Can We Apply The “No Asshole” Rule to The Road?

I’m an even-keeled guy.  I’ve learned through years of high-pressure situations to think twice, be empathetic, not over-react, etc…  Don’t get me wrong, I can go off with the best of them, but I’m also quick to apologize and try to learn from my own responses.

None of this applies to driving.  In my world-view, every single driver outside of the vehicle in which I reside is basically an internet troll attempting to ruin my day.  The sheer magnitude of the rampant stupidity I see is surpassed only by the arrogance of those self-same drivers who are convinced that they are “doing it right.”  ‘Oh, you don’t want to use this exit-only lane that’s a mile long to scoot in front of all the cars to your left?  You’re an idiot.’  I suspect my prisoner’s dilemma diatribe would fall on deaf ears, particularly since they’ll be a mile in front of me actually creating the traffic jam as they merge back into traffic from their departing lane.

We are human, and we make truly poor decisions.  Someone cleverer than I can probably connect how our post-savannah adaptations cause us to make these decisions which made a ton of sense while jogging through a field and are now truly execrable at 65 (who are we kidding, 80) MPH.  My simple and heartfelt response to that explanation would echo Tommy Lee Jones in the Fugitive – making the same face – “I don’t care.”

We can’t see the impact that our small decisions make on the broader network, in this case of roads.  We cut someone off, they over-correct and slow down, BOOM – accordion time.  You know what *can* see – and predict – the result of those actions?  Learning Models.  AI.  They can also smooth them out, and of course avoid them altogether.

I don’t want to get hung up on the mechanics of how we’re going to get there – it will be fraught, people will raise legitimate concerns around safety, ethics, freedom, and we will need to address all of them and then some.  A very good friend of mine who is a savvy technologist called me a fascist for taking the position I’m attempting to layout here, and that caught my attention.  If I say I believe that humans should be out of the decision-making processes in driving, am I getting into some vehicular version of the 2nd amendment?  Is freedom to drive an inalienable right?

We (the royal “we” here, I of course would never do any of this) drive drunk, distracted, while tweet-chatting, frustrated, tired, angry.  We drive as teenagers, we drive fast and slow, we miss exits and try not to miss them at the last second.  We become incandescent with rage at someone who we are certain has planned the exact moment of their lane-change to ruin our entire fucking day.

We make terrible decisions for terrible reasons, and we can’t possibly understand the impact those decisions have outside of the cubic meter of space we control.  We should stop doing that.  I envision a world where the bulk of the decisions made are done so to optimize traffic and safety.  To take better advantage of our existing infrastructure and get more people getting where they need to go faster and more safely.  To ensure that emergency vehicles can get where they need to go seamlessly, and reduce the need for those emergency vehicles to spend time on traffic accidents.  Ultimately I see no need for humans to have any control whatsoever – but some progression is almost certainly called for to get to that point.

Let’s put the assholes in the back seat where they belong.  When we drive, we are all assholes.

Onboarding

My company hires a good number of people each year.  “Back in the day” we would all spend several weeks in Seattle at Corp HQ, go to a cooking school, do a bunch of training and it was pretty cool.  We all had a shared experience that we could connect around for years (or decades) to come.  In the intervening years a range of approaches have been attempted, but we’ve settled on the idea of Onboarding for all employees and another program we call Ignition for people we’re hiring straight out of school.

In my new role I own a lot of the decisions and processes around hiring, and I care a lot about retention – so I’m very interested in our onboarding experience.

I’m sure I’ll come back to this topic, so I won’t belabor all the things we’re thinking about, but the biggest issue I want to fix is the quality of our presenters.  I received some stark feedback about the quality of our executive presenters who present at our onboarding sessions.  The feedback was that some of our presenters basically read from the PPT (the content of which is pretty dull – and, you know, PPT) and had really low energy.

I view presentation skills as a core competency of mine – I enjoy it, I’m good at reading the room, and I’m comfortable going off-script.  I appreciate that this is not the case for everyone, but it’s interesting that we tend to assume someone relatively far along in their career is going to be a good presenter.  This is manifestly not the case.

I’m just starting to think about this, but we need to re-energize and improve the quality of our presenters. In my perfect world I could do an America’s Got Talent-style approach and select only those that can blow the doors off.  I suspect, however, that’s my ego talking, and want to explore other options.  Certainly some level of vetting, combined with some high-value training and interaction to help our presenters continue to improve.

120 Degrees in Palm Springs

I have a tip that can take 5 strokes off anyone’s game: it’s called an eraser
— Arnold Palmer

Hole 1 - Par 4, 377 Yards

I’m in Palm Springs with my fiancée who, along with her sister, is preparing for the LPGA Qualifying school which will take place here next month.  I played 18 holes with them on Sunday and then promptly died.

It was 110 degrees, and the cart guy told me “at least you won’t be playing when it’s really hot.”  The girls will play the next 3 days across two courses, and while it is beautiful country, I feel like this whole area should be blocked off or quarantined.  The heat is just insane – coming here from 7300 feet in Colorado is like going from rolling around in the snow and running back into the hot tub, only terrible.

I’m terrible at golf – it’s not a sport that consumes me the way it does many others, but I enjoy it, and everyone in my fiancée’s family plays in college or professionally.  It turns out this works really well – if you’ve ever seen a puppy wander into a scrum of full-grown dogs, they usually exit unscathed while the adults are aware of but effectively ignore the pup.  This is my experience with world-class golfers as I bumble along happily taking several clubs with me into the woods as the pros play their Drive/wedge strategy which is severely lacking in the creativity that I believe my (topped) Driver, (shanked) 5-iron, (left) 7-iron and STUCK THE LANDING wedge progression brings to the game.  That’s my approach on a Par 4 of course, don’t get me started on the marathon that is a long Par 5.

The good news is I have a great WiFi connection, a pool, and people I like being with so this is working out just fine.