How To Lead A More Effective Team By Disagreeing

It’s great when people agree with you, isn’t it? It’s a wonderful validation – of your thoughts, your ideas… of you. It makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Yes, it’s great when people agree with you.

Except it doesn’t move the needle. Especially when the agreement comes too early.

There’s a great scene in the old TV series The West Wing. Leo McGarry is the Chief of Staff to liberal Democratic president Jed Bartlet. In this scene, Leo is offering a job to wickedly smart conservative Republican Ainsley Hayes. Ainsley is confused as to why a liberal president would want a conservative Republican working in the White House. Leo then says a line that I think should be committed to memory by every leader at every level:

“The president likes smart people who disagree with him.”

If you’re a leader, substitute your name for “the president” (unless you happen to be the president, in which case you should probably still substitute your name, because referring to yourself by your title is stupid and pretentious). Let’s just make it simple. Here’s the new sentence:

“I like smart people who disagree with me.”

I want you to make that one of your primary leadership mantras. “I like smart people who disagree with me.”

If you want to build your muscles, you do resistance training. The resistance can be in the form of weights, elastic bands, or your own body (for example, when doing pushups and pull-ups). Resistance makes muscles stronger.

Even the best ideas benefit from resistance. This resistance comes in the form of pushback by a smart person. Even if the smart person is just playing devil’s advocate, the challenge serves a purpose. When an idea is challenged, one of three things will happen:

The idea will be reinforced.
The idea will be reevaluated.
The idea will be abandoned.

Any of these three is preferable to the idea being blindly accepted by a team that’s either too intimidated to question, or too disengaged to care.

When an idea is challenged, it is examined. This examination will find one of three things about the idea, which correspond to the list above:

The idea is sound.
The idea is flawed but can be improved/fixed.
The idea is flawed, and cannot be improved. (Even in this case, though, the “bad” idea could be the spark that leads to the “good” idea.)
Agreement is a good thing, but not when it’s automatic; not when it’s a rubber stamp.
Agreement is a good thing when it comes at the end of smart debate. Agreement is a good thing when it rises out of disagreement.

Steinbeck Hitchcock and Yes, Lifeboat

What on earth do Steinbeck and Hitchcock have in common? Well, nothing except that they made a film together called Lifeboat. They did not even share any common interests in terms of their work. John Steinbeck created novels such as Grapes of Wrath which is still considered as a literary masterpiece even by modern critics. The novel was highly controversial at the time it was first published in 1939 due to the anti-capitalist sentiments. But it also won the Pulitzer Prize. This and his work later were instrumental in getting John Steinbeck his maiden Nobel Prize for literature. Steinbeck also wrote some comedies such as Cannery Row and Tortilla Flat but thrillers, not any that I know of.

Alfred Hitchcock lived thrillers and absolutely thrillers. However, he did take some diversions into other genres such as comedies in Mr. and Mrs. Smith and also some nonfiction films just before the Second World War. After the war, he mostly stuck to what he knew best and that was making thriller movies. I don’t know what Steinbeck was thinking about while writing Lifeboat. Was he intentionally making a thriller or just an interracial film with a hypothetical situation about people from various communities of German and allied forces getting together and having to do battle together? I think it’s later and that’s where Steinbeck came into the picture.

Originally the screenplay of Lifeboat was credited to John Steinbeck. But after the film was released Steinbeck requested his name to be removed from the credits because he felt the film had unkind words against organized labor. However, the British and American press at the time thought the film glorified German characters and denigrating the US and British characters. Modern critics see things differently though. Hitchcock defended his characterization because he respected his movie villains. Characterization of a villain has been the hallmark of Hitchcock films over the years. The moral of the story in his opinion was to get the allies together to fight against Nazis.

Lifeboat was nominated for 3 Oscars but received none and it was not commercially very successful either due to the negative publicity and controversies surrounding the film. It was Hitchcock who came up with the idea for the film and considered several top writers at the time for the project including Ernest Hemingway and A J Cronin. Hitchcock didn’t use music in the film as he thought it was imprudent to do so. Where would music come from in the sea? He retorted when asked about it. He was countered with where would the cameras come from in the middle of the sea?

