Monday, October 29, 2007

Differences between the wealthy and not-so-wealthy.

I heard an interview with Keith Cameron Smith and took notes. Then I edited his observations and added some of my own to come up with the following meditation on key differences between wealthy and not-so-wealthy people . . . or between those we might call "successful" and those who are not-so-successful.

The one set of characteristics, I am convinced, does lead to success. The others do not.

Time Frames.

  • Extremely poor people think in terms of days.
  • Poor people think in terms of weeks.
  • Middle class people think in terms of months.
  • Wealthy people think in terms of years.
  • Extremely wealthy people think in terms of decades.
Personal Goals.

  • Wealthy: FREEDOM
  • Middle class: COMFORT
  • Poor: SURVIVAL
Some Words of Wisdom

  • "Seek and you shall find," said Jesus. It takes longer to seek and find freedom than comfort. It takes longer to seek and find comfort than mere survival.
  • "Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Proverbs 29:18, KJV). A corollary: With vision, you can flourish.
  • Wealthy are comfortable with delayed gratification.
  • Middle class seek instant gratification.
  • Delayed gratification is giving up something that you want today so you can have what you want even more tomorrow:
    • Putting aside comfort today for the opportunity to gain freedom tomorrow.
    • Being willing to put aside instant rewards (as a single person: sexual involvement before marriage; as a salesperson: a quick sale . . . ) so as to build a long-term (and, therefore, far more mutually profitable/beneficial) relationships.
Content of speech and thought.

  • Wealthy people think active thoughts about the future: "What can I do? How can I change things?"
  • Non-wealthy people think passive thoughts about the past: "What happened? How was I victimized? Why am I the way I am?"
Two famous comments:

  • Big people talk about ideas.
    Average people talk about things.
    Small people talk about other people.

  • Some people make things happen.
    Some people watch things happen.
    Some people ask "What happened?"
Put those together and you find:

  • Wealthy people
    • think and talk about ideas ["How do I ___?" "Why does . . . ?" "What might [explain, enable, . . . ]?"] and
    • cause events to happen.
  • Middle class people
    • think and talk about things [(baseball, basketball, football . . . ) games, houses, cars, boats] and
    • watch events transpire.
  • Poor people
    • think and talk about other people and
    • ask, "What happened?"
Some Words of Wisdom

  • Non-wealthy people talk about sports, cars, movies, vacation spots. The wealthy own all those things! They talk about how to make or own the things the non-wealthy are willing to spend their money on.
  • The observations concerning speech and thought ought to reinforce the idea that you need to associate consciously and purposefully with people who think and talk in a manner that will help you become what you want to become rather than with those who are where you've been in the past and/or where you are right now.
  • "The tongue has the power of life and death" according to Proverbs 18:21. Our lives are reflections of the things we think and talk about. What you think and talk about, you get. So if you think and talk about things about which you are unhappy, and you concentrate on complaining: expect to find more and more things about which to be unhappy, and expect to "enjoy" a negative attitude. But if you think and talk about things that delight you and for which you express gratitude: expect to find more and more such delightful things in your life and expect to enjoy the blessings of gratitude.
  • Beware of negative vocabulary. Use can more than can't. Use possible more than impossible.

Ask a crowd:
"Do people like change?"

Their almost universal response:

But ask them,
"Do people like positive change?"

And they will say,

  • Non-wealthy people assume change is going to be bad.
  • Wealthy people figure, if the change is positive, then that's great! And if it's negative . . . why, that gives me an opportunity to learn and grow.
  • Wealthy embrace change.
  • Non-wealthy fear and are threatened by change.

    Some Words of Wisdom
    • You don't "get lucky" because you're in the right place at the right time. You "get lucky" because you're prepared.
      "Luck" happens when preparation meets opportunity.

    • Don't ask, "Why is this happening to me?" God permits change in order to help us [possibly us, personally, but, certainly, us as a society as a whole] to grow and to become who and what we should become.
  • Wealthy take calculated risks.
  • Non-wealthy are afraid to take risks.
Calculated risk involves
  • becoming educated first,
  • doing your due diligence, then, before acting,
  • considering the consequences of failure.
    Some Words of Wisdom

    Ask three questions:
    • What's the best that could happen?
    • What's the worst that could happen?
    • And what's the most likely to happen?<
      • If the most likely thing to happen will bring you closer to your goals, and you're willing to "live with" the worst thing to happen, then you should go for it.
      • If the most likely thing to happen will NOT bring you closer to your goals and/or you're unwilling to go through whatever is the worst thing that could happen, then you ought not to do whatever it is.
    Failure, Rejection, Loss.
    • Wealthy embrace failure: "I can learn from it."
    • Non-wealthy see failure as negative or bad.
    • Wealthy concentrate on their personal goals and aspirations rather than the approval of others.
    • Non-wealthy alter their goals and aspirations based on what others say.
    • Wealthy "play to win"; they concentrate on what will enable them to succeed.
    • Non-wealthy "play defense" in hopes of avoiding loss.

      Some Words of Wisdom
      • Think of failure as a verb, not a noun; it's something you do, it's not what or who you are (i.e., "I failed to ____," or "That experiment failed." NOT "I'm a failure.")
      • You have to have a stronger desire for success than desire for the approval of others.
      • You have to play to win in order to win. If a team only plays defense, then they cannot possibly win. Same with you: If you seek only or primarily not to lose, then you are virtually destined to lose.
    Learning, Education.
    • Wealthy continuously learn and grow.
    • Non-wealthy are convinced learning ends at the end of school.
    • Wealthy recognize that knowledge is expensive. They are willing to pay for good advice.
    • Non-wealthy look for free advice.
    • Wealthy think in terms of investment.
    • Non-wealthy think in terms of expense.
    • Wealthy think of money as seeds to grow.
    • Non-wealthy think of money as grain to eat.
    Giving, Generosity.
    • Wealthy people [those who are joyful, happy, rich in spirit] believe in being generous.
    • Non-wealthy people [those who are poor in spirit] believe they can't afford to give.
    • Wealthy have (or create) multiple sources of income.
    • Non-wealthy have only one or two sources of income.
    • Wealthy work to generate profits (passive income).
    • Non-wealthy work for wages.
    • Wealthy people seek to increase their wealth (assets that produce passive income).
    • Non-wealthy people seek to increase their pay.

      Some Words of Wisdom.
      • Seeking merely to build one's paycheck with no view to increasing wealth--profits, passive income--is not only not smart, it is risky.
        • As pay goes up, so do your taxes. You make money; you're taxed immediately, and then you spend what's left over. (Wealthy people, by contrast, make money, spend much of it as they want [as "investment," "seeds," doing good], and then get taxed on the remainder.)
        • As pay goes up, so does your dependence on someone else. Big paychecks are relatively RISKY! (Think airline pilots or the top-dollar employee who does little more than the relatively recent college grad who is making half or a third the salary.)

      • Wealthy say: "I can hire someone to do a task better than I can do it."
        • If you believe only you can do a task, you severely limit your income potential.
        • You need to build teams and seek passive income. When you seek to build teams and acquire assets that produce passive income, hard work comes first; money comes later.
        • An asset that doesn't produce passive income [for example, houses and cars produce no passive income for most owners] is not really an asset from a wealthy person's perspective. As you build your net worth, make sure it is in the form of things that build your passive income.

    Empowering vs. Disempowering Questions

    • Wealthy people ask themselves empowering questions.
    • Non-wealthy people ask themselves disempowering questions.

      Empowering QuestionsDisempowering Questions
      How can I make the money I need to do what I want?How can I get my boss to give me a raise?
      What can I do today to show my wife I love her?Why is it so hard to get along with my wife?
      What can I--indeed, what will I--do today that will help me stay fit and healthy?How did I get to be so fat?
      What can I think about right now that I would enjoy thinking about?Why am I always so stressed?
    Be, Do, Have vs. Have, Do, Be.

    • Wealthy people think, "What must I be and do in order to have ____?"
    • Non-wealthy people, meanwhile, ask, "What must I have so that I can do ___ and be ___?"
    • Wealthy people believe . . . Who I am determines what I do and what I have.
    • Non-wealthy believe . . . What I have determines what I can do and who I can be.
    What, Why, How

    • Wealthy people ask What, Why and How:
      • What kind of person do I want to be?
      • Why do I want to be that kind of person? (Is it what's on my heart?)
      • How do I become what I want to be?

      Then they ask,
      • What do I want to do?
      • Why do I want to do that?
      • How can I enable myself to do that?

      And, finally, they ask,
      • What do I want to have?
      • Why do I want to have it?
      • How can I create or acquire it?

