What I learnt this week – 25th week 2020

What I read

This week I read 49 articles, quite a lot of them from the Harvard Business Review. The most interesting themes are about One-on-Ones, how sexual harrassment is managed in the workplace, speaking, and writing.

One on Ones

Two medium posts, one from the perspective of a manager, and one from the perspective of a worker. I think both of these are great, but the second one is more complete and probably more useful for most people. The highlights include: make sure to set the agenda for your own one-on-ones, never delay or cancel them because it makes them seem disposable, and don’t just give simple status updates, instead talk about what you are learning and what you are struggling with.

Sexual Harassment

Mostly based of a triple article from HBR, I found out that most programs that businesses use don’t work. They focus too much on highlighting forbidden behaviors, they aren’t anonymous and allow the perpetrator to try to get retribution, and they are only there to cover the company’s ass in a lawsuit. Instead, the article offers two solutions – using an ombuds, an impartial party that serve the employees rather than the company, and reports directly to the CEO or board, and can offer alternative anonymous solutions to complaints, and doing bystander training, which instead of casting everyone as a potential perp, it casts everyone in the role of potential hero.

Speaking and Storytelling

The first article recounted the ancient Greek ways of persuasion, using Logos, Pathos, Ethos, and Rhetoric. The second article explained the best way to tell a story, by thinking about what the purpose of the story is, keeping the story to key details, and by understanding that no-one becomes the hero of a story without a struggle or setbacks. The third article talks about developing an executive voice that understands context, knows when to add and when to stay quiet, and understands politics and provides solutions, not just highlights problems.


One of the most useful articles on writing this week was How to Write a Sentence, which explained, among many other things, that a sentence should do just one job, that you shouldn’t use words for the sake of them, and that you shouldn’t use political language as a shortcut (show, don’t tell). The other incredible article on writing I read this week was How to Be a Better Writer, which explains some pratical tips on writing, as well as uses of parataxis and hypotaxis, and how to edit your own writing. For those who like something more academic, I would highly recommend Writing as Thinking by Oatley and Djikic, which I am still digesting.

What I listened to

This week I listened to The Economist Radio, Checks and Balance: Modelled Citizens, where John Prideaux explained how election modelling works, and why it didn’t work in 2016. I also listened to HBR Ideacast: Smarter Side Gigs, where Ken Banta and Orlan Boston clearly explained why, to get ahead in business these days, you need a strategic side gig, to learn the skills and get the experience that you might need for you next role that you aren’t gaining where you are.

What I wrote

This week was my final exams for Cambridge so I wrote some essays on Society and on Fake News. Now I’m free to turn my attention to other things, like this website, and learning financial skills and German.

Thanks for reading, let me know what you found interesting this week at contact@callumacdonald.com, or let me know if you have any thoughts on the articles I’ve read.

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