Author Archives: randy

Starting Strong is good – Finishing Strong is better

You can go wrong so many ways.

One way you can go wrong is by starting out wrong.
Or starting out on the wrong path.
Or starting out just half-heartedly.

But…even if you get the start right, that is…alas…no guarantee that you will get the end right.

So, another way to go wrong is to end poorly.  To fail to finish strong.

As is often the case, there are analogies from sports contests.

This weekend, Tyson Fury was knocked down, twice, by Deontay Wilder III in his heavyweight championship boxing match; twice in the same round.

Fury had never been knocked down twice in one round.

It was the fourth round.  Still fairly early in the fight.

But, Tyson Fury, got back up, went back to work, and finished strong.  And he won the fight.

The thrill of victory...and the agony of defeat...

The thrill of victory…and for the other team,  the agony of defeat…

Or… Texas jumped out to a huge 14-0 lead over Oklahoma in their football game on Saturday, in under two minutes.  And then they carried a 28-7 lead after the first quarter.  That is starting strong!

Fans (like me) sort of…relaxed…
They should not have.

Because, alas, Texas did not finish strong, and they lost the game.

Maybe the lesson, for life, and for business, is simply this:  get off to a good start.  And then work hard on your plan until the last second of the last quarter.

Start strong.
Stay strong.
Finish strong.

That is all.

Here is the October, 2021 New York Times list of best-selling business books – Vanderbilt by Anderson Cooper is at #1

VanderbiltThe New York Times has published its list of best-selling business books for October, 2021.  For the first time in many, many months, Atomic Habits by James Clear has fallen from the #1 spot to #2.  This was knocked from the top spot by the Vanderbilts… which is…understandable.

Of the ten books on this month’s list, we have presented five at the First Friday Book Synopsis, our business book event based in Dallas.  I have presented Atomic Habits, Dare to Lead, and Extreme Ownership.  My former colleague Karl Krayer presented Thinking, Fast and Slow and Grit.

In fact, Extreme Ownership, Dare to Lead, and Atomic Habits are all books that I have presented to many client companies and leadership teams.  Two on leadership; one on personal habits, along with some insight into corporate habits.  These are all good and needed books.

I present a true synopsis of the books I select:  key excerpts, the key points and insights, and my own lessons and takeaways.  It is more than, and different from, a review.  It provides enough of the content that one can ponder key lessons, and put some into action.  And, of course, my synopses spur many to read the books on their own.

Here is the New York Times list of business best sellers.  Click over to their site for links to reviews of a couple of these books.

#1 – Vanderbilt by Anderson Cooper and Katherine Howe
#2 – Atomic Habits by James Clear
#3 – Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
#4 – The Perfect Day to Boss Up by Rick Ross with Neil Martinez-Belkin
#5 – Red Roulette by Desmund Shum
#6 – Woke, Inc. by Vivek Ramaswamy
#7 – Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
#8 – Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
#9 – I Will Teach You to be Rich, Second Edition by Ramit Sethi
#10 – Grit by Angela Duckworth

I presented my synopsis of this book early in 2019

I presented my synopsis of this book early in 2019

You can purchase our synopses presentations from the buy synopses tab at the top of this page.  On that page, you can search by book title. And click here for our newest additions. My synopses for Reset will be available soon.

Each synopsis comes with my comprehensive, multi-page synopsis handout, plus the audio recording of my presentation delivered at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.

Reset: A Leader’s Guide to Work in an Age of Upheaval by Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. – Here are my seven lessons and takeaways

Reset• Simply put, Reset is the most effective guide to reimagining your organization at a time when we need it most. “Reset” means developing truly inclusive organizations that leverage differences for growth and innovation. It means reexamining antiquated paradigms and developing policies that support your unique company culture.
• If you’re a leader, active, aspiring, or otherwise, this is not just the right book at the right time—it is essential reading for building better workplaces and a better world.  
• This book combines decades of research and experience gained by those of us at SHRM with everything we learned in 2020.
• At its heart, Reset provides an inside look at how leaders lead in times of crisis and provides a playbook for reinventing an enterprise, no matter the crucible it finds itself in.  
• Are we meeting the paradigm shifts of the moment?
Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., Reset: A Leader’s Guide to Work in an Age of Upheaval


We are facing difficult days.

Supply chains are dramatically disrupted.  Workplaces are in turmoil, with remote work, vaccine mandates, tense if not hostile interactions all around us.

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. calls this an age of upheaval.  That may be a better word than the acronym VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity), which certainly provides good descriptives for this era.  But upheaval is what we feel.  And, it is not a good feeling.

I presented my synopsis of Mr. Taylor’s new book at the October First Friday Book SynopsisReset: A Leader’s Guide to Work in an Age of Upheaval.  It is a good book; a needed book. And the value may come as much from its honest acknowledgement of what we feel in this moment of upheaval as it does from its solutions.  After all, “Houston, we have a problem” is the first thing it acknowledge, isn’t it?!

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.

Who is Johnny C. Taylor, Jr? He serves as President and CEO of The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).  Before this , he served as CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund for seven years. Earlier, he was Vice President of Human Resources at Blockbuster. And, he states:  I am one of the few African American CEOs who had been a big supporter of Hillary Clinton and was, during the summer of 2020, a Trump administration appointee as the Chairman of the Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.”

In this book, he uses plenty of his experiences in SHRM, and refers to the many data studies done by SHRM, to inform his views.  This brings valuable perspective.

I always begin my synopses with “What is the point?” Here is the point for this book: A great crisis can create a moment of great reset. The COVID crisis has provided such a reset moment. This book says: here are ways we need to respond, and succeed, through this crisis. 

And I ask Why is this book worth our time?  Here are my three reasons for this book:

#1 – This book is a big picture overview of what companies need to succeed in this moment, and other moments, of crisis.
#2 – This book is a terrific overview of a number of corporate-culture stories.  Good and bad stories; and with notable differences even among the good.
#3 – This book provides a reasoned look at the diversity challenges of today and tomorrow.

I always include Quotes and Excerpts from the book – the “best of” Randy’s highlighted Passages.  Here are a few of the best of the best from ths book:

• Typically, we tend to be creatures of habit. We want to default to the status quo.   
• Forward thinkers foster a culture of innovation and survive and thrive amid the tumult.  
• Let’s look at what happened during the early days of the pandemic. In an instant, there were 190 million people unemployed worldwide. 
• Do I have people who are willing to try things, or do I have people who say they’re willing to try things?  
• When we provide the best and brightest leaders to a small company, how do we convince those executives this is not a step back?  …you really should put your absolute best and strongest talent on those new fledgling companies with innovative ideas, because they’re the divisions that have the most upside, need the smartest people, and will benefit from the bigger picture the most.   
• You can’t put stipulations on innovation.  …Innovation doesn’t happen under suppression.  
• The master of a challenge culture knows when to care about the thoughts of others and when to dismiss them summarily. 
• But there was also a critical pivot point inside Netflix where the most important person at the organization was on the verge of being fired—a guy by the name of Ted Sarandos. And today he is the co-CEO and chief content officer. …He developed algorithms that focused on audience preferences. Why not understand what viewers want instead of guessing?  …He kept pushing envelopes.  
• Defining moments are generated by great minds thinking ahead. Standing still is by definition falling behind. 
• Do you recruit tinkerers? Tinkerers are the kind of people who see value but always want to see more. 
• The key insight here: almost across the board, Black working Americans are more likely to report negative experiences and feelings related to race and social justice in the workplace. The only measured category where white workers were more likely to report concerns than Black workers was concern over inappropriateness of discussing race at work.  
• You want to project the right culture to attract talent, but it has to be authentic.  
• In his book, No Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention, Hastings discusses how to manage the creative juices of talented employees by empowering the best in the business as a team, not a family. …In a family, love is permanent and unconditional. On a team, you can be cut.
• Sadly, it seems like the only time our society really focuses on racism is when America is in flames. And it keeps happening. Thirty years ago it was Rodney King. Twenty years ago it was Amadou Diallo. And over the past decade it has been Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, and so many more…  
• One part of me says, “Okay, we’re at four hundred years since the beginning of slavery in America, so I’m fully aware that change doesn’t happen overnight.” But how many overnights does it take?

