“Van Halen was the first band to take huge productions into tertiary, third-level markets. We’d pull up with nine eighteen-wheeler trucks, full of gear, where the standard was three trucks, max. And there were many, many technical errors — whether it was the girders couldn’t support the weight, or the flooring would sink in, or the doors weren’t big enough to move the gear through.
The contract rider read like a version of the Chinese Yellow Pages because there was so much equipment, and so many human beings to make it function. So just as a little test, in the technical aspect of the rider, it would say “Article 148: There will be fifteen amperage voltage sockets at twenty-foot spaces, evenly, providing nineteen amperes …” This kind of thing. And article number 126, in the middle of nowhere, was: “There will be no brown M&M’s in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation.”
So, when I would walk backstage, if I saw a brown M&M in that bowl … well, line-check the entire production. Guaranteed you’re going to arrive at a technical error. They didn’t read the contract. Guaranteed you’d run into a problem. Sometimes it would threaten to just destroy the whole show. Something like, literally, life-threatening.”
What's going on here is simultaneously much more mundane and much more interesting.
A given strategy at a corporate level is something like a 10 dimensional cube, with half of those dimensions within the company and half of those side outside. It begins as a concept floated by those in charge, it gets floated to people who float it to people who finally put out another version, say, a 5 dimensional cube. And final thing has requested qualities, with some things added simply as CYA, things that aren't good but the low level operative can't be criticized for.
Sometimes this process result in a dimension that a moderately intelligent person can look at and say "that's moronic, that would never work" and it doesn't.
The thing is, indeed, the critic doesn't see even the 5 released dimensions of the whatever-the-fuck that's being sold so they don't know the difficulties involved. Because the thingy is trying to barely satisfy each of these dimensions, not be great in any of them. Because these are all constraints,
Why push out a crappy version of Windows (say Vista), why produce yet another fail sequel in series X, etc. Sure, when such satisficing projects fail, the dumb stuff seems obvious but people forgot that so many projects succeed by just barely missing the bar of inadequate and so some are going to have to hit the bar too, in one of those dimensions.
I don't know that that necessarily follows. It could be that they read it, said "fuck that", and did everything else to spec. Good story tho.
Exactly. You wonder what else they said "fuck that" to because they don't care or think it's not necessary.
An even better case to catch.
You've never worked with an electrician. This is not how these things work.
I love that this story gives people the warm fuzzies; enough to downvote. =D
The synopsis of all the coverage was: "How could they have spent all that money? And how could the investors have been so STUPID?"
My friend Fred Destin wrote a great essay on this, and I'll do the horrid thing of quoting my own note to him in reply:
> It’s analogous to a soccer fan questioning the manager’s decision to put player X on the field instead of Y. The manager sees both players on the training ground for hours every day, knows their mood, talks to them, understands how they respond to different situations, and consults his coaches. Then the matchgoing fan sees 90 minutes of output on Saturday and makes a judgement with <1% of the data a manager has.
> Past a certain point in fundraising and traction, it’s impossible to believe that a startup failing is anything more interesting than a combination of poorer-than-expected execution, and bets not paying off.
The point of high-level workers is so they can focus on high-level priorities. They have staff -- legal aids, system admins, business analysts, whatever -- whose job it is to digest that stuff and put it into simple briefings for leadership to evaluate in the context of other issues.
> I don't blame them with it being hundreds of pages of reading that could easily be parted out to aides, but the electorate certainly doesn't have this advantage
The electorate isn't expected to have this advantage, and is not expected to read the bills. The whole reason for representative democracy is so that the common voter does not have to parse this stuff -- that's explicitly the point. I find someone who reflects my views and I put them in office, and trust that they'll be able to digest what's happening and vote accordingly. The common man isn't expected to understand tariffs, international banking, military theory, computer engineering, social justice issues, and food scarcity.
> The common man isn't expected to understand tariffs, international banking, military theory, computer engineering, social justice issues, and food scarcity.
What better use is there of the common man's time than understanding societal issues like justice and scarcity? Are you describing how the world is or claiming how it should be? If you do not understand justice, scarcity, etc. how can you claim to elect someone who reflects your views--ignoring that a lot of politics is lesser evil voting?
An uneducated populace voting is a worst-case scenario for a representative democracy.
I'd probably say that the worst-case scenario is a populace that doesn't care whether their representative is educated on the issues.
There are many things that I consider myself uneducated in, but as long as my representative has similar values, is not corrupt, is competent and finds and listens to experts in the relevant fields, then I don't necessarily consider that to be a problem.
We should be electing people we trust to care about the detail of stuff that doesn't interest normal humans, not people we'd like to have a beer with.
> What better use is there of the common man's time than understanding societal issues like justice and scarcity?
Both of those can be true.
Show me the model produced by he experts that has been right? Show me the science behind the idea of quarantining the entire population in order to slow the spread of Covid-19. There is science behind quarantining sick people - but not healthy people. Show me the science behind the social distancing - 6 foot rule? I mean really - where IS the science to those things? These experts are self-proclaimed. I am more than willing to listen to a bridge builder tell me why I need to use a certain kind of steel as apposed to another - but many of these experts that we have been listening to lately are anything but experts.
The opposite of “expert” isn’t “uses magical common sense to arrive at the right decision”, it’s “crapshoot”.
No, he is making the valid point that in many areas that are highly relevant to public policy, there are no experts. Those who call themselves "experts" actually aren't. Nobody has enough understanding of the problem domain to make accurate predictions.
In such a case, the only viable solution is for nobody to "rule".
