Infinite Horizons Through Reading
Since April, employees of Pershing Technology Services Corporation (PTSC) have assembled a reading association for the company. Initiated by newcomer and member of the Strategic Product Unit (SPU), Sera Huang, the association holds biweekly meetings with each session being facilitated by a different member of the group. The recent Covid-19 wave hasn’t slowed down the group’s progress as meetings have smoothly transitioned to using Microsoft Teams. Below, members give feedback about the reading association as well as reactions to the first book chosen, Simon Sinek’s, The Infinite Game.
“Reading can promote thinking. In addition, ordinary conversations only touch one side of people’s personalities. With a reading association, we can open up the exchange of ideas amongst people through book after book, taking a deeper dive in understanding the friends and colleagues around us.”－Co-Founder of the PTSC Reading Association, Sera Huang
Only having worked at PTSC since February of 2021, Sera was someone who hit the ground running. She and I immediately connected through her proactive spirit. Clearly one who reflects PTSC’s core value of “Passion,” I could see that she was someone who embodies the rebranding direction PTSC has taken since 2020. Rather than being content to just “get by” or go through the motions, Sera has transformed into somewhat of a trailblazer in the company, seeking out ways to further engage her colleagues through her own passion for sales and new products, as well as her desire to spark inspiration through reading.
After learning that the company currently has a basketball and (very popular) badminton association, she made the suggestion to start one focused on reading for the company. Over lunch one day she explained to me that her previous company had a reading club, and she really enjoyed the level of intelligent, informal, and inspirational conversations that unraveled as a result of the gatherings.
I responded that there was nothing holding her back from initiating such an organization and I’d be happy to co-found one with her. One of the things that we wanted to ensure in the reading association was that each member maintain a sense of ownership within the group. This level of balancing individualism with group mind would be monitored through the bi-weekly handover of who was facilitating the conversations, with each member taking turns to freely present in the way that they felt most inspired.
Gathering the Crew
For my own part, the reasons that I wanted to support Sera’s efforts in establishing the reading association were also connected with my role at PTSC. As Chief Learning Officer (CLO), one of the things that I strive to do within the company is to help create a culture that transforms PTSC into a learning organization where learning, sharing, and cycling through feedback are continuously happening everyday. According to American author and founder of the Society for Organizational Learning, Peter Senge, he states that a learning organization is one where:
“People continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together.” — Peter Senge
Sera had an aspiration to start a reading association, and I saw this association as one where there would be “new and expansive patterns of thinking” being nurtured. These were the exact points that Senge made when referring to the creation of a learning organization. How could I NOT join?The other members of the reading association came from different departments, also providing colleagues a different cross-departmental platform to discuss issues and ideas that inspired them from the books we would be reading.
“I am a person who likes to buy books, but I often can’t finish them. I hope that through reading, I will be able to read a book completely. I also hope that I can broaden my knowledge by communicating with other reading companions!” — Nancy Chang, PTSC HR
Starting with The Infinite Game
To inspire people to do the things that inspire them so that, together, each of us can change our world for the better. — Simonsinek.com
The reading association chose Simon Sinek’s “The Infinite Game” as the first book to tackle as a group. Eternal optimist, author, and renowned speaker, Simon Sinek, is also well-known for his deeply impactfu TedTalk ,“Start with the Why” which has been viewed more than 40 million times. I had heard of Sinek before, watched his inspirational TedTalk, even followed his Instagram, but I had never read any of his books before.
I’m very grateful for the PTSC Reading Association for choosing this book as the author reflects many of my own views within his writing. The concept of the “infinite game” is strongly related to approaching life with a growth-mindset as opposed to a fixed-mindset. Enjoying and being present while within the process is something that has always been part of my nature, sometimes so much so that I consider “results” simply to be a by-product or after thought.
“Infinite games have infinite horizons. And because there is no finish line, no practical end to the game, there is no such thing as “winning” an infinite game. In an infinite game, the primary objective is to keep playing, to perpetuate the game.” — Simon Sinek, The Infinite Game
The idea of “perpetuating the game” is one that is very much in tune with the basic tenet of improvisation, or the “yes, and….” rule. The concept of “yes, and…..” is simply building upon others’ ideas to create a scene or story rather than rejecting them to go with one’s own preconceived or pre-decided notions. While this sounds easy, and people may think that they want to collaborate with others, what we find is that all too often we build walls in our minds that prevent us from taking the risk to trust others, to build stories, as we let go of our own egos to “perpetuate the game” and put the ball completely in someone else’s court until they hand it back to us.
Each of the members of the PTSC Reading Association had their own individual take-aways after reading “The Infinite Game”, and the conversations didn’t stop once the meetings were over. Reading Association member and manager of PTSC’s Strategic Product Unit (SPU), Andy Huang, took the extra effort to prepare a comprehensive ppt presentation about the book which he presented in the company’s weekly dubbed “One Company” meetings. The attendees of these meetings include all the major department managers, the founder of the company, as well as other key players who may be connected with the relevant topics. Like the Reading Association, One Company meetings are facilitated on a rotating basis and provide leaders the chance to discuss technology and marketplace trends, as well as the overall direction the company is headed for the future. “The Infinite Game” deals directly with these topics and is especially fruitful for those who are re-examining what type of leaders they want to be.
Sinek argues that leaders who want to adopt an infinite mindset “must follow five essential practices:
- Advance a Just Cause
- Build Trusting Teams
- Study Your Worthy Rivals
- Prepare for Existential Flexibility
- Demonstrate the Courage to Lead
“After reading “The Infinite Game,” I will have a more positive attitude towards pursuing what I think is meaningful.” — Reading Association co-founder, Sera Huang
The PTSC Reading Association took two months to discuss Sinek’s “Infinite Game,” with different members of the group facilitating a bi-weekly session. Each member had his or her own facilitation style ranging from ppt presentations, youtube and movie comparisons, musical connections, and improvised exercises that connected with the concepts found in Sinek’s book. Although everyone in the association had different take-aways from reading Sinek’s book, an added value of the Reading Association was being able to look at the concepts from different angles and see how they apply both in our work and daily lives. As for me, personally, I’m a big advocate of Sinek’s “infinite thinking,” and I look forward to “perpetuating the game,” whether it is through facing evolving challenges and opportunities in PTSC, continuing conversations with my fellow readers, or just in my daily life each morning when I open my eyes.
“We can find a Just Cause that inspires us; surround ourselves with others with whom we share common cause, people we trust and who trust us.” — Simon Sinek, The Infinite Game