Twitter is Like a Very Large Dinner Table

Facebook seems to thrive on nostalgia for the past. I like Twitter because it’s present tense in orientation.

Twitter is like sitting around a very large dinner table with guests you get to choose. I have little interest in faux, electronic, celebrity friendships. I choose guests who 1) make me laugh on occasion; 2) keep me informed about things I care about; and/or 3) share links to articles and videos about things I care about. Those I follow sit around the table and slide reading and multimedia material to one another saying, “Have you read or seen this?”

Sometimes Bill Simmons at ESPN, Alan Shipnuck at Sports Illustrated (golf writer), and John Dickerson at Slate can be funny. Among a few others, I follow Slate Magazine, the Atlantic Magazine, The Economist, Bonnie Ford, Atul Gwande, Walt Mossberg, and some of the bloggers I regularly read.

Most people think of Twitter success in terms of followers, the more the better. I’m more interested in the quality of the dinner conversation than the quantity of guests. And some people think the secret to more followers is to tweet more often. For me though, the more you tweet the more you have to make me laugh or keep me informed. If you tweet just because you like the sound of your tweets, you’ll soon join the ranks of former dinner guests.

Speaking of laughter, this skit is comic genius.

Coaching’s Costs and Benefits

My Atul Gwande bro-mance or man-crush continues to build steam. He begins his most recent New Yorker essay explaining he’s been a surgeon for eight years and. . . for the past couple of them, my performance in the operating room has reached a plateau. I’d like to think it’s a good thing—I’ve arrived at my professional peak. But mainly it seems as if I’ve just stopped getting better.

He points out that top athletes and singers have coaches and asks whether you should too. He asks the question in the context of his own story of contacting his mentor from med school, a well-known highly respected doc, to see if he’d be willing to observe him in surgery and offer suggestions. I recommend the whole essay, but long story short, Gwande breaks through his plateau as a result of his mentor’s objective, insightful, detailed feedback.

Mid-point in the essay, Gwande explains how teacher-to-teacher coaching is one of the most promising reforms being implemented in some school districts.

He also acknowledges that many of his fellow docs and many teachers probably aren’t quite secure enough to open themselves up to pointed constructive criticism.

But he fails to mention another at least equally significant hurdle, sufficient money to compensate experts for their coaching time. School districts have to release coaches from their own classrooms meaning substitutes have to be paid for or everyone has to teach larger classes. And I can’t believe he expects teachers, lawyers, dentists, and other professionals making far less than professional athletes or elite singers to pay for coaching out-of-pocket. It’s unclear how financially strapped school districts and hospitals are supposed to add in coaching costs.

If only I had a magical “financial resource” wand. Now that I’m in better touch with my stubborn, self-defeating self-sufficiency, I see areas in my life where I could benefit from coaching.

In late August the personal trainers in mom’s swanky FL health club were doing some intriguing exercises with their clients. Made me want to toss medicine balls and run around with giant rubberbands around my ankles. And I’m sure I could benefit from swimming, running, cycling, triathlon coaching. Listening/marital bliss coaching. Cooking/nutrition coaching. Gardening coaching. Bicycle maintenance coaching. Golf coaching. Social media coaching. Parenting coaching. Writing coaching.

You get the drift.

Making a Checklist

For some unknown reason I have a tradition when I travel. I always forget one thing. Sometimes inconsequential, my cell phone; sometimes inconvenient, my contact lens case; and sometimes tragic. It’s Saturday as I write and I’m about to fly to Missoula for my nephew’s infant son’s baptism tomorrow. His asking me to be the godfather was the biggest surprise since the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor (Belushi, 1978). This time I forgot. . . the camera. Truly tragic.

I’m making a checklist in the hope it’s a turning point. If checklist’s are good enough for Atul Gwande and other docs, they’re good enough for me. Maybe I’ll even alphabetize it. I have “C” covered, cell phone, contact lens case, camera. Other “must include” suggestions?