"The smartest people are constantly revising their understanding, reconsidering a problem they thought they’d already solved. They’re open to new points of view, new information, new ideas, contradictions, and challenges to their own way of thinking."
It is true that this makes it harder for conscientious politicians to legitimately change their mind, though.
: they as singular gender-neutral pronoun FTW
("He" can be used with gender-neutral intent. I dislike using the plural "they" for this purpose.)
Then you and I are on opposite sides of the greatest grammatical battle of our time, my friend.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender-neutral_language_in_Engl... and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender-specific_and_gender-neut...
One can argue that he is technically neutral, but practically speaking the association is always male.
Or they claimed one thing to get elected, and then "changed their mind" post-election.
Um, no it can't.
but I can say that "he" will not be reliably read as gender-neutral.
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, etc.
Basically the theme of Nate Silver's book as well. Don't stick to your forecast in the face of new information that might contradict your forecast.
I had it taped up above my desk at one point.
I like this one:
6. "I very frequently get the question: 'What's going to change in the next 10 years?' And that is a very interesting question; it's a very common one. I almost never get the question: 'What's not going to change in the next 10 years?' And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two -- because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time. ... [I]n our retail business, we know that customers want low prices, and I know that's going to be true 10 years from now. They want fast delivery; they want vast selection. It's impossible to imagine a future 10 years from now where a customer comes up and says, 'Jeff I love Amazon; I just wish the prices were a little higher,' [or] 'I love Amazon; I just wish you'd deliver a little more slowly.' Impossible. And so the effort we put into those things, spinning those things up, we know the energy we put into it today will still be paying off dividends for our customers 10 years from now. When you have something that you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it."
I enjoy the irony of getting his wisdom at a site called Fool.com.
Our name derives from Elizabethan drama, where only the court jester (the "Fool") could tell the King the truth without getting his head lopped off. We're dedicated to educating, amusing, and enriching individuals in search of the truth.
The idea that at 35 I can predict what will or won't please my 80-year-old self is preposterous. The best thing I can do for that guy is make sure he has the resources available to do what makes him happy.
Having said that, this long-term way of thinking about happiness and regrets may conflict with human nature. The vast majority of us are incapable of predicting what will - or will not - make us happy:
- "(...) keeping our prices very, very low, we earn trust with customers over time, and that that actually does maximize free cash flow over the long term." This is violated by luxury goods. Louis Vuitton purses must be expensive, it's part of their "contract" with their customers.
- "There are two kinds of companies: Those that work to try to charge more and those that work to charge less. We will be the second." The alternative is to deliver ever increasing value, at constant prices, which is the very successful strategy at Volkswagen.
Don't take this as it being my opinion that Bezos is wrong. He's my ideal CEO: long term oriented, customer focused, innovation driven. There are faults at Amazon, but in the grand scheme of things, Amazon is a great feat in itself.
That's because the actual product you pay for isn't the bag itself, but a symbol of exclusivity.
That might be strategy for the VW brand, but VW Group very cleverly uses its huge array of brands to segment the market very nicely (SEAT, Skoda, VW, Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini, Bentley, Bugatti).
- Bill Gates, for MS strategy during the 90s. Evil and Borg-esque but ultra effective.
- Steve Jobs, for Pixar and the early 00s turnaround at Apple.
- Elon Musk, not so much for co-founding PayPal, but rather because of Tesla
Now that I'm at it, let me nominate the worst CEO: Eric Schmidt. Title earned for destroying engineer culture at three great companies: Novell, Sun and Google. Novell and Sun tanked, Google will be the first to survive Schmidt's effects, albeit scarred. There are financially worse CEOs, but Schmidt attacked companies that I particularly liked with the same repeat effects.
"When Sun folks get together and bullshit about their theories of why Sun died, the one that comes up most often is another one of these supplier disasters. Towards the end of the DotCom bubble, we introduced the UltraSPARC-II. Total killer product for large datacenters. We sold lots. But then reports started coming in of odd failures."
I hated Novell with the passion of a billion burning novas. As only a NetWare admin could. So I was happy to see them tank.
I vaguely recall that Ray Noorda wanted to take on Microsoft, so went on a spending spree to acquire an Office competitor, completely ignoring their NetWare and GroupWise (?) offerings, allowing Microsoft to get traction in both applications servers and directory services.
