In this fifth installation of his critical thinking webinar series, Dr. Jim White began with an exciting announcement: the launch of his Qualified Opportunity Fund, PHT Opportunity Fund, a project two years in the making. Through its project entity, GIC Salinas Campus LLC, the fund will acquire and redevelop an iconic, 28-acre commercial pre-cooling and warehouse campus started in 1936. The facility is located in Salinas, CA., the “salad bowl of the world,” and it is in a Qualified Opportunity Zone.
The pitch deck introducing this project is available at www.PHTOpportunityFund.com. In addition to the tax incentives that are afforded in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and its above average stable returns, the fund will make a positive economic and social impact on the community it serves.
1. Active listening
Critical Thinking, Part V.
In Critical Thinking 2, there are four more items to drill down on:
1. Seeing the big picture
2. Being objective
3. Using your emotions
4. Being self-aware
One of the main functions of critical thinking is to make connections by seeing the big picture. Our ideas gain significance when we can relate or connect them to other ideas. We start to gain insight when we see similarities between ideas.
The way we structure our ideas can be based on how they connect in one of two ways: casual or conceptual relationships.
Since many problems arise due to casual changes, Dr. White will focus only on this first aspect this evening.
The steps in discovering casual relations between ideas include laying out the information, determining their hierarchy, and interpreting convergence and divergence.
Convergent ideas reinforce, supplement or complement events. Divergent ideas do not reinforce events.
In current events playing out around the world, we can see which United States political leaders are or are not seeing the big picture – it is apparent through their convergent or divergent ideas.
In the context of a journalist looking to investigate or tell a story, the first step that a writer might take is to generate ideas, lay them out, and proceed in determining facts until the story unfolds and the structure of the story is revealed.
Are we being objective when we watch the news? Objectivity is defined as attention to objects and concepts external to the mind. We must have a keen sense of being objective in critical thinking. During this pandemic, and during the current protests and riots, it is critical to see things through the right lens.
For instance, Dr. White thinks it is appalling that protestors must try to get attention like toddlers throwing a temper tantrum in order to be heard.
Objectivity is a rule and a strategy for problem-solving. It helps us to engage more thoughtfully and deliberately in the critical thinking process.
Evaluating information objectively helps us be thorough. Years ago, Dr. White developed a process called Team Consulting, which is based on critical thinking premises. Research shows that the best ideas might emerge in ten minutes or less in a structured environment. It is based on evaluating information objectively. (Note: The checklist of this process can be provided to any listeners who email a request to Dr. White.)
As Dr. White was preparing for tonight’s seminar, he thought about Florence Nightingale, the mother of modern nursing… as well as the heroes and frontliners working against COVID-19. Nightingale was a skilled statistician whose open mind and curiosity led her to report on the sanitary conditions of the battlefield. Her report led the British Royal Commission to adopt changes that saved countless lives.
We should not completely exclude our emotions or our subjective feelings during the decision making or problem solving process. But we must not let our emotions get ahead of us, either, because we often can’t see how our emotions cloud our visions.
In behavioral science, an evaluative tool called DISC is used to define behavioral types. DISC stands for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance. In this scale Dr. White is a high D for dominance and decision making (i.e. “getting it done”), and from an emotional side, has a short fuse. (Dr. White notes he is constantly working on that.)
Our emotions may prevent us from being objective, and it is easy to become confused. For example, when we have our heart set on buying a particular car, suddenly we see that make of car everywhere we go. We might interpret that the frequency of appearances of that car as a sign that the vehicle is a good purchase – and make a decision without actually gathering the data on its performance.
“Emotions should not be ignored altogether when thinking critically,” Dr. White says. Professionals need the emotion of empathy when working with others, he cites as an example. In his upcoming book, The Next Big Thing In Politics, Dr. White lists ten qualities needed in effective leadership, and empathy is one. Experiencing what others feel, believe, or wish is a skill set needed by good leaders.
Emotions should not cloud our judgment or decision making ability. In a fight or flight context adrenaline increases. In Vietnam of the mid-sixties, adrenaline carried Dr. White through the day. It is a powerful drug in any combat theater and transitioning out of that emotional state is difficult. Even transitioning from a tough work day, when the adrenaline has been pumping, to coming home and turning into a different [i.e. calm] person is difficult. Many people need a few minutes of transition time before successfully interacting with their family.
Emotions are high in the United States now. Researchers have found that emotions play a huge part in decision making, and external stressors (like the COVID-19 pandemic of the past 90 days) can amplify emotions.
An example of the pandemic as an external stressor is apparent in the protests. “One of the many things that make our country great is the first amendment and the right to assembly.” Dr. White says. “I understand and support the protests of the last few days.” But he also knows that some of the people participating are there for one agenda only: to foster hate, create chaos and destruction, and divide us. “We must not buy into this madness and must help them de-stress a little bit.”
Many years ago there was a study where subjects were asked to place their hands in buckets of cold water while giving their opinions of other people. Researchers found that subjects were more hostile while their hands were immersed in water, as opposed to those subjects whose hands were not in water. They interpreted that to mean external stressors (the water) affects our human spirit and emotions. Even a simple bucket of water creates stress!
Self-awareness – being aware of our own feelings, opinions, and assumptions – is another characteristic of the critical thinker. It is the starting point for critical thinking. The more self-aware we are, the more empathetic we are of others. Many politicians need to become self-aware.
Empathy relates to the universal golden rule. As the 18th-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant said in his Categorical Imperative: Act as you would want all other people to act towards all other people. Act according to the maxim that you would wish all other rational people to follow, as if it were a universal law.
“I really appreciate the time you spend with me, your feedback, and giving me the opportunity to share with you – it’s one of my greatest joys,” Dr. White says in conclusion.
“We have an opportunity to create jobs and make a huge social impact.”
“I appreciate you allowing me to share the news of the launch of PHT Opportunity Fund, and share the excitement of this great project we are undertaking in Salinas, CA. Not only will it be a great investment, it’s in the asset class of cold storage warehouse space, which is one of the most stable, predictable, sought after investments pre-COVID-19. All indications show that the industrial warehouse sector will continue to be a solid investment post COVID-19.
With the vehicle we have as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, we are able to defer capital gains if invested before December 31, 2021. If we keep capital gains in the fund for ten years, all the appreciation is tax-free.
The fund is phenomenal not only for its tax benefit and probability for steady growth, but for the impact it makes in rural and urban zones: we have an opportunity to create jobs and make a huge social impact.”
Next week, Dr. White’s webinar series continues with his discussion of critical thinking, covering: evaluating information, making assumptions, being aware of biases, asking clarifying questions, and an introduction to a SWOT analysis.
Dr. White is hosting his regular Webinar Series. His next webinar goes live on June 16 at 6:30 PM EST. The topic of the webinar is “Critical Thinking, Part VI.” Dr. White’s objective is to teach you the skills to evaluate, identify, and distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information. It will lead you to be more productive in your career, and provide a great skill in your everyday life during and post COVID-19.