Weekend read: You Are What You Listen To

Just typing that title makes me suddenly suspect this is going to be about talking yourself into things or positive reinforcement stuff. No. This is more specific. It’s more specific about music and what our preferences tell us about ourselves – and maybe show others about us too.

What are the personality attributes of people with these different preferences? If you are a fan of Sophisticated or Intense music, you tend to be very high on Openness to Experience—curious, creative, welcoming of new perspectives—and politically liberal; the difference is that people who prefer Sophisticated music tend to be docile in social interactions whereas people that prefer Intense music tend to be dominant with an impulsive communication style (what we might call “blirtatiousness”). Of all the musical preferences, those who like Intense music tend to be the least Conscientious—spontaneous, disorganized, lacking in self-restraint.

You Are What You Listen To – Todd B Kashdan, The Creativity Post (13 March 2015)

Read the full piece.

Productivity detective work – solving mysterious delays

I love this as just a riveting little story but it is also terribly absorbing about productivity and our perception of that too. A New York restaurant has been getting bad reviews that centre on how service there is slow. The owners can’t see what could be causing these – so they looked into it.

We decided to hire a firm to help us solve this mystery, and naturally the first thing they blamed it on was that the employees need more training and that maybe the kitchen staff is just not up to the task of serving that many customers.

Like most restaurants in NYC we have a surveillance system, and unlike today where it’s a digital system, 10 years ago we still used special high capacity tapes to record all activity. At any given time we had 4 special Sony systems recording multiple cameras. We would store the footage for 90 days just in case we need it for something.

The firm we hired suggested we locate some of the older tapes and analyze how the staff behaved 10 years ago versus how they behave now. We went down to our storage room but we couldn’t find any tapes at all.

We did find the recording devices, and luckily for us, each device has 1 tape in it that we simply never removed when we upgraded to the new digital system.

The date stamp on the old footage was Thursday July 1 2004, the restaurant was real busy that day. We loaded up the footage on a large size monitor, and next to it on a separate monitor loaded up the footage of Thursday July 3 2014, the amount of customers where only a bit more than 10 years prior.

Busy NYC Restaurant Solves Major Mystery by Reviewing Old Surveillance – Dineability (undated, probably 12 July 2014)

You will love what they found and what it means. Now, I’d like to direct you to the original post, an entry on Craigslist, but that’s vanished. This article on Dineability includes the full text plus a little stream of comments afterwards, some of which make you hope aliens never learn how thick we really are.

Don’t put people off with your email address

The one thing everybody can do is have a decent email address. Don’t share one with your partner, especially not if that’s really clear in the address. At best, it’s confusing because you’re both getting the emails and are bound to miss one that’s for you. But at worst, you look like you don’t use email much and today that equals you not being professional, mr-and-mrs-hullabaloo73@hotmail.com

The very best email address to have is one that ends in your own or your own company’s name, so something like @myself.com. You get those by having your own website, which you need to have anyway, and when you do, then @myself.com is an advert for myself.com every time you use it.

If you like your email service and your address, still think about leaving it if you’re on hotmail or the like. Actually, there’s a technical reason here for moving away from certain email services. If your email solely lives on the web rather than on your computer, if you can’t read your old email without an internet connection, move to somewhere that lets you.

It’s convenient to have the emails online but it’s inconvenient to have them only online. Plus, if that service closes down for any reason, you’re at best scrabbling to copy it all off and at worst you’re screwed.

But back to email address snobbery.

To be harsh about it, @hotmail.com says you’re playing at email; @outlook.com says you’re playing but you signed up too recently to get a hotmail account. Then @aol.com says you’re an occasional email user who only sticks with AOL because you’ve given that address to so many people.

If you’ve an @btinternet address then that’s okay but its an ad for BT and if the address is one of those @myself.btinernet.com then either you look sponsored or that you can’t make up your mind.

Similarly, older Apple email addresses are @mac.com which is just an ad for the company’s Macs; slightly newer ones are @me.com which is doesn’t advertise them, doesn’t advertise you and looks a bit egotistical. Currently all new Apple email users have addresses that end in @icloud.com which is fine: at least you look like you know what the cloud is.

But unless you’re really invested in an older address, if you can’t get @myself.com, then go for Google Mail. This @gmail.com is best because it’s short, it’s modern and it tells anyone who knows about these things that you may be a power email user. Gmail comes with a huge array of tools for managing immense numbers of emails and for something that’s easy to use and even easier to sign up for, it still has that faintly geeky air that you may or may not like.

Remember, too, that nobody says you can only have one email address. I have the one I’ll give you here for when you want to complain over my being snooty about your address. That’s wg@williamgallagher.com.

I also have a personal @mac.com address and I keep it because I like it, so there. But I also have any number of other addresses you like, specifically because I own williamgallagher.com. Yesterday I set up a new address for an author I’m working with to send me text. Earlier in the week I used a groupon offer but I signed up as groupon@williamgallagher.com. If I get a sudden spike in spam and it’s all to groupon@williamgallagher.com, their mailing list policy is rumbled and I switch that address off.

So you can use your address as a tool but the one you choose to send people can reveal much more about you than you’d hope.

I’m surrounded by fools

How to figure out whether or not you are a right jerk:

To discover one’s degree of jerkitude, the best approach might be neither (first-person) direct reflection upon yourself nor (second-person) conversation with intimate critics, but rather something more third-person: looking in general at other people. Everywhere you turn, are you surrounded by fools, by boring nonentities, by faceless masses and foes and suckers and, indeed, jerks? Are you the only competent, reasonable person to be found?. . .

Are You Surrounded by Idiots? Real Talk: You’re the Jerk Not Them, 99U (26 June 2014)

Read the full 99U feature for more, but then stop. The piece and that quote above is actually from a much longer article that 99U is excerpting and it’s one of those cases where the excerpt is better than the whole shebang.

Make life a little easier than it is

It’s funny how once you notice something or there is one particular thing on your mind, you see related issues everywhere. After today’s news story about how we make life harder for ourselves, I’ve found this on Lifehacker. Not only that, but it’s an old article the site has recently brought back up to the fore as if waiting for me.

Remember the last time you lost confidence after your boss was disappointed in your work—or maybe you were stood up by a friend? You second-guessed yourself after that, and ultimately your work or personal life suffered. The idea behind recalibrating your reality is pretty simple. When you get locked into a view of the world you get stuck in routines and you lose sight of different viewpoints. Recalibrating that view can help you solve problems, win arguments, and even be happier. But how do we actually do it? We’ll take a look at a few of the different methods you can use to recalibrate your perception of the world and yourself, but first, we have to understand how we perceive the world to begin with.

How to recalibrate your reality – Thorin Klosowski, Lifehacker (republished 20 June 2014)

Take a few minutes and read the whole piece: it’s long and detailed and involved and very interesting.