So much noise and fuss for a little ice cream

The other night I finally made it to Pasadena’s Ice Cream Lab.

ice-cream-lab

In their own words:

Ice Cream Lab’s idea revolves around the molecular gastronomy cooking concept, utilizing liquid nitrogen as the style of preparation to instantly freeze different natural ingredients into ice cream. The type of ice cream has come to be known as “Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream”, and is notably more flavorful than typical manufactured ice cream, primarily due to its preparation process. In using fresh and natural ingredients to create the ice cream, there is no need for artificial coloring or preservatives that are used to make normal ice cream.

I thought it was fun, and I guess it did taste like a $5 ice cream.

ice-cream-lab-logo

The aspirant to the middle class will never make it in LA

MakeIt01New LA Weekly article: The 10 People Who Won’t Make It in Los Angeles. Since I’m shopping for a new apartment here in the greater Northeast Los Angeles region, #5 on the list of people who will never make it here sounded just about right:

5. Aspirants to the Middle Class

“I just want to plug in, settle down, and contribute to my 401k,” says this kind of asshole. Get over yourself Ozzie and/or Harriet. This is the city to succeed wildly, or fail spectacularly — often both. There is no warm center, no extra helpings of milquetoast, and there certainly no khakis with blue blazers here. You want to be all staunchly middle class and middle America and what-not? Take that shit to San Diego. There are only bridge-sheltered hovels or 20-room mansions here, nothing in between.

Ok, ok, I know, I know, it’s not that bad. But it sure feels like it when you’re checking out some of these cheap apartment complexes around here.

“The way it is” or the “way it should be”

This is my blog, so allow me to air my sole weird quirk: for the past five years or so, I just can’t fall asleep without listening to Steven Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I know it sounds like I’m making it up or it’s it’s an exaggeration, but it’s not. I actually took an old pair of iPhone headphones and cut off one side so the other side would stop bothering me as I fell asleep listening to Dr. Covey.

When the sun’s up, however, I listen to lots of other people too, such as Anthony Valadez on KCRW. Valadez is one of KCRW’s many amazing DJs and one of my favorites; he’s got the perfect LA energy on air. And he posts cool stuff off air too. One of his tweets asked this:

Valadez’s tweet seems like just a casual, fleeting thought or a reaction to something that he might have overheard at some restaurant on the Eastside or something. But it’s actually a profound question that probes more deeply than one’s ability to have a voice in the big issues like race, or Ferguson, or Gaza, or poverty, or the price of a gallon of gas.

I think Valadez’s question goes to the day to day little injustices we see all around us. And I don’t think Dr. Covey really has a direct answer. On the one hand, Covey would remind us that there are two concentric circles: the circle of influence and the circle of concern (the former is usually contained within the latter). He would remind us not to waste energy beyond our circle of concern by not being overly reactive to external forces, like Ferguson — or even something pedestrian like why there’s a bunch of “red tape” when we need to bring some open source software package into the enterprise.

But really I don’t think that would be the end of Covey’s conversation with Valadez.

I want to think that Covey’s answer might be something like I gave to Valadez on Twitter. I said, “I’ve got small kids, so step one is to teach them courage. Then we’ll get to the latter.” What I meant by that is that you have to consider your principles first, then figure out how to act on them. While not stated, surely one of the levers of Covey’s “circle of influence” would be the extent to which you have the courage to act on your other principles. Surely that would naturally give you — or hopefully my kids — a much bigger circle of influence, so maybe my kids will have the circle of influence to not only refuse to accept “the way it is” but to actually change the status quo in the process.

In the world of consulting, where I am, it’s more nuanced than just having the “courage” to starkly your mind, speak the “truth,” or to be the “loudmouth” (as so many on Twitter compete to be), however. I’m contrasting myself with the prototypical activist on the street with a megaphone. While it surely takes a species of courage to be that person, the megaphone activist’s circle of influence will either (1) shrink rapidly or (2) fail to grow in sensitive political environments like Corporate America.

So where is the balance in consulting or professional services in the corporate world, generally? The majority of my peers would probably agree that clients ostensibly hire consultants like me to get them from their perceived point A to a perceived better place called point B, at least in technical engagements.

But I think they hire a lot more than just capabilities and technical prowess. I believe they hire confidence. They hire guarantees of execution. They shift risk. So to do my job — to deliver on those promises — means that I have to sometimes, sensitively and selectively, draw a distinction between the way it is for a client and the way I believe it should be. A megaphone would be so much easier.