Knowing and Whining

Steve pulled a couple of good quotes from Marc Cuban’s blog which might convince me to subscribe. It’s just so close to what I believe in and/or do naturally, he’s got to be right ;).

Most people won’t put in the time to get a knowledge advantage. Sure, there were folks that worked hard at picking up every bit of information that they could, but we were few and far between.

Indeed. I’m always surprised to meet people in a given field who don’t know all that much about their work. “Web integrators” or designers who still don’t know about web standards and tableless layouts, kind of bogles the mind. I’m not even talking about using the stuff, just having a minimum of knowledge about it. Good for my business but astonishing to my way of thinking.

I’ve always tried to know as much as possible about anything I’m interested in and it seems alien to me for someone not to do the same. Years ago I used to work in a hobby shop and I hated to be asked questions I didn’t know the answer to hated it. Still the same thing today and I’m floored when I do 45 minutes of research on, say, digial cameras and know more than the guy at Futureshop. What the fuck?

I think it’s more a personality trait than something you can decide on. When I was a kid I’d be irritated that my parents knew the names of all the actors when watching awards shows. I made a point to remember them as well. Absolutely pointless exercise but know I do the same with virtually everything. I hate to talk about stuff regarding my work and realize someone knows more. Hate it. Probably not healthy but that’s how I’ve gotten every job I’ve ever had; know more than the next guy.

On Whining

Whining is the first step towards change. Its the moment when you realize something is very wrong and that you have to take the initiative to do something about it. Sure, criticism usually comes along with the territory.

This is something I struggle with constantly. In case you haven’t noticed, I whine a lot. I try my best to cut the actual whining and just do the bits that are a “first step towards change” but it’s hard. Not only because it’s my natural tendency but also because people ’s threshold to what they consider you whining gets lower and lower.

Once people know you to whine, any comment you make, unless it’s 150% positive, can be twisted into “you’re whining again”. Like this last phrase, it’s more a statement than a whine but in face to face conversation, I know what the comment would have been.

The funny thing is that people actually know that in a lot of cases it’s just like Cuban says; a way to affect change, but their initial reaction is still “there he goes again with the whining”. If you take them aside after a meeting for example, they’ll admit those were good points but that’s not the first reaction.

At my last job my bosses would actually tell me to “arrête de chiâler” (quit whining) in meetings but at EVERY performance evaluation they told me to keep doing it, that it was important to have people who weren’t afraid to raise flags and try to have things run smoother. Not to pay attention when people seemed annoyed by it, that it was necessary. Every time.


julien May 27, 2006

I know I’m not exactly the guy to be talking here since you know so much more than I do, but this happens to even me. A week ago I found a layout for a professional web design company that had spacer GIFs in it. SPACER GIFS.

aj May 28, 2006

Re: clueless guys at future shop, i run into them all the time. It would almost be better to just have web kiosks set to epinions in the store, and just hire security guys to make sure people don’t swipe stuff…recently I was at a music store and I asked a simple question to the clerk (that I knew the answer to, but wanted confirmation) about some software and he totally gave the wrong answer. suivant next!

re: whining – I have to say I’m like that as well. I tend to play the devil’s advocate a lot to try to work out the potential pitfalls / bugs etc before anything gets in front of the public, and this can be anything from graphics to copywriting.

that said, If you can put a positive spin on it…make it a “yes and” instead of a “yes but…” then it’s easier to make it seem like less of a “personal” attack – some people relate a little too closely to their own ideas, as we all know.

Boris Anthony May 29, 2006

re: “Devil’s advocate”, great deconstruction of that creativity killer and how to tell him to go back to hell in this book
The Ten Faces of Innovation : IDEO’s Strategies for Defeating the Devil’s Advocate and Driving Creativity Throughout Your Organization

Whining is egotism: me me me, I, me. We all do it sometimes, key is to be aware of it and nip it in the bud. It just makes one look like a whiner, not a winner. ;)

What Cuban is referring to is complaining, or rather, expressing one’s malaise with thing. This requires sensitivity and an ability to properly communicate what the problem is. Not the same as whining, at all. :)

whining: “ohhhh nooooo woe is me ohhh why me? why this? why now? ohhh noooo.. why do these people do this? oohhh”

complaining: “the fact that this does this like this and that this person is doing this causes this situation, which is not good/bothering me/whatever/etc. Perhaps if you/we changed this/that/the other, it would ameliorate the situation.”

Patrick May 30, 2006

I always took whining to be just a “slangier” version of complaining. Scratch whining and insert complaining in the post then ;).

Ignite May 29, 2007

Loved the way you have explained whining… Very tempted to paste a few words from your post onto my blog.. so that i can read more often.

Comments closed