Tuesday, August 24, 2010

People are generally good.



 Gary Arndt:   20 Things I've Learned

From Traveling Around the World for Three Years Go

Posted via email from Dave's posterous

Wealth Is Evil



Right. I know.

Not evil for me you say, only for everyone else. Maybe.

But no, no maybe. It's not so.

Wealth is evil.

Before the development of agriculture people had wars, but they were mostly symbolic, more like football. People did a little posturing, some hooting, got it out of their systems, and went home to catch the latest on TV.

There was no ownership of land because, well, people had to keep moving and couldn't own thngs.

But after agriculture got a good start, there were surpluses.

Culture exploded. Land became something to own. Slavery and a lot of other things came into being, because people lived lives in fixed places and could afford to buy and sell anything, including one another.

Monogamy became both relevant and important when people had things worth keeping and worth owning, and the of passing on wealth.

Now we have entire armies composed of mercenaries, whole industries devoted to counting out wealth, socking it away, and defending it.

The wealthiest 1% of Americans have as much income as the poorest 50% of Americans, and own as much, in dollar terms, as the poorest 90% of Americans.

That's you and me, Babe.

I'm willing to work for things but the game changes when no matter how much you work it ceases to matter because nothing will change.

I don't care what you call it.

I call it evil.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Where The Boring Things Are



 Dudley Dawson:   Life in the Cubicle Examiner

12 books that can help children curb their enthusiasm for working Go

Faux News


Prince Alwaleed bin Talal al-Saud of Saudi Arabia, through his Kingdom Holding Company, owns 7% of News Corp.'s (Fox News) shares, making Kingdom Holdings the second largest shareholder.

Prince Alwaleed is a major funder of the proposed "Ground Zero" community center, which is closer to a strip club than to anything else.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

What's Next?

Let's think about creativity.

I have a quote from the CEO of HugeCorp, which says (I paraphrase) "On a good day we may hit 10% efficiency."

I put that on the wall of my cubicle back in the old days.

Because it resonated. With me. And with a few sharp people. Who got the point.

But no one who needed to see it did see it. And they would have missed the point. Wouldn't have cared either.

They would have been surprised though. At a large company being inefficient. Without a clue that they were in a worse organization, one that could never even approach 10%.

Because to them large meant successful and good and safe. Having rules and following rules was good. Obeying orders was good. Thinking was not.

The watchwords were
  • We've always done it this way
  • Wait
  • If it ain't broke don't fix it.
The whole concept of cluefulness was beyond understanding.

After all, what was the point? Work not done today would be there tomorrow, and so would the office, and the paycheck, and the routine.

I'm lucky to have been there and to have suffered. Because now I know. How bad it can be.

Which is why a lot of businesses are disappearing these days, and a lot of employees are becoming ex.

As in ex-employees.

Because times are different and harder.

Because 19th century technology can take you only so far.

Take "supervisor". Did you know that it means "one who watches from above"? In early factories the supervisor sat in a high chair and watched to make sure that
  • Everyone kept moving
  • No one talked
  • No one stopped to think.
An overseer.

Too many businesses still work like factories of 150 years ago, where value came from doing simple, mindless things endlessly and quickly, over and over, without thought.

When work changed the assembly line mindset didn't. It moved into the office and we got the organization man, whose rules of engagement were
  • Keep your head down
  • Get along
  • Be agreeable
  • Don't rock the boat
  • Follow the rules
  • Be a team player
Do those and all would be fine. Until.

Until everything changed and it all hit the wall, which is where we are now.

The world is suddenly full of hungry, intelligent, well educated, ambitious, and capable billions, and they are all out to be better at everything than you are. Than your business is.

And a lot of them are.

Going along for the ride is no longer a good game plan. Biding your time, waiting for that gold watch to appear on the horizon is not the royal road to success.

Being a comfy parasite within a comfy system ain't good enough no more. Now is the time to be a hunter: intelligent, well educated, ambitious, and capable. And creative. Better at everything. All the time.

It's harder but more exciting, and works better.

