Karmona Pragmatic Blog

Don't get overconfident… Tiny minds also think alike

Karmona Pragmatic Blog

My Migraine Story

July 18th, 2015 by Moti Karmona | מוטי קרמונה · 3 Comments

TL;DR – I stopped consuming caffeine and it totally cured my migraines

Caffeine_Migraine

(I have found this frightening correlation with Google NGram Viewer)

My Migraine Story

I started having Migraines approx. 8 years ago; (~2007). The usual suspect to blame was stress, work-life-balance and lack-of-sleep-and-exercise (a.k.a. I have joined a cool startup as VP R&D)

p.s. This is more or less also where I started drinking coffee

#Quantified Self

I have decided to start hacking, tracking and quantifying my migraines when I reached a weekly migraine cadence during 2012.

I tried EVERYTHING and monitored it rigorously including exercise (Running, Swimming, Walking), Meditation, Temperature Therapy, Special Diet (+ reduced ~20kg :), Supplements (like vitamin B2, magnesium, and coenzyme Q10), Relaxation Techniques (e.g. Yoga, Tai-Chi, Chi- Kong), Special Herbs, Acupuncture, Triggers Diet (like Monosodium Glutamate, Gluten, Alcohol, Chocolate and Cheese), Different Sleep Patterns, etc.

I had some placebo reduction in cadence and symptoms but nothing really stopped the migraines.
~3 month ago I have decided to pull-the-plug on caffeine which was the last experiment in my plan (as caffeine misleadingly known only as Migraine cure).

*** I quit Caffeine and my Migraines disappeared ***

quantified_self_migraine

Brain, Caffeine and Migraine | The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Well… it worked for me but it seems like it isn’t only me.

Research shows that you need to be drinking about 200 milligrams of caffeine (~2 cups of coffee) to get a withdrawal headache when you miss your “dose”

caffeine

Going cold-turkey with Caffeine

Well… it was VERY hard to quit Caffeine and there are many ways to do it (just google it). As always, I have chosen the most radical one…!dilbert_decaf

Few interesting facts about Caffeine 

  • 68 million Americans drink three cups of coffee every single day = 300mg of caffeine
  • ~30 million Americans drink five or more cups of coffee every single day
  • ~21 million Americans drink six or more cups of coffee every day
  • Consuming as little as 200mg of caffeine every day can lead to addiction and altered chemistry in the brain.
  • Another 100mg (=300mg) per day can lead to increased anxiety, panic disorders, muscle twitching, irregular heartbeat, flushed skin, depression, and even slurred speech
  • Research shows that you need to be drinking about 200 milligrams of caffeine (about two to three cups of coffee) to get a withdrawal headache when you miss your “dose.”
  • Too much caffeine can produce mood swings, insomnia, increased tension in the muscles, and also impair your digestion and nutrition absorption.
  • Caffeine is thought to reduce or restrict blood circulation to the brain; it also raises blood pressure and accelerates the heart rate to unnatural levels.
  • A controversial study released in 1998 by the National Institute for Environmental and Health Sciences claimed that women who consumed at least one cup of coffee per day were half as likely to become pregnant than women who did not drink coffee. The study also concluded that women who drank coffee while pregnant were 17% more likely to have their newborn die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS. A study in New Zealand discredited the connection between low doses of caffeine and SIDS, but it did conclude that consuming 400mg of caffeine every day while pregnant may increase this risk due to the baby’s sudden withdrawal of  caffeine after being born, leading to respiratory distress.
  • It’s believed that some 3 out of 4 regular caffeine users are actually addicted to the substance.
  • After addiction, withdrawal from the use of caffeine can cause mood swings and irritability, similar to the symptoms of withdrawing from a narcotic or alcohol.
  • Five grams of caffeine can be fatal. This is the equivalent of some 30-40 cups of regular coffee.
  • Some 50% of people who quit using caffeine experience severe headaches which typically last between 2 and 9 days. Half of people who quit also stated that they had difficulty avoiding the use of caffeine permanently.
    In low doses, caffeine has been shown to improve one’s cognitive functions, increasing alertness.
  • Overdoses of caffeine can cause manic episodes, panic attacks, hallucinations, delusions, disorientation, and the lowering of one’s inhibitions.
    The effects of caffeine on a person’s system can usually be felt within minutes of consuming it. Its peak effectiveness typically takes around 30 minutes, and the substance requires three to six hours to leave the body. This is one reason it’s often recommended that a person stop drinking caffeinated beverages in the afternoon, so the body has time to flush it out of the system before trying to fall asleep at night.

TheCaffeineCurve

(Few Examples) Caffeine Content in different beverages

  • Brewed Coffee – 80 to 135mg
  • Instant Coffee – 40 to 60mg
  • Espresso – 100mg
  • Decaffeinated Coffee – 3 to 5mg
  • Cola – 34mg (What???)
  • Black Tea – 30 to 40mg (Did you know that?)
  • Green Tea – 20mg
  • Cocoa – 14mg
  • Decaffeinated Black Tea – 3 to 5mg

More details here:

Interesting and related links 

 

I hope this post will help others cure their Migraine – Please remember to post back if it did :)

→ 3 CommentsTags: People · Psychology · Quantified Self

#7 Leadership Superpowers

November 28th, 2014 by Moti Karmona | מוטי קרמונה · No Comments

Seven leadership superpower traits I value most in leaders

Passionate; Inconceivable Tenacity; Hyper Strategist; Inspiring; Craftsmanship; Authentic; Scale Masters

Avengers

 

Passionate

Leadership is a passionate (almost fanatical), inquisitive pursuit of a vision, of excellence, of perfection, of truth, of the impossible, of what’s next, of change, of value, of results, of knowledge, of experience, of learning, and of something bigger than yourself.

“We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?” ~Steve Jobs.

 

Inconceivable Tenacity

Leadership is about tenacity, focus, resilience, determination, persistence, disciplined consistency of action, values, standards, methods and results over time with inconceivable internal-locus-of-control.

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm” ~Sir Winston Churchill

 

Hyper Strategist

Leaders are hyper-vigilant (almost paranoid) in understanding, mapping and confronting their reality constantly. They have almost mystical ability to adapt, plan and pivot to seize opportunities, avoid obstacles and win the end-game.

“Military tactics are like unto water; for water in its natural course runs away from high places and hastens downwards… Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows; the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe whom he is facing. Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions. He who can modify his tactics in relation to his opponent and thereby succeed in winning, may be called a heaven-born captain” ~ Sun Tzu

 

Inspiring | X Factor

Leaders inspire others to move mountains when by all rights they shouldn’t believe they can and then do so… faster.

“High sentiments always win in the end. The leaders who offer blood, toil, tears and sweat always get more out of their followers than those who offer safety and a good time. When it comes to the pinch, human beings are heroic.” ~George Orwell

 

Craftsmanship

Leaders are craftsmen, they create value by combining wisdom, science and art. They are highly analytical with attention to both the big picture and the tiniest details of their domain, and strive for excellence (“get the things done and then better”). They are super creative in hacking and reinventing solutions, experiences, and systems rejecting conventional wisdom, hype, and the madness of crowds.

“Faulkner is a writer who has had much to do with my soul, but Hemingway is the one who had the most to do with my craft – not simply for his books, but for his astounding knowledge of the aspect of craftsmanship in the science of writing” ~Gabriel Garcia Marquez

 

Authentic

Leaders are authentic, genuine, transparent, straightforward, trusted. They “walk the talk”. They don’t play games. What you see is *exactly* what you get.

“When you have to shoot, shoot; don’t talk… But if you miss, you had better miss very well. Whoever double-crosses me and leaves me alive, he understands nothing about Tuco. Nothing!” ~Tuco Benedicto Pacífico Juan María Ramírez (The Ugly :)

 

Scale Masters

Leaders with very rare recursion skill to lead, empower, delegate, grow, and mentor other leaders superheroes toward the same vision.

“I’ve been trying to control you since the day we met, and look where that’s got us. I have faith in you.” ~Charles Xavier

 

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Related Reading List

 

Few more traits to consider

Visionary, Passionate , Authentic, Confident, Pragmatic, Straightforward, Professional, Caring, Proactive, Result oriented, Honest, Intelligent, Cooperative, Inspiring, Determined, Imaginative, Ambitious, Courageous, Mature, Loyal, Independent, Responsible, Confident, Enthusiastic, Decisiveness, Humility, Agile, Character, Initiative, Intuition, Positive Attitude, Persistent , Empathetic, Mentor, Goal oriented, Focused, Consisteness, Dedicated, Conscientiousness, Commitment, Trusting, Organized

→ No CommentsTags: Leadership · Management · People

You Yong Wu Mou (“Having Courage but No Strategies”)

October 20th, 2010 by Moti Karmona | מוטי קרמונה · 3 Comments

I have just finished reading a very interesting book (!!!) “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely and came across a very interesting historic story.

