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Breakfast Notes #20 (History, Offices, Pygmalion, Cheap Wine)

Breakfast Notes #20 (History, Offices, Pygmalion, Cheap Wine)
Photo by Kym Ellis / Unsplash

Good morning friends.

This is the 20th serving of Breakfast Notes. I hope you are enjoying it.

Efficacy of History

This Lee Kuan Yew's quote best illuminates the Value of History in the present world.

If you do not know history, you think short term, and if you know history, you think medium and long term.

For example, Kishore Mahbubani argues forcefully that many European leaders have been woefully ignorant about China's history. When they argue for China to follow their demands for 'human rights' , they are greeted with distaste.

They failed to realise that historically, the Chinese saw the Europeans as oppressors and bullies. Despite Chinese workers ranking as the largest and longest-serving non-European contingent in World War I against the Germans, their efforts were largely unrecognised.

When the war ended, the Western powers did not return the German-controlled Shandong to China but gave it to Japan instead. Thus, in one agreement, China suffered an affront to its sovereignty and lost its chance at full control of its mainland territory.

If more political leaders today understood the historical distrust of the West, they would have been more tactful and long-term in their thinking and approach.

The Workspace

During the pandemic, I realised the importance of working in reality with my colleagues.

At the start of the pandemic, I saw the work-from-home experience as an unequivocal good. A flexible work timing, thirty more minutes in bed and the dispensation of dress code made the prospect tantalisings.

Soon, it hit me that every minute I was engrossed in a digital meeting was a minute I was not involved in an authentic human encounter. I had under-appreciated the value of being in the same space as my colleagues.

After three months of staring at the computer screens for hours, hopping from one MSTeams call to another and finding my fingers twitching during a colleague's virtual presentation, I felt incredibly alienated.

Thankfully, with the government implementing a hybrid work model, my colleagues and I now have the pleasure of returning to the office and working together.

I rediscovered the joys of making new friends in the workplace. I realised that the act of sharing office space and grabbing lunch brought us closer together. Colleagues were no longer digital avatars on Skype; they were companions! There were more opportunities to create, collaborate and even celebrate together.

The Pygmalion Fallacy

The Pygmalion Effect describes a phenomenon where high expectations can improve performance in a given area. This could be why folks advocate for a high-expectation environment for youths because they will flourish.

However, a meta-analysis conducted by Stephen Raudenbush showed that once students and teachers are acquainted, the effect of the prior expectation was essentially reduced to zero.

My intuition concurs with Raudenbush's findings - expectations are overrated. I rather have a nurturing teacher rather than one with high expectations.

Visualisations Of The Day

National Archives of Singapore

President Yusof Ishak presented a letter of appointment to Professor Wong Lin Ken as Minister for Home Affairs in 1970.

Two off-the-cuff observations. First, appointments for political office appear to be much more informal in the past. Second, we underestimate how much offices have changed in the past fifty years.

$2 Wines

The CEO of Bronco Wine, Fred Franzia – which sells the Charles Shaw "Two Buck Chuck" wine at Trader Joe's – once boasted that he sold wine for virtually the same price of bottled water.

He said, "They're overcharging you for the water. Don't you get it?"

The best part?

His $2 wines - the Charles Shaw Chardonnay wine won the double gold at the 2007 California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition.

Never mistake price for quality.