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From homeless drug user to millionaire (msn.com)
32 points by senthil_rajasek on July 12, 2008 | hide | past | web | favorite | 47 comments

I think we all kind of missed the boat by focusing on the one comment about Christianity.

This man went from doing heroin to running a multimillion dollar software business. Perhaps there are more important distinguishing factors than the religion he happens to share with 2.1 billion people, the majority of which do not start successful software companies.

The point that I found interesting and hopefully other budding entrepreneurs would too, is how he created a niche...

"We had written all this software. The best was our warehouse and distribution package. I had been using it for years in my own stuff. We decided to try selling it. I thought it would be like the paint: I'd just go out there and introduce myself, distributors would pick it up, and I'd be home free. Well, I had a rude awakening. When those big boys are in there, they just stomp you. I realized I had to have a niche."

"It wasn't like I was real flush with cash. Pretty much all my career I was undercapitalized. I borrowed on my home equity and loaded up my credit cards."

Risk rewarded. Takes guts to do that in your 40s.

That reminds me of this article: http://nukemanbill.blogspot.com/2008/06/how-to-sell-your-sof... where the author discusses finding niches to sell big dollar software. Good stuff.

Agreed. I think that's the key point to this whole article. Too bad the discussion focused on the Christianity part.

If you found a lot of value in this article, check out their website (http://www.horizonsoftware.com/). Although it's not interesting, unless you are interested in successful, multi million dollar software startups.

"I knew a lot of the chemists and taught myself about the chemistry of paint. In my spare time, I was a wildlife artist. There wasn't a good airbrush paint on the market. Everybody was using automotive lacquers. I spent about two years developing one for myself."

He's a closet engineer! He just needed some impetus.

The effect such stories have on me:

1.) Men of chasing their dreams which passion don't lose.

2.) If they lose, they will hitback with a win sometime.

3.) These kind of stories remind me to keep trying even if I lose a dozen times trying to build a million dollar company(which I am still trying).

Senthil, thanks for sharing this.

You had me at "Oranges instead of Snickers bars."

Junk Food isn't going to hurt you in moderation. I used to get Pepsis once a week when I stayed after school for Chess Club and it didn't kill me. My school would have been up in arms if all the self-righteous anti-junkfood moralizing busybodies around today took that away from us.

Junk Food isn't going to hurt you in moderation.





My school would have been up in arms if all the self-righteous anti-junkfood moralizing busybodies around today took that away from us.

What you call "self righteous anti-junkfood moralizing busybodies", I call "taxpayers". They get to decide what's available in the public facilities they pay for, not you.

>They get to decide what's available in the public facilities they pay for, not you.

Ah, I had a feeling that I was a de facto prisoner while I was there. I wasn't aware that it was official.

For what it's worth, I'm a taxpayer too, and I support giving kids responsibility for their own lives and teaching them to make decisions for themselves. But then again, most people consider me a crazy whacko radical who's not worth listening too. Opinions such as "kids should learn responsibility" tend to get one shunned from polite company nowadays.

My parents are also taxpayers, and I'm pretty sure they didn't care if I drank Coke or not. In fact, the abusive bastards even bought me a soda and an ice cream every now and then. Gasp!

I had a head-on collision and very nearly was killed. While I was in the hospital I read the Bible and became a Christian.

Yay for Christianity. It can help people.

The head-on collision and near death probably did a lot more than reading the Bible. This guy becoming a Christian was more a part of the process than the triggering factor.

Near-death experiences often have a profound effect on people's lives.

Say what you will about Christianity, it does encourage people to lead clean lives and reinforces that message with effective social pressure. To people with certain kinds of problems that can be incredibly helpful. There's a reason why Christianity has so many turn-around stories.

"There's a reason why Christianity has so many turn-around stories."

In absolute terms, sure, because there are lots of Christians and of course some of them will have a turn-around story.

But if you take the ratio of turn-around/number of Christians and compared that to other religions or atheists I'm not sure you'd get a very impressive number.

This is all because of confirmation bias again. It's easier to see the couple thousands of success stories attributed to a religion than the millions of failures we don't hear about.

Discipline is good for a certain kind of person. Religion provides discipline for those who have no self-discipline.

I don't see why so many on this thread need to convince themselves that religion never helps people. It does. I've seen it. Does it help everyone? Probably not. Is it a net positive for society as a whole? I don't think so. However, it clearly and surely helps some people some of the time.

I don't have any numbers, just personal anecdotes, but I've sure seen people saved by religion who would otherwise probably be dead, and I'm a hardcore atheist radical.

>Yay for Christianity. It can help people.

I hear that if you're ever in prison you should join the church so you can get paroled faster.

America is way too religious. It's seriously scary that a developed country is still deeply religious.

I think you are conflating dogma with religion, which is a common error for both the faithful and the godless.

Using words "faithful" and "godless" is sort of irritating to me. It's a little one sided.

