[Opinion] The Quality of Mercy Doesn’t Scale…and Never Will…

From the Coliseum to Facebook, there has rarely been any mercy from the mob watching the participants in the arena.

The reason the writers of the Constitution favored a Republic over all else, was that they believed the mob was a dangerous, unpredictable force that moved without logic, rationality, reason, or mercy. And then the horrors of the French Revolution proved them correct about human nature.

In modern times, we have psychological and sociological surveys, assessments, and experiments, that show that when it is possible for individuals to stand-by, and watch degradations happen to others, people will. This is called the Bystander Effect.

In modern times, we have psychological and sociological surveys, assessments, and experiments, that show that when it is possible for the mass of people to suffer the injustices of the moment as long as those injustices do not personally affect them in any way, people will. This is called social proofing.

In modern times, we have psychological and sociological surveys, assessments, and experiments, that show that when it is possible to go along with others en masse as an event of any kind happens, because that even happening confirms a belief deeply and long held, people will. This is called confirmation bias.

The quality of mercy comes about when you know someone personally; when you are connected to their story intimately; and when you empathize with their struggle in a real and powerful way.

The quality of mercy cannot scale.

The outcomes of mercy—justice, forgiveness, reconciliation—can scale, but the actual quality of mercy comes along in an individualized process that cannot be scaled, and must instead be seeded, from one person to another.

No matter whether you’re among the mob watching in the Coliseum, or among the mob engaging on Facebook.

[Advice] Stare Uncomfortable in the Face

The part of the conflict process that is addressed the least (and the most) is the uncomfortable part.

Not the scary part, where you’re actually doing the hard work of resolving an issue with people that you may (or may not) like.

Not the uncomfortable part that comes after you’ve decided to do the work and now you have a choice of whether or not to continue forward when the going forward becomes difficult.

Not the difficult part that comes when you decide to take a step back and examine the entire conflict process and determine where your emotions are coming from.

The most uncomfortable part comes at the beginning of the conflict process, when the resistance is at the highest, and the need for assurance is the most critical, and when you are looking into the eyes of the other party and think:

“This isn’t going to work out.”

That’s the most uncomfortable part.

And we talk almost not at all about it because to do so would be to acknowledge that we might not be emotionally, spiritually, and even physically, strong enough to manage the ups and downs of a process we’d rather avoid.

But the uncomfortable part comes before avoiding. It comes before surrendering. It comes before delaying. It comes before confronting. And it comes before engaging.

The people who can stare the uncomfortable part of the conflict process in the face—and not blink—will be the people who will create teams, that will form organizations, that will win the future, by doing emotional work first, and every other labor second.

It all starts with being able to stare being uncomfortable in the face.

[Strategy] How to be the Nicky Barnes of Negotiation

The savvy entrepreneur in an ever changing business environment, should take a page from the book of entrepreneurs in other spaces. Particularly, that least savvy of all spaces, drug dealing.

Now, I am not advocating for drug-dealing, illicit drug use, or engaging in illegal activity.

Far from it.

What I am advocating for is looking at the techniques, practices, tips and trick that individuals who engage in the selling and distribution of illegal drugs use to negotiate in an ever changing, unpredictable market, filled with unpredictable, ever changing, personalities and people.

The business environment for illegal drugs is highly fluid, the market for drugs is inelastic, and the demand curve for illegal drugs is only trending upward (and has been for the last thirty or so years). From these three factors alone, we can also conclude that there is a lot of competition in the market for illicit drugs, thus there are competitors in the market that might be tempted to negotiate with each other with violence rather than with words.

Which is where the power of negotiation as a method of persuasion comes in.

In a situation where drugs are being dealt, contrary to popular opinion, the first move is not to get a weapon and being shooting—that’s actually the last move. The first move is to talk.

Particularly as a person moves up higher and higher in the ranks of the entrepreneurial, drug-dealing world, talk matters more than violence (of any kind), which is why “foot soldiers” in gangs engaged in drug dealing tend to have arrest records far longer and more extensive than the arrest records of the “big fish.”

Because, much like the CEO of a modern corporation (or a start-up founder) the higher you go in an organization, the less impetus there is for immediate resolution, and the more impetus there is for the tools and techniques of persuasion.

From Nicky Barnes to Frank Lucas and even to Pablo Escobar, negotiation was used first, and then when that didn’t work, methods of persuasion became more direct—and more violent.

But what does all of this have to do with the modern entrepreneur, trying to move units of their latest, greatest mobile phone app? There are a few tips to remember:

Entrepreneurs like a good argument: With the market, with their partners, with their competition, and even with their employees. However, remember that argumentation breaks down into three areas: arguments designed to persuade, arguments, design to advocate, and arguments designed to provide proof of a point. An argument will almost always lead to some issues that negotiation will have to work through.

Entrepreneurs need to remember that negotiation is about trust, reciprocation, commitment, and consistency. Even in the world of drug dealing, (remember, inelastic, highly competitive markets) there has to be a system of trust based in reciprocation (“I do for you, you do for me”) commitment, and consistency, or else every person will be for themselves. Coalitions, agreements, and mutual understandings come about through effective negotiation.

Entrepreneurs are sometimes less interested in persuasion than they are in being “right” or “winning” the argument or the negotiation. Persuasion is about watching language, active listening, rephrasing and paraphrasing, and having an active, engaged memory. In order to engage effectively and persuasively, remember that no negotiation scenario (whether around drugs or mobile phone apps or even a peace building process) is “pure.” There are always emotions, triggers, and other elements that each party brings to the negotiation table that have to be addressed at the negotiation table. When those issues and concerns are ignored, dismissed, or otherwise not acknowledged, resentment and bitterness begin to grow in the heart of the aggrieved party.

Negotiation is a method of persuasion that every entrepreneur should value, no matter what empire (or “dent” in the universe) they are seeking to make.

HIT Piece 7.26.2016

This is the era of anxiety.

In an era with no major wars, major poverty, major environmental destruction, or seemingly major negative events, humanity (at least in the Internet connected Western world) seeks to gaze in wonder at its own navel.

This is the era of anxiety.

If the thesis is to be believed (at least in the Internet connected Western world), major violence is way down, so minor acts of individualized violence seem to ring out more—and invite more of the draconian calls for cures that would’ve been applied to truly monumental acts of evil.

This is the era of anxiety.

Humanity (at least in the Internet connected Western world) lives in the shadow of Industrialization, surrounded by the evidence of cities our grandparents built, roads and bridges our grandparents’ politicians voted for, and secure in the knowledge that the water, the air, and the food will be better than it ever was.

This is the era of anxiety.

In the Internet connected Western world, children go to school and have a chance at literacy, and success, at a far greater rate than any other generation of human beings before in the history of civilization (where usually children were ignored, killed outright, or worked to death—and still are in many parts of the world) and still it’s not enough to assuage our fears that they are “missing” something.

This is the era of anxiety.

In the Internet connected Western world, we stare at and idolize those that seem to be living better lives than ours, and yet we are more comfortable, safe, and healthy than even before. And the material wealth is in an abundance that would make the Greeks blush with envy.

This is the era of anxiety.

Maybe our problems aren’t material, or physical, psychological, or financial, emotional or even mental.

Maybe we’re so anxious because we’re missing something we can’t buy, rent, steal, or copy.

Maybe we’re so anxious because mortality proves that “this too shall pass” as irrevocably as wind on the mountain and nature, red in tooth and claw.

Maybe we’re so anxious because we know that for all of our knowledge, we lack truly defining wisdom.

And maybe this is the era of anxiety because our spiritual lives are a mess, full of conflicts with the world, with ourselves, with our pasts, and with our presents.

I have chosen to be not afraid.

I have chosen to reject anxiety and the messengers who would seek to deliver it, so that I click, they sell, and I can be persuaded to buy—attempting to fill a spiritual hole that can never be fully closed.

[Strategy] My Mind is Made Up

“My mind is made up.”

Well…ok then.

Your mindset, your framing of the world and the way that it’s ‘supposed’ to work, your story that you tell yourself about your conflicts, disputes, and differences of opinion, can be changed.

Unlike in the old Ten Commandments movie from back in the day, your ideas and stories developed over time. They weren’t etched irrevocably in granite tablets and then thrust upon you.

Though sometimes it may feel like that.

At least once (or maybe twice) in every training opportunity, there comes a moment to challenge a frame or a mindset, or a story, about how something ‘should’ or ‘ought’ to work. And at that moment, the phrase “your frame—your worldview—got here before the facilitator did” pops out of the trainer’s mouth.

But even this statement betrays a mindset, a story, a frame of references around the malleability of these frames, and the biological ability for a person to change their, already made up, minds.

The ability to shift frames, and to change them based on the persuasion of new knowledge, is not a sign of a lack of consistency—the crowd (e.g. other people) makes sure that you are remain consistent, even unto rhetorical death—instead, it is a sign that the window dressing of our frames, stories, and mindsets, can be changed and are flexible.

Mediation, conflict resolution, conflict coaching, conflict engagement, negotiation: all of these processes exist to persuade you that your mind can be changed; and in some cases, to persuade you that changing your mind may lead to more positive outcomes than the ones that you have been experiencing all this time.

But sometimes, people don’t want different outcomes.

Sometimes, parties in conflict get unnerved by participating what they perceive as processes that involve too much “second guessing” and “over thinking.”

Sometimes parties in conflict want affirmations, reassurances, and confirmation that their story is the right one and the only one with any validity in the marketplace of ideas.

So when one party’s mind is “made up” the question becomes: As the party on the opposite side of the table, are you ready, willing, and able to engage in the hard emotional labor of changing that other party’s mind?

Or is your mind now made up as well?

[Opinion] Storytelling in Your Dispute

Stories come from mental models, or frames.

Many stories are so deeply felt, so deeply ideated, that they transform in conflicts from mental models and frames into marks of identity.

And then you’re not having a conflict where someone else’s narrative is driving the conflict.

You’re having a conflict with someone else’s deeply held identity.

And people will always fight to protect their identity, because to lose that identity would mean abandoning all the stories that have been told before.

There are people who would rather lose the conflict on their identity, rather than change their stories to understand current narratives and events.

Misunderstanding and “misunderestimating” someone else’s identity, through mocking it, dismissing it, ignoring its power, or reacting to it with fear rather than faith, will always lead to you being surprised by the outcome of the conflict.

[Podcast] Earbud_U, Season Four, Episode # 2 – Joe Coudriet

[Podcast] Earbud_U, Season Four, Episode # 2 – Joe Coudriet, Pastor of Southern Tier Family Life Church, Man of Faith, Father, Husband and Leader

[Podcast] Earbud_U, Season Four, Episode # 2 – Joe Coudriet



Let’s talk about relationships. And religion.

Relationships are about grace, forgiveness, reconciliation, intimacy, engagement, and trust.

Religion is about rules, rituals, rigidity, and appearances.

Many people confuse relationship with religion, particularly when we talk about Christianity and the name that has rang out above all names—the name of Jesus Christ.

Our guest today is my pastor, Joe Coudriet. We had a live conversation at the location of Southern Tier Family Life Church. We talked honestly about faith, belief, religion, ritual, relationships and more.

Because this is sticky, particularly these days in light of our current evils.

The pursuit of real relationships with people and ideas that are odious to us, is something that is not being talked about much in our current contemporary culture. Transparency, courage, faith, vulnerability, and so many other traits are in play right now and they are losing in competition with our desire to take a stand, and glower angrily across the aisle at other people, ideas, and perspectives.

I’m fascinated by the lack of interest in having relationships with people. I’m fascinated that people continually choose the shorthand of posting a meme online, or even worse, writing long diatribes, minus the nuance of relationship, and then ending it with “if you don’t like this unfriend me.”

The just shall live by faith.

Relationship versus religion.

Listen to Pastor Joe. And take the opportunity to connect with Pastor Joe today:

STFLC Website: http://stflc.org/

STFLC’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/stflctweet

STFLC’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/STFLC

Pastor Joe’s Linkedin profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joecoudriet

[Advice] The Impresario’s Dilemma

Quality and quantity.

These are two ideas that have long combated each other at scale in a variety of contexts and containers.

From mediation processes and practices to industrialized object making, quantity very often takes a back seat to quality in both the consideration of the creator and the consumer.

When there is so much ephemeral stuff (such as content, ideas, and art), considerations around quality become the watchword for monitoring and disengaging with ideas that we find to be reprehensible.

And, of course, quality is perceived as suffering by both the creator and the consumer, because the quantity of ephemeral stuff has increased; and, and because our brains can only absorb so many different ideas at once.

But keep in mind that, once you increase quantity, quality only suffers when caring about each outcome takes a second place to actually getting the outcome to happen.

Impresarios care about quality.

They also care about quantity, but realize that interactions around ephemeral content become a matter of time, rather than scale.

[Opinion] Indispensable Micro-Economies at Scale

There are two paradigms that are rubbing against each other, creating friction in economies, lives, employment choices, and even in personal lives:

The first paradigm is that of productivity. The type of productivity where an employee does “more with less,” where people are forced to shave the personal and the engagement from interactions in order to render them quicker and more “widget-like. The type of productivity where people work at mass and a type of productivity where quality scales in incremental steps.

The second paradigm is one that exists in the micro-economies of many state-level, land grant, higher education institutions: The paradigm where productivity means that more people are doing quality work without scale, in micro-ways, marketing to a group of people who represent a captive audience, and who have little to no interest in moving to scale.  The second paradigm favors quality over quantity and replicates the volume of mass, without all the people.

In the wider economy, it used to be that the first paradigm generated enough value in terms of revenues, trust, and awareness, that the second paradigm could exist, almost in opposition to it in some ways, philosophically, economically, and even culturally.

This is no longer the case for a variety of well documented reasons, but the biggest reason is that the friction between revenue generating at mass is now in direct competition for value and meaning, with the network effect at scale. The other large reason is that we have all been trained as consumers to believe that quality and quantity both go together, hand-in-hand.

Artificial intelligence, automation, and more technological transitions are going to ensure the spread of these unique, fragmented, highly differentiated micro-economies, but not at scale. Or at least, not a scale larger than maybe the geographic area of a state, or a region.

This will lead to further fragmentations in ideologies, perspectives and stories about how the world “should” work, and more fracturing around what is the “good life” and who gets access to it.

This is the dark side of all of this.

The more positive side is that people—at mass—will have more choices, with more awareness of the rare—yet deadly—issues that can affect everyone at scale, and perhaps more meaningful engagement, communication, and awareness.

But right now, we are experiencing the birth pangs of a new fragmentation.

HIT Piece 7.19.2016

Building a business…while black…

Writing…while black…

Driving…while black…

Tweeting…while black…

Parenting…while black…

Doing physics…while black…

Banking…while black…

Teaching…while black…

All of these are stories about identity. The problem is, where the emphasis is in my story may not match where the emphasis is in your story, for me.

And since I get to define my story (and then you get to decide if you believe that story or not) where I put the emphasis matters more than where the emphasis is placed for me.

Stories are powerful and they aren’t true or false, they are just real. And when where I place my emphasis, creates friction when it rubs up against where you place your emphasis on my story, then conflicts, miscommunications, and misunderstandings become par for the course. And should come as no surprise.

Yet, somehow, you are constantly surprised by where I place the emphasis in my story.