Mental Models

One of my challenges when teaching digital marketing is to convey the importance of a framework for thinking through digital marketing. The foundation can be difficult to pay attention to when there are all these cool shiny marketing tools to play with.

But Charlie Munger puts it best when he says:

... the first rule is that you can’t really know anything if you just remember isolated facts and try and bang ‘em back. If the facts don’t hang together on a latticework of theory, you don’t have them in a usable form.

You’ve got to have models in your head. And you’ve got to array your experience both vicarious and direct on this latticework of models. You may have noticed students who just try to remember and pound back what is remembered. Well, they fail in school and in life. You’ve got to hang experience on a latticework of models in your head.

What are the models? Well, the first rule is that you’ve got to have multiple models because if you just have one or two that you’re using, the nature of human psychology is such that you’ll torture reality so that it fits your models, or at least you’ll think it does…

It’s like the old saying, “To the man with only a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” And of course, that’s the way the chiropractor goes about practicing medicine. But that’s a perfectly disastrous way to think and a perfectly disastrous way to operate in the world. So you’ve got to have multiple models.

And the models have to come from multiple disciplines because all the wisdom of the world is not to be found in one little academic department. That’s why poetry professors, by and large, are so unwise in a worldly sense. They don’t have enough models in their heads. So you’ve got to have models across a fair array of disciplines.

You may say, “My God, this is already getting way too tough.” But, fortunately, it isn’t that tough because 80 or 90 important models will carry about 90% of the freight in making you a worldly wise person. And, of those, only a mere handful really carry very heavy freight.

Emotional Equations

"Our emotions preceded our ability to put them into words. The emotional center of the human brain, the medulla oblongata, formed before the thinking part of the brain, the neocortex. Scientists from Charles Darwin to Paul Ekman to Frans de Waal and Jane Goodall have found common emotions in all animals, including human beings. And the pioneering work of scientists such as Antonio Damasio, Candace Pert, Joseph LeDoux, and others have that our thinking and feelings are part of a complext mind-body ecosystem."

~Chip Conley, Emotional Equations


Think About It

I read with interest this missive by Neal Gabler on the decline of thinking by the general public. So I did some thinking about it. What struck me about the article is how many times he mentioned the over abundance of information. I immediately compared the way we've learned to produce cheap content with how we learned to do the same thing with food.

Food was difficult to scale, but technology helped us to create more of it cheaply. Everyone began to feast on the quick, less nutritious stuff. As we neared the bottom of the KFC bucket, i.e, the cheap stuff proliferated, a shift began to more quality, nutrient dense food. Hence the emergence of Whole Foods.

Perhaps we'll see the same thing in content after we've gorged on all that cheap content. Some will remain addicted to the junk, but others will want cleaner colons err cortices and denser content will emerge. Which will make "thinking" more of a necessity. What do you think?