There’s a lot of truth to the old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
Meeting the right people and having them like you can get you a job, further your career, or earn you a once-in-a lifetime deal. It’s also how you make new friends. People can sing “I Am a Rock” all they want, but human beings are social animals and a good friend is valuable. Whether you want to network or just make new friends, it’s important to know how to make a good impression on people you’re meeting for the first time. While there’s no “one right way to do it,” here are some tips that can help you get things off on the right foot.
1) First Contact: People tend to be a bit subdued, talk less than normal, and are often a little cautious when they meet another person for the first time. That’s a natural thing and you have to adjust to it.
In order to do that, you may need to tweak how you talk and behave just a bit. Your energy level will probably need to be just a little higher than the person you’re meeting. You don’t want to do the full Tony Robbins and blow the person away, but if both of you are quiet and have a low energy level, you probably just won’t click. Again, because the person may be a bit constrained, you’ll probably need to talk a little more than normal. That doesn’t mean you need to dominate the discussion, but you usually have to do a little extra work to coax someone into talking. Additionally, there is a time and place to ask people what they do for a living and talk about the weather, but the first five minutes of conversation is not it. Those are boring conversational space fillers and bringing them up right off the bat gives people the impression that you’re dull.
Success is a journey not a destination. — Anonymous
Many of us act as if success is a permanent state that we’re working to reach. We think, “One day, I’m finally going to be ‘successful’ and then I’ll have it made from there on out.” Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. You’re never going to get to the point where you can just kick back, put your life on cruise control, and enjoy “success.” When you get a chance to meet successful people, you find this out. Some of them are falling apart. Some are absolutely miserable. That’s no surprise. It’s tougher, in some respects, to be a success than a failure because you have something to lose and everything can fall apart. Here are some examples of how that can happen.
7) Mike Tyson: Spend Money Frivolously.
There are a lot of negative things you can say about Mike Tyson — so many in fact that you could dispute whether he was ever a “success” in the first place. Still, he became one of the best boxers who ever lived, a world-famous, heavyweight champ who earned $400 million. That sounds like such an enormous amount of money that you almost couldn’t spend it if you tried, but Tyson rose to the challenge. He acquired Siberian tigers, paid 6 figures for jewelry, bought multiple mansions, found a way to spend hundreds of thousands on cell phones and pagers, and spent almost half a million on a birthday party. Next thing you know, a man who made what most folks would consider an inexhaustible supply of money was bankrupt.
This can happen to people more easily than they realize because lifestyle tends to expand to fit income — and sometimes a little beyond. Next thing you know, they catch a bad break or have a drop and they find that they can’t roll their fixed expenses back enough to get in the black. Suddenly they’re in debt, getting further behind each month, and heading towards disaster. It happened with Tyson and it happens with a lot of others.
Women are complicated because they have: A) a layer of logic, B) laid across that a mood, and C) on top of that an ever-fluctuating stream of emotion. If men are like checkers, then women are like chess — except the pieces are all kittens hopped up on catnip with broken glass taped to their paws.
I’m puzzled listening to my female friends tell me they don’t understand men. This is like a rocket scientist telling you she can’t figure out how a flush toilet works. Men are fairly simple; so how can we be so confusing to such comparatively complex creatures? How can women not already know these things?
1) Sleep with him too soon.
Setting aside moral concerns for the moment, let’s talk about when a woman should have sex with a man she views as long-term relationship material. There’s actually no wrong answer per se. If the guy is really clicking well enough with you, he’s probably going to stick around regardless of whether it happens on the first date or your wedding day.
However, women should understand that after just 3-4 dates, they probably don’t really have much of an idea of what’s going on in a guy’s head. He may be a player who’s saying what you want to hear in hopes of getting laid. Alternately, he may be perfectly sincere, but he’s just a lot more on the fence than you realize because he’s weighing that he thinks you’re really hot and sweet against that when you yelled at him last week, it reminded him of his ex — and he’s bored to death with you monotonously reciting to him what you did today. Of course, he’s probably not going to come out and just say that and after just a few dates, you won’t know him well enough to tell something’s wrong.