I am a diehard Hitch fan and have seen all his best work and more. I never felt him being racist or unkind to any community unless it is for the characterization. The very fact that he chose Steinbeck for this project confirms this fact for me. But it is a strange combination all the same. After so many years of Hitchcock, it is difficult to associate him with a writer who is not at all a thriller writer. It is a lonesome but great alliance all the same.

Pigments, Dyes & Inks

Pigments are items that are insoluble and need to be blended in binders so that they hold on to the substrate.

Dyes are used for artistic, decorative and aesthetic reasons but besides these applications did you know that they play a vital role in medical and biological imaging. Some fluorescent and contrast dyes highlight specific organs or cells during medical testing to indicate presence of certain diseases. They assume great importance during election times in some countries by acting as identifiers, for example purple dye is used to mark the fingers of voters. Sheep herders use wool dyes for marking sheep in the flock. Lasers that are dye-based emit laser light over varied wavelengths resulting in laser beams that are ‘tunable’ and these in turn perform important functions in astronomical research, medical applications, manufacturing and spectroscopy.

Pigments occupy a place of great importance in the world of plastics, paints, inks, cosmetics, textiles, food and many more. Car finishes, artist’s paints and light reflecting signs get their glow from the pigments which can be either organic or inorganic. They are superior to dyes in the context of retaining their color for many years and being able to withstand powerful light, intense heat or extreme chemical agent or weather conditions.

Inks are a liquid medium containing pigments or dyes and they are utilized in printing, pens and tattoos. There are some inks which can cause a permanent change in colour and they include anti-counterfeiting inks, a few fountain pen inks, some gel inks and the paper currency inks. Reaction with the cellulose in the paper results in the permanency of colour. Though they do not fall under the conventional inks, liquids that go into the inkjet technologies also are benefited from the research conducted to further develop the conventional inks.

Professionals engaged in the field of pigments, dyes and inks are focused on developing novel formulations that require less expensive materials, are steadfast in their colour, have good flow properties, more stability or interact more efficiently with substances they come into contact with. Pigments and dyes used in ancient pieces of art and historical artifacts are being analyzed by the relevant professionals to find out new substances that will be compatible with the ancient pigments and dyes for deciding the ways and methods of restoration and preservation.

Owners of varied dyes and pigments production facilities like organic pigments manufacturers, vat dyes manufacturers, pigment blue manufacturers and napthol manufacturers in India strive to supply sustainable colorants that are of top quality and cause minimal harm to human and environmental life. All of them have well equipped technical facilities that test the stock mixes, incoming materials and outgoing orders of the customer. Each one of them is committed to provide products of highest standards to the customers and ensure their maximum satisfaction.

Breakdancing: The Roots of The Street Dance

Breakdancing is the street dancing which began around 1969. Most people will agree that the superstar James Brown began the whole thing with a dance called the “Good Foot”. James Brown was a real innovator and his dancing was something to behold. He did things with his feet that would give most of us a couple of broken legs!

Simultaneously in the ghetto, what is known as the “dance battle” became very popular and in many cases replaced gangster warfare as a method to end disputes. Breakdancing lent itself very well to the dance battle and the Good Foot was a perfect base for breakdancing.

Street dancers adopted the Good Foot which, for a short period, became known as the B-Boy and then breakdancing. Back then the dance moves were a lot different to the kind of breaking we see today. There were no popular, documented moves such as the headspin or the windmill. The dancers simply used their feet and nothing else. Some would argue that this “old style breaking” is more complicated than the kind of dancing we see these days.

Some of the floor work improvised back then was fantastically complex. If you go to a modern breakdancing competition you won’t see many of the old school moves but you will see a lot of gymnastics. Impressive though this is, there are those that think breakdancing has lost its roots a little. On the other side of the coin you have people saying that it’s just an evolution.

As a way to solve street battles and gang violence it was inspired. You were finding that amazingly, the gangs were using breakdancing instead of fighting. The breakdancing “battle” took on a world of its own. Of course there were still fights and inevitably sometimes a sore loser in a breaking battle would resort to violence.

