Idea!!!, Self-Revelation

The Remedy for Impostor Syndrome: The Difference Between Amateurs and Professionals

sfI have stage 5 impostor syndrome. Most of us do in some part of our lives. It tends to show up more in my professional life. After doing some research I found out some interesting stuff…. Looks like I’m not alone…..

The “Impostor Phenomenon” was first identified in the late 1970s by Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes. Their researched showed that many high-achieving women tended to believe they were not intelligent and that they were over-evaluated by others.

People who have Impostor Syndrome “experience intense feelings that their achievements are undeserved and that they’re likely to be exposed as a fraud,” according to a report in the International Journal of Behavioral Science.

Psychologists first thought that Impostor Syndrome affected only professional women, but research has proved that men and women feel it equally. The profession you’re in doesn’t matter. It’s been found in college kids, academics, managers, and medical workers. Actual success doesn’t matter either.

According to the same report, “anyone can view themselves as an impostor if they fail to internalize their success.” ( Breena Keer,Why 70% of Millennials Have Impostor Syndrome, November,15, 2015)

A quick rundown of how impostor syndrome works. (Thanks Hustle). I’ve found discerning between amateurs and professionals can be helpful. Then, Farnam Street blessed my inbox with a post about that.

  • Amateurs stop when they achieve something. Professionals understand that the initial achievement is just the beginning.
  • Amateurs have a goal. Professionals have a process.
  • Amateurs think they are good at everything. Professionals understand their circles of competence.
  • Amateurs see feedback and coaching as someone criticizing them as a person. Professionals know they have weak spots and seek out thoughtful criticism.
  • Amateurs value isolated performance. Think about the receiver who catches the ball once on a difficult throw. Professionals value consistency. Can I catch the ball in the same situation 9 times out of 10?
  • Amateurs give up at the first sign of trouble and assume they’re failures. Professionals see failure as part of the path to growth and mastery.
  • Amateurs don’t have any idea what improves the odds of achieving good outcomes. Professionals do.
  • Amateurs show up to practice to have fun. Professionals realize that what happens in practice happens in games.
  • Amateurs focus on identifying their weaknesses and improving them. Professionals focus on their strengths and on finding people who are strong where they are weak.
  • Amateurs think knowledge is power. Professionals pass on wisdom and advice.
  • Amateurs focus on being right. Professionals focus on getting the best outcome.
  • Amateurs focus on first-level thinking. Professionals focus on second-level thinking.
  • Amateurs think good outcomes are the result of their brilliance. Professionals understand when outcomes are the result of luck.
  • Amateurs focus on the short term. Professionals focus on the long term.
  • Amateurs focus on tearing other people down. Professionals focus on making everyone better.
  • Amateurs make decisions in committees so there is no one person responsible if things go wrong. Professionals make decisions as individuals and accept responsibility.
  • Amateurs blame others. Professionals accept responsibility.
  • Amateurs show up inconsistently. Professionals show up every day.

For me, It comes down to celebrating all successes big and small. Another tactic I will try to make happen more often is understanding that all my successes are connected to a core set of capabilities and skills that allow for long term success. Having a bigger picture view of my capabilities and achievements will help put my impostor syndrome in check.

 

music

New Slaves vs The Story Of OJ

I was thinking of doing a long in depth analysis of the Story of OJ vs New Slaves, but the songs do a good job of explaining themselves.  Take a listen

 

Key points to ponder:

  • OJ Simpson, during his trial back in the day, mentioned that he didn’t identify as black. The irony is race was the focal point of his defense.
  • “Niggas” are a collective. No matter how you try to differentiate, niggas are still niggas. Jay-Z tries to activate the collective consciousness of the black plight. While I see what Jay is saying, the black population/experience in the US isn’t monolithic. While there are collective experiences (injustice, racism, etc) black people experience, there’s geographic, socioeconomic, educational, lineage differences that create a segmented reality. For example, I don’t have drug money and therefore cannot use it to buy the neighborhood. That’s a whole set of experiences I’m just not exposed to.
  • Jay tries to put people on game…. Buy assets that appreciate and don’t give in to the consumerist lifestyle/ trying to keep up with the Jones. To Jay, black people in America can only improve if they focus on asset acquisition.

Take a listen to New Slaves.

