Bowl Bottom Centered

There is an easy approach to relaxing into focus and thus calm. It’s a concept I created called Bowl Bottom Centered.

Imagine a curved bowl. The center of the bowl is balance. It’s the calm and focus you seek.

As George Mumford says in the 10% Happier app, the goal of mindful meditation is to be “Resting in the body. Resting in the breath.” It is to slip into focus.

If you see yourself off track and off task as George might say, observe that you’re crawling up the side of the bowl and out of focus. You’re not in the bottom of the bowl. So, let it all go. Begin again.

Allow yourself to slide back down the side of the bowl and be centered. Observe yourself sliding down the side of the bowl into the center. Be in the center.

Everything slopes down to the center of the bowl. Harmony, goodness, peace, tranquility, and focus is in the bottom of the bowl. Let it all go and rest. Be “Bowl Bottom Centered.”

Bowl by Rebecca Siegel

FinneyCanHelp Five Fingers of Freedom

The FinneyCanHelp Five Fingers of Freedom framework empowers one to take action and live with freedom in one’s heart.

FinneyCanHelp Five Fingers of Freedom

  1. Feel Freedom – Choose to see this freedom.
  2. Flow Like Water – This was inspired by a Bruce Lee quote.
  3. Fantasize about the possible – We’re only limited by our imagination.
  4. Forgive yourself and others – Lose the emotional luggage.
  5. Faith – Have faith that there is a lawfulness to the universe. This was inspired by George Mumford. See George Mumford: “The Mindful Athlete” | Talks at Google video and the 10% Happier app that has George Mumford in it.

We choose to see by AM Renault

Love Apple Seed

When it comes to the Apple company, I love the infant Apple, the Apple seed. I love Apple’s vision and passion of long ago. The Apple where Steve Jobs was figuring out how to make positive impacts on the world while still on this planet.

Investopedia says it well where:

..what satisfied him [Steve Jobs] most was watching kids use Apple products in the classroom

Steve Jobs wanted to improve people’s life experiences. He saw that he could do that through Apple products. Steve Jobs is gone, but it’s my hope that the momentum of his positive vision continues through the decades.

There is a new hope. Tim Cook spoke about the general philosophy of Apple and it’s captured nicely in the article Apple’s mission statement (Tim Cook text). I recommend one checks out the “The most interesting lines” section. It captures the concepts of keeping it simple, make a difference, keep focused, be excellent, and make excellent products.

So, keep the faith when it comes to your own personal mission statement and carry on! What is your personal personal mission statement? Feel free to share it with me on Twitter and let’s make paradise on earth happen together!

How to Mindfully Take Risks and Joseph Goldstein

Oh, Joseph Goldstein. I wish I knew him decades ago. He always generously shares his wisdom about mindfulness, meditation, and living a good life. Recently, I finally got to thank him!

I first encountered Joseph in the Waking Up With Sam Harris podcast episode titled The Path and the Goal. Listening to that podcast episode and a followup episode titled Questions Along the Path, led me to the iPhone app known as Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by 10% Happier.

How ironic that 10% Happier made it possible to thank Joseph!

10% Happier holds video events and in March they had the Joseph Goldstein Live Q&A by 10% Happier event. (Logistical side note: If you don’t have a Crowdcast account, you can create one for free and then see the video using the link.)

Since this was a Q & A event, I felt it proper to ask a question on my mind first. 50:10-ish into the event, I asked “How does one mindfully take risks?” In other words, how do you take big leaps of faith in a career or elsewhere with “right action” in mind? His generous wisdom flowed forth.

My takeaways from Joseph were to explore:

  • Fear – Relationship of oneself to fear. He has worked with fear a lot. Favorite phrases of his are “If this fear is here for the rest of my life, it’s OK. It’s OK to feel this.” It’s important to work with the fear.
  • Letting go of attachment – Act without attachment to the outcome. There are too many variables at work in life. So, work with what you have, try your best, and accept the outcome.
  • Checking the motivation – The value in the action is based on the motivation behind the action. As he said, “Is this a wholesome motivation or not?”

So, if you deal with the fear, let go of outcomes, do a motivation check, and they all checkout OK, you can “go for it!”

At the end, I gave him the FinneyCanHelp thumbs up of approval which made him chuckle. That’s from the heart. If all of humanity took his lessons to heart, the world would be a better place.

Finally, I was able to share my gratitude with Joseph. I said:

I just want to conclude by saying it’s an honor and thank you for everything you have done.

His lessons and the lessons of other wonderful meditation teachers are in the 10% Happier app. I recommend you download the iPhone app and give it a try. Subscribe if you want to explore it further. Use the coaching feature!

No iPhone? You can go to and checkout the Web App.

My 10% Happier subscription is the best ROI I have ever had! If you have any questions about my personal experiences or just want to share your excitement, please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter at @finneycanhelp. Also feel free to checkout my other posts about 10% Happier and meditation.

Update: You can now see the specific video segment where I ask how to mindfully take risks in a video titled Mike asks Joseph Goldstein a question during 10% Happier Subscriber Q&A

Cold Dark Eerie Fear

“I’m Too Nice” Is No Excuse For Lack of Accountability

Saying that one is “too nice” to hold someone accountable is a cop out. What we really mean is that one has not yet found an effective way to hold people accountable without acting in a dictatorial way. It sets up a false dichotomy of nice / no-accountability vs mean / accountability. This is definitely a false dilemma.

If someone has this false either-or mindset between nice vs no-accountability and they want to partner with or hire leaders, they’ll seek out those who are “tough on others.” They think they want someone who “can get people moving” even if rough or even a little brutal about it.

Unwittingly, they hire a manager with a dictatorial management style. In playground speak, they hired a bully. Bullying behavior is poison to the longterm growth and well-being of any group.

Is dictatorial behavior OK as long as things get done? No. Employee turnover will be high and you’ll never know why. People will sense the oppressive culture and word gets around so people won’t join you in the first place.

So, it’s not just about getting things done. Being a leader is about empowering others to contribute to your group’s mission. Besides making money, your mission is your group’s reason for existing.

In Agile speak, you want passionate leaders as opposed to bullying managers. Don’t compromise on this! It might be extremely hard to change the culture once it gets grown in too deep.

As revealed in “Why Do Bad Leaders Always Seem to Win?”, it’s hard to convince managers to not act in a dictatorial style since we’re so used to giving them a “free ride.” A strong vertical mindset may have set up a reward system to encourage dictatorial management styles. At the expense of a group or organization, bullying can be rewarding to the person being a bully. Someone seeking power and who gets things done by bullying puts emphasis on a vertical flow of power through strength. Such managers will set up metrics to reflect efficiency and control over all else.

Your metrics will never reveal bullying that is happening in your leadership team. It’s hard to expose bullying behavior since things seem efficient and predictable. As beautifully expressed in the Why Do Managers Hate Agile? article:

Its values are efficiency and predictability. The key to succeeding in this world is tight control.

What you really want are people that are passionate about what they do. There’s a whole other article about Debunking Myths About Worker Passion that we won’t repeat here, but I recommend you read it. Suffice it to say, you want to foster a culture of empowerment, innovation and creativity.

Taking some concepts from several sources such as the late Roger Mellott (author of Stress Management for Professionals), Stephen Covey (efficient vs effective leadership), and Agile Leadership concepts, it is possible to hold people accountable in such a way as to make a relationship stronger and less stressful as opposed to oppressive.

Since this article is long enough, we won’t go into details about how to find and be an effective leader. However, I strongly suggest reading “Why Do Managers Hate Agile?” in full, seek out leaders instead of power hungry managers, and never stop promoting a culture that values leadership skills.


Notes on “Self-Awareness is Product Management”

Although the focus of the Self-Awareness is Product Management episode starts with self-awareness, it also covers communication skills, habits, and relationships between people.

The guest is Kelley Amadei, co-author of Founder of SparkShift. The rest of this blog post contains pretty much raw notes. The notes contain a mixture of direct quotes from the podcast, my own thoughts, and sometimes ideas that came to mind while listening.

Foundation for Leadership

“Self awareness is the foundation for leadership.” By being self-aware, one can be vulnerable in a good way and recognize their impact on others. Usually self-awareness is low in a person. From a cultural standpoint, people typically learn content specific for their job and push through as they climb the corporate ladder. Thus, the concepts of empathy, trust, compassion, and deeply understanding others / ourselves is weird to many.

If people don’t understand what is in it for them, they won’t do what you need. Understanding your people requires self awareness. It’s basic and foundational. It’s not even hard. One acknowledges their new found understanding externally to just trusted people initially and then expands into the “greater organization.”

If leaders focused on self awareness, they would be more effective. To do this, one needs to be a researcher and an antropologist. We should be objective. Let’s not get self-judgmental. Self-mastery is the goal. Pay attention. She teaches this to all kinds of people such as executives and people in grad-schools.

Beginning the Process

To begin ask yourself, what habits do I have that serve me and what habits should I drop?

Only choose one thing. “Identify the one thing that’s getting in your way.” Identify the thing that makes you cringe. Check it out with people you trust. Perhaps even a boss if there is a trusted relationship. “Is this the right area to focus on?”

Most common symptom of not having self-awareness is not listening. It is common with senior executives. It’s understandable though. If you’re a leader, you feel like you are supposed to know and quick to respond to questions. There are cultural things that get in the way:

  • Supposed to know
  • To appear quick, one usually is formulating a response while listening. That’s actually counterproductive.
  • You feel like you are not supposed to hesitate.
  • You feel like you’re not supposed to even take a moment to reflect.

Validate the behavior you want to work on: Don’t have to pick the hardest. Can pick the easiest one to gain confidence. Once you figured out the one thing to work on. There are strategies to apply.


For example, let’s say it has to do with eating. People usually will want to jump on the thing they want to change right away. “Don’t do that.” Don’t immediately jump into action. Watch and observe yourself. Side note: this sounds quite close to what was said on the 10% Happier podcast episode #61 titled Dr. Judson Brewer, Using Mindfulness to Beat Addiction.

When interacting with your direct reports, in meetings, and all areas of life observe yourself. Watch for when you are listening and not listening. Side note: reminds me of Stephen Covey, Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

The approach:

  • Pick a week or ten days.
  • Log it. Collect data.
  • You will see a pattern of when you are not listening and you will understand what is motivating the behavior.

Example: Direct report comes into the office. They have something to tell me. Trigger: they walk in. Response: Ready to tell them something first before listening. They are telling me and I am waiting to share what’s on my mind. Reward:I got stuff done. However, it could have been better.

Psychology and the Brain 

She is trying to drive a wedge between the trigger and response. We have less than a 1/2 second to work with. The first 1/3 second is physical. Most of what we do is an automatic response. Science says 90% of what we do is automated behavior, driving, swallowing, and so on. The brain starts on pathway and creates a groove (wrinkle). The brain says this works. So, it keeps doing it.

Another side note: This sounds similar to the aforementioned 10% Happier podcast, Stephen Covey as described by Michael Hyatt, and Dr. Victor Frankl. As said in Don’t Just React: Choose Your Response:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”   -Victor Frankl

If you are trying to stop an automated behavior, you have a small fraction of a second. Side note: Nir Eyal talks about habits all the time.

We’re driving a wedge between trigger and response. You can choose to do it the old way or when a direct report comes in, one can say: “I will shut my mouth, experience the uncomfortable feeling (it’s normal), and learn from it.” Try it for a couple weeks.

From a chemical standpoint, a habit is rewarded when dopamine gets released in the brain. That’s when the habit loop starts. Whether taking a drink or exhibiting a behavior in an organization, you are fighting the same battle.

Leaders are rewarded by getting things done themselves and they stop trusting others. They stop collaborating and delegating effectively. They second guess a lot.

A habit of not trusting is rooted in the fear of being let down. If I trust you and you let me down, it reflects on me. Trust requires vulnerability and understanding. A lot of leaders don’t feel they have time for that.

New VP of Operations Example

Example: There was a VP of operations. He focused on lean strategy and efficiency, efficiency, efficiency. Everything was through a very logical approach. He was 36 years old. His approach was by blowing things up (organizationally) and make things better.

When he got the VP position, he went in assuming that no-one knew what they are doing and so on. He built a habit of mistrust. He assumed that he had the only solutions. It would take too long to get things done. Now that he’s the VP he could no longer blow things up. Behaviorally, he was:

  • Too direct
  • Aggressive
  • Didn’t listen
  • Didn’t trust
  • He would second guess their solutions
  • He should have let his seasoned and senior people be part of the solution

His people went to the CEO and said this “guy’s a jerk.” He wasn’t listening and trusting. They brought Kelley Amadei in.

That’s one example of how something that serves a leader in the past can backfire later in their career.

Support the Right Culture and Also Build Authentic Relationships

Google has spent a lot of time learning about the successful attributes around leaders (related). Most psychology books would call some of this psychological safety.  Do I feel safe? Are my ideas heard? Can we have constructive conflict? Can we disagree and leave the relationship intact? One should allow constructive conflict. That’s where great ideas come from. Steps to make that happen:

  1. Encourage authentic connection between people.
  2. Never interrupt. When running a team meeting, don’t ever interrupt. Encourage team to do the  same.
  3. Allow everyone to be heard. If someone is in the corner, call them out. They are probably have something to say and are being squished by others.
  4. Known conflicts should come out in the open. Otherwise, the unresolved conflicts will waste people’s time later when talking in subgroups later.

Most people think they have a work persona. Can you get people / teammates to connect as real people?

Have an offsite and bring some questions. Examples:

  • What are you most afraid of?
  • Want do you most want out of your life?
  • What’s something difficult you have overcome?


There is plenty of great information in this podcast episode around self-awareness, communication, group relationship building, and even psychology. It’s clear Kelley Amadei is passionate about her work. She has great strategies for helping organizations improve their productivity and undoubtedly their overall happiness. I recommend you listen to the podcast episode yourself.

Sticky Notes

Sticky Notes by Gabriel Toro

What Do Your Emoticons Mean?🌿

She caught me, bless her. Recently someone special to me asked me what the green leaves 🌿 meant in a message I sent. There is a deeper meaning behind what I was sharing. So, I confessed. Here’s what I shared:

The green leaf / leaves symbolize life. It’s the nourishing energy that makes the flower petals possible. When I share the 🌿 with someone, it means “may you have a stable and nourishing foundation upon which to grow so you can share the beauty of your life with all. 🌈

There are other emoticons I share regularly which have a deep meaning to me. Such meanings enrich my life and I believe are good for the brain. Such emotions are even contagious.

If interested, I can share what it means when I share other emoticons. 😀

Until then, you might ask yourself: What feelings do you feel when sharing an emoticon with someone? Is there a special friend you share a specific emoticon with?



Caresse by zenera

Notes on “Jobs to Be Done is Product Management”

The focus of the Jobs To Be Done is Product Management episode is about:

  1. Disruption Theory and Innovation
  2. Current Innovation Approaches Established Companies Do
  3. How “jobs to be done” Drives New Features and Product Development
  4. Companies that Embraced “jobs to be done” Either Explicitly or Implicitly
  5. A Lens To Look Through

The guest is Karen Dillon, co-author of Competing Against Luck.

The rest of this blog post contains pretty much raw notes. The notes contain a mixture of direct quotes from the podcast, my own thoughts, and sometimes ideas that came to mind while listening.

Disruption Theory and Innovation

Clayton Christensen is known for the disruption theory aka disrupting the established company. The theory of disruption doesn’t cover everything. It covers the established company. The startup is not covered by the theory.

“Getting innovation right” is not just luck. The “theory of jobs to be done” is the “casual mechanism” of success. You need to understand it.

Current Innovation Approaches Established Companies Do

  • They gather lots of data, but the evidence is correlational as opposed to based on causation
  • Most innovations fail which may mean they are not in the field a year later
  • They don’t understand the “causal mechanism”

How “jobs to be done” Drives New Features and Product Development

As given 8:17 into the podcast episode, the definition of “jobs to be done” is:

The progress someone is trying to make in particular circumstances.

Very key: We pick a product or service based on our social and emotional reasons.

We should view things from the perspective of the progress that someone is trying to make. We have to understand the social and emotional circumstances along with the functional reasons for choosing a service / product. They use the language of “hiring” instead of “buying.”

Companies that Embraced “jobs to be done” Either Explicitly or Implicitly


They are a good example of a company that applied the “jobs to be done” approach successfully. Competition and solving the problem.


  • In 2001, they did things based on various personae. That’s changed.
  • They even changed how they organized their company based on the “jobs to be done” framework:
    • They now have different physical teams around those “jobs to be done” which includes technology, marketing and so on.
    • They did great by offering prices for specific jobs and made more money overall.
    • They target the job to be done as opposed to the personae.


“Help me get my accounting done now” is the “job to be done.” The up-sells they used to do were counter productive and interfering with the “job to be done.”


They get “it.” They are focused on the “customer’s job to be done.”

They measure the speed of delivery from the moment when the customer makes the order to when the item arrives.

A Lens To Look Through

Looking at things through this “jobs to be done” lens, highlights what to do in regards to:

  • Customer service
  • Billing
  • How to renew and talk with people

It’s hard to find the right KPIs related to “jobs to be done” to show it’s working. Also, “jobs to be done” has to be integrated throughout the organization to succeed.


The “causal mechanism” is used often. It’s clearly an important part of the “jobs to be done” theory. Although there is concern about coming up with KPIs that demonstrate the successfulness of the approach, it absolutely makes sense. I encourage you to listen to the podcast episode yourself.

Notes on “Empathy is Product Management”

The focus of the Empathy is Product Management episode is about:

  1. Advantages of being new to an industry
  2. How to get industry knowledge
  3. Strategies for keeping empathy
  4. Formula?
  5. They have users near them
  6. Career transition

The guest is Jon Stross, a Co-Founder of Greenhouse.

The rest of this blog post contains pretty much raw notes. The notes contain a mixture of direct quotes from the podcast, my own thoughts, and sometimes ideas that came to mind while listening.

Advantages of Being New to an Industry

The advantages of being a product manager in an industry where you don’t have any experience:

  • Can stay objective. Can have a wider perspective.
  • Requires you to get out of the office.
  • You are not “..blinded by your biases.”

How to Get Industry Knowledge

(Talking to Potential New Customers)

Need to talk to many people. For them, it was recruiters. They would ask them, what do you like or hate about your tools and jobs? His business partner was an expert. He ran a team of recruiters.

They went and said “we want to teach a course on how to make recruiting a strength of your company.” They did a handful of classes. They figured out what resonated and what did not. They looked to see who showed up. They wanted to bounce ideas off of them. It was “great market research.”

They created a paper product. It was made of notecards and more. “They walked around to people’s offices and tried it out with them.” Before they wrote code or even made a company, they had a pretty good idea that the idea would work.

Strategies for Keeping Empathy

  • They hire out of their consumer service department. The tech team gets a sense of which of those “get it.” So, technical expertise and domain expertise is there.
  • They have a user experience research group.
  • They break out the different segments.
  • Sales and Consumer Service provide input.
  • They look at user data.
  • Product Managers synthesize all of those inputs and decide which ideas to go with.


There’s no formula that they use. Their agile philosophy helps a lot. If they can get twenty things done and eighteen of those things are right, they are doing fine. They keep things scaled small. They manage scope and have things be smaller. Six months is too long.

They Have Users Physically Close To Them

They used their network. They can easily find folks. It helps that recruiters are real public. They want to be easy to reach.

They have lots of data. The hard part is figuring out who to listen to and “the patterns that matter.”

Career Transition

Product Management is a natural step towards becoming a CEO or general management.


Lots of great things in here! Clearly, Jon and his partners have figured out a way to dive into a domain and come out with awesome products. I really enjoyed the podcast episode and invite you to listen to it yourself.

Wondering about the Wandering Retreat on 10% Happier?

Is the “Wandering Retreat” the most ambitious and craziest course on the 10% Happier meditation app? I say yes!

Dan gave us a preview tweet tease back in December with this picture of Jeff Warren and Dan Harris:

Since then, I have been waiting for this release with great excitement! It has arrived and I am overwhelmed with how good it is. The course is heart warming, insightful, pragmatic and frankly a work of art.

It's a work of art.

Discussing the Plan and Working on Dan’s Face

The course begins with seeing a little bit of Dan’s work day which is quite fascinating. While a little bit of makeup is artfully applied, he discusses the retreat. As he says, part of the plan is to literally get lost.

Next, I’m seeing a sweet and cute family scene that makes me smile brightly. It transitions to hearing family goodbyes of “Bye Daddy!” and “I love you!” It’s truly touching.

This switches to a funny scene where Jeff and Dan meet and choose where to go. Dan initially suggests a luxury beach retreat! There’s some playful back and forth where the choice is between luxury and the woods. In a lighthearted way, Dan says “Coursing under everything you’re saying is a raging river of like you’re a sissy if you don’t do the latter.” Jeff playfully says “That’s right.” Meeting adversity head on, they chose the woods.

Meditating On Day One

Camp is set up and the day ends with their first meditation. Now, here’s where the app does something truly magical. As opposed to a hard transition from video to recorded meditation, you are led into an experience that goes like this. You’re watching the video, you close your eyes, and then you’re meditating with them in the woods. That is exactly how it feels! Well done!

In the meditation itself there’s a mixture of nature sounds, Jeff’s guiding voice, and what I will describe as the occasional technology related sounds. This demonstrates a great integration of meditation practice with real life. Here there’s equanimity and really just taking it all in.

After the meditation, there’s a funny and insightful followup discussion around the campfire.

Meditation Follow Up Discussion

Dan doesn’t hold back his innermost thoughts where he has “an embarrassing moment.” Although I don’t want to spoil it by sharing this hilariously funny moment in detail, I don’t think Dan’s going to hell for it.

After their first day, the adventure continues with hiking, swimming and insightful wisdom shared along the way. It’s worth watching the videos multiple times and listening carefully to the wisdom that is shared. Among other things, a great thing that Jeff shares in the “Field Naturalist of the Mind” is:

You’re experiencing your own experience through the only means that you have available which is your own experience.

It’s clever and deep. That might take time to sink in and context is needed. He’s saying this in the context of meaningful and playful exploration that is available by training the mind. What Jeff is sharing throughout the course is practical and pragmatic yet it’s life changing.

Jeff and Dan touch on so much in this short retreat such as pain, equanimity, compassion, and Jeff’s favorite of muditā which Jeff says is “like celebratory joy.” What I especially like is at the end where they deal with “a mathematical impossibility” of logistics that Dan is facing. Will Dan make his meeting? Will Jeff make his flight?

Jeff says he has the perfect meditation for this common ailment titled “Where is a Thought?” The context is to work with the thinking process as it is. It’s extremely useful and I will be using this meditation often!

Logistics and a Meditation

So, wonder no more. This latest “Wandering Retreat” course is a beautiful gift to the #10PercentHappier community. With humor and beautiful nature scenes throughout, wisdom and practical tips are shared.

If you wish, check out my other posts about the 10% Happier app or better yet check out the 10% Happier app itself now!