September 8, 2009

Big Thinkers

Filed under: Philosophy — Robert John Ed @ 9:37 pm

Looking at this list from Seth Godin.  It’s never more apparent to me than now how much there is to learn about where technology is bringing us and why those who seek it out continually will lead.  Everything is consolidating.  Everything is morphing.  Getting smarter and faster.  Yet we aren’t learning it faster.  Not yet.

Yes, the sky is falling.  Albeit slowly.

We should be spending more time on books based on change.  Ideally, a very healthy mix of pragmatic historical assessment and an emboldened diagnostic of what is possible today and soon tomorrow.

Big thinkers can’t be rooted in the past to grow into the future.


August 26, 2009

Getting Smart

Filed under: Personal Branding, Philosophy — Robert John Ed @ 11:25 pm

In my estimation, there are two ways to be really good at something, learning about a subject in a formalized setting or just going out and doing it.

The latter trumps the former in most situations. The issue is that any shmuck off the street can’t necessarily just jump in and do a lot of things. Surgically operating on a human being, psychological advice, flying a plane, using a chainsaw to cut down a forest, etc, all fall into this category. The last one is debatable, but you get the point.

Certain practices and subject matters are reserved for experts. They have to be, for the good of society. They take time, sometimes years and in special instances, decades, to perform at a professional level.

Other things, on that hand, are actually better suited for doers, people that would rather experiment and work at it on the fly.  Riding a bike, planting a garden, writing a resume, creating a lemonade stand or writing a book are all these kinds of things.  The same goes for starting a business, I think.  It’s better to just dive right in and work around the rough edges as they come.  Many activities people aspire to often remain aspirations for fear of incompetence initially.  Writing a blog is a good example.  It really isn’t all that difficult if you commit to it.  There are SOOOOO many things people can learn on their own, without a formalized classroom setting or guidance, if they just go for it.

“When you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it. — Teddy Rosevelt

Words of wisdom from a guy that gave us national parks, carried a pistol with him in the white house, knew karate and had a sweet mustache.  Gangsterized.

Regardless of what you want to do, there is a big distinction between kinds of tasks.  As such, it’s important for you to understand what you want to do and where that thing(s) fall in the knowledge spectrum.  I like the things I can just jump into more so than the formalized.  But the formalized are more typical of vocational exercise.

Anyway, figure out what you want to do. Then figure out where it falls. Then get smart.

Teddy Roosevelt

August 8, 2009

The Difference Between Wily and Daffy

Filed under: Personal Branding, Philosophy, Random — Robert John Ed @ 5:43 pm

There is a huge (HUGE) difference between being wily and daffy.  Eccentric people are often viewed as the latter when they may well be the former.  I think it stems from the fact that many can’t actually understand eccentricity.  So they view eccentric people as “out there.”  They will label them as insipid or even crazy.  Yet some of the most misunderstood people are the truly gifted.

The reason this is coming up is the importance of personalities within businesses and life in general.  I’ve met a lot of people in work and in school, and the majority are pretty darn smart.  They know what they are doing and bring a lot to the table.  Their personality is the sticking point.  If ability is table stakes, then personality and likability are the true differentiators.  They’re a wild card, because different situations and teams merit different personality traits.  The key is adaptability, can you blend into the crowd when needed?  Can you stand out from the crowd as necessary?  Can avoid the crowd completely if that’s the best option?

Really interesting people, to me, are often “out there.”  I’m very much out there, and it’s fun.  Life inside the lines is pretty boring, and it can be really poor marketing.  This isn’t to say everything you do should be avant garde or blatantly deter from a beaten path.  It shouldn’t.  Yet something there is to the person who isn’t afraid to do things differently.  To be something completely new and remarkable, even in the little things.  Those people are cited as daffy by some, when in all truth, they may well be wily after all.  You’d be well put to investigate people fully before appraising their worth.


July 19, 2009

Worry Wart & Dreamer

Filed under: Philosophy — Robert John Ed @ 5:25 pm

Over my entire life, worrying has been a constant.  Worrying about stupid things as well as pragmatic potential occurrences.  It’s ingrained into my personality to consider and fret about the unknown.  It’s certainly overt in comparison to the average persona in this atmosphere, at least that’s my take.  The majority of instances don’t warrant the merit bestowed on them.  Worry is a waste.  Things are what they are and will continue to be so.

As I get older, the ability to differentiate between warranted and whimsical worry is improving consistently.  In my callow youth, the fret would overtake my sensibility; hours and day were routinely lost due to frequent sessions of rumination.  Maybe I just didn’t have much better to do at that time.  Now, the ability to simply put off thought processes on hinged eventualities is direly necessary to function; there’s way too much going on to worry any more.  That skill set is important for anyone, but especially for people predisposed to concern.

Just like any other scenario, there are trade offs or silver linings.  The same energy that had me fraught with worry as a youth also galvanized my resolve to think big.  Time spent worrying had a counterweight of dreaming up large pay off scenarios and ideas.  I still think big; don’t know any other way.  And that may be as important as any other skill set.  People and organizations NEED people who want to do incredible, outrageous and impeccable things.  People that want to change the world for the better.  People that believe their work and ability to harness others’ ability will build something to revolutionize an industry, a way of life, a world.

That may sound a bit silly, but it happens much more often than you’d think.  Microsoft and Google both did it in their own way.  Ford did it.  Tesla did it.  Their are millions of us who want to change the world for the better and strive to do it.  Not everyone achieves that goal, but they often achieve change on much smaller scales that affect the ebb and flow of ideas that eventually do create positive change.  That’s how I try to get down, despite the obstacles that reappear every day.

So you see, the ones that tear me down are the same ones that build me.  Now quietly lean your head and say yes, you can feel me.


July 15, 2009

Business is Competition, Regardless

Filed under: Philosophy — Robert John Ed @ 1:41 am

Business, in itself, is a competition amongst entities with parallel resources and a zero sum potential for outcomes.  The competition is essentially for additional resources of which the entity can further invest in order to accumulate more resources.  In the mean time, the people and organizations that are in the employ of such organizations are able to create “a living” or means by which to create wealth by which to subside over our life times.

Really basic explanation.

I’ve found that many people who do not directly work within business think that people merely shuffle funds from one site to another while taking a piece for themselves.  This is somewhat of a Marxist rationale of business, but it still exists today.  Many have a poor view of business in other regards, but that isn’t the point of this post.

The point is that people who work outside of business may not necessarily understand that there’s a reason it’s called a “rat race.”  If you choose to work in business, you are always (repeat ALWAYS) in competition, and not just one kind.  You are competing against traditional rivals of your industry, substitutes for your industry, disintermediation, ongoing technology changes that usurp your position and more.

As a worker in business, you are always in competition against everyone.  Businesses are absolutely full of intelligent and hard working people looking to do right and make their way to a better position.  As they should be.  Your coworkers and yourself all perfectly understand that it’s your job to do as best you can and compete against rivals within the industry.  Simultaneously, you are in competition with the people you work with for the next promotion or what have you.  What’s more, that competitive nature that is necessary to be in such an environment is naturally going to breed conflict occasionally.

The point is that there are a GREAT deal of very cool and good people in businesses, but they always have to compete, one way or another.  It’s understandable why many would choose not to be part of such a situation.  Yet their views are askew.  There is no “taking it easy,” though my gut feeling is that’s the reason some hold businesses and the employees behind them in contempt.    I’m not pointing this out as a detriment of working in business, but rather a point of pride that business people have to always work harder and smarter in order to stay at the top.  That competitive spirit built a great many things in this country and continues to push progress.

June 30, 2009

Burn the Ships

Filed under: Personal Branding, Philosophy — Robert John Ed @ 1:27 am

Cortez did it.  You should too.  Some of my sage (or saggy?) advice to many people over the last year has been to not give up, to persevere despite how difficult the economy and apparent lack of interest for students there is.  The reason is that if you are truly committed to working in the career you aspire to, if you continue to progress and hold steadfast resolve toward achieving your goals, over the long term you can’t fail.  You simply won’t let it happen.

It’s easy advice to dole out.  It’s not always easy to follow.  Everyone on the planet experiences the feelings of inadequacy and cognitive dissonance that accompany uncertain outcomes.  It’s part of being human.  Just as being confident and appreciative of your own skills is.  The people that can embrace the latter fore the former are bound good things.

