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Archive for Success

Jan
13

The Credential Thief

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How much of what you tell other people about yourself is fake?

How much of what you tell other people about yourself is fake?

It’s nothing new that people embellish their curriculum vitaes, humbly known as resumes the last time I drafted one. This avenue of fabrication has been paved for centuries, possibly millennia, as long as employment-for-remuneration has existed. Wherever and whenever somebody requires another somebody to do something, there will always be an applicant reinterpreting his or her past accomplishments to be on par with discovering the cure for cancer.   


Go to LinkedIn and read over random peoples’ profiles. Everybody is a “problem solver”, a “team leader,” an “entrepreneurially-minded visionary.” Past experience as a line cook becomes “food science maverick innovator.” Household cleaning is rewritten as “domestic service engineering.”

Let’s not ignore outright fibbing. Have a five month gap somewhere between jobs? Suddenly, the job that lasted for three-quarters of 2013 now takes up the whole year and then some.

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Apr
22

The Wealth On The Outskirts

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Plenty find it’s easier to line their pockets on the periphery

Plenty find it’s easier to line their pockets on the periphery

It’s never a pleasant memory for me to rewind my brain and summon up memories of my close to eight years in Los Angeles, an experiment that didn’t go remotely like I planned. At this point in my life, I can’t necessarily say that’s a bad thing, because if things had gone a little more in my favor there it may have been a little more inspiration for me to have stayed to continue living a life I am now glad to have left behind.

As everyone knows, Los Angeles is the capital of the American entertainment industry. I almost wrote the world’s entertainment industry. It might be too presumptuous for me to say Los Angeles is the world capital.  India has quite a substantial entertainment industry headquartered in Bombay, Korea has its own in Seoul, the UK in London. But on one level it is hard to argue that it’s not. The TV shows and movies produced by the companies based in Los Angeles are what get eagerly seen by people all over the world. You could not say the same thing about Indian, Chinese, Korean, British, or, indeed, any other nation’s entertainment production infrastructure.

Hence, the rewards of succeeding big in Hollywood can be more lucrative than winning powerball lottery jackpots. Successful screenwriters receive more money per written word than any other type of writer. Successful actors and directors earn more annually than very well paid corporate America CEO’s.

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Only a small percentage maintain lucrative careers after their tenure is over

Only a small percentage maintain lucrative careers after their tenure is over

You can count on one hand the number of TV show everyone (well . . . every American) has heard of still on the air after 40 years. 60 Minutes, The Tonight Show … and Saturday Night Live. There are probably a few others . But who’s counting?

Saturday Night Live remains unique on that listing. Like all the other shows, its cast changed with the times. Unlike all the others, Saturday Night Live evolved into a stepping stone for something bigger and better. Mike Wallace didn’t do 60 Minutes and Johnny Carson didn’t do The Tonight Show to lead to more lucrative spots. These gigs were the pinnacles of their career.

As, it turns out, so was Saturday Night Live for most of its cast.

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If you're not prepared to have become a completely different person, you aren't prepared to have done things differently in the past

If you’re not prepared to have become a completely different person, you aren’t prepared to have done things differently in the past

George Bernard Shaw famously quipped, “Youth is wasted on the young.” 

Only an older man wise to life’s ironies would make such a statement. With age, we hope grows wisdom. We’re able to assess our life in greater perspective. So with all that acquired wisdom we fret at the current generation of youth and wonder how they could be so dense as to not reap from the insights we’ve gained personally through our experience. 

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Sometimes the path is obvious but the courage to get on the right one isn't

Sometimes the path is obvious but the courage to get on the right one isn’t

It probably looks like I have a fascination with multi-level marketing. I wrote an article about it. I devised an experiment to test it. And now I’m writing a third piece to discuss the masterful insights I gleaned from performing the experiment. My conclusions remain unchanged, especially in light of the results of my own spin at Experiment M. I know now that I would never ever join another MLM to spread the “opportunity.”

Experiment M resembled a classic chain letter on the surface. One of my respondents pointed this out and asked me to prove it wasn’t. The form of Experiment M, the form of any MLM for that matter, resembles a chain letter. You craft a message which you pass on to X number of recipients and convince them to do the same. This spreads the reach of the message geometrically.

The message can be benign: “Forward this note of happiness on to ten people within 24 hours or you will be cursed with bad luck for 3 years.” Or it can involve a sales spiel: “Join up with our incredible organization for $50 annually and spread the message to all who could benefit from our products and services.”

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Mar
13

The Feedback Addiction

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feedback reviews

It’s more how much feedback you get, not the quality or authenticity, which determines whether others think you’re a winner

Over the last few days, I’ve been communicating with a freelance book cover designer in Sri Lanka.  I sourced him by surfing a popular freelance internet marketplace.

