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The great mental models volume 1 by Shane Parrish and Rhiannon Beaubien

I enjoyed reading this book. It is well written and goes down easy. Each chapter starts with a list of people who are linked to the topic introduced in the chapter, which I thought was a very nice addition to the book. None of the topics covered in this book were new to me, I have read about these concepts before, but it was nice to read about them again. For anyone interested in mental models (and indirectly systems thinking), this is a nice introduction.

Lost connections by Johann Hari

What really causes depression and anxiety – and how can we really solve them? Award-winning journalist Johann Hari suffered from depression since he was a child and started taking anti-depressants when he was a teenager. He was told that his problems were caused by a chemical imbalance in his brain. As an adult, trained in the social sciences, he began to investigate whether this was true – and he learned that almost everything we have been told about depression and anxiety is wrong.

The people in programming

  1. How to Win Friends and Influence People
    • by Dale Carnegie
  2. The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity
    • by Carlo M. Cipolla
  3. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
    • by Dan Ariely
  4. Thinking, Fast and Slow
    • by Daniel Kahneman
  5. Getting to Yes: Negotiating an Agreement Without Giving In
    • by Roger Fisher, William Ury, Bruce Patton
  6. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
    • by Susan Cain
  7. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
    • by Mark Manson
  8. The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home
    • by Dan Ariely
  9. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High
    • by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler, Stephen R. Covey
  10. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depends On It
    • by Chris Voss
  11. Becoming a technical leader: an organic problem-solving approach
    • by Gerald M. Weinberg
  12. Exercising influence: A Guide for Making Things Happen at Work, at Home, and in Your Community
    • By B. Kim Barnes
  13. Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems
    • By Barry Johnson

On being apolitical as a conference organisor

For the past 24 hours I have been told that, as a conference organisor:

  • I should be careful about getting involved in US politics
  • I am supposed to stay out of politics
  • I shouldn’t try to be “politically correct”
  • I should remain apolitical
  • etc…

I am tired of hearing that over and over again. So here is my answer:

  • When I show compassion for my speakers, is seen as me being political,
  • When I want to invite a wide range of speakers with different backgrounds, is me trying to be “politically correct”,
  • When I say ‘Black Lives Matter’ and people think I am making a political statement,
  • When I want to support a good cause such as @BlackGirlsCode by asking to donate, is viewed as me “not being apolitical”,

then there is something wrong with people thinking I am being political, not with me.

Being apolitical means: not interested or involved in politics.

  • How am I supposed to stay out of politics, when my speakers are affected by the protests in the United States?
  • How am I supposed to ignore United States politics, when Belgian politicians started using their tactics, such as ‘The war on drugs’ to get votes?
  • How am I supposed to say apolitical things, when they have abused the language I speak for their political agenda?
  • How am I supposed to stay apolitical, when politicians tap into my hopes and dreams?
  • How am I supposed to be apolitical when they try to tap into my fears?

If I have to stay away from politics, then politics has to stay away from me. Politics abuses my emotions, my values, my language, my gender, my culture, my identity for its own gain. There is no boundary it is not willing to cross, so I don’t know how or where to draw a line anymore.


Politics is about us, our community, our lives. I am making a stand. Why aren’t you?

Pro-Con-Fix list, a simple tool for visualising a trade-off

There is no better feeling than an well planned meeting ending on a high note. It is true, I find that an amazing feeling. The problem is that it happens very rarely. Most of my meetings are utterly frustrating, turning into endless discussions instead of constructive conversations. More often than not I walk away without knowing what was decided (if anything was decided at all) or how to proceed moving forward with a clear overview of actionable steps. Often those discussions go hand in hand with focusing on one negative aspect that we would have to deal with in our code, without even talking about all the positive implications this would have on our system.

The idea of having to do that for the rest of my career was pretty depressing. I just couldn’t accept that this was the way I would feel about meetings for the rest of my career. It is not possible to avoid all meetings and I don’t want to be frustrated every time I come out of one. So I went looking for a better way. It has been a long and slow process, with many experiments that did not go well, but I am starting to get the hang of it.