Trying to trust

I was brainstorming with BDT’s coach (yes, we call her Coach), and she mentioned the importance of feeling like you can trust everyone in your group. And that totally reminded me of a bunch of stuff I’ve learned about trust over the past years! So this week’s post is about Trust.

Ross Smith, a Director of Test at Microsoft, took a bunch of theories about trust and now regularly puts them to the test. I had the good fortune of working in his organization for a short time, and it was pretty amazing to see the transformation he achieved in a short period of time. Ross is tricky. He uses crowd sourcing and game techniques to improve results. In other words, he turns things into games that encourage people inside and outside his organization to play and compete. The genius of it is that people end up spending extra time on projects that they aren’t even responsible for–because it’s so fun and personally rewarding for them.

Here’s an article about when Ross first created a game framework that encouraged trust behaviors inside his group. Click the link, and then first scroll down to Benefits and Metrics and read that dense paragraph. Here’s an example of some of the results:

“Our retention numbers were 20% to 50% higher than our historical numbers”

“We saw between a 10% to 60% improvement in productivity, as measured by a number of different metrics”

Okay, now go back and read that dense article to learn the specifics. Since we’re talking about software here, it was all done in a systematic way that he could measure. Out of the process, his group came up with a list of 150 trust building behaviors that they would track and turn into a game.

In another interview, Ross lists the sources of his inspiration on Trust. Scroll down to the very bottom of the interview for the list of sources.

So as musicians in a band with a couple members, we probably don’t have to be all systematic and scientific about it. My only reason for linking to those interviews is to build the case that organizational trustworthiness has been measured and it’s a huge pile of awesomeness. You can even take the next logical step: an increase in productivity should help make an increase in income. Of course income doesn’t matter so much if you’re stressed out and burned out–but again the numbers show that happiness increases just as much on average.

So it’s pretty clear that Trust is going to make a significant impact on the success of your band.

And by the way, back when I was working for Ross, he created the environment that produced a tool called the Conversation Analyzer. It analyzes your IM conversations (using a communications program called Lync) for trust building language, and gives you a score. You can track how you progress toward being someone who is trustworthy and encourages trust building.

Now, go back to that list of 150 trust building behaviors and actually take a look at it. It’s something we could spend the rest of our lives working on. So, in addition to everything else we’re working on, let’s just spend the next year focusing on maybe one or two off that list. And then move to the next, and so on. As the data shows, we’ll be happier and more productive.

August news, 2013

I’m looking forward to doing some new things in the upcoming months.

I’ve been putting together a set with a group of good friends and we’ll likely start playing some shows in November. Stay tuned for some announcements. I’m really happy with the direction this group is taking. I get to focus on playing some rock in a more subtle and mature way, and I’m really proud of the music we’re making.

Related to that group, I’ve been putting together Spotify playlists of music both new and old. Just different tunes that I’ve been listening to, as I think about how to approach this new project. When I gather enough songs, I’ll post the playlist on the next Monday. There may be some clues about what we will sound like. I hope you enjoy the playlists too. Spotify has a web player now, so I don’t think you have to install anything anymore if you don’t want to. The latest playlist is there already, but I won’t be posting the link on facebook until this Monday.

I’m also sitting in with a Klezmer group, the Debaucherantes, so stay tuned for a date or two with them. Looking forward to that!

Gamer Jam is set to continue, even though we announced that it was over. Sean is just too busy, but the rest of us want to keep it going. Let me know if you have any ideas!

As you know, Shiplosion is winding down. Our last show is in the woods at the end of the month. And Bucharest Drinking Team continues strong! It’s amazing to look back over how far we’ve come over the past couple years, and we have so many more great ideas!

Lots of fun stuff. I hope to see you around sometime real soon. Check out my calendar for dates. Thanks for reading this blog! As always, let me know what you think, or anything else that’s on your mind.  –Kai

Music recommendations, August 10, 2013

Well, I wasn’t able to articulate any deep thoughts this week. So instead, it’s time for some new music recommendations!

Skies Below -This is a metal band from here in Seattle, that includes the drummer from the late Consulate. They are in the studio right now at Magnets Large & Small, so keep an eye out for their debut album. I think this is a new band to watch. Maybe check out their next show? I couldn’t find anything about them online yet, other than facebook. But their description, “heavy mellow”, is apt.

Thine — The duo just finished mixing their first album, but it’s not quite out yet. You can find some previews on soundcloud. This is another project involving the prodigious Stuart Dahlquist. If you’re aware of his other projects, Burning Witch, Asva, Sun O))), etc, then you might find this to be a little more accessible. I think fans of Kao Dot would be interested, as well as Asva fans. Thine has that signature Dahlquist organ sound–so hypnotically minimal and so stunningly colorful. Then add the lush voice of Joel RL Phelps. I don’t know how to categorize this, but perhaps you could include the Norwegian group, Ulver. The dynamics are all over the map, and often kicking into a groove at rare and distinct moments of resolution. But more often than not, the music is rubato and full of suspense.

Asva — this isn’t a new band, but I’m pretty excited that they are releasing a live album soon. Go and try to preorder it.

Free Salamander Exhibit — Members of Sleeptime Gorilla Museum have started afresh. I just caught them tonight in Seattle at the Mix. They are prog, but with heavy influences of funk, wicker, and burlap. It’s very heavy, very abstract and modern, and very entertaining to see live. I caught their 3rd show ever, so you still have a chance to hook up with their tour somewhere.

Update: How could I leave this out?? Kao Dot is coming out with a new album, Hubardo. You can pre-order it, so go do that. I pretty much agree with the NPR review, so I won’t be reinventing the wheel. Suffice to say, this is a group that plays with dynamics, concepts of time, textures, and colors. Expect pleasant surprises.


Trying to get along with others

There is a book that fundamentally changed my point of view.

Dale Carnegie wrote this book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, back in 1936. The link goes to Wikipedia, which basically summarizes what every chapter is about. Looks like a series of blog posts doesn’t it? Just think, he wrote this in the previous century and had it figured out already.

If you are a musician, you must buy this book and read it. From the title you might think that it’s one of those cynical get rich quick schemes that teaches you how to turn people into your servants through mind control. But it’s quite the contrary. It’s about how to understand people so that you can treat them the way they want to be treated and so that you can give them what they want to be given. Quite a noble endeavor, actually. In return, they give you the same. It’s a win-win.

And I don’t recommend this book so that you can win a bunch of fans and maximize profits.

Instead, I recommend this book because it taught me how to successfully navigate rooms full of inflated egos, including my own, with selfish goals without any predetermined organizational structure. I happily include myself in this group, seeking my own overblown dreams of individual success, like any other musician, and this book helped put the social dynamics in perspective so that I would be at peace here and so most interactions would be chill and productive.

I say this as if I’ve succeeded in becoming some kind of monk. Far from the truth. But, I see the path to follow now, and I am seeing tangible results as I stumble along. It’s really amazing.

You must read this book if you are a musician. It has withstood the test of time. It’s a book you will reread once a year for the rest of your life. Do it.