The "Knack" post was really popular and got spread around, and it's kind of crazy to see the reaction. I got a chance to connect with a few cool people I'd never met before over business and entrepreneurship type stuff, but also some people were really nasty. The biggest thing that surprises me is how a number of people equated wanting to make money with sociopathy.
What the hell? Looking to provide value, serve people, and get a share of the value you created is a disease?
I asked a number of people to weigh in with:
1. If they've had any interesting experiences, and,
2. Why some people act like working to make money is wrong (which seems crazy to me - provide legit service, work hard, deliver, and get a share of the value you create... duh?)
So as surprised as I was to see various hostility, I was really pleased with a number of people who weighed in. Judd wrote up a long informative answer, where he says the process of making money is more about self-discovery than about all the nice things he gets.
I got this email from a reader Jared, a very cool guy working on algorithmic trading in Chile -
I call it the relationship with money. I have a similar history as Judd with hustling since I was a kid and think part of that relationship includes belief phenomenal returns are possible .
My first venture was at 15 when I offered to dispose of 15-486 computers from my after school job. I cleaned them up, organised a sale and installed Windows-95 and Doom95, selling them for $300 a pop. It was a small fortune for a 15 yr old!
After I invested it all in the stockmarket in a 0.16c stock and made 50% in a couple of weeks. Then the stock crashed to 0.04c and lost it all hoping for rebound! It was a great lesson in greed! I was put off the stock market for 5 years and only got back into it at 21-22!
Interesting, interesting stuff. The "relationship with money" - having good experiences (like cleaning up computers that were going to be thrown away and selling them) seems to promote wanting do more things with money... whereas investing poorly and losing your cash makes you want to stay away from it for a while, and worsens the relationship.
Thanks for the perspective, Jared - interesting stuff. I think there's something to it, here - where a person's experiences with money early lend to how they feel about it later. I wonder what that suggests about people who equate money with sociopathy? Yikes...
I guess much of it is about opportunities - spotting them and seizing them. Like the computers. Not many people with 15 PC's would think to do that. Simple, but effective.
Essentially that is what car boot / antique dealers do all the time, find old rubbish nobody wants then polish it up and sell it. Easy money, when you have the eye for detail, the vision, and the gift of the gab to sell the stuff!
It's a moral debate.
Those who believe in more social and collective ethics naturally see an individualist who pursues his interests as a sociopath. As if it's some disease.
Then of course there’s also the ones who are just envious and spiteful...
If a sociopath is someone with a serious disregard for others, it's kind of ironic that the contribution of some is to frequently throw that term around to tear down people legitimately contributing and achieving.
This blog is addictive!
I think its a valid point that some people can be sociopathic about money. I've known people who that decided that they needed to develop sociopathic traits in order to fit in and get ahead in their particular business, career, job etc. One guy successful guy I worked for had sociopathy as his permanent personality trait - nay a strategy!
A lot of people will believe that bullying their way into making money is a valid way. The ones with early success will probably continue behaving like this. The ones that don't might learn, adapt - improve their ways.
I personally believe that I am not looking for money, but I am looking to deliver value. By having this mindset, I have realised over the years that making money becomes easier as people come to you, instead of wasted efforts chasing money. If you can identify the value in your ideas/opportunities and deliver it, you then have a new challenge - to work hard to manage all the money that comes in!
You have to make a habit of it. In my experience for every persons that like what you say, only 10% will tell you. Of those who don't like what you have to say instead, 50% will tell you, so you may have the impression that a lot of people didn't like what you said when in reality it's the opposite. Just saying, sometimes comments are really bad, but don't stop it.
Some good discussion in this thread at Hacker News about how to evaluate people with a business skillset if you've got technical skills already.
I reckon "a knack for getting money" is probably the most key thing to look for in a businessperson. Some people have a knack for getting money.
All the business skills in the world without the knack for getting money doesn't fly. Well, maybe for employee #7,632 once a company's made it. But not for starting something up. You need to hustle and get money of some form real fast early on. A business guy who can't get money is probably worse than useless - if he wasn't on board, you'd be worried about solving the money problem yourself. But since he's supposedly the business guy and seems to be doing business guy stuff, you think things are cool. But things aren't cool. Go long enough without money, you die.
So, where do you get a knack for getting money? We're not born with it. It's acquired through action somehow. What's it take?
I sat in a room once, and the speaker asked us all if we wanted financial independence. Everyone put their hand up, but it was explained, most don't value saving and understanding their money, it’s just a vision in the back of their mind. Everyone wants to live off interest, delegate away uninspiring tasks, and maybe have a red car, capable of driving high speeds..
I’m just a student, but I learned a powerful lesson when I lost my last job that was less demanding and stressful than my current one. It also payed much more, so from a financial perspective, I was doing better. Working harder for less? (Nobody wants that!)
But in some kind of bizarre paradox, I find myself with more money than I had before, and I’m more conscious of my savings and goals. I didn’t love my job, so I was excited about what I’d have for lunch, what I’d buy with my paycheck. As a result I had large amounts of stuff, most of which I ended up selling for a tenth of the price.. Because I didn’t really need it all anyway..
I thought the best jobs were sinecures, where I could leave at 5pm with no concern or care, and collect a decent cheque. Now I'm glad to have activity in my job, and more to think about. When people work hard together, there's a sense of spirit and humour, you can’t buy a one-day seminar and attempt to create that culture. The people I work with are one of the most important things about my job, I guess this is a bit like russian roulette; you have no idea what that cute girl is going to be like to work with.