Here are number of the key points and insights from the book that I included in my synopsis:

  • THE crisis:
  • Covid-19. The pandemic was an entirely different, once-in-a-lifetime crisis. As it unfolded through the months, those of us in HR were at a loss. …But there was nothing in our toolkit that could address this threat to our very existence as individuals, families, and a workforce.
  • Lessons learned in the midst of the crisis:
  1. Culture comes first. — You’ll never have a better opportunity to assess the members of your leadership team for their cultural alignment than when they are put on the spot during a crisis.
  2. Data is your greatest friend.
  3. Be “extra.”
  4. The net effect is that it demands innovation and reinvention.
  • Nurture the problem-solving quick thinkers you discovered during times of turmoil or transition. The only way businesses are going to evolve at an inflection point is to have people who possess innovation in their DNA. 
  • Needed traits:
  • Curiosity and a natural ability to question the status quo.
  • Risk-taking and a willingness to learn from failure.
  • Openness—organizations with strong silos tend to be less innovative.
  • Patience, tenacity, and the sense of giving an idea a chance to grow.
  • Trust, underpinning the other values.
  • Changes that might last…
  • New technology amid the Covid-19 reality—virtual meetings and even recruiting and onboarding through Zoom and other virtual platforms—has allowed us to ask the question, Can reduced commute times for remote workers lead to more productivity, or will the physical disconnect and inability of remote workers to collaborate in person cause more harm than good? 
  • The right and wrong “Rs”
  • The wrong “Rs” – Rules; Roles; Relationships; Righteousness (who is right)
  • The Right “Rs” – Results; Reconnaissance (Data and information); Resourcefulness (evidence; design thinking); Reimagination.
  • Culture matters…
  • In the textbook sense, culture is how business gets done. – (Culture is how sh*t gets done).
  • The culture provides the guidelines by which we accomplish things. So there is how sh*t gets done and then there is the way sh*t happens.
  • At the end of the day, your true culture is what your employees say it is, not what the company slogan spells out on the breakroom bulletin board. …the body language is the tell.
  • Culture only works if you bring in people who are aligned with it.
  • One in five Americans had left their jobs in the past five years due to a bad company culture.
  • Two “rules” for the hiring process:
  • Do not tell candidates about culture up front. First, listen to what they have to say about their experiences and beliefs.
  • Make sure at least three people are involved in the hiring process. 
  • Choose harmony over discord
  • There’s no way you can maintain a cultural harmony if you keep bringing in people who seek discord. They will either not fit, quit, or stay—and the latter could set you up for a detractor who becomes corrosive over time.
  • (RM; note:You don’t want leaders dividing the team). 
  • Health matters – all kinds of health, including and especially mental health
  • Emotional wellness and mental health are finally front and center. …When workers are healthy both mentally and physically, the work environment is more productive and positive.
  • Diversity matters…
  • The wage gap is a persistent problem, no matter how many times we point out the stat: women make eighty-two cents on the dollar compared to men in equal jobs. …The New York Times headline on March 24, 2021, said it all: “In 25 Years, the Pay Gap Has Shrunk by Just 8 Cents.”
  • (George Floyd) – It was a horrifying scene that publicly ripped the lid off the lived experiences of Black and Brown people in our society.
  • At my core, I’m about solutions and believe what’s broken can be fixed if you do the work to change the culture. …I will always believe that empathy is the key to solving our most vexing problems.
  • I have also heard loud and clear the desire to ensure that we do not turn our attention to issues of race only when there is a crisis. We can and should allow crises to accelerate progress on how we live out our values, but the work must go on even when distressing episodes do not dominate the headlines.
  • Note:  he recommends something specific about who should be the Chief Diversity Officer. Let me explain… (The CDO is not the consolation prize).
  • In 2020, there were only five Black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, just 20 percent of C-suite jobs belonged to women, and just 4 percent of those women were Black.2 These numbers have been stagnant for a decade.
  • Pay attention to this difference on who is more “activist”
  • Millennials are the generation most likely to be employee activists (48%), almost twice as likely as Boomers (27%).
  • What’s clear? A company’s reputation is Googled by potential hires more than its pay structure in many cases.
  • It’s not just the employer who wants cultural alignment; it’s the employee. And yet we spend most of our time focused on technical competency in hiring as opposed to a checklist that brings cultural alignment into the equation.
  • (Also) — When people feel as though they are misaligned with the culture of the company they work for, they end up engaging in what for years was called “counterproductive behaviors.” Today it’s called “employee activism.” 
  • The power of the people you overlook
  • The hidden value of tapping nontraditional talent pools (and how they can put your business over the top).
  • When we talk about aging employees, disabled workers, immigrants, the formerly incarcerated, or people with criminal records, where does your mind go? Do you see these folks as valued additions to your workforce or “mercy” hires?
  • This is a wake-up argument and appeal for leaders to acknowledge long-undisputed facts such as how having 50 percent or more women on your team increases innovation, or how hiring disabled workers increases both morale and retention.
  • Curiosity matters
  • Let’s calculate the incurious mind…
  • There will always be a skills gap—and we need to address that with remote education, distance learning, and new tools—but what we really have to focus on is a more pressing issue: the curiosity gap.
  • Curiosity is a trait, not a test score; it’s ethereal, not visible.
  • If you don’t address this curiosity gap, you’ll undercut yourself. If you don’t hire lifelong learners or cultivate inquisitiveness or invest in willing workers, the next paradigm shift, maybe the one happening right now, is going to unfold without your company. Then you’ll find out the hard way. 
  • Training matters, but…
  • We have to put resources toward continuous learning to build for the ever-changing future. We have to think ahead, plan now.
  • Basically 60% of training is “fixed” (hard skills; compliance issues).40% is flexible. This 40% is where curiosity and innovation can be nurtured.
  • A few thoughts from Randy:
  • everybody (every leader; every author) says hire the right people. A serious question:are there enough “right people” to go around?  — {Remember Twyla Tharp’s challenge and wisdom – “As a choreographer, my task is to make the best possible work with the dancers I find in the room on any given day.” From The Collaborative Habit}.
  • Your biggest challenge isn’t technology, innovation, or even leadership. It’s finding, hiring, and engaging the right talent to thrive now and in the future.
  • we have a genuine long-term problem… The same remote technology that saved many of our workplaces in recent years has also shone the light on why we need face-to-face interactions to do our best work.
  • a thought about education…maybe it is too soon to jettison the liberal arts:
  • At SHRM, for years I have been asking for, and dying for, a writing sample assessment of job candidates. If you were to ask me to identify the biggest skill deficit we have at SHRM, I would tell you it’s writing talent.

