|| 9:04 pm EST, Jan 8, 2013
Jobs at software companies are typically advertised in terms of the difficult problems that need solving, the impact the project will have, the benefits the company provides, the playful color of the bean bag chairs. Likewise, jobs in other fields have their own set of metrics that they use to position themselves within their domains.
As a young person, though, I think the best thing you can do is to ignore all of that and simply observe the older people working there.
They are the future you. Do not think that you will be substantially different. Look carefully at how they spend their time at work and outside of work, because this is also almost certainly how your life will look. It sounds obvious, but it's amazing how often young people imagine a different projection for themselves.
Look at the real people, and you'll see the honest future for yourself.
Attributed to Abraham Lincoln:
Whatever you are, be a good one.
Two from Colin Powell:
Be careful what you choose. You may get it.
You can't make someone else's choices. You shouldn't let someone else make yours.
From Rumsfeld's Rules:
It is easier to get into something than to get out of it.
|| 8:58 pm EST, Nov 21, 2011
This is pretty amazing.
||Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule
|| 7:02 am EDT, Jul 30, 2009
There are two types of schedule, which I'll call the manager's schedule and the maker's schedule. The manager's schedule is for bosses. It's embodied in the traditional appointment book, with each day cut into one hour intervals.
When you use time that way, it's merely a practical problem to meet with someone. Find an open slot in your schedule, book them, and you're done.
But there's another way of using time that's common among people who make things, like programmers and writers. They generally prefer to use time in units of half a day at least. You can't write or program well in units of an hour. That's barely enough time to get started.
When you're operating on the maker's schedule, meetings are a disaster. A single meeting can blow a whole afternoon ...
From last year, more PG:
It will always suck to work for large organizations, and the larger the organization, the more it will suck.
Nicholas Dawidoff, on Freeman Dyson:
... always preaching the virtues of boredom ...
The French film director Jean Renoir once said, "The foundation of all great civilizations is loitering." But we have all stopped loitering. I don't mean we aren't lazy at times. I mean that no moment goes unoccupied.
From the archive:
To be sure, time marches on.
Yet for many Californians, the looming demise of the "time lady," as she's come to be known, marks the end of a more genteel era, when we all had time to share.
Despite our wondrous technologies and scientific advances, we are nurturing a culture of diffusion, fragmentation, and detachment. In this new world, something crucial is missing -- attention.
We are not stressed because we have no time, but rather, we have no time because we are stressed.
Neuroscience is confirming what we all suspect: Multitasking is dumbing us down and driving us crazy.
Simply because a problem is shown to exist doesn't necessarily follow that there is a solution.
There used to be a time if you didn't have money to buy something, you just didn't buy it.
Free is just another price, and prices are set by individual actors, in accordance with the aggregated particulars of marketplace power.
Michael Lopp, on Managing Humans:
This book isn't just about management, it's about creating places where people can comfortably build stuff. It's about what to do during the first ninety days of your new gig, and explains why you should pick a fight, because bright people often yell at each other.
Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule
||Dow and S&P 500 at '97 lows
||10:23 pm EST, Feb 23, 2009
The Dow and S&P 500 tumbled to levels not seen in nearly 12 years Monday, as investors slowly came to the realization that they have been living well beyond their means while harboring wildly inflated expectations about the viability of their future prospects.
From last November, Michael Lewis:
The era that defined Wall Street is finally, officially over.
From within the midst of the bubble:
People say to me, "Whatever it takes." I tell them, It's going to take everything.
Bird: Well, you have to remember two things about the markets. One is that they are made up of very sharp and sophisticated people, who ... these are the greatest brains in the world!
Bird: And the second thing you have to remember is that the financial markets, to use the common phrase, are driven by sentiment.
Fortune: What does that mean?
Bird: What does that mean? Well ...
Dow and S&P 500 at '97 lows
||12:29 pm EST, Dec 23, 2008
Paul Graham just finished Outliers and figured he could turn it into a story about Y Combinator.
Let's think about what credentials are for. What they are, functionally, is a way of predicting performance. If you could measure actual performance, you wouldn't need them.
Paul writes good essays, but they are thin on research.
Although merit varies widely in many fields, only a few have developed effective methods of performance evaluation.
We should be lowering our standards, because there is no point in raising standards if standards don’t track with what we care about.
From the archive:
The Artemis archetype represents a capacity for resisting the fall into 'Organization Man' or the 'Organizational Society', which uses patterns of rewards, sanctions and other inducements to achieve social conformity. Symbolic management again represents an important ideological tool in the desire to inculcate images for social compliance and the internalization of corporate values and goals. The Artemis archetype, therefore, is important in the contemporary era for preserving individual integrity and difference.
From The Organization Man:
An ideal of individualism which denies the obligations of man to others is manifestly impossible in a society such as ours, and it is a credit to our wisdom that while we preached it, we never fully practiced it.
But in searching for that elusive middle of the road, we have gone very far afield, and in our attention to making organization work we have come close to deifying it. We are describing its defects as virtues and denying that there is--or should be--a conflict between the individual and organization. This denial is bad for the organization. It is worse for the individual. What it does, in soothing him, is to rob him of the intellectual armor he so badly needs. For the more power organization has over him, the more he needs to recognize the area where he must assert himself against it. And this, almost because we have made organization life so equable, has become excruciatingly difficult.
||8 Really, Really Scary Economic Predictions
||10:24 am EST, Dec 13, 2008
Dow 4,000. Food shortages. A bubble in Treasury notes.
