3 Lessons from Straight Outta Compton

I watched “Straight Outta Compton” for the first time yesterday. I have a new-found appreciation for NWA and while I know Hollywood loves to stretch the truth sideways and all other ways, there’s no denying they redefined a genre and became one of the most influential groups of the 20th century.

After watching, I felt compelled to base today’s blog on the movie, as I picked up some lessons I thought it’d be worth sharing:

  1. Have a clear vision and work relentlessly towards it

Dr Dre seemed like a man on a mission. While the real-life Dre was one of the producers which probably influenced how the character was portrayed and therefore we can’t rely its 100% truth, there’s no denying that the man was, and is respected by the industry for his grind and hustle.

From convincing Eazy E to start a record label, to working in the studio all the time, his passion for what he does shines through, as does his determination to get to where he knows he has to be.

2. Find opportunity wherever you can

When the group decided to release a letter sent by the FBI asking them to retire a song to the public, I know these guys were always looking for opportunities and solutions. They wanted to keep moving forward and knew they had to get public opinion on their side.

3. Brotherhood trumps everything

NWA realised, more than anything, they were stronger together than as individuals. While some went from strength to strength (Cube, Dre), the movie makes it clear they knew they could’ve taken over the world if they stuck together.

Making good decisions – an alternative

I came across this huge post from Ladder, a growth marketing agency I respect, on ICE scoring – this is essentially where most people make decisions based on three factors: 

  1. Impact 
  2. Confidence
  3. Effort

While this is a framework frequented in the growth marketing circles, according to Ladder, it’s not a framework by a whole group of other professionals such as firefighters, critical care nurses, pilots and a lot more. 

Instead, they do this: 

They visualize potential solutions in their imagination, and choose the ‘first workable option’, acting upon it immediately. They generated alternative plans only when their first actions failed.

Yet these experts routinely make good decisions.

They often must juggle complex goals in high-stakes, time-pressured situations that are shifting by the second, where a bad choice can mean loss of life. Their know-how allowed them to read a situation quickly – even immediately – to identify patterns and act.

They don’t let themselves get paralyzed by self-doubt or waste any time finding the best possible outcome.

“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” – General George S. Patton

On the battlefield, only a sniper has time to calculate the complex physics of the arc of their bullet based on distance, wind-resistance and the curvature of the earth.

This process which is outlined above, is the human ability to model and predict complex situations and account for potential future scenarios, is key to our ability to survive and thrive. 

Decision making and strategy is our way of continuing to produce and learning from what survives.

The challenges of the trolley problem

I’ve been thinking a lot about how we create responsible AI – specifically, I’ve been reading more about the trolley problem and the moral conundrum that inevitably follows.

The trolley problem is essentially this:

There’s a runaway trolley barreling toward five workers. You’re watching from afar, standing by a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will divert to a second track. However, on that second track, there’s one worker who’ll be struck if you intervene. Thus, you face a moral quandary: Do you switch rails, steering toward the single worker, or do you let the tram run its course, running over the five workers?

Trolleyology as it’s called, brings up a range of ethical debates that will define how AI is used alongside humans in the years to come. According to a recent poll, 81% of executives believe AI will work alongside humans as an aid / trusted advisor within the next two years. The urgency has never been more apparent for us to deal with our moral instincts.

Playing the long game

To play the long game requires patience. You need time to build the life you want. 

While you take the time to continue building your life, it’s easy to become impatient and try to take shortcuts. This doesn’t result in anything worthwhile. 

There is worth in being patient and sticking to your path – the most important thing is that you do not stop and you keep moving forward. 

Inspired by @MaggieSmithPoet

Building new tables

In 2018, I’ve learned the importance of building my own tribe, and my own table. If you don’t like the table you’re on, or feel you’ve fought for your chance to be there and have to continue to justify why you’re at that table, then they don’t deserve you. 

You don’t want to sit at a table where you need to bring your own chair and squeeze at the end – don’t get me wrong, there’s a sense of humbleness at fighting for something and standing up for yourself in this way. But there also comes a time when you need to think about creating your own table. 

While this is the less-trodden path (after all, who really knows how to build a table from scratch?!), which means it comes with more risk, it’s the path that allows you to shape your own table, who sits with you and what you’ll serve. It puts you in control and delivers freedom.

Winning or learning

While speaking with a colleague on the way to our Christmas party, he said something that stuck with me.

We discussed the concept of failure and learning. He described this as such: you’re either winning or learning. There is no failure, only learning opportunities.

By adopting a learning mindset, or a “growth” mindset as some call it, you’ll always have a chance to grow and succeed in whatever you do.

Christmas festivities

We had our Christmas party today – this is a good time for reflection. Last year we were half the size and the year before we were a quarter of the size that we were today.

Reflection (and good food) are an essential part of these festive periods, as they give us a chance to see what has gone well this year, what/who we want more of and what/who we don’t.

What are the soul-sucking activities that have weighed us down this year?

Who do we want to speak to more due to their in-depth knowledge and company experience?