And here are my six lessons and takeaways:

#1 – There will be the next crisis; and the next. Don’t be shocked when it arrives.
#2 – The moment of crisis calls for innovative leadership; and great flexibility.
#3 – We are changing; we have to find the good in the midst of all the change.  The good technology tools; the good design thinking ideas; the good workers…
#4 – Cultivate your own curiosity. Read more widely.
#5 – Champion curiosity – the curious people in your midst – in every way that you can.  The future steps forward will likely come from the curious minds among us.
#6 – And, yes, the author may be biased, but maybe he is right – we do need bold, curious, courageous, innovative people in leadership positions in Human Resources.

And, maybe I should add this seventh lesson and takeaway:  we really do have to do a much better job dealing with the racial justice issues we face.

This is a good book.  For its recommendations and solutions, yes.  But, maybe more for its honesty about the upheaval we all feel, and face.  I recommend the book, especially for leadership teams.

And…stay curious!


You can purchase our synopses presentations from the buy synopses tab at the top of this page.  On that page, you can search by book title. And click here for our newest additions. My synopses for Reset will be available soon.

Each synopsis comes with my comprehensive, multi-page synopsis handout, plus the audio recording of my presentation delivered at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.

AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future by Kai-Fu Lee and Chen Qiufan – Here are my five lessons and takeaways

AI 2041 {In a July 2020 review in The New York Times, Farhad Manjoo said that GPT-3’s ability to generate computer code, poetry, and prose is not just “amazing”, “spooky”, and “humbling”, but also “more than a little terrifying.”}


• This book is based on realistic AI, or technologies that either already exist or can be reasonably expected to mature within the next twenty years. …based on technologies with a greater than 80-percent likelihood of coming to pass in that timeframe.  
• While most technologies were job creators and job destroyers at the same time—think about how the assembly line changed the automotive industry from artisans hand-assembling expensive cars to routine workers building many cars at much lower prices—the explicit goal of AI is to take over human tasks, thereby decimating jobs.  
• Further, as an adviser to governments on AI strategy, I can make predictions based on my knowledge of policy and regulation frameworks, and the reasoning behind them.
• Most of all, we hope you will agree that the tales in AI 2041 reinforce our belief in human agency—that we are the masters of our fate, and no technological revolution will ever change that.  
• Kai-Fu and I endeavored to portray a future where AI technology could influence individuals and societies positively. We wished to imagine a future that we would like to live in—and to shape.
• AI is now at a tipping point. …The days of slow progress are over.  
• Kai-Fu delineates the ways in which AI could change human society in twenty years in areas ranging from medicine and education to entertainment, employment, and finance.
• AI is an omni-use technology that will penetrate virtually all industries.  …Its effects are being felt in four waves, beginning with Internet applications, followed by applications in business (e.g. financial services), perception (think smart cities), and autonomous applications, like vehicles.
• By the time you read this new book in late 2021 or beyond, the predictions I made in AI Superpowers will have largely become reality. We must now look ahead to new frontiers. 
• According to Amara’s law, “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.”

