Change The World, Make Money, Or Be Happy
Nov 13 2011

Buddha Stone Statue in China

How often can people do/experience all of the above?  There are people who have changed the world (e.g., Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, etc.) who didn’t make a lot of money and we won’t ever know if they were truly happy, healthy or content.  There are people who changed the world and made a lot of money (e.g., Oprah, Steve Jobs, Madonna, Lady Ga Ga, Michael Dell, Bill Gates, etc.) but we don’t know how happy or content they are or were.  Oprah has been the most open about her struggles with personal satisfaction and her weight…the businessmen, not so much.

Do we have to deal with having one or two out of three?  I think I can count on one hand the people who appeared to have all three but if you dig a little further…  Check out a recent post on TechCrunch called 10 Things Entrepreneurs Don’t Learn in College.  All very true, the second being “How To Be Betrayed,” which happens all of the time in business (and politics) whether you are a man, woman, or a duck.  I clicked over to the authors (James Altucher) post on how to be lucky and it made me wonder if he had kids because he advises getting up at 4 or 5 a.m. every day and to bed by 9:30 pm with exercising and eating right in between.  Maybe I’ll figure out how to do that when I’m 50 and the kids are gone.  I guess that’s why some are more monetary successful than others…early bird gets the worm!

The saying “you can have it all, but just not all at the same time” must be true.  So it seems the thing we have the most control over is how we feel: happy, sad, content, angry, etc.  We can try to change the world but there’s no telling what numerous things will be thrown in our path.  We can try to make tons of money, but a lot of shit happens (e.g., kids, health issues, the economy, marriage, divorce, love, hate, indifference, parents) trying to do that.  But we will usually find ways to make enough to get by or we become comfortable with a lot of debt.

I was reminded during my recent trip to China that Buddha, who was born and originally spread his philosophy in India before his teachings were embraced by the Chinese, taught that at the root of all suffering was desire (for a person, place, thing, success, money, etc.).  As I understand it, he said that if you gave up the desire for earthly things or status that would be the only way you could eventually achieve enlightenment.  He certainly changed the world and was arguably content/enlightened but was not rich by American standards.

I guess it depends on what age you are, your genetic disposition, and what cards life has dealt you as to whether you believe you can achieve all three at the same time for a substantial length of time…

Author: | Filed under: bill gates, entrepreneurship, mother, steve jobs | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Anger And Fear
Sep 25 2011

I’ve written a lot about love, laughter, and heartache on my blog, but not much about anger or fear.  Those are hard emotions to write about.  Most of us were taught not to let our anger show and that we should control it.  But we’ve seen a few people in our life and on TV lose their cool.  We’re told there’s no reason to be afraid.  There’s no such thing as ghosts.  There’s nothing under your bed.  It seems to me that those two feelings/emotions have big hairy monsters in our minds associated with them.  They can sometimes be more irrational than real because most of us are not being chased by sharks or big hungry bears, but when we feel these emotions, they feel so real!  They can paralyze us.  They cause stress.  They cause health problems.  They can make us think we are not good enough or not worthy of love and happiness.

Entrepreneurs and pretty much anyone who has a job and/or is a full time parent face these demons every day.  It’s how we deal with it and how we treat others that counts.  Compassion can alleviate fears.  Empathy and encouragement can help people achieve things they never thought they could.  Fear and Anger can make people get things done (e.g., dark ages, torture, and slaves who built the Egyptian pyramids) but it can make them sick and unhappy at the same time.  It can cause a ripple effect on society, on their spouse, or their kids.  If people are unhappy at work, it has been shown they are more abusive at home and don’t treat their co-workers well.  I believe encouraging, loving environments create exponentially better outcomes.  Is it because I’m a woman?  I don’t think so.  I think Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, many great business leaders, and Gandhi felt the same way.  Maybe they don’t get as much media attention but go find the places in your city that are consistently voted the best places to work and you’ll see successful businesses with great leaders who care, trust, and believe in their employees.

We are all flawed humans, but the thing that keeps us connected is empathy and love.  Without that connection and belief in each other, we might as well be on an island alone or dead.  We can start businesses and scare people to do what we think they should, but the best will leave because in the modern world they have other choices than to be beaten & downtrodden and to lay bricks while being whipped.  You’ll end up with “yes men/women” who are too afraid to tell you what’s really going on because they are scared for their livelihoods.  But you’ll be surprised at the psychology of some of us humans because a lot of us don’t realize our genius.  I’ll leave you with a quote from Jeffry Fry’s daily email he sent out July 16, 2011 that’s still in my inbox and printed & pasted to the pillar near my cube at work:

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid.”    –Albert Einstein

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, entrepreneurship | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence
Dec 21 2010

I mentioned I had a post brewing in my head about this fortune cookie “statement” (i.e., not a fortune) in a prior post.  I actually did see a real fortune the other day that said something like “The love of your life is just around the corner,” but sadly I did not open that cookie, our office manager (who has been married almost 20 years) at work did, so maybe she is re-discovering the love of her life. :-)

Love is a strange emotion or thing or state of being.  It can be like a drug just like in the movie Love and Other Drugs I just saw.  It doesn’t often make sense.  People love Apple’s iPhone but if you did the practical analysis, the Google Android phone might be better.  In other words people’s imagination of the iPhone triumphs over hard data (i.e., intelligence).  Or there might even be a better phone option than that.  But people fall in love seemingly all of a sudden and sometimes there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to why but some people like Steve Jobs seem to know how to push the buttons of a significant enough portion of the population and get them to fall in love with his ideas/products.  Selling to consumers is a tough job because we are fickle.  We can fall in and out of love (or is that “like”) of products pretty easily.   Probably because society doesn’t look kindly on us falling in and out of love with people, so we project that piece of our humanity onto objects.  No one will judge you or make you feel guilty for falling in and out of love with certain products.  I just came up with that piece of philosophy/wisdom so take it for what it’s worth!

Hugh McLeod (@gapingvoid) loves to cartoon about LOVE and I love the poignancy of his love cartoons.  Jeffrey Fry sent out a quote recently: “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.” –Mother Teresa.

When people fall in love (infatuation), they certainly overlook the practical/potentially annoying things about something or someone (e.g., you have to keep re-booting the phone, but it looks pretty, it gives you good info on how to get places, and it gives you games to play or if it’s a person for some period of time you don’t see their flaws because he or she makes you feel special/noticed or it seems like they really see or understand you.).

The very few times I’ve fallen in romantic love in my life, I’ve been completely blind sided by it.  Knocked over like a ton of bricks.  Silly and stupid.  And on some occasions, I never even had a relationship with the guy – guess I’m just a romantic at heart and they somehow happened to connect with the combination of my mind/heart, which is very hard to do.  When I’ve fallen out of love, it seems to have happened over time and not suddenly after disappointment, disconnection, pain, and just the exhaustion that comes along with daily living.  I’m not trying to say I believe in ‘love at first site’ because I don’t, but that moment when you realize you love someone or ‘something’ seems to just happen without any warning.  One day you don’t have much feeling toward someone or you don’t know what you feel and the next you find you are in love with them.  Which has led me to the conclusion that we are not meant to love just one person (romantically) our entire lives.  I can see Jeffrey Fry reading this and thinking that I don’t know what true love is yet because he has studied it and apparently knows what it is.  He’s probably right, I don’t know.

There are people in ‘arranged marriages’ who grow to love each other and there are people who had ‘love marriages’ that didn’t work out.  It’s all that stuff that happens (and doesn’t happen) in between the years, the kids, the jobs, behind closed doors, etc. that I guess makes some marriages “work” and others don’t.  The same is true for business start-ups but currently the odds of a marriage making it to “death do us part” is higher (4o to 50%) than a small business making it 50 years (< 10%).  Plus, more people change their jobs and companies they work for now than they did 30+ years ago.  Go figure.

But the closest I’ve come to experiencing true love is the love I feel for my children, and yes the intensity of my love for them did surprise me at first.  And although they sometimes annoy the heck out of me (any parent who says their kids have not annoyed them at some point is a liar), I cannot even imagine a day where I would fall out of love with them.  I can see a day I may not like them sometimes, especially if they do something naughty or talk back to me, but I believe that I will always love them and do my best to support them.

I wonder if it’s harder to fall in or out of love?  That is the question.

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, Just For Fun, marketing, marriage | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »