Sunday, January 25, 2015

The World’s Best Street Sweeper

The Project Manager, Steve, had everyone who was working on the new telecom technology moved into the same room on the top floor of the R&D building. We were there to stay until the work was done. And this changed everything.
What Steve did was different. This was the mid-90’s in Cape Town, South Africa, and I was experiencing for the first time what it meant to be part of a team heading toward success. It’s incredible what a room of people all believing the same thing can achieve together and it felt analogous to the change the entire country was experiencing at that time too.
I am still not sure what caused me to start writing down notes about Steve and the people around me, but I did. In the years since that first project I have had the pleasure of working alongside thousands of people across 35 countries and continued to take notes on observed behavior that led to moments of meaning and significance.
For all of you kind Listserve people, here’s a glance at a few of the best from over 450 notes captured in the past 20 years about people who helped others, gave hope, achieved success and created something important.It is more important to try and be the best street sweeper in the world than being an average boss. Avoid the Peter Principle.

The more compressed a message is, the further it can travel.

Using an oil tanker for water skiing won’t work. Scaled operating models break speed operating models, and vice versa. Speed can grow to become scaled.

When you’re leading you do not have the option of having a bad day. You have to be excited about what’s happening before others have the propensity to feel the same.

Proximity beats hierarchy every time.

Nobody can change the culture of a group (things people do when no-one is looking). Instead, start something nearby in a new environment and with a different purpose that celebrates success often. People will gravitate towards it by themselves. Success is contagious.

You cannot unpunch someone.

There are only three conditions that cause a person to stall: they don't understand what to do, they disagree with the direction or raw “lizard brain” fear. Have genuine concern and fix the situation, not the person.

Being supported is a satisfier. Helping others is a motivator. Until you’ve helped someone else, you’ve never really helped yourself.

Nose in, hands out. Micro management dents dignity and destroys creativity.

The bigger your role in an organization, the more you need to ask: “what can I do to help you?” Also the quieter your tone and the more deliberate your words should be.

If you have to dive into a sea of sharks, bring fish.

And finally; every person in this world has a story, things they want to do in their life and something they care a lot about. Even the shyest of people can ask, “where are you from?” and “what brought you here?”

What else? What are the best things you’ve seen happen in business or in life that changed everything? I’d love to hear them.
I’ve been considering writing a book to capture all of the notes I have so far and adding some additional explanation and examples for each. Is that something you’d be interested in reading?

Thank you for making every day a school day and daring to make a difference.

Ben Love
Atlanta, GA

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Tell me about where you're from

I don't have any wise words or fascinating stories to share, but I do have a question.

My family moved around just enough when I was growing up that I have always been curious about what it means to have a hometown, to belong to a place.

I would love if you could tell me a little about where you're from.

What's your hometown like?

My email address: masuma.ahuja[AT]

Masuma Ahuja
Washington, DC

Friday, January 23, 2015

Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy

"Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy" by Ludwig van Beethoven is one of my favourite quotes. Music is always with me, in every life situation - good, bad or a mixing of every imaginable feelings. I'm Thomas, a 23 year old young man from Vorarlberg in the western of Austria. After my 9 month long compulsory paid community service in a parish office which was a great time, I've decided to work as a Frontend Web Developer because that's my passion.

Many of you already told their incredible stories and shared their life experiences - I just want to share some great music with all of you. I've started a music blog 2 months ago where I share the music that goes along with me everyday. The name is "" and I'm sure that your opinions about the name are divided. Nevermind, I would love to get feedback because I'm still working on it!

The company I'm working is currently building an Open Source CMF (Content Management Framework) for all the developers out there - the name is SULU CMF and it get's better every day!

If you want to chat about music or programming - I would love to hear something from you!

Last but not least a special thanks to my co-worker Stefan for introducing me to the Listserve!
"Simplicity is the essence of happiness." (Cedric Bledsoe)

Thomas D√ľnser
Vorarlberg, Austria

Thursday, January 22, 2015

feelings are hard

When I was a kid, I didn't have many friends. I didn't talk to many people about how I was doing, or what was going on for me. My childhood wasn't bad (it was actually pretty great), I just never talked about myself. As I got older, it got harder to talk about myself or my feelings. It was even hard to talk about what I wanted.