Being smart, savvy, and technologically adept gets things done. Things like ensuring continued employment. Like staying in business. Which is still the goal.

It takes thinking, and understanding, and nimbleness, and willingness, and a sense of play. And intelligent use of technology instead of mindless use of brute force. Or rote repetition.

And creativity. Don't squelch creativity, or work where it is excluded.

Efficiency, which we started with, isn't the point. Efficiency is a dead end concept. Efficiency is measurable and understandable, and a predictable output, given standard input.

Creativity isn't.

Creativity is life.

Creativity is inexplicable and ineffable and quixotic. And essential. And is never found near assembly lines or conformist team players.

Any company, large or small, that relies on discipline, and rulebooks, and supervisors, and a rigid mindset will now fail. Such a company is rumbling toward extinction in an unstoppable automatic way, dinosaur-like.

And so are you, if you work there, are only an unimaginative parasite, and think that riding a dinosaur is a good business strategy.

So maybe embrace what technology can do. What the web can do for even the smallest business. What it can do is amazing. Check it out.

From buznutt.

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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Quickly Rich To Get?

No, it's about richness, not riches.

If everyone got rich we'd all be rich, right?

No.

We'd all be average, like that one fish in a vast school of sardines in a boundless sea of ordinariness.

Take someone with a goal. Who has a job. Has chops. Is established and making a living.

Fine.

But this person, instead of being a decent and reliable certified public accountant (or whatever -- take your pick), really and truly wants to be a famous and rich [novelist / chef / rocker / sports star / actor]. Insert your favorite word.

Also fine.

But there are problems. Who that person IS versus what that person DOES, or vice versa. Also known as The Meaning Of Life versus what's happenin'

There are huge rewards in doing the right useless things well, if you happen to be in the sweet spot and luck gives you a big wet kiss.

Consider being the world's greatest chef. Then consider a can of sardines and a pack of soda crackers. They are interchangeable. The fillips, filigrees, inventions, twists, turns, surprises, knobs, dials, bells, whistles, and doodads are fun but not essential.

Sure, every now and then someone so surprising and inventive with food attracts throngs who only want to throw money and be excited. No, not that often, but it happens. Pick another field: sports, acting, music. Same random effect.

Plan on hitting the jackpot as your career goal though and you're not likely to end up both happy and rich, or just happy, or just rich either, sad to say.

Reliable income for you comes from only a few areas: doing what others do not want to do, or doing what others can't, or doing what others can't and don't want to anyway. Basically, things that provide measurable value for others, and are a pain.

Do you really want to garden for dollars? Be paid for trout fishing? Lie around watching loot roll down the chute? You bet. So does everyone else, and most of them would kill you for the chance. At best you could find a volunteer opportunity, and still get death threats.

So utility works, but it's boring. And takes a long hard slog to get good at. And won't make you rich. And the glitzy stuff is like being hit by lightning. Like out of the blue, you know?

Disappointment is likely in the scenario of
  • Having a great idea at dawn
  • Getting noticed by noon
  • Selling out by evening
  • Going to live under a palm tree.
You can't do business that way. You can't do life that way either, really.

What works is
  • Finding a pleasant niche
  • Filling it well
  • Paying attention to details
  • Grabbing opportunities that do come by
  • Being honest and fair
  • Doing some fun stuff on the side "just because".
No, the fun stuff won't make you rich overnight, or at all, but it will keep your hand in. Will maintain the excitement, keep you alive, reaffirm who you ARE.

Don't go out shooting hoops hoping that the NBA will be begging you to sign.

But do keep shooting hoops if you like it. Keep in touch with your passions. Stay on your toes. Maintain your practice. Develop a sense of balance.

You never know when a skill you have or an idea you have or an odd bit of knowledge you've picked up will be the icing on a surprise cake.

And if you work both sides of the street, you'll be ready for anything.

So show up and do your job. But don't turn your back on those useless, wonderful, inspirational things either. Not now, and, come to think of it, not ever.

Because you never know.

From buznutt