I tried the Cutco-selling gig for a couple months, and realized almost immediately that I wasn't cut out for it. Sure I could follow the manual (which was golden as far as things-you-need-to-do-to-convert), smile, talk smoothly, answer questions, etc., but inside I think I just fundamentally couldn't shake the feeling that "If these people wanted what I was selling, they'd have gotten it already." (And I think that came out a bit whether I wanted it to or not.) On a high level I know that can be false, but intuitively, that's how I think; I hate ads and when I buy something non-trivial it's usually after personal research, not because of a salesman. Salesmen even make me less likely to buy something especially because I can see through all their rhetoric. I find something really wrong with exploiting the cognitive biases of people even if it's been done for all time, and even if I do it sometimes subconsciously. We should be trying to eliminate those biases, not feeding them.
All this said though, you don't have to be a sociopath or a real hustler to see the opportunity of printing out new menus for a quick buck. That's more in line with hacking than with money grabbing, I think. More similar to a college student coming up with pizza money for a weekend than with going after money as a goal in itself.
Yet even PG's advice is product-focused rather than selling-focused; can you distinguish PG's advice from a simple bulleted fact-list? (And how well do you think that alone will sell your product?) If your product isn't the best on the market (or so you think), taking PG's advice would tell you to get back to work while a hustler would go out and sell it anyway. (They don't even necessarily have to lie about anything.) PG's approach echoes the traditional programmer reply of why he doesn't need a marketing team or need to study marketing by saying "My product will speak for itself."
Anyway, can you link to an essay or post from PG where he said that? A quick Google search didn't turn up a source.
I moved on over the years to sales involving multi-million dollar transactions, always involving very high pressure negotiations, and that allows a more detailed look at the true value of the salesman (broker).
A salesman isn't someone who tries to sell ice to Eskimos. He needs to be a leader. He needs to understand his field, understand his customer at a deeper level than what the customer is verbalizing, and help lead customers to actually attain their interests.
Think of it this way. A salesmen has a seller, who is offering something of value at a price. He tries to get a buyer to pay that price, by explaining why what the seller is selling is worth the money. He's a broker, bringing people together who legitimately have value to offer each other.
If he gets good at that he can sell his services for a good price, and do well for himself.
You can do your own research on the right smart phone for you, and even the right car; sometimes it is very helpful to have someone who specializes in a product or service help you understand why it's in your interest to purchase it. It is certainly in the product or service creator's interest to pay for such an excellent specialist.
That being said, a lot of salesmen are scum, or useless, or both, and fortunately those guys never really amount to much.
> lead customers to actually attain their interests.
This is something I just don't like doing at all, also you're not leading them to their optimal interests and so there's some inherent trickery involved. Yes, sometimes salesmen can amplify personal insight, but mostly it's just a matching up of interests toward a zero-sum game.
Cutco makes a good product. But there's no doubt their marketing strategy is a bit deceptive. Telling college students to go through their list of personal contacts and make appointments explaining that you just need to do a presentation for school credit, or that you just get paid to do presentations. I was meeting people who really didn't give a damn about having decent cutlery. I convinced a few that they should spring for the Cutco, and there's nothing wrong with that. I did actually believe the product was great, but if I was honest with myself, I had to admit that unless they really loved cooking, often their money probably better spent on other things.
Cutco was important early experience for me in sales, and I really can't knock the company, its product, or its sales reps. But I was glad to stop making appointments to sell knives.
Those who go far have moved beyond street hustling.
(I think most martyr-types won't like it though...)
Someone driven to change the world or build for the sake of building, on the other hand, is going to make something out of their money, even if they aren't as skilled or single-minded in acquiring it. Money means a lot more when it serves a purpose other than piling on top of itself and buying superfluous stuff.
I'm sure there's a role for people with this approach in most companies, but I tend to avoid them--mostly because they bore me to tears. Someone with ideas and goals that supersede wealth accumulation is a lot more interesting to me, and I'd much prefer to spend my time around such people and scrape by than live in a mansion and listen to a bunch of polo shirt clones yammer on about their real estate investments all day.
