Quora Saturdays: Philosophy, imagination, leadership reading, time management, and powerful women
Continuing my Saturday blog series of posting my answers from Quora here…
This week’s questions:
- What is the best way to start reading philosophy?
- For leadership training purposes, what’s more important, knowledge or imagination?
- What are the advantages of university courses over just reading textbooks?
- Can there be disadvantages to calling your business a “startup”?
- What are some of the best time management tips for college students?
- Who are some of the most influential women in the world in 2016 and how are they wielding that power?
Question: What is the best way to start reading philosophy?
I approach philosophy for the love of knowledge and to improve my life, not as an academic to write papers or teach others, so my answer will differ from theirs.
I found the best way is to take on lifeâ€™s big challengesâ€”like to figure out your values, try to decide what a â€œgood lifeâ€ means to you and how to improve yours, to consider the results of your actions on others, and suchâ€”then to find who has tackled these problems before, after youâ€™ve worked at them.
I read more Aristotle following this approach than I did in college and it meant more to me because I was interested in his views on my challenges, to pick one example.
This way you arenâ€™t just reading them out of some abstract interest, but for your life.
Question: For leadership training purposes, what’s more important, knowledge or imagination?
Relevant experience is so much more important than either, that I would argue that they are effectively equal, behind experience.
If your goal is to improve your leadership, doing leadership things, even on a small scale, will help more than reading or imagining. Knowledge and imagination are important, after you have the basics you get from experience.
If you have a different goal in asking, what is it?
Question: What are the advantages of university courses over just reading textbooks?
It depends on the teacher and classmates.
A great teacher can make the experience more engaging and interactive. The added accountability of a grade and meeting in person can motivate people to put in more, leading to get more out of it.
If the course benefits from communication, group work, or other things that classmates can contribute, then a course can give that benefit.
You also have access to the teacher and classmates to answer questions a textbook might not answer.
You have to balance these benefits with the costs, logistics, and other potential problems with a course. You can also overcome many shortcomings of books with extra effort, like organizing people to meet with you.
Question: Can there be disadvantages to calling your business a “startup”?
Yes, there can. Some possibilities:
- Potential customers may prefer buying from a more established company.
- Potential customers may fear you wonâ€™t be around long enough to help them if your product or service doesnâ€™t deliver.
- Customers may pay you later, presuming you donâ€™t have collection systems to follow up and you may go out of business before you can collect.
- Suppliers may not give you credit.
- Potential employers may fear you canâ€™t always make payroll.
- Potential investors may want to wait to invest until the company is more mature.
In general, look at the world from the perspective of the person looking at the company. If they want novelty, freshness, and excitement, you will probably benefit by calling it a startup to them. If they are looking for stability, longer operating history, and established brands, they probably wonâ€™t like hearing itâ€™s a startup.
Question: What are some of the best time management tips for college students?
College students notoriously say yes to too many extra-curricular activities. You have to say no to a lot of good things to have a great life. Choosing a smaller number of activities based on your priorities will all you to do more with them and have fewer distractions.
The book Getting Things Done is one of the best resources for setting up systems to get things done effectively and free your mind for what you want to do without distraction. I highly recommend itâ€”if you implement it, not just read it.
Question: Who are some of the most influential women in the world in 2016 and how are they wielding that power?
Most answers so far look mainly at politics, which is only one type of influence. A few not mentioned:
Oprah Winfrey influences tens of millions of people. She chooses people and products to support, books to read, foods to eat â€” many everyday choices.
Performers like Beyonce and Madonna influence tens of millions in how to express themselves, what to wear, and things like that.
Athletes like Serena Williams influence people to play sports, how to express yourself, and things like that.
Michelle Obama, though not holding office, influences many indirectly through her relationship with her husband and directly through her initiatives on health, fitness, and so on.
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