I'm sympathetic to your POV, by the way, because uncritically listening to experts has literally killed millions of people in the past century. But the key word is "uncritically". Pushback is healthy, discussion is super-healthy; my position, though, is that in any argument, experts should get more weight unless the people arguing back have strong, on-the-ground evidence.
In general, I disagree. Most of the time decisions do not have to be made--more precisely, decisions by "leaders" who get to dictate what everyone must or must not do so not have to be made, and should not be made. Our political structure makes it seem like they do, but that's a bug in our political structure, not an actual necessity.
> in any argument, experts should get more weight
If "experts" is defined as "people who have a demonstrated track record of making accurate predictions in the past", then yes, I agree.
However, by that criterion, as I said, in most domains that are of importance for public policy, there are no experts. Your statement, while correct in itself with that definition of "expert", does not help at all in those domains.
Any other definition of "expert" does not justify your statement.
Again, "no decision" is a decision, especially in the presence of alternatives.
> If "experts" is defined as "people who have a demonstrated track record of making accurate predictions in the past", then yes, I agree.
How good must their track record be before they warrant more weight? 100%? 75%? 5% better than an average person's? I think each level warrants different levels of deference. If a perfect oracle speaks, you do what they say. If someone who spent a long time studying a very complex problem has an opinion, you listen carefully, and ask follow-up questions, but you don't pretend that the Google University™ twenty minute crash course on the topic is as informative.
I recognize it's not simple (and it's fraught). But saying "there are no experts" when people dedicate their lives to studying a lot of these phenomena is only true if you demand 100% accuracy.
"No decision" by leaders in a situation where there is not sufficient justification for ordering everyone to do or not do something, is not the same as "no decision" period. Individuals are still making decisions.
> How good must their track record be before they warrant more weight?
Good enough that their predicted benefits from a policy are reliable enough to justify the costs and risks of that policy.
> If someone who spent a long time studying a very complex problem has an opinion, you listen carefully
Not if they have no track record of accurate predictions. "Studying for a long time" is not a good proxy for that. Lots of people study complex topics for a long time without ever making any accurate predictions.
> saying "there are no experts" when people dedicate their lives to studying a lot of these phenomena is only true if you demand 100% accuracy
You're missing the point. It's not that the accuracy has to be 100%. It's that you're looking at the wrong thing. It doesn't matter how long someone has spent studying a topic. All that matters is their predictive track record. Looking at anything else just distracts you from what matters.
> "No decision" by leaders in a situation where there is not sufficient justification for ordering everyone to do or not do something, is not the same as "no decision" period. Individuals are still making decisions.
Except that it did not play out well because individuals were deceived by so called (wrong) experts who claimed that it is nothing worse than flu.
Based on this individuals took decisions that were opposite to the optimal result and traveled to the areas most inflicted by the virus and carried it to their countries en masse.
Countries that understood the character of the virus and implemented early restrictions (that was questions on days) did fare better that countries that waited to implement restrictions.
Or, the market is making decisions for them. And those are often obvious to predict.
You can check the data. Lets take for example 3 similar Mediterranean countries - Spain, Italy and Greece.
First 2 waited with restrictions till >1000 confirmed infected.
3rd executed restrictions when there was only 65 confirmed cases.
Result. First 2 tens of thousands dead, 3rd <200.
There is clear patterns - earlier countries did implement testing facilities and applied restrictions - faster they got the spread under control with lower causalities.
She's not wrong. If my adulthood has taught me anything it's that supposed "experts" are oftentimes anything but. And they're certainly not trustworthy just because of their title or credentialing.
She's a scientist. To the extent she's a "contrarian", it's due to her personal experience in seeing how science actually works as compared to how it's supposed to work.
There's a reason people in power have advisors, and it isn't just to rubber-stamp things.
Back in the old days, FDR had a board of experts to advise him on things. He listened to them. Governments also have a professional civil service, full of people who don't rule but who are in contact with those who do, and who know enough to give good advice.
So the question isn't whether we have a technocracy or a democratic system totally unconnected to reality. It's how well-advised our democratically elected leaders are.
to be precise, literally 40 days ("quaranta" means 40 in Italian).
At least in theory the wisdom of crowds can do better. In practice, it's often hard to argue.
Coaches are human too. They are just as fallible as the rest of us. They may work with better information than the fan, but this doesn't mean that they should never be questioned. And good coaches allow themselves to change opinions if criticism makes sense.
For business... for every Netflix, there's a WeWork that everyone can see is insane and they're not wrong.
A fan might be correct when they say, "Coach should have played X instead of Y.", but the trick is knowing that in advance. And knowing hundreds of other things in advance too. Maybe coach got that one decision wrong, but hundreds of others right. The fan is unlikely to get that many correct on a percentage basis.
The sport is just the bait for the spectators.
A coach might choose a certain player over another just because the people acclaim him/her.
Also, don't forget that scandals about rigged games are quite regular nowadays.
I mean, insofar as we’re measuring teams by winning games, rather than measuring teams by how profitable they are, we’re probably not measuring their inclusive fitness. Winning doesn’t help you if nobody pays attention; and, vice versa, making money helps you (in the long term) even if you don’t win.
If Jose Mourinho comes to coach your team, you know right away the player recruitment and selection will be rooted in a very calculated defensive approach, conservative possession-oriented play style.
He has done this at several clubs where it was universally understood to be a bad strategic idea given the talents of the specific players he would be inheriting, even from his first day on the job.
Even casual fans could see that, despite the coach spending hours and hours observing player training, talking to players and studying game film, he was biased to impose his preferred strategy onto the team no matter what, even if all the evidence said it was unjustified.
