Hosted by top 5 banking and fintech influencer, Jim Marous, Banking Transformed highlights the challenges facing the banking industry. Featuring some of the top minds in business, this podcast explores how financial institutions can prepare for the future of banking.
Turning Information Overload into a Personal Superpower
Despite the benefits of easy information access, the amount of information each human needs to process is overwhelming, creating a reduction in comprehension and decision quality. The question most leaders have is, “How do I keep on top of so much information?”
Those who can absorb and convert the vast amount of available information into insights, action, and a view of the future will generate success and results beyond their peers.
My guest on the Banking Transformed podcast is Ross Dawson, chairman of the Advanced Human Technologies group of companies. He discusses how leaders can not only cope with today’s information overload … but thrive on it.
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Jim Marous: Hello and welcome to Banking Transformed, the top podcast in retail banking. I'm your host, Jim Marous, founder and CEO of the Digital Banking Report and co-publisher of the Financial Brand.
Jim Marous: Despite the benefits of easy information access, the amount of information that each human has to absorb in it every day is overwhelming, creating a reduction in comprehension and decision quality. The question most people ask is, how do I keep on top of so much information? Those who can absorb and convert the vast amount of data that's available into insights, action, and a point of view about the future will generate success and results beyond their peers.
Jim Marous: My guest to the Banking Transformed podcast is Ross Dawson, Chairman of the Advanced Human Technology Group of Companies. He discusses how you can not only cope with today's information overload, but thrive on it. In his book Thriving on Overload, Ross Dawson shows that while the processing of massive amounts of information that we are bombarded with every day can't be broken down into little steps, it is possible to build an information strategy where insights and data in abundance can become a secret weapon for success.
Jim Marous: So Ross, before we begin, can you share a little bit about yourself and the journey you have taken to write this new book?
Ross Dawson: I've got a pretty varied background, and I suppose that's part of what's being the foundation of me being as a futurist. After studying physics, I started in computing, selling computers for NCR at the time was one of the training grounds for the computer industry, distributed computing. I said, "Okay, I want to learn about money." So I started working for Merrill Lynch, an international stockbroking. And then I said, "Okay, I've had enough of this." Went to Tokyo and became a financial journalist and ended up getting a series promotion and was Global Director of Capital Markets for Thompson Financial.
Ross Dawson: So a few different industries there, then came back. Left corporate world, set up my own thing, and the journey there was... In fact, the very first thing I did, the very first offering was selling to investment banks, training on getting their researchers and traders to be better at dealing with information. That was my very first offering and that was over 25 years ago.
Ross Dawson: And I was a little ahead of my time, so I found it a bit hard to sell it, though I did get some success. But that's where I saw the opportunity then, and we can come back to sort of why that was. But from there, I had a series of books, and so one of the things I would say was, how do you become a futurist? Say you claim you are, and people either believe you or they don't.
Ross Dawson: So their credibility was my first book on Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships, which is about essentially how knowledge and relationships are intertwined. So I did a lot of work with professional service firms and investment banks, institutional banks, then went to... My second book was Living Networks around their connected economy, the implications of that. And that was a lot of my credentials as a futurist.
Ross Dawson: And then I set up an organization, future exploration network, which was essentially looking, bringing together best futurists in the world to be able to create value in bigger projects and since then have been traveling the world, helping leaders to think more effectively about the future. So it's partly that I have always been an info file. I have loved information and that's part of why back pre-internet, I joined Merrill Lynch. I had a screen. I could have the latest information at all times.
Ross Dawson: And I think anybody in markets certainly is that's... It's an information world. Money is information and that's the world which you're immersed and then you probably have some propensity for it. So when I left and started my own service, I created this little framework where I was thinking, "All right, well, how do we create value for organizations?"
Ross Dawson: "Where do we make the difference?" And so, we can think about organizations, but individuals are what organizations are made of and thinking about, well, of course, we've got technologies. We've got organizational technologies, we've got technologies to enhance individuals, we've got the culture of organization, system processes, but the one thing which nobody was paying attention to was the ability of individuals to be better at dealing with information, which was essentially all that they did in all the people I saw.
