In Arlan Hamilton’s book, “It’s About Damn Time”, she shares a list of 17 songs that help her feel empowered.
I was recently reading Arlan Hamilton’s book, It’s About Damn Time: How to Turn Being Underestimated Into Your Greatest Advantage. In Chapter 2, Part 6, she included tips she’s found helpful when she’s about to give a speech or a talk. The tips are to help combat imposter syndrome and other normal feelings of insecurity. Her first tip 1 is to listen to songs of empowerment and she shared her list of songs. I decided to write the list down and give the songs a listen, and see if her songs empowered me.
Rather than hunt down audio tracks, I searched YouTube and created the list below.
17 Songs of Empowerment
Get Up 10, Cardi B
Battle Cry, Angel Haze ft Sia
New Agenda, Janet Jackson
Skyscraper, Demi Lovato
Price Tag, Jessie J
Red Light, Johnny Ling
Follow Your Arrow, Casey Musgraves
Roar, Katy Perry
Keep Your Head Up, 2 Pac
Fly, Rihanna & Nikki Minaj
All I Have, NF
Run This Town, Jay-Z ft Rihanna and Kanye West
This Moment, Janine
Somebody Loves You, Betty Who
Well, I don’t know how empowered I feel after this list, but I still think this is a great exercise. I should come up with my own list and see what I can create. It would be nice to have a list to listen to before work or any time I want to feel a little push.
There’s more to be found about Arlan Hamilton, her book, and her venture capital firm, Backstage Capital, at itsaboutdamntime.com.
Like so many other people, I too watch hair and makeup tutorials on YouTube. I’ve found that the majority of videographers film their hair tutorials from the front. Or from the back, like from the perspective of a hair stylist. Well, I came across some pretty unique hair tutorials sometime in 2019. The videographers/hair stylists filmed their tutorials completely different. They chose to film their tutorials in the style of famous movie directors and their movies.
My series of tiny home posts shows that many YouTubers create high-quality videos. The videos below are no different. The videos below, are extra special: they were filmed on a sound stage, with props and special effects. Both entertaining and educational!
What you’ll see below, where possible, is a short background on the movie and/or director, a preview of the original film or an excerpt, and then the tutorial. Thankfully, IMBD has some nice overview videos of famous directors. (Thanks, IMDB!)
The directors/movies are:
Stanley Kubrick/The Shining
Spike Lee/Do The Right Thing
Wes Anderson/Moonrise Kingdom
Stan Lee & Brian Cooglar / Black Panther
I am very excited to share this post. I wrote it way back in 2019, and have been saving and adding to it, while sharing other posts. Now it’s finally time to share. So with probably my longest blog post title yet, enjoy!
1. Stanley Kubrick, “The Shining”
The Shining is a movie adaptation of the book of the same name, written by mystery/thriller writer extraordinaire, Stephen King. The book was published in 1977. The movie was directed by Stanley Kubrick and released in 1980.
Stanley Kubrick didn’t just make thrillers, but his movies did have a psychologically subversive twist to them. Kubrick was pretty influential in film making. Here’s a summary of his style, by IMDB.
The Shining is about a man who takes his family to live in an isolated mountain retreat as the winter caretakers. He…succumbs to the isolation.
Twist Out Tutorial In The Style Of “The Shining”
2. Spike Lee, “Do the Right Thing”
Do The Right Thing was released in 1989 and directed by Spike Lee. Many of his films, or joints, are set in New York City, and especially the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Crown Heights or Bed Stuy. Many of his films’ themes center around race and society. He has some distinctive film making cues that this IMDB video showcases.
Do The Right Thing is about the day to day life for residents in a predominately black Brooklyn neighborhood during a hot summer. The tutorial picks up style and scene elements from this movie, some of which are seen in this trailer.
Wash and Go, in the style of Spike Lee (with Do The Right Thing references)
3. Wes Anderson, “Moonrise Kingdom”
Hair Puff Tutorial, in the style of Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson)
4. Alfred Hitchcock
Another dominating name in film making. Unlike Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock specialized in thrillers and psychological thrillers, only. Pretty much all of his movies and Alfred Hitchcock Presents shorts have a very similar style. Check out the guide below and the tutorial following.