Is he responsible? One is bad luck, two is coincidence, three is a trend.
P.S. No, I don't think Google will financially collapse. Not while there is no strong competition on the AdWords space. The change in culture is pretty obvious, though.
I'm skeptical about whether this is true in a straightforward way.
For one thing, most of the complaining about the (relative) decline in engineer-centric culture at Google has happened since, oh, about six months after Larry returned to the CEO position. More wood behind fewer arrows, big push on G+, more shutdowns, more constraints on 20% time, etc. (... although I have no personal experience of Google under Schmidt)
For another thing, if Sergey is engaged in anything other than his (awesome!) blue-sky projects in X, he puts a lot of work into hiding it. Seriously. Don't get me wrong, I'm willing to give him a thumbs-up, if he's going to keep putting his capital (financial, social, and political) into socially transformative projects. But I would not describe him as engaged with basically anything web-related (search, ads, social, android, etc).
Also, you seem a little confused about X. X is a tiny fraction of engineers, and as such it's not clear what it has to do with "bringing in top engineers". I mean, unless you mean "bringing in top engineers and preventing them from working on money-making projects". And also, btw, it's mostly within the Mountain View office complex.
This post probably gives the wrong impression. I'm long GOOG, and I think X is awesome, and I think Google is still doing more good than harm. But I believe these in spite of the other stuff I mentioned here, not because of "original founders who remain extremely engaged", especially in the context of sergiosgc's comments.
>>Also, you seem a little confused about X. X is a tiny fraction of engineers, and as such it's not clear what it has to do with "bringing in top engineers".
I'm also aware of this. Being a tiny fraction of engineers shouldn't preclude it from bringing in top engineers, correct? Top engineers are a tiny fraction of engineers in the total population, so this seems like a good sign to me.
>>if Sergey is engaged in anything other than his (awesome!) blue-sky projects in X, he puts a lot of work into hiding it
Again, I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing. I don't disagree that Google is no longer the engineering paradise company-wide that it used to be. However, you worry about not having engineers on money making projects. I disagree that the X lab is not a money making project. They don't have revenue goals and targets in the way that most places would, but I can't imagine something better for Google's long term bottom line than things like Project Loon being successful, or becoming the first mover in the self-driving car world.
>>For one thing, most of the complaining about the (relative) decline in engineer-centric culture at Google has happened since, oh, about six months after Larry returned to the CEO position.
You may be right about this. I don't totally know. I do know that Eric Schmidt doesn't have Larry's credibility as an engineer, and this original thread was about Schmidt's destruction of engineering culture, not Larry's. For all the worry about the reduction in 20% time and all the stuff that Google does that drives me nuts (G+, shutting down Reader - that one still hurts), they still have the X lab working on moon shots being driven by a founder. Come to think of it, the X lab may have replaced 20% time as Google's innovation lab (not saying I agree with that, there is a place for innovation and improvements in non-moonshots too, this is just a thought I had as I wrote this out).
Regarding the rest, good list. Regarding the previous geneeration I would add the TPS guys from Toyota.
As for Eric Schmidt, I can't neither agree nor dosagree since I'm lacking the necessary insight.
I'm afraid the case for Steve Jobs is stronger than that. He founded Apple and made it successful. Then, while others drove it into the ground again, he made Pixar successful (not to mention minor success with NeXT), then turned Apple from a company in serious trouble, into the biggest company in the world.
By all accounts he was a tremendous jerk, but you can't argue with that level of success.
Very scary and very aggressive. Also, smart (if you can pull off that sort of thing).
> 7. "If you're not stubborn, you'll give up on experiments too soon. And if you're not flexible, you'll pound your head against the wall and you won't see a different solution to a problem you're trying to solve."
Making a note to tell this to my kids.
> 14. "[don't] get addicted to being shiny, because shiny doesn't last."
This one, too, sounds like a good general-purpose life advice.
Isn't that just Microeconomics 101?
I would not want to work for a company whose explicit strategy is locating other successful businesses, copying their model, and leveraging economies of scale to undercut them. Wringing out margins also decreases innovation, lowers wages, and drives out all but the biggest players.