Fortune spoke to eight of the market's sharpest thinkers and what they had to say about the future is frightening.
Things are going to be awful for everyday people.
I think the overall economy will be worse than people expect.
Some people who are so inclined might go more into the market here because there's a real chance it will go up a lot. But that's very risky. It could easily fall by half again.
I cannot imagine why anybody would give money to the U.S. government for 30 years for less than a 4% yield. I certainly wouldn't. There are going to be gigantic amounts of bonds coming to the market, and inflation will be coming back.
Twelve months of the Obama Nation will not be sufficient to heal the damage of a half-century's excessive leverage.
We need to return to the culture of thrift that my mother and her generation learned the hard way through years of hardship and deprivation.
8 Really, Really Scary Economic Predictions
||America was conned - who will pay?
||10:36 pm EDT, Mar 20, 2008
The crisis will only end when house prices stop falling and banks stop racking up huge losses on their loans. Doing that, however, will require the US government to intervene directly in the real estate market to end the wave of foreclosures. Ideologically, it is ill-equipped to take that step and, as a result, property prices will fall and the financial meltdown will go on and on.
Business, of course, needs consumers to carry on spending in order to make money, so a way had to be found to persuade households to do their patriotic duty. The method chosen was simple. Whip up a colossal housing bubble, convince consumers that it makes sense to borrow money against the rising value of their homes to supplement their meagre real wage growth and watch the profits roll in.
As they did - for a while. Now it's payback time and the mood could get very ugly. Americans, to put it bluntly, have been conned.
In the longer term, lessons must be learnt from the turmoil. One is that you don't solve the problems of a collapsing bubble by blowing up another, which is what Alan Greenspan did after the dotcom fiasco in 2001 - the most irresponsible behaviour of any central banker in living memory.
From the archive:
The belief that corporate power is the unique source of our problems is not the only idol we are subject to. There is an idol even in the language we use to account for our problems.
... Perhaps the most powerful way in which we conspire against ourselves is the simple fact that we have jobs. We are willingly part of a world designed for the convenience of what Shakespeare called "the visible God": money. When I say we have jobs, I mean that we find in them our home, our sense of being grounded in the world, grounded in a vast social and economic order. It is a spectacularly complex, even breathtaking, order, and it has two enormous and related problems. First, it seems to be largely responsible for the destruction of the natural world. Second, it has the strong tendency to reduce the human beings inhabiting it to two functions, working and consuming. It tends to hollow us out.
From last summer:
How far do housing prices have to fall before a slump becomes a bust?
If the pessimists are right that there’s more to come, look out. A 10 percent decline in prices is likely to feel pretty awful. And then everyone might agree on what a housing bust is.
Because all asset hyperinflations revert to the mean, we can expect housing prices to decline roughly 38 percent from their peak.
America was conned - who will pay?
||10:29 pm EDT, Mar 20, 2008
Barry "Big Picture" Ritholtz:
How on Earth was a strawberry-picker in California making $15,000 a year able to qualify for a no money down loan on a $720,000 mortgage? That is just unconscionable.
Housing prices might not fall all at once, though -- they can just go sideways for twelve years and that's the inflation-adjusted equivalent of a 20 percent drop.
It was so obvious it was going to fall apart eventually. What is so amazing is how long it took to actually happen.
From James Suroweicki in early November:
The havoc on Wall Street following the collapse of the subprime-mortgage market boils down to a simple truth: for years, lots of very smart people took lots of very foolish risks, betting borrowed billions on dubious mortgage derivatives, and eventually the odds caught up with them. But behind that simple truth is a more surprising one: the financial whizzes made bad decisions in part because that’s what they were paid to do.
One lesson of the current market chaos, then, is that it’s hard to get incentives right.
From 159 years ago, on incentives:
It hits the poor, not because it wants to hurt them, but to frighten the rich ...
From a Financial Times op-ed by Lawrence Summers, in a popular thread from late November:
Without stronger policy responses than have been observed to date, there is the risk that the adverse impacts will be felt for the rest of this decade and beyond.
Don't Fear the Bear
||You Can Almost Hear It Pop
|| 9:18 pm EST, Dec 17, 2007
Are We in a Recession?
Six experts assess the current state and forecast the future direction of the American economy.
Here's Morgan Stanley's Stephen Roach:
Home prices are likely to fall for the nation as a whole in 2008, the first such occurrence since 1933.
Here is Laura Tyson, former chair of the Council of Economic Advisors:
The economy faces a vicious downward spiral of foreclosures, declining property values and mounting losses on mortgage-backed securities and related financial assets.
... huge waves of foreclosures will depress the price of residential real estate still further. Plummeting real estate values and escalating foreclosures will cause further losses on mortgage-related securities and will further burden American consumers already dealing with higher energy prices and substantial debt.
Here's the current president of NBER:
There is a substantial risk of a recession in 2008.
Even if the economy avoids a recession, the road ahead will be rocky.
Easy money, it seems, was an illusion. Society was not so rich as it seemed.
You Can Almost Hear It Pop
||Real Estate Roller Coaster
|| 1:10 pm EDT, Apr 4, 2007
House prices in the U.S. from 1890 until 2005, plotted as a roller coaster that you ride from a first person perspective. Here is the data source. Hold on to your hats.
Real Estate Roller Coaster