Sunday, August 20, 2006


"Niniane, I need to figure out what project to do after my current one. Well, maybe if this one really takes off, I'll go about it more relaxed."

"You already created something hugely successful! Why not relax from that?"

"I want to know that I can do it for something other than this one thing."

"Ah, you want to know that it's repeatable. Not just a fluke."

"Yeah. You know, every billionaire should have to undergo a test where we strip them of their money, connections, and fame, and they have to start from nothing and prove that they can become a billionaire again. Until they've done this two or three times, they shouldn't get our respect."

"Yeah ... they ARE far more impressive if their success is repeatable. For example, you know Warren Buffett would be able to do it."

"Except that he's 70 already."

"Ignoring that. Steve Jobs can do it too -- he basically already did, with Pixar and NeXT. And Oprah can too."

"Martha Stewart?"

"Yeah. But Larry Ellison, probably not."


ArC said...

I gotta disagree. "Even" a "fluke" win like Oracle is qualitatively different from winning a lottery, and I think such a success would deserve some respect.

BTW, what's Jobs' connection to DEC? I know about Apple, NeXT, and Pixar (and the Pixar-Disney acquisition/merger) but DEC?

Anonymous said...

Jobs never had anything to do with DEC. I knew that, and I'm younger than you.

Anonymous said...

Why should we give someone our respect just because they earn a whole lot of money? That is so much more respectable it is to take care of your family and do the honorable thing instead of going for the big promotion or destroying others to make big money.

ArC said...

"Why should we give someone our respect just because they earn a whole lot of money?"

That's a good point. But I think building something massive, whether it's the Brooklyn Bridge or a big corporation or even just a big pile of holdings (the way Buffett did it -- methodically rather than by one stroke of completely out-of-his-control luck), is worthy of some respect. In any (constructive) human endeavour, if someone excels at it, then some recognition is due, no?

Besides, "repeatability" also seems like somewhat of a misconception. For example, consider a star actor -- he or she may be incredibly successful in box office revenues, but in terms of creating new characters, they might be limited to the point of "playing themselves" all the time. Is that a series of distinct successes or just the same one over an extended time?

Philipp said...

Let's pretend for a second success would be a completely random, 50/50 thing -- half the people succeed and half the people fail. Now let's take 1000 people.

* 500 will be successful.
* 250 will have repeat successes.
* 125 will have 3 times success.
* 63 will have 4 times success.
* (and so on)

I guess what I'm saying is Steve Jobs might be a lucky loser ;)

PS: There's actually a scam working this way. Send 1000 people a stock tip, e.g. stock goes up tomorrow. 500 people will see you're a scam, the other 500 will start to get interested. Repeat this for a couple of times and you end up with a couple of people who think you're able to tell the future, as every of your tips was a success, and who now pay you high amounts for that next tip...

Anonymous said...

which would be the greater wish... "repeatability" in work, or in love. Of course, in love, we should be happy with one great success and forlorn if we lose it. In work, isn't one great success enough? The rest is vanity.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the better test is: is your work still relevant 1,000 years from now? I mean, look at Rome -- huge empire, lots of subjects, ran the world, and -- now gone.

All is vanity ;)

ArC said...

"I mean, look at Rome -- huge empire, lots of subjects, ran the world, and -- now gone."

I thought some of their aqueducts still work to this day. That ain't bad.

Anonymous said...

"I mean, look at Rome -- huge empire, lots of subjects, ran the world, and -- now gone."

Well, apart from the Latin alphabet we are using at this very moment, Roman law (the base of all civil law systems in the world), or the Latin language in general (according to wikipedia "six out of every ten commonly-used English words are derived, directly or indirectly, from Latin.")

I'd say that's quite an impact.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I don't think that will happen with Google.