Friday, August 28, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Investing in yourself

We remember our small victories vividly, and forget the small failures. But when the stakes rise, and more is put on the line, the opposite happens - we remember the large victories fondly, but they don't resonate nearly the same as the great failures do. This is like a built-in mechanism against going for the big prize, and instead to be placated and content with the little victories that occur throughout daily life. A mechanism to not stand out, and to accept the safety of the crowd. However, to turn it around and use either the fear of failure, or previous failure, to push yourself is to truly invest in yourself, and your own success.

If you eliminate the reasons you could use to defend yourself in event of failure, you stand on your own two feet, with either success or failure almost solely dependent on you. I think that is true freedom.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Link dump

  • This is brilliant. Every city/state should at the very least consider this. Cities like Pittsburgh have completely reinvented themselves from what they were before, and this is a great strategy to bring in businesses for cities facing change.
  • If you don't know who Umair Haque is, then watch this video. He's one of the leading thinkers on the changing economy and the role of businesses in the future.
  • The world famous diamond heist explained by one of the guys behind it.
  • China has grown immensely, but with quick wealth comes major problems when there are bumps in the road. They've lost 20,000,000 workers from the cities to the countryside. Robb called this several years ago.
  • The Atlantic on how the crash will literally change the look of America.
Also, my Delicious account is here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A level playing field

"Tactics are not the product of careful cold reason, that they do not follow a table of organization or plan of attack. Accident, unpredictable reactions to your own actions, necessity, and improvisation dictate the direction and nature of tactics. Then, analytical logic is required to appraise where you are, what you can do next, the risks and hopes that you can look forward too. The tactic itself comes out of the free flow of action and reaction, and requires on the part of the organizer an easy acceptance of apparent disorganization." - Saul Alinsky Rules for Radicals
This is one of the biggest problems with the way we educate. Because people have a natural aversion to putting themselves in stressful situations, they need to be forced into positions that are different and stressful, requiring a quick decision - something that lessens the stress of the moment in order to buy time to choose a strategy. This is one of the biggest reasons that job experience is so much more benefitial than just going to school, because you aren't always just given concrete assignments and due dates, but there is an ever-shifting playing field. This is the difference from being able to fly by the seat of your pants or always having to take timeouts to collect your thoughts.

Anyone can map out a strategy when everything is in order, but how do you get better at making the quick calls that have to be made when everything goes to shit? If Murphy's law is true, then why are we spending years in school practicing with a playbook that assumes order? Why not prepare for the eventual disorder, and maintain it when it starts to begin? The majority plan for what to do when things go right, so when things go to shit and change, who is going to be able to deal with it most effectively? People who have spent their lives on linear problems with due dates, or the ones who dealt with change and turmoil?

With everything, to truly succeed you need the background knowledge to be internalized, otherwise you can't react quicker than your "opponent", and you will eventually find yourself reacting to their moves. But if you build up a base of knowledge, you can push until both you and your opponent are flying by the seat of your pants, and if this is something you continually practice at, you will likely be more comfortable. This can be trained by anything, even things completely unrelated to what you intended it for. You can just be playing tricks on people to see how they react, or putting yourself in intensely new surroundings to free up your mind. But there is no reason to stick to the field that everyone else plays on, that only makes it that much harder to win.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What I'm Reading

I haven't done one of these in a while, so this is what I've read this year:

The Art of Learning
by Josh Waitzkin - This is one of the best books I've ever read. Waitzkin is genius, and has led an incredible life so far. He has spent his entire life analyzing how he learns and reacts to stimuli, which is why he has the credentials to write this book. I'm just going to go ahead and admit that most people won't like this book as much as I did, because about 25% of it is spent on an idea that I'm obsessed with: slowing down time. Many people have had these experiences - whether it is during an accident or just seeing something incredible - where time slows down to a crawl. He explains how to cultivate these experiences and use it when you want to. Not to mention the other 75% of the book which breaks down the learning process brilliantly.

I, Claudius
by Robert Graves - The first historical fiction book I've ever read, and it was very, very good. The story itself is incredible. If you don't know who Claudius was, he was born lame in 10 BC. He hid behind his shell of a body and used his appearance to stay alive during an extremely tumultuous time in Rome, where he eventually became Emperor. Amazingly researched, and while I don't know exactly how much Graves made up, it was an awesome read into an idea of what it was like to live back then.

The Art Of War
by Sun Tzu - Obviously a good book, but it didn't impact me that much for some reason. Possibly because I have already read so many of his strategies expanded on in other books. Most of what is in it just seemed obvious by the time I read it.

The Great Santini
by Pat Conroy - Lifted out of Tucker's reading list, a well done book with a main character that you shouldn't like, but you can't help to.

Tribes by Seth Godin - I love the idea behind the book, it's one of those things that seems so innate, but having it spelled and fleshed out brings out the beauty behind it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Assuming Risk

I recently had the choice between a couple different jobs. I could of chosen to do the type of job that I have done before, just mindless busy-work, or I could go in a new direction - a job that puts 100% of the risk on myself. Either I put in the effort, learn skills that I will need in the future, become good at what I do, and be very highly compensated for it, or I fail, and make nothing while losing a lot of time. Easy choice. I've been reading a lot about the selling process, but reading is only part of the equation, knowledge might be an ingredient to success, but it definitely isn't the key. If you don't practice and apply what you know, they just remain other peoples ideas, once you implement them and apply them to your own situations, then they become your own.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ads in Google Reader

Right on the heels of this post by Steve Rubel, Google Reader just put ads up in their feed. I have no idea why he didn't think that Google would be able to run ads, but they apparently can. This pisses me off, because now the beautiful clean look of Reader is gone, but the good news is that there aren't ads in every feed for some reason. The only one I have noticed so far is in the WSJ's Numbers Guy blog, does Google have to ask for permission to put ads up? Hopefully, because if there are ads in every single post, then I might look for another reader.