Bob Sutton’s ‘Ten Things I Believe’ is one of the best blog posts I’ve ever read

Stanford B-School professor, author* and great blogger Bob Sutton has just posted a list of business (and life) principles I think I’ll get tattoo’d somewhere.

Just a few highlights:

6. Getting a little power can turn you into an insensitive self-centered jerk.

7. Avoid pompous jerks whenever possible. They not only can make you feel bad about yourself, chances are that you will eventually start acting like them.

8. The best test of a person’s character is how he or she treats those with less power.

9. Err on the side of optimism and positive energy in all things.

*Link to my Amazon.com affiliate store.

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The secret of success

Actually, there is no secret. It’s as old as the punch line of the old joke about the tourist asking the New York cab driver how to get to Carnegie Hall: “Practice, practice, practice.” Pulling together evidence of the obvioius, Fortune’s Geoffrey Colvin provides some required reading on the current research on the topic. I think most of us would prefer to believe that success is random, or reserved only for some super-talented genius or gifted artist or thinker, or, better yet, luck. However, this quote from the article about sums it up:

“You are not a born CEO or investor or chess grandmaster. You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. And not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that’s demanding and painful.”

Update: Ironically, I just ran across a survey of 200 U.S. entrepreneurs (link to PDF of survey results) that says they believe an “innate drive” is the basis of their entrepreneurial bent. I guess that’s like having it both ways: Working hard, practicing, determination are the keys to success. But one has to be born with an “innate drive” to do those things. This is why I don’t like surveys. You send out a survey to 200 entrepreneurs and ask, “to what do you attribute your entrepreneurial bent?” Of course, they will say they were born with it. Just because the majority of respondents have no clue why they do the things they do, does that make their answer correct? Unless they’ve been through years of psychoanalysis, chances are the survey takers have no idea why they are motivated to do what they do, so of course they say it is innate. Sorry for the rant. Don’t know what got into me this afternoon. I suppose I just had an innate drive to post it.

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Why your life sucks

Why your life sucks: Shawn Lea has this amusing and enlightening story about someone she sat next to on a flight today: “I was sitting next to an older gentleman who was reading Why Your Life Sucks – extensively marking sections with a green highlighter. (I am not making this up.) The man never made eye contact with me, never smiled, never said hello. I came very close to telling him one reason that his life sucks which that book may not explore is he’s ignoring all those around him, blocking himself off, not connecting at all.”

The “secret” of making something look easy

The “secret” of making something look easy: Dozens of people spend hundreds of hours making a Steve Jobs’ keynote address appear simple, relaxed and cool. I’ve seen a Stevenote a couple of times (and watched video of plenty more) and I’ve always marveled at how much work and investment and practice and talent it must take to make it look so easy.

A long time ago, I saw the legendary Chet Atkins being interviewed on TV and I don’t recall why or who, but the topic turned to a talented young musician. I will always remember Atkins pausing and saying something like: “When I hear him play guitar, I think of all those lonely hours he must have spent in his bedroom practicing.”

Like getting to Carnegie Hall, all it takes to make something look simple is practice, practice, practice.

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iTunes tip

Pre-Christmas morning iTunes tip: Long time readers of the rexblog know I’m a big user of Apple’s iTunes service. However, my “power” usage and the length of time I’ve been using the iTunes store (since the day it was opened), means I know what I’m talking about when I say the following:

Burn a backup CD of tunes you purchase from the iTunes Store!

Okay. You’ve been advised and forewarned. You will thank me one day.

First, let me say it is ridiculous that you have to do this. You purchased the tune. It should be yours to use in any legal way you see fit. And I said legal, as in, legal in the ways that courts have already established are legal for you to use around your house and to shift what you purchase from one format to another for personal usage.

But because of the encyrption (or, DRM – “digital rights management”) of the iTunes store-purchased files, you are forced to go through an easy, but time-wasting and illogical few clicks to rip out the encryption. Again, Apple gives you the tools to convert the file into a non-encrypted file (they call it “Burn Disk,” but it might as well say “Get rid of our Ridiculous Encryption”).

Don’t just back up the encrypted (DRM) version of the tune. By burning a CD, you will get your tunes out of the iTunes store format and into a format you can use without it having to be “authorized” by the Apple store. I (and my testing panel) have learned this the hard way. For some unique reasons, I have had three different computers during the past year. Having children who share some musical tastes also means a couple of other devices use the tunes. I’ve had to de-authorize and re-authorize my Apple store account more than the allowable times.

Another person in my office lost all of her Apple iTunes store purchases when her PowerBook’s hard drive crashed (another rant for another day). Despite the obvioius fact that Apple knows she has purchased these tunes and that her problem was caused by an Apple hardware problem, their response is: You should have backed it up. Huh? To what?

Bottomline: A lot of hassle is saved if you get the music you purchase from the Apple iTunes store into a format you can use in any number of ways that are legal and appropriate without ever having to deal with Apple about that tune ever again.

I’ve come to believe the following: Purchase a physical CD and burn it to your computer. I know that sounds strange coming from someone who never purchases physical CDs. The second best solution is burn to a CD what you own. Third best solution: there are some solutions that will allow you to convert iTunes purchased tunes into MP3 files on your computer (without having to burn them to CD or DVD). I haven’t tried them, but I think I’ll be looking into that solution next week while I’m away from the office.

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