Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

Friday, July 29, 2005

On Business

Things I've Learned:
1) Work hard. Most people fail because they are lazier than they are smart. In other words brilliant people might not work as hard as you, but that's OK, they're more gifted. If you, like by definition pretty much everyone, are about average in talent you've got to work hard.

2) Seperate work from yourself. Business will alter who you are in some good ways and some bad ways. If you own a business unit (either your own firm or the P&L for a big company there is a temptation to let that become your identity. That's stupid.

3) Work with people who love what you love. It doesn't matter if you've got matching personality or think the same way. A company of identical people will be great for six months, suck, and then close. But you've got to love the same stuff.

4) Say "I Don't Know" very often. Because you don't. You think you do--people are often wrong. I've taken to being clear on exactly how sure I am, "I don't know, I think and will confirm, I don't know and don't know where to find out." As an ancillary benefit when you say, "I know" it means a lot more.

5) Don't use adjectives or adverbs. It weakens your phrase, and if you're "very very excited" to work with someone or your product is "a best of class solution" you sound like a tool. You're excited, your thing is good.

6) See the whole field. Nothing in business is more expensive than myopia. If you're a functionary whose only job is to--I don't know--cut the cost of receivables on product line Y than be myopic, but if you're managing ANYTHING you've got to see the whole field.

7) Say thank you. If you are going to grow an organization: a company, a church, a political party, whatever; you are going to ask people to do stuff. In fact, normal people don't win championships because normal people are lazy, so you're going to ask people to become more than they were before. Saying, "Hey man! Transform who you are for me and also work your balls off" is an invariable component of any real growth or challenge. So say thank you.

8) There is a big difference between wanting something and wanting it enough to make it happen. I want to be good at fixing stuff around the house, but only enough to say "Wow, it sure would be nice if I could fix stuff." The only kind of wanting big enough to matter is wanting something enough to pay the price.
Remember that there is not a morally superior position. We value the guy who always "Wants it bad enough to pay the price" but we shouldn't. Often that guys a dick, or doesn't know his kids, or is driven by a compulsion to succeed and then cries alone in a hotel room. Being unwilling to dedicate oneself to anything is moral failure, and dedicating yourself to something that won't last (like Star Wars, a dead end job, or sex with randoms) is pretty stupid, but feeling like a failure because you're not absolutely dedicated to everything is also silly.

9) Who you are before God is what matters.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Being a Nerd

I'm a nerd. I say this to mean that I absolutely LOVE learning new stuff. To this end my wife and I made up a game on our walk last night. It's surprisingly fun, you should do it you'll learn stuff.
The game is very simple--put someone on the hot seat and make them tell you 10 things that they know about ________________.
It doesn't really matter what blank is. We did cars, modern art, the US Postal Service, and marketing.
I know this sounds ridiculous, but actually try it. The only rules are:
1) The person has to finish.
2) The asker can't help.
3) They have to actually KNOW the thing, not be "pretty sure."
Other than my strange proclivity for the dorkish and lame I don't know why the game is fun, but it really is. Try it.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Coming to My Senses

My God whose love speaks life to every dawn,
Who pierced the sky creating heavens glow,
Who holds the oceans cupped within his hand
And walked upon the storming raging sea,
How do you fit all God within all man
And still and all how do you still love me?

I have still broken hands and soul and heart
I hear your voice with still so broken ears
My dances broken cadence slows to ill
And promises I've broken my soul seek.
But water dancing feet can't be held still,
Nor voice that calmed a storm denied to speak.

It's done you say and since you speak it's true;
Your love does flow and overflow to you.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Disconnected Liberal Elite

There's a phrase bouncing around among my right wing friends these days. You've heard it, "The disconnected liberal elite."
According to my friends (I truly say this with absolutely no irony) the liberals in their liberalyness are disconnected from the normal feelings of the every day american, the salt of the earth man on the street type. This disconnection, so say my friends, is the cause of many problems in America today (crime, the break down of the family, American Idol, etc.)
I have three problems with this argument.
1) Christian Conservatives will talk about the disconnected liberals who are "out of touch" with the Christian values that once made America great. As a born again Christian this one makes me want to throw a chair. When exactly were we such a Christian nation? When we killed the natives, let immigrants die in the streets, enslaved a race, beat that race and denied them civil rights? When was that gleaming point where we were the city on a hill. It never came, we're supposed to be working on that still. I will be crystal clear, I firmly believe that America is the most Christian nation that has existed in all of human history, but for a nation, the pursuit of Christ is a duty to uphold, not a mandate to justify policy. Read the writings of American heroes who carried our nation towards Christ when things were hard, you will invariably find that the pursuit of moral greatness was a struggle. A struggle that was good, and was right, and that frankly most nations didn't have the balls to undertake, but a struggle. America was not made great because we waved flags of agreement, but because we recognized that to build a city on a hill probably involved carrying big rocks up a slope.
2) From a realpolitik standpoint it's very difficult to make a case the liberals have really caused any problems recently. Why? Because they don't control ANYTHING. Nothing. At all. And they haven't for some time.
3) A third problem I have is what I'll call the Schiavo/Flag Burning quandary. We are at a unique position in history where the geopolitical forces are in more dynamic flux since they've been in 1492. We have guys fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world. We have real and looming problems in Medicaid, Medicare, health care as a whole, the pension system, and probably a considerable personal debt crisis caused in large part by leaning too heavily on new home starts as a way for the administration to win points. What does Congress spend it's best time on, personal family issues and flag burning. Are these last issues compelling? Yes. Are they philosophically important? Yes. Are they 1000 times more complex than the cheap political rah rah issues that they've been transformed into? Yes. A magician's gloved hand flashing through the air of a night club is also compelling.

The flip side
The flip side is that there does need to be a legitimate explanation for why liberals get kicked around these days. The answer is very simple:
They aren't proposing any ideas. They borrowed a few one-liners from the Jim Wallis book, but frankly all we are seeing from the liberal leadership right now is sophistry.
This was demonstrated comically by John Stewart's interview with Howard Dean the other day.
Stewart: "What would you actually DO if you were in office?"
Dean: "We would be the party who said, love your neighbour as yourself, and you don't get to pick your neighbour?"
Stewart: "Other than something you can put on your pillowcase, what would you do?"
Dean: No answer