10 quotes from Edward Tufte

I took Edward Tufte’s Presenting Data and Information class. Normally I would have tweeted these quotes (especially since Edward Tufte is active on Twitter!) but the room was dark and my phone’s screen would have looked like a spotlight. (This is not my summary of the day. Just some of the tweets I would have sent.)

  1. There are only two industries that call their customers users: illicit drugs and software.
  2. No visualization for little data. Use sentences.
  3. Taking notes shows respect.
  4. Marketing = amateur social science.
  5. It’s just as easy to get fooled by big data as little data.
  6. Just block people. If someone pees in your living room, you don’t want to stick around.
  7. By age 35, all future music will become an utter mystery.
  8. If you have an inherent interest in operating systems, it’s unnatural. (Operating systems was my favorite university computer science class! And my first job.)
  9. All complex ideas can be expressed in normal language. This is what reporters do.
  10. Distrust anyone who replies with character assassination.

And there was also lots of good content.  More later.

7 ways to know if you are suffering from impostor syndrome

Have you ever suffered from impostor syndrome? Most of us can relate to it. And it’s more prone during certain times of your life, like new jobs.

Impostor syndrome[1] is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. Notably, impostor syndrome is particularly common among high-achieving women. – From Wikipedia

Having recently started a new job, I thought I’d make a list of the signs that you are suffering from impostor syndrome:

    1. Not accepting praise. Usually when someone says you did a great job, you should say “thank you” not “but I goofed here and I could have done better here.” My performance in my OSCON talk was not as good as my CiviCRM keynote, but I should still accept the nice comments people say. And my OSCON talk was better in many ways – like working with someone else.
    2. Announcing your mistakes or shortcomings. Telling everyone what you don’t know. There’s a lot of technologies in Cloud Foundry! I’m learning them. Just please don’t ask me any detailed questions about exactly how scheduling works.
    3. Being afraid of making mistakes. Everyone is afraid of making mistakes but you find yourself going out of your way to avoid situations that might put you on the spot. You hesitate just a moment before stepping up – a moment you don’t normally hesitate in.
    4. Feeling stupid. Not asking questions you have for fear of looking stupid. I’ve got lots of questions. I’ve asked about 90% of them. I’ve also asked some of them twice – the key is just to ask the same question of different people in hopes that somebody will answer it in a way you understand. That’s a trick I learned in karate. We would take turns pairing up with everyone in class. Eventually someone would explain the move to me in a way that just clicked with me.
    5. Writing lots, publishing nothing. Because nothing is good enough to you. I’ve got a book’s worth of blog posts at this point. Should make life easier later.
    6. Feeling uncertain in other parts of your life where you know you are competent but suddenly you are doubting yourself. Seriously, we’ve had a boat for over 10 years and I suddenly couldn’t get it started last weekend. Luckily for me and my 8yo, I did know how to use the trolling motor (or rather together we figured it out) so we weren’t stuck in the middle of the lake.
    7. Researching and writing about the impostor syndrome. 🙂

How do you know when you are suffering from impostor syndrome?

How to run a support center nobody will want to call

How to run a support center nobody will want to call: [If you have any suggestions on how to improve this list, please let us know.]

  • Reassure customers right at the beginning that their problem is very simple and you’ll solve it in just a few minutes.
  • Require them to install support software on their computer before you will even listen to their problem. They might not be able to accurately describe it, so you need to see it. They will need to get their own internet connection working in order to do this.
  • If you have a perfectly acceptable name like Amit or Sarita, change it to something like David or Mary. It’s fun to see if you can really fool customers by adopting an accent to match the name.
  • Make up new words for letters. So if you are spelling words, don’t use the standard Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, use new words like Papa. Papa is an endearing term used by kids to refer to their grandparents so it will bring back good memories for your customers and they will think more highly of you.
  • If your customer starts to lose her temper, calm her down by using terms of endearment like "sweetie" and "honey".
  • If at any time your customer asks to speak to a supervisor, explain to them that you are working on their problem and that your boss couldn’t possibly help them.
  • If your customer is getting really worked up, telling them they are stupid or don’t get it will usually silence them for a few seconds.
  • There’s a 50% chance that your customer is on a cell phone. If that’s the case, and they are being problematic, you can tell them continuously that you are having a hard time hearing them. Most customers will hang up after a while.
  • Do not ever give out your direct email. Inform customers that receiving an email from them might take up to two days to get through the central mailbox and then to you.
  • End all calls with "God Bless".