Issue #45
#45 - On gratitude, meaning, and purpose
November 25, 2022

What's up, everybody?

I’ve lived in Singapore for coming on 10 years, but we’ve always celebrated Thanksgiving here, as we did at home in the U.S.

Thanksgiving is many Americans’ “favorite holiday”: tons of food, and dessert; tons of friends and family; non-denominational. And a chance to pause and, well, give thanks.

This year, I realize that everyone coming to our home for Thanksgiving happens to be critical to TalentStories, and the journey I am now on. To wit:

Usman, my TalentStories partner, is in Singapore, so we get to have him join! My best friend and his wife, who have been there every step of the way with me (and with my wife) will be here. Another dear friend -- who has forged a career and a set of businesses that are inspiration for my own -- lives in Canada; but happens to be in Singapore this week! So he’ll be joining us. As will another close friend, who works in talent, and has been an indefatigable thought partner and supporter since we met in the US over a decade ago.

And then, at the other end of this full table, will be my wife -- who enables not just TalentStories, but everything for me; all of it.

Only after we’d sent out the invites, and received the rsvp’s, did I realize I would get to break bread this year with so many people who have been such great sources of support for me.

So when it comes time to make a Thanksgiving toast; to pause, and give thanks, as we do every year, I will tell them this 👆🏻, verbatim. And I will tell them how I feel: humbled; and grateful, for each of them.

On to this week, where we aim our stories at a recurring theme -- purpose -- and investigate:

  • A tweet from a self-proclaimed “prolific Twitter shitposter”, who makes a provocative claim about the impact our work has on us, and the need to ensure it’s a healthy one
  • A new “work vocab” word, used to explain how the pandemic has led us to define ourselves and our purpose as more distinct from work; bucking a long-term trend
  • A quote that offers an empowered definition of meaning, and an explanation for how we create it.

Thank you so much for reading. And if you celebrate the holiday -- Happy Thanksgiving! 🦃

Aki + Usman


#Purpose #Hardwiring

“Roon” is an AI researcher and a self-proclaimed “prolific Twitter shitposter”. He follows up his this first tweet 👆🏻, with the below :

“If you're a programmer your job is literally rewiring your brain to be more logical and machine-like. If you're a doctor you're developing perfect associative recall. If you're a financier you're becoming well attuned to the idea of risk until you see it everywhere.

If you aren't finding a modicum of purpose in your work you are actively killing yourself and turning into someone you don't like. Better to quit than live like that”

It's fairly intuitive, but we still find the idea fascinating: the notion that our work might, over the years, “hard-wire” us in some way. That we would become almost spiritually connected to that work. And if you believe this is valid, it's then worth considering Roon's thought-provoking proposition: if our work lacks purpose, and seems to be turning us into something we don’t like -- should we really be doing that work?


#Vocab #Purpose

Sara Wachter-Boettcher is an author and user experience consultant. She explains a new phrase -- “enmeshment” -- and uses it to highlight a major feature of modern work: the way our identities, and our purpose, become so wrapped up in our jobs and our careers. And she explains that the pandemic has fundamentally challenged this long-time trend.

The rest of the article we found less persuasive though: Wachter-Boetcher goes on to ask whether our pendulum swing from pre-pandemic, “work is everything” to post-pandemic, “work is just a job” is healthy -- if detaching from our work also means losing the connection and friendships we enjoy there.

But we don’t see the two as mutually exclusive: to the extent the pandemic has helped us place our work and careers in perspective, and allowed us to forge an identity and a purpose that is more distinct from our work -- that is a good and healthy thing. But it doesn’t preclude us from enjoying and connecting with the people we enjoy working with.


#RateOfChange #RateOfLearning #Adaptation

John W. Gardner is a humanitarian, and an activist, and he drops a doozy of a quote here. We had to read it more than once, and we're still processing all the nuance. But we love his assertion, and the empowerment it offers: that meaning is an active process. Something that we build; that we derive from our experiences; that we “put together”, so long as we’re willing to assemble the ingredients before us.

Thanks for reading. 🙏🏻

Work moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
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