Considering the Premier League further, this effect just gets worse the less skilled the manager is. Many mid or bottom table teams have blunderously bad managers that combine both being low skilled with being hyper committed to a fixed strategy regardless of the characteristics of their players. Once they have dug their heels in on the strategy, they can’t go back on it or appear to buckle under fan pressure, or else they seem like a pushover / non-expert with no special knowledge worth millions of dollars, and it becomes entirely political (making the strategic weakness even more apparent).
I would say it’s a case where “the wisdom of crowds” really is wisdom and the consensus criticisms about player selection are usually very valid and well-supported and the connection to the coach’s strategic weaknesses is obvious.
1. You're about to spend a whole heaping wad of cash on overpriced players that other people are trying to offload.
2. He'll be gone in under 3 seasons with a hefty golden parachute.
3. The toxic after-effects will contaminate your club for years.
Signed, a very bitter United fan.
People are predominantly successful because of luck. Opportunity, connections, upbringing, all luck. Yes, you still need to make the right decision at the right time.
There is a pernicious tendency to make a fallacious argument for intelligence because of success; that is, people become convinced of intelligence because of success. The most obvious example today is the president of the USA. He is convinced of his own intelligence because clearly he is one of the most successful people in the country. I don't think many reasonable people would argue for his genius. On the other end of the spectrum, it seems obvious to me that in the billions of poor people on this planet there is an unknown genius unable to escape his or her circumstances.
We make mistakes. We don't try to understand the mistakes of others as we call them idiots. We are not necessarily capable of succeeding even if we are smarter than those that have.
This very often gets overlooked. The world's economy is an MMORPG game and networking / contacts matter much more than many of us who swear in meritocracy would like to believe.
As an example, I’ve noticed that privacy-related discussion on HN is often thought-terminated by comments that reduce down to “<company> is doing <perceived privacy-destroying thing> because they want to destroy your privacy”. On reddit, a common form of this is “<politician> is doing <something implausibly comic book villain-y> because they are evil”.
When the motive isn’t clear, I often enter these discussions trying to learn more about why - but more often than not, I just leave feeling the same way as the author here.
It's possible the richest CEOs are actually the worst at picking bets, because they're the ones who picked bets that were the least likely to pay off, and therefore got the biggest pay out when they won. If 50 people were making the same bet as Reed Hastings, then Netflix would've found it far harder to succeed, since they would've been competing for talent, content and customers with 50 other companies. The reason Netflix exploded in growth is partly because they were the only ones serving that market. Maybe that was a genius stroke of insight, or maybe he was one of a thousand people making bad bets, and he's the one that it paid off for.
Yes we do, all the time: Theranos, WeWork, WebVan, Myspace, Friendster, BlackBerry, Enron, Worldcom, etc, etc, etc.
Sure, we don't hear about companies that never get anywhere because they never did anything interesting to start with, because that's unremarkable.
But we hear a lot about the companies that attracted a lot of success or hype early but then "bet" wrong. (In fact, these stories arguably get a disproportionate amount of coverage, due to schadenfreude from journalists and their audience.)
The roulette spin analogy is not apt, because building a successful company is not a single bet; it's many many bets, every year/month/day over many years, which moves it well out of the realm of random chance and mostly into the realm of skill.
And before someone says it: nobody argues good luck is not a factor in a company's success. But that is mostly at the very beginning (e.g., Steve Jobs meeting Woz; Bill Gates' mother knowing the chairman of IBM) and luck alone is not nearly enough.
Skilled leadership over the long term makes all the difference between success and wasted opportunity.
None of the other examples are really comparable to Netflix either; they were all companies which eventually failed, but which business reporters didn't particularly dislike until after they failed. Netflix was nearly universally reviled for making "dumb" decisions which turned out to be correct, and Mcardle deserves credit for noticing that Hastings was probably a better CEO than most business reporters.
I find this story annoying. Imagine that Mary Gates did not know John Opel. Who would have IBM done business with instead?
It's not a very informative way of looking at the world, but it's the most straightforward.
Unfortunately the answer to that question is, I spend way too much time on hacker news.
But Netflix's value is not from competing against cable on price, it's competing against piracy on convenience.
Content providers will never again see the same profits, because the de-facto price of content is zero. It's too easy to pirate, and morally grey enough that people are willing to do it.
Netflix got so big because it captured the market of people who were willing to pay for the convenience. If this gets too high they will just go back to pirating.
There has been enough time for people to get locked into walled gardens.
However most people don't have the requisite knowledge to set all of this up, so I would agree with the other commenter that the majority are probably still going to just go to sketchy streaming sites.
The actual software, once installed is really nice (I have a Plex Server + Infuse on an Apple TV), but in my case I still pay for content (via usenet).
Even I thought Disney plus might be the beginning of the end for Netflix, that it finally met a Goliath it couldn't best, but now even that isnt obvious anymore.
Netflix try's to get you hooked on their originals, but the problem with that is once you binged a series you want something else - they cant keep feeding you the crack that is that current series because they take months to produce, so you switch to something else - and at that point it could be something else on Netflix, or just as easily something else somewhere else. I don't think Netflix is really that sticky.
But maybe I am proving the point of the article and I'm missing the strategy.
Perhaps that's what the company is gunning for? Perhaps they noticed that the crowd that sees Adam Sandler movies is the main market and they don't necessarily need to pander to "sophisticated" audience to be a successful company? Who knows. It just looks mindful, minimally, where they're trying to chart out a path that they CAN do, given all their constraints (mainly every major IP now being protected by their parent for their own streaming service).
I think Disney painted themselves in a corner buying every studio and putting it under the Disney banner.
Disney have long stood for family values programming which is never edgy or pushes the envelope.
That was the reason behind Touchstone and the purchase of Miramax (and prob a few other Disney owned subsidiaries I've forgotten) to push out adult centric content and keep it separate from the Disney = family-friendly marquee.
The Disney brand today is this monolithic umbrella brand and with all their streaming content going under the Disney+ channel it's going to be hard for people to cognitiviely disassociate the brand from the content.
For example who's going to think I fancy watching Pulp Fiction tonight, let me see if it's on Disney+....
 Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events is a rare exception that I strongly recommend to anyone who is or has ever been a kid.
I've also encountered people from wealthy families and these individuals typically don't comment on what they think of others less fortunate in society. They also stay out of politics or anything where people get disgruntled about. I'm unsure if it was how they were raised and or they know the game of life is rigged. In any case, I respect this group the most which is sort of odd because everything was handed to them.
Anyway, the first group of individuals probably would have been better persons if they were just born into money as well. They have a fallacy in their head of they earned their success and wouldn't have had it any other way in life. In reality they just had a worse path to eventually becoming financially independent and sadly these individuals place their ego around wealth because of it.
I don't necessarily believe in the traditional idea of luck. I think everything is predetermined at birth. But wow does it help to be born into a wealthy family with somewhat decent genetics. Quality of life will be so much better. It's so noticeable that I sometimes wonder how others don't see it as well.
Embarrassed me would like to publically apologies for assuming everyone else is an idiot and should do what I do. Sorry guys!
It's possible, yes. And if we consider that there were possibly a few thousand people at that time trying to make that business work, then "by accident" does start to look like the best explanation.
Was/is he smarter than everyone else trying to do the same thing? Probably not.
Was/is he better connected, better funded, more able to run a business, than the others? Possibly, but probably not.
Was/is he luckier than everyone else? Almost by definition, if we define "luck" as "something that helps people succeed".
It's a very nebulous definition. But there's definitely a Venn diagram overlap of "by accident" and "by being very lucky". Even without getting to FedEx levels of "lucky", there is definite "luck" involved in making decisions based on incomplete information that will turn out to have outsize effects on the business later. This is a normal activity for startup founders, and I'll bet serious money that more than a few of them were made in Netflix' early years.
We always underestimate survivor bias when considering successful startup stories. And without studying the other people who were trying to build the same business at the same time, we have no idea why some of them succeeded and others failed. Without this information, it's impossible to say whether Netflix succeeded "by accident" or by design.
I'm guessing "a spectacular debacle" - AKA "epic fail"?
The usual response to such a question is - "you're just an anti-intellectual! Being rich doesn't mean you're smart - any fool can do it! Real non-fools write their opinions down and other fools follow them."
I've known some utterly immoral people become very, very wealthy - I might've even helped them along the way. The reason I'm not rich and they are, is that they decided they didn't want to help me along my way.
Being rich isn't an indicator of intelligence, nor is it an indicator of hard work or decent ethics. It does, usually, mean that someone wanted to give you money for some reason - and even a fool or an intellectual can do such a thing for love. Or, not.
Isn't that the definition of participation in the economy? You created goods, or provided services, or arranged for goods to be created or services provided, and in exchange people give you money?
Cases where people are given money without in some way earning it are far in the minority.
or drank with someone on a regular basis, or married one of their relatives,
The beauty of it is that it doesn't need to say who is the ignorant one!
Hey, at least it's consistent.
( I'll admit a soft spot for the thing after someone pointed out it looks like what happens when you let back end engineers design the front end )
The classic Dropbox comments and the glee at FB hitting some low stock price, $19?
I don't know if the cybertruck is a good or bad idea. I don't know if it's going to succeed or fail. I don't know how anyone can possibly declare with confidence that they do know how the truck will do when released.
I looked to see what truck users on /r/Trucks had to say about it. Here are some highlights, both positive and negative:
> It’s really damn cool aside from the roof coming to a point. I’m not sure I understand that design decision. However, onboard air compressor, 110v/220v accessory power, fast as shit, good ground clearance, integral bed cover and ramps, air ride suspension, and tough shell to boot... there is a lot to like here. I might just have to buy one in a couple years.
> Yeah because everyone wants a ‘bed’ you can’t load from the sides.
> I think [being able to load the truck bed from the sides] really only matters for people who use their trucks for actual work. This is obviously for people who want a truck for play and not work.
> ... he could have taken this seriously and actually made an impact. Now he’s proven the older anti EV crowd 100% correct that an electric truck isn’t a viable alternative.
> Clearly designed by someone who has literally never even used a truck once in their entire life.
> It's stupid tall bedsides ruin it for slide in campers too. If it wasn't for that the 3500lb payload and huge battery would make it great for a slide in.
> I'm surprised you all are not pouncing on the unibody. The other "truck" (Honda) that uses a unibody construction does not get much love.
> [People who like the Cybertruck design are] those who've never actually used a truck to haul items and/or trailers. Those who are in the ranching, mining, and other similar industries are laughing at this.
> Is the bed cover transparent? Seems like the rear window is only usable when the cover is retracted. I'm sorry. This is a truck for the Ridgeline crowd. No 8ft bed option. Only crew cab configuration. AWD, not 4WD. Can't tow a Gooseneck or 5th wheel, which you're gonna want when towing a 14K trailer. People will buy it. I won't.
> It’s a weird case of form over function. He was so focused on the blade runner vibe he forgot to make sure it was usable as a truck. Can’t even get to the front of the bed without opening the tailgate and getting inside.
> Trucks have a utilitarian purpose. There is a reason for their shapes. And if you look worldwide there are some differences, but also some commonalities. Like being able to access the frigging bed. That’s a massive failure here.