“In 210 BC, a Chinese commander named Xiang Yu led his troops across the Yangtze River to attack the army of the Qin (Ch’in) dynasty. Pausing on the banks of the river for the night, his troops awakened in the morning to find to their horror that their ships were burning. They hurried to their feet to fight off their attackers, but soon discovered that it was Xiang Yu himself who had set their ships on fire, and that he had also ordered all cooking pots crushed.”

“Xiang Yu explained to his troops that without the pots and the ships, they had no other choice but to fight their way to victory or perish. That did not earn Xiang Yu a place on the Chinese army’s list of favorite commanders, but it did have a tremendous focusing effect on his troops (as they grabbed) their lances and bows, they charged ferociously against the enemy and won nine consecutive battles, completely obliterating the main-force units of the Qin dynasty”

Prof. Ariely is making a point about the advantage of making a choice to focus by closing other doors/options/opportunities.

Joshua Baer had an interesting allegory to the startup world in his “Necessity is the mother of Invention” post

“This is similar to when a bootstrapper enters the Valley of Death* and commits to their venture, but before they are making money and cash flow positive. They are forced to figure out how to make it work with what they’ve got. The timeline is not completely in their control.


We’re always tempted to leave ourselves an escape route or path of retreat. And usually that’s a good idea. But sometimes there aren’t enough resources to mount the attack and cover the retreat. In order to be successful sometimes you have to commit the resources to what you believe in because the retreat option isn’t acceptable. Sometimes once you head down a path there is just no turning back, so you might as well commit all of your resources to getting to the end”

Well… this is true but since I am a notorious pessimist and usually like my options open, I have continued reading about this fine gentlemen (a.k.a. Xiang Yu)

I learned that indeed in the beginning of the civil war Xiang Yu was winning but with his rude manners, arrogance and lack of political vision, the tide turned against Xiang Yu and in the end he lost the war to Liu Bang.

In 202 BC, when Xiang Yu and his remaining men had their backs against the river while surrounded by Liu Bang’s troops, a boatman on a raft persuaded Xiang Yu to go with him across the river so he can prepare a comeback.
Xiang Yu said, “When I crossed the River and went west, I took with me 8,000 sons and brothers from east of the Yangtze. Now none of them has returned; how can I face the elders east of the Yangtze?” After declining this offer, Xiang Yu turned around, charged against the Han troops, killed over a hundred men, and finally cut his own throat.
Shortly after his death Liu Bang established the Han Dynasty.

Three concluding facts about Xiang Yu:

  • Xiang is popularly viewed as a leader who possesses great courage but lacks wisdom, and his character is aptly summarized using the Chinese idiom “Yǒu Yǒng Wú Móu” (有勇無謀) – “Having Courage but No Strategies” (or  to be foolhardy or to be more brave than wise or to have reckless courage…)
  • Xiang’s battle tactics were studied by future military leaders while his political blunders served as cautionary tales for future rulers
  • Xiang Yu is also the kind general that raided the Terracotta** tomb less than five years after the death of the First Emperor – Xiang’s army was looting of the tomb and structures holding the Terracotta Army, as well as setting fire to the necropolis and starting a blaze that lasted for three months.

“Yǒu Yǒng Wú Móu” (有勇無謀) – “Having Courage but No Strategies” – Think about it…! ;)

* Valley of Death – A slang phrase to refer to the period of time from when a startup receives an initial capital contribution to when it begins generating revenues.
During the death valley curve, additional financing is usually scarce, leaving the firm vulnerable to cash flow requirements.

** The Terracotta Army or the “Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses“, is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of China
The figures, dating from 210 BC, vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots, horses, officials, acrobats, strongmen, and musicians.
Current estimates are that in the three pits containing the Terracotta Army there were over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which are still buried in the pits.
There is also a legend that the terracotta warriors were real soldiers, buried with Emperor Qin so that they could defend him from any dangers in the next life.