Out of all this, breakdancing crews were formed. The members of a crew would practice and dance together. This is when the first very basic breakdancing choreography came about. One crew would invent a move which would inspire an opposing crew to go one better. For some of these guys breakdancing was literally the difference between life and death. They were very dedicated to what they were doing.

Just as all these new breakdancing crews were bursting onto the scene a guy called Afrika Bambaataa embraced the genre. Afrika Bambaataa is a legendary figure in the hip hop world. He was largely responsible for bringing breakdancing into the general public’s consciousness. He got to know all the crews and encouraged them to develop what they were doing. Bambaataa’s “Zulu Kings” breakdancing crew became a force to be reckoned with, winning many battles.

Since then breakdancing has continually progressed and more and more very talented dancers were bringing their skills into the arena. There were new moves being invented by the week and it wasn’t long before we had headspins, windmills, backspins and all the other high energy, acrobatic moves we see these days.

The “Rock Steady Crew” were one of the groups to pioneer this new school breaking. These guys along with Charles Ahearn who made the seminal hip hop movie “Wild Style” were to bring breakdancing fully up to date and the dancing phenomenon became much more popular. There was no stopping the onward march of the break dance.

Nowadays breakdancing influences a lot of the choreographed dance routines which are an integral part of a modern pop record release. You have young kids coming up who are really into it and the genre is experiencing something of a renaissance. There’s no doubt about it, breakdancing is here to stay and if you want more info a quick search on the Internet will turn up thousands of references to this modern art form.

Shedding A Light on Green Bonds

The Government is aiming for a greener economy. Businesses and organizations are trying to support their production through green resources. Green economy, green bonds, green business and going green has become the current anthem worldwide! We know what green economy and green business mean but as I wasn’t aware of ‘green bonds’ initially, same will be the case with many of you. So, today with the help of this article, let’s gain an understanding of the term.

Green bonds: In simple language, these are the bonds issued by the Government and are tax-free. These bonds are used for underdeveloped localities mostly by municipalities or federally qualified organizations. The purpose of these bonds is to finance projects which are aimed at achieving energy efficiency, protection of aquatic and terrestrial species, curbing pollution, managing water quality and quantity and clean transportation, to name a few. Due to the tax-free status, purchasing this bond accounts for a lucrative investment when compared to a taxable bond. This tax-exempt status acts as a financial incentive to handle social issues such as preserving energy sources and climate change.

Qualifying for a green bond requires:

1. The building is at least 20 acres in the size
2. The project will receive a minimum of $5 million from the state or the municipality
3. A minimum of 75% of the building is registered for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED, a rating system developed to measure the environmental impact of the building) certification.

Certain benefits of green bonds are:

Reducing the cost of the project: These bonds are an excellent system of saving a large amount of capital to support environmental investment. Ideally suited for large-scale green projects such as solar and wind development which require capital investments prior to revenues and which generate modest revenue over a long time-period.

Investor demands: Due to the increasing awareness for a green financial market, there is a constant demand of socially responsible investment projects. Owing to this scenario, investors are expressing strong interest in purchasing of green bonds. While retail investors seek investment through their brokers and fund managers, institutional investors use these bonds to handle social, economic and Government mandates. Before green bonds came into the picture, it was a struggle to address these mandates with fixed income tools. This is the reason why these bonds have been successful in attracting new investors thereby providing a new platform for future issuances.

Building brand value: As the major provider of these bonds are the Government, they strike the chance and brand themselves as innovative and dedicated to keeping pace with the green projects.

Leadership: Talking about the future, green bond issuers are the leaders of the world. With their active participation, they can encourage municipalities to participate and create a reputation for monetary innovation. This will make way for upcoming projects in financing environmental projects.

Sharing the time when efforts are put-in to preserve the environment, green bonds are an altogether new opportunity for investors and issuers. Apart from the above-mentioned benefits, green bonds are known for several other advantages over other financing options, some of which are:

Providing a medium to access sustainable investments in a fixed income market in familiar and low-risk surroundings.

Allowing the municipalities to develop a public-private partnership to speed-up the process of energy efficiency and technological advancement.