It’s always a crapshoot when you hire anyone sight unseen without a recommendation from a trustworthy source.  Sri Lanka and all of his competitors offered identical claims.  Some prospects were easy to rule out.  Their online portfolios did not look professional enough, their style didn’t suit what I wanted, or their English level, based on their profile, wasn’t up to standard.  Once I did my initial filtering, I was still left with a bucket load to select among.  

Sri Lanka was not my first choice.  I had my eyes on a book designer from Bulgaria.  Her portfolio looked more impressive.  But after I uploaded a past sample cover In order to show her the placement of logos and ISBN numbers, she assumed I wanted a cartoonish cover like this one and tried to charge me a lot more.  I had explained in detail upon contacting her that the uploaded cover was for technical illustrative purposes only.  

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Dec
12

The Fine Art Of Not Giving A Shit

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fine art of not giving a shit

If only shrugging everything off were so easy

If there is one consistency in life which applies to us all, it’s not getting what we want when we want it.  A lot of us probably think this “rule” doesn’t apply to the rich, famous, or well connected who seem to have it all.  Yet if you were to poll even this privileged minority, you would see that not even they get whatever they want whenever they want it.  

Because not everything, despite what disillusioned skeptics say, can be assigned a dollar value.   Some things cannot be purchased. Rupert Murdoch, current net worth: $12.5bn, is in the process of getting his third divorce.  While his multibillion dollar fortune can certainly buy him an inexhaustible supply of women willing to marry him, harems, and S & M orgies, it cannot buy him a stable partner he’s happy with – if he even values that.  Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, was the richest man in the United States when he died of blood cancer at age 74.  His vast fortune couldn’t buy him more time.  Ross Perot was worth over $3bn when he ran in the presidential election of 1992 as an independent.   Yes, presidential elections are bought and sold, and huge sums are always involved, but the winner isn’t necessarily the guy with the biggest wallet. How likeable you appear to be plays a huge role.  Those in the political arena call this the “beer test” – who would a typical voter prefer to have a beer with?

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Aug
08

The Pounce Of Irrelevance

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staying relevant irrelevance

Eventually, we all get to the point where no one gives a s—t what we say and do. Getting there is a lot easier than it used to be.

In 2012, the rock band No Doubt released their first album in over a decade. Critics were mixed on the effort. Fans – or the lack of them – were the real issue.  Two singles released from the album failed to chart, all the more shocking because No Doubt had performed one of them live on a popular TV show the very week of the song’s release.

Two decades earlier, No Doubt was on top of the world. Their 1995 album Tragic Kingdom had half its songs released as hit singles. By 1999, Tragic Kingdom had sold over 16m copies, making it one of the best-selling albums of all time.

I’ve never been a fan of the group, so I cannot personally assess how their newest album measures up to their previous output. The music could have been just as good as prior albums or a pale imitation of the band at its best. It doesn’t matter. In this decade, there is no doubt that No Doubt is no longer relevant.

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Aug
01

The Networking Mantra

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networking events

Worthwhile networking isn’t all that easy to do when you’re a nobody

Every month or two, I attend a networking event here in Bangkok meant to bring various entrepreneurs together. In fact, I attended just such an event last night. Normally, the events involve a speaker followed by networking – in this case, a few superficial handshakes and an exchange of business cards that will probably find their way into the trash can. Last night’s event was a bit different. The organizer, aware that prior networking events fell far short of the expectations, sat half the people on one side of the room and half on the other. In a ten cycle rotation, we introduced ourselves in 2 ½ minutes and the person sitting across from us did the same. I imagine it felt a lot like speed dating.

I met more than a few lifestyle coaches I couldn’t be sure had their own lives in order; two or three financial advisors who may not have been financially sound; and a couple of desperate real estate agents. The only stranger among the crowd I’d be willing to meet again was a pretty Swiss woman. She introduced herself early on.  She was not one of the ten people I speed conversed with. She graduated from a Bangkok high school with a friend of mine from the gym who showed up out of the blue for his first entrepreneurial meetup. The three of us chatted for some time until we collectively made our exits.  In prior unsociable meetups, I’d have felt compelled to leave as soon as possible.

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If you don't think you're doing all that well, try to contemplate how you'd be faring in most other realities

If you don’t think you’re doing all that well, try to contemplate how you’d be faring in most other realities

Over the weekend, at my wife’s urgings, we spent an afternoon watching the sloppy, superficial biopic Jobs. I knew going in that it would be a bad picture. Sometimes you just have to suck one up for the team. About the only good thing I can say of the experience is that I downloaded it and watched it at home instead of paying a combined $20 for me and the family to view this cliche-ridden dreck on the big screen at the shopping mall up the street.

You often see this Jobs’ quote: “Here’s to the crazy ones – the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes . . . They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” Ashton Kutcher’s Jobs said it at the end of that abysmal film. Just to be clear because the movie wasn’t, Jobs never said it. The Jobs-attributed quote was part of the the Think Different ad campaign from the late 1990’s created by a Los Angeles advertising agency. I hope the ad agency sued Jobs’ producers.

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