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Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Start with the Right Attitude

A more specific subtitle for this book could have been: the Art of Research Entrepreneurship. But, how many of you would care, and, anyway, that is far too limiting, for the whole point of this book and final guide is to aid in preparing the foundation to help you make this a better world. If all of this succeeded for me in competitive surroundings with brilliant people and a stultifying bureaucracy, success should be more easily attained in a “lesser” ecosystem manned by a bunch of losers, with your personally meaningful crusade where your goal can be more magnificent. After all, energy or ocean resources are about as prosaic as you can get. If it so happens that you are among those losers, this could be the last chance to justify your reason for being.

The first stage of decision-making is to determine whether you truly wish to take a monumental step and dedicate yourself to accomplish an epic goal. I suspect that, perhaps, only 10% of anyone reading this has the ambition and drive to even consider this option. Parents are busy taking care of their family and making ends meet. Nothing wrong with being an ordinary citizen, for you will live 13 years longer and are four times less likely to commit suicide compared to the typical celebrity. (By the way, I noticed that the book from which this quote came from can today be bought from for 1 penny.) But, suppose this is your one and only life. Just surviving seems, somehow, empty. Go ahead, try something!

For most you, if this is your first time, select a small, even almost trivial target, such as becoming the mother hen for compact fluorescent lamps, by, first, replacing all your incandescent bulbs with the latest conservation technology, but, more so, convincing those around you to do the same. It would help for you to encourage with some background information, so start by going to GOOGLE and type in “compact fluorescent lamps,
Wikipedia.” Or, another simple difference you can make is for you to follow-up with your child’s teacher about the “one marshmallow child,” and what the class is doing to convert that student into a two marshmallow child. Who knows where this will lead.  (This study was initiated in the 60's by Walter Mischel, left, when he was at Stanford University.)

For those who did the small stuff, and want more, and for the few who truly want to make a big difference, keep in mind that you will not be able to do it alone. Your ability to orchestrate can leverage your base. As underscored in the chapter on education, first, almost forget what you learned in school.  (Most courses teach you to get the best possible grade, that, is looking out only for yourself.) An important key to success will be to cultivate the right people working together in common purpose. But why would anyone listen to you? What is it that can set you up to take on any leadership role? In the salesmanship of teaming, there is something about good attitude that always works. Conversely, the wrong approach can royally screw up anything. There are books on these subjects, but let me provide just a few examples to get you going:

1.     To attain success, work hard at it, but don’t do anything illegal or shoot yourself in the foot (the latter, from An Wang, right, founder of Wang Laboratories, a board member of an organization I helped start).

2.     On the very few things you can control, do the best job possible: be on time, say thank you, smile a lot, show enthusiasm, etc.

3.     Regularly and carefully take risks, but remember to protect your feet (see above) and learn from your mistakes, because if you try anything different, you will no doubt fail now and then, if not regularly.

4.     Always make that extra effort and take that extra step or two or three.  If you think you are right, be persistent without being a pest. 

5.     Think, as, for example, something lawyers learn: never ask a question if there is any chance that you won’t like the answer or be limited by that response. Also, be free about asking for assistance, for almost everyone really does want to be helpful.

6.     Sincerely give credit when due, and take as little as possible. Also, too, personal relationships are more important than the attainment of any goals. Many times they conflict with each other. The choice to take should be obvious: stick with people.

7.     For any reasonable task, you need a group of individuals from different organizations, and it’s more effective if the whole village worked together. The 2004 Olympic basketball results showed how much teamwork matters. America had the stars, but we lost (well, they won the bronze). Sport teams learn this lesson, but, unfortunately, and unconsciously, schools teach us to look out mostly for #1…me…you…ourselves. It will take a monumental shift in attitude for you to eliminate this flaw by leaning towards us.

8.     It makes sense to trust others to do what you could have if you had more time, for you will never have enough to do everything well yourself. Then, too, most people around you actually can do certain things better than you.

9.     Use good judgment by becoming invaluable to those around you and consider every interaction as an opportunity to build friendships. However, learn how to say no without alienation.

10.  Use uncommon sense: understand, but do not be stymied, by life’s contradictions: never lie, but you don’t need to necessarily publicize certain truths; even without sufficient information (which is at least 90% of the time), make a decision, except for 5% of the time when no decision is the right one; never give up, but, sometimes, you must; and, while integrity is really important, you can’t allow people who don’t deserve it to run all over you, so, find a way. Most never get to appreciate the value of using common sense, which is a synonym for uncommon sense.

11.  Neutralize the negatives, with only one example being: avoid insulting or embarrassing anyone, for these are the ones who will come back to bite you.

12.  Enjoy life! Success comes with good health, both physical and mental, not only for you, but for your family and those around you.

Ah, a good dozen attitude pointers you can weave into your mission. These are not the LESSONS, which will come next, but the controlling attitudes for success.

Wow, the Dow Jones Industrials shot up 187 (+1.5%) to 12,454, while world markets also all did well, with Germany jumping by 3%.  GOLD HIT ANOTHER ALL-TIME HIGH, up $12/toz to $1506, breaking $1500 for the first time, ever.  But the Wall Street Journal is worried.  The NYMEX is at $111/barrel (hmm, what's wrong with that graph on the right??) and Brent Spot $124/barrel.  Bloomberg predicted this last week when Saudi Arabia reduced production, citing the market surplus.  Market surplus???


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