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How to Explain Difficult And Abstract Concepts (The Smart Way)

How to Explain Difficult And Abstract Concepts (The Smart Way)

Albert Einstein said,

If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.

But a lot of times, we struggle about how to explain some difficult, or even abstract concepts to others.

In this article, I will provide you with a solution: metaphor. Explaining and examining concepts using metaphors improves our thinking.

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Metaphorical thinking is a great way to analyze and synthesize abstract concepts such as cyber security. In a report issued by Sandia National Laboratories for the U.S. Department of Energy, a research team explored metaphors for cyber security. By thinking metaphorically, they found it improved their thinking and discussion of cyber security in four ways:[1]

  1. They gained a clear understanding of the value and limitations of cyber security concepts.
  2. Using less common and new metaphors sparked their imagination.
  3. Metaphors that work well might be developed into new models for approaching cyber security problems.
  4. Metaphors serve as a heuristic purpose, bringing a clear understanding of abstract concepts from the field of cyber security into domains with which the non-specialist may be more familiar.

What exactly are metaphors?

Before we examine some metaphors, let’s first define what a metaphor is. In Metaphors We Live By, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson define metaphor in this way:

Conceptual metaphors are grounded in everyday experience. They are abstract. Our conceptual systems are not consistent overall, since the metaphors used to reason about any concept may be inconsistent. We live our lives on the basis of inferences we derive via metaphor.

On the other hand, Zoltan Kovecses defines a metaphor in Metaphor: A Practical Introduction as:

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Metaphor is defined as understanding one conceptual domain in terms of another conceptual domain. Examples of this include when we talk and think about life in terms of journeys. A convenient shorthand way of capturing this view of metaphor is the following: conceptual domain (A) is conceptual domain (B), which is what is called a conceptual metaphor. A conceptual metaphor consists of two conceptual domains, in which one domain is understood in terms of another.

Metaphors = High Definition Thinking

    Let’s examine some metaphors to help with the understanding of cyber warfare and cyber security. My inspiration for the creation of the format for my ideas that follow came from Bigthink.com.

    Cyber Warfare // Wei-Chi

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      For more information on this concept, read In Athena’s Camp.

      Cyber Warfare // Pests

        For more information on this concept, read here Lessons from pest control: Why the popular metaphors in cybersecurity are broken.

        Phishing // Fishing

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          Malware Scan // Health Screening

            Worms or Virus // Infectious Disease

              Thinking about concepts using metaphors leads to a deeper understanding of an idea and leads to new and creative approaches. They are a way for us to fill in the gap and create connections in our mind regarding a concept.

              Using the ideas above, what are some metaphors you can think of for difficult and abstract concepts?

              Featured photo credit: Kaboompics via kaboompics.com

              Reference

              [1] Karas, Moore, and Parrott: Metaphors for Cyber Security

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              Last Updated on November 24, 2020

              50 LinkedIn Influencers To Follow, No Matter Your Industry

              50 LinkedIn Influencers To Follow, No Matter Your Industry

              LinkedIn is an excellent platform to network with great people to help you in your career and businesses. However, with over 575 million people on the site, who should you follow? This list will steer you to the right people to follow, organized by categories of expertise.

              Job Search Experts

              You will likely have several jobs throughout the course of your career, and you will constantly need advice on new trends and strategies out there in the job market. Here are the LinkedIn experts who you should follow on these matters.

              1. Liz Ryan is the CEO and founder of Human Workplace. Her articles on job searching are filled with creative and colorful cartoons.

              2. Lou Adler is the author of The Essential Guide for Hiring and Getting Hired.

              3. Dr. Marla Gottschalk will help you make an impact in a new job.

              4. Hannah Morgan runs CareerSherpa.net, where she gives expert advice on job searching and how to be more visible online.

              5. Alison Doyle is the CEO and Founder of CareerToolBelt.com.

              Management Experts

              They say that people leave managers, not jobs. These experts in LinkedIn will help you become your employees’ dream manager.

              6. Jeff Weiner. How can we leave out the CEO of LinkedIn himself?

              7. Nozomi Morgan is an executive coach. She can help you transition from a boss to a true leader.

              8. Mickey Mikitani is the CEO of Rakuten. He constantly shares his expertise in managing a global player in e-commerce platforms.

              9. Andreas von der Heydt was the head of Amazon’s Kindle Content and now the Director of Talent Acquisition. He has extensive experience in management, branding, and marketing.

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              Productivity Experts

              By maximizing your productivity, you can win in all aspects of life. The following LinkedIn experts will help you win big in your career.

              10. Gretchen Rubin is a happiness coach and the bestselling author of the The Happiness Project.

              11. Carson Tate is the founder of Working Simply. She advises us to include play in our schedules.

              12. Greg Mckeown is an essentialist. Part of being an essentialist is saying no to many things so that we can focus on the things that matter.