5. Stan Lee/Ryan Cooglar, “Black Panther”
Black Panther is based on a comic by Marvel, heavily influenced by legendary comic book artist Stan Lee. The movie, released in 2018, immediately became a cultural phenomenon. This scene below is when the main character, T’chala, goes into the underground science lair to check out some new tools and suit. The director, Ryan Cooglar, has completed other movies, but not really enough to have a distinctive style.
Scene from Black Panther
Bantu knots tutorial, in the style of Black Panther
Greatly mimics the scene above.
What I liked about these tutorials were was not just the reference to pop culture — they also reflected the booming business of Black hair and the natural hair movement and acceptance within the African American community.
The business of Black hair is a big business and natural hair video tutorials are a popular sub-genre of beauty “vlogs” which are themselves very popular on YouTube. CNBC did a good job of summarizing the business of Black hair, in their video below, if you’re curious to learn more.
Back in October, I attended a Meetup on databases focused on 2 SQL-esque databases.
TimescaleDBis an open-source database built for analyzing time-series data with the power and convenience of SQL — on premise, at the edge or in the cloud.
CockroachDB – Architected for the cloud, CockroachDB delivers resilient, consistent, distributed SQL at your scale. CockroachDB is built by Cockroach Labs.
The presentations were very thorough, and as a result I found some of the details were a bit…esoteric. I don’t know that much about databases. (I was hoping for more IoT.)
But I did learn something about databases, replications, different types of databases, and node setups. Who knows where this information will squirrel itself away and pop up again in the future.
The NYC Databases of the Future: CockroachDB and TimescaleDB
Wednesday, Oct 30, 2019, 6:30 PM
Cockroach Labs 53 W 23rd St New York, NY
20 IoT’ers Went
New York City is known for many things… The perfect NYC slice, the lights of Broadway, and perpetually delayed subway trains. It is now known for something new and innovative, the databases from Cockroach Labs (distributed SQL) and Timescale (time series). Join us for networking, pizza and beer, and fantastic talks from Timescale and Cockroach La…
If you haven’t noticed, tiny homes have become really popular.
My theory is that the consumerist lifestyle advertised in capitalist societies have led to physical, psychological, and financial burdens, such as high-debt, overpacked garages, unaffordable McMansions. In addition, the financial crisis of 10 years ago and the resulting Great Recession left many people with a visceral fear of becoming burdened again. Given the dual rise in popularity of decluttering and minimalism — ex: Marie Kondo; “Goodbye, Things” — these events have clearly had an impact and many people are looking to avoid or escape this lifestyle. One outcome of this search for freedom is the rise of the tiny home movement.
One YouTube a series I’ve been watching features an extraordinarily good-natured New Zealand-based host, Bryce, and his talented videographer (girlfriend/partner who always remains offscreen). Together, they travel around the world to visit different individuals, couples, and families who are living in tiny homes. The pair don’t just visit people from New Zealand, although there are many people with tiny homes in New Zealand. The show also visits people from all over the world: Canada, Australia, Japan, the United States. It has some great theme music.
As a resident of NYC, I have been interested in small space living for a while. There are a lot of different tips and tricks for small space living:
For small space living, I found another YouTube series a few years ago. Here’s a video where the tenant transformed her very small studio into a little gem.
In this next one, the tenant (or owner) has used a center storage unit to create zones in his studio. It’s pretty clever.
[Note: I do not vouch for their website!]
There are a number of different styles of tiny homes. Watching the show as an apartment dweller, I have fantasized about living in one. Could it be so different? Fewer neighbors? A garden? What would my tiny home be like?
I decided to share features from some of my favorite homes to look for patterns that would make a tiny home more pleasurable to live in.
Having looked at the YouTube channel on my computer and not just on my Roku, I can see there are other videos that aren’t just home tours. There are a series of videos about building a tiny home and building a tent (like a yurt). To be honest, I haven’t looked at those. Maybe I will; maybe not.