Here's another brutal, but far more appealing strategy: "Your lack of vision, imagination, and agility is my opportunity." Execute it properly, and you revolutionize the industry instead of commoditizing it.
And most of innovation is payed for by cash instead of mergin anyway. I, for my part, like that strategy.
Because, you know, resilience - if you think of it in terms of the Gold Rush, then you'd be pretty depressed right now because the last nugget of gold would be gone. But the good thing is, with innovation, there isn't a last nugget. Every new thing creates two new questions and two new opportunities.
Smartness is a gift, kindness is a choice.(paraphrased)
If it means intelligence (which is what I think it means in this context), I do believe it is not yet possible to "choose" to be born free of debilitating mental conditions.
This made me think of facebook.
"Good intentions never work, you need good mechanisms to make anything happen"
"We did studies and we didn't listen to them"
7. "If you're not stubborn, you'll give up on experiments too soon. And if you're
not flexible, you'll pound your head against the wall and you won't see a different
solution to a problem you're trying to solve."
This may be true of some companies, but we can see that Apple is quite successful at making products which continuously make last year's invention seem outdated. Of course, if making highly polished products takes a huge toll on your resources and impedes your greater strategy, then you may be better off not being "shiny".
Apple has lasted 37 years, and has a cash balance of 150 billion dollars. Jeff Bezos' Amazon is 19 years old and has a low cash balance due to famously razor thin margins.
Apple's model is clearly sustainable for them, but not necessarily for others. Do you disagree with that?
With regards to the new iPhones not being shiny enough, perhaps you should withhold judgement until the devices go on sale.
Personally, my perception of Apple switched when the iPhone came out in 2007. Other people became interested in 2003 or so. Either way, Apple's shine is around 10 years old, and is starting to fade already.
I think that the iPod taught Apple how to perfect their iterative process and release their innovations in discrete amounts which maximize profits and gives them time to work on their next big product category.
I too believe that Steve Jobs played a great role in making Apple exciting in the first place and bringing that excitement back after it faded away. However, don't you think that we should wait a few more years before determining whether or not Steve set up any precautions or learned from Apple's mistakes the first time around?
Apple's second wind is also correlated with the amount of influence that Jonathan Ive has had at Apple, which as we know is higher than ever right now.
The comments in the iOS6 vs iOS7 thread are almost all variations of "now it looks like Android/WP8". That's not a good perception for Apple, even if it's not a fair perception for people to have.
Given that most people say that WP8 is radically different from Android, it makes no sense that people would say that iOS7 looks like both of them simultaneously, unless it has somehow captured the best of all 3 operating systems.
And I don't think there'd be as much self selection compared to say, /r/android. We should have a pretty general group of people here.
As to self selection - I don't know what the composition of HN in general is, but once a thread starts echoing an illogical emotive position, people who have a different view that is complex to articulate just stay away. I'm not saying HN itself is biased (although it may be), just that individual submissions become self selecting based on the tenor of early comments.
"If you're long-term oriented, customer interests and shareholder interests are aligned."
This statement smelled like bullshit since large successful corporations don't tend to be incredibly ethical. The fast food industry has an interest in making you eat shitty food with a smile: this is not in the customer's interest (i.e. health), but because customer perception is what matters it's a great business decision, even in the long term.
I also noticed I was subconsciously confusing his statement with the claim that shareholder interests and society's interests are aligned. And it's a radically different question indeed, because Bezo's statement completely ignores employees. Yes, there is tremendous pressure to deliver consumer and shareholder value, but there is no pressure to deliver value to the kind of disposable workforce that Amazon needs. We all know what kind of workplace Amazon is.
Sorry if this is all a bit incoherent, but I'm curious about how CEOs of big companies really feel about ethical questions. It can't possibly be all rainbows and candy.
I noticed this, too. If you don't pay close attention it seems like he's saying there are not ethical concerns if you think long-term, but the statement is actually narrower than that. In addition to employees, there can also be people with no involvement with or even knowledge of the business who are affected by negative externalities.
"We should set up on a reservation. Taxes are for little people."
Possibly because he might not have worded it like that.
2. Require your 2 party sellers to tell customers up front
about the availability of an item.
3. Require sellers to state more than they just paid for shipping.
5. Oh yea--the company's main phone line needs "to be set up" at least today.