GRANTED: On Being Rude, Busy, and Selfish
The World Economic Forum is usually a bastion of breathless optimism, where leaders in business, politics, and tech join forces to usher in the fourth industrial revolution and lay out new plans for peace. But when I arrived in Davos this year, the mood was decidedly more somber.
I was shocked to learn that eight men are wealthier than half the world’s population—only to see an update afterward that the eighth wasn’t necessary (sorry Bloomberg), because just seven dudes had it covered. It reinforced how poorly we are doing on behalf of the world’s poor. And people spoke in hushed tones about creeping nationalism and nepotism and narcissism. Before the U.S. presidential inauguration, one group closed a dinner by toasting the last night they could guarantee that America was a democracy.
There were some bright spots. In a session on creativity, cellist Yo-Yo Ma told me that the biggest barrier to originality is refusing to let go of our old identities. Clinging to who we’ve been in the past prevents us from trying out new melodies. In a pair of events on predicting the future, I learned that superforecasters are bullish on self-driving cars dominating the highways but more bearish on Brexit helping the U.K. or anyone else. I also found out that great forecasters improve faster than their peers because they keep score. If you want to start seeing more clearly into a crystal ball, take a few minutes to try your hand at a free online forecasting tournament—a feedback-rich environment where you can track your hits and misses and learn to calibrate your judgment.
And in a panel on resilience, Refugee Olympic swimmer Yusra Mardini spoke about her grueling escape from Syria, which culminated in pushing a sinking boat through the Aegean Sea for three and half hours before reaching land. Did I mention that she’s 18? “People think refugees came just to take something,” she said, “but we had to flee because we couldn’t take much more of war.”
And now for something completely different:
1. The Three Frameworks You Need to Create Powerful Presentations and Tell Compelling Stories
My favorite speakers don't just tell you about their journey—they take you on one with them.
2. Americans Think Busyness Signals High Social Status
Apparently, saying you’re busy makes you look important. It shouldn't. The tasks that keep us busy are often the least important ones.
3. How Praise Became a Consolation Prize
To nurture a growth mindset, it's not enough to praise effort. We have to praise effort that leads to learning or progress.
4. How Rudeness Stops People from Working Together
After being treated rudely, people are 3 times less likely to help others. A strong case for civility at work.
From My Desk:
5. How to Change a Selfish Person's Stripes
Whenever I recommend weeding takers out of teams, people ask what to do if they’re stuck with selfish people. Here's what I’ve learned about bringing out their better angels.
6. A Lesson in Inspiration from Billy Joel
When I was 8, listening to “We Didn’t Start the Fire” inspired my first research project. Looking back, what happened next taught me an important parenting lesson: When kids show curiosity, teach them to learn from others—not just from Google.
Finally, if you've ever had a debate about what qualifies as rape, these cartoons reveal what consent actually means: