December 20, 2020No Comments

Integral Character Traits | Christina Kohler Skyhook

Building in Public

There's a growing number of founders and companies in the start-up sphere that tote how they are 'building themselves in public'. The idea is that doing this will give founders not only an infinite supply of things to talk about, but also help them build trust with their customers, users and audience. The reason that this idea comes to mind is because constantly inside the AVN, we see Christina Hudson Kohler building her self in public.

She does this by sharing her far out goals in addition to progress as she moves towards them. From her small wins to bigger struggles, these tid-bits she shares in passing serve to make us more invested in her hero's journey. I for one, can't wait to attend a New York State Fair in which Christina Hudson Kohler is the head organizer.

Iterating > Marinating

@VisualizeValue on Twitter

Christina is an iterator. Over the last few months, she has consistently show up, put herself up for feedback on her ideas and speeches, and repeated. It is one thing to receive and marinate a piece of feedback or even an idea, but its another leap forward entirely to show back up and implement the change. At every opportunity, Christina takes that leap.

Mirroring Enthusiasm

We have a developing pattern language in the network of 'Do you see what I see?' and what we mean when we say this is roughly, 'here we are, 2 or more primates observing something, and we want to find common understanding in what we are seeing.'

More than words, Christina speaks this pattern language through her enthusiasm. There's an idea in public speaking that you need to roughly multiply your energy to match that of the audience in a given room. I once received this as feedback years ago, and I'm not sure I understood how to properly implement it until I met Christina. Almost like a poker tell, Christina's 'I see it' is spoken in nuance through how she mirrors the enthusiasm of the room in her interactions with the room. This makes Christina a standout character in a more populated setting because of how she communicates seeing what others see.

Whether it's her egg family farm in Syracuse, New York or her role as the New York Farm Bureau Young Farmer & Rancher Chair, Christina Hudson Kohler is an integral member of every system that it's she is a part of. While we haven't had the opportunity to see Christina in action directly in either of these roles, we are immeasurably grateful to have the pleasure of colliding with Christina inside of The Articulate Ventures Network on a daily basis.

Christina was among the first to join us in our little experiment we called the AVN. What started off as a beta pool of 10 users building the bedrock of our culture is now a growing community with members throughout the English speaking world. Christina has carried more weight than she knows in this initial effort, and we want to take the opportunity to skyhook her because we suspect that is the case in many of the places she plays a role. There are a handful of characteristics that Christina embodies that make this the case, here we've highlight just a few.

What traits make you an integral character?

November 24, 20201 Comment

The Character Flywheel | Miriam Hoffman Skyhook

Originally published at on November 24, 2020.

Miriam Hoffman is the type of individual that when you collide with her, you won't be able to help but receive a budding motivation to do what you can to promote her along her path. Miriam has a unique blend of humility and confidence that gives her a clear edge when it comes to her personal development. She's also recently become one of 6 National FFA officers and the first out of Illinois in 14 years. After watching her journey to this incredible achievement inside the AVN as she opened herself up to feedback and criticism to prepare for the competition, our whole community is ecstatic to continue to follow Miriam as she serves as the Eastern Region Vice President for the next year.

In this new series of AVN member Skyhooks, we're going to take the opportunity to highlight member achievements on no set schedule and relate them to ideas that we discuss inside the network. Because of Miriam's unique blend of humility and confidence, a noteworthy idea that came to mind is to plot these traits on a character flywheel, a concept pioneered by James Collins in his book Good to Great where he describes it in the following way —

No matter how dramatic the end result, good-to-great transformations never happen in one fell swoop. In building a great company or social sector enterprise, there is no single defining action, no grand program, no one killer innovation, no solitary lucky break, no miracle moment. Rather, the process resembles relentlessly pushing a giant, heavy flywheel, turn upon turn, building momentum until a point of breakthrough, and beyond. — Jim Collins

Amateur philosopher and friend of the network, Rob Long took Collins's flywheel concept and applied it to his own character to create what he calls his Stoic Flywheel. Long's flywheel consists of the following repeating cycle based on what he notes to be his core virtues, wisdom and courage —

  1. use wisdom to determine worthy goals
  2. use courage to accomplish those goals
  3. use transcendence to view the result of achieving the goal, which generates new wisdom
  4. return to the first step

Taking this same idea and mapping instead to Miriam's standout blend of humility and confidence, we can build a very similar character model —

  1. use humility to seek room for improvement
  2. use confidence to make those improvements
  3. use transcendence to view the result of having improved, which generates new humility
  4. return to the first step

When looking at the above 2 models, the pairings of wisdom with courage and humility with confidence look like synonyms. Knowing the terms individually however, and especially Miriam and Rob as individuals who embody these traits, the distinction becomes increasingly clear.