In an upcoming post, I’ll go through some of my favorite Living Big in a Tiny House videos!
I have a lot of thoughts about the idea of “culture fit”, because rarely is culture so clearly defined in a company. I think most companies use it to discriminate and/or to try and get away with bad behavior.
Two Stories About “Cultural Fit”
There are 2 stories I think about when I hear about companies hiring for “culture fit”.
I will never forget this talk because something she said was so relevant about why diversity is important. She said: if everyone is the same, it means they can all fail the same way.
As a new member of her company’s engineering team, she came in with a bit of a non-traditional background, which gave her a different perspective when approaching problem solving. In her example, she explained how she solved a critical error that all the other experienced team members failed to recognize because they all thought about the problem in the same way. Her value to the team was not her skill as a developer. Her value was her knowledge about their customers. It was that unique perspective that allowed her to view this critical problem differently and find a solution that everyone else missed.
Story Two: What is your culture?
The second story is my own experience from job hunting. A few years ago, I was on a call with a creative director and the CEO/President of a small e-commerce company selling men’s clothes. As I talked to them about the role and what they were looking for, they revealed that they’d spent a long time looking for the “right person” who could fit into their culture. When I asked them how long they’d been looking, they told me 8 months. (8 months!?)
When they told me that, I realized they didn’t know what they were looking for and all this time they’d come up with some type of excuse to eliminate candidates from their list. And I basically told them that it sounded like I was unlikely to get the job. I even asked them, what was special about their culture. They couldn’t articulate any details about their company culture that made them any more unique compared to any other company.
So what is culture anyway?
I love going to cultural events. It’s such a great way to learn about people and different parts of the world, without actually traveling and spending money on a trip. 🙂
Culture is the combination of art, language, food, dress, religion, music and social rules of a society. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:
Culture is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior, and norms found in human societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, capabilities and habits of the individuals in these groups.
Humans acquire culture through the learning processes of enculturation and socialization, which is shown by the diversity of cultures across societies.
A cultural norm codifies acceptable conduct in society; it serves as guideline for behavior, dress, language, and demeanor in a situation, which serves as a template for expectations in a social group. Accepting only a monoculture in a social group can bear risks, just as a single species can wither in the face of environmental change, for lack of functional responses to the change.
I think companies neglect the second paragraph: enculturation and socialization. Enculturation is the process by which people learn the dynamics of their surrounding culture. Socialization is the process of internalizing the norms and ideologies of society.
The first question to ask is whether a company is truly aware of their culture, and the second is if they have a plan to help new employees learn it. All companies have a culture, but do they recognize the elements of their culture enough to help new people learn them.
With so many companies cutting back on HR departments, I wonder how many of them have truly invested in the process of enculturation and socialization to help people learn and internalize the culture of their workplace. And have they considered how much time they’re willing to allow for assimilation to happen. My guess is too many employers are looking for exact matches, which makes no sense because the only way someone would have a company’s exact culture is if they already work there.
Is “cultural fit” just an excuse for bad behavior?
To be totally honest, when I hear people talk about “cultural fit”, what I think they really mean is:
Will this person complain or push back at working nights and weekends?
Is this person going to get offended at our sexist jokes?
Can we drink in the office or have bottles of liquor on the desk?
Can we swear like pirates at work?
Can we get away without a true HR department?
Maybe in some cases, it’s Will this person turn us in for doing something illegal?
But I think what they’re really asking is: Is this someone we can control? To some extent, that’s a fair question. On the other hand, is anybody asking, controlling for what?
Same Words, Two Deliveries
I sometimes think companies try to squeeze the individuality out of their employees, so that they can all become the same type of person over time. For that, let me share an example from Shakespeare (aka culture).
What I love about this is that despite the words being exactly the same, the director gave them the freedom to express their own versions of the character. The video is under 12 minutes, so it doesn’t take long to view.