When there is more on the line, you don’t think about it.  When you have children or fall in love, there aren’t any easy ways out.  You stop looking for them.  You start looking at realistic alternatives in order to build and keep what you originally planned on, despite adversity, despite it all.  The levity of those situations far outweighs that of finding or keeping a job, starting a business or learning a new skill such as language or music.  For some people, the approach changes with those things.  They realize that there is an easy way out, just quit.  Turn around, get back on the boats and head back home.

Burn the ships.  Leave no recourse.

June 6, 2009

Expert or Hobbyist, A Matter of Perspective

Filed under: Digital Distribution, Philosophy — Robert John Ed @ 6:27 pm

At school, some people view me as an “expert” on social media and marketing online.  I quote expert because that means they would come to me and ask about it, not that I’m a consultant or anything, but that I’m in the space and as such have a prerequisite knowledge.  This is true.

My friends who actually WORK in online marketing are experts.  They build online communities, sites, ads, paths and more in order to engage target markets.  Those friends ultimately view me as a hobbyist, a view that I share.  This is also very true.

It’s a horrific thing that today’s education system isn’t focused more on marketing online (in business school).  This is the future and yet the vast majority of people have an extremely shallow understanding of the tubes.  This may sound like douchebaggery, but the four winds are blowing and the weather vain is pointing which way to walk.

Someone told me a few months ago that reading two (two!) books on a subject makes you an expert for the simple fact that very few people read any more.  That strikes me as awful.  Today it’s easy enough to be an expert, but it doesn’t happen over night.  Do yourself a favor (ESPECIALLY if you’re a marketer) build a website.  Run a PPC campaign ($25 will last you months and teach you more than 90% of marketers today).  Read a book or two (both good btw).    This goes for everything by the way, not just online marketing.  Want to be a chef?  Read about it and practice.  Want to learn a language?  Start learning today for free.  The only thing really holding you back, is you.  Silly isn’t it?

The hardest step is the first one.  Take it and everything gets easier.

May 22, 2009

Polarizing Figures

Filed under: Philosophy — Robert John Ed @ 4:51 pm

The thing about working somewhere, anywhere, hanging your hat on principles, standing up for something or just having an opinion, those things all have a tendency to polarize people.  Half of the people are going to praise you for what you believe and how you operate with such conviction, half of the people will likely see you as a fake and think you a flaccid ninny with all the vigor of freshly boiled spaghetti.

It’s inescapable.  There are many reasons why people won’t trust you in the short term, fewer in the long term, but many are valid and simply insurmountable.  Many aren’t valid, they are petty, insipid manifestations of inadequacy or retribution or resentment; but they ain’t goin nowhere.  It’s OK,  we all do it.  We’re simple beings with emotions beyond our control.

Of course, there are a lot of people that aren’t polarizing at all.  They float along; they actually aren’t much worth talking about either.

You know something?  I like polarizing figures.  I enjoy someone that brings out passion in people and wants to make change.  The people that truly care and are willing to stand up for something, to shake you a little and get you to listen, even with weary ears, are needed to make things better.

If you think of any historical figure in the history of man, I’ll bet dollars to donuts they polarized the masses in one way or another.  Go beyond political figures as they are naturally polarized (the system is set up to keep us feuding over petty spoils while the lions share is divvied amongst a select few).  Think about people that truly changed things.  Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Joan of Arc, Jackson Pollock, Thoreau, Montaigne, St. Augustine, Jesus, Isaac Newton, Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche, Beethoven, Bonaparte, Einstein, Ford etc.

It’s tough to argue any other way when you think about it.  The real change comes from those who challenge the status quo, for good or bad.  Not all polarizing figures had great ideas or set out to make the world a better place, unfortunately.

I see more and more polarizing figures as I go.  Maybe I’m looking for them now; maybe there tend to be more where I happen to be.  Maybe both.

You shouldn’t feel bad for being polarizing people.  You should embrace that some are going to love you, some are going to abhor you.  Just don’t let them stop you, via praise or persecution, of carrying out your mission.  Whatever that may be.

April 9, 2009

Intellectual and Manual Labor

Filed under: Philosophy — Robert John Ed @ 8:54 pm

There is a stark contrast between working mentally and working physically.  Both can be strenuous and taxing.  Both are often used as sources of employment, allowing us to create a life for ourselves.  I’ve done both and must say that there is something much more rewarding about manual labor in the short term.  It is easy to look back after a days work cutting wood and point out that you cleared four evergreens and a birch.  There is a sense of accomplishment represented visually which cannot be refuted.

