Yesterday, Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, was suddenly fired by the board of directors, and Greg Brockman, co-founder and president, quit in solidarity. Ilya Sutskever, the company’s chief scientist and a member of its board, defended the decision in a company all-hands meeting. The only thing we know is that the company says Mr. Altman “was not consistently candid in his communications” with the board. Ilya Sutskever has a Ph.
Beyond Productivity: Community
Community is a lot harder to foster than productivity. It’s also a lot more important, in the long run. Community is hard to build and easy to destroy. It requires patience, emotional intelligence, a willingness to trust, a willingness to be vulnerable, and a sense of humor. Detour: Team vs Community In the context of business we often borrow a sports metaphor and call the people we work with our “team”.
Years ago, my friend Doug – one of the smartest engineers I’ve ever worked with – was sitting at his desk at work, leaning back in his chair and thinking hard about the problem he was trying to solve. The CEO of the startup he worked for sauntered past Doug’s office, then stepped back a few steps and looked in at Doug, who appeared to be staring blankly off into the distance.
Purpose, Servant Leadership, and the Science of Intrinsic Motivation
What is servant leadership anyway? What does it have to do with motivation, alignment, and purpose? I’ve been reading and thinking about that lately. When I first heard the term “servant leader” I immediately thought I understood where it came from. Many of the worst managers I’ve seen seem to gravitate towards the role because of ego and a desire to be seen as better or more successful than others.
According to the Wikipedia article on Writer’s Block, Herman Melville stopped writing novels a few years after writing Moby Dick, due to writer’s block. Who knows? Perhaps without that, the world might have seen a sequel named “Gilbert Gator”, in which an eccentric Captain Featherboot leads a shipful of befuddled mariners in the swampy bayous of Louisiana in pursuit of a toothless, albino alligator named Gilbert, believed by some to be the last of the dinosaurs.
Good Idea, Bad Metaphor, Great Resignation
Boiled Frog Syndrome is a lie. The story goes that if you put a frog in scalding hot water it will immediately jump out, but if you put the frog in a pan of cool water on the stove, and gradually raise the temperature it will just sit there and think happy froggy thoughts until it boils to death. I wondered if that was actually true. Rather than conduct an experiment myself (much to the relief of neighborhood frogs and everyone else, except perhaps my cats), I looked it up.
Don't Look at the Hand
Our first dog was a border collie. Border collies are canine Einsteins. She usually knew what I was going to do before I did. All I had to do was think about going for a walk and she’d jump up from where she was studying calculus or quantum physics or something, and grab her leash. But she was slow to learn that fingers pointed at things. To be fair, hands often contain treats or toys, so it pays to keep an eye on them.
The Habit Myth
I read a lot of books and articles about habits. I know I should stop, but sometimes I just find myself reading them without thinking… Some of the books are really good. I particularly like Atomic Habits by James Clear, Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg, and Good Habits, Bad Habits by Wendy Wood. The thing is, I’m still convinced that habits don’t actually exist. At least, not the way they’re often portrayed.