 

Key points from New Slaves:

  • Kanye is a very angry place when he made this album. This song is initially a moment of expression about his current challenges around engaging the fashion community. He feels like the gatekeepers of fashion don’t accept his ability to enter the space. So while the song has racial features, the ultimate struggle he’s arguing against is gatekeepers of consumerist culture.
  • Like I mentioned, Kanye invokes a lot of racial history and visuals. He makes a pivot into a larger audience in the first verse though; “Use to only be niggas, now everybody’s playing.” This differs from Jay’s approach as Kanye is speaking to a larger group than black people. He’s speaking to the power dynamic between consumers and corporations.
  • Kanye talks about all the other institutions that corporations own/run/influence and ultimately scheme to keep the status quo.
  • Kanye’s solution to fighting the man is to increase his voice, tear down walls/ misconceptions, and share with the world through his music. Oh yes, can’t forget sleeping with the mans spouses… I believe its a reference to the old slave masters fear of their spouses being raped by slaves and how its manifested presently in how black men are perceived in our society today.

The Story of OJ and New Slaves share a lot of the same imagery and messaging around slavery and racism. They both talk about power dynamics of the oppressed and the oppressor. Ultimately, they are reflection of Jay-z and Kanye and where they were in life. Jay has risen to prominence through flipping / selling value to his community. Not to put downplay Jay-z’s accomplishments, but he hasn’t done anything revolutionary.  Kanye, on the other hand, is less of a business person and more of a creative. He’s faced people, even Jay at times, that wanted him to stay in his lane (ex: as a producer). Kanye’s had to fight and prove his ability to gatekeepers at every point of his career. New slaves is a critique on institutions that prevent him from actualizing his creative potential.

music

Ranking The Best Rappers Of All Time: A Quantitative Approach

Everyone has a top 5 best rappers list. It normally looks like:

  1. 2pac
  2. Biggie
  3. Jay-z
  4. Eminem
  5. Nas

Give or take a few people… How does one arrive at a top 5 list to begin with?

Well, Rap Genius made a top 99 list , 2pac and Biggie took one and two respectively. Their metrics of evaluation were based off the 2015 billboard ranking  They made the list based on the following:

  1. The opinion of rapper’s; because who better to judge than other professionals?
  2. The opinion of the public; because it’s the largest population sample
  3. The opinion of critics; because they’re experts who put extra thought into it.

PinkCookies (a top rated user on Rap Genius) went through these categories and gave a rapper 10 points for being 1st, 1 point for being last or mentioned, factored in the number of appearances and came up with lists for each category. After a lot of informal interviews and messy math, they came up with their list (link up above).

I thought I’d take a more systematic approach in creating a list. The problem with the methodology above is people can easily name their top 10 but its tough after that. So I figured I’d come up with all the artist and then come up with categories to score from 1 to 10. From there, you could add the different parties to the mix ( rappers, public, and critics) but they’d have a more structured way of thinking about it which would most likely produce a radically different list from what they have now.

  • Longevity – How long have you been making music?
  • Discography – How many songs / albums do they have?
  • Underground Relevance – how well are they known by the connoisseurs of rap.
  •  Originality- Did they bring a new twist to rap? Do they have a style that’s theirs alone?
  • Concepts- Do they bring interesting concepts to life? Are their stories unique?
  • Versatility-  How well can the artist carry on a new style, use different beats and do things that are outside of their normal ability.
  • Vocabulary – How good is the artist vocabulary?
  • Substance- Are they saying anything worthwhile?
  • Flow-  How well can they put pars together and how long can they keep it going? Also could include speed in the conversation.
  • Flavor- Do they have that unique swag to their artistry that sets differentiates them from other rappers?
  • Freestyle- Ability to make things happen on the fly/ off the dome.
  • Vocal Presence- Can they hold a note or two?  
  • Live Performance- Can they carry a concert? How is their stage presence?
  • Poetic Value- How effective are they in using poetic structures in their writing/ music?
  • Industry Impact- How have they change the rap/music industry?
  • Social Impact- What has the artist done to impact the society.
  • Lyrics- What are they saying and how are they saying it?
  • Battle Skills –  Ability to beat other rappers in lyrical war

I figured I’d name a bunch of rappers from the beginning of rap until now and score it out. I hope by creating categories, I could be more inclusive to all types of rappers, people who are purely battle rappers and crossed over, those who have been in the game for a while vs those that were in it for a short time, and any other kind of group you can think of. One major challenge I foresee is my bias toward recent memory which could be mitigated by crowd-sourcing the list from people of all ages groups and taste.

What else should be included? I was thinking of using album sales/ ticket sales/ streaming data to evaluate but it’s tough to get your hands on that information.

Politics, Technology

Automated Justice: The Role of Artificial Intelligence In The US Justice System

(Quick crash course on what artificial intelligence is for those who might need a refresher.) 

According to this Hubspot article released a couple of weeks ago, here’s a list of jobs that they think will most likely be taken by artificial intelligence (AI) in the next few years.