Intellectual work is normally a long term endeavor.  Projects take great amounts of time and often entire days and (heavens forbid) weeks of work that may well prove without merit in the grand scheme of things.  It happens.  Yet the fruits of such labor have an exponential potential for value whereas manual labor is likely not as such.  Manual labor stands on it’s own but refuses to jump.

Both offer their rewards.  Most importantly both complement each other.  A man of great intellect is seldom revered by the masses of laborers and a man of great ongoing labor is quickly forgotten amidst the masses of similar.  Yet the man that combines these things, that builds an intellect while maintaining a duty to physical work to avoid idle hands truly optimizes his gifts.  This holds true for men and women of all ages.  Exercising all muscles keeps you the most fit.  Unfortunately, society would normally not have it as such.  It’s more likely that you would be typecast as one or the other, blue or white.  It’s far easier to say there goes Othello the painter than, say, Titus the writer, artisan, philosopher, blacksmith and actor.  The same goes for intellect and manual laborers.  It’s difficult to think of humans bifurcating into such a duality, despite it being the truth of most instances.  And that, of course, is a damn shame.

February 17, 2009

Business People Aren’t Inherently Bad

Filed under: Philosophy — Robert John Ed @ 9:56 pm

There, I said it.  It seems like that’s the perception though.  Recently more than a few people I’ve met with kind of blanch when I tell them that I’m a business student.  One specifically discounted what I said as biased (what isn’t biased?) because I’m “one of them.”  That’s a direct quote.

First, let’s touch on the big points.  We live in a capitalistic society that depends on the market to provide more so than the government.  Some may think this a bad thing and I disagree.  Though it’s certainly not perfect (humans cannot be), it has worked relatively well for us over the last few hundred years.  So regardless if you like professional business people or not, you rely on businesses every day of your life to provide you the comforts of a modern society.  What’s more, you expect a great deal from businesses as a consumer and most people forget that businesses do not owe you anything.  They exist to make a profit (despite the fact that GOOD businesses and marketing are oriented around consumer advocacy) and must do so to remain in business.  The vast majority of people work for a business of some kind.  Today on the bus someone I was speaking with said, “Well, I’m going to work for the government.”  That is great, but our society couldn’t function as just a government.  That would be communism or some derivative of it.  Now I enjoy Marx as much as the next amateur philosophical hobbyist, but there is a good reason that communist states haven’t proliferated, humans cannot (or have not yet) seem to exist in a communistic state.

Additionally, businesses drive innovation.  What for?  Profitability!  How do you achieve profits?  You build a better mousetrap or create an innovative product or service that the market (that’s us, folks) deems worth paying for.  This is extremely simple and I’m sure some people out there are rolling their eyes a bit, but I feel that people take it for granted.  We all do to some extent.  My issue arises when people are so hypocritical as to think themselves above modern business.  You can’t have it both ways.  Those that openly lament the system are very likely not thinking holistically about the effect of businesses on their lives.

Subconscious and facetious dislike of something is one thing, but openly portraying or addressing business people as greedy of ill repute is another.  I suppose this must be how lawyers feel.  I also am well aware that I’m fighting a losing battle and am very unlikely to alter perceptions of business people as a whole.  But I work with some very nice people every day and consider myself as moral as most others I’ve met as well.  Still, stereotypes are perpetuated for a reason.  There are some very bad apples out there.  I believe that businesses should all be held liable for their actions and seek to be accountable for the products and services they sell.

My apologies for ranting on this, but when the same situation continues to arise (apparent dislike of business and the people who work in it…especially professionals), it makes it quite difficult to rationalize in my own mind.  What is so bad about us?  I don’t get it and maybe I never will.  Maybe under it all the idea that my vocational choice isn’t an ideal way to live shakes me and that’s aggravating?  Doubtful, as I really enjoy marketing and business.

A caveat to this is that I’m not completely sure giving corporations the same rights as a human being is a good idea.  In fact, I don’t think it’s a good idea, but I won’t deign to pretend that my expertise warrants an opinion written thoroughly here.  People should not be allowed to hide behind a business, they should be directly accountable.  I may well write on this further as the road continues, it’s kind of a big deal.


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