Joonas Pajunen

Read this first

Exploration and exploitation

“Should I explore something new, or exploit something I’ve found satisfying before?”

This is a valuable dichotomy and a mental model I’ve come across in a book called “Algorithms to Live By”, by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths.

We can position many endeavours within a spectrum, where one end is purely new experiences and the other consists of things we repeat. The things we repeat, we can either improve them or dilute their effect on us. That depends on the same dichotomy, but on a more granular level.

We start everything in exploration mode. In childhood, we try out different things until we can safely deduce something is worth doing again and again. Slowly, we build a collection of skills, habits, and customs that we can repeat and exploit.

In general, the older we get, the less exploration we do, and the more our exploits begin to define us.

Connections in the brain
When...

Continue reading →


Mimetic desire

Consider the following:

  • People want to be things, instead of do things or own things
  • People act in regards to (role)models, instead of goals
  • People imitate those models
  • The smaller the distance to the model, the easier it is to imitate and become similar
  • More imitation leads to less differentiation, which leads to envy, jealousy and tension within a group
  • Sacrifices of scapegoats release tension within the group
  • Hierarchies and immutable titles prevent sameness-generated tension within a group

The above points attempt to summarise a model called “mimetic desire”, coined by the French author Rene Girard, and somewhat popularised by the entrepreneur Peter Thiel.

I’ve come across Girard years ago and attempted reading “Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World”, but never got much out of it. Until lately, I came across this article Have a look to get a more exhaustive...

Continue reading →


role models

You can’t affect nature or nurture, but you can choose your role models. You can’t pick who your parents were, but you can choose whom you would have wanted them to be. These words of wisdom are often attributed to Seneca the Younger (I think), and probably to many others too.

I pick and choose some peoples’ traits and construct a sort of synthesis out of them. I know there is not a person who possesses only good characteristics, but I also acknowledge I don’t know anyone’s vices entirely either. So I tell myself these negative traits are always present and don’t hold myself up to some impossible standard.

The problem with perfect and virtuous characters is that they’re not that interesting. I find antiheroes or otherwise flawed characters the most compelling ones in fiction. Don Draper, Walter White, Joe MacMillan on TV. Likely all Chuck Palahniuk’s characters. Batman instead of...

Continue reading →


cato and his antics

I read a whole book about Cato the Younger. This is something I never imagined I would do. I can barely remember the character from HBO’s magnificent series Rome. I find that whole setting and era intriguing (~50 BC), with its Roman politics, warfare and some philosophical outputs. What’s cool is that we have some actual writings and a lot of first-hand information from that time.

What interests me about Cato is his commitment to Stoicism and morals as well as his perseverance in the toughest of circumstances.

Most importantly, he led an exemplary life according to a set of high standards. Sure, he did have a few weak stints when those standards might have bent a little, but all in all the recorded history tells a story of a remarkable man.

When commandeering a legion, he lived like a soldier, amongst his subordinates. He never let fame, fortune, or wealth rise to his head, and people...

Continue reading →


green problems, a teal umbrella

More about the organisational phases, on problems of the green mindset and how teal aims to fix them.

a reminder: red -> amber -> orange -> green -> teal

Numerous companies operate at the green level, and life, as well as work, can be fabulous in there. But there exist some problems there. A green organisation can reach a dead-end in tribalism. It often ends up as overly patriotic and soft inside.

The analogy of a family has a warm and fuzzy ring to it, but it also emphasises some of the problems that emerge from green thinking. A family member is someone who you are bound to by blood and the relationship of other family members. Hard facts and realities must sometime yield in front of emotions and psychological barriers. Business is seen as secondary to the family. Customers are not seen important enough. The green community is self-contained and bordered; it dwarfs the spread of...

Continue reading →


struggle

In “Tribe”, Sebastian Junger details, via several war-related stories, how our modern society lacks the meaning and community necessary for human well-being. The camaraderie, purpose and intensity found in and around war or conflict elevate people. Psychological problems, suicide, and isolation decrease during these times. Extracting from both soldiers and civilians, there seems to be something we can derive from these experiences, and perhaps better the dullness of our daily existence.

Junger is a journalist, who never fought in a war, but visited several war-torn areas. Still, he experienced PTSD and the accompanying panic attacks. There is a dichotomy between horror and extreme belonging during a war, where people experience the worst imaginable nightmares and best possible heroics, sacrifice, friendship and community. These two experiences mesh and the bundle, and are then...

Continue reading →


a yes is a no

Many of us have trouble not offering help to a friend apparently in need. Or trouble not participating in some mundane event. We become yes-men by default, and let others choose our activities for us. We develop a fear of missing out. But saying yes to one thing is a no to something else.

Too many projects. Too many hobbies. A todo-list for miles. Too much shit to do and too many fucks to give. Agreeing to everything suggests that prioritisation is broken. The available effort allocated with existing ventures diminishes with each new adventure.

on prioritisation

Saying a tentative yes often can be useful. The idea is to try things out and find the most useful or fun stuff, and then continue with those. We should never lock down on things for the rest of our lives, as that leads to sunken costs. Abandon the ventures that proved less exciting you expected. But by all means, do seek...

Continue reading →


communication between cultures

When traditional/hierarchical organisations interact with flat ones, problems arise. Both have their styles of communication and procedures for interaction. There is some hope though, as members of flat ones’ generally know about the olden ways, and flat hierarchies appear in many natural arrangements. The difficulty lies in mindset and a lack of perception.

The traditional approach is to contain the interaction mainly between managers, while the actual work is done “below” by the experts or craftsmen. The flat approach is that everyone can interact with a customer, and no one manages the communication by default. If a need arises, someone can fill the role of a communicator.

Ever so often, the greatest problem in between the traditional and the “advanced” companies, is an interaction dilemma. The worst problems I’ve seen were between companies with of hierarchical structures and the...

Continue reading →


teams, organisations, and the like

The history of human organisations are often divided into phases, and many of us are experiencing a phase-change. Even though we have classifications and categories, the world as we know it contains all the phases in some area or group. People have the capacity to regress to primal and crude behaviour, or emerge as modern and sophisticated members of groups.

Violence and power based organisations, or rather groups and bands dictated most of human history. Militaristic, hierarchical and rule-based institutions governed most of our recorded history. Capitalistic, performance and accountability based organisations rose during and after the industrial revolution. Work of masses needed management.

Employer engagement and culture-first type of organisations are the goal for businesses these days. The next phase gives rise to a more fluid arrangement, where roles and positions come and go...

Continue reading →


the daily mundane

There exists a disturbing desire of losing everything, and then having nothing to lose. A subconscious need of minimalism. To combat the quotidian dullness, we often develop unintelligent and sometimes dangerous behaviour patterns.

In a movie called A Scanner Darkly, with perhaps some screenwriting liberties by Richard Linklater, these words were written by Philip K. Dick, and eventually spoken by Keanu Reeves:

Bob Arctor: The pain, so unexpected and undeserved had for some reason cleared away the cobwebs. I realized I didn’t hate the cabinet door, I hated my life… My house, my family, my backyard, my power mower. Nothing would ever change; nothing new could ever be expected. It had to end, and it did. Now in the dark world where I dwell, ugly things, and surprising things, and sometimes little wondrous things, spill out in me constantly, and I can count on nothing.

They struck some...

Continue reading →