How to Concentrate and Process a Complex Idea
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In Chapter 7 of 13 in his 2011 Capture Your Flag interview with host Erik Michielsen, data analytics expert Ken Rona answers "When Are You At Your Best?" Rona shares his "concentration" look he uses when processing a complex issue or hard question. In that moment he internalizes what was said and is able to leapfrog it and understand it. He shares how this approach has served him well working with advanced topics and experts. Rona is the VP Audience Insights and Ad Sales Partnerships at Turner.


Erik: When are you at your best? Ken: When I look like this. So that’s my concentration look. So the moment when someone asks a hard question or explains something very complicated, and I need a moment to process it, and I just kind of roll my eyes up in my head and say okay, got it, and then I come back with a question. That’s my favorite thing, right, where in the space of that two or three minutes of explanation. I’ve understood what they said, and then I’ve kind of carried it forward. You know, I’ve internalized it and then I can leapfrog it, and they go ‘that’s a good question.’ That’s the one. Erik: I love that. I love it. Can you give me an example of a time when that happened? Ken: One of the guys that works for me was laying out some math, and I’m not really a mathematician. We were talking a bit about methodology, so he was explaining this problem that he had solved, and I said I’m not a mathematician even though I play one. Actually, mathematics and statistics are – or mathematics and analysis are very different, so I know enough of the math to be dangerous, so he was kind of going through it, and I was like okay, how about you do it this other way, right, which does – it does involve the math, it was actually simulation method using computers, and he said oh that’s interesting, like I hadn’t really thought about tackling the problem that way, and this guy is like a stone-cold expert like for him to be like okay, that’s like, yeah, and so I like kind of – I think it was like being an amateur, right, playing with the pros, and every once in a while getting contact to the ball, sometimes I’ll get contact to the ball, yeah.