    Sunday, October 14, 2007

    Who am I?

    A few months ago, one of the non-profits we support asked if I would consider joining their board. I said yes. They said they would need a biographical résumé from me--something that might help them understand me better before they considered whether seriously to ask me to join the board.

    I sent them what I imagine may be the strangest résumé they have ever received. But it felt good.

    Since then, I think I have come to understand a bit more about why I must have felt compelled to send them such a strange document.

    First I told them about things I thought they might like to know about me "from a functional/professional/historical perspective": achievements, jobs and positions of responsibility (other board memberships, for example) that I've held, education, . . . things like that, but also key relationships that could impinge on my relationship with them, and current "primary concerns and interests" in life.

    --Why would I "bother" them with such details? . . . I think such details would help anyone get to know me better: who I "really" am.

    Personal information: when and where I was born, where I've lived (lots of places), family relationships with my wife and kids.

    Stuff about my broader family--parents, brothers and sisters--that has shaped "who I am" and "how I view" and "how I deal with" life.

    The agency is religious, so I included a bunch of information about spiritual faith realities which differentiate me from a lot of others.

    Then, a lengthy discussion of what I called "John's character." And for this post, that's what I would like to concentrate on and reproduce here:
    John's character:
    • John is intensely interested in and concerned about integrity--saying what he means and meaning what he says . . . and expecting similar behavior on the part of people with whom and organizations with which he deals.
    • Functionally, that means he speaks up quickly and forcefully--i.e., he will become highly confrontative--if or when he senses someone (or the group in which he is present) refuses either to address a truth "out there" or to speak the truth about what is happening "here." Put another way,
    • He refuses to permit unacknowledged "elephants" to remain in the room!
    • John seeks to bring opposing people and parties together through mutual understanding.
    • John tends to avoid "group think" or pitting "our" side against "their" side. If he observes, in a group of which he is a part, a near-universal adoption of a certain mood or emotional feeling; or if he observes what he thinks may be a too-quick rush to affirm one point-of-view, he will often--almost as a knee-jerk response, it seems--place himself, emotionally, in the opposite mood or feeling and/or rouse himself to speak for the (or an) "other" perspective.
    • John asks probing questions. He is interested in "everything."
    • John tends to prefer finding whatever is "good" and potentially useful in an idea or proposal; he does not automatically or quickly seek to identify what is "bad" or unworkable in an idea or proposal. Depending on the circumstance, then, one might characterize him as (positively) "a possibility thinker," "good at research," or (negatively). . . rather "indecisive."
    • With all that, however, John is relatively merciless when it comes to communication barriers. He is quick to notice--and finds it difficult not to comment on--features or factors that hinder communication: use of jargon, grammatical errors, circumlocutions, and so forth. Indeed,
    • John is more acutely aware than most people of "environmental" factors and "background noise" that may cause difficulties. Not only is he aware, but he will turn his attention to identify these matters explicitly, and then address them. Thus, by way of examples:
      • When a room becomes too hot, John is usually the first person to attempt to adjust the thermostat, turn on a fan, etc.
      • If a sound system is too loud, too soft, provides too much treble or too much bass: John is often the first person to seek adjustments.
      • If a publication or video seems muddled in presentation, John often identifies non-verbal factors--visual, spatial, sequential, aural, etc.--that contribute to the problem . . . and he normally expresses his concerns. . . .
      In these ways, then, John is a problem-solver.
    I realized, when I wrote this résumé, that it would come in handy--perhaps to make me more attractive to the non-profit organization, or, potentially, to make me very unattractive. After all, if they want or think they need someone who will strongly maintain "distinctives" in opposition to others--someone who will gladly "take on" those who are less than enthusiastic about the organization's mission, then I am probably not their man.

    If they need someone to build bridges, I may very well be.

    And, as I intend to discuss in my next post, being clear about who you are--your strengths and weaknesses--can readily improve help you and those with whom you intend to work maintain your focus on those tasks where you will serve most effectively and efficiently. . . .

    The result of one of my rare immersions into the tech world . . .

    About a four-link-long surfing series from someone's blog entry about Sonlight, I bumped into the Worse Than Failure (WTF) blog

    and the following entry:

    Do Not Click! 2007-10-10
    Alex Papadimoulis in Error'd

    This popped up for Steve in Lotus Notes. I wonder if this is what happens when you click buttons labeled "do not click!"