> There’s some things about truck design that are important to the function of being a truck. Like not having angled bed sides so you can fucking reach the first 1/2 of the bed without getting in it or being able to tow a 5th wheel.
> After looking at more pictures today I realized it doesn't even have a true 6.5' bed. It's much shorter than that, but angles in underneath the rear seats. Probably ok for hauling a few sheets of plywood, but putting in, say, furniture, would be harder.
> I set things in the bed over the bedside a lot. And climb in the sides. I’d have to awkwardly yeet shit over the side of that angled monstrosity
> This truck looks like an absolute nightmare to load and unload tbh. I actually even ditched my bed for a Bradford flatbed to make my truck easier to use. Rear/side visibility looks awful. Boasts a 14,000 towing capacity yet it looks like a nightmare to hook up to a trailer. I’d love to know how far this thing can tow 14,000lbs. Payload of “3,900lbs”. What does the truck itself weigh? Does Tesla understand GVWR or how to calculate payload or is it assuming it’s potential buyers do not? I guess I just don’t understand the whole concept and what exactly they’re going for. Seems like they’re trying to do too much. This has been the plague of these types of “crossovers” which is exactly what this is. El Camino, Ford Ranchero, Subaru Brat, Subaru Baja, Chevy Avalanche, Honda Ridgeline, the list goes on and on.
> Having a large locking cover would give me so much peace of mind when I'm parked with my tools in there. Having the thing build of stainless steel made me ask why hasn't trucks been main of stainless steel for years.
> The bed has some L-Tracks and T-Slots in it too for easy tie downs, which was something I learned from a video I saw that someone did a test drive in
> Literally the only good truck feature is the integrated full width ramp in the tailgate.
> And you can lower the suspension in the back to make it easier! I would have killed for that the last few times i was loading heavy equipment into the back of my truck by myself. I had to make due with backing up to a hill and using a shitty steel ramp that would fall if i so much as looked at it wrong.
> Let's be honest, most people in suburbia/cities with trucks are just drugstore cowboys anyway. This truck will meet the needs of most consumers
> Good luck towing a 5th wheel with that thing
> If you need a truck, Cybertruck's already disqualified itself. Little clearance, no room for mods, unibody, no side access to the truck bed, likely range issues (once you add a load), and that's just the stuff we know about now. I can only imagine buying this if you buy a truck just so you can feel like you're driving a truck but never plan on using the truck features beyond occasional off-roading.
It has huge ground clearance, the paint doesn't get screwed up when you scrape it on some brush, the bed is big enough to hold dirtbikes, and they are easy to load/unload with the included ramp.
You can sleep in the bed and it's covered, but not like a normal bed cover that creates a coffin like compartment, or a camper top that doesn't let you load tall items.
Not having access from the sides is a lot less of an issue than it used to be. With a new full sized 4x4, only very tall people can reach much in the bed from the sides anyhow. If you're going to give that up, you might as well go big and provide huge enclosed cargo volume. The ramp makes it much easier to just walk into the bed while carrying heavy items rather than loading from the sides.
Classic examples are:
"Hitler was stupid to invade Russia". In fact he needed to conquer oil fields to keep the ability to wage war andhe Russian army was particularly weak at that point.
"Kodak was stupid not to sell digital camera". In fact Kodak did develop digital camera technology. They were behind one of the first commercial digital camera (The Apple QuickTake), they licensed their patent and were number one sellers of digital camera in the US at some point.
It's easy to fall into this trap when you only high level information. I think that when you get more detailed information this effect dissipates. You then realize that there are many factors and stakeholders.
For a long time I thought many politicians were "dumb" based on their public comments, propelled only by their connections. Now, when I look up some politicians who's spouting objectively false / misleading statements and find they've graduated a top-tier university and have a JD I realize these are not intellectually stupid people. They're skilled in their field, have drive, and less empathy/morals than others.
Now, I watch these "dumb" people more closely.
I have be forced to leave a number of potentially very lucrative deals because I refused to scam little old ladies out of their life savings.
Hillary Clinton attended Wellesley and Yale, and speaks like someone who did, and many Americans hate her. GWB attended Harvard and Yale, but he played up the stereotypical Texas country-boy stereotype and fumbled over his words, and got two terms. Donald Trump went to Wharton business school, but speaks (and shitposts) at the level of a common Reddit troll, and he was elected in large part because of that.
You'd think Americans would stop falling for it at some point.
Hillary Clinton put on a terrible fake Arkansas accent for the beginning of her political career, talked about baking pies, and quoted country-western songs in interviews. The reason she uses her natural accent in her later career is because she has positioned herself as a "wonk," and often against Republicans who were doing folksy.
i.e. she's looking for a different set of Americans to "fall for it." Trying to appeal to an audience who thinks that everybody else is a sucker and they're the shrewd one.
When she goes to black churches, she puts it on again. Instantly starts dropping her g's and praising the lord like she would never do in a white church.
You should watch closely the people you admire. Donald Trump is as successful politician as one can be. He is as rich as one can be. He has a degree from a top university. But he's a useless person and dumb as a rock. If you try to follow his way you will get nowhere. Good luck.
However “that’s obvious” is also often said intuitively by very smart people, where they are correct but they can’t actually explain how they know they are correct.
It doesn’t, however - often make them less idiotic.
At the time I was using mixi.jp which was "MySpace done right" and was hugely engaging. (It's quite possible that Mixi might have become Facebook had they not committed commercial suicide later with some very stupid decisions. The only social network I know that deliberately tried to limit their userbase.)
From the micro point of view, a talented individual has a greater a priori probability to reach a high level of success than a moderately gifted one.
On the other hand, from the macro point of view of the entire society, the probability to find moderately gifted individuals at the top levels of success is greater than that of finding there very talented ones, because moderately gifted people are much more numerous and, with the help of luck, have - globally - a statistical advantage to reach a great success, in spite of their lower individual a priori probability.
Jeff Bezos now has more money than can be made if an American family earned 63k for 2 million years. He also had parents that gave him a so-called "three hundred thousand dollar investment" (more money than most people see in a lifetime even while working hard for their family, dedicating most of their life to work and barely managing to enjoy life), while ignoring or dodging every single tax he can get away with.
It's weird how most people are fine with that, because they seem to see themselves as temporarily embarrassed billionaires, or because they aren't able to understand the sheer amount of money.
Jeff Bezos also had a teen mother, a biological father that abandoned him, and a Cuban immigrant father that came to the US alone at 16 with nothing and no ability to speak English.
After passing through a refugee camp, just six years later Mike Bezos was raising Jeff as his own and had successfully gone to college.
If - having survived all of that well enough to build a decent life for himself - Mike could afford to invest into his son's business, then it's a remarkable accomplishment that should be cheered, rather than attacked.
Quick research says that Mike Bezos worked as an engineer for Exxon after graduating college, and saving that money wisely can add up to $300k.
Let alone that Sr. should have the knowledge and support he required to manage his money so well. I look at the Jr. Bezos having a privilege to have a father who he could turn to for advise, or who may have guided his development. Not saying he did, cuz I don't know the family, but it sounds like it was a real possibility. Who saves all that money, only to entrust it to his estranged son who he don't know or trust--as if he haven't had a hand in imparting the necessary temperament, sensibility, and wisdom for his son to be successful in some way in the economy? LOL.
How many people today are fortunate to have grown up in this time, in this is a period of unprecedented economic growth and social change, who have squandered their earnings, because they didn't have the support of knowledgeable and trustworthy parents or family?
Sounds to me like a chain of great decisions, luck or both.
I can give a counter example. I moved to an affluent town on the North Shore of Long Island, NY. I met a woman in my neighborhood who described to me her career at the local hospital, as a nurse, for over 20 years. She's African American, and landed this job in the late 70s early 80s by my calculation. She benefited by the social changes at the time that accepted African Americans as nurses in a largely white community. I also met her son, and he struggles with under-employment in his career. I had the impression she didn't understand why he was in that situation. She was proud of her success. I imagine it was difficult for her to reconcile her career in nursing, and her son's struggles. She had success, why not him? Unlucky, more like it.
Right now--that hospital is part of one of those large health care corporate systems. If she had this job today, its very possible she would not have seen her salary increase year after year, nor enjoyed a pension, nor stayed with the same organization for so long just being a nurse. There will always be new nurse graduates with more energy with just enough knowledge who are more manageable by corporate. That's the reality of hospitals and healthcare today, despite growth in this field.
Fortune goes to the right person who is in the right place at the right time. And if you frack up and fall out, someone else is ready to take your place, hey. Who in a great position can say they did it entirely alone? Meag Lottery winners. haha.
I hope people don't mind the former, but the latter is a bit problematic. When individuals can control that much wealth, democracy breaks down, they can control politics. It wouldn't hurt capitalist incentives at all if the richest of the rich were limited to earning say $100 m.
parents != parents
maybe i'm stating the obvious, but "if you want to get rich, come up with a good idea and work hard" is way easier when your parents can invest 300K in your startup and you have that safety net to fall back on. as in, that's a substantial factor into somebody's "self-madeness" that's often overlooked
(i know that's not what you said, but imo it's a common sentiment re: creating a successful business)
They may never be able to achieve even modest financial security and live in constant dread that they'll lose one of their 2-3 jobs and be on the street, but hey, they can define success as meaning a family that loves them, so that makes absolutely everything OK! /s
But what you can do is realise that things aren't always under your control so not to worry about them. Instead just concentrate on things you do have and things you can do. You have the power to be useful to society so do that. You have the power to do good things so do it. How you feel doesn't really matter.
In that sense, the most successful CEO isn't necessarily the smartest individual/CEO in the same way the most successful artist isn't necessarily the best one on a technical level.
The claim that charisma, street smarts, or connections are more important than intelligence is absurd. There are so many fields in which those things just don't matter. If you're not charismatic don't pursue a career in a field that requires charisma. Simple.
It's easy to think that intelligence isn't a strong predictor for success because there are many intelligent people who don't accomplish much. But there are many more charismatic and well-connected people who don't accomplish much! But we don't culturally expect charismatic people to automatically become successful, like we do for smart kids. That's where the real difference is.
I'm sorry, what field would that be?
I have yet to see a field where extraversion, persuasiveness, and regularly going out and having beers with the boss is less likely to get you promotion than being utterly brilliant, doing an amazing job at what you do, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
At least in America, charisma has a massively outsized influence on your success in anything but the very most menial of fields.
At that level, you definitely don't need to be a genius, I'd say if anything a genius is much less likely to make a million a year.
For success within theoretical physics you see, again, exactly how important raw intelligence is. Charisma and people skills are nice, but top researchers are disproportionately brilliant. This isn't nearly as true in those scientific fields where research results are unverifiable. We've seen this in the recent months with the embarrassing quality of epidemiological modeling.
Earning $1m a year doesn't require exceptionalism of any kind, but there is a huge gap between $1m a year and the global top 100. And intelligence becomes more dominant and other traits start to matter less as the stakes increase.
I actually believed physics has repeated run into the problem where large swaths of research is in fact unverifiable and exists purely on a theoretical basis until technology has caught up with the theory. Wasn't there a large discussion within the past 12 months or so about the many flaws of the field of physics, including the repeating of the same mistakes due to not wanting to stray too far from the existing literature? Doesn't this field also have large swaths of theories with plenty of mathematics behind both that are also mutually exclusive?