So, if he flees the relationship like you just contracted Ebola after you sleep with him and that’s going to upset you, well then, you should probably wait a little longer to make sure he intends to hang around. It’s also worth keeping in mind that to you, going out with a man three times, sleeping with him, and never hearing from him again may be a disaster, but to him it’s probably going to be viewed as a win. Not saying anyone’s right or anyone’s wrong with that, just noting a big mentality difference.
Are you struggling to get all of your work done? Are things falling through the cracks? Feel overwhelmed? Like you have so much to do that you can’t possibly finish? Well, there is hope. You can organize your life, and though it does take a little time and effort, it’s not all that hard to do.
1) Set goals and prioritize. This is the first step and it’s where most people fall down. They don’t know what the hell they’re trying to do in the first place.
Want to be the CEO at your company or is it “just a job” paying the bills while you move on another career? Are you looking to sleep with as many women as possible or get married? Is your top priority a new car or six months’ emergency expenses in savings?
Take a moment to think. Ask important questions. Where do you want to be in five years? If you had an infinite amount of money, what would you be doing with your life? How can you do some of those things now without limitless cash? How is your life shaping up in its important dimensions? How’s your health, love life, career, spirituality, revenue flow, and your friends/family? If you rated yourself on all those dimensions 1 – 10, what would your rating be? Now, how can you improve your life on those dimensions? What values do you put the highest and least priority on? Health, love, security, freedom, passion, success, comfort, etc. Once you put these values in order, your decision-making process changes forever.
With a clear sense of your goals, dreams, values, and priorities, the organizing process becomes an order of magnitude easier.
How would you like to save time, prevent pointless arguments, and become a much better communicator? What if I tell you it is surprisingly easy to do this and that even better, you don’t need to learn any comebacks, put-downs, or clever sayings? What if all you have to do to master this extraordinary new communications skill is – drumroll, please: learn how to ignore comments.
Of course, it may sound counter-intuitive or perhaps even a little submissive. You may be thinking, “Geez, so you’re saying I should let people walk all over me? That’s just not my style, man!”
I used to think like that, too, which was really tough for me when I got on the Internet. Believe it or not, I used to be a little introverted and disliked conflict. So, the vicious, rough and tumble style of commenting that’s the rule of thumb online was not something I easily adapted to at first. I’d get upset when I was insulted. I was one of those people who’d go back and forth with someone 7-8 times in a thread. I’d spend a lot of time responding to dumb comments from anonymous people.
Then, I started blogging and as my traffic grew, more people started responding to what I wrote and emailing me. That was when it occurred to me that it made more sense to write a post for my entire audience to see than to respond in a comment section where only a sliver of the eyeballs reading my blog would catch it. As the numbers picked up, I formulated some general rules to determine when I’d respond to a comment or blog post about myself.
1) Is the criticism on point and worth responding to because it raised a good point?
2) Is the criticism from someone with a bigger audience than mine? Would I be “punching up”?
3) Could I make fun of the person criticizing me and entertain my audience?
If the criticism didn’t meet one of those standards, I just let it go…and guess what? It worked out really well.
After all, what difference does it make if Kilgore734 thinks you’re a show-off and hopes you’re hit by a bus on the way home; what difference does it make in your life? If your father or your boss or your girlfriend thought those things about you, it would be a big deal. But, if some random tool whom you don’t know, respect, or care about feels that way — who cares?
Some people love cats, other people love music, and I love quotes. I mean, I REALLY love quotes. I’ve compiled more than 100 different collections of quotes, at one time I ran an all quotes website, and I have 5 different brand new Twitter accounts that do nothing but pump out quotes each day — (@capitalismfacts, @selfhelpquote, @testifyChrist, @masculinequotes, and @rightquotations).
So, when I tell you I know quotes — I know quotes and I’ve had my life changed by them. That’s what is so extraordinary about quotations to me. You can take a book’s worth of wisdom, distill it down into a single quote, and it can endure through the ages impacting lives, perhaps even hundreds of years from now. Here are 7 such profound quotes.
1) “Nothing in life has any real meaning except the meaning you give it.” — Tony Robbins
Many people wave off Tony Robbins because they think of him as the cheesy, overly-excited, big-toothed guy they see doing infomercials on late night TV. This is a mistake because Robbins has a knack for simplifying complex ideas down into easy-to-use concepts that go beyond anything I’d have thought possible before he came onto the scene.
