Just Read: Peter Drucker, The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done

This book was written 50 years ago, well read and reviewed, so I’m not going to add whole lot of insight to Peter’s work. It reads like it was written yesterday, and I’ll say there are few works that I have highlighted as much as this one. It’s the frankness and interest in the development of the reader that comes across.

The book is a lot about the 20th Century knowledge worker, with some hints about the 21st Century. One of my favorite 21st Century quotes relevant to this is at the bottom of the post.

First, a few quotes I relished, below.

On Being Future Focused (or as I say, the need to live in the future)

“There’ll always be a market for an efficient buggy-whip plant,” and, “This product built this company and it’s our duty to maintain for it the market it deserves.” It’s those other companies, however, which send their executives to seminars on creativity and which complain about the absence of new products. The need to slough off the outworn old to make possible the productive new is universal. It is reasonably certain that we would still have stagecoaches— nationalized, to be sure, heavily subsidized, and with a fantastic research program to “retrain the horse”— had there been ministries of transportation around 1825.
Drucker, Peter F. (2017-01-24). The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done (Harperbusiness Essentials) (p. 120). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.


Outside of Victorian novels, happiness does not come to the marriage of two people who almost got married at age 21 and who then, at age 38, both widowed, find each other again. If married at age 21, these people might have had an opportunity to grow up together. But in seventeen years both have changed, grown apart, and developed their own ways.The man who wanted to become a doctor as a youth but was forced to go into business instead, and who now, at age fifty and successful, goes back to his first love and enrolls in medical school is not likely to finish, let alone to become a successful physician.

Drucker, Peter F. (2017-01-24). The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done (Harperbusiness Essentials) (p. 122). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

The lesson doctors also learn in the journey to leadership

When General Eisenhower was elected president, his predecessor, Harry S. Truman, said: “Poor Ike; when he was a general, he gave an order and it was carried out. Now he is going to sit in that big office and he’ll give an order and not a damn thing is going to happen.”
Drucker, Peter F. (2017-01-24). The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done (Harperbusiness Essentials) (p. 158). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

On the need to actually see what’s happening

With the coming of the computer this will become even more important, for the decision-maker will, in all likelihood, be even further removed from the scene of action. Unless he accepts, as a matter of course, that he had better go out and look at the scene of action, he will be increasingly divorced from reality. All a computer can handle are abstractions. And abstractions can be relied on only if they are constantly checked against the concrete. Otherwise, they are certain to mislead us. To go and look for oneself is also the best, if not the only, way to test whether the assumptions on which a decision had been made are still valid or whether they are becoming obsolete and need to be thought through again. And one always has to expect the assumptions to become obsolete sooner or later. Reality never stands still very long. Failure to go out and look is the typical reason for persisting in a course of action long after it has ceased to be appropriate or even rational.
Drucker, Peter F. (2017-01-24). The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done (Harperbusiness Essentials) (p. 159). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

The tragic, and shining example of this is the National Health Service’ Mid Staffordshire Hospital scandal – an estimated 400-1,200 deaths, in a place awash with data but not people seeing what was actually happening.

Being present saves lives.

Effectiveness in the 21st Century

…there is no inherent reason why decisions should be distasteful— but most effective ones are.
Drucker, Peter F. (2017-01-24). The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done (Harperbusiness Essentials) (p. 176). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Peter Drucker operated in a (cis-gender, heterosexual, white) male-dominated business world, which we now understand brought with it tremendous limitations in terms of growth, profitability, and success of the organizations so led.

Equality equals health. It equals effectiveness also. Diversity also allows the human species to survive 🙂 .

The social movements of our time have demonstrated the additional creativity, courage, and effectiveness that comes from the non-traditional, out-of-the way places. Everyone is necessary, and the computer as described accurately 50 years ago, has limitations. (My favorite quote about that, from 1966, is at the bottom of this post)

Drucker presages that reality:

We will have to satisfy both the objective needs of society for performance by the organization, and the needs of the person for achievement and fulfillment.

Drucker, Peter F. (2017-01-24). The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done (Harperbusiness Essentials) (p. 192). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

And the leaders of our time exemplify it

You know one thing for sure: If you’re a woman and you’re effective, you will be a target,” Pelosi said. “It isn’t a problem for me, because I care more about being effective than I care about being a target.”Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (2013)

What I Learned at DC Tech Meetup

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2017.04.17 DC Tech Meetup, Washington, DC USA 02487 (View on Flickr.com)

I keep going to @DCTechMeetup because the venues are so great…and it’s DC (of course). This time, the new venue was The Washington Post (@WashingtonPost), and the theme was tech for good.

I learned

  • The tech universe is more diverse than people realize
  • There are a lot of entrepreneurs doing the things that are not recognized/reimbursed in society (sounds familiar 🙂 )
  • Google Glass is still a thing, which of course I had to investigate, and caused me to miss a few of the demos (wherever you are is always the right place)
  • Online news is still growing up – interesting presentation by Washington Post Engineering (@WapoEngineering) and background about the way a newsroom works and how the social cues can be enabled by technology (also sounds familiar) – see this post Digital News Planning – Developer Blog – The Washington Post

Photos below, until next time, thanks for hosting!

April, 2017: What am I doing Now? Contribution and Effectiveness

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“This Business Supports Rainbow Crosswalks” – Washington, DC USA – 2017.04.16 DC People and Places 02453 (View on Flickr.com)

Greetings from Washington, DC (of course) and welcome to my second now update, April, 2017.

My Now profile and my contribution

Link: Ted Eytan, MD Profile on NowNowNow.com

What was great about this process was the questions asked in the creation of the profile.

To the question “What do you do?” I answered:

I create things and support people who help the world learn to love better.Ted Eytan, MD – NowNowNow.com Profile

I didn’t even think about creating a response based on my job duties. It was a wonderful coincidence, then, when I read the following passage in Peter Drucker’s “The Effective Executive“:

The head of one of the large management consulting firms always starts an assignment with a new client by spending a few days visiting the senior executives of the client organization one by one. After he has chatted with them about the assignment and the client organization, its history and its people, he asks (though rarely, of course, in these words): “And what do you do that justifies your being on the payroll?” The great majority, he reports, answer: “I run the accounting department,” or “I am in charge of the sales force.” Indeed, not uncommonly the answer is, “I have 850 people working under me.” Only a few say, “It’s my job to give our managers the information they need to make the right decisions,” or “I am responsible for finding out what products the customer will want tomorrow,” or “I have to think through and prepare the decisions the president will have to face tomorrow.”

The man who focuses on efforts and who stresses his downward authority is a subordinate no matter how exalted his title and rank. But the man who focuses on contribution and who takes responsibility for results, no matter how junior, is in the most literal sense of the phrase, “top management.” He holds himself accountable for the performance of the whole. (emphasis added by me)

Drucker, Peter F. (2017-01-24). The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done (Harperbusiness Essentials) (p. 59). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

I believe this type of thinking is a feature of the health professions. We tend to think about our purpose rather than our position in a hierarchy.

And Now

  • Assisting in Washington DC’s 10th Capital TransPride. It’s my 5th. This year the event will be hosted by Washington, DC’s Studio Theatre (@Studio_Theatre). It continues to be a great experience to work with this team – 360 degrees of people who are unapologetically proud 🙂 .

Capital TransPride producers, at the Studio Theatre, Washington, DC USA #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

  • Stil working on email newsletter generation and deep-diving into customer relations management systems as well as e-mail marketing. What a fascinating science
  • Reading Stumbling on Happiness
  • Planning my next mini-retirement. Because life is amazing, and I can. Probably at the end of this month.

Updates since my last now update

  • Mini-retirement ended (and it was fantastic)
  • Lots more photos taken, including of the Ivanka Trump Dance Party which received quite a bit of press
  • Coding for a new theme for this blog complete – you’re looking at now, what do you think?
  • “The Case Against Sugar” – Finished – My review is here
  • “Tools of Titans” – still in progress (waiting for my rotation at my local library)
  • “The Effective Executive” – Finished – review coming soon

Is there anything I should be doing that I’m not? I’m turning on the comments with this update, feel free to let me know.

Updated 2017.04.17 – Based on a movement created by Derek Sivers

Photo Friday: Vermont Avenue, NW, Gateway to the Future, Washington, DC USA

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“”Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, we stand together as neighbors”- districtoflove.org” 2017.04.12 DC People and Places 02295 (View on Flickr.com)

This week’s photograph was taken at the corner of Vermont Avenue, NW and U Street, in Washington, DC (of course), in front of the African American Civil War Memorial (@AfroAmCivilWar) In 2017. The sign identifies the significance of this location in United States history.