Games are not meaningless, they are fun. That's why we play them.
If you win your fantasy football league a million times, nothing changes. If you win at the entrepreneurship game 20 times, your life becomes a whole lot better.
In this case, I'd say that making people happy and travel are the fun and meaningful games. Money helps enable them, sure, but there are plenty of ways to make people happy and travel without much money too, so if these are the things that make you feel good, why not focus on doing them as much as possible instead?
"If you win at the entrepreneurship game 20 times, your life becomes a whole lot better."
Not necessarily. I guess this is the root of the whole discussion. It depends how you measure.
"You find out when you reach the top, you're on the bottom" -Bob Dylan
In a macro sense I believe the pursuit of money is very healthy, contrary to some popular beliefs, it actually encourages a society of people each working very hard to contribute.
In a micro sense I believe this pursuit of money is also very healthy, it gears your mind to focus on a standard of what legitimately is or is not worth doing. It is our goals that give us purpose and serve as a powerful way to bring out our power and productivity. I think it is wrong to condemn that.
Sure there's lots of things very much worth pursuing that money can't buy, but that doesn't make money any less worth pursuing.
I'm not going to lie. My goal right now is definitely to make money. But it isn't my goal in life. That's for sure.
My drive to make money is fueled by my desire to live freely, without financial chains (as my parents and a lot of my family have)... and to have fun and live a good life with those around me. If I have wealth to share and to help makes the lives of others easier, you bet I'm gonna spread it around. I don't have a wife or kids but being able to provide for them when that time comes and give them good lives is my main concern.
Here's a good Inc. article on it too: http://www.inc.com/articles/2008/07/dennis.html
Utter determination, fearlessness, tunnel vision, and hard work are his answers.
Is selling in the real-estate boom cycle a good indication of how to make money?
As to it being about money or manipulation, to me it's about seeing or creating opportunities that no one else can then chasing and obtaining them.
For example, YC is supposed to be about entrepreneurs not ideas... I wonder what YC would look like if accepted teams were told to start pushing on their three best ideas simultaneously?
I usually find myself distracted by ridiculous things like TV or video games. I also tend to talk myself out of things saying I don't have the skills, or the contacts, or don't know how to get started, or don't know enough about the industry.
I admire the real entrepreneurs who have the drive to get their businesses going and I wish I had it. Hopefully it's a skill one can learn.
Pretty sure it's a skill/skillset and can be learned, yeah. I think the key is incremental progress + celebrating even small victories. I've pissed away tons of time on surfing the internet or video games, but improved by looking to scale it down and then celebrating when getting there even a little bit.
I was just reading this, it's relevant:
Look to do whatever small action gets you a little closer, and then celebrate when you get it done. Then repeat. I find the celebrating to really help, since big changes take a long time and you do suffer a lot of that time - if it's for a far-distant payoff, it's harder to stick with it. You can bring the payoff closer by celebrating every time you do things even a little more correct. Do whatever little step you can do and complete and then celebrate a little. Feel free to email me if I can help at all, or you've got specific questions, or you want to brainstorm a little on good next steps to take and complete.
Knowing and relearning the "child's reality" is important to success, I think. It gets you past all the blind spots that derail businesses.
Did 50 Cent really go shovel snow? I thought that was a double entendre (and a joke), "moving snow" being a euphemism for selling cocaine.
When looking for those with a knack for getting money, look for those who earn it... those whose ethics are no less than admirable... unless of course you lack compassion and morals yourself. Those who manipulate and steal without any remorse for others' lives need to be weeded out. They drag the rest of us down and hold us back for their own selfish gain.
Some may consider this darwinism - survival of the fittest - but I believe we've made much more progress as a species by working with each other than against.