    Alan C. came in to work one morning to find that someone had helpfully labeled all the cables on one of the hotdesks. How did they ever cope before?

    Brian was using an internal tool at work and ran into this next error. Naturally, the window doesn't actually detect key strokes ...

    Best comments in reply:

    Made me think of WTF:

    The cable labels gave me flashbacks. At my old position we had to label every cable to a ridiculous degree.

    Ethernet data cables had to be a certain color and Ethernet management cables (DRACs, LOM) had to be a different color. So right off the bat we had to swap out 95% of the cables in our facility.

    Every Ethernet cable had to be labeled on both ends with:
    1. Server name
    2. Server port (in case the server had multiple NICs)
    3. MAC Address
    4. Switch name
    5. Switch card
    6. Switch port

    So you would end up with a cable "flag" that was about 6 inches long. It was obviously useful, in the case when someone sneaked into the server room and unplugged a random cable (which never happened). Of course if you ever moved anything or renamed a server for a new project you had to make 2 new labels.

    The best part was labeling the power cords. You needed to have the server name and the "slot" the cord was plugged into on the surge suppressor. Then you had to label the end of the surge suppressor and which circuit breaker it plugged back into.
    . . . Which comment yielded a reference back to an earlier WTF post:
    Clean design and thorough documentation are essential in every type of engineering, from aerospace to software. Network Engineering is no different: with miles of cables wired to thousands of jacks in a typical office building, an unlabeled block of cable is just as good as a dead one. Fortunately, the fine folks at Patrick McGoohan’s office made sure to carefully label everything . . .


    Well. I was about to leave WTF having ignored the following post. I was sure it was some kind of joke. Someone must have done some Photoshopping:

    Sorry, You Used That Password 28,452 Times Ago 2007-10-08

    Jake Vinson in Error'd

    This one's
    from the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

    (submitted by Sean)
    So assuming 60WPM and 4-5 characters in a word, it'd take you over an hour to type in your password. And hopefully you'd type the correct one in, rather than one of your last thirty thousand passwords.
    Amazing! There really is such an error message:


    If you log on to an MIT realm, press CTRL+ALT+DELETE, click Change Password, type your existing MIT password, and then type a new, simple password that does not pass the dictionary check in Kadmind, you may receive the following error message:
    Your password must be at least 18770 characters and cannot repeat any of your previous 30689 passwords. Please type a different password. Type a password that meets these requirements in both text boxes.
    Note that the number of required characters changes from 17,145 to 18,770 with the installation of SP1.
    NOTE: This is not a common case; it occurs only when you configure Windows 2000 to authenticate against an MIT Kerberos domain.
    Whew! I'm so glad to discover this is not a common case!

    Sunday, October 07, 2007

    Something about humor . . . or a lack thereof

    Through about a 10-step surfing expedition beginning from Thou Shalt Not Kill, Except in a Popular Video Game at Church, . . . I discovered that FDR (Franklin D. Roosevelt) could be quite a humorist.

    This is from a September 1944 campaign speech he made to the Teamsters:

    These Republican leaders have not been content with attacks on me, or my wife, or on my sons. No, not content with that, they now include my little dog, Fala. Well, of course, I don't resent attacks, and my family doesn't resent attacks, but Fala does resent them. You know, Fala is Scotch, and being a Scottie, as soon as he learned that the Republican fiction writers in Congress and out had concocted a story that I had left him behind on the Aleutian Islands and had sent a destroyer back to find him - at a cost to the taxpayers of two or three, or eight or twenty million dollars- his Scotch soul was furious. He has not been the same dog since. I am accustomed to hearing malicious falsehoods about myself - such as that old, worm-eaten chestnut that I have represented myself as indispensable. But I think I have a right to resent, to object to libelous statements about my dog.

    While I'm on the subject of humor, however, let me note two of the stops I made on my way to reading FDR's comment.

    I didn't first bump into the two of them in the sentence, "How they laugh doesn't tell you much; what they're cackling at says a lot: Conservatives Are Such Jokers."

    I believe the sentence should actually read, "How they laugh, sadly, can tell you a lot; and what they're cackling at can reveal more than you'd like to know."

    The first reference is to an article about Hillary Clinton's laughter. (I don't watch TV nor do I listen to radio, so I can make no personal comments on her behavior.)

