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Hello all—
After some hot and sticky in Philly this past week, I have to say that it’s good to cool down. While it felt like summer here, I was returning to a non-summer job that I have with kids who have lost their caregivers to sickness, suicide or other violence—mostly 10 year old, 5th grade boys—that started again on Wednesday. It feels odd when the seasonal and work cycles don’t seem to jibe. So I guess I’m taking back my suggestion about enjoying the warm days while we have them. I'm thinking it’s time for fall.
With that in mind, the shorter news items this week are about an extraordinary educational initiative in India; how travel conversations change both the visitors and the locals; how playing with perception can make safer drivers; and a perfectly-captioned picture about credentials and work. The longer values@work piece in the middle profiles an outsider who has been very busy changing how we'll all be doing business in the not-so-distant future.
1.         School for Justice
Last Tuesday, the Global Association of Creative Advertising and Design handed out their D&AD Awards to 15 advertising campaigns that they felt had changed the world in the past year. The awards are to recognize ad agencies whose transformative ideas “have had a real impact and, ultimately, contribute toward a better and more sustainable future in which purpose is aligned with profit.”
Prizes, in the form of oversized pencils, are awarded in 12 categories, ranging from environmental sustainability to financial empowerment and humanitarian aid. This year, a black pencil—for game-changing work--went to ad agency J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam for an extraordinary campaign called School of Justice. You can see one of their ads from that campaign here.
The School of Justice campaign was launched to support a program in India that sends young women who were child prostitutes to law school where they become prosecutors who will one day bring those involved in child prostitution to justice. The program is called “Free a Girl India.”
Who could be more motivated to seek justice than these young women? Who could be more in need of a path from victimhood to empowerment?  Who could be more driven to end this kind of exploitation and change their country forever? It is hard to imagine a more powerful connection between values (such as autonomy and generosity) and work. 
India has more under-age sex workers than any other country on earth. By one estimate, it has more than 2 million prostitutes. Another estimate puts the number at 10 million. (That there is no more accurate count speaks to India's shameful neglect of this tragedy until now.) Many prostitutes are young girls—some as young as 8 or 9—and The School of Justice campaign is ultimately about them.

You can see a longer video about Free a Girl India here. It includes the unforgettable line: “They started it. I will put an end to it.”
2.         First impressions, all around
This is a lighter news item, but equally impactful. It’s about how traveling to a new place changes not only the travelers but also the locals who interact with strangers who are experiencing their home for the first time.
Liam Heneghan, the author of a beautiful essay about these encounters, is an Irish-born professor teaching in Chicago who takes groups of his American students back to his home country during the summer.  His students often get their first impressions of Ireland on the bus from the airport, this year overhearing a young Irish boy rapping (badly) to Kendrick Lamar. While Heneghan was unimpressed, the Americans huddled into a discussion about it “with a fervor typically reserved for matters of greater significance.”  As he kept watching them, he noticed that his students were always paying their closest attention “to the little things.”
“This heightened and delighted attention to the ordinary, which manifests in someone new to a place, does not seem to have a name,” Heneghan realized.  “So I have given it one: allokataplixis (from the Greek allo meaning “other,” and katapliktiko meaning “wonder”).”
His essay first describes what “his tourists” see about Ireland:

"Almost everything draws them in.  In the city, they never choose to stay downstairs on the bus—there’s just too much to see from the upper deck. Marvelous to them also is the slight smell of salt in the air when you arrive in Dublin, the raucousness of seagulls crying overhead, the low-rise and higgledly-piggledy appearance of the city’s architecture, the garrulousness of the people, the little fossils embedded in the bridge that spans the pond in St. Stephen’s Green, the 99 Flake ice-cream cones, the inclination of Irish people to traditional music, the almost unfathomable reverence in the west for ulleann pipers, the omnipresence of sheep on hilly tracks of land, the unhealthy deliciousness of Tayto crisps, the intense greenness of the vegetation, the yellowness of the butter, the perennial greyness of the sky, the presence of poets—actual poets—in the streets Martellow towers, walled gardens, the frankness about matters of mortality, the way the elderly habitually cross themselves as their bus lurches past the churches, the vat-loads of tea consumed, the vat-loads of stout consumed, the strangeness of Ireland’s youthful drinkers hailing Budweiser as a premier beer, the national addiction to sweets, the quantity of dog shit left to gently steam in the thoroughfares, the medical acumen of pharmacists in “Chemist” shops, the casual insults that friends sling at one another, the extravagant length of the midsummer’s day, the gorgeousness of the sun setting on the Atlantic viewed from the beaches of the west, the melancholy slopes in County Kerry that were abandoned during the famine and so on." 

