My friend David Cummins, an analyst at JL McGregor in Shanghai, just sent me these two excellent quotes.
"Some people believe the modern Renaissance Man is an investment banker who likes to ride horses on his weekends off or take a wine tasting course. That’s not a Renaissance Man, that’s a guy with a hobby. A Renaissance man is someone that can see trends and patterns and is able to integrate what he already knows. A Renaissance Man is curious and interested in different things. You have to be willing to ‘waste time’ on things that are not directly related to your work because you are curious. But then you are able to, sometimes unconsciously, integrate them back into what you do."
"The art of moving between, or switching, fields through different jobs, projects, or hobbies can be an effective way to generate unplanned unique insights. Seek some occupational diversification."
My friend Geoff Workman sent me this link to incredible pictures of people carrying impossible loads on a bike or rickshaw. I couldn’t capture these sights on my own camera, so I’m glad there’s a web site that does it so well itself.
Link: Lords of� the Logistic.
I talked to my good friend Howard last night, who’s started at the University of Michigan, and it struck me that those of us who were happy in high school and happy about life have stayed happy in college (or in gap years). Those who were unhappy have gone to college and stayed in a funk. There are exceptions, of course, but it’s remarkable how "happy people" just seem to find the bright side of a new situation.
This is more evidence for the "genetic baseline" theory of happiness which says even extraordinary events like winning the lottery or losing a loved one will not have an enduring impact on our day-to-day happiness.
I read Eat the Rich by P.J. O’Rourke while traveling, and it’s typical O’Rourke, which means funny. After claiming he understands zero economcis — most of us don’t — he does profess to know how economics is usually understood.
After two semesters at college:
I. There are a lot of graphs
II. I’d better memorize them
III. Or get last year’s test
After three drinks at most bars:
I. There are only so many things in the world, and somebody is taking my share
II. All payment for work is underpayment
II. All business is crime
A. Retailers are thieves
B. Wholesalers are pimps
C. Manufacturers are slave drivers
IV. All wealth is the criminal conspiracy among:
C. Pirates in neckties on Wall Street
Oh, how much time I’ve spent in school defending the pirates in neckties and those Evil Corporations they work for.
William Marling debunks the myth that "Americanization" is pervasive in his new book How "American" Is Globalization? In fact, Marling argues, local cultures have proved remarkably resilient in a globalized world. And while there are some instances where American business or culture dominate the world (such as the ATM banking system, shipping containers, and franchising) there are many more instances of "less than we think." Fast food, for example, is hardly an American invention, and even some fast food chains such as Burger King are mistakenly attributed to the States (it’s British). Where fast food does have an American mark — McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, etc — they’ve been an enormous force for good in terms of hygiene standards, management culture, and other practices many third world countries have not been exposed to. Interestingly, many foreign people see McDonald’s as a local company — thanks to such successful integration and menu localization.
The total number of English speakers is also on the decline, despite cries about English taking over the world.
Marling says many Americans believe the Americanization myth because when they travel overseas they see some American logos and pop culture and mistakenly think it’s a dominating force.
People reject globalization for different reasons. I disagree with them on pretty much every front. The Americanization myth is often listed in the "cultural erosion" argument — this book is a nice rebuttal.
I believe the profit-motive has produced the most good in the world by introducing the hugest world-changing ideas — both in terms of the products we use and the culture we consume.
But I suppose the next best thing to for-profit entrepreneurship is "social entrepreneurship" — a new breed of civic / non-profit / hybrid entrepreneurs.
I had the pleasure of supporting my friend Steven Clift be inducted as a 2006 Ashoka Fellow tonight at the Google campus after a welcome by Sergey Brin and other leading lights of the change-the-world movement. Ashoka is an organization funding the best social entrepreneurs. James Fallows, one of my intellectual heros, recently said if he had a million dollars to give away he’d give it to Ashoka. The work Ashoka supports is much more compelling than your traditional charity.
Steven Clift has been promoting e-democracy and e-government for many years. We were both named among the most influential people in the world of internet and politics at a conference in Paris a few years ago; he said some kind things about me in an SF Weekly piece; I’ve given him some material about Comcate‘s e-gov work that he’s used in presentations to congressional committes and audiences around the world. We share a passion to make government and politics more accessible and interactive using the internet.
Congrats Steven and the entire Class of 2006 Ashoka Fellows. March on. This change the world stuff ain’t always easy. Ashoka has just made it a little less hard.
I was talking to my partner Dave this evening and we were discussing what it means to hold high standards. The best companies hold standards that are high but not too high.
He had an interesting way of assessing this this. Dave said when our contract comes up with a client, they should look around at the market and consider other companies, and then always come back and renew with us (Comcate). If we’re providing such unbelievable service that they don’t even check out the competition, then we’re probably doing too much. And if they look around and do leave, then we’re not doing enough.
In other words:
1. Look around and leave — underperforming
2. Don’t look around at all — overperforming
3. Look around and stay — optimized
Finding that optimized sweet spot — or the "lowest A possible," for all you students out there — is difficult but necessary.
They almost never say "You’re welcome."
I usually got:
I suppose "no worries" is the more natural expression for "don’t worry" but still, "you’re welcome" is the best response to "thank you."
"It’s great to be back in the Bay. It is, though, rainy and dark. But to riff off the great MLK, it’s not the color of the sky that counts, but the content of the city’s character." – Ben Casnocha, in an email
November 10th – 12:30 AM: Victoria’s Peak in Hong Kong
November 10th – 11:15 AM: Depart Hong Kong
November 10th – 4:30 PM: Arrive Tokyo (3.5 hour flight)
November 10th – 5:30 PM: Depart Tokyo
November 10th – 9:15 AM: Arrive Vancouver (12 hour flight)
November 10th – 3:00 PM: Depart Vancouver
November 10th – 5:15 PM: Arrive San Francisco (2 hour flight)
Yes I’m home and recovering. Yes I’m home six days earlier than planned. Yes I’m trying to obsess about my book in this final crunch.
(For those confused by title of this post, it’s a 24 reference)