Hello there 👋

My name is Zef Hemel. I use writing as a tool to structure my thinking, to reflect, and adapt as a result. I’m transparent by nature, and have found that sharing the things I’m reading and thinking about — generally around the topics of technology, management and leadership — is not only helpful for myself, it can helpful for others as well. And often, in response, people point me to things I wasn’t yet aware of, or challenge my ideas or conclusions. Now, that sounds like win-all around. Welcome to Zef’s Musings.

Latest Musings 🤔

Reality Doesn’t Exist

The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. These are essentially the first sentences in the first book on leadership I ever read: Leadership is an Art by Max Depree, probably about 8 years ago. “Define reality” — what does that really mean? Isn’t there justContinue reading “Reality Doesn’t Exist”

No More Praise

“Praise in public, criticize in private.” Take any feedback training, read almost any management book, this is the advice you’ll hear. It’s so wide-spread that it’s just considered fact. This how things ought to be done. Period. But should it? Think back to your school years. You sit in the classroom and your teacher isContinue reading “No More Praise”

The truth about Bill Gates

Some months ago I watched Inside Bill’s Brain — the Netflix (yes, Netflix again) documentary about — shocker — Bill Gates’ brain. The premise of the documentary as I remember is the following: Bill Gates is an extremely intelligent inventor that first revolutionized software with Microsoft, and has since put his brain towards solving many ofContinue reading “The truth about Bill Gates”

It Doesn’t Matter What You Say

An exercise: ✏️ Stand in front of a group, and say something meaningful on a topic the audience cares about. No, no, that’s not all, here comes the hard part: ✏️ Now, look around the room (realistically: zoom room). Hopefully you see familiar faces. Now do this exercise in empathic listening: for each audience member (yes,Continue reading “It Doesn’t Matter What You Say”

This is on You

I am very disappointed in all of you. Just a few years ago, when Joe had a baby, the whole company would chip in. We were able to buy a great present. And now, just 17 people out of 120!? What happened to you, why don’t you care? This is the gist of an emailContinue reading “This is on You”

Tony-os, Pathos, Logos

In the Netflix documentary “I’m not your guru” motivational speaker Tony Robbins is followed during one of his annual events during which a “small audience” of just 2,500 people (he often does events for 50k people in stadiums) come to a resort in Florida for 6 days, paying about $6k for their “Date with Destiny.”Continue reading “Tony-os, Pathos, Logos”

The Human Need to Vent

All hands meeting around the globe have taken a turn for the worse since the COVID crisis hit, as people have been forced to start working from home. I thought it was just in my company, but talking to some friends working elsewhere, it seems to be a pattern. Q&A sessions get more passive-aggressive questions than usual,Continue reading “The Human Need to Vent”

Phil’s Last Dance

“I don’t often do this,” my boss said, “but I’d almost insist on you watching The Last Dance. Let’s talk about it afterwards.” My boss used to be a pretty serious basketball player. He often makes basketball references. “You cannot always be Pippen,” he’d say, “sometimes you have to be MJ.” Solid advice! If… well, you know who those peopleContinue reading “Phil’s Last Dance”

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