This example is kind of the embodiment of what I wish companies would really get about “cultural fit” and diversity. I really don’t think the question to ask is ‘Do you fit in?’ To me, that list is pretty short:
be pleasant to be around
don’t do illegal stuff at work or on behalf of the company
It shows a theater company that has hired two accomplished actors who can do the same role and speak the same exact words, yet their individual and diverse perspectives are what brings value to their performances. It also shows that the theater company, either at the same time or at different times, not only values the diversity of a heterogeneous theater troupe but they also recognize that their audience does too.
I hope that for-profit companies can also get to a place where they value that some of their employees will express the company culture differently than others, or express different aspects of the company culture at different times — and they’re OK with that. They’re still getting the job done, but the uniqueness each person brings to the job is still valued and ultimately will be a benefit to their company and their customers.
And just for fun, here’s Al Pacino doing the same scene:
While reading a forum discussion on FreeCodeCamp, I came across a reference to George Pólya’s book, “How to Solve a Problem”. In this post, I review Pólya’s problem solving strategy.
In a recent FreeCodeCamp forum, someone asked a question about journaling:
Hi coders, While looking for the source for my project, I saw that some programmers or developers wrote a kind of diary to keep track of the code. I think it’s nice, but I was wondering exactly how you can structure a diary and if any of you use this to write code. Question here.
Good question. I’ve seen other people use diaries or online journals, or those things people use…writing logs or whatever. 🙂
George Pólya was a Hungarian-born mathematician who was known for his mathematics work, as well as his work in heuristics. Heuristics is “any approach to problem solving or self-discovery that employs a practical method”.
“Examples that employ heuristics include using a rule of thumb, an educated guess, an intuitive judgment, a guesstimate, profiling, or common sense.”
He wrote a book about solving problems using common sense principles.
The George Pólya Method of Solving Problems
The Wikipedia page shows that Pólya lays out some pretty good heuristics for solving problems. Although he intended for these strategies to be used for solving math problems, I think they could be used to provide a structured method for solving almost any difficult problem.
The Pólya problem solving method involves 4 principles:
First, you have to understand the problem.
After understanding, make a plan.
Carry out the plan.
Look back on your work.How could it be better?
So how does it work?
Principle 1: Understand the Problem
Pólya based the first principle, Understand the Problem, on the idea that math students struggled to solve problems due to a lack of understanding the problem in full or in part. His technique involved coaching teachers to prompt students with the following questions:
What are you asked to find or show?
Can you restate the problem in your own words?
Can you think of a picture or a diagram that might help you understand the problem?
Is there enough information to enable you to find a solution?
Do you understand all the words used in stating the problem?
Do you need to ask a question to get the answer?
Essentially one should not move past principle one until a constructive answer can be given. It’s not clear from the Wikipedia entry if a constructive answer is required for each question or the entire problem.
Principle 2: Make a Plan
Basically he felt that a person gets better at selecting a good plan/strategy the more times they solve problems. Here’s a big list of strategies:
Guess and check
Make an orderly list
Consider special cases
Use direct reasoning
Solve an equation
Look for a pattern
Draw a picture
Solve a simpler problem
Use a model
Use a formula
Be creative – (“[Have] patience to wait until the bright idea appears”)
Applying these rules to devise a plan takes your own skill and judgement – (“Always use your own brain first”)
Principle 3: Carry out the plan
Simple enough, but the main problem people have with this step is giving up too soon. For that, the Wikipedia entry says:
“In general, all you need is care and patience, given that you have the necessary skills. Persist with the plan that you have chosen. If it continues not to work, discard it and choose another.”
Principle 4: Review, Reflect and Extrapolate
Take a look at what you’ve done, and evaluate how well it worked (or didn’t), and see how you can use what you’ve discovered for future problems.
Finding the book:
If you want to find this book, I recommend trying your library. I found it by searching for "how to solve it book pdf" (Google suggested the "pdf") and I found a copy.
An earlier version of this post included an account of how I applied Polya’s technique to my portfolio changes. A follow-up post will focus on that account.