In a way, humility and wisdom are dichotomies. Rob has the wisdom to choose a course of action and know what challenges it may bring. He then has the courage to move forward despite these challenges. Take this opposite to Miriam who has the humility to see opportunities to promote growth, and she has this humility in tandem with the confidence or self assurance to pursue these opportunities. It is appreciable all the same that modeling both against a flywheel is a vivid way to understand how these two continue to make strides in their character development.

The fun question then becomes —

What are your flywheel traits?

To connect with a community of growth-oriented individuals like Miriam and Rob, check out the Articulate Ventures Network. We are a patchwork of thinkers that want to articulate ideas in a forum where they can be respectfully challenged, improved and celebrated so that we can explore complex subjects, learn from those we disagree with and achieve our personal & professional goals.

October 19, 20202 Comments

Escape the Echo Chambers

An echo chamber is a closed system where the variables inside are amplified by their own reverberation because they are insulated from rebuttal outside that system.

The major social platforms are doing their users an injustice by acting against the highest value that they could hope to offer — the free exchange of ideas, by placing their users inside of an algorithmically driven echo chamber the second that they join the platform. These categorizations help determine which ideas to expose you to in your feed. Every action you take further cements and narrows who you are in the eyes of the respective platform and which ideas to send your way to generate engagement from you in the form of a 'Like' or some similar metric.

I think a lot about the negative effects of an echo chamber when it comes to social mediums because of recent work I've been doing with the Articulate Ventures Network. Here, we've created a culture and medium to promote the free exchange of ideas and a place where even disagreements become constructive. Individuals communicate with the intention to gain a deeper understanding of each other's perspective. We refer to this in our own pattern language as a 'Town Hall' effect.

When a group of people come out to a town hall, they are prompted to exchange ideas around a given set of issues regarding the future of their community. Thoughts are turned over in the palms of each other's brains and while dialog can get heated, individuals know that these are people that they must see and be civil with again in the future, so there is a positive incentive to not burn bridges in this setting that is not equally prevalent through most massive online mediums.

We've willingly walked into the major social media outlets' echo chambers as the algorithms that run them feed in new ideas and agents for the artificial goal of engagement rather than true interaction and exchange. The segmentation of these forums makes it so that alternative perspectives are unwelcomed and unable to anneal the ideas of it's members thus the echoing begins to amplify the strongest idea node that brings the group together, too often to a negative pole from the rational center.

It's easy to advertise to known niches which is the main incentive in this case, the more narrow, the better, but advertising at it's root is purchasing the attention of it's audience. When you're able to purchase someone's attention, which Rob Long calls one's 'bandwidth for changing the universe', there's an opportunity to place before people false truths that can determine their future actions. All the more disastrous is when a negative agent takes the opportunity to throw a venomous concept into this chamber and watch it bounce around until the conversation reaches a climax, converting to an action that has negative consequences to the members outside it's group.

A few weeks ago in a separate post, I noted that I look often at the world and feel anxiety when I see others spending their attention & acting in response to false truths that the cabal has placed before them as a false incentive mechanism. I want to do what I can to bring people together to independently amongst each other, discover what they deem to be true with all the information available to them so they can best act in accordance with how they are capable of making the biggest positive impact on the world.

It's for this reason, I'm so passionate about the work we're doing within the network I mentioned above, but ours is far from the only one. We are a patchwork of thinkers that want to articulate ideas in a forum where they can be respectfully challenged, improved and celebrated so that we can explore complex subjects, learn from those we disagree with and achieve our personal & professional goals. Check us out if you're interested HERE.

I encourage anyone reading to seek a similar forum to have your ideas challenged and to expose yourself to new perspectives. Here are the most powerful communities I'm a part of that are worth checking out:

Visualize Value — Helping ambitious people master their mental health and build independent income. ($99/year)

The Portal — We are a project-driven community spread over many interest areas and a variety of backgrounds. (Free by invite only to the main server)

Farnam Street — A community that shortens the path to wisdom by connecting you to other eager self educators. ($149/year)

Lex Fridman's Server — Conversations about science, technology, history, philosophy and the nature of intelligence, consciousness, love, and power. (Free)