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p.s. Prof. Ariely also recommends another role model for door closing – Rhett Butler for his supreme moment of unpredictable rationality with his astonishing elan, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn”

→ 3 CommentsTags: Conspiracy · Leadership · People · Psychology · Strategy

American-Israeli Cultural Misinterpretation

September 30th, 2010 by Moti Karmona | מוטי קרמונה · 8 Comments

*** Warning: this post might contain cultural bias material ;) ***

As most of my friends and colleagues, I had the pleasure of working with Americans for most of my professional life and this post is only the tip-of-the-iceberg trying to capture one tiny angle of the American-Israeli cultural gap.

We (Israelis) think we know enough about English since we have watched many hours of American TV, studied the language from early age and use it constantly and “fluently” during our adult professional life but we should be aware about our tendency to interpret English phrases literally, which results in amusing/frustrating/interesting/challenging misunderstandings – We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.

Executive summary:

  • Israelis consider themselves creative, direct and honest but being perceived as arrogant, stubborn, negative, rude and pushy (did I forget any other negative adjective here? ;)
  • Americans are professionals, positive, polite and showing respect but being perceived as bureaucrats, artificial and square

Few examples:

Original (American) WordingOriginal IntentPossible (Israeli) Misinterpretation
American: “This is a challenge”This is a problem!Israeli: Great!, we are always looking for interesting challenges
American: “I would appreciate if you could get this done by Friday”The deadline is Friday – Make it happen!Israeli: It is nice-to-have to get it done by Friday, but next week is also an option…
American: “You might want to consider…..”There is a problem here – This need to be changedIsraeli: IMHO, there are other options but yours is also good
American: “This is ok but…”This is bad!Israeli: This is OK (Thanks! :)
American: “I do have my concerns”There are severe problem hereIsraeli: This is OK – Need some more discussions but nothing serious…
American: “I’ll make an effort”Just being polite… No real commitment here, it’s optional whether I’ll try harder than usualIsraeli: You can count on me doing everything possible for this



Original (Israeli) WordingOriginal IntentPossible (American) Misinterpretation
Israeli: “I don’t agree”I disagree with your point of view and want to discuss it some more so that we can reach agreement on the best approach (this is almost the default :)American: (Rude) There’s no room for discussion
Israeli: “Your presentation was OK”Your presentation was really goodAmerican: I didn’t like your presentation.
Israeli: “Why don’t you do it another way?”I’m giving you a helpful suggestion because I’m interested in improving the result.American: (Rude) I am insulting your work
Israeli: “I am OK” (direct answer to “How are you?”)I feel great – if I wasn’t, be sure you will be the first to knowAmerican: Nothing is OK
Israeli: “This will not work!”I need you to explain the way it suppose to work since it seems like I am really missing something hereAmerican: (Rude) I am insulting your work again…
Israeli: “I think” (pronounced as sink :)I think…American: Ha???



German Coastguard | “What are you s(th)inking about?”




Do you have more examples to share?


Relevant books:

Very cool link:




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Random Quote: “Don’t get overconfident. Tiny minds also think alike” (Pasha Bitz, May 2010)

→ 8 CommentsTags: People

The Pointy-Haired Boss Alter Ego

September 28th, 2010 by Moti Karmona | מוטי קרמונה · 1 Comment

Robert (Bob) Sutton wrote insightful post about “Good Bosses” which I feel it worth more than just a tweet

With an evidence-based (experience studying and consulting to managers in many settings) approach he have identified a list of key beliefs that are held by the best bosses — and rejected, or more often simply never even thought about, by the worst bosses.

Here are the half dozen I liked most, you can read the rest (+ dedicated post on each one) on his HBR blog post.

  • I have a flawed and incomplete understanding of what it feels like to work for me.
  • My job is to serve as a human shield, to protect my people from external intrusions, distractions, and idiocy of every stripe — and to avoid imposing my own idiocy on them as well.
  • I aim to fight as if I am right, and listen as if I am wrong — and to teach my people to do the same thing.
  • Innovation is crucial to every team and organization. So my job is to encourage my people to generate and test all kinds of new ideas. But it is also my job to help them kill off all the bad ideas we generate, and most of the good ideas, too.
  • How I do things is as important as what I do.
  • Because I wield power over others, I am at great risk of acting like an insensitive jerk — and not realizing it.

@Bob, very insightful – Thanks!

By the way, just added his new book “Good Boss Bad Boss” to my Delver Wish-List… please feel more than free to surprise me ;)

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Random Quote“my comprehension can only be an infinitesimal fraction of all I want to understand” | Ada Lovelace (a.k.a. the *first* programmer)

→ 1 CommentTags: Leadership · Management · People