In the cycle of nature There is no such thing as victory or defeat; there is only movement.
Without solitude, no plant or animal can survive, no soil can remain productive, no child can learn about life, no artist can create, no work can grow and be transformed.
Solitude is not the absence of company, but the moment when our soil is free to us and help us decide what to do with our life.
But if you love someone, then you want your beloved to be happy. You might feel frightened for him initially, but that feeling soon gives way to pride at seeing him doing what he wants to do, and going where he always dreamed of going.
Success comes to those who do not waste time comparing what they are doing with what others are doing; it enters the house of the person who says ‘I will do my best ‘every day.’”
We must struggle in order to grow, but without becoming trapped by whatever power we might gain from that growth. We know such power is worthless.
Your enemies are not the adversaries who were put there to test your courage. They are the cowards who were put there to test your weakness.
I remember back in the old days trying to pitch the development team for a startup I worked on to adopt the principles of Getting Real and read more of the Signal vs. Noise blog. We wasted countless hours in brainstorming meetings and specifications only to see much of the work never get completed because of newly-minted feature priorities established weeks later.
The most recent book from 37signals founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, Rework, has the same writing style, attitude and advice for anyone actually wanting to accomplish something.
I picked up a copy from the library and ended up buying this to have around as an inspirational reference.
I’m generally wary of books that provide professional advice to “creatives,” because the genre is so saturated with cliche-laden nonsense by people with no substantive creative experience, but MacLeod’s advice is direct and honest and comes from a successful perspective of experience (see gapingvoid).
Two of my (many) favorite excerpts:
The sovereignty you have over your work will inspire far more people than the actual content ever will. How you own sovereignty inspires other people to find their own sovereignty, their own sense of freedom and possibility, will give the work far more power than the work’s objective merits ever will.
Your idea doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be yours alone. The more the idea is yours alone, the more freedom you have to do something really amazing.
The more amazing, the more people will click with your idea. The more people click with your idea, the more this little thing of yours will snowball into a big thing.
… the kid thinks it’s all about talent; he thinks it’s all about “potential.” He underestimates how much time, discipline, and stamina also play their part. Sure, … there are some exceptions. But that is why we like their stories when they’re young. Because they are exceptional stories. And every kid with a guitar or a pen or a paintbrush or an idea for a new business wants to be exceptional. Every kid underestimates his competition, and overestimates his chances. Every kid is a sucker for the idea that there is a way to make it without having to do the hard work. …
Meanwhile the competition is at home, working their asses off.
Highly recommend Revolution 2.0, Wael Ghonim’s memoir of the events surrounding the 2011 Egyptian uprising and subsequent dismissal of president Hosni Mubarak.
“The strategy for the Facebook page ultimately was to mobilize public support for the cause. This wasn’t going to be too different from using the ‘sales tunnel’ approach that I had learned at school. The first phase was to convince people to join the page and read its posts. The second was to convince them to start interacting with the content by ‘liking’ and ‘commenting’ on it. The third was to get them to participate in the page’s online campaigns and to contribute to its content themselves. The fourth and final phase would occur when people decided to take the activism onto the street. This was my ultimate aspiration.”
“The rapid pace of events drove home one of the key strategies I learned from the revolution: to achieve your vision, you need friends and communication channels more than you need plans. The world moves too fast for even the best-laid plans to hold up.”
“I took part in a great cause and I must pay the price, I reassured myself. It does not matter if you die at thirty or forty or even seventy – what matters is what you did with your life.”
Kingpin is a great primer on how criminals are using the Internet to collaborate in the electronic black market, especially credit card fraud, and how the Secret Service and FBI are fighting back. The story of hacker Max Ray Vision reads like a geek thriller but is fairly accessible to anyone interested in a great crime story.
Hope this becomes a movie.
Read the related Wired article or watch Poulsen discuss Kingpin at RSA Conference 2011:
Taibbi’s writing style is direct, at times profane, but never fails to entertain while giving insight into what’s happening within the world of high finance.
On his favorite target Goldman Sachs:
The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it’s everywhere. The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money. In fact, the history of the recent financial crisis, which doubles as a history of the rapid decline and fall of the suddenly swindled dry American empire, reads like a Who’s Who of Goldman Sachs graduates.
With Griftopia, Taibbi calls out former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan (“The Biggest Asshole in the Universe”), highlights how U.S. municipalities are leasing off public property to help finance themselves during budget shortfalls (“The Outsourced Highway”) and dresses down the health care reform legislation (“The Trillion Dollar Band-Aid”). It also includes a re-print of his initial Rolling Stone piece, which is one of the best pieces I’ve read that describes what happened during the financial crisis and the role Goldman played.
While his style may not resonate with most, I highly recommend Griftopia if you want to understand the convoluted world of banking and how it impacts the the United States without feeling like you need to need to get a finance degree or bore yourself to death reading a dry account of how money is moving around the world.
I don’t know much about the intricacies of Wall Street and the world of subprime mortgage bonds, collateralize debt obligations (CDOs) and credit default swaps, but Michael Lewis’ The Big Short does a excellent job of highlighting what went wrong in the last decade that led to our economic crisis.
Many people lost homes they shouldn’t have held mortgages on in the first place, and the banking and finance industry was rewarded for its carelessness with a whimsical, multi-billion dollar government bailout. You finish The Big Short realizing the financial industry is one big sausage factory whose end product is something you’re not really sure what’s inside, but tastes great until you discover it might actually be bad for you.
In many ways Wall Street is a lot like legislation in Washington, DC, where no one completely understands what’s happening, but somehow everyone makes money off the deal.
Two excerpts best summarize the book’s gist:
The line between gambling and investing is artificial and thin. The soundest investment has the defining trait of a bet (you losing all of your money in hopes of making a bit more), and the wildest speculation has the salient characteristic of an investment (you might get your money back with interest). Maybe the best definition of “investing” is “gambling with the odds in your favor.” The people on the other side – the entire financial system, essentially – had gambled with the odds against them. Up to this point, the story of the big short could not be simpler. What’s strange and complicated about it, however, is that pretty much all the important people on both sides of the gamble left the table rich.
More to the point, from former Salomon Brothers CEO John Gutfreund, featured prominently in Lewis’ first book Liar’s Poker:
It’s laissez-faire until you get into deep shit.
There’s a great 60 Minutes interview with Lewis and others featured in the book:
Growing up playing soccer and befriending a Bosnian refugee family as a volunteer with the International Rescue Committee, Warren St. John’s Outcasts United really resonated with me.
Outcasts United is set in the refugee resettlement town Clarkston, GA, and focuses on the tough love spirit of soccer coach Luma Mufleh and her work with young boy immigrants from worn-torn countries like Afghanistan, Burma, Somalia, Iraq, Sudan, Liberia and Bosnia. Mufleh’s dedication is inspiring and will make you want to either play soccer or get up off your couch and do something to change the world.