If I would think about a field with a long history of verified research, physics would most certainly not be up there. I'd say chemistry has physics beat there for example.
Additionally, epidemiological modeling has to deal with real data from sources whose trustworthiness are largely only somewhat known and somehow project this into the future. This is a garbage in, garbage out situation and I don't know if this should reflect on the field overall. It'd be like judging ML as a field based off of a problem case in which all training data has untrustworthy labels.
Wee need to teach thiss type of logical reasoning about statistical information at the high school level. It needs to be instinctive, and our default instincts are completely wrong for the task.
Statistical information has become extremely salient. Covid-19 is the current example. Most information is statistical. The same is true in many work contexts, where companies generate statistical knowledge that people need to interpret.
Meanwhile, this logic toolset is typically much weaker than our other ones. Average numerical ability is actually quite good, comparatively. The average person would perform ok on classic logical reasoning (Socrates is a man...). Throw in some statistical information... bogus conclusions (or no conclusion) are more common.
It's doable. Nothing too hard here. It's on par with simple algebra. We just haven't adjusted education to the needs of the times.
So if someone success without talent, you explain it with another monovariable: luck.
By the way, for me being talented in something is just another version of luck. So we can say that you believe in just one variable: Luck is everything.
The world is way more sophisticated and complicated than a single variable.
Because of my work I have met people that are today highly successful. For example I have met motorcycle's world champions when they were children, that now earn tens of millions of dollars.
The most interesting thing is that for every world champion I know, I have met way way more incredible talented children that never became world champions and don't earn much or work in other areas.
They are human beings that took and take different decisions in their lives.
Some of them were very hard workers(and did not success after all the work), some of them were lazy(and succeeded anyway).
Some of them loved going to parties, others prefered to play guitar or read. Some were very social, others had few friends. Some were impulsive, some were analytical. Some were perfectionistic, others only care about doing things as fast as possible. Some had impulsive sex, other preferred stable relationships. Some accepted others helping them and listened, others refuse to learn or advice from others.
At the end of the day, there are hundreds of variables out there. There are usually some patterns that emerge on successful people on each specific discipline.
For example, in motosport you find that most successful people are highly competitive. They are obsessed with winning. I played ping pong with one of the kids and won. He could not stand it and trained and trained until he could win me(a year or so later). This kid is rich and famous now.
By the way, Success is different for different people. For me success could be not having a boss, working in front of the beach everyday without stress,and able to support my family.
For other people, being successful means earning millions of dollars, even when this means living for work inside a concrete hive watching numbers all day on a computer screen, and not having children until you can pay for a house that you never have time to visit.
There is a lot of survivor bias in the assessment of success.
I believe that successful people tend to have a high base level of intelligence, often high social intelligence, are often very persistent, and rich parents and good looks also help a lot. But it's equally important to happen to be at right place at the right time and meeting the right people.
Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are good examples in my opinion, had they been born ten years later they might have ended up in only moderately successful software business, or selling printers and go out of business by the early 90s, or creating a failed video game console. They started their businesses at exactly the right time, met the right people, and made good decisions in some early, very dynamic and emerging markets.
The argument works regardless of the definition of success used.
That is exactly what Bayes' theorem predicts.
Many other conclusions , erroneously, seem more intuitively right, thou. Statistics is hard to master as our brains biases are strong forces.
― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
A lot of money simply isn't useful for anything interesting or valuable. Surviving is great, some comfort is nice, but after a certain order of magnitude, it's not so much people having money, it's money having people. While large scale projects are also important and those need money and other resources to be pooled in some form, but they don't require any involved person to be filthy rich.
Personal anecdote: I used to be very anxious about making the absolutely "best" choice at every fork in my life and would agonize and analyze every decision meticulously. A few years into my career, I have had enough positive experiences and successes under my belt that I feel much more relaxed about the choices I make because I think I'll always have the ability to correct or pivot if I make one wrong move right now.
Indeed, it would be a poor reflection on our society if you had to be in the top percentile for income to merely be economically secure.
Lots of rich well intentioned people doing harmful good. A tangent, I know.
In non mockery voice: I think there is nothing wrong in being smart and perusing academic titles, wealth or recognition. Can’t I be happy travelling the world because I have so much passive income that I don’t care how much I spend? Can’t I be happy running megacorporation without a child?
Keep the fame, I just want the freedom that money buys. I was never famous; but I have been asked for autographs and been stared at by total strangers with hero worship in their eyes--it is bizarre, and it made me feel extremely uncomfortable. I can't imagine anyone wanting that.
I don't care about being kicked out of the 9-zero club or whatever, I just want to lay about all day or if I want to take a week trip to Kenya or Moscow... and NO BOSS
And I didn’t mean to say that playing with three year old kids in the garden is the only thing that is worth pursuing. It was just an example close to my hearth right now in my life in my circumstances and in my part of the world. Of course there are many other worthy pursuits. My point was only that trying to get a bigger pile of money than other people I don’t consider one of them.
Granted there are some things we shouldn't be happy doing but I think that we all know what they are and it goes without saying.
Social status (consumption, skills and achievements) helps you secure higher quality mates and offers greater security to your offspring. That's why gaining social status, feels worthwhile, but without kids it feels a bit empty.
Before kids, I knew the breeding was pretty good fun, but my genes gave me no indication that having kids would be fun too.
Perhaps thats just to ensure those genes are spread far and wide and to concentrate on social status before the all consuming process of caring for offspring begins.
I disagree. Generally happiness comes from being happy/content/thankful for what you have (as opposed to "having a lot"). You can be happy having no children, no fortune, no fame, etc. Conversely all of these do not guarantee happiness - Robin Williams committed suicide despite having them all, I think it's fair to assume he was not happy.
That's why I added 'Generally' and 'should be found'. It would be fair to say that Robin Williams was ill.
Onne would definitely expect the highly gifted to think/act differently socially as well as in several other areas, but is it actually correct to say they have less "developed skills", except possibly in the sense that they probably has had less reason to, and fever opportunities to develop these skills with their peers?
Besides, “Mo money, mo problems”. I have a couple thousand square feet of house, few thousand square feet of yard and garden. It’s way too much for just me, I have a dedicated VR room. Billionaire or bust mentality is a sickness.
Take Benjamin Netanhau as an example. The guy is very wealthy and successful. I think he graduated from both Harvard and MIT. (Although one degree might be an MBA that anyone with money can do). However, he is married to a psycopat who controls his life and is hated by everyone around them. I don't even want to talk about his son. Do I want his life? Hell no!
But I dislike the common implication in the headline, which is that intelligence somehow always equates to wealth.
First of all, it's not always easy to judge how wealthy another person is, no matter their profession or outward appearance.
Secondly, I think we all need to disuade ourselves of the notion that everyone in the world wants to become wealthy. Plenty of extremely intelligent people are perfectly happy where they are and are perhaps smarter for not chasing wealth like all those genius entrepreneurs. Just look at the lives of those we idolize so much for their success. Do you really want that life? A lot don't. And there is a good chance people more intelligent than those "successful" people don't want that life either.
Additionally, I know quite a few wealthy people that are rather dim. But they were hard workers and an opportunity presented itself because they were at the right place at the right time and they took advantage of that opportunity and worked it dry.
Let's say you are a genius OCD person being elated by seeing the numbers on your bank accounts go up and nothing much else. You live 60-90 years and at the end you have some big number there. In this case you were successful.
Let's say you are a more typical person, you'll probably have a larger set of reward functions and they may even change over time. Having money on the account to be able to cover costs and do some vanity spending is definitely rewarding to a point - until it becomes hollow. But then there are all those other reward functions, like maintaining a family, seeing your kids grow up, see the world, play games, learn new things and maybe build or invent a thing or two. Maybe just shine as a social focal point or any number of other things. Maybe just watching turtles in various environments.
The only thing that we can't extend as a reward function is acquiring more time, like money on the bank account. So balancing the reward functions for a reasonable contentedness with life is generally what we strive to do, even if we don't spell it out that way.
We start young and see all the possibilities and the scarceness of time is not a pressing matter - reward functions are more about enjoying life. Then with a family you see time passing, become more aware of it. You learn from the things you messed up and know that some things can't be fixed and your reward function will become more about stability and preservation.
And then you die.
> the author uses a witty title on an article on business strategy
> the HN poster keeps the title almost verbatim, as is tradition
> people in the thread commence writing about the title instead of the article's content
So it goes.
To me, this seems as preposterous as asking “if you’re so smart, why are you so bad at playing the violin, or why aren’t you a Hollywood movie star, or why can’t you run a 4 minute mile, or why don’t you have a million Twitter followers?”
Even if we make the questionable assumption that the very concept of general intelligence (something like what an IQ test purports to show) is sensible, why would we assume that it correlates positively with success in any conceivable discipline?
Money is just one example. The baseline is "if you are so smart why how come you don't have a better life", this can be more money, a better job, more time for your children, a hotter wife for some.
If you don't like the materialistic versions, My personal version of it is "if you are so smart why are you complaining so much instead of fixing your problems"..
Now having this established, your examples of playing the violin and Hollywood stars doesn't make any sense. They are reading the relation backwards. The implication holds the other way round.
If we can't assume that Hollywood stars or concert violinists are intelligent (even if not all intelligent people can be those things), then why would it naturally be so with financially successful people?
The examples still make sense under the premise that the assumption is off.
But saying that all concert violinists are intelligent is something different than saying that everybody, who is intelligent, is a concert violinist.
X usually being the work of two (below) average Joe developers which can be done in a few weeks. And there you are, sitting and wondering how to build something big.
Which is another common mistake: people rarely become rich overnight and it's a gradual process. You are looking at people who are light years ahead of you, while the route to success is a tight and windy mountain road, full of crests and dips. Looking at the people standing on the mountain peak isn't productive and doesn't give you any valuable information. It's those who are one or two corners ahead of you that you need to be looking at.
Correction: there is actually a rather strong correlation .
Of course it is not a perfect correlation and a lot depends on other factors like luck or hard work. So out of a billion people you can always point to millions who are outliers.
> While awaiting Canadian documentation, Musk attended the University of Pretoria for five months. Once in Canada, Musk entered Queen's University in 1989, avoiding mandatory service in the South African military. He left in 1992 to study economics and physics at the University of Pennsylvania; he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and a Bachelor of Science degree in physics.[failed verification]
A good parallel to this is the music industry, actually: yes, there is a significant amount of luck in “making it.” But you cannot deny that talent is one of the strongest predictors: at the very least, talent is the bar to entry.
Also, you have a couch, and get to sit on it, that's a lucky thing to do.
To be lazy is an indulgence that not all unlucky people have.
Edit: I don't know who downvoted me, but this is the definition of luck according to Google: "success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one's own actions"
It’s like playing blackjack. Ultimately, it all comes down to luck, but you are significantly increasing your chances of winning by employing certain (legitimate) strategies rather than playing your hand randomly and hoping for luck to hit you.
Otherwise by definition it is not luck, but a high chance of winning.