How to Eat a Whale

I read a NY Times piece this morning on Jim Dolce, the CEO of Lookout, a mobile security company. He had an excellent quote on managing lots of things at once — a necessity when running a fast-growing company.

You can’t get things to change as fast as you would like them to change. You can’t work serially; you have to work in parallel. You have to attempt to work multiple changes at the same time and then, over time, you’ll begin to see the results, and things will begin to converge.

When you’re impatient, you attempt to get something done so that you can then, in serial fashion, go to the next thing. Instead, you have to go wide and work multiple issues at the same time and be patient on each of them. Sooner or later, they will converge.

This reminded me of a more simplified version of this idea, from one of my favorite authors.

MELINDA MAE
by Shel Silverstein
Have you heard of tiny Melinda Mae,
Who ate a monstrous whale?
She thought she could,
She said she would,
So she started in right at the tail.
And everyone said, “You’re much too small,”
But that didn’t bother Melinda at all.
She took little bites and she chewed very slow,
Just like a good girl should…
…And in eighty-nine years she ate that whale
Because she said she would!

Both excellent reminders that to eat a whale, you have to take lots of tiny bites.

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Book Report: The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing

GirlsGuide

I read this book in one sitting while getting my hair cut.

Is that really strange and anti-social? I like to think it’s a relief for the hairdresser when I bring a book – she doesn’t have to ask me what I do for work or what I’m doing this weekend or what celebrity I wish I could trade hair with. I’m just reading. She’s trimming and blow drying. We’re coexisting. Either way, a book sure beats flipping through US magazine and small-talking for an hour or two.

The fact that I read this book in one sitting means two things:

  1. This book was really good
  2. I am now awash with emotions

I love reading a really good book in one sitting because the rapid overload of experience fills me with BIG BIG FEELINGS. I am currently steeped in deep personal thoughts (and, as an important aside, my hair looks really good).

The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing is a fiction novel that reads in sections, following different phases of the protagonist Jane’s life. Starting adolescence and traveling through adulthood, we follow Jane through different jobs and romances, in a series of vignettes. Ultimately, though the book is more tuned into her inner life than relationships and careers — a refreshingly funny, touching and meandering, yet not plotless, exploration of growing up.

I often feel that good books come to me at the perfect time. This novel brought questions already hovering in the back of my mind to the forefront. I can tell that I’ll be thinking about The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing for a while (or at least until my next haircut).