Then he describes what the tourists and natives see together.

"There is of course, so much to learn when any of us visit a place for the first time and it would be easy to assume that information passes in one direction only, from the host nation it its guest. Yet over the years that I’ve been bringing students to Ireland, I’ve observed that their thirst for fresh experience is contagious. It oftentimes brings out the best in people. A tourist generally has an eye for the things that, through repetitive familiarity, have become almost invisible to the resident. What is revealed need not always be congenial of course—visitors can make the resident aware of the shortcomings of their home: litter in the streets, poor service, even troubling cultural attitudes such as xenophobia.  A tourist can stir within us a recognition of both the delicious strangeness of mundane things and our own unseemly peccadilloes."

This other-wonder has an intimacy that leaves both wonderers—tourist and native—more awake and surprised. It may be the best reason to get out of our lives and travel to someplace new. It’s why some vacations from work are so refreshing. And now someone has named that tonic. Allokataplixis. Other-wonder.
( Heneghan’s essay appeared  in Aeon on September 18, 2017. The excerpts above are published here under the Creative Commons. )
3.         Balaji says: your work is about to change forever
A successful career means actively imagining your future work and then committing yourself to get ready for it. Doing so can foster the quality of mind that enables you to stand apart from the stream of daily impressions and glimpse the kinds of changes that are forecasted by small innovations. I’m telling a part of Balaji Srinivasan’s story in this values@work space because he has that quality of mind and is currently making the jump from a small innovation to what he's called “the most important invention since the internet.” What he is imagining could change the nature of our work forever.
A couple of weeks ago, one of this newsletter's items was about how relatively simple innovations like paper and barbed wire can change future work when pared with new technologies like Gutenberg’s printing press (mass communication) or the transcontinental railroad (taming the American frontier). Today, having a simple bar code (with your credit card or bank information) along with a cell phone is simplifying the process of paying your bills or making store and vending machine purchases. At the leading edge of this innovation is China’s $9 trillion mobile payment market--90 times the size of the US market for mobile payments according to a recent news report.  (In other words, to see how work will get done in the future, sometimes we need to look beyond our physical or psycholgical borders.)
Well Balaji sees an even more profound revolution beyond these mobile payments, one that upends the entire financial system by removing money as we know it from these transactions altogether. He says that blockchain payments (such as bitcoin) will change how everyone does  business while radically expanding payment for every kind of scarce resource. But before describing the future as he sees it, a few observations about the quality of mind that has helped Bilaji to see a future without banks or even traditional currencies in the middle of our financial transactions. 
This is from his recent Wall Street Journal profile:

Balaji Srinivasan’s distrust of authority began as early as first grade, when boys less cerebral than he was would beat him up at recess for reading a book. “Literally, like, ‘Oh, look at that nerd,’ and they’d go attack you.” That was in 1986, in Plainview, N.Y., an undistinguished Long Island hamlet where his parents, immigrants from South India, worked as physicians. “Being the only brown kid among hundreds of people, lots of kids would gang up on you and call you ‘ Gandhi, ’ and you could say, ‘It’s not an insult,’ and run, but they’d just chase you.” 
... “I learned that the first guy who comes at me, I need to hit him—Bam!—with the book, and just act crazy so the other folks don’t jump on you.” Later, at the principal’s office, the assailants would have “crocodile tears” about how the little Indian boy had started the fight. “Their parents knew the principal,” Mr. Srinivasan recalls. “He’d say, ‘Balaji, why did you attack young Jimmy and Jamie?’ So, I learned early on that you’ve got to stand up for yourself, that the fix is in. . . . The state is against you.”
[Among other things, Bilaji] has courted controversy by calling for Silicon Valley to “exit” from as much government control as possible. . . invok[ing] the notion of the “inverse Amish,” a society that “lives nearby, peacefully, in the future,” where “we can experiment with new technologies without causing undue disruption to others.”