Kai-Fu Lee, Chen Qiufan, AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future


Artificial Intelligence.  AI, for short.

AI is having something of a moment.

Martin Ford, whose book Rise of the Robots won the Business Book of the Year award in 2015 (McKinsey, and the Financial Times.  Here’s the complete list of finalists and winners).  Mr. Ford has a new book, Rule of the Robots: How Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Everything.

Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, has a new book coming out soon called The Age of AI: And Our Human Future. This book is co-authored by Daniel Huttenlocher and Henry Kissinger; yes, that Henry Kissinger.

And, Kai-Fu Lee, the author of AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order, has a new book named AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future, co-authored by science fiction writer Chen Qiufan.  This is one of the two books I presented at the October First Friday Book Synopsis.  (Yes, I plan to present Martin Ford’s new book in either December or January, with the Schmidt, Huttenlocher, and Kissinger book shortly after that).

So, as I said, AI is having a moment.

And, from everything I am reading, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

As with all of my synopses, I ask “What is the point. Here it is for this book:  The ever-increasing advance of the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing our world; and will continue to do so, at an accelerating pace.  This is mostly good; even wonderful. Except for a key danger, or two, or three…

And I ask Why is this book worth our time?  Here are my three reasons for this book:

#1 – This book provides a crash course in the technological advances that fall under the overall umbrella of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
#2 – This book is worth reading for its unique approach:  science fiction short stories, plus expert analysis.
#3 – This book will make you more literate about AI – and this is a needed literacy for today and many tomorrows.

This is an unusual, inventive book.  I felt the need to explain just what it was.  Here is my description/explanation (Portions in italics are directly from the book)

What is this book?

  • This book contains 10 imaginings of the world in 2041, with all the capabilities of AI in use by that time. These 10 imaginings are each short stories, science fiction stories, written by science fiction writer Chen Qiufan.
  • This book contains analyses of the uses of AI, and issues raised by this use of AI, of each of these 10 imaginings.  These are written by Kai Fu-Lee, the author of the book AI Superpowers.
  • Qiufan and I worked out a unique arrangement. I first created a “technology map” that projected when certain technologies would mature, how long it would take to gather data and iterate AI, and how easy it would be to build a product in various industries.
  • Think of AI 2041 not as “science fiction” but as “scientific fiction.”
  • The first seven stories were designed to cover technology applications for different industries in increasing technological complexity, along with their ethical and societal implications. …such as the loss of traditional jobs, an unprecedented abundance of goods, exacerbated inequality, an autonomous weapons arms race, trade-offs between privacy and happiness, and the human pursuit of a higher purpose.

I always include around 80-100 key Quotes and Excerpts from the book – the “best of” Randy’s highlighted Passages.  Here are a few of the best from this book:

• AI is outperforming judges in fair and consistent sentencing, and radiologists in diagnosing lung cancer, as well as powering drones that will change the future of delivery, agriculture, and warfare. 
• …Relying on “thought leaders” ought to be the best option, but unfortunately most who claim the title are experts in business, physics, or politics, not AI technology. Their predictions often lack scientific rigor.
• Science fiction has the capacity to serve as a warning, but speculative storytelling also has a unique ability to transcend time-space limitations, connect technology and humanities, blur the boundary between fiction and reality, and spark empathy and deep thinking within its reader.  …Historian and bestselling author Yuval Noah Harari has called science fiction “the most important artistic genre” of our time. 
• From the modern submarine to the laser gun, and from mobile phones to CRISPR, scientists will readily admit they got direct inspirations from fiction. Imagination indeed shapes the world. 
• The greatest value of science fiction is not providing answers, but rather raising questions.
• For instance, can AI help humans prevent the next global pandemic by eliminating it at the very root? How can we deal with future job challenges?   
• Today, your smartphone holds millions of times more processing power than the NASA computers that sent Neil Armstrong to the moon in 1969. …Similarly, the Internet of 2020 is almost one trillion times larger than the Internet of 1995. 
• One company’s recruiting department may find that its AI algorithms are biased against women because the training data didn’t include enough women. 
• Recently, research has shown that AI is able to infer sexual orientation with high accuracy based on facial micro-expressions. Such abilities could lead to discrimination.   
• History suggests that, with time, many of the early errors of a new technology will be fixed and improved upon. 
• There will also need to be laws that make the penalty for making malicious deepfakes very high, in order to deter potential perpetrators.
• Perhaps in twenty years, GPT-23 will read every word ever written and watch every video ever produced and build its own model of the world. This all-knowing sequence transducer would contain all the accumulated knowledge of human history.   
• When we look back in 2041, we will likely see healthcare as the industry most transformed by AI. 
…human life expectancy increased from thirty-one years in 1900 to seventy-two years in 2017. Today, • I believe we are at the cusp of another revolution for healthcare, in which digitization will enable the application of all data technologies from computing, communications, mobile, robotics, data science, and, most important, AI.
• But over time, when trained on more data, AI will become so good that most doctors will be routinely rubber-stamping AI diagnoses, while the human doctors themselves are transformed into something akin to compassionate caregivers and medical communicators. 
• Robot-assisted surgeries have increased from 1.8 percent of all surgeries in 2012 to 15.1 percent in 2018.  
• Extrapolating from this trend, we can expect all surgeries will have some robotic participation in twenty years, with fully autonomous robotic surgeries increasingly accounting for the majority of procedures.   
• Rejuvenation biotechnology will no longer be limited to the ultrarich but made available for all.
• More data leads to better AI, more automation leads to greater efficiency, more usage leads to reduced cost, and more free time leads to greater productivity.
• By that time, people who love driving will do what equestrians do today—go to private areas designated for entertainment or sports. 
• Taxi, truck, bus, and delivery drivers will be largely out of luck in a self-driving world. …There are over 3.8 million Americans who directly operate trucks or taxis for a living, and many more who drive part-time for Uber/ Lyft, the post office, delivery services, warehouses, and so on.   
• I believe there is an 80-percent chance that by 2041 there will be a functional 4,000 logical qubit (and over a million physical qubits) quantum computer that can do what was described in “Quantum Genocide,” at least as it relates to cracking the encryption used for today’s bitcoins.

Here are a number of key observations I made about the book, and key points from the book:

  • Definition:
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) is smart software and hardware capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence. AI is the elucidation of the human learning process, the quantification of the human thinking process, the explication of human behavior, and the understanding of what makes intelligence possible.
  • Terms:
  • Among the many subfields of AI, machine learning is the field that has produced the most successful applications, and within machine learning, the biggest advance is “deep learning”—so much so that the terms “AI,” “machine learning,” and “deep learning” are sometimes used interchangeably (if imprecisely).
  • Deep Learning: — The first academic paper describing deep learning dates all the way back to 1967. It took almost fifty years for this technology to blossom. …deep learning requires large amounts of data and computing power for training the artificial neural network.
  • Deep learning requires much more data than humans, but once trained on big data, it will outperform humans by far for a given task, especially in dealing with quantitative optimization (like picking an ad to maximize likelihood of purchase, or recognizing a face out of a million possible faces).
  • While humans are limited in the number of things they can pay attention to at once, a deep-learning algorithm trained on an ocean of information will discover correlations between obscure features of the data that are too subtle or complex for we humans to comprehend, and which may not even be noticed.
  • In order for deep learning to function well, the following are required: massive amounts of relevant data, a narrow domain, and a concrete objective function to optimize.
  • Machine Learning; think Deep Learning. Computers learning “on their own…”
  • the Singularity – that moment when computing power will surpass human capability.
  • What’s coming?
  • true autonomous vehicles (driverless cars) – (Note:75% of the cost of moving things in vehicles is the cost of the driver)
  • incredible medical breakthroughs — what has become clear now is that AI will reshape healthcare. – (Already) – For determining protein folding (step 2), in 2020, DeepMind developed AlphaFold 2, which is AI’s greatest achievement for science to date.
  • Alternative/Extended Realities, first in games, then in ways we have not yet conceived (Note: Microsoft just sold $ 22 billion of HoloLens to the U.S. Army over the next ten years for training to deliver situational awareness, information sharing, and decision-making).
  • XR is a term encompassing three types of technologies: VR, AR, and MR {Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR)}. 
  • incredible teaching/learning tools – (e.g., students will be able to “watch” Abraham Lincoln deliver the Gettysburg Address)
  • basically, the end of physical work; and the end of routine work. Thus, a problem – what will people do?
  • the end of much suffering, and the end of scarcity… …maybe, ultimately, the end of “money” as we now know it; thus, the end of inequality.
  • possibly – and this is very bad, indeed — dangerous, autonomous weapons…
  • Autonomous weaponry is the third revolution in warfare, following gunpowder and nuclear arms. …AI-enabled true autonomy—the full engagement of killing: searching for, deciding to engage, and obliterating another human life, completely without human involvement.
  • Imagine, a $1,000 political assassin! And this is not a far-fetched danger for the future, but a clear and present danger.
  • This seems especially important:
  • AI learns best from massive amounts of data.  – Consider this fact in its use in medicine.  Early versions were built on the idea of, and the input of, human writings, by humans, for other humans on medicine.  The big breakthroughs have come – (and much bigger ones are coming) – from AI’s use of raw data; lots and lots of data.
  • The big, big breakthrough will come when Quantum Computing arrives.
  • (from) forty years ago, we now have about one trillion times more computing power available for AI experimentation, and storing the necessary data is fifteen million times cheaper. – Note:  this is not yet enough.
  • quantum computing has the potential to revolutionize machine learning and solve problems that were once viewed as impossible.
  • What is AI mostly doing now? – Generating money for its owners.
  • Today’s AI usually optimizes this singular goal—most commonly to make money (more clicks, ads, revenues).

