into a team
Amy C. Edmondson is an American scholar of leadership, teaming, and organizational learning. She is currently a Professor of Leadership at Harvard Business School. Edmondson is the author of seven books and more than 75 articles and case studies. She studies "teaming," where people come together quickly (often temporarily) to solve new, urgent or unusual problems. In this video, she talks about her learnings from the research she has done over the years about this topic:
Here is a quick summary of ideas and learnings:
One key thing that stops us from teaming is the concept of what she calls a ‘Professional Culture Clash’ that people get into.
Increasingly, you need to work with people across diverse backgrounds, geographies, and professions. Hence, the need for
Also, wherever she has found teaming has worked very well, there are a few common threads she has observed:
People are humble in the face of the challenge that is ahead of them
They remain curious about what other people can bring to the table to help get the work done better.
They are comfortable to take the risks to experiment and learn quickly.
Finally, she ends with this beautiful quote: ‘ It’s hard to learn if you already know’.
Click on the above video to listen to this TED Talk.
Recognizing Patterns And Developing Visual Intelligence
The conversation between Tyler Cowen and Vishy Anand conjured up some interesting thoughts and action items for all of us.
Even if you possess raw talent, when you get to work and interact with top professionals in your industry, the need to prepare and practice continuously is vital. This was one of the lessons learnt and an important takeaway.
How can preparing and practising help you?
When you give adequate attention and importance to preparing and practising, it helps you recognise patterns. It just builds a mental model in your head of a similar situation that you may have encountered during the preparation and practice sessions; it helps your brain to quickly recognise this and, see the pattern that seems to be developing, and also know how you can address the problem or opportunity.
Just like Vishy Anand, who had a battery of trainers and seconds who worked incessantly to help him identify patterns when he played champions like Karpov, Kasparov, Ivanchuck, etc., think of how you can have a battery of trainers and seconds in your work and personal life to be the best at what you do? What these people do for you is continuously prepare you for those situations by helping you identify how you can handle situations that you may have never experienced or may be currently facing or may face in the future as you handle an assignment or project.
A D Meir writes, ‘Patterns are named problem and solution pairs. They are a simple way to build and share a catalog of knowledge. You can use patterns to share strategies or principles efficiently.’ He also writes that patterns can help you create a shared vocabulary, naming and sharing solutions to common problems, sharing principles efficiently and documenting knowledge in a field.
Whatever you do in life, recognising patterns, using patterns and creating patterns are vital skills you need to develop, according to Tony Robbins. Even psychologists reiterate the importance of pattern recognition ‘Pattern Recognition and Inductive Thinking is a special ability of the human brain to not only find patterns but figure out logically what those patterns suggest about what will happen next. In a broad sense, pattern recognition and inductive thinking form the basis for all scientific inquiry.’
Would you happen to know why developing Visual Intelligence is essential?
Vishy Anand used the word ‘Visual Intelligence’ in the conversation. What is visual intelligence, and why is it an essential cognitive skill you must develop? Visual Intelligence is ‘ The capacity to perceive the visual world accurately, perform transformations and modifications on perceptions, construct mental representations of visual information, and use the representations to perform activities.’
When you develop visual intelligence, you can think of the whole picture, grasp a concept, and see the whole before acknowledging the details.
To work on your visual intelligence, slowing down can help. Harvard Art History Professor Jennifer L. Roberts requires her students to sit before a single painting for three full hours, a time she says is “explicitly designed to seem excessive” so that they might genuinely take the time to excavate the wealth of information proffered.
Neuroscientists and Psychologists advise us to get our brains and eyes engaged and focused. It helps increase the density of our hippocampus -the area responsible for learning and memory—and decrease amygdala density—the area responsible for anxiety and stress.
Working to improve your recognition of patterns and visual intelligence can help improve your cognition significantly, leading to detailed observation of details in any problem being thrown at you and connecting it to mentally stored possible solutions for them.
Some of the lessons we learnt from this week’s mission:
When marketing for your brand or company, think if you are building ‘thick’ rather than ‘thin’ relationships.
To be a world-beating professional, talent must be intertwined with preparation, practice and discipline.
‘Professional Cultural Clash’ is the primary cause of teaming failure.