So is assuming that religion and development ought to be antithetical.

Studies do show uneducated and people in 3rd world countries are more likely to be religeous in general.

which ones?

Yes the Bible can and does help people daily. In fact, the Bible has changed my life in the most profound ways. Unfortunately, most folks are too busy scoffing at it to pick it up and give it a read.

Or, we read it, then started scoffing.

Please, do not generalize around these parts about religion.

Actually, you are the one generalizing by saying my comment was about religion. I mentioned nothing of the sort.

Generally when people refer to the bible they are talking about religion. Were you referring to the study of the bible as literature?

Well, the bible is a great literary work and there is no doubting that. Many writers have borrowed from its themes, styles, and prose throughout history (Shakespeare a prominent example).

The reason I say my comment (and my view of the bible) is non-religious is that when one begins to study the bible in detail, he realizes that it is critical of all organized religion, even nominal Christianity.

I don't blame rw for lumping me in with the majority, but he did lump me in, which is generalizing.

The thread was clearly about Christianity, and you were talking about the Christian holy book, and you're going to blame other people for thinking you were saying something to do with religion?

You know, the Bible helped me too! Things like "Don't kill your neighbor"... I never would have came up with this myself!

The Bible is worth a read if you have any interest in history, which most readers here probably do. IIRC it is the most influential literary work in existence, and that alone is a reason to read it.

Um, which part is history: the burning bush part or who begat who?

Wow, what ignorance. The course of civilization has been profoundly influenced by the Abrahamic traditions, and within the Abrahamic holy books lay the recounting of the tribes' histories and developments.

Dude, how do you measure history? Check out the history of the Indians and Asia. While the Abrahamic(s) were a bunch of smelly tribes in the desert, the Asians were already charting the stars.

Smelly? How do you know that?

I made no cross-cultural comparison, I merely suggested that the influence of one group was of great intensity.

Your refutation is kind of like me saying "peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are great!" and you saying "dude, how do you measure greatness? a bowl of french onion soup is better than that child's food -- it is served in restaurants."

You tried to change the argument about the value of the bible as a historical document into an argument about the relative technological achievements of different societies.

>Smelly? How do you know that?

Dude, I'm pretty sure everyone was smelly back then.

Yes, and the Chinese invented the printing press. But what did they do with it - nothing.

It's people like you who inspire me to post examples of Christianity genuinely helping people. I am an atheist, but I don't agree with the hateful or mocking attitude many atheists have.

I expect it's mainly in response to the argument that without religion you cannot have morality which lots of religious types seem to believe.

The hijacking of morality by religious people can be pretty irritating.

While I agree the conclusion isn't true, I have yet to see any modern, public atheists write anything one quarter decent about morality. I have seen some very bad writing about morality, such as in The God Delusion, which can't be helping matters.

If you disagree, post a source.

The us is roughly twice as religeous as the uk. Is it twice as moral? I'd say crime is quite a bit higher in the us.

In my experience growing up in the uk (majority of people are not religeous), the majority DO have a good sense of what is right and wrong.

Oh certainly, I agree. However, the lack of (non-awful) explicit, atheistic writing on morality is still an important problem, and helps religious people get away with denying atheists can be moral. If you are moral, but can't explain why, it's easier for people to doubt.

The annoying thing with religion is that each has a body of good principles which serve to lure new believers, and then after that it's: "Now that you've learned all the good stuff that actually makes sense, here's more 'good stuff'" and then they proceed to teach arbitrary principles and even harmful ones that sometimes completely contradict the actually good principles.

Example: "Don't kill your neighbor." Hey that makes sense, let's become Christian! And then later you read in the Bible that "if your neighbor does X or Y, KILL HIM WITHOUT MERCY!"

As for the problem of inconsistencies in the Bible, the usual response is that you need someone to sort it out for you... But what's the point of having a reference if a big part of it is bullshit and you need someone like a priest to sort it out for you? And then you lose your self-determination...

As for the arbitrary stuff, one good example would be "Don't work on Sundays", though I admit that's not a very popular one anymore. I think it's normal that everyone holds some arbitrary beliefs without good proof but it's appalling when a MASSIVE amount of people standardize on a common body of arbitrary beliefs and then collectively "refute" your rational objections (oftentimes by refering you to "authoritative" sources like the Bible, and then you can never win against "Bible lawyers").

I agree with your complaints, and many other complaints. Christianity is flawed. But the fact remains that in some situations it helps people, and we should respect that.

It's not like any of our traditions are without flaws, and it's not like starting from scratch is better than modifying existing traditions, so be kind to Christians.

sorry you feel that way im not a chrstian but i think most religions can benefit a person if its a fit for them . . as long as they dont try to convert me im cool

feel what way? i wasn't being sarcastic.

I'll go right ahead and bite the karma loss for suggesting that "near death experiences" and perhaps head trauma causes people to lean towards the bible.

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