Category Archives: Reference

Everyone Is No One

Oh my god, don’t make things for “Everyone.”

“Everyone” isn’t an audience. “Everyone” is a byproduct of an incredibly successful thing that was made for a far more specific bunch of people. Don’t ever make something for “Everyone” make it for someone. And make that person love it.

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Playing Hide And Seek With Yes

The One Word That Shouldn’t Exist in an Entrepreneur’s Vocabulary

You don’t ask. You don’t get.

And here’s the thing about “no.”

I know first hand just how chicken people are about hearing it. I’ve sat through so many meetings where sales reps didn’t ask for the order. I’ve been pitched by hundreds of entrepreneurs who never actually asked me whether I would invest. Very few people do.

I was searching for a story I encountered a while back about a woman who got a job with a prominent person. People marveled over her luck, wondering why others didn’t get the job. The bottom line was, she was the only person to ever ask for the job.

I expected to find a blog post I had done, but I came across someone asking that was even more outrageous: You Decide: Greed Or Stupidity? –

an 18-year-old single mother living on state benefits was handed £5,000 for cosmetic surgery by one of the biggest high street banks

How many others in her position would have had the guts to even ask?

Previously here:

The Universe Is Made Of No
He Knew What The Universe Is Made Of
The Universe Is Stingy And Lazy


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The Wrong Number

Slaves to the algorithm

One day in the near future — perhaps this has already happened — an innocent crime novelist researching bloody techniques for his latest fictional serial killer will find armed men banging on his door in the middle of the night, because he left a data trail that caused lights to flash red in some preventive-policing algorithm. Perhaps a few distressed writers is a price we are willing to pay to prevent more murders. But predictive crime prevention is an area that leads rapidly to a dystopian sci-fi vision like that of the film Minority Report (2002).

What happens then?

Research licenses?

And how do you get the license?

Who gets to decide if you can earn your living as a writer?

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Samsung, Haier, Apple — And Writers — Know How To Do It. Do You?

Things don’t always work out.

Having problems is inevitable.

Taking a wrong turn, making a wrong move, happens even to the brightest of people.

Then what do you do?

It depends on what your goal is.

As a company or as an artist, is your goal to please and delight customers?

Or are you just out to make things so you can extract money from buyers?

Those are opposite attitudes.

Here are lessons on how to be great from three companies and — as proxy for all of them — one writer.

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Joe Weider And The Bullshit

An unconventional R.I.P. post because I need to focus on one aspect of the story.

Joe Weider, legendary bodybuilding and fitness icon, dies at 93

He created the Mr. Olympia event in 1965. Two years later, Weider discovered Schwarzenegger at a body-building contest in Europe.

He soon invited Schwarzenegger to move to California and funded the young bodybuilder’s first apartment in Santa Monica, giving him enough money to make ends meet. Weider also orchestrated Schwarzenegger’s first acting role in a TV movie.

Asked by the producers of “Hercules Goes Bananas” for “a muscleman who could act a little,” Weider pointed them to Schwarzenegger.

Schwarzenegger told The Times in 1989 that Weider pumped up his resume to get him the job, telling the producers that Schwarzenegger had done Shakespearean plays in Germany.

“It was all bull,” Schwarzenegger admitted. “I didn’t speak much English at all. We went to meet these guys and Joe said, ‘Don’t say anything. I’ll do the talking.’ “

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Producers: “How could you have ever done Shakespeare, Arnold?”

Arnold: “It was all in German.”

Balls. Of. Steel.


Stupidity Can Lead To Extraordinary Things

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That Madness Called Love

Don’t Hate Her Because She’s Successful

…but how on earth could I choose whom I fell in love with? The heart wants what it wants, even when what it wants is on Prozac.

The Last Psychiatrist is on a royal tear with this post. But I highlighted that because, damn, The Electric Ant.

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The Greatest Advice That Should Be A Book

6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person

If you want to know why society seems to shun you, or why you seem to get no respect, it’s because society is full of people who need things. They need houses built, they need food to eat, they need entertainment, they need fulfilling sexual relationships.

That was published on December 17, 2012 and has so far gotten 7,824,172 views.

I didn’t come across it until today (hello, Long Tail?).

The trouble with a lot of self-help stuff is that it’s genteel. Soothing stuff made for bunny rabbits who really don’t want to be other than cute and fluffy and liked.

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A Billion Dollars Isn’t Cool

Peter Thiel Talks About the Day Mark Zuckerberg Turned Down Yahoo’s $1 Billion

The most successful businesses have an idea for the future that’s very different from the present–and that’s not fully valued.

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Filed under Digital Overthrow, Pricing, Reference

Amazon Best-Sellerdom Ain’t All That

My Amazon bestseller made me nothing

This past summer, my novel, “Broken Piano for President,” shot to the top of the best-seller lists for a week. After Jack Daniel’s sent me a ridiculously polite cease and desist letter, the story went viral and was featured in places like Forbes, Time magazine and NPR’s Weekend Edition. The New Yorker wrote one whole, entire, punctuated-and-everything sentence about me! My book was the No. 6 bestselling title in America for a while, right behind all the different “50 Shades of Grey” and “Gone Girl.” It was selling more copies than “Hunger Games” and “Bossypants.” So, I can sort of see why people thought I was going to start wearing monogrammed silk pajamas and smoking a pipe.

Yeah, I remember that. It was a huge story.

So what did he make?

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Steve Wozniak Defines Passion Through Deeds

The most overused word today is “passion.”

The last season of MasterChef had contestants saying cooking was their “passion” in every interview. How could so many people have that “passion” yet be so bad at doing it?

It’s because they confuse “passion” with “something I really like to do.”

This, from Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, illustrates what passion really is:

One accident that happened to me was that I taught myself, with no books, how to design computers in high school. I loved doing it and designed computers all the time, from descriptions of them in manuals by the companies that made them. I designed the same computers over and over and made a game out of trying to use fewer and fewer parts, coming up with tricks to accomplish my task that could never be in a book. They were ’tricks‘ in my own head. I felt that some of these tricks would be used by probably no other computer designer in the world. In my game world, on paper, where I could never afford to build my designs, I felt I was one of the best in the world.

How many of those MasterChef contestants could cook without affording the food?

Wozniak could.

That is passion.

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