              13. Brian de Haaff, CEO of Aha! Labs Inc. provides strategies on how to be productive and happy at work at the same time.

              Marketing Experts

              14. Sujan Patel is VP of Marketing at When I Work, an employee scheduling software. He is an expert in content marketing and he even shares his ideas on content marketing in 2020.

              15. Megan Berry is the Head of Product Development at Rebelmouse, a content marketing and AlwaysOn powerhouse.

              16. Sean Gardner will help you navigate the social media landscape. This includes how to use different platforms to help accelerate your career. He is also the bestselling author of The Road to Social Media Success.

              17. Christel Quek is an digital and marketing expert. She is the VP of South East Asia at Brandwatch. Their products help businesses utilize social media data to make better business decisions.

              18. Jeff Bullas is a digital marketing expert. His blog has over 4 million readers annually.

              19. Michael Stelzer is the CEO and Founder of social media powerhouse site, Social Media Examiner.

              20. If you’re looking for inbound and content marketing expertise, follow Dharmesh Shah, Founder and CTO of Hubspot.

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              21. David Edelman is a McKinsey partner and is at the helm of the Digital Marketing Strategy Practice Department.

              22. Dave Kerpen leads the social media software company Likeable Local. He is the author of Likeable Social Media: How to delight your customers.

              23. Clara Shih is the CEO of Hearsay Social and the author of The Facebook Era.

              24. Aaron Lee is Grand Master of Customer Delight at Post Planner. He is an excellent resource for everything social media.

              25. David Sable is the CEO of Y&R, one of the largest advertising firms in the world.

              26. Content marketing trumps traditional marketing these days, and who else better to lead you in this area than Joe Pulizzi, Founder of Content Marketing Institute.

              Personal Branding Experts

              Part of what we market in our personal career is our brand. When people hear your name, what kind of brand comes into their mind? What traits and qualities do they associate with you?

              Here are some personal branding experts from LinkedIn to improve your own brand.

              27. Dorie Clark is the author of Stand Out and Reinventing You. He can help you craft the professional image you’ve always wanted.

              28. Dan Schawbel is the managing partner of Millennial Branding. If you’re a millennial, Dan is the guy to help you craft your personal brand.

              Other Notable Experts to Follow

              29. Lisa Gates is the expert to follow if you’re negotiating for higher salaries and promotions.

              30. If you’re a Baby Boomer, Marc Miller will help you navigate the continually changing landscape of the workplace.

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              31. To avoid getting your resumé moved to the “No” pile, read Paul Freiberger’s excellent advice.

              32. James Caan provides insightful ideas on careers in general. He is also a serial entrepreneur.

              33. Jeff Haden writes on various topics, such as leadership and management. He is the owner of Blackbird Media.

              34. If you’re looking for expert business advice on getting new customers and keeping them, follow Jay Baer.

              35. Suzanne Lucas, aka Evil HR Lady, is a great human resources specialist.

              36. If you need help in using Twitter to boost your career, Claire Diaz-Ortiz can guide you in the right direction.

              37. Ryan Holmes is the CEO of Hootsuite, a social media management tool.

              38. Customers are the lifeblood of a business and Colin Shaw focuses on revolutionizing this customer experience.

              39. Brian Solis often reflects on the future of business and how technology can disrupt our world.

              40. Nancy Lublin provides advice on more lighthearted topics, which are perfect after a long day’s work. She is the CEO behind Dosomething.org, a portal designed for social change; and the founder & CEO of Loris.ai and Crisis Text Line.

              41. Katya Andresen provides advice on how to manage your career. She was the CEO of Cricket Media and now responsible for the SVP Card Customer Experience at Capital One.

              42. Gallup has created a system to test what your strengths are and how to use them at work. Jim Clifton is the CEO of Gallup.

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              43. Adam Grant is a Wharton Professor and the author of Give and Take, which provides advice on why being helpful at work can accelerate your career.

              44. Hunter Walk is a partner at Homebrew Venture Capitalist Company and has specialty in product development and management.

              45. If you’re running a nonprofit organization, follow Beth Kanter for expert advice on this area.

              46. Emotional Intelligence is necessary to succeed in your career, and Daniel Goleman is your expert for that.

              47. Rita J. King connects science, technology and business.

              48. Tori Worthington Rose is a Creative Director at Mary Beth West Communications, LLC. She has extensive experience in sales and digital media.

              49. If you’re looking for some advice on how to use writing and personal content marketing to boost your career, follow Ann Handley.

              50. Tim Brown is the CEO at IDEO and shares his insights on Leadership and Creativity.

              These are just some of the key thought leaders and movers in various industries. They will provide you with constant inspiration, as well as the willpower to pursue the career that you’ve always wanted. Their stream of expert ideas in their respective fields will help you become well-equipped in your professional pursuits.

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