Question from a reader -
I'm reading The Book of Five Rings, and I have a question.
There's a lot of good stuff about acting decisively and immediately so that you can win while your opponent is hesitating, but I don't get why he emphasizes swords so much in particular.
Masters of the long sword are traditionally known as heihosha [strategists]. As for the other military arts, those who master the bow are called archers, those who master the spear are called spearmen, those who master the gun are called marksmen, and those who master the halberd are called halberdiers. But we do not call masters of the long sword "long swordsmen", nor do we speak of "short swordsmen". Bows, guns, spears and halberds are all tools of the warriors and each should be a way to master strategy.
33 year old man. Built a net worth of $2 million doing a variety of entrepreneurship, but a major asset he owned with leverage completely exploded in a crazy and unpredictable way. He's now got $500,000.
31 year old man. Had just decided to enter the stock market, and bought at a low. Doubled his portfolio from $250,000 to $500,000.
The first guy is at a similar place, if not a better one. He's been there before. The skillset of building businesses is usually more predictable than getting a huge stock market windfall.
But man #1 is probably feeling neurotic and upset and on edge.
Man #2 is feeling fantastic.
Every business has unique and interesting things happening around them.
Many of them neglect to tell that story.
I just read this excellent story by Jay Abraham, author of "Getting Everything You Can Out of All You've Got," on how Schlitz beer came to #1 in the United States -
Years ago Schlitz Beer boosted themselves from #9 in the market to #1 in six months through a simple process. Back then, everybody and their brother was a commodity. They were all saying, "Our beer is good because it is pure." And there was nothing distinctive about that.
Arbitrage and speculation get a bad rap sometimes, but they're incredibly useful.
I'm leaving Ulaanbaatar shortly and I'll be heading to Japan. I went to stock up on some basic supplies - personable consumables and work stuff.
Strikingly, paper is really expensive here for Western-grade, Western-style paper. The local shops literally don't carry it. Instead, they have this checkered sort of paper. It's like graph paper, but with thick black lines. I prefer black ink, and after trying out one of those notebooks, I couldn't read what I'd written.
I tried some of the upscale department stores (Sky Department Store, State Department Store) and there's literally no Western-style, 60 sheet lined notebooks in the $1 to $2 range like you'd see in the USA. They have high end notebooks for $6 to $12, and they have these thin flimsy 20-page booklet-type things for around $1. I settled for the booklet.
Now, if there was the demand to make it worth it, someone importing Western style paper from China at 20 cents a notebook and selling it here for $2 per notebook would be creating a lot of value. If this presented a large enough opportunity, eventually you'd see the margins go down towards cost, as happens in almost all industries.
My awareness is getting better. Last night, I'd been working in a restaurant near Sukhabatar Square until it closed at midnight. Walking home, I was about to pass through a group of three guys when suddenly this flash of danger kicked in. WarningWarningWarning!!!
I stopped, turned on my heel, and walked in a broad circle around them. One of the guys looked at me. I looked back briefly, but then kept moving.
I'm keeping an eye on these guys because they're kind of sort of in my way in the direction I'm going. I can circle around because I'm at the broad part of the walkway past Sukhabar, so there's two paths. But they're still near me.
As I'm watching, a random passerby walks through the three tough dudes. One of them grabs the passerby by the arm, and starts to try totally hold him. The passerby yells, shouts, shoves, pushes, shakes, and is able to get away and run off towards the night.
My awareness is getting better.
Have you ever heard of a paradoxical sentence like, "This sentence isn't true"?
I think it's a mechanics-of-language failure.
See, when we try to express an idea using language, it's often not possible to capture the pure essence of the idea.
There's concepts that don't have words for them and there's words that exist that describe a number of different things ("happiness"). Then, on top of that, there's structures and grammar and traditions and "implied meanings." When someone makes a sarcastic reference to "Mission Accomplished" you'd need to know a considerable amount of recent American politics and history to entirely get their meaning.
In the end, language exists to try to communicate meaning. It takes the thought or concept and puts it into verbal form. But because language does so many different things at the same time, loopholes and broken constructions emerge.
My recent reading/listening list has been almost entirely:
*Biographies of successful businessmen *Biographies of military leaders and statesmen *Practical business reading with case studies mixed in
...and that's about it.
Following those three topics exclusively, I've come to a conclusion.
You're almost required to have the distribution and marketing to make money.
You ever listen to an album a lot of times?
Yeah, of course you have.
Got a favorite one or two or three albums?
Today I'd like to introduce you to Venkat Rao. He writes Ribbonfarm, and he's mastered the difficult challenge of writing smart, novel, entertaining, eloquent, controversial, and accessible content - at the same time. Most people can't do this.
Venkat wrote an excellent reply on Quora to the question, "Is it hard to build, market and maintain a web app that makes at least $1000 a month?" Quora's TOS actually allows you to republish things in full with attribution (and some other requirements), and I thought this would be an excellent introduction to Venkat for you.
This whole reply is brilliant. He's got the orders of magnitude on money, time, and requirements basically dead-on. Extraordinarily impressive read here -
"Is it hard to build, market and maintain a web app that makes at least $1000 a month?"
This is a very interesting question, and the responses are very revealing. It is instantly clear who knows what they are talking about.