  1. Telemarketers
  2. Bookkeeping Clerks
  3. Compensation and Benefits Manager
  4. Receptionist
  5. Couriers
  6. Proofreaders
  7. Computer Support Specialists
  8. Market Research Analysts
  9. Advertising Salespeople
  10. Retail Salespeople

Here’s a list of jobs I think AI will take in the next 10 years:

  1. Wealth advisers
  2. Lawyers
  3. Pilot
  4. Tax Auditor
  5. Truck Driver
  6. Taxi Drivers
  7. Investment Banker
  8. Doctors?
  9. Computer Programmer
  10. Musician

If  we get to the point we can depend on AI to take care of our health, transportation, taxes, money, and entertainment, why not go all the way and allow AI to enter areas of public institutions like our justice system? I thought I wouldn’t find much research on AI in the judicial system. It would be the one place AI dare not touch. Wrong.

Here’s an expert of an article from the Guardian. I’ts about 9 months old.

The AI “judge” has reached the same verdicts as judges at the European court of human rights in almost four in five cases involving torture, degrading treatment and privacy.

The algorithm examined English language data sets for 584 cases relating to torture and degrading treatment, fair trials and privacy. In each case, the software analysed the information and made its own judicial decision. In 79% of those assessed, the AI verdict was the same as the one delivered by the court.

The article goes on to say:

Dr Nikolaos Aletras, the lead researcher from UCL’s department of computer science, said: “We don’t see AI replacing judges or lawyers, but we think they’d find it useful for rapidly identifying patterns in cases that lead to certain outcomes.

“It could also be a valuable tool for highlighting which cases are most likely to be violations of the European convention on human rights.” An equal number of “violation” and “non-violation” cases were chosen for the study.

So it’s happening. There are people thinking, researching, and applying AI to judicial processes. Based on this particular simulation,  its not that far off either. At 79% of verdicts in alignment with human judge verdicts,  it will only get better and most likely serve as a qualifier/screening tool for cases that should be evaluated by human rights judges.

Dr. Aletras’ work seems very academic and more research focused with limited impact on the day to day European Human Rights Courts. Maybe in the future, they’ll be some application but not today.  That may be the case for AI as a judge but how about other parts of the judicial system?

Then, I came upon this article in the New York Times that discusses how AI already plays a significant role in the judicial process. It’s a couple weeks old. AI systems are used from everything to evaluating evidence like DNA and fingerprints, to deploying police officers in the most efficient manner. Here’s a quick story from one of the applications that shows one of the key challenges:

“Take the case of Glenn Rodriguez. An inmate at Eastern Correctional Facility in upstate New York, MR. Rodriguez was denied parole last year despite having a nearly perfect record of rehabilitation . The reason? A high score from a computer system called Compas. The company that makes Compas considers the weighting of inputs to be proprietary information. That force Mr. Rodriguez to rely on his own ingenuity to figure out what had gone wrong. 

This year, Mr. Rodriguez returned to the parole board with the same faulty Compas score He had identified an error in one of the inputs for his Compas assessment. But without knowing the input weights, he was unable to explain the effect of his error, or persuade anyone to correct it. Instead of challenging the result, he was left to try to argue for parole despite the result. “

Did Mr. Rodriguez deserve parole? Based on traditional parole metrics, yes. He has near perfect record of rehabilitation. Based on Compas, a private company that essentially tries to predict likelihood of recidivism based on “proprietary data” and “algorithms”, Mr. Rodriguez stood a higher than usual chance of coming back to jail and thought it would just make more sense to keep him there. Have you spotted the problem yet?

Oscar the Grouch - Garbage IN  Garbage Out

Back in the day, when I aspired to play point guard in the NBA, I would focus on shooting a ton of free throws. I thought if I could just get a high volume of free throws, I could increase my percentage. I was missing a ton of free throws and it didn’t look like shooting more was helping. It wasn’t until my eighth grade coach told me, ” Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.” I can shoot all I want but if I have garbage form, I’m just practicing garbage form and wasting my time. As most of you know, my basketball career ended in retirement in eighth grade, but that lesson has stayed with me and has ample significance to AI and machine learning.

In order to improve AI and machine learning algorithms, they must be trained by real data. Specifically in the justice system, companies will work with the state and federal government to train and develop all types of algorithms. The problem is these systems often compound societal and institutional realities they are supposed used to prevent. They may be trained with a high volume of data, but its just like me shooting with bad form.

