Tag: The Knowledge Project

The Top 5 Episodes of The Knowledge Project 2019

Through conversations, we are able to learn from others, reflect on ourselves, and better navigate a conscious life.

The goal of our podcast, The Knowledge Project, is to help you think, reflect, and better understand the complexities and interconnections in the world in which we live.

If done right, listeners should walk away from episodes with a deeper understanding and a renewed sense of curiosity. Of course, not all of the conversations or guests will appeal to everyone.  And that is the point. We consciously want to explore the thinking, ideas, and methods of thoughtful people to deepen our understanding, challenge our ideas, and gain a broader perspective.

Of the 23 interviews that we published in 2019, these are the top five (as measured by downloads in the first 30 days):

  • #62 Cracking the Code of Love with Dr. Sue Johnson — Dr. Sue Johnson is a researcher, clinical psychologist, and the developer of EFT or Emotionally Focused Therapy. In this interview, we discuss how to create, protect, and nourish fulfilling sexual and emotional relationships.
  • #68 Putting Your Intuition on Ice with Daniel Kahneman — In this fascinating episode of the Knowledge Project Podcast, Psychologist and Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman reveals the actions we can take to overcome the biases that cripple our decision-making, damper our thinking, and limit our effectiveness. Listen and Learn from the master.
  • #57 Decoding Difficult Conversations with Sheila Heen — Two-time NY Times best-selling author, consultant, and lecturer at Harvard Law School, Sheila Heen makes the tough talks easier by breaking down the three layers that make up every difficult conversation.
  • #67 Keeping the Flywheel in Motion with Jim Collins — An earnest student and powerful teacher, mega best-selling author Jim Collins goes under the hood and shows what all enduring companies have in common. We talk luck, leadership, and business longevity.
  • #60 Leading Above the Line with Jim Dethmer — Jim Dethmer, founder of The Conscious Leadership Group, shares practical advice about becoming more self-aware, ditching the victim mindset, and connecting more fully with the people in our lives.

One episode that just missed the cut but warrants your attention is #71 Cultivating Desire with relationship expert Esther Perel.

Thanks for listening, Because of people like you sharing our show with friends, family, and colleagues, we crossed 12 million downloads this year and were selected as “Best of” Apple Podcasts in 2019.

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts | YouTube | Spotify | Overcast | Google Podcasts

Want more? Last year was a great year for the podcast as well. Here are the top 5 episodes from 2018.

How Performance Reviews Can Kill Your Culture

Performance reviews are designed to motivate and bring the best out of our teams, but they often do the opposite. Here’s how to bring out the best in your people.

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If you ask people what’s wrong with corporate workplaces, it won’t take long before you hear someone mention something about being put into a performance bucket. The A bucket is for the best, and the C bucket is for the underperformers. The middle and most common bucket is B, as it spares the supervisor from having to justify why an individual is exceptional or on the verge of getting fired. The problem is that ranking someone against their peers is not the ranking that matters and is counterproductive in terms of building an exceptional corporate culture.

People hate performance reviews. And why wouldn’t they? You either come up short against the superstars, walk away being told to keep doing what you’re doing, or leave feeling like your days are numbered. In this common construct, no one is getting the information they need to properly grow, and a toxic competitive situation is created within the organization. Forced comparisons against others don’t accomplish what we want from them. We think it inspires people. It often makes them dislike each other.

The problem is the system.

The goal of performance reviews is ostensibly to help people become better, but forced ranking has two serious flaws. First, it doesn’t take account of individual rates of improvement. We’re all starting from different places, and we’re also all improving at different rates. If you always come up short, no matter how hard you try, eventually you can’t be bothered putting in the effort to get better.

The second, more important, argument is that forced rankings create a toxic environment that rewards poor behavior. When you’re pitted against your coworkers, you start to game the system. You don’t need to improve at all to get into the A bucket, you just need to make the others look bad. The success of one person means the failure of another. How likeable are you? How good are you at whispering and gossip? How big is your Christmas present to your boss? You can end up cutting others down to stand out as a star performer. But undermining the success of your coworkers ultimately means undermining the success of the entire organization.

Margaret Heffernan, author and former CEO, explained on The Knowledge Project how the relationship between coworkers is fundamental to the function of an organization:

“…the whole premise of organizational life is that together you can do more than you can do in isolation, but that only works if people are connected to each other. It only really works if they trust each other and help each other. That isn’t automatic. … You’re only really going to get the value out of organizational life to the degree that people begin to feel safe with each other, to trust each other, to want to help each other…What impedes the flow is distrust, rivalry, or not knowing what other people need.”

Most of us inevitably compare ourselves to others at some point. Chronic comparing though leads to misery. What matters is not what we do compared to what someone else does, it’s what we do compared to what we’re capable of doing. Both as individuals and in organizations, we need to pay attention to this gap—the gap between where we are right now and what we’re capable of.

Internal motivation is easier to sustain. We produce and push ourselves because we get this immense satisfaction from what we are doing, which motivates us to keep doing it. It doesn’t work the same way when your motivation comes in the form of external comparisons.

So what do we do instead?

If you must grade performances, do it against the past. Is she learning? Is he improving? How can we increase the rate of progress and development? Empower people to help and learn from each other. The range of skills in an organization is often an untapped resource.

Organizations today are often grappling with significant corporate culture issues. It can be the one thing that differentiates you from your competitors. Comparing people against their past selves instead of each other is one of the most effective ways to build a culture in which everyone wants to give their best.

