Chris M. Lindsey

Father, Husband, Public Servant, Web Developer

Category: Quotes Page 2 of 4

Look in the mirror every morning

Great quote from Steve Jobs that I try to live by:

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Regular Exchanges of Ideas

We encourage you to engage us in regular exchanges of ideas or thoughts about approaches to curing or mitigating the hugely suboptimal political culture of the United States. Nothing less is required to pay homage to Valley Forge, Cemetery Ridge, Omaha Beach, and other places of great sacrifice.

Letter from Edward Snowden’s Father

Regular exchanges of ideas. This is what the debate over national security versus civil liberties seems to be missing.

Radical Transparency?

Since when is transparency a radical notion?

Citizenville, Gavin Newsom

Restlessness is Discontent

Restlessness is discontent — and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man — and I will show you a failure.

The Diary and Sundry Observations of Thomas Alva Edison (1948), p. 110

Great Article in Public Management

Great short story in Public Management, the magazine of the International City/County Management Association, by a village manager in Michigan. Read the whole article (if you can, it might be behind a paywall), but the part that strikes me:

The moral of the story is that most of our communities have faced tremendous challenges in recent years due to the economy. These changes have seen many hard choices made, often involving the reduction of staff and services. The needs of our communities, however, have not changed. In fact, they likely have grown.

I remind my staff that we are in the business of serving the public, and that we work for a company where everyone we interact with is an owner of that company. Everyone we deal with has value and is someone important who should command our full attention.

This is such an inspiration (it’s great to see I’m not alone in this mindset) and it is an honor to work in this field!

Challenge to Remake Our Government

From President Obama’s 2013 Inaugural Address:

We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time.  We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government…

Elon Musk on Process

Following up on my last post about Elon Musk, I’ve got another quote from the same article in Wired I want to share:

The problem is that at a lot of big companies, process becomes a substitute for thinking. You’re encouraged to behave like a little gear in a complex machine. Frankly, it allows you to keep people who aren’t that smart, who aren’t that creative.

This is one of the reasons startups can innovate so much. How do we get government to this point? In some situations, having a process is good. But I’ve seen it get to the point where employees don’t question anything – they just follow the process.

Elon Musk on Risk and CYA

Wired magazine is running a great series on Icons to celebrate their 20 year anniversary.

For November, they profiled Elon Musk, an entrepreneur associated with Tesla Motors, PayPal, and SpaceX. This quote really stuck out to me; he was talking specifically about building space rockets here, but I think we all see this:

So, yeah, there’s a tremendous bias against taking risks. Everyone is trying to optimize their ass-covering.

It’s sad, but that’s completely applicable to government. We have to create a culture in government that accepts risk and failure as a consequence of constantly improving.

I’ve got another quote from the same article I’ll post later.

Innovation is a Fight

Michael Lopp, writer of Rands in Repose, has a great piece on innovation. He’s writing about innovation at Apple (and the possibility Apple has stopped innovating), but the words are applicable across fields:

You came to expect a certain amount of disruption around [Scott Forstall] because that’s how business was done at Apple – it was well-managed internal warfare. Innovation is not born out out of a committee; innovation is a fight. It’s messy, people die, but when the battle is over, something unimaginably significant has been achieved.

I think people forget this this sentiment, that innovation is difficult. I know I tend to forget it. Hell, I work in government, try innovating there.

You need to grab hold of a project, define everything, and then put it on your shoulders and don’t stop pushing until you get there. And most of the time it feels like it’s only you pushing forward. I feel like innovating should be easier, especially in government. Why is there so much push back? There are a lot of reasons why innovating isn’t easy. A lot of excuses why it doesn’t get done – a lot are valid, and a lot are CYA. How do we work together and actually innovate?

The Need for New Tech in Voter Registrations

Canada, which already uses modern technology in this way, has 93 percent of its eligible citizens registered at a cost of less than 35 cents per voter to process registrations. By comparison, an in-depth study of one state found that Oregon taxpayers spent $4.11 per active voter in 2008 to process registrations and maintain a voter list.

Technology for a 21st Century Democracy. Scary.

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