If you were going to build an empire, how would you do it?
I've been thinking on this lately. I want to choose the imperial path first, last, and always. Every decision I make ought to be to the end of building. We can get into the "why" of it and philosophy another time, but I think pretty much the meaning of life is to expand, the mid-term goal of humanity ought to be to spread outside of Planet Earth and diversity our habitats a little bit, and I'd like to participate in doing that.
That's a really long discussion though, so we'll save that for another time. Yesterday I was in a really nice cafe and I was thinking, "You know, I want to always be choosing the empire-building way. When choosing between options, when prioritizing, when picking activities, when picking projects - I want to choose expansion and empire."
I thought about that and I don't have any really good heuristics for what's conducive to expansion and what isn't. So today I went to a cool little Vietnamese restaurant where the owner is friendly, got some coffee and tea and bread, and started brainstorming a little bit.
I think the following are the building blocks of an empire -
The Imperial Path
Family – Friends – Counsel – Network
If conflict started today, who would be on my side?
People knowing of me.
Accomplish & Credential:
Credentials – Elevator pitch – Prestige – Relations – Memberships with Factions
Written works – Events – Art – Science – Accomplishments – Governance – History-changing
Portfolio – Blurbs/testimonials – Reviews – Soundbites
Skills – Habits – Routine – Regular environment – Knowledge – Intek
Diet – Sleep – Time spent (quality) – Emotion/mood – Beliefs – Goals
Purpose – Loyalties – Muscles/body composition – Biochemistry
Rituals and customs – Celebrations – Things like Marshall Salute
Cash – Cashflow – Paper assets (stocks, bonds, etc)
Grants of rights and privileges (passport, limited liability, etc)
Tools – computers, clothing, software, other technology
Real estate for use (rented or owned)
Real estate for investment (rental or business)
Processes – spreadsheets, workflows, etc.
Ownership stakes – Royalties – Digital assets
Commercial – Nonprofit – Governance – Security – Cultural
Guild – Private club – Other private organizations – Religious/spiritual
Banks – Universities – Investment groups – Small groups (regular dinner party, card games, etc)
Any of these sections could be broken down into significantly greater detail. You could probably write an entire book on the vast majority of elements here. Hell, there's got to be dozens of valuable "Skills," each one of which could have its own comprehensive book on it.
This is really a "barest elements" sort of analysis. It leaves out some of my core philosophies. For instance, "Out-compete by out-serving" isn't written explicitly, but would fall under Habits, Routine, Beliefs, Loyalties, etc, etc.
It strikes me that the "Self" category is the most important, because with the right mix of skills, habits, spending your time wisely, etc. - then you can build the rest of everything else.
There's a lot of feedback loops in here. The more you develop yourself, the more you're going to accomplish and get credentialed, which is going to make it easier to meet and connect with good people, which is going to help you develop yourself and do more, which is going to get you access to resources, and so on.
At the highest levels, it seems like you need good relationships (or at least, not bad relationships) with important organizations. If you're an American doctor and doing medical research, you're really going to be hurting if the FDA or AMA dislikes you. It'd be good if they liked you and wanted to work with you, but it's at least necessary that they don't dislike you to the point of wanting to shut you down even if you're doing good work.
Prioritizing from the above list becomes a bit easier. I might flesh it out a little more, but I got a lot of clarity from making the list. Your thoughts and additions in the comments?
I came across your blog while reading Dan Shipper's blog which I came across while reading Lifehacker which I probably found during some random web crawl. I usually don't write to bloggers/people-online much but you seem pretty cool about receiving and answering mail so here goes. I am not sure where your usual readership comes from but I am writing to you from Sri Lanka, which would most likely in the minority when it comes to your readership. :)
Your interests seem pretty varied on your blog, so I was wondering, how do you choose your particular 'line' or career, or where you ultimately want to head. Ideally one would want to specialize in something, but when your interests are varied, how do you figure out what you want to be. In various times of my life I have been interested in the pure sciences (Physics, Chemistry kind of stuff), computer science, I dabble in some photoshopping even though I am not great at it, I like music even though I am not great with an instrument, I like the idea of programming even though the thought of becoming good at it is too daunting, I like writing, even worked a bit on international relations, but haven't come across something I can devote myself to. It would be nice to find my calling before I grow old and die.
How would you choose where you want to go with your life if you just like everything?
Happy new year!
I am hoping you would share your resources for your reading on Japanese history. Book titles and/or urls would be very helpful.
I got that a week ago, and I kind of sat there staring at the email. Japanese history is some of the most confusing to start to learn, because different elements of Japanese history and culture all play on and influence each other. I could run you through the military history of Japan from The Battle of Okehazama to Sekigahara to the Boshin War, from there into Dai Nippon Tekoku Era, from there into defeat and the Occupation under McArthur, and then we could do a little post-war history.