Remember Mr. Rodriguez? Lets take a look at ProPublica’s evaluation of Compas’s Recidivism Algorithm to see if we can see if there are any insights into Compas’s performance.(Give it a read if you have a chance) Here’s the summary of their analysis:

“Our (ProPublica) analysis found that:

  • Black defendants were often predicted to be at a higher risk of recidivism than they actually were. Our analysis found that black defendants who did not recidivate over a two-year period were nearly twice as likely to be misclassified as higher risk compared to their white counterparts (45 percent vs. 23 percent).
  • White defendants were often predicted to be less risky than they were. Our analysis found that white defendants who re-offended within the next two years were mistakenly labeled low risk almost twice as often as black re-offenders (48 percent vs. 28 percent).
  • The analysis also showed that even when controlling for prior crimes, future recidivism, age, and gender, black defendants were 45 percent more likely to be assigned higher risk scores than white defendants.
  • Black defendants were also twice as likely as white defendants to be misclassified as being a higher risk of violent recidivism. And white violent recidivists were 63 percent more likely to have been misclassified as a low risk of violent recidivism, compared with black violent recidivists.
  • The violent recidivism analysis also showed that even when controlling for prior crimes, future recidivism, age, and gender, black defendants were 77 percent more likely to be assigned higher risk scores than white defendants.”

How interesting, the analysis from ProPublica looks like it mimics some of the realities we see in our justice system. This shouldn’t be surprising, the Compas algorithm was most likely trained using data from states that most likely have laws, procedures, convictions, and outcomes in place that disproportionately affects males, and people of color and people in urban areas. It most likely has data points from over-policed areas.

When we leverage AI and machine learning, for any industry, we have to make sure we don’t allow the flaws in our institutions to creep into the systems we develop. If we do, the solutions are causing more harm than good.

 

-ProPublica published the calculations and data for this analysis on github

#MentalNote, music, Uncategorized

1:48 Part II

When I initially started writing my thoughts around the new Jay-Z album, I was pretty set on what I wanted to say. ” 4:44 is a set of journal entries of a man that’s done a lot, made a lot of mistakes, seen success, but ultimately wonders how his actions, experiences, and family will be remembered.” Seems logical and sound based on the lyrics and explanation of each song. But there’s so much more, especially when you put 4:44 in the context of when it was released and the Jay-z that released it. We can over analyze it till kingdom come but I’m just going to focus on two areas that hit me based on other things I saw/read last week. (This ended being way longer than I thought it was going to be so I split it into two parts… this is part 2 of 2)

Dave McClure and Jay-Z defining masculinity? 

Earlier this week, Dave McClure, Co-Founder of 500 Startups, stepped down as GP due to multiple claims of sexual harassment from women founders and associates. As a huge fan of 500 Startups, their mission and outcomes, I was truly saddened by these allegations but not surprised. As most people know who’ve engaged with the Silicon Valley ecosystem, there’s a bro-ish culture still entrenched in how people do business which creates a sometimes hostile environment for women and minorities. Don’t get it twisted though, its not just Silicon Valley. I’ve heard similar stories from women in other sectors; the higher you go, the more questionable and outright disrespectful behavior you encounter. Why is it that some people in power, who often happen to be men, feel they are beyond moral and ethical parameters in how they engage with others? One of the key explanations I’ve heard in the recent week or so around sexual harassment in the VC space is there’s a “machismo/masculinity” problem that needs to be addressed and I agree. As a society, we have an outdated perspective on what masculinity encapsulates. Most men (and women) still operate on masculinity 1.0. As a result, we have guys chasing outdated ideas of masculinity that disenfranchises women and other men.

Masculinity 1.0 is purely focused on the three p’s; protection, providing, and pro-creation. Any student of history and biology understands the rationale and advantage in  providing the the three p’s to your family and tribe.  Make as many kids as you can, protect your lineage and your group, and provide food and shelter for those you are responsible for. Masculinity 1.0 got us to where we are now; 7 billion + people, weapons of mass destruction, and economic system allows us to trade currency for food and shelter.

Fortunately/ unfortunately (depending at how you look at it), we live in a time where we’ve built institutions to manage the key areas that define masculinity. For most in the developed world, the state takes care of security, you can go to the store and buy food instead of hunting, you don’t have to build your house, and sometimes men aren’t even needed for procreation. (Yes smarty pants, money has become an intermediary but hold off on that thought for now.)  What does masculinity look like now that we have most of the basic external threats covered?

4:44 surprisingly encompasses this same question but from Jay-z’s perspective. He’s experienced most of his life through the masculinity 1.0 lens. From his experience hustling, building his business empire, promiscuity…etc, he’s done what he’s done to get to what we see today. Will that take him to the next level though?  Kill Jay-Z kind of gets at this struggle between who his was and who he has to be now that he has a family and is focused on building legacy. What does masculinity 2.0 look like from Jay-Z’s perspective?

