Light Reading

With registration over, I finally had time to put a dent in my 600+ item RSS feed. I hit a Lifehacker trifecta. (Lifehacker is a web site that provides “Tips, tricks, and downloads for getting things done.” The founding editor is Gina Trapani, whose personal mission is to “build apps that try to change the world—or just make life easier.”)

Article number one in the daily trifecta is entitled, “Want to Be a Great Leader? Start Reading.” Follow the link if you want to read John Coleman’s take on how “deep, broad reading habits are often a defining characteristic of great leaders, and can catalyze insight, innovation, empathy, and personal effectiveness.” Do I hear cheering from our Humanities and English departments?

I am in the midst of interviewing candidates for a number of positions at the College, so I was intrigued by “The Hardest Job Interview Questions – And How to Ace Them.” A close reader will find the link that lists the toughest companies for which to interview. Tops on the list is McKinsey. I hear that our Reinvention team is using a modified McKinsey-style interview for team lead candidates. Could CCC make the list in the future? My favorite of the tough questions is “What questions do you have for me?” The question unearths candidates who want to understand if the position is a good fit for them, and vice versa. A question back at me about how this role fits in our overall strategy, or how we will measure the outcomes, shows thoughtfulness. Many squander the opportunity.

The last piece is entitled, “My Paleo Media Diet.” Given I spent a fair amount of time during registration away from my computer, phone or iPad, the author’s comments about the productivity of being disconnected hit home.

Happy Lifehacking.

Published by Don Laackman

Leader with non-profit, higher education, and private-sector consulting experience.

One thought on “Light Reading

  1. Cheers from here, Don. Hope you’re making progress on Infinite Jest.

    Regarding the value of reading literature in particular, in 2001, Mario Vargas Llosa made a lot of the same points that Coleman does in his piece, “Why Literature?” (available here:, Some of the ideas are similar enough that I wonder if Coleman read it once upon a time.

    This is my favorite part of the Llosa piece: “There is still another reason to grant literature an important place in the life of nations. Without it, the critical mind, which is the real engine of historical change and the best protector of liberty, would suffer an irreparable loss. This is because all good literature is radical, and poses radical questions about the world in which we live. In all great literary texts, often without their authors’ intending it, a seditious inclination is present.

    “Literature says nothing to those human beings who are satisfied with their lot, who are content with life as they now live it. Literature is the food of the rebellious spirit, the promulgator of non-conformities, the refuge for those who have too much or too little in life…good literature, genuine literature, is always subversive, unsubmissive, rebellious: a challenge to what exists…Even more than the need to sustain the continuity of culture and to enrich language, the greatest contribution of literature to human progress is perhaps to remind us (without intending to, in the majority of cases) that the world is badly made; and that those who pretend to the contrary, the powerful and the lucky, are lying; and that the world can be improved, and made more like the worlds that our imagination and our language are able to create. A free and democratic society must have responsible and critical citizens conscious of the need continuously to examine the world that we inhabit and to try, even though it is more and more an impossible task, to make it more closely resemble the world that we would like to inhabit. And there is no better means of fomenting dissatisfaction with existence than the reading of good literature; no better means of forming critical and independent citizens who will not be manipulated by those who govern them, and who are endowed with a permanent spiritual mobility and a vibrant imagination.”


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