Remote, Sky King, Autism At Work & David Whyte | #186
June 18th, 2021: Greetings from California! Angie and I are driving up the northern coast of California from San Francisco to Portland and will be attending the World Domination Summit conference next week. I last went to this conference in 2018 a couple of months before moving to Taiwan and it was a great way to meet other people following unconventional paths. It’s also where my now-good-friend Jonny gave me a David Whyte book that changed how I viewed the world (we talked about this in a podcast). Cheekily named, the conference is less Davos energy and more in the spirit of it’s founders Chris Guillebeau’s blog which focused on non-conformity and nomadic travel in the early 2010s. I’d say you should go but this is the final one!
Two events you might like:
Upgrade Your Home Video Setup (Wed June 22nd): My friend Kevin Shen is hosting a free workshop on how to upgrade your video setup. Kevin is my go-to person for any video-related question and he’s world-class in terms of being able to turn confusing technical stuff into simple actions you can take. I think this will be a pretty awesome session. Check it out here.
Selling To Corporates: After helping a few fellow creators create consulting offerings and helping them think about selling to big companies, I decided to set up a short workshop where I’ll show you why selling to companies is different than individuals, how you can create an “offer,” and what to know when trying to pitch companies. Join on July 6th @ 5pm EST
#1 Remote Work
Dror Poleg has a nice summary of Marc Andreessen’s podcast with Tyler Cowen where they talked about the future of remote work. I thought Marc had a pretty good take on what really matters in terms of the future of work:
"I suspect the best-run companies over the next ten years are not going to be the companies that are the best at hybrid. I suspect they're going to be the best companies that are great at remote, or they're going to be companies that take the choice of having people have actually a much deeper level of human interaction much more frequently. They're going to push it on those extremes compared to half-hour, hour-long meetings in the office."
Dror points out that the best REMOTE companies are likely going to be the ones that combine these two things. In many ways, companies like Automattic, Gitlab and already embrace remote and intentional connection. It’s just that most people have only experienced “pandemic remote.”
#2 Autism & Neurodivergence
I sense a growing interest in “neurodivergence” in the workplace. At the clinical level, this usually means a group of diagnosable conditions like autism spectrum disorders and others. But in terms of how I sense it will become used in organizations – it will be a way of talking about the wide range of skills, traits, and personalities that humans really have.
The driver for this discussion is likely the fact that the types of people that thrive in jobs in demand like software engineering are not the same types of people that have traditionally succeeded in big companies.
I stumbled upon a post from Tara McMullin who discovered she was autistic at 38. Here’s what she said:
At the age of 38, I learned that I’m autistic.
It turns out that autism contributes to some of my greatest strengths: hyperfocus, pattern recognition, written communication, systems thinking. But autism is also the source of my greatest frustrations when interacting with others: verbal-processing delays, overstimulation, recognizing emotion and social cues. I don’t experience autism as an issue when left to my own devices.
In another article, she talks about how autistic people have to “mask” at work:
Many autistic people inadvertently become experts at autistic masking (also known as camouflaging) to “pass” as “normal” among their coworkers. Sometimes masking is conscious—as when I attempt to hold eye contact during conversation. And other times, masking is unconscious—as when I quiet my repetitive gestures to meet social expectations. Masking can make it easier to fit in at work. But masking behaviors take a profound toll on autistic people, in my experience causing self-alienation. Early research also shows a correlation between persistent masking and depression, anxiety, burnout, and thoughts of suicide.
I imagine many of you might also identify with having to mask to some degree at work, which is why I think being aware of neurodivergence is going to be a useful way of exposing hidden preferences and unnecessary roadblocks that a lot of people may have within a company. It’s also a broader acknowledgment that in an information age, certain types of personalities are going to thrive in ways that don’t quite fit the “extroverted ideal” of the corporate past.
Tara is coming on my podcast in July and I’m excited to go deeper into her story. Should be out sometime in July or August.
#3 Sky King on Growing Up In Hawaii, Bucky Fuller & The Future of Podcasts
My latest podcast episode is with Sky King, the founder of Modern Stoa, a podcast advertising company for podcasters. His path is fascinating - he grew up in Hawaii, rarely wore shoes, was heavily influenced by Asian culture, had a father who was retired, and somehow ended up in a massive corporation right after college. This sort of disappointed his parents. He thought he would take a more entrepreneurial path. In 2016. he became fascinated by how podcasts were one of the best sources for ideas about the 2016 US election and decided that longform audio was likely the best way to change the incentives of media. From a cold email to Ryan Holiday to taking a $13 / hour gig at a smoothie bar to helping build Aubrey Marcus' podcast, Sky learned a ton that led to him building an agency FOR podcasters. His long-term vision is to build an alternative to traditional advertising in audio.
This was also my first in-person convo after the re-launch and I really enjoyed the challenge of interviewing someone in person. I found it more challenging but more fun than doing it virtually.
The video will go up on Monday on YouTube.
#4 David Whyte On Work
I’m reading Crossing The Unknown Sea by David Whyte right now which is just as good as his other books. On work:
To see life and work as a pilgrimage is not a strategy for increased production (though by understanding the wellsprings of human creativity, there is every chance it might happen); it does not mean that we can lay out our careers in precise stages, clearly and concisely, as to when, where and how everything should happen. All of our great artistic and religious traditions take equally great pains to inform us that we must never mistake a good career for good work. Life is a creative, intimate, and unpredictable conversation if it is nothing else, spoken or unspoken, and our life and our work are both the result of the particular way we hold that passionate conversation
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