I’d characterize Bilaji’s quality of mind as autonomous or self-possessed, leery (from experience) about “the way tht things are,” and willing to be an outsider, given the disruptive possibilities of “looking in” from a critical distance.
In the culture of work today, currency and banking manage scarce resources by creating a uniform system for valuing those resources and paying for them. For example, your scare time and talent is spent working and you get paid money via a bank for providing it.
Block chain as it relates to money provides a programmable way to value every scarce resource (including, say, your availability to take a 5 minute survey that is sent to you by a marketer), and pay you for that scarce resource (namely, the 5 minutes that you would never have made available if you weren’t being paid for it). Time. Talent. 5-minute tasks. Listening to a lonely stranger. Providing your personal information to Facebook or Google. A market for every scarce resource is what block chain makes possible, according to Bilaji: “the internet of money.”  

Think of it.  Everything of value that is in limited supply today can become a commodity for sale in countless jobs--both small and large--because programmers have created an on-line exchange (or blockchain) that can handle each sale and get you paid for it in digital currency without the need for either banks or money as we know it. Compensation simply goes into your digital account.
The WSJ profile explains block chain as a vehicle for digital exhange while providing more examples of Bilaji’s sense of humor  If you’re more inclined towards video explanations, Blockchain Decoded, from the MIT Technology Review tells an even shorter story.
The ability to “see into the future” depends, I think, on those parts of ourselves that are most uncomfortable in the present.  You tap into the outsider, the times that you didn’t “fit in” and fuel your imagination for a better place. Bilaji is imagining a better way to conduct business and preparing himself (as well as us) for jobs in a new economy that is already beckoning. When it comes to the future of our work, we all need to be doing some of that.
4.         When seeing and feeling collide
Not so long ago, I was eating a lunch with members of Emily’s alumna association after we'd visited the Barnes Foundation. Sitting across from me was a woman who writes a popular travel blog, so it wasn’t hard to steer the conversation towards a question I often ask people that I’ve just met: “Of all the places that you’ve ever been, what was your favorite?”
This can be a particularly difficult question for travel writers because they’ve been everywhere and probably liked a lot of what they've discovered. She said, “Well, there've been many favorites over the years, but I just visited a place that is easily one of the best. In fact, I’d get on a plane this afternoon and go right back if there were any way that I could.”  She was talking about Iceland. In addition to its varied landscapes and sheer physical beauty, she also spoke glowingly about the practical warmth and hospitality of the Icelanders she'd met. It’s their practicality that’s relevant here.
Synesthesia is “a perceptual phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory pathway.”  For example hearing about a favorite childhood dessert makes you literally taste it, or a sound may trigger your perception of a particular color. Well, the practical people of Iceland have found a way produce a similarly involuntary, two-part perception that has the additional benefit of encouraging safer driving around their beautiful island. 
Wouldn’t a crosswalk like this get you to put your foot on the brake even if you knew that it was just painted to look three-dimensional?  The way that Icelanders see this crosswalk produces not only a physical reaction but also much better driving behavior.
5.         Prior experience 
The last news item about work is simply a picture from Paul Bronks (@BoringEnormous), a Twitter connection:
When you lied on your CV about having previous sheepdog experience.
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One joy in writing this newsletter is hearing from you after you’ve read it. Increasingly, I find myself getting back to you with links, photos and comments that don’t make it into the newsletter but relate to what you've had to say.
On the other hand, when I receive email links and attachments that need to be opened, I always hesitate until I’m certain that the sender is who she says she is and that the attachment is safe to open. From here on, if I reach out with something other than this newsletter, and my email to you includes an attachment of some kind, I will always try to insert **fromgriesingpost** somewhere in the body of the message so you’ll know that it’s really coming from me. Until then...
Enjoy your workweek!
Copyright © 2017 David Griesing, All rights reserved.

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