In the corporate world, the power you have (and the ability to make money too) is a mirage. What is powerful is the position you hold, not you. It’s very much like a political office. The legal structure of corporation (particularly public corporation) allows us to create entities and positions that are powerful as we can pool money publicly.

If you lose your powerful position in a corporation, your powerful aura could stick around with you for a few months but they begin to fade away if you don’t get another job. A half-life of that power is probably 6 months. After 12 months, you would be stripped naked, back to your old self. You would then know who you really are. This is why most corporate employees try to jump from one company to next while they still have jobs.

They can make money because their positions are properly empowered to do so; not necessarily because the people holding the positions are actually good at making money. If they were truly good at making money, they wouldn’t be working for faceless shareholders; they would be starting their own business (especially in today’s economy where VC money is easy to find).

Working for corporations is becoming less popular now because each corporation is hiring less and less people (by increasing efficiency). Young people now prefer small startups because they are more exciting, and more encouraging of self-expression. But I personally think working for big corporations while you are young is a better choice, as you could learn a lot about how the corporate world works, and that opportunity would not be available to you later in life (if you didn’t choose the corporate life right after school). But you do need to get out of the corporate world before you are 30. Once you have kids, you would probably be too scared to leave.

In the old days, people worked for others so that they could learn and eventually open their own business. Nowadays, people just keep working for others all their lives, never figuring out a way to make a living being who they are. We only live once. It’s a waste of life to toil away for anonymous shareholders who care about nothing but the bottom line.

So I realized that it’s possible to use Facebook like Twitter. Here’s how:

On Facebook, you can flag any of your friends as “Close Friends”. Ignore the fact that it says “Close Friends”, use this in the same manner as “Follow” on Twitter. For anyone whose content you’d like to follow, flag him/her as “Close Friends”. Then set your smart-phone to notify you when any of them post something new. Because Facebook notifies you as soon as they post, your notification queue would look like Twitter; everything listed in the reverse-chronological order. This allows you to ignore Facebook’s ranking algorithm. You wouldn’t be looking at what Facebook thinks is important for you; you would be controlling what you want to see and when.

This way of using Facebook eliminates the need for you to actively check Facebook on a regular basis. If there is something you should check, it would let you know. Otherwise, you can ignore it.

Here’s how you set this up:

When you roll over the name of a person, you get a little pop-up box with a drop-down labelled “Friends”. Select “Close Friends” for anyone whose content you want to follow.

From the little down-arrow in the upper right corner, select “Settings”. Then select “Notifications”. Assuming that you have Facebook App on your smart-phone, turn off Email notification by selecting “Only notifications about your account, security and privacy.” (Unless you want to be notified twice.)

Then, go to your Facebook App, select “More”, scroll down and select “Settings”, and select “Notifications”, scroll down and select “Close Friends activity”. Check “Get notifications”.

Now every time the people you follow post anything new, your smart phone will let you know.

When you are managing employees, you are mainly managing their feelings. When you are managing a company, you are mostly managing the reality; so “emotional intelligence” isn’t all that important. 

My theory on founders like Dov Charney of American Apparel.

How we make money is interesting in that it is a bigger challenge for most of us. How we spend money is entirely within our own control, but to make money, we have to be useful/valuable to others. We cannot entirely control what others want.

How we spend money is interesting in a different way. It is the opposite side of the same coin. Someone’s spending is someone else’s earning. It’s like how we calculate GDP. I’ve wondered about how differently people spend their money. I’m sure companies like Mint would have a pretty good idea of this although their demographic is very skewed.

The biggest difference I notice is in how we spend our money in traveling. I know, for instance, some families who travel to Japan every year. A round trip ticket to Japan from NY costs about $1,800. If a whole family of four went, it’s $7,200. And, that’s just the plane tickets. If we considered the expenses in Japan, we are talking about 10K. Families that are not doing any better financially than my family is, are doing this every year. Personally this baffles me but I think it’s just a matter of priority. They are probably looking at the three MacBook Pros laying around in our apartment and wondering how we afford them. To me, spending ten grand every year on a trip that only lasts a few weeks is utterly frivolous. I would not do it unless I start making a million dollars a year (I’m not exaggerating). But for some, it’s so important that they would sacrifice anything else to do it. How we set our spending priorities reveals a lot about what we value in our lives. 

How we make money is interesting because it tells us how the world sees/values us. How we spend money tells us how we see/value the world.

Within the next 100 years, New York Times will publish an article saying that kids should not eat vegetables. Not only that all our struggles as parents would be proven pointless, but also we’ll be blamed for their childhood traumas (vege-phobia).

In your life, if you consistently sided with what is true, the majority of people will hate you. You will go nowhere in life. That is a mathematical certainty as denial is more powerful than our desire to know the truth.

I went to see Adam Phillips, British psychoanalyst/author, speak with Daphne Merkin at 92Y last night. Merkin had this odd way of asking questions where she would pile many questions in one go, reading from her prepared notes. By the time she finished asking them, I couldn’t remember what her first question was. She was visibly nervous. Pretty obvious that she is not an experienced public speaker. I related to her fear/pain and felt nervous for her. Phillips, on the other hand, is a skilled public speaker; smooth, witty, funny, and relaxed. His British accent added to his aura of authority too. By the middle of the talk, it became quite clear that it wasn’t just me who found Merkin’s style of questioning jarring, or even annoying. In a few instances, Phillips stopped her from piling on more questions. “Can I respond to that first?” he interjected. Towards the end, Merkin was given a stack of cards with questions from the audience, and Phillips jokingly said, “Can I answer one at a time?” The audience broke into laughter. In that moment, Phillips bonded with the audience over that pain, officially acknowledging the fact that it was annoying, which lead to a sense of relief for the audience, which in turn was expressed as laughter. I wondered; if so many people felt the same way, why didn’t SHE see it? What prevented her from perceiving the same thing which was so obvious to everyone else?

After the event, I became more curious of Daphne Merkin. I kept thinking about her, as if the event was about her. Phillips was interesting but made no lasting impression on me. In comparison to Merkin, he was like a charming machine. There was something very human and vulnerable about Merkin, so I Googled her and found this essay about her struggle with her own weight where she bravely exposes her vulnerability. In a way, what I saw at 92Y was an exchange between a typical psychoanalyst and his client. I believe that most psychoanalysts and therapists become interested in psychology as a way to deal with their own vulnerability. Their method is to apply the maximum intellectual control whereas people like Merkin choose to apply the least, or even remove their impulse to control. Two different paths with two clearly different results, like yin and yang of human vulnerability.

The type of conversation that makes most people uncomfortable makes me comfortable. The type that makes most people comfortable makes me uncomfortable. That must be the definition of “maladjusted”.

The media is often blamed for setting unrealistic expectations for how women should look. The interesting thing about this trend of manicuring is that it’s largely invisible in the media, because no medium is high enough in resolution to capture such details. And, most men don’t notice this kind of visual details. So this trend is driven by the peer pressures among women alone. My 9-year old daughter loves doing her nails now but eventually it will become a burden because she will be socially expected to do it, like so many other things about their appearances that women have to manage. Fighting the expectations would be equally (if not more) burdensome. It’s the expectation that strips joy out of everything. And, as with this case of manicuring, expectations build unintentionally because we naturally follow the herd just to be safe. Nobody wants to be the lone fighter of social expectations and risk being a butt of the joke.

Why does helping other people feel more appealing, gratifying, and even fun? Because if they succeed, they would share the glory with you. If they fail, you wouldn’t have to suffer the consequences.

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