What I Learned the Week of March 25th, 2022

From a Podcast – Foodies from Korea

From Armchair Expert – Interview with Roy Choi . First, it is important for me to acknowledge a good friend with Korean heritage, who is the absolute first person I go to when I want a new place to eat in Vancouver. I have always always been impressed with how much she loves food (and stays so skinny) and just how pivotal food is to her family. Her daughter even has a foodie Instagram account. And I’m certain she married her husband because he is such a good cook. Listening to this podcast and Roy talking, about how important food is to Koreans, a big lightbulb went off for me as to how important food really is to her. I know I personally don’t put that much energy into what we are going to eat or where we are going to eat, even though I think of myself as a food lover. Now I appreciate the importance to her a bit more. <3

But overall this was such a fun listen that ranged from food to being a 2nd class immigrant, to addictions (a common theme for Dax) to just a broader appreciation for Korean culture. Roy is known for his prowess as a chef on TV and his famous food truck Koji in LA and their Korean Tacos. It sounded so amazing I regretted that I did not get the chance to try it before I became a vegetarian. 

Regardless, looking forward to getting out to my first Korean restaurant in Vancouver. And you know who I’ll be taking with me. πŸ˜‰

From Social Media – Its Rarely Simple without also Being Complicated

I was intrigued by a post on one of the social media channels for a podcast interview with Professor Harry Prosen proclaiming to have the breakthrough biological answer to explain the human condition and save the world YouTube. It’s about an hour and felt a little drawn out to me as anything usually is when they claim to have a simple answer. If it is simple somehow they need to make the answer still really long. Possibly to hear themselves talk?

That said it was still interesting the perspective shared. In essence, our human condition, which I think he is inferring that we all have an illness, is that we are upset because we developed a conscious as we evolved from an ape to a human. Our animal instincts are to reproduce and protect anything that might jeopardize the success of reproducing (e.g., territory, offspring, mates, etc.). However, as we developed a conscious we stopped always acting based on pure animal instinct and started doing things more for pleasure, enjoyment, etc., and this created conflict within ourselves. Now we start judging ourselves as not being good because we feel this conflict. And that creates this continual pattern of conflict – the battle between our conscious brain that is more evolved than just basic animal instinct. 

What I took away from this is the centuries-old messages of acceptance and letting go. When we learn to accept ourselves for the paradoxes we are and balance that acceptance with some level of metaphysical accountability then maybe we will be healed from this human condition. 

I guess as long as I can have my nachos and margaritas I’m OK with that treatment plan. Just asking for a friend. πŸ˜‰

From Books – The Convergence of Confrontation and Emotions

I took a little break from the book The Culture Map, by Erin Meyer, but managed to get back to her last week and finish this insightful book. I find it amazing now how every new piece of knowledge that is presented to me as information about human behavior I now look at through this new lens and challenge. One key observation there is that I notice even more so how much I seem to be exposed to very North American or Western mindsets even though we clearly have such a strong cultural dynamic present. If nothing else I appreciate this book for ingraining me to pause and ask, where might this not be true?

If you read my previous blog on this book you may recall the eight dimensions that Erin presented, and if not here is the link to refresh. One of those dimensions is disagreeing with the two ends of the spectrum being confrontational and avoiding confrontation. In the book, there is a deeper dive into the variations that exist across geographical cultures around disagreement or conflict. An additional layer is added to the disagreeing dimension which is how emotive the people from this country are on average. You can see in the below diagram that people from India are usually more emotive than many but also avoids confrontation. Whereas people from Germany are emotionally unexpressive and very confrontational. Seems easy to imagine the potential for increased conflict there. But what we might overlook is how people from Israel or France or also more confrontational but not emotionally expressive. We might have wrongly assumed that because both people from Germany, France and Israel are all more confrontational, on average, we would not expect cultural conflict when it comes to confrontation, however, this additional layer of emotiveness provides clarity for why this likely is to occur in those cross-cultural teams.

This made me curious about whether there was any potential correlation between the above and violence experienced in that country. I went searching for a source that might give me some sense of this and landed on data provided by World Population Review on violent crimes by the country for 2022. While the data from this site is fed by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime we really can’t make truly informed inferences about a correlation based on my quick assessment. But what I did uncover is that the countries in the top right, both emotionally expressive and avoiding confrontation, had higher rates of violent crimes than those in the other combinations. Again, there are so many flaws with my 5-second research project here, including the fact that violent crimes are not always reported truthfully by each country and every country has different definitions of what is considered a crime (e.g., rape). However, it was still interesting to see that my original hypothesis of those who were emotionally unexpressive and also avoids confrontation was not the highest. I was betting “put things in a box” would be have been the highest. Again interesting but might mean nothing.

A similar convergence exists between the two dimensions of context and direct negative feedback. As you can see in this diagram there are countries that are higher on the direct negative feedback but also higher on how implicit they communicate. Russia and France as two examples where the predominant culture would be to be quick to give direct negative feedback but to do it with a high context or more implicitly. This could be pretty challenging for people from countries such as the US or Canada where they are more on the indirect negative feedback and very low-context/explicit in communication style. 


From Real People Conversations – Wisdom of Crowds

This week had so many highlights in it with amazing people interaction. In-person and on video. From a learning angle, the key one was a yummy conversation with someone I have known for a little over five years who is the definition of a curious intellectual that I am certain will be focused on learning until her last breath. She shared with me the concept of the “Wisdom of the Crowd” which is based on the Diversity Prediction Theorem. Yes, it’s math, so for those like me, don’t run away, it’s not that bad. I found this really good youtube that does a good job of explaining with simple examples. In short, this theorem suggests that the Crowd’s Error is the Average Error minus the Diversity.  Of course, diversity being a good thing is not a new concept these days. But it is very neat to see a math equation that is proving this to be true. 

Personal Reflections – Dreams of Violence & Danger

Nothing super earth-shattering in my own personal reflections this week, however as I look through my journal I see that I have been having lots of dreams and the most often theme in them are forms of violence and danger. I know that I have, like most people been caught up in the war in Ukraine and struggling with my feelings of guilt and anger as I sit in my comfy living room chair in Vancouver, British Columbia. In my dreams I can see that I’m either trying to save everyone from danger or I am screaming irrationally at the people around me why are they not doing anything. 

If you are like me and looking for a place to feel like you are making a positive difference I have been really impressed with World Kitchen Organization and their efforts. I was pointed to them by a prior coach of mine, Mike Hutchinson, who knows someone inside WKO and was/is actually in Poland helping with the logistics of supporting the refugees. A few weeks back I made a donation and continue to follow their work. I appreciate the very detailed email I received just this past week that provided so many photos and data points sharing what has been already accomplished through the organization. And while that gives me some momentary comfort it is still heartbreaking to watch the new stories come in every day and not continue to feel guilty and angry and the unnecessary violence they are having to suffer. 

I find a way to move off those stories and continue to go about my day but I do believe there is a part of me that doesn’t let me move on. And these subconscious thoughts are probably what is feeding the scripts for my dreams each night. Of course, that is a super small price I’m having to pay (waking up from violent dreams) as compared to what others are experiencing. And it’s important for me to simply acknowledge this is what is going on in my psyche and continue to find ways to honour the guilt and anger that I am feeling. Still working on that…

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