Archives For January 2008

Ethics and Praise on Book Jackets

January 17, 2008 — 3 Comments

I am thinking that there should be some ethical guidelines regarding the praise that goes on book jackets.

The Pirate’s Dilemma by Matt Mason (which is excellent) features a giant quote from Seth Godin on the front. Coincidentally, Seth is quoted pretty liberally throughout the book as an expert. Or even more egregious, in Know How by Ram Charan, there is praise from the CEOs who just happen to all be subjects in the book lauded for their leadership skills. Do you think Steven Covey’s opinion that it was “brilliant and immensely practical” had anything to do with the Ram making an example of his “know how?” Which brings us to “Advance Praise” which has the balls to ignore even the pretension of propriety. Someone mailed me a book to review last week and the back cover has 13 different quotes on the back and it hasn’t even been released yet.

As books become cheaper and faster to publish and blogs become increasingly reputable as alternatives, destroying the credibility that comes along with the jacket praise is probably not the best idea. I quit Know How when I realized that Ram wasn’t going to be drawing any ethical lines between author and salesman, reporter and friend.

So where do you draw the line? I don’t think the subjects of the books should praise it on the cover, just like a newspaper wouldn’t let them write a review about it. And even more generally, it’s probably inappropriate for Google CEO Eric Schmidt to be lavishing compliments on books that “coincidentally” happen to validate the business model of his company like Wikinomics and The Long Tail. Is it just me or are these textbook conflict of interest cases?

A Wolf Like Me

January 15, 2008 — 5 Comments

We’ve talked before about how hard it is, but let’s revisit. It’s fucking hard. We’ve talked a bit about what it’s like try and run the marathon–to consciously set out on a path totally your own, to train and attempt something many think is foolish. But let’s try this marathon, what we face as we stand on the cusp on an entirely new age.

As everything I see and read and hear converges, I become more convinced of a single conclusion. That the whole fucking world has been built on a foundation of lies, of exploitation, of moving food around on a plate. And it’s not working anymore. The Emperor Has No Clothes. Apparently, he never did.

I know it’s hard to believe but many of the people you respect from afar, cherish for their business acumen, or generally defer to as intelligent are utterly incompetent. Literally, people who were on the top of industrial power just a few short years ago are stumbling around like idiots, clutching for just a shred of their former kingdom. And we have a generation of carpetbaggers who think they can beat them to the chase–like what they had is worth holding on to.

Think about how scary that really is–that hey, even though it’s still working today, still pulling in millions of dollars, I am going to stay clear of it because it could fail in the future. It’s called the Entrenched Player’s Dilemma for a reason. And the difference between a dilemma and a problem is that problems have solutions. What we stand on the face today is as big a change as the Industrial Revolution–a fundamental shift in technology and interaction that will force a realignment in how we fight our wars, govern our people, discover or create meaning, accumulate wealth, and the organizational structure of our cities. A change in literally almost every aspect of life.

And so culture shifts with it. How we think shifts with it. Who we are shifts with it. So you have a choice, are you going to lead, muddle along or die in the transitional chaos. It’s not easy. It’s so fucking easy to be a douche. To throw words around like viral and openness and change but then get your nails done and think about ways you can sell the infant off into prostitution.

Consider for the first time that there is an alternative course. You don’t have to buy in. It’s hard sure, but it’s certainly not harder than it used to be. It’s like John Galt standing up in the middle of the meeting and saying that he’d had enough, that he’d destroy their world. And then doing it…

With a large group of young, hungry people willing to take the pyramid/privilege model seriously, Hollywood has no business model. Privilege and fear are never far from one another. And the writers I knew, for all the yakkin’ I heard about “the integrity” of their craft, were as every bit as complicit in preserving the pyramid scheme as anyone else I met. Hugh/GapingVoid

Again, buying in makes sense. I know all about the sucker’s payoff. But I also know about the dead cat bounce. At 20, we’re faced with a choice. At any age, in any position, you’ve got decide today whether you want to exist in this universe much longer or not. And that means a total change in how you think, how you plan and how you live your life.

Can you cut the ties and run hard and fast? Can you resist the impulse to extract–to rape value? Instead, trying to create it for yourself and the others whenever possible. Can you understand that differences in efficiency structures and stop trying to play God? The Zero-Sum Game is dead. Can you ignore pageviews and Alexa? Cherish influence and connection. Can you drop the buzzwords and the bullshit and just be honest? Analysis. Insight. Surprise. Responsibility. Humor Creativity. Guts. Respect. Charisma. Vision. Calm. Love

from: Tucker Max tuckermax @ gmail.com

to: ryan.holiday @ gmail.com,

date: Jan 10, 2008 7:34 PM

There a very people like me and you. And they generally get rid of us or co-opt us before we destroy them.