  1. Legacy – its an important theme throughout 4:44. I think Jay looks at providing from a societal and generational perspective. It’s less about his kids and more about his children’s children and lifting up those around him. Many would argue this is a function of his socioeconomic realities. I’d disagree.  The “7th generation” principle taught by many Native American tribes say that in every decision, be it personal, governmental or corporate, we must consider how it will affect our descendants seven generations into the future. Legacy is something everyone can think about.
  2. Courage- I don’t know if Jay-Z could have made this album earlier in his career. Outside of my feelings about spilling your own tea, it takes a lot of courage to open up about your shortcomings. I guess Beyonce may have given him some. Courage in the face of adversity and tough times is essential to being a modern man.
  3. Self Improvement/Expertise – Jay-Z shows us in 4:44 why he’s one of the G.O.A.Ts of the music industry. 13 albums in, he’s still making quality music. He’s perfected his craft overtime and become one of the best at it. Mastery and self improvement is at the core of masculinity 2.0. What are you doing every day to improve yourself and build mastery?
  4. Morality/ Predictable framework for how you operate – Jay, for better or worst ,lays out his sense of of morality and his perception on how he tries to live his life. Living by a code, set of rules, or framework helps de-risk relationships so people know you before they meet you. It also helps to navigate gray area situations.

Transitioning away from masculinity 1.0 to a more modern day appropriate definition of masculinity will provide a new set of traits, actions and characteristics for men to aspire to. I believe a transition will do its part to eradicate some of the toxic behavior and beliefs we see as common place.

#MentalNote, music

1:48 Part I

When I initially started writing my thoughts around the new Jay-Z album, I was pretty set on what I wanted to say. ” 4:44 is a set of journal entries of a man that’s done a lot, made a lot of mistakes, seen success, but ultimately wonders how his actions, experiences, and family will be remembered.” Seems logical and sound based on the lyrics and explanation of each song. But there’s so much more, especially when you put 4:44 in the context of when it was released and the Jay-z that released it. We can over analyze this till kingdom come but I’m just going to focus on two areas that hit me based on other things I saw/read last week. (This ended being way longer than I thought it was going to be so I split it into two parts..this is part 1 of 2)

Trauma/gossip sell for all the wrong reasons. 

My main man Vince Staples (I don’t know him like that but he’s definitely on my celebrity dinner invite list) did an interview with Ebro in the Morning last week. It’s a great interview ( I started it right in the middle but definitely watch the whole thing) but I want to focus on what he says early on. “For black people, we sell trauma. ” 

“I turned that 2 to a 4, 4 to an 8
I turned my life into a nice first week release date”

Jay-z The Story of OJ. 

Jay shared a lot of personal experiences that could definitely be described as traumatic for him or others in his life. He’s leveraged trauma and tea to go platinum in the first week on his own streaming music service and make a ton of money. He’s not the only artist that’s done it and won’t be the last, but there’s a certain air around the conversation especially with Beyonce’s miscarriages and his infidelity. I understand pain and tough times make for the best music, (Hello Mary J Blige) but there’s something about profiting from infidelity and the pain of others (even if they okay it) that doesn’t sit well with me. Somethings have to be out of bounds. But its for that exact reason 4:44 did so well. Yea, No I.D spazzed on the production and its nice to hear a rapper put some words together, but why do people find so much benefit from hearing about the worst parts of a celebrities life? Why do people like to see successful people fail or fall from grace?

 

 

Current Events, History, Holiday Weekend, music

Looking For America On The Fourth Of July

This is was supposed to post on the 4th but I scheduled for the wrong time. 

One of my favorite songs ever. It encapsulates the journey of an individual and their loved one (Paul and Kathy) as they journey across the United States and also serves as an analogy for the search of the American dream and ideals.

Volkswagen released a great commercial that used the song in the background of a story about an Irish family taking a vacation throughout America to fulfill the last wishes of their grandfather. (side comment…. Volkswagen is always on their advertising A game when it comes to giving the audience all the feels in their commercials. Does anyone know which agency VW uses?)

 

They had three generations of Americans in the new VW Atlas traveling across the US. Talk about an existential cake of thoughts, views, and experiences. The VW video and Paul’s song remind me we never may get a chance to see the best America has to offer but we owe it to those who came before us (mostly immigrants, slaves, and natives)  to continue the search and work toward a more perfect union for all.

Happy 4th of July!