And here are my five lessons and takeaways:

#1 – AI is here, and is getting stronger, better, faster, at an accelerated pace. It will not go away.
#2 – AI will be a threat to many, many jobs.  Every job that follows a routine is threatened. And many more.
#3 – AI has the chance to free us from mundane work. Maybe, to free us from all work. What then?
#4 – AI may solve our biggest problems: scarcity of resources; disease and illness.
#5 — AI may change the entire economic system of the planet. And that will require quite an adjustment.

Martin Ford says that AI will have as big an impact as the arrival of electricity.  We don’t yet know all the changes that AI will bring into our lives and to our planet.  But…it will be big; no, bigger than that!  As I said, we ain’t seen nothin yet.


You might want to read my blog post on the earlier book:  AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order by Kai-Fu Lee – Here are my six lessons and takeaways.


You can purchase our synopses presentations from the buy synopses tab at the top of this page.  On that page, you can search by book title. And click here for our newest additions. My synopses for AI 2041 will be available soon.  (My synopses of AI Superpowers, and Rise of the Robots are also available).

Each synopsis comes with my comprehensive, multi-page synopsis handout, plus the audio recording of my presentation delivered at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.

Coming for the November 5 First Friday Book Synopsis, over Zoom – The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World by Dorie Clark; and The Power of Pressure: Why Pressure Isn’t the Problem, It’s the Solution by Dane Jensen


First Friday Book Synopses
Friday, November 5, 2021

7:30 am, CST

The First Friday Book Synopsis
is currently on Zoom.

Over 100 people are gathering for our monthly sessions of the First Friday Book Synopsis on Zoom.

{We meet every month, on the first Friday of the month, 7:30 am, (CST). Please add our event to your monthly calendar}.


Come join us on Zoom on Friday, November 5, 7:30 am (Central Time).

Click on image for full view

Click on image for full view

Randy Mayeux provides thorough synopses of the content of useful, best-selling business books. He provides a comprehensive, multi-page synopsis handout, that concludes with his own lessons and takeaways from each book he presents.


What we know, we know because we have learned.

And, our learning begins with the thoughts we think, and the words we read and hear.  And, of course, the observations we make.

And, one good way to keep learning – some would argue the best way to keep learning – is to learn what is in the best books.
I hope you can join us!

November 5, 2021 – Zoom

1. The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World by Dorie Clark.
2. The Power of Pressure: Why Pressure Isn’t the Problem, It’s the Solution by Dane Jensen.

Zoom link below
Please invite one and all to participate in this session.

What to expect:
Two fast paced synopsis presentations. You will receive a synopsis handout to download for each of the two books, delivered the day before the event, via e-mail.

(I will also post the link to download the handouts on my blog:

This meeting will be available to all for free. If you care to participate financially, you might send $12.00 to the First Friday Book Synopsis through Pay Pal. Click here to send money:


We began our monthly gatherings back in April, 1998. Two books, every month. A full synopsis.

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO READ THE BOOKS IN ADVANCE! – No pre-reading of the books required!

{For years, we met at the wonderful Park City Club in Dallas. We have switched to Zoom during the pandemic season}.

We have continued to average over 100 people gathering each month on Zoom for the First Friday Book Synopsis.