This happened on this corner in 1941:

Rally Against DC Police Brutality on U Street: 1941
Rally Against DC Police Brutality on U Street: 1941 (View on Flickr.com)

…and for the next 76 years several of the most significant civil rights movements of our time were conducted or were born in this vicinity, including the African American and LGBTQ communities. Last year I wrote a blog series about several of them, which you can access here.

As a person fascinated with the total health of a population and optimism for the future, my perspective this street is one of the most special in the United States.

Every year its neighbors (who have previously included Walt Whitman and Abraham Lincoln), get together to keep it beautiful,so that it can continue to host the future.

If you happen to be in Washington, DC and would like to contribute with the spirits and the ancestors, feel free.

More photos of 2017 below.

Photo Friday: At Q Street and at Q Street, NW, It’s LGBTQ Communities – Plural, Washington, DC USA

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Rayburn House Building with Q Street, the professional association of LGBT lobbyists and public policy advocates and those working for LGBT equality – 2017.04.07 LGBTQ Communities, Washington, DC USA 02171 (View on Flickr.com)

This week’s photographs were taken about 30 minutes and a few miles apart from each other.

They illustrate what I learned this week. It’s not “The LGBTQ community,” it’s “LGBTQ Communities”

The photograph above is of Q Street, the professional association of LGBT lobbyists and public policy advocates and those working for LGBT equality, at a reception at the Rayburn House Building, in downtown Washington, DC.

The photograph below was taken at Whitman Walker Health, just a few miles away, at the Capital Transpride (@DCTranspride) planning meeting, led by our Co-Chair, Bianca Rey (@BiancaRey) (and event sponsored at the platinum level by Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atlantic States – @KPMidAtlantic). Ruby Corado (@CasaRubyDC) happened to drop by, which made the meeting extra special.

Whitman Walker Health (@WhitmanWalker), our awesome host, by the way, is just off of Q Street (NW) itself, in Washington, DC.

The concept of communities plural came from from Catalina Velasquez (@ConsultCatalina) who is not pictured in the photographs below, but was in the room.

2017.04.07 The LGBTQ Communities, Washington, DC USA 02172
Capital TransPride Producers Group – at Whitman Walker Health, just off of Q Street, NW – 2017.04.07 LGBTQ Communities, Washington, DC USA 02172 (View on Flickr.com)

2017.04.07 The LGBTQ Communities, Washington, DC USA 02174
Capital TransPride Producers Group – at Whitman Walker Health, just off of Q Street, NW 2017.04.07 LGBTQ Communities, Washington, DC USA 02174 (View on Flickr.com)

I’m almost embarrassed to realize that this concept didn’t resonate for me until Catalina explained it to our group. And then I developed the digital film my camera and realized I live this concept every day.

I am more comfortable in some LGBTQ communities over others, like most humans. If you assume that I’m more comfortable in the community in the first photo vs the community in the 2nd and 3rd photos, challenge your assumptions – it’s my 5th TransPride 🙂 .

Because biology is what it is, LGBTQ communities include every race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity in the human species. As a result a member of these communities is more likely than not to connect with more of humanity. That’s been my personal experience and it’s been an asset in every endeavor I’ve been a part of. I can’t think of a better gift to be have been given.

I’m not really embarrassed that I just figured this out, I’m celebrating that this life opportunity includes a mentor around every corner, who isn’t just like me.

To enjoy this gift in Washington, DC, the most protective of the diversity of these communities in the nation, is (cream cheese, no sugar) icing on the kale. Enjoy.

Just Read: The Case Against Sugar

One of my earliest memories was the rush to the grocery store by my family to stock up on saccharin sweetened beverages when it was feared they would be pulled off the market, in 1977. The shelves were bare (it was as much an emergency as any I remember in the household)…

This was the headline (behind paywal, if you have library access):

By, Tom Shales. 1977. “Tears & Fears: Threat to Saccharin Spurs New Hoarding! Diet-Rite Dementia, Tab Teetotaling in the Offing?” The Washington Post (1974-Current File), Mar 15, 2..

I looked this piece of history up online after I read Gary Taubes’ The Case Against Sugar, and amazingly, in this piece from March, 1977, they seemed to express some of the wisdom that’s now being discussed 40 years later (almost to the day):

From Pending FDA Saccharin Ban A Bitter Dose for Many in U.S. – The Washington Post, April 4, 1977

There are various problems with the high current levels of consomption, according to food experts. Measured in calories, sugar and other sweeteners – the main other sweetener is corn syrup – now provide about a fifth of the average American’s daily diet. But sweeteners contain none of the protein, vitamins and minerals the average person needs. These things must come from the other four-fifths of the diet: in this sense, the sugar fifth is wasted.

