Synergy – Ruth Benedict style

Synergy gets used most frequently as a term for the upside of integrating two entities or efforts in such a way that the sum is more than the parts.

For example, the merger of two companies might leverage one companies operational excellence with the marketing prowess of the second company to the benefit of both.

It’s useful to have a word for that but that’s not how I remember Ruth Benedict using the term. Continue reading “Synergy – Ruth Benedict style”

Hygge – might be a useful word

Not quite a word for taking pleasure in a group effort, but perhaps a pointer in the right direction.

From Americans don’t need more money to be happier—they need to be like Denmark in Quartz online magazine, 3/22/18 –  Marie Helweg-Larsen
Professor of Psychology, Dickinson College

Danes have a stable government, low levels of public corruption, and access to high-quality education and health care. The country does have the the highest taxes in the world, but the vast majority of Danes happily pay: They believe higher taxes can create a better society.

Perhaps most importantly, however, they value a cultural construct called “hygge” (pronounced hʊɡə). Continue reading “Hygge – might be a useful word”

A Paucity of Words

What’s wrong with this picture?

Plutchik Wheel of Emotions
Plutchik Wheel of Emotions

This diagram above is from a course on user interaction design.  The teaching:

Motivation is tied to emotion. (Agreed.)

It’s important to understand that when designing user experience. (Agreed.)

And here are all the relevant emotions in one useful diagram! (Agreed…until I started thinking about it.)

Continue reading “A Paucity of Words”

Slicing Pie – ‘The Chart’ at Enterprise Scale

Chicago entrepreneur, Mike Moyer, has been refining his Slicing Pie system for the past decade or so. (I’ve used it. It works.)

The gist is that you assign equity in a startup dynamically based on a simple principle of fairness. Continue reading “Slicing Pie – ‘The Chart’ at Enterprise Scale”

A Few More Words – Part 1

I started my search for by looking for words that might fit the bill in other languages. I’d enjoyed reading Howard Rheingold’s They Have a Word for It: A Lighthearted Lexicon of Untranslatable Words and Phrases and wondered if there was an equivalent dealing specifically with emotions. There was: The Book of Human Emotions: From Ambiguphobia to Umpty — 154 Words from Around the World for How We Feel by Tiffany Watt Smith, a research fellow at the Center for the History of the Emotions, Queen Mary University of London.

Watt Smith lists all words she considers as defining distinct emotions. There are a number of relevant ones in languages other than English. I’ll get to those below. But first, let me quote at length from the last relevant entry, Warm Glow. (Emphasis mine.)

Continue reading “A Few More Words – Part 1”

The Chart – Keeping the Peace in Group Households

(Relatively) Easy Group Living: The Chart vs Keeping Count

I’ve lived with groups of people my entire life. Currently (at age 65) my wife and I live in a house with another couple and the last of the three ‘kids’, our son, Griffin, in his early 20s. We bought the house together some 25 years ago. This is not two flats. It’s one house with one kitchen, 2 master bed rooms and 3 other bedrooms plus living room, dining room, family room, and library.

Living with groups of people can create some conflict…most often around household chores. Thirty five years ago we figured out The Chart. It was a break-through!

Continue reading “The Chart – Keeping the Peace in Group Households”

5 to 20 Minutes a Month – Organize Hikes: Walking and Talking


It’s a great way to build community. In addition, it has significant health benefits to everyone that joins in:

The smart move is to combine them all.

Continue reading “5 to 20 Minutes a Month – Organize Hikes: Walking and Talking”

10 Minutes a Month – Easy Tribal Potluck Dinners

Why potlucks?

Potluck dinners scale. More people showing up = more food. Sharing food and conversation is the keystone tribal/family activity.

I started organizing potlucks my last few years in college. I’d make a huge pot of beans for veggie burritos. The only rule: no one could take leftovers home. We’d eat for the rest of the week.

Simplest: Anarchist Potluck

  • Set a day, time, and location.
  • Invite people.
  • Refuse to offer suggestions or coordinate what folks bring.
  • If everyone brings salad, order pizza.

Continue reading “10 Minutes a Month – Easy Tribal Potluck Dinners”

the Read Me post – Introduction and Table of Contents


The contents here can be divided into three groups:

  1. Tools for strengthening the tribe, i.e. ones connections to family and friends.
  2. Tools for building bridges. How do you communicate with our right- wing uncle or, if you’re the right wing uncle, your left-wing nephew.
  3. An attempt to develop a lexicon for the emotional underpinnings of cooperation and altruism.

There’s a more detailed Table of Contents below or you can click the category in the side panel to see all articles.

Why does this website exist?

Continue reading “the Read Me post – Introduction and Table of Contents”