On November 5, I will present my synopses of two very good books.11,5,2021 FFBS

The first book is:
The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World by Dorie Clark.
This Harvard Business Review publication is designed to help you think about the bigger picture – the longer view – even as we are faced with the ongoing short-term challenges of the pandemic.

The second book is:
The Power of Pressure: Why Pressure Isn’t the Problem, It’s the Solution by Dane Jensen.
This is a book that helps us deal with the ever-present pressure we feel in the modern work and life environment; including the pressure that has increased because of the pandemic. This is a “how to survive, cope, and flourish” book.

If you are like many, you do not have time to read all of the books you would like to read. The First Friday Book Synopsis is designed for you.

My synopses are comprehensive, thorough, and they will give you plenty of the key content. You will learn, and be able to ponder the ideas in a useful way. And, even if you have read the book, my synopsis will help you remember more of what you read.

The session ends at about 8:35 am, but, the post-session Zoom conversations have proven to be especially useful. (Note: this page says these are two-hour meetings. They are actually just over one hour, plus the optional post-session conversation).

I hope you can join us.

Mark the date, November 5, in your calendar, and save the Zoom info.

Here’s the Zoom info:

Randy Mayeux is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: First Friday Book Synopsis, November 5, 2021

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 898 9822 0119
Passcode: 507154

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+16699006833,,89898220119#,,,,*507154# US (San Jose)

Dial by your location
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Meeting ID: 898 9822 0119
Passcode: 507154

Find your local number:

Download the two Synopses Handouts for the Friday, October 1, 2021 First Friday Book Synopsis (over Zoom) — AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future by Kai-Fu Lee and Chen Quifan and Reset: A Leader’s Guide to Work in an Age of Upheaval by Johnny C. Taylor.

We are in Year #24 of our monthly gatherings.

FFBS, 10,1,2021







You are invited
First Friday Book Synopsis,
Friday, October 1, 2021, 7:30 am (Central Time), on Zoom.
I hope you can join us!

AI 2041,cover

Click on image to download the two synopsis handouts


Well over 100 people have been joining us on our “Remote” First Friday Book Synopsis gatherings. We have had participants from all over the country. Please share this word far and wide — all are welcome!

You are invited!

This Friday, October 1, 2021 – Zoom

Two Book Synopses: 

1. AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future by Kai-Fu Lee and Chen Quifan. Currency. 2021

2. Reset: A Leader’s Guide to Work in an Age of Upheaval by Johnny C. Taylor. PublicAffairs; Leaders Guide edition (September 7, 2021)

Randy Mayeux will present both synopses.

Where: on ZOOM
When: This Friday, October 1, 7:30 am (Central Time)
The presentation will conclude shortly after 8:30 am
Speaker: Randy Mayeux will deliver both synopsis presentations.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 898 9822 0119
Passcode: 507154


We are all set for Friday’s Remote First Friday Book Synopsis.

#1 — Download, and print both synopses handouts by clicking here.

If you have ever attended our event, you know that I am handout intensive. You really will be able to follow along better with physical copies of the handouts in front of you. So, if you have a printer, please print the handouts.

#2 — Come on in for conversation whenever you can. I have enabled the “enable join before host” button. You will arrive in the waiting room, and be let in quickly. So, you can come in, and talk to folks. I will plan to join the meeting around 7:00, and we will begin the program right at 7:30. And, I will not “end the meeting” for a while after, if you want to continue conversations with others after we officially conclude.

#3 — Here is the info, with the link to join the gathering:

Randy Mayeux is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting

Randy Mayeux is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: First Friday Book Synopsis, First Fridays, 2021 – October 1, 2021

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 898 9822 0119
Passcode: 507154

One tap mobile
+13462487799,,89898220119#,,,,*507154# US (Houston)
+16699006833,,89898220119#,,,,*507154# US (San Jose)

Dial by your location
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)

Meeting ID: 898 9822 0119
Passcode: 507154

Find your local number:


Reminder: The cost of this remote meeting is “free.”

But, if you would like to contribute to participate, Randy would welcome you to send $12.00 directly to him through PayPal. Click here for a direct link to “donate” through PayPal.

(Note: you can also send money through Zelle, at Randy’s e-mail address).

(Randy’s e-mail address for PayPal, and Zelle, is ).

Please help spread the word far and wide; help make this a success.


You might want to read this post. It has a printable one-sheet reminder on how to make the most of your remote learning experience.

Remote Learning 101 – Read this before attending your learning session.