A second problem is the more familiar and simpler one, that sweetened foods are fattening. A third, related problem is the pervasiveness of sweeteners. A high percentage of our food today is processed, as opposed to fresh, and a high percentage of processed food is sweetened.

More than two-thirds of our daily sugar and other sweeteners comes to us in processed foods, including soft drinks and other processed beverages.

The wisdom they may have not had, at least in popular thought, was that sugar is more than wasted calories. There’s evidence that it is a metabolically active distinct subtance that changes the chemistry of our bodies in ways other forms of calories do not.

And actually, many scientists already knew that, however that science wasn’t promoted or supported by various interests….

Exonerating Fat, Arguing Against Sugar

This book continues a series of works by Taubes and others calling into question a 40 year experiment (see: Just Read: Why Eating Fat May Not Make You Fat (The Big Fat Surprise) in changing American (and global) eating habits to banish fat, which by definition means promoting carbohydrates (you have to eat something).

And promote they did, according to the record –

et tu, Consumer reports? American Heart Association?

In our lifetimes…

The magazine Consumer Reports may have captured this logic perfectly (of creating sugar sweetened cereals) in 1986 when it claimed, “Eating any of the cereals would certainly provide better nutrition than eating no breakfast at all.”

(By the mid-1990s, even the American Heart Association was recommending we have sugar candies for snacks, rather than foods that contained saturated fat.)

Bringing Occam’s Razor

The book adopts a philosophy that is used in medicine widely – Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Otherwise quoted as “if it swims like a duck, sounds like a horse, etc etc.”

In doing so, the possible causes of what are known as “Western Diseases” (read location 3729 on kindle to see the list) are reviewed through a lens that involves insulin metabolism, and specifically insulin resistance, which is known to be central to diabetes and probably a requirement for obesity. The counter-discussion is that obesity is a cause of insulin resistance, this is what we were taught in medical school, and this is extensively reviewed in the book.

In any event, everything from gout to hypertension is recast in an Occam’s mindset, in that the things we’ve been taught about what causes these diseases (purines for gout, salt for hypertension) may actually link back to insulin resistance as causing the causes we were taught about.

Which happens to track the increase in consumption of sugar in society.

In fact, a review of my own postings from social media in 2012 reveals that I was unsure about the causes of hypertension, based on my own medical training and extensive review of the literature. That says something: (7) Ted Eytan’s answer to Does weight loss cause blood pressure to go down, or are both the result of something else (like more physical activity)? – Quora

The People and the Science

As with Nina Teicholz’ book, there’s a discussion of the people and personalities involved in the science and sociology of our diet, and like most humans, they are fallible, imperfect beings. It is true now that when I read a paper involving nutrition, I now have to study who the authors are and which institution they are from so that I can track back to the potential conflicts they may have. We always have done that with medical literature (review the science and relate it to the person doing the science), this book just gives a roadmap (along with Teicholz’) to the nutritional science community.

Where we came from

I have always believed that we have to know where we came from to know where we’re going, and there’s a ton of history in here. It’s a marvel to think about what was going on in Washington, DC, and even my home state of Arizona, when I was growing up, that would shape our country’s health destiny.

(side story: while I was an undergrad in Tucson, Arizona, I did some data entry on a nutritional study to get research experience, and I remember that the software that we were using didn’t have entries for the new “fat free” foods being marketed. My faculty sponsor told me, “Fat free salad dressing is really just sugar and water, so code it like that”)

The question of whether artificial sweeteners are healthy or not is not fully addressed in the book, because it’s not fully addressed in the science. What they (sweeteners) did, though, was raise the cry for a healthier life and a freedom from obesity and diabetes. Just read the quotes from the above Washington Post article:

“Please . . .” a woman from Dallas implores. “I don’t know what we would do for grandma if saccharin is banned.”

“I am . . . a former fat person!” another woman, from Huntington Beach, Calif., exclaim. “I use saccharin every day in cooking.”

“As the mother of a 12-year-old diabetic child, I appeal to you . . .” writes a third petitioner, from Dunwoody, Ga.

And this commercial from 1979, when a calorie was a calorie, and people were so…thin*.

*As a former fat person, the intent of sharing this bit of history is not to fat shame, it’s to explore the history of obesity and causes that might be reversible or preventable in the interest of health, with the recognition that health is multi-dimensional and factorial 🙂