The last conversation I had with these people I spent years with was to try to explain how their line of thinking quite honestly brings suffering to countless people. Prime example, big banks making deals they know will fall through regardless of the impact it has on the economy... look where we are now. The type of people who made the decisions that led to the recent recession, which caused a massive decrease in my father's hours at work, are the same ones who want to perform a shortsale on his house because he has fallen behind on his mortgage. As for the suffering I mentioned, let's just say my father will give up his house over his dead body.
I think the main thing not to forget is that although making money is what determines a company's survival, that's not what determines its value.
Carl Sagan usually puts things in perspective for me :)
Sounds like they were simply psychopaths, hence lacking most emotion. It seems like that emotion/empathy was selected for in our evolutionary history (or perhaps it's just a side-effect of something else, don't know), so I don't think psychopathic behavior could possibly be characterized as darwinism.
You might fairly characterise civilisation as the arms race between sociopaths and everyone else.
A mountebank promoting sociopathic behavior.
But this alnayyir goes around and writes really venomous nasty stuff. I already asked him to cut it out after he replied 18 times in a past thread, all really nasty. Do you want the site to have members calling other members nasty names with no other substance? No? Then please vote accordingly. You'll get what you bless.
I estimate there are 10x[10 is a guess but there are significantly more] more people with upvote power than downvoting.
These two points combine to make it difficult to downvote him to hell. That is why flagging is appropriate, don't just downvote, flag.
Only amongst a sampling of sycophants. You wouldn't believe how much this victory blog bullshit does to discredit this community amongst lay hackers that aren't heavily involved in startups.
I'll stick with these summaries as they're far less time consuming and often more to the point.
Good luck with your 'victory'.
Not according to the guy who runs the site:
"Be civil. Don't say things you wouldn't say in a face to face conversation. When disagreeing, please reply to the argument instead of calling names."
> Good luck with your 'victory'.
You know what I'm most proud of? It's that I get a chance to work hands-on with and serve a lot of people. I answer pretty much every email I get, I reach out to help people whenever I can, I look to serve, and I do cool things with good people.
And yeah, my life is pretty good individually, too.
So seriously, next time you feel like calling names, why don't you channel the energy into reaching out to someone to help them? Or to building something? Or maybe start your own blog, and share your insights on there? Or go build a productive business? Or contribute to a nonprofit?
I was civil, and I was marking the post for what it was. I've gone out of my way to explain my opposition to this charlantry and instead you saw it as an opportunity to paint me as unhinged, rather than merely concerned about the community.
You no longer deserve an explanation, you robbed yourself of that with your political games designed to make me look bad.
You may enjoy my summaries in silence, or you can keep drawing attention to me. It's up to you. You won't get any more effort at explication out of me though, no-how.
>You seem to hate me personally
Not at all, you're one instance of a class of plague that furthers the disinterest and apathy of talented people in startups and entrepreneurialism.
They will peruse HN or similar communities for a time, run into non-content such as you post, and run screaming.
Your existence and those of your ilk serve to harm the startup industry and give the corporations more leverage to hold onto the truly good hackers.
People like you have done more to make my efforts of making fellow hackers aware of opportunities in self-employment, startups, and entrepreneurialism more difficult than anything else.
Worse than the global financial crisis, in terms of how often I hear a given excuse/reason, for not considering alternatives to their current jobs.
I'll keep molding my bread, even if it isn't pretty.
> Not at all, you're one instance of a class of plague that furthers the disinterest and apathy of talented people in startups and entrepreneurialism. They will peruse HN or similar communities for a time, run into non-content such as you post, and run screaming. Your existence and those of your ilk serve to harm the startup industry and give the corporations more leverage to hold onto the truly good hackers.
So, you're commenting is because you think my blog is harming the startup industry and giving corporations more leverage against hackers.
I don't think that's the case - I'm all for for self-employment and people doing their own thing. I pretty regularly encourage people to do just that, and offer to lend a hand to anyone who has questions or I can help, and I've done a fairly large amount of free work for people here to lend a hand.
