Neil Gaiman on reading fiction, empathy and changing the world

“Fiction has two uses. Firstly, it’s a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it’s hard, because someone’s in trouble and you have to know how it’s all going to end … that’s a very real drive. And it forces you to learn…

Commitment: their actual lives

This might be your life’s work. It might be a side project. But as you work – doing something to help, perhaps hiring people to work with you, apportioning your time and attention between competing people and priorities – remember that these are people’s actual lives. And yours. Be as clear as possible about your commitment and its costs, and…

I’d rather be

If you’d rather be doing something else, please go and do it. You are more useful there than here. But if you really would rather be, say, drinking beer, you probably could be. Which means that actually you’ve chosen to do this instead. So maybe you mean “Drinking beer is more immediately pleasurable than this, but instead I choose to…

The tortoise and the hare

I’ve been reminded that even for those of us who get off lightly, our current situation – lockdown in response to Covid-19 – is going to be a slog. A marathon is different in kind from a sprint, and an involuntary slog of indeterminate length is different in kind again. Sprints – single events, urgent work, tight deadlines, sudden crises…

A strategy of usefulness

Be 1) as useful as you can be,* 2) as often as you can be,** 3) to the people you want to be of use to.*** Application At DriverlessCroc, I post 1) something that might be useful,**** 2) daily,***** 3) for people interested in building effective and humane organisations for change.****** There aren’t usually this many footnotes. There will not…

The Prize vs The Work

These things are prizes: Large amounts of money; Prestige; Medals and awards of all shapes and sizes; Universal recognition and adoration. It’s easy to focus on them, but they’re not the point, and in fact we feel like imposters if they’re given to us unearned and undeserved. As Adam Smith pointed out, we want “not only to be loved, but…

Living beyond urgent

There’s a great collection of old Seth Godin articles for Fast Company magazine. Here’s an extract from one I wish I’d successfully inhabited in 2019: If It’s Urgent, Ignore It

Bo Burlingham on Small Giants (3): special places to work

Fifth, the companies also had what struck me as unusually intimate workplaces. They were, in effect, functional little societies that strove to address a broad range of their employees’ needs as human beings – creative, emotional, spiritual and social needs as well as economic ones. … They were places where employees felt cared for in the totality of their lives,…

Bo Burlingham on Small Giants (2): key relationships

Third, each company had an extraordinarily intimate relationship with the local city, town or county in which it did business – a relationship that went well beyond the usual concept of “giving back”. That was part of it, to be sure, and all of these companies were model corporate citizens, but the relationship was very much a two-way street. The…

Bo Burlingham on Small Giants (1): defining success, choosing a path

First, I could see that, unlike most entrepreneurs, their founders and leaders had recognized the full range of choices they had about the type of company they could create. They hadn’t accepted the standard menu of options as a given. They had allowed themselves to question the usual definitions of success in business and to imagine possibilities other than the…