In this case, what he’s referring to is the fact that almost everything that happens to you has no intrinsic meaning. Is a funeral a time for celebration because the person who passed has gone on to a better place or a time to be deeply sad? Is the emotion in your stomach before you give a speech fear or your body getting you ready to perform? If you walk up to someone of the opposite sex and she brushes you off, is it because there’s something wrong with the situation, something wrong with you, or something wrong with her?
Once you recognize how arbitrary many of the things that happen to you are, you can stop merely reacting to events and start asking a better question, “Which of the possible interpretations of this event best serves me?”
“Oh boy, sleep! That’s where I’m a viking!” — Ralph Wiggum, The Simpsons
You spend roughly a third of your life sleeping and that time has a much bigger impact on your waking hours than most people realize. Problems sleeping can bleed over into almost every area of your life. Lack of sleep can mean a lack of willpower. It can make you cranky and lazy. It can mean the difference between being good and bad at your job, having a successful and a failing relationship, or being healthy and sick.
I know a lot about sleep, in part because I’ve studied it, but also because I’ve gone to different extremes. When I was working on becoming a blogger full time, I spent years getting only 4-6 hours of sleep a night because I was doing the equivalent of two full time jobs and something had to give.
On the other hand, after I went full time as a blogger, I learned a lot about optimal sleeping habits. Whether it’s handling an eight-hour drive on three hours’ sleep, staying up 24 hours in a row, switching from a first shift schedule to third shift and back again in the same week, or getting up at 3 AM — I can handle it. That’s not to say that it’s always a piece of cake, but you would be surprised at how much better your sleeping habits can become with a little practice and how much of a difference it can make in your life.
So, how do you do it?
1) Have the right equipment: At one point in college, I was bedding down on a cheap, 20-year-old, sunken mattress. To sleep on it I had to curl up into a fetal position so that my body didn’t end up sinking down into the bed trench — which would have left me with a backache when I woke up.
This may go without saying, but that’s LESS THAN IDEAL.
If you’re going to spend roughly 1/3 of your life asleep, then it actually makes sense to put some time and money into selecting your bed. Go to a number of stores and lie on different mattresses. Find out if you like soft or hard beds. Don’t get the cheapest thing available, but don’t assume that you should buy the most expensive bed in the store either. After hitting multiple places, the last mattress I bought — which I’ve been extremely happy with — ended up being about half the cost of the most expensive beds I considered.
Additionally, your pillows are important, too. As a general rule, you don’t want to fall asleep with your neck jutting out at an odd angle and I’d recommend using a thin pillow between the knees to keep the spine aligned. Beyond that, there’s a lot of personal preference involved so this is another area where you need to experiment. Keep in mind that sometimes very expensive pillows don’t necessarily sleep all that well. Additionally, if you find a pillow you like at a hotel or a friend’s house, write down the brand name and buy it.
10. The Walking Dead: Season 2: The first season of The Walking Dead was the best thing to happen to sci-fi fans since Buffy the Vampire Slayer went off the air. People loved the series so much that the second season premiere set a ratings record. Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there. A group of disparate people desperately trying to escape hordes of zombies is exciting. A group of disparate people hashing out their feelings about each other on a relatively safe farm while they venture out to put down the occasional stray zombie they run across is not. At this point, the show is like a relationship that’s going bad. It starts out magnificently, but then you slowly realize it’s not as much fun as it used to be, but you’re still hoping against hope that things will turn around before you have to break it off. If the Walking Dead keeps this up, a lot of its fans are going to have a “It’s not you, baby, it’s me” conversation with the show.
9. Righthaven: Righthaven is a group of “copyright trolls” that have been the scourge of bloggers and forums across the world. Its modus operandi is to buy the right to stories from various newspapers and then use a loophole in the law to sue anybody and everybody it can for “copyright infringement.” There are no requests to take the material down, no harm done to the papers, just demands for ridiculous cash sums under dubious legal circumstances. After profitably settling a number of cases, Righthaven started losing in court. Happily, things have gotten so bad that “$225,000 in attorney fee awards have been assessed against Righthaven. Righthaven has pleaded poverty and said that it may be forced to file for bankruptcy, but the court in the Hoehn case issued an order allowing the seizure of Righthaven’s assets to satisfy the award.” Personally, I’m rooting for everyone associated with Righthaven to end up eating out of garbage cans. It couldn’t happen to nicer guys.
(Update: Righthaven’s URL is being auctioned off here. Bidders are expected to be mostly defendants trying to keep the Righthaven name and everything about it out of circulation. — Ed Driscoll.)
In addition to liking Wal-Mart, I know a lot about the company. My first job out of college was at a Wal-Mart portrait studio, I shop there every week, and I’ve read a lot about the company including the fact-filled book The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World’s Most Powerful Company Really Works–and How It’s Transforming the American Economy.
Wal-Mart is the largest private employer in the United States, the average American family spends more than $2000 a year there, each week nearly one-third of the U.S. population visits one of the company’s U.S. stores, and the company so dominates its market niche that it’s as big as “Home Depot, Kroger, Target, Costco, Sears, and Kmart combined.” There are a lot of lessons you can learn from a company like that.
1) Wal-Mart knows EXACTLY what it’s trying to do. Wal-Mart is all about low prices. Low prices dominate everything from the company strategy to advertising. Its corporate offices are furnished with free samples Wal-Mart gets from suppliers. The net profit margin? It’s only just over three percent.
What are you all about? What’s your focus? What’s your area of expertise? If you want to become great at anything, you’ve got to know what it is, make it a top priority, and then act like it matters. If you don’t know what you’re trying to do or you don’t make it a high priority, it’s going to be tough for you to succeed. On the other hand, if you make anything in your life as central to it as “low prices” are to Wal-Mart, you’re practically guaranteed to make it work.
When you work for yourself and don’t have the option of living paycheck to paycheck, you’re forced to start learning how to take better care of your money.
There are some tricks that can help you out with that. Writing down every dime you spend for a month or using websites like Mint.com can give you a clearer perspective on where your money is going. Setting back enough cash to cover six months of expenses with no income coming in can also give you a lot of peace of mind. It’s great to know that if you have a major car repair or your income dips unexpectedly for a few months, you’re not going to be struggling to pay your bills.
But the real key to socking away the dough is to think incrementally. The big checks help a lot, but as often as not, it’s the small savings you make over the long haul that really pad your bank account.
Think about it like this: You’re likely to work five days a week for at least 40 years, probably even longer than that for people under 40. So 40 times 260 working days a year equals $10,400. In other words, if you can find a way to save a dollar a day, that’ll amount to an extra $10,400 dollars over the course of your working lifetime — much more if you invest the money.
Here are some ways to start putting more money back. Although most of them won’t seem like huge difference-makers at first, over time they’ll really add up.
1) Buy used cars: The average cost of a new car in 2009 was $28,400. In most states, $28,400 is more than half the median household income for an ENTIRE YEAR.
So, let’s do a little comparison. One person buys a new car every five years. Another person buys a used car at half the price, takes care of it, and keeps it for a decade. After a 10 year period, the first person has spent $56,800 on transportation. The other person? He’s spent $14,200. What could you do with an extra $42,600?
Let’s take those numbers 40 years out. $42,600 x 4 = $170,400. That alone is bigger than the nest egg most Americans have saved up when they retire.
Not really a good choice for a first car.
Is life hard for you? Do you struggle all the time? Do you wish things were easier? If so, that puts you in exactly the same boat as EVERYONE ELSE on the entire planet.
Many people don’t realize this because we trick ourselves. We think, “If I had ‘X,’ everything would be fantastic! If I could just achieve ‘Y,’ then everything would be wonderful!”
Thing is, this isn’t true. Do you know what happens when you get your heart’s desire? You walk on air for a few weeks and then, you adjust. You think, “Gosh, if I were rich, life would be easy! If I were famous, life would be grand! Wow, if I could just be that good looking, I’d never have anything to complain about.”
Except the thing is, I’ve met rich people, famous people, successful people, extraordinarily beautiful people — and guess what? They have just as many problems as everyone else. It’s just a different set of problems.
1) Don’t we love to talk about love? Love is simultaneously the most wonderful and horrible thing in the world. It’s wonderful in that it can bond you to a soulmate with whom you will spend a significant chunk of the rest of your life, if all goes well. But under the best of circumstances, love is a LOT of work that will last, ideally, from the time it begins UNTIