August 11th, 2011. Chiba, Japan.
A mix of confusion and awe as I step off the platform.
I must have made a mistake. But maybe a good mistake.
Birds caw and cicadas click gently, filling the warm afternoon air with sounds of nature. The train platform is open to the air and on the other side of the tracks is a high fence. Beyond it, a bicycle and walking path leading to a park.
Children are running around and playing in the park, but surprisingly quietly. Very Japanese.
I saw the article "Memoirs of a Bullied Kid" on the site Single Dad Laughing. It's written by a guy named Dan Pearce, and he seems like a hell of a guy. He's talking about raising his son, about accepting yourself, dealing with conflict, things like that. Pretty inspirational and good stuff.
The Memoirs of a Bullied Kid article must've taken a lot of guts to write, and I massively respect that. That said, I disagree with his conclusion on how to deal with violent bullies. So I want to send some praise and respect in his direction, but also some significant disagreement.
I originally wrote this as a comment for Hacker News, but it came out to about a normal post's length. Tone is more discussion site level than blog post level, but you'll get the gist of it -
"Son, as soon as someone puts their hands on you..."
This comment will be controversial, especially for North Americans and Western Europeans. I ask you to read it and think about it a moment before reacting, and comment if you disagree. I believe what I'm about to say is true, and I'm not trying to get a rise out of people - I want to fix some problems with society.
Get a coffee and some popcorn ready before you read this one. Love it or hate it, either way you'll be wildly entertained. Names and details changed, for obvious reasons.
Subject: Very important email from Sebastian. Please read ASAP.
This is a very important email. Please read it, wait 10-20 minutes before replying and just think about it (don't surf the web, just think), and then reply with your thoughts.
First, the tactical things -
1. Anyone one of you can use the following credit card to sign up for anything.
Sit down before you read this.
We've got to talk.
Look. This is going to piss you off. This is going to look like I'm causing problems.
I'm not causing problems. I'm just pointing out where problems already exist.
My "How to Get a Raise" comment became one of the most popular I've ever made at Hacker News - obviously this topic is important to people. I'll repeat the short version here, and I'll also give more detailed analysis for people who like to know why things work. Here we go -
The question was, "Why do business analysts and project managers get higher salaries than programmers?"
My reply -
Because programmers don't ask for more money often enough.
A few of my friends - three friends, to be exact - mentioned to me that I write a heck of a lot on here and they're impressed. I have convinced the ultra-smart Sami Baqai to start blogging, and he just got the holy-shit-this-is-hard-I'm-overwhelmed feeling. Ah, yes, I have been there Sami. Perhaps I can share some thoughts.
First and foremost, I am a huge devotee of the Equal-Odds Rule. As far as I know, I'm the only person talking about it outside of academia. This Amazon review covers it pretty well:
The equal-odds rule says that the average publication of any particular scientist does not have any statistically different chance of having more of an impact than any other scientist's average publication. In other words, those scientists who create publications with the most impact, also create publications with the least impact, and when great publications that make a huge impact are created, it is just a result of "trying" enough times. This is an indication that chance plays a larger role in scientific creativity than previously theorized.
So I read that, and I'm like - whoa. You know Neo in the Matrix? Whoa.
If you want to make excellent stuff, you need to make a lot of stuff.
Last week, I wrote "On Getting More Done – Top-down, or bottom up?" -
I described two strategies of getting more done. The first way is to take on a lot of unbreakable commitments and follow through on them, and you'll naturally be forced to optimize to make all of your commitments. So if you play a competitive sport, work full time, study full time, and are helping run a charitable project - well, you'll naturally move fast and optimize your time. If you're the kind of person that always sees unbreakable commitments through, this can work quite well.
The downside is that you risk burning out or crashing. And that's a very real downside.
The other strategy for getting more done would be to gradually reclaim parts of your life. This would be identifying where your time is currently going, and gradually transitioning that time from activities you'd like to do less of into activities you'd like to do more of. I elaborated on this in "Want to read more? Okay, here’s a few ways to do so" -
What does it take to read? Well, you need a book or some sort of words or something. Some light. And – time.
"And if you've smoked any weed, had a joint in college, whatever -- tell us the truth! This will not adversely affect you, it's most important to us that you tell us the truth."
There were two officers at the front of the LAPD Reserve Officer Orientation. The Reserve Officer program was unpaid volunteer police work. You'd get a small stipend for equipment, and "intense paramilitary-style training" as they described it.
I was excited to protect and serve. It was 2009, and I didn't have much to do after the financial crash wiped everything out. So, I was becoming a reserve police officer. I was thinking I could help out in detective work, I like figuring things out. Or riot duty.
I liked the orientation, and I filled out the required background application. There were questions to tick off, something like this:
Marijuana .............. Multiple times in last year [ ] Once in last year [ ] Multiple times in lifetime [ ] Once in lifetime [ ] Never [ ]
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?
Just got a comment on "Having Your Own Ethics is Lonely" by a reader. He asked one of the hardest questions about becoming successful - what happens when you're improving when your friends aren't?
I found this blog because I'm looking for advice. I've realized four years ago that I was unhappy with myself. I lived a poor, and dead end life. So I decided to look closely at my lifestyle and eliminate some bad habits and replace them with good ones. I also got a second job to make more money, and lived in relative poverty by choice. And it worked! I'm healthy financially and I've gotten a chance to learn anything I've wanted to know. I'm strong and smarter than I used to be. I think I know what God is, and everyday I work to be better than the day before. But, I can't connect with my old friends because they do all the things I dont want to be a part of any more, because they dont care to do well for themselves as much. In a way, to put it bluntly, they're not usefull to me. I'd rather make friends with people I truely admire and respect. I dont feel like I can tell them that I basically think they're bad people. They've done nothing to harm me personally, but I want nothing to do with them. What do you think?
Indeed, that's one of the hardest parts about becoming successful.
Most people don't like to change after they get established. If you improve quickly, it can upset and turn off old friends and cause breaks in friendship.
Perhaps the worst time is when you're still on a shaky ground with your old improvement. I remember one time, I was going through a super healthy kick. Lots of gym, weights, very clean and healthy diet. But with one of my buddies, we always ate junk food together when we got together. Pizza, chicken wings, burgers and fries, stuff like that.