The Top 5 Episodes of The Knowledge Project 2018

Through conversations, we are able to learn from others, reflect on ourselves, and better navigate a conscious life.

The goal of our podcast, The Knowledge Project, is to help you think, reflect, and better understand the complexities and interconnections in the world in which we live.

If done right, listeners should walk away from episodes with a deeper understanding and a renewed sense of curiosity. Of course, not all of the conversations or guests will appeal to everyone.  And that is the point. We consciously want to explore the thinking, ideas, and methods of thoughtful people to deepen our understanding, challenge our ideas, and gain a broader perspective.

Of the 21 interviews that we published in 2018, these are the top five (as measured by downloads in the first 30 days):

  • #27 The Art of Letting Other People Have Your Way — Negotiation expert Chris Voss, former lead international kidnapping negotiator for the FBI and author of the excellent book, Never Split the Difference, offers some hands-on negotiation training.
  • #37 Getting Better by Being Wrong — On this episode, best-selling author and professional poker player Annie Duke and I discuss how to disagree without being disagreeable, spotting biases that sabotage our success, how to find signal in noise, and reliable decision-making models for high stakes, high-pressure situations.
  • #32 Earning Your Stripes — On this episode of The Knowledge Project, Patrick Collison, CEO, and co-founder of Stripe shares wise insights on success, failure, management, decision making, learning and so much more. Grab a pen…
  • #39 Thinking About Thinking — On this episode, I chat with Tyler Cowen, economics professor, author, and creator of the wildly popular blog, Marginal Revolution. We tackle lots of interesting topics, including tech advances, the changing labor market, and upgrading your thinking process to accommodate the information age.
  • #43 The Mental Habits of Effective Leaders — In a world that changes at a dizzying rate, effective leaders need to develop the skills to keep up. Developmental coach and author Jennifer Garvey Berger shares 3 habits to ensure continual growth, accelerated learning and deepened relationships of trust.

One episode that just missed the cut but warrants your attention is #42 The Path to Perpetual Progress with Atul Gawande.

Thanks for listening, Because of people like you sharing our show with friends, family, and colleagues, we crossed 4 million downloads this year.

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The Return of a Decision-Making Jedi [The Knowledge Project #28]

Michael Mauboussin (@mjmauboussin) returns for a fascinating encore interview on the Knowledge Project. We geek out on decision making, luck vs. skill, work/life balance, and so much more.

Michael Mauboussin

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Michael Mauboussin returns for a fascinating encore interview on the Knowledge Project, a show that explores ideas, methods, and mental models, that will help you expand your mind, live deliberately, and master the best of what other people have already figured out.

In my conversation with Michael, we geek out on decision making, luck vs. skill, work/life balance, and so much more.

Mauboussin was actually the very first guest on the podcast when it was still very much an experiment. I enjoyed it so much, I decided to continue with the show. (If you missed his last interview, you can listen to it here, or if you’re a member of The Learning Community, you can download a transcript.)

Michael is one of my very favorite people to talk to, and I couldn’t wait to pick up right where we left off.

In this interview, Michael and I dive deep into some of the topics we care most about here at Farnam Street, including:

  • The concept of “base rates” and how they can help us make far better decisions and avoid the pain and consequences of making poor choices.
  • How to know where you land on the luck/skill continuum and why it matters
  • Michael’s advice on creating a systematic decision-making process in your organization to improve outcomes.
  • The two most important elements of any decision-making process
  • How to train your intuition to be one of your most powerful assets instead of a dangerous liability
  • The three tests Michael uses in his company to determine the health and financial stability of his environment
  • Why “algorithm aversion” is creating such headaches in many organizations and how to help your teams overcome it, so you can make more rapid progress
  • The most significant books that he’s read since we last spoke, his reading habits, and the strategies he uses to get the most out of every book
  • The importance of sleep in Michael’s life to make sure his body and mind are running at peak efficiency
  • His greatest failures and what he learned from them
  • How Michael and his wife raised their kids and the unique parenting style they adopted
  • How Michael defines happiness and the decisions he makes to maximize the joy in his life

Any one of those insights alone is worth a listen, so I think you’re really going to enjoy this interview.

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Transcript

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Marc Garneau on the Future of Transportation

Former military officer, astronaut, engineer (and current Minister of Transport) Marc Garneau (@MarcGarneau) and I discuss the future of transportation, space, information flow in politics and what it means to be a liberal.

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Marc Garneau is a Canadian politician, an engineer, and former astronaut who holds the distinction of being the first Canadian in space. He is currently serving as the Canadian Minister of Transport.

This episode of The Knowledge Project was recorded in front of a live audience in Montreal, Canada at a Junto event. (You’ll hear bits of French from the audience questions here and there at the end, but the interview and Marc’s responses are predominantly in English.).

In this fascinating interview, we discuss:

  • What the future of transportation looks like (including self-driving cars and their second-order effects)
  • The effect that new technologies have on how governments invest in infrastructure
  • How truck and taxi drivers throughout the world will be impacted in the future
  • Marc’s experiences in space as the first Canadian to join three NASA expeditions
  • What it means to be a liberal in 2017, and how the political landscape is shifting
  • How we, as citizens, can judge the performance of an elected politician
  • How Marc ensures that he’s getting accurate information in a sometimes backward and messy political system

And so much more.

There’s so much to learn and think about in this discussion. Please enjoy!

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