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 Big Tech Runs Tech Projects and the Curious Absence of Scrum
In this interesting article, Gergely Orosz writes about how the Big Tech companies run projects and provides some great insights into some deeply held beliefs/views of various project management techniques and how all of these project management frameworks play out in the real world.
Here are some key takeaways:
Big Tech shares several characteristics in how engineers execute on projects:
Engineers lead most projects.
Teams are free to choose the project management methodology they use.
The ratio of Technical Project Managers(TPMs) to engineers was around 1:50 at Uber.
In many cases, Product Managers do not own project management at Big Tech.
Gergely shares some interesting observations:
Competent, autonomous people need less structure.
Leveraging competent teams comes by giving them freedom.
Iterative changes always work better than ‘big bang’ ones.
It’s more work to teach someone to fish than it is to catch a fish for them.
The fewer people you need to make decisions, the faster you can make them.
Some of the best engineers would rather quit than be micromanaged.
Christopher Clarey on Roger Federer’s Journey
This is the 100th Episode of the ‘Play to Potential’ podcast, a special episode for Deepak Jayaraman, the podcast host. Kudos to him for the fantastic work he has been doing on the podcast, and a big congratulations to him.
This conversation is with Christopher Clarey, a veteran New York Times Correspondent who has been covering Sports at an elite level for over 30 years. He has recently published the book - The Master: the Brilliant Career of Roger Federer. He gives us a behind-the-scenes account of Roger Federer’s journey from childhood.
Here are some key takeaways:
During the early days of Roger Federer in the 90s, his fluid movement was observed by many even when he was 13-14 years old.
“A high or low talent quotient in a kid does not mean anything, as hard work and effort can overcome talent anytime.” - Vijay Amritraj, Play to Potential’s First Guest.
Parenting of Roger: Raising a good human being was more important than being a great tennis player for his parents. Roger Federer's father's tough love made a big difference in him being a good human being. He set important goalposts for his son.
How Roger tackled and improved his mental game over the years. It was a long journey, and there are some amazing anecdotes and stories of people who worked with him and influenced him over the years.
There is so much time between points that it can create a mess in their heads for tennis players! The importance of focus and shutting off from what is happening around them is critical. This is so true even in workplaces.
How did he think long-term after becoming World No.1? Interesting insights include playing fewer tournaments, taking care of his body and taking breaks to remain mentally fresh. The analogy of the need to ‘unclench the fist’ is fantastic.
The ability to transition quickly from personal chats in the locker room to getting serious on the court. Therefore, adaptability and unpredictability became Roger’s hallmark.
How Roger Federer liked a lot of team meetings, discussions around what needs to be done etc. His judgement and decision to select and change coaches were deeply considered - ‘Planned Spontaneity’.
Roger’s resilience and grit when things are not going well for him. Ability to come back from behind and win tournaments.
Roger Federer- the businessman, is a great story here, and his advice on the need to ‘understand money’ is quite impressive. The story of Nike's rejection and the result of that rejection is brilliant.
How it is essential to connect with people, whatever your talent quotient and achievements may be.
4 Ways to Kick Your Procrastination
In this TED Talk, Ayelet Fishbach, a Professor at the University of Chicago, outlines some key points on how to avoid procrastination.
Here are the four fundamental ideas she suggests on how to stop procrastinating:
The importance of looking back to move forward.
Keep your Middle Short when you have a goal or regimen.
Procrastination can be reduced when you advise others, for example, on how to lose weight, focus better, etc., as you will be motivated to follow your recommendations.
Build intrinsic motivation that can help you avoid procrastination.
Watch the full video to get Prof. Aylet’s profound insights and learnings that she has gained from over two decades of research.
What Does It Take To Stay On Top Of Your Profession?
Listening to Roger Federer’s journey has many lessons on what it takes to stay on top. It was in 2002 when Roger Federer entered the league of the Top 10 tennis players in the world. He then became World No.1 for the first time on February 2nd 2004. However, the most critical milestone was not his becoming World No.1 then but what happened afterwards. How do you stay on top for the longest time once you reach the top? The resolutions and decisions that Roger Federer took are a learning by itself for each one of us. Here are some learnings to take home, not by any means comprehensive, and there may be more as you keep reading and listening to Roger Federer’s journey and of others too.
Not being obsessed with what you do, giving yourself meaningful breaks: Most often, once we reach the top, most of us pride ourselves on punishing schedules. Roger seemed to have taken the exact opposite decision. He played fewer ATP tournaments than his predecessors every year, unlike Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi etc., as many games and ATP tours seemed to have gotten them burnt out early. Roger took time off his rigorous practice and ATP tour schedule. He took his mind away from Tennis, like visiting museums in cities, spending time with his twins, and returning refreshed for the next tournament. He seems to have achieved a delicate balance of rigour and space beyond his profession. That seemed to have allowed him to extend his stay at the top.
Don’t be stuck with a couple of mentors or bosses or one leadership style: Often, when we reach the top, our management style and decision-making become predictable. Because that is what has taken us to the top. We also become uncomfortable with any other management style or decision-making. But we must realise to stay on top, there are some habits that we may need to drop, change or add as our point of reference has changed. Roger Federer worked with different coaches across his tennis career, and here are some of them he worked with - Peter Carter (1991–2000), Peter Lundgren (2000–2003), Tony Roche (2005–2007), Severin Lüthi (2007–2022), José Higueras (2008), Paul Annacone (2010–2013), Stefan Edberg (2014–2015), Ivan Ljubičić (2016–2022) and he kept assessing who would help stay at the top and what kind of help - both physically and mentally he needed at every stage. That ensured he stayed on top for the longest, a trend he created that Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic followed.
Learning to handle with resilience by going down and up: In a corporate job, we are too stuck with titles and positions. We often give too much importance to designation and titles and get stuck. For example, if one were a General Manager, one would not be comfortable coming down by a designation or role or, similarly, if one were a Vice President, Sr. Vice President or Exec.VP or CEO it is generally not accepted if one were to go down in ranks or roles. When Roger Federer was 35 years old, in 2017, he was seeded World No. 17 in the Australian Open, the lowest in seedings since Roger Federer was unseeded as a Pro Tennis player! But that did not shake him mentally or embarrass him. He went on with the job like he did and was resilient enough to fight his way to the top. The job market and future career prospects often put unwanted pressure on our heads if we change to lower roles and designations. If Roger Federer can come down from World No.1 to World No. 17 yet return to the top again, there are some big lessons to be learnt here to accept or even plan Ups and Downs in our career.
Some of the lessons we learnt from this week’s mission:
Project Management is not a science of managing tasks but the art of managing the best people to get the best outcomes.
Staying on top for a long time is more challenging than getting there.
Procrastination’s root cause is a lack of intrinsic motivation, which must be managed intelligently. However, we can overcome it by keeping the middle of some of these schedules short and also by advising others, which creates a kind of reverse pressure to keep up with our commitment.