Apalla #9 – Management, Part 2

The next piece we’ll talk about when it comes to management is behavior. This is probably the most key part of the three. There’s a lot of things you can get away with as a grunt that you can’t as a leader, and in order to perform optimally it’s important to understand what these characteristics are. 

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Apalla #8 – Management, Part 1

This next series we’ll start is on management. While I do intend for this to have a business slant, I will warn you ahead of time that this is where I put all my general “leadership” goodies in as well. So you’ll see a couple of things that you can apply to leading a team in general.

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Apalla #6 – Writing, Part 1

In this post, we’ll be talking about writing, something I should probably be pretty good at now but unfortunately am likely not. Writing can essentially be boiled down into two different categories: technique and specialty. Specialty is something we’ve all learned before — in particular, it’s the difference between fiction and nonfiction. Since this might be a tired topic for most of you, we’ll focus this first writing series on technique instead. 

Before we go over the categories of technique, we’ll discuss some umbrella rules of writing. These consist of productivity tips that apply to all of the topics we’ll be discussing. We’ll split them into writing and editing.

For writing, you’ll want to do it in a distraction free environment for a specific allotted amount of time or work. This might look like writing 500 words while keeping the phone away, or jotting down pages of work for an hour in some secluded part of the house. For me personally, I lock down my computer to only have my Google Drive, then keep writing until I’m done with a cup of green tea. You can do your own weird trick for this as well — just make sure there’s little distraction and that you know how long you’ll be writing for.

For editing, the rule is to write first, edit last. That is, don’t try to write and edit at the same time! You’ll end up getting yourself stuck trying to make things perfect. If you think the story is going poorly, or your writing could be better, it doesn’t matter; just trudge forward, and worry about it later. I’ll let you in on a little secret: 20% of writing is writing, and 80% of writing is editing. Just like how programmers spend the majority of their time debugging their code, you’ll spend the majority of your time debugging your writing. Better to get used to that fact sooner rather than later. 

Alright, now time for the categories. Broadly speaking, there are four different types of writing techniques: conversational, technical, comprehensive, and iterative. The first two are styles of grammar, whereas the second two are styles of structure. As we’ll see, some tend to match with each other very well.

The conversational technique is used a lot in speeches (duh), as well as fiction and laymen books. With the conversational technique your goal is to keep the readers interested. People are a lot more willing to stay with a book if it feels like it’s talking to them. They particularly are more willing to stay if it feels clever, suspenseful, or emotional; all hallmarks of conversational writing.

Technical writing, on the other hand, is less careful in making readers interested in more careful in making sure readings know, clearly and precisely, what to do. Because of this idea, it’s most appropriate for textbooks, research, and documentation. We don’t really care if our readers are interested, since we’ll assume their need to get a specific job done will do that for us — instead, we focus on explaining complex problems simply, and detailing in a very step by step (even if it’s to the point of redundancy) manner in order to maximize success.

Apalla #5 – Entrepreneurship, Part 2

Next is funding the idea. Once again, income-generators are at a bit of an advantage here. With income-generators, you’re in no rush — if a hole has existed in a market for a few years, it’s probably going to stay that way, especially if the market size of that hole is small. Startups, on the other hand, are screwed the second someone gets to market before them — so they’ll need to come in hard and fast.

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Apalla #2 – Communication, Part 2

[originally posted on April 26, 2020]

Last week we talked about listening. This week, we’re talking about, well, talking.

One of the big themes of last week was empathy, primarily centered around just making the other person feel good. When it comes to talking, the goal doesn’t change; if you want people to listen to you, you need to make people feel good.

What you’ll notice from the outset with this one is that talking is a lot more ambiguous and gray than listening. With listening, I could tell you to just smile and nod, and you’d be okay in 99% of situations. With talking, you’re going to hear me say a lot of “do X, but not too much X”. What “too little” or “too much” X are is too difficult to directly spell out, and is something you’re going to have to experiment with as you go along.

The first big piece of talking is quality universal touch, a fancy way of saying “touch people, but don’t touch people too much”. As it turns out, people surprisingly really like to be touched. It goes back to the idea of acknowledgement that we mentioned in the previous newsletter — touching someone makes them feel acknowledged and respected. Obviously, there are some bounds to touching; the best way to do go about figuring out these bounds is by starting off very simple and unobtrusive, like a soft backhand press to the person’s arm. If they don’t like that, it’s probably a good idea to just not touch them at all — however, if they don’t seem to mind, you can continue doing it here and there until you’re both comfortable with the touch. That’s where the quality part comes into play.

The universal part comes in line with the fact that it should be done to everyone you come in contact with. Not only does that save your hide, it also helps you practice with different types of people and figure out who likes what.

Another big piece is to disclose, but don’t disclose too much. People like it when others open up, because this makes them feel more trustworthy. You can start by opening up on smaller, less dramatic things (for example, talking about your favorite bands or a funny story in your life). This disclosure idea really starts to show its potential though when someone else discloses to you first. If you disclose to them something equal in weight to what they have just shared to you, they’ll remember the scene in long-term memory positively, and thus remember you positively as well. Be careful with this, though — disclosing something of lower weight might seem offensive, whereas disclosing something of higher weight might make it seem like you’re trying to make it about you. Remember: talking is all about fine lines!

Finally, you should exaggerate and dramatize — but not too much. People love a good story, and they love a good story told emphatically. Remember; people like to feel good. Laughter, investment, and entertainment are all good feelings. Now with this one, you don’t have to worry as much about going overboard — the whole point is going overboard, and if you overdo it people will simply think you are being silly, rather than be offended like in the previous two.