    The second reference is to an Op-Ed piece by Paul Krugman in the New York Times. When I read what he wrote, assuming he is telling the truth, I found myself truly disgusted.

    As a libertarian (notice I am not using a capital L!), I do not believe the government should be providing the benefits Krugman and others seem to think it ought to provide. BUT. I hate to find my anti-government-funded-services position represented by "humor" of the forms he quotes:

    Ronald Reagan thought the issue of hunger in the world’s richest nation was nothing but a big joke. Here’s what Reagan said in his famous 1964 speech “A Time for Choosing,” which made him a national political figure: “We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry each night. Well, that was probably true. They were all on a diet.” . . .

    On Wednesday, President Bush vetoed legislation that would have expanded S-chip . . . providing health insurance to an estimated 3.8 million children who would otherwise lack coverage.

    In anticipation of the veto, William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, had this to say: “First of all, whenever I hear anything described as a heartless assault on our children, I tend to think it’s a good idea. I’m happy that the president’s willing to do something bad for the kids.” Heh-heh-heh. . . .

    Before the last election, the actor Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson’s and has become an advocate for stem cell research that might lead to a cure, made an ad. . . . It was an effective ad, in part because Mr. Fox’s affliction was obvious.

    And Rush Limbaugh . . . immediately accused Mr. Fox of faking it. “In this commercial, he is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He is moving all around and shaking. And it’s purely an act.” Heh-heh-heh. . . .

    I believe that the lack of empathy shown by Mr. Limbaugh, Mr. Kristol, and, yes, Mr. Bush is genuine, not feigned.


    Krugman goes on:

    Mark Crispin Miller, the author of “The Bush Dyslexicon,” once made a striking observation: all of the famous Bush malapropisms — “I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family,” and so on — have involved occasions when Mr. Bush was trying to sound caring and compassionate.

    By contrast, Mr. Bush is articulate and even grammatical when he talks about punishing people; that’s when he’s speaking from the heart. The only animation Mr. Bush showed during the flooding of New Orleans was when he declared “zero tolerance of people breaking the law,” even those breaking into abandoned stores in search of the food and water they weren’t getting from his administration.



    Okay. Now I'm going to wander away from the primary subject of humor (or lack thereof).


    Way down the page of commentary in response to the blog article from which I quoted the single-sentence reference to both Hillary and Krugman, someone objected to Krugman's reference to Miller and his "Dyslexicon":

    All? . . . Did Mr. Miller say "all [Bush malapropisms]"? Here's a genuine Miller quote: "It's mainly when he tries to feign idealism or compassion that the man [Bush] stops speaking his own native language."


    I have confessed it before. I will confess it again. I am a relative innocent when it comes to politics. I occasionally take a glimpse at what the politicians are saying or doing. Mostly, however, I remain blissfully ignorant of the primary parties' shenanigans.

    I thought the immediately preceding commentator made some interesting observations, however, when he said,

    As Altemeyer shows, certain relatively extreme political attitudes do tend to cluster together, and people in those clusters do tend to behave, politically, in somewhat predictable ways. The followers are not the same as the leaders, though. Altemeyer, for example, shows that right-wing authoritarian followers have definite egalitarian and socialist tendencies (as long as the socialism part isn't benefitting people outside their own group identity. . . .)

    Followers have political attitudes. Leaders appeal to the attitudes, in order to pursue goals and policies. An attitude is not the same as a policy, and appealing to a political attitude is not sharing it.

    Krugman's column could be viewed as having several partisan purposes, but whatever those purposes, its context is partisan division.

    I suppose that my mixed feelings have to do with a David Broder-like wish for the kind of politics [another respondent to the original blog post--JH] projects onto the unlikely figure of William Kristol: "we should judge policies by a careful examination of the substance" where compromise in a deliberative legislative process would improve laws and programs, a world where liberal soft-heartedness is balanced by a good-natured conservative hard-headedness, and everyone wants the good of the country.

    That's not the present state of our politics and partisan divisions, though. Our times are calling for sterner stuff.

    This guy's comment about "right-wing authoritarian followers hav[ing] definite egalitarian and socialist tendencies" intrigued me. But I wasn't sure whether I really believed it until I read someone else's comment further below:

    In regards to right-wing socialism. The military has free medical care for active and retired members, as well as access to reduced prices at the PX and commisary. Military people expect this for their own, but in general are right-wing and opposed to "socialism" for the rest of society.