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.


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