That's normally not an issue. It didn't matter much if I was happy, sad, or frustrated in math class. It didn't matter if I was excited or ashamed at work. Just do the things and keep moving.

Being able to express feelings only really matters in relationships with people. Unfortunately for me, it turns out that relationships with people are everywhere. Not just romantic relationships, but also friendships and family relationships. Relationships with teachers and coworkers. Even my relationship with myself. Everything seems easier for people who know what they feel, and can talk about it.

I didn't know how to tell people what I was feeling. I barely knew how to tell myself what I was feeling. I couldn't ask for what I wanted. I often couldn't even understand other people's feelings when they were telling them to me straight up. Needless to say I had a string of frustrating romances. How could a romance work for me if I didn't even know how to say what I wanted?

It was almost by accident that I learned about Non-Violent Communication, a method of talking to people about my own feelings and theirs. A friend was taking some classes in it, and I went along. At first it was hard for me to get into. It's a bit hokey; it feels stilted to talk using a formal system. But it helped.

The empathic listening exercises we did really helped me to understand other people when they told me what they felt. I listened to people talk about their feelings, and for the first time really was able to understand that other people are different than me. People are different, and that's awesome. I was able to support people in their sad feelings and celebrate with them in their happy feelings.

Learning to listen empathically was great, but being listened to was world-changing. It's a freeing feeling when someone you've built up trust with over weeks of classes says they're listening to you. At first it was hard to say what I felt. Then it was harder.

As I started to talk about some things that made me sad, to really say how I felt, my body went cold. I felt dizzy. My hands were freezing and my face was hot. I was shaking and crying. And the people listening didn't hate me or shun me for it. I just got a good hug, and I got to cry about something that mattered to me.

After that it got easier. It's still not easy, but I can talk about it when I'm sad. I can tell people if they bother me, instead of avoiding them completely. I can show people when I'm happy, or when I'm sad, or even when I'm angry.

There's power and freedom in being able to recognize and express your feelings. It's a freedom that's been hard for me to find as a man in American society. It's a power that I didn't even know I had.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Light in a Dark Place

I’m not much of a storyteller myself, but my dad has always been. I will do the best to encompass his ability to tell stories, and by doing so I will tell a piece of his story.

One of my dad’s favorite tales to tell is the first time I rode a rollercoaster. This love affair began when I was little and my family took a trip to Virginia. All day I had been asking to go on a rollercoaster. It intrigued me the way that they twirled in the air and screams of laughter rang from within. This was something I needed to try for myself, but I was just too short. Finally, we came across “The Big Bad Wolf”. The name sounds far more intimidating than it was, and after further inspection, this was the one. I was just barely tall enough if I stood on my tippy-toes. We made our ascent to the top, whooshing through the ride, spilling out with laughter and screaming. Then, the ride began to go up another hill that was twice as big as before. My eyes began to grow to the size of a silver dollar and I instantly doubted my love affair with rollercoasters. When we reached the summit I remember looking at my dad and saying “Holy $#*%!!!”. We raced down the remaining portion of the track and plummeted to the bottom. When the ride ended, my dad feared what I would say next, but all I said was, “let’s do that again!” And so began my love affair with rollercoasters.

These were the happy days spent with my dad. Days full of abundant smiles, joy, and overwhelming peace. Recently, those bright days began to turn dark and my dad developed a new love affair with alcohol. He quickly became an alcoholic and couldn’t function without first wrapping his arms around a bottle of whiskey. My beautiful, happy family began to come apart at the seams due to my dad’s disease, and there was no way of mending the damage. We continued on without admitting to our fault by putting on a happy face. One day, it became too much. Words were said that should have never been spoken to someone you love and I begged my dad to come back into my life. He had become such an absent figure that I felt as if I had been abandoned and was an orphan. I had lost all hope and doubted I would ever have him back in my life.

December 6th, 2014 my dad went to a rehab facility and it forever changed our lives. He went through a 30-day treatment and began to discover his alcoholism with a clear mind. He remembered the person he used to be back in the bright days and rediscovered his carefree charisma. Day-by-day the man that I used to admire and love returned. Slowly, he became my best friend again and the light began to shine through.