There is this Aurelius line about sticking with the right thing, even though they’ll “stab you with knives and shower you with curses.” The right thing here is so intuitive that it’s counterintuitive. Looking for something that helps, that entertains, that you don’t try to trick people into paying more than its worth. Thinking less about eyeballs and more about people. Forgetting business school because no matter how well you master it, the lessons will never mean more than the love, the passion and the energy.

These are the things I am learning here in Hollywood. Figuring them out, one by one. Seeing the illusions shattered and ironically, the idealism strengthening. So that is my question, what are you setting yourself up to be? A relic, a carpetbagger or a wolf like me?

Good Stuff, Bad Stuff

January 14, 2008 — 1 Comment

Good Stuff

Free To Do Anything, Part 1

“I learned something about that little voice inside, the one you silence with rationalization or bury with office paperwork. He finds other ways to be subversive. He doesn’t like being kept on the path. That voice is as obstinate as a child, but he’s telling you how to behave like a man.”

NPR: Hotel Maids Challenge the Placebo Effect

They don’t challenge it, they reaffirm it.

Essay on Marcus AureliusMatthew Arnold

Text not available

Bad Stuff

Full Frontal FeminismJessica Valenti

Saying that this is an awful book is really unfair because it’s not even a book. It’s a 250 page blog post (that is awful). It is also proof that most bloggers shouldn’t be given publishing deals and that Women’s Studies is without a doubt the least scholarly of all college majors.

Future ShockAlvin Toffler

In the first wave, power came from violence or force. In the second, the Industrial Revolution, power came from wealth. Today, it comes from knowledge. The battle for the future is going to be over information. Unfortunately, the book takes 500 pages to say that.

Art and Fear–David Bayles

Decent, but not nearly as good as the War of Art.

“…a half-dog high and a dog-and-a-half long.”

January 13, 2008 — 4 Comments

So I got a puppy a little over a month ago. And so far, it’s been a pretty awesome decision. I’ve wanted one for a long time. I was always planning on getting a French Bulldog and naming him The Colonel but it was way off in the distant future. My girlfriend would bring it up once or twice a week “I thought you said you were getting a dog.” I would make some excuse about how I would do it after I got paid for this or have that settled down or how I was waiting for the right moment. It was all bullshit.

And then one day it hit me: What am I doing? Why am I putting off the one thing I really want to do when everyday I readily accept shit that I don’t want to do? I thought I had priorities…so then I just did it. I got the cash from an ATM, picked it up from some family and named it after an elephant. We walked around Petsmart in the leash and collar we hadn’t even bought yet.

I only get to see her on the weekends and it breaks my heart. For some reason, I’ve been a very cold person my whole life. You can imagine the problems that has created. But it’s started to go away. I sprint inside to see her. She sits on my chest when I do situps. She licks the phone when she hears me talking to her mommy from LA. She had a reaction to her shots last week and I spent all day in a fit that made it impossible to work. When you come home after leaving her by herself you can see the marks on the floor length mirror where she tried to play with that other puppy that keeps teasing her. She drinks from her water dish too fast and then she gets the hiccups…every single morning.

Who knows, maybe it won’t work out. Maybe it will be a stupid decision. I’ll take responsibility for that. I’ll clean up whatever mess I create for myself. I’ll try not to justify or rationalize or project whatever the ramifications are. If something happens between my girlfriend and I, I’ll navigate whatever difficulties come up. All that is just logistics. And logistics–well, they’re nothing to live your live by.

If you can find something that brings you joy or contentment that isn’t destructive or dangerous, I think you should do it. My benchmark has always been this: When you’re sitting alone, quietly, your mind blank and unfocused–does it bring you peace? If your answer to that question is yes then you have found something rare, something that should be followed until it ends. Even if it’s fleeting.

Making Due

January 11, 2008 — 6 Comments

This is what I was trying to say:

“The art of using moderate abilities to advantage wins praise, and often acquires more reputation than real brilliancy.” de la Rochefoucauld

When I said this:

I’m not the best at a lot of things. Most of the time, the stuff people talk about makes my head spin and I get confused pretty easily. But I make due with what I’ve got. Being smart or talented or having the right equipment–none of that is all that rare. But to get up do a thousand miles or punched in the face or write a hundred pages or strike a deal or read a book or make a phone call without anyone telling you to? That’s almost unheard of.

I found it after and I like his better.