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Rules are for the Guidance of the Wise, The Blind Obedience of Fools

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Ben Bernarnke, former chair of the Federal Reserve until early 2014, commands $250,000 per speech. Any Fortune 500 company would consider it a fantastic coup to have him on the board. Firms would line up around the block to pay him 7 or 8 figures to have him represent them.

Ben Bernarnke, arguably one of the best credit risks in America, was unable to refinance his home mortgage. Why? Because just like the TinMan, our finance industry has no brain. Instead the decisions about your financial future are made via highly automated algorithms.  Ben recently changed jobs. Bad, bad, bad says the computer. Ben’s income is now variable, perhaps even unpredictable. Bad, bad bad says the computer. No, No, No says the commuter. (New York Times, 10/3/14 p. B1 Why Can’t This Man Refinance?”)

Algorithms are terrific; they automate many important tasks, in theory freeing up humans to take on more important tasks, make better decisions. The danger is that we forget the limits of formulas, we forget to build some flexibility into the process; we take the human completely out of the loop.

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn – Nathan S. Collier

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When “Circling the Wagons” Makes Things Worse

Bill de Blasio, William J. Bratton

I am proud to be a lawyer, a member of the Florida Bar. Yet I’ve noticed a tendency in my profession to defend any member perceived to be under attack, to go easy upon the inevitable miscreants in our midst, perhaps from an “us v. them” perspective or perhaps from a “there but for the grace of god go I” point of view. The legal profession is not unique, many groups display this tendency – doctors, police officers and teachers unions just to name a few.

I’ve never understood this “circling the wagons” attitude particularly when there is significant evidence of misbehavior. I WANT to have HIGH standards for my group and I want to cull out those that do not live up to those standards. My first social identity is as an overall member of society and my first duty under the Social Contract is to protect society as a whole, to support those actions that engender the greatest good for the greatest number for the longest period of time (which I believe means a free, democratic society).

New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton displayed remarkable courage when he publicly spoke of the “very few… who poisoned the well” and whose actions hampered the work of the rest of their colleagues: “My intention going forward is to ensure that we will aggressively seek out those who should not be there – the brutal, the corrupt, the racist, the incompetent.” (Wall Street Journal, 10/3/2014, “Bratton Tells Police Brass: Oust Bad Cops”, New York Times 10/3/14, p. A14 “Bratton Says Police Dept. Must Dismiss Officers Who Are ‘Poisoning the Well’”)

Our loyalty to any group of which we are a member should never be higher than our adherence to our fundamental moral values, our ethics.

 As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. Nathan S. Collier

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The Seven Habits of Highly INEFFECTIVE People

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As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. Sometimes it clarifies things to look at what we SHOULDN”T do; making it easier to understand what we SHOULD do.

The Seven Habits of Highly INEFFECTIVE People:

o    Be Reactive, let others push your buttons, control your moods/emotions/life.

o    Work without any clear end in mind. Don’t plan or think things through.

o    Do the urgent thing first; let others, random events prioritize your energies.

o    Think Win/Lose: Look out for yourself first, especially in relationships where you are most vulnerable

o    Seek first to be understood, don’t waste time listening in depth, you are ready know what they are going to say

o    Fear change, people or things that are different; defend, justify, rationalize (rational lies) your comfort zone.

o    You know everything already, heard it all a thousand times before. Grab that remote and chill! You’ve earned it! – Author Unknown

In contrast, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey:

o    Habit 1: Be Proactive: Take responsibility for your choices and the consequences that follow. Pick up one end of the stick, you pick up the other too!

o    Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind: Create a plan for your life, have written goals for all your life roles and action plans with targets and deadlines.

o    Habit 3: Put First Things First: Things that matter most should never be at the mercy of things that matter least. Big Rocks First!

o    Habit 4: Think Win-Win: Seek mutually beneficial solutions or agreements in your relationships. Value and respect people.

o    Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood: When you listen first, you make a tremendous emotional bank account deposit. When people feel genuinely valued, respected and understood relationships are stronger and solutions are much easier to achieve

o    Habit 6: Synergize: Combine the strengths of people through positive teamwork, so as to achieve goals no one person could have done alone.

o    Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw: Be a Life Long Learner, embrace continuous learning.

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The Maturity Continuum: Each of the 7 Habits is based on principles of effectiveness, paradigms that are aligned with principles, and practices that produce effective results.

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