My dad will forever be an alcoholic, but he is consistently fighting and overcoming the disease. He is such an example of redemption, transformation, and never giving up hope. My encouragement to you is that if you or someone you know are fighting this disease or something similar, please seek help. Discover light and the overwhelming peace that can be restored. Never give up on endlessly praying and fighting for something that you believe in, even if it seems overwhelming. I would love to hear your stories and for you to know that you are not alone.

Shout out to Jordan and Alexa Kaczor. ​

Amanda Keating
Fort Collins, Colorado, USA

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Hello, My name is Sarah, and I currently live in Orlando,...


My name is Sarah, and I currently live in Orlando, Florida, but I'll always be a Bostonian at heart. I love to travel and somehow managed to find my heart's true home somewhere in Spain. Visa issues and the realities of life pulled me back to the US, where I get to enjoy the company of my family and friends.

I love the idea of The Listserve, but have been disappointed in all of the life advice and motivational cliches. However, now that I've won, I find myself typing and deleting the same pithy refrains, like "be nice." Inspired, right?

Since The Listserve is about connections, I'd be interested to learn who I know who is a member of the Listserve. If you know me, let me know that you've seen this. Maybe we'll rekindle a friendship, or create a new connection with an old acquaintance. Whether I know you personally or not, I hope you have a lovely day.

Also, Hi MaxPower.

Orlando, FL

Monday, January 19, 2015

“Hi! I'm your lawyer. If you plead guilty, I get paid double, and you'll get out of jail.”

“Hi! I'm your lawyer. If you plead guilty, I get paid double, and you'll get out of jail.”

In the USA, if you are criminally charged and too poor to hire a lawyer, then the government is required to provide you with an attorney. The myriad processes vary from state to state, county to county, and even from court to court.

There are two ways that government provides representation to the poor: either a public defender office, or an appointed attorney plan. A public defender might be funded by the state or the county. They will have a support staff, such as secretaries and investigators. Their lawyers are paid salaries, with benefits. They struggle under very large caseloads and long hours. Often, it is difficult for a defendant to be considered poor enough to qualify for their services.

A jurisdiction without any public defender office may use a less expensive appointed attorney system, where attorneys in private practice are assigned to assist poor defendants. Those attorneys are paid a very nominal fee. That fee often doesn't cover gasoline, parking, and dry cleaning. Lawyers participating in appointed attorney systems often rely on doing a volume business, to avoid losing money.
Some jurisdictions have few formal requirements for a lawyer to take such cases. The lawyer might not be required to have any secretary or staff. She may not be required to have an office, or malpractice insurance.

The judge of the court may manage the appointments and approve the payments according to the judge's priorities. Those priorities may vary by judge. Some are concerned with justice and good representation. Others focus on attorney availability, quick pleas to move the case, friendship, campaign considerations, etc.

Appointed attorneys in most jurisdictions are not paid until the case is concluded. Payment can be an unvarying fee that may not change depending on the amount or quality of work done, or the result of the case. In one local county, an attorney will be paid the very same $100.00 total fee if he concludes a case instantly by a quick guilty plea, or if he must return to court ten times to get the case dismissed. A jailed defendant's release is routinely promised, in exchange for a “voluntary” plea.

In that same county, there are other formal written rules that double the fee to a lawyer who persuades his client to plead guilty to a felony at the first appearance, and halve that same fee to the lawyer who instead persuades the prosecutor to dismiss the felony. Even a conscientious and zealous advocate must have his advice to his client subconsciously influenced by payment systems that reward an attorney for bad results.

There are too many lawyers. They owe too much money. Many come out of law school owing $150,000.00 or more. There are few jobs available for an average law graduate. They are paid very little, often less than a fast food manager. Lawyers who can't get a job, or are between jobs, may try to make ends meet by taking appointed cases.

Some defendants hire lawyers. Those defendants should remember that lawyers are only required to take one bar exam. They then can then practice nearly all areas of law. Criminal defense, personal injury, probate, divorce, and business law are as dissimilar to each other as podiatry, cardiology, ophthalmology, psychiatry and gynecology. You wouldn't see a proctologist because of a hearing problem. You shouldn't hire your divorce lawyer for your criminal case.

Many states provide specialty certification to lawyers, just as they do to doctors. Hiring a certified criminal defense specialist may be your best bet if faced with criminal charges.

Pat Montgomery
San Antonio, Texas