Ross Dawson: So it just seemed to me like this enormous gap. I wrote an article for a company-directed magazine in '97 called Information Overload Problem or Opportunity? And as I said, I was at the time I did write down a phrase in my notes. I saw thriving on information overload at the time is this idea, and it was one which I always thought I'd come back to. And I suppose I'm very glad to have finally come back to it.
Ross Dawson: But it was interesting because when my original idea for this proposal was to book on how to think about and create the future, and my agent said it's difficult to sell futurist books, but there's one chapter that you have in your proposal called Thriving on Overload, which you make that into a book, you can sell it.
Ross Dawson: But once I've written the Thriving on Overload book, actually what it does, it lays out all the ways in which I think about, taking in information to make sense of that for myself and others around how the world is changing. So in a way, it is a guide to how to think effectively about the future.
Jim Marous: The center piece of these powers is the power of purpose. Can you discuss why this is the center of the other four powers and how we can uncover our why?
Ross Dawson: So we've got a world of information at our brain. The brain of humans is tempted by new information. It's just taken in by novelty. And if we follow essentially the wiring of our brain, we will just endlessly go down these intriguing or interesting or attracting avenues but ones which don't actually service. So we need to start from knowing why. Why it is that we want to deal with information at all? And that comes back. And the first point, well, what's the purpose? What is our purpose for our life? What's our objectives? What are the achievements we want? What's the impact we want to achieve?
Ross Dawson: And that starts to define the information that is relevant to us because we live in this world of unlimited information. All of it is distracting and drawing us in whatever way. So we need to have something that guides us, something at our center, something which tells us that is going to add value to me. And that won't add value to me. So this is something which we need to do consciously so we can use these as filters.
Ross Dawson: And this is firstly, in terms of essentially what it is, what guides us, but then going into the aspects of our work and our life that are important, thinking through aspects like, well, where do we want to develop our expertise? What will support our ventures? What information do we need to enhance our well-being or those of our loved ones? What are the things which we are passionate about? These are some of the things which we need to be thinking about to guide and discern between what is useful and adds value to us, and which is irrelevant or simply just takes us in unnecessary or just really destructive directions.
Jim Marous: So it's really about prioritization. It's really about narrowing your field of vision to what really is going to be impacting you based on what you're trying to be or do or accomplish. It's interesting. The second chapter of your book discussed the power of framing to make sense of all the information that we've been exposed to, and you make a point that nobody frames information the same way. Why is that? Why do we frame things differently?
Ross Dawson: Well, one of my deepest beliefs is that we are all unique. We are all different in terms of DNA and who we've evolved to be in our environment, how we think. But in the terms of framing, so framing is this idea of... Information is useless by itself. We need to pull this into frameworks, and these frameworks are the foundations of our knowledge. In fact, they become our knowledge, the way in which we put things together to build our understanding.
Ross Dawson: And because our experience has been unique, nobody will see the same, the one thing in exactly the same way. We have built up our experience or built up the meaning around the things that we see in different ways, maybe slightly different ways, maybe in very different ways. But that is powerful, that is valuable, that is why diversity, diversity in people, cognitive diversity is extraordinarily valuable because there is no one, right? There are many ways which collectively can lead us to a richer, deeper, more useful perspective on the world.
Ross Dawson: So, this is where we want to incorporate into our own ways, of our own frameworks, not just what we see as most obvious, but try to bring in different perspectives along that way and be open to other perspectives as we build these frameworks that are the lattice that help us to make better decisions that make us build the foundation of our expertise.
Jim Marous: It's interesting. You start with the purpose, and then you get into framing. And the third chapter is the one that it really hit me really, really deep because as you know, I'm a collector of information and a disseminator of information. I curate, I try to filter it down so people that follow me don't have to do some of that framing.
Jim Marous: And you talked about the power of filtering. I laughed because I have a lot of people that often say, "Geez, you could take a good hour out of your day if somebody could actually look at your emails and get rid of the ones that weren't pertinent, and that's filtering in effect. And while that makes sense, the reason why I can't delegate that is because I'd never framed things exactly. Right. And you bring up a point in your book where you say part of this discussion around filtering is filtering out or being able to see the surprises among the bullshit.
Jim Marous: And it was interesting because that's why I don't usually disseminate or let somebody else do my filtering because there may be an email that has absolutely no context to what I do, where it's a completely missed targeted email, but there's something in it as I'm quickly scanning through it that hits the nerve. And I say, "Oh my gosh, I should talk about that in the context of what my industry, the banking industry, does." So it's interesting because it's not black and white, but how do you go about filtering and can you actually delegate filtering?
Ross Dawson: So there's personal choices, and there's no right way. And I wouldn't tell you to do things differently the way you're doing them, Jim, because you're a master. And if it works for you, that's absolutely fine. And so there are choices, and I think the important thing though is that we all understand that there are choices in how we filter amongst other things and all of our information practices. And sometimes we can experiment with different ways of filtering.
Ross Dawson: So in the specific instance, which you're talking about in terms of email filtering, you would gain some things and you would lose some things if you would delegate the part of the filtering. So part of it is yes, things which would be very low signal, very high noise would come off the radar. But essentially, what you are saying is that in a vast amount of noise, there's this tiny piece of signal that only you can pick up and you might find that in other places, but you might find that there.
Ross Dawson: So this is a choice in a way, and this is goes, I think part of that point around distinctive cognition, where that we all understand the frame of signal and noise. There's lots of noise, and there's a bit of signal. Sometimes the signal is strong. Sometimes the signal is very weak. Sometimes really buried within there. Some of us, some people are very skilled at being able to discern that piece of signal and the noise, which is pertinent and to see where it fits into the frameworks and where it can bring some value. And that's obviously you, Jim.
Ross Dawson: And that's something which you would lose. But I mean, I suppose just as a thesis, if you were to delegate part of email filtering, there would be some things you'd lose. As you've discussed, you would gain a chunk of time and that time could be reinvested in scanning some other sources, which might be higher signal ratio, noise ratio, and you could uncover some other gems or perspectives because the one thing that is limited is our attention. And we want to allocate our attention to the things which are most likely to bring us the greatest rewards.
Ross Dawson: The reality is, we could never keep up. It's impossible. So we just have to acknowledge that we're never going to keep up with things. So we just have to put our attention to what is most likely to give us the highest rewards, and then be comfortable with that and not get stressed because we can't consume the entire fire hose.
Jim Marous: That's interesting. You brought it home. You did a really good job of coaching me there that basically said, "Yeah, you may get some good nuggets out of your email, but to the nuggets offset, what time I could gain if I didn't see those nuggets?" And I think you probably brought me an answer that I hadn't heard before that I'm going to try out because there's some... If I look at the black and white and if the gray really doesn't bring that much value, that's a good way to do it.
Jim Marous: Within an organization, Ross, I'm wondering, as I got into your book, there are some people that are going to dive right into it and really enjoy the ideas, the process, the education that can receive and how to take information and cull it down to what's important, what's not important, and really absorb it and deploy it and use it effectively. Knowing that every organization has all different kinds of people, should organizations have, what I'm going to call right now, information masters that can help wean out what's important, what's not, what's going to help a person in an organization?
Jim Marous: Since you could end up losing a lot of time in the day if everybody's going through the same process, do you see organizations actually have, I'm going to call them, as I said, information masters?
Ross Dawson: The whole new layer of this, which is in terms of the organizational implications, and so this is my first book, which is focused on individuals and all of my other books have been around organizations. And one of them was around implementing Enterprise 2.0 back in 2009, looking at the web, technologies in enterprises, and how they could use to create more effective enterprises.
Ross Dawson: This is something which is really interesting, but in a way, this application of this building individual skills, the organization is something which I am still developing. So there are organizations that have set-up. One example of this, and taking it from the futurist's discipline, is environmental scanning. And so as individuals, we need to scan and look what's going on out there, and there are quite a significant proportion of large organizations that have set up scanning units and looking in those sometimes framed around competitive intelligence. What are our competitors doing? What are any signals from the marketplace? But also in terms of just broader scanning of technological developments and what may going on horizon.
Ross Dawson: So what they do, and there is increasing sets of software that are available, where they don't just have a small group of people who are doing all the scanning, but delegating that amongst other people inside the organization to identify what may be relevant to the organization, to come in and tag that and store that and start to build more of a database on what is going on. So that's one frame is that way where we can embed in the organization, the capability of better filtering.
Ross Dawson: And that's in fact, again, back in the '90s, that was a significant part of my work was understanding knowledge-based organizations as ones that were sense-making. We have sense-making as an individual. And there's the organizational theorist, Karl Weick, had some great work in this space where essentially he was saying, "The way to understand organizations is they are sense-makers and organizations just as humans scanned for information, they come in, they make sense of it. And hopefully, they make good decisions the way that individuals do.
Ross Dawson: And I think that analog can be very useful. And in order to be able to build organizations that are better at sense-making, we can absolutely frame the information structures of the organization in terms of the internal communication, what are the patterns? What are the roles? And how do we do that as ones which enhance organizational performance? And just one other perspective to add on that is that of organizational networks where our brains and neural networks and organizations are human networks. And so those organizations that take an explicit network frame around thinking about the organization and the way is value created in those sparks and the interactions and the neurons firing between them.
Ross Dawson: So one of the things is to define this role of a boundary span as somebody that takes the signals in one part of the organization to make sure those come across and have the right sparks or interaction with other things happening, other parts of the organization to build that. So I think there's a lot of value in being able to take these principles of individual sense-making and fly for an overload and overlay that on organization. Still a lot of, I suppose, refinement in how that actually happens and in making essentially designing organizations so that they are better at creating value, making better decisions, performing in a world of unlimited information.
Jim Marous: So getting back to the interaction between the personal networks and the corporate networks to a degree, you spent a lot of time in the book talking about either directly or indirectly the power of personal information networks. Can you describe a little bit about what a personal information network is and how powerful that can be if we're looking at the information overload and trying to filter it and frame it and put into our purpose?
Ross Dawson: I think one of the foundations for mastering information is understanding that the best source of information is usually individuals. We get distracted by the fact that we have a digital interface, and we can type things in, and we can see all sorts of things. But if we truly want to understand what's going on, individuals are often the best source.
Ross Dawson: One, I suppose, perspective, which helped me understand that was when I was leading the capital markets team at Thompson Financial. We were reporting and analyzing the real-time primary debt capital markets. What our job was information bartering. Essentially, we'd speak to the syndicate desks and would say, "I've heard this happening," or "Have you heard it's happening?" And there would be this, based on trust, we're not going to understand the full context and the value and the degree of confidentiality of information, but we traded information and whereas we built trust, they told us more, there was more exchange, but we always had to understand the subtleties of what was appropriate in that sharing.
Ross Dawson: But our role was to get the information before it went up on the screen, before it was available digitally, because that was part of that flow of informal conversations. So in terms of when we think about, for anybody to say, "All right, I need to be better. I need to build my expertise," the first thing is building this network of people who can support you on that journey. And yeah, it's partly saying, "Well, first of all, what is it that I want to learn more about?" And having some definition around that topic, you're getting that purpose.
Ross Dawson: And who are the people who I already know? Who I might want to know? Who should be part of that network? But the foundation of it becoming a personal information network, as opposed to a bunch of individuals, is the value exchange. This is all about exchanging value. In order to get value, you have to give value.
Jim Marous: Yep.
Ross Dawson: And this becomes part of this interchange where it says, "All right, well, here's some people." And I want to go to them and ask them some questions. I've got a question. There's something I need to understand. Can I send them an email? Can I call them? Can I get them on my podcast?
Ross Dawson: But there's then this way of how do you offer value for that? What is it that you can share? So this designing of the personal information networks is finding the people who you can go to and who can support you in developing your expertise or understanding a particular situation, although sometimes those who proactively send you the information they know you'll be interested in. And those are extraordinary valuable as well. But making that part of a network where you are contributing to those others in various ways, as much as you can, and they are contributing to you.
Ross Dawson: And increasingly, we find some of these in private chats, on different channels, where they're exchanging information. This is not on a public forum, but ones where experts are those in a domain are sharing information. And so that's the journey which we all need to be on to truly be experts in the space is to have that trusted network where we get value by giving value.
Jim Marous: It's interesting. I feel very grateful that over the last 12, 13 years I've been working in this area of the business where I've built networks of people, as you've mentioned, with consulting companies and such that will release information to us earlier so that we can write about it and research about it. And then, they benefit, their value exchange becomes we write about their research. And in many cases, we generate more hints to their site and they can generate themselves.
Jim Marous: But this also happens through social networks. I know that I have several Twitter groups or people that are like-minded, have the same interests that I do, and we share information on an ongoing basis. "Hey, I found this in the marketplace," or "I found this in the marketplace." And sometimes it's just the ability to find things because, as you've mentioned, there's so much. But to manage it, you have to find that which is really valuable versus just another report on the same subject.
Jim Marous: So let's take a short break here and recognize the sponsor to this podcast.
Jim Marous: Welcome back to Banking Transformed. Today, I'm being joined by Ross Dawson, author of the book Thriving on Overload. We've been discussing how leaders can actually transform all this information we have access to into greater expertise and insight by calling it down, focusing what's important, filtering it and making sure you're absolutely able to do something with all the data that's out there.
Jim Marous: Sir Ross, the fourth chapter of your book discussed the power of attention or the elimination of distractions. There are so many hours of the day, and it's really a matter of prioritizing our attention and how do we focus on what's important? So how do we become not as addicted to information, filling our free time with something other than simply consumption of more information? What I'm trying to say there is, what happens when we actually do what you've recommended and we find there's time left in the day. How do we avoid just looking for more information?
Ross Dawson: Well, I'm an information addict, and I think it's human to be sucked in by the distractions which we have today. Sometimes it's nice to think back, "Gosh, remember when we didn't have a smartphone. Remember when we had some time we just look around," for example. And so it's a journey. It's a journey for me. I think it's a journey for all of us, but I think we can all recognize the extraordinary personal value when we spend time with the things that matter, and we don't spend time with the things that don't matter.
Ross Dawson: And actually, often pull us into not just waste our time, but actually destructive to. So doom scrolling is a real phenomenon, and there are times in the last couple of years when I've had to go back and look for another update or two on what's happening, but that is not great for our state of mind and it's just not helpful.
Ross Dawson: So this is partly around an ongoing journey of shifting our behaviors, and I think one of the starting points is simply to be conscious. Well, in fact, that is the starting point is to be conscious about what it is we do and how we do it. So at the high level, in terms of enhancing our information productivity, how do we best allocate our attention? So I distinguish between six different attention modes, scanning, assimilating, exploring, seeking, deep diving, and regenerating. So these are six quite distinct attention modes.
Ross Dawson: And the thing is, it's not as if we either focused or not focused. We have our attention. It can go into different degrees of depth and different ways. Someone who is scanning for information, that's a particular period of time. Saying, "All right. I need to scan my sources to see what's going on out there." So we can say, "All right. Well, this is something where I will spend a certain period of time." You might say, "All right. It's 15 minutes. Sometime in the morning where I'll scan my information." And unless you are in very, very time-sensitive domains, you might not have to do that again same day, or you might just choose to have another scan of the general news in the evening.
Ross Dawson: In terms of assimilating. That's something where you are saying, "This is something I've identified as value." It might be something in your scan. It might be something in a book and saying, "All right, I actually should be spending at least half a day, reading articles, digesting them, spending time with a book, whatever." And what happens, I think, is a lot of people that continue to keep on scanning. They go back to scanning because that's an easy activity, and they don't carve out the time, say, "I will spend some time with content that I recognize is valuable. I'm going to sit down, I'm going to digest and make sense of that," for example.
Ross Dawson: And in deep diving, that's the time when we put everything aside, turn off all the notifications, make sure we're not interrupted, and just dive into something to develop some ideas, to create some content, to develop our expertise in some domain. So these are all different types of attention. Now, we can use time boxing. This idea of saying we will allocate specific periods of time in the day for these activities, and that means you've got enough time for them, but not too much. So you're spending enough time scanning, but not too much. You are spending enough time doing a deep dive and critically that you are spending enough time regenerating.
Ross Dawson: And there's a wealth of science, which shows us that if we are continually trying to pay attention, our attention erodes. And to be as productive as possible, to be able to pay attention as effectively as possible, we need to spend some time completely away. No information at all. Hopefully, within nature or some other completely relaxing environment. And that's what enables us to have our peak attention. So that's the first thing is to be able to put things in time boxes to spend that amount of time on them enough but not too much. And that means that you say, "All right. Well, I have a good balance of my information activities through the day. I don't need to be doing more because I'm doing what I need."
Ross Dawson: And then, I think part of that way of behavior change, of the habit change, is to have things that are compelling to replace picking up your phone and scrolling through social media. If that's what you find compelling, which a lot of people do, and that could be great book. It could be going for a walk. It could be picking up a guitar. It could be whatever it is or some other thing, which is productive saying, "All right. Well, there's my novel. I wanted to write. Oh, there's this book I wanted to develop." And says, "Okay, now, I've got time because I know that I've done everything else. And I can spend time on things that really matter to me because I have acquitted my information responsibilities. I'm fully across my information. And I don't get sucked into the things which are value destroying for us as opposed to value creating."
Jim Marous: The fifth power out of the five powers is the power of synthesis, which was interesting because you referenced this as the power to take concrete information and learn to process it in new ways. Can you explain a little bit about this section of your book and how important this is?
Ross Dawson: Synthesis is something I've always believed as the ultimate human capability, and this is this extraordinary ability to take all of this disparate information, all of the things we see, all of the things we experience in our life and to prove that together to create meaning and understanding and a sense of the whole. So this synthesis is the antithesis of analysis.
Ross Dawson: Now, if you did an MBA or you go to that education, for example, they teach you to analyze [foreign language 00:33:43] so it's always slice, slice, slice, chop, chop, chop. How do you get things into all of these pieces? Synthesis is the opposite. How do you pull the pieces together to be able to see the hole? And that has always been valuable, but as the more complex the world becomes, the more fraught the challenges we have. As leaders in our organizations, the greater the value of the synthesis.
Ross Dawson: And this is something which is not something that happens so much on the conscious mind as the analysis does. This is part of the role of our subconscious mind. Our human brain is absolutely extraordinary. It is the most phenomenal thing that we know of in the universe. Absolutely incredible. And a lot of what it can do, it's capabilities are not visible to us. They're happening in the background as the pieces of all of our experience come together, so that we have the ability to make decisions in extraordinarily complex situations.
Ross Dawson: So this is something that we can nurture, and I believe there's a whole array of different things, which I outline in the book. And the way in which we can bring together this capability to nurture it, to enhance it, to bring this into focus in which is far more relevant today in a world of overload than ever before.
Jim Marous: It's interesting, Ross, because when I read that section of the book, I couldn't help but put into a framework of what's going on today with... We're bombarded by information that's framed by others. Look at the Cable News. We can look at facts from completely different perspectives and you can get bombarded in one area and see it completely differently than somebody else sees it if they get it from another source with the same concrete facts. And I find myself many times, especially on political issues, when things are really fired up and they're really hot, I find myself going between all the channels and trying to build a synthesis of what's being said and to build my own narrative that's looking at all these things in new ways and trying to filter out what I believe is bullshit and that which is fact, and there's no one station or one network that has the corner of the marker in that.
Jim Marous: But it's interesting because it's not just in political news and in the news in general, but it's in everything. In getting perspectives, you have to really synthesize what's being said and analyze as you said, both sides of that equation, but it's difficult because you need to build your own frame or reference to see what's your fact, what's your perspective within what's being going on in the marketplace right now?
Jim Marous: So interesting, the culmination of your book is really the ability to move from a perspective of overload to a perspective of abundance. What are the biggest challenges people face today and be able to really take in data and insight and being able to process? Of all the things you mentioned in your book, what's the hardest for people to pretty much do when there's so much information out there?
Ross Dawson: Well, as you said, this framing of taking it from overwhelmed to abundance, I think that's the starting point, of course, is that this rather than seeing it as well, there's far too much information I'm going to drown as to saying, "Well, there is all the information I could possibly want in order to achieve what I want. So I'll take, pick and choose whatever it is that I want from all of this abundance."
Ross Dawson: And that's easy to say. It's obviously not quite as easy to do and partly be able to pick and choose and also that there is so much tantalizing. Our brain starts to pull us towards that. So I think the hardest part is overcoming that propensity to be drawn into information. As I said, we are information addicts. That is just a reality and if you go to Alcoholics Anonymous, you can say, "I'm never going to drink," and you can keep yourself to it.
Ross Dawson: Unfortunately, we can't do that as information addicts because we do need information. We wouldn't get very far without it, so we have to indulge ourselves without taking it too far. I think that's one of the fundamental challenges, and it is harder and harder as that information is more and more available to be able to have what is, to a significant degree, discipline or to be able to keep ourselves to the information and activities that are enabling and not the ones that are disabling. I think that's the thing.
Ross Dawson: And it is an ongoing journey of behavior change, but we can assist that in so many ways. And part of that is putting the structure in place. The first step is being conscious. And I think to your point earlier, Jim, where you said you're an information master. There's no question. And everyone else I know can improve, always improve. So information master is not this lofty thing where we all revere and say, "Let me do absolutely everything you do," because people shouldn't do absolutely everything I do. We have to understand what that ideal is and to move towards that and to be able to continue to improve. Everybody.
Ross Dawson: People think about people like Elon Musk and Charlie Munger as information masters. They are. But I'm sure that there are things that they can do to improve their information habits, the ways in which they can do things. But wherever we are, it's around saying, "Well, what are the first? What's the easiest thing which I can do which can improve? What are the next things? What's the next thing?"
Ross Dawson: Because that's this journey towards becoming better at information because this is the foundation of our success. It is the foundation not only of our achievements at work but, to a very large degree, our happiness because we can either bring a positive perspective on what we bring in and what we make of that information or we can get just sucked in to thinking, "Oh, my God. The world's a horrible place," which is a very easy conclusion to come to if you could get sucked into the more of the information we're confronted with.
Jim Marous: It's interesting. I really appreciate you being on the show today. I don't do this often because some books are really good, some are great, some are okay, but I got to hold this book. Thanks to Ross. And it's turning in from Thriving on Overload. And Ross touched on it at the end of his discussion here that this is not something that is a secret that only a few people can have. Information is everywhere. It's successful to everybody. The ability to actually process that information, and the ability to cull it down to what really is most pertinent to you is really a superpower in today's world because so many people can't do it.
Jim Marous: COVID gave a lot of people the ability to leverage insight to do things completely differently, transform themselves, and go in a completely different direction. And I will say this book is so important today, I think, because everybody who's listening to this podcast has a penchant for wanting more information. Otherwise, they wouldn't listen to no podcast.
Jim Marous: And so anybody who's listening to this podcast, I suggest strongly to get ahold of Ross's book because it really brings the whole concept of breaking down all the information we have into easier, better parts and building into discipline around learning, that I think everybody at almost any age could benefit from, but it's a superpower that is available to everybody and especially in a financial institution where everybody seems to be screwing in every which way. It's good to be that person in a meeting that has really synthesized this information and brought it to light and is the most informed in the room, not because they've captured the most information, but because they've absorbed it.
Jim Marous: So Ross, there's a little plug for your book, but I really appreciate you being on the show. I look forward to seeing how your book does. I know by the time this podcast comes out, it'll already been introduced, but grab it. It's a great book. Thank you.
Ross Dawson: Thank you so much, Jim. Really appreciate it.
Jim Marous: Thanks for listening to Banking Transformed, the winner of three international awards for podcast excellence. If you enjoy what we're doing, please give our show a five-star rating in your favorite podcast app. Also, be sure to catch my recent articles on the Financial Brand and the research we're doing for the Digital Banking Report. This has been a production of Evergreen Podcasts.
Jim Marous: A special thank you to our Producer, Leah Haslage, Audio Engineer Sean Rule-Hoffman, and Video Producer William Pritts. I'm your host, Jim Marous. Until next time, and remember, we all have a choice whether to become overwhelmed by the amount of information we have access to or just thrive on its abundance.