Personally, I've contracted or ran my own company in 3-4 different fields, had employees, negotiated contracts, done large-ish deals, and lived/worked/traveled through 40+ countries.
I share those experiences. Also, I share what I'm learning on tracking time, building habits, I review books, write lots on history...
But you know what, I'm open to a dialog here. You've got a serious aversion to me, and I feel like it's really uncalled-for. I haven't done wrong by you, and I work to make myself valuable, serve people, and do my writing to the best of my ability.
But, what would you look for more of? What's missing? For instance, in this post here that you don't seem to like - I'm looking for the link that makes someone good at getting money in a self-employed/business context. I explored a few things, and I think one of the biggest is having no hangups - being willing to shovel snow even after being a multi-platinum selling artist. Or starting a valet parking company even though you know nothing about it.
I think there's some interesting stuff in this post. Apparently others agree, because it's at #1 here. But you disagree. What would you prefer differently? Share your take and I'll listen - maybe I can learn here and improve.
> I was civil, and I was marking the post for what it was. I've gone out of my way to explain my opposition to this charlantry and instead you saw it as an opportunity to paint me as unhinged, rather than merely concerned about the community.
I actually think you're sincere. At first, I thought you were just trolling - y'know, when you insult me personally without addressing any of the points in the article, I think that's kind of uncool.
But you just replied with your reasoning - if you want better writing on business and entrepreneurship from me, maybe I can do that. I'd like to write better. But can you be more specific than desiring more "Substance"?
What does more substance look like? More stories/anecdotes? Statistics? Context? More tactical stuff, like which terms of a contract are important to negotiate over and which aren't?
If you'd like me to step my game up, hey, maybe I can. I believe you're sincere about wanting a better community here, more resources for people to break from the corporate world and do their own thing. Me too. So, I'll listen to your feedback. What's more substantial writing look like to you?
compare with this blog post:
"Whenever I compared myself to people similar to me, it wasn’t even close. I worked more, accomplished more, produced more, did more meaningful things, was traveling the world. I read more books, did more writing, was generally healthier and more disciplined, spent my time well. I was the top 1% for my age, and even better than that if you measured me against people from similar backgrounds."
Here's a recent quote from IRC concerning this discussion, and this particular comment was aimed at your blog specifically.
19:54 < (name censored)> seems like a cheesy self-help blog
19:54 < (name censored)> 10 ways to get rich!!!!
Subject that said this is a brilliant embedded dev that I can't convince to consider the startup industry at all. There's a serious paucity of embedded people in the industry and it would be great to have somebody like him.
Too bad he's extremely skeptical of all of it because of people like you.
More comments from the same person:
Concerning your blog again:
19:57 < (censored)> i basically dislike any author that tries to simplify something difficult, undermining people that have put effort into it
Someone (the stackoverflow asker) is bitter that someone released a competing product for free.
That's basically what i think of hackernews.
Full of people that are only interested in making money. Don't get me wrong, i want to be rich as well, but have some fucking pride.
This community, the victory blog bullshit, all of it damns itself.
My erudition is a self-indulgence and attempt to put a mirror up.
Cheers, enjoy the cat picture.
Edit: Added comments from another programmer below.
21:03 < (name censored)> alnayyir: I just read some of that Sebastian Marshall tripe. Bleh, it made me vomit in my mouth a little bit. What a bunch of unscientific, psycho-babble nonsense.
If other non start-up hackers don't like advice such as this (business advice, which seems to be what you're saying), perhaps the problem is with them and not Lionhearted? They should be able to understand that it is a valid viewpoint and a general truth that these things exist, are useful, and are neutral in nature, and it doesn't make sense to ignore it.
Etiquette is an implementation of decency so that inequality is basically "truth > 0".
One can be truthful and decent without being a jerk. In fact, the most effective truthful and decent people are the "not jerks".
FWIW, I've found that folks who try to justify being jerks with "I'm just telling the truth" typically aren't that truthful. They're just passive-agressive mean, which makes them worse than straight-up jerks.