(The following is an excerpt from my latest project, a book titled How to Be a Lot Less Stupid: A Journey in Critical Thinking for Business. Future postings will include short selections from various chapters.)
Introduction – THE JOURNEY BEGINS
An Eleatic Stranger: “When a person supposes that he knows, and does not know, this appears to be the great source of all errors of the intellect.”
Stranger: “And this, if I am not mistaken, is the kind of ignorance which specially earns the title of stupidity.”
from Plato’s Sophist
* * *
This book is not intended for academics. It is not meant for people who want to study, research, test or theorize about cognitive mechanisms, mental processes, thinking dispositions, mental modelling, or even Kantian epistemology (however much fun that might be). It has no exhibits, charts, graphs, diagrams, mnemonic tools, colored bars, circles, straight arrows, curved arrows, circular arrows, double-ended arrows, never-ending arrows, or flow charts to memorize.
It is much simpler than that. Because thinking is simple. It’s just rarely taught as such.
(Originally published in the November 2013 issue of Elle magazine.)
Some time ago, I was ruining my day trying to accomplish something simple at my bank when the manager, a very nice guy, came up to talk to me. As we concluded our conversation, he recommended I open a few savings accounts so I could move my money around and earn a bit of interest. He has a customer who does that a lot, he said. “A Jew, of course.”
I almost burst out laughing. How casual the remark was. So earnest. So matter-of-fact. What a look of pleasant innocence he had. And yes, how incredibly ignorant. Indeed, it was such a surprising and dumb thing to say that I simply found it funny.
(Originally published in the Summer 2013 issue of Esquire magazine.)
It’s not easy to make bankers look good these days. We’re still not finished cleaning up from the global mess they created just a few years ago. But if anyone can make even bankers look good, it’s the politicians and regulators who are here to protect us from them. What recently occurred in Cyprus shows that when the going gets tough, we are all potential roadkill along the very bumpy highway of EU reform.
From my very first experience inside an office in Romania, it was clear to me that one of the most debilitating realities in the workplace here was a lack of managers who provided competent, inspirational leadership.
I don’t mean those one-of-a-kind managers for whom employees would forsake all self-interest and give everything to the company. I don’t even mean managers of pristine character and judgment who spend hours teaching and mentoring. There are very few of those in any country. No. Just a couple good bosses (or editors) for younger and lower-level employees to emulate would be sufficient.
Rather than remain silent while I finish a few projects and prepare for some travel, I thought I would be kind and share with you a wonderful, thoughtful passage from one of Michel de Montaigne’s essays, On Books.
A New York Times story a year or two ago, referred to him as perhaps the world’s first blogger, though in the late 1500s (at least in France where he lived), there was no internet so these were not posted until more recently.
Speaking of time, this will take you a little time to read. So sit back and read this the way you should read all his essays (and you should read all his essays): just let him talk to you. (Wouldn’t it be great if all bloggers had this much self-awareness and saw this much value in thoughtful reflection?)
Berry Cobbler with Crumble Topping
So, as you don’t know, my daughter Hannah and I are writing a cookbook for Romania. It will be done soon. This recipe is not in it – but in the final cooking stages, I decided to look for – and adapt – a very, very simple recipe for all these beautiful berries we are finding at the market: blueberries, raspberries, blackberries.
There is no excuse for not making this, no matter who you are. It’s as easy as making a bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee.