Ex Post Facto no. 11: Plumbers, Tesseracts, and Formative Experiences

We’re back for another Ex Post Facto, the email with 3 things you’ll wish you’d known earlier—just in time for the weekend. Thanks for joining! –Shane

I had a chat with a New York State Senator this week that started in a way that surprised me. Early on in the conversation, she told me she preferred I didn’t tell her my political affiliation, because as my representative her job is to help solve problems for the workers and business owners in her district regardless of who they voted for.

Even better, when I had a couple of things to say that I was pretty sure didn’t jibe with her personal politics, instead of pushing her point of view onto me, she said five magic words that I LOVE to hear in situations like these:

“Tell me more about that…”

Hey—we’re never going to agree on everything. That’ll be true even once this era of toxic politics is over. (Hopefully it’s over at some point!) But starting from the place of seeing each other as humans first—rather than as members of this group or that group—and seeking to understand each other before launching into our own arguments… well, that’s an example we can all learn from this State Senator.

Most of us LOVE when we’re asked to talk more about ourselves or what we think anyway. So pass those five words along! Tell me more about that…

  • P.S. This is actually something that we’re going to go over in depth in my upcoming January Dream Teams Leadership Intensive (the productive disagreement part, not the politics part). Which, btw, the early bird pricing ends in 10 days, so be sure to lock in your spot soon if you’re interested—or pass the link along to someone who might be! http://snow.academy/leadership

Ok, on to this week’s Ex Post Facto!

One EXcellent bit of wisdom:

  • “Just because we don’t understand doesn’t mean that the explanation doesn’t exist.” <– This quote by Madeleine L’Engle in her wonderful book A Wrinkle In Time got me thinking this week. I’ve been reading a fair amount of middle grade books lately (send recs, pls!), and I’m realizing that Wrinkle is a classic precisely because there’s so many nuggets of wisdom like this throughout it.

    Many of you are reading this newsletter because of my writing about intellectual humility. This quote provides a little comfort to me that it isn’t just okay to not know something, but that we can still do so and feel comforted.

    As Mulder said, “The truth is out there.” Even if shit is confusing at the moment.

One POST you won’t want to miss:

  • Formative Experiences, and the Power of Group Rituals <– This week’s post is an update of an old one of mine where I explored how doing the same things over and over again as a group creates meaning—even if those things themselves aren’t meaningful. I recommend this for anyone who’s stressing about teamwork during this 2020 remote-work/pandemic-awfulness.

    In particular, I’d invite you to direct your attention to the chart in it about how “formative experiences” happen—and to think about how 2020 might just be a year that builds more bonds for our teams than any other…

One FACT Of great interest:

  • Albert Einstein at one point became so sad about how his science was being twisted or usurped by the powers-that-be, that he wrote a letter saying that if he could do it all over again, he’d become a plumber. His exact quote: “I would rather choose to be a plumber or a peddler in the hope to find that modest degree of independence still available under present circumstances.”

    Plumbers around the world sent Einstein letters. He was given honorary membership to the Chicago Plumbers Union. One plumber suggested that since he’d always wanted to become a scholar, perhaps they should team up!

  • Not to brag, but I happen to be the step-son-in-law of Long Beach California’s #1 rated plumber on the NextDoor app, Steve The Plumber.

    And I’ll tell you this: if there’s one job that is absolutely pandemic proof, and where EVERYBODY is glad to see you when you show up no matter who they voted for, it’s plumbers.

    It also helps that Steve is an incredible listener. If I had a dollar for every time he was snaking out a drain while saying the words, “Tell me more about that”. . .

Have a great weekend everybody—and take care of each other!

Much love,


P.S. Once again, check out http://snow.academy/leadership for details about my upcoming Leadership Intensive—and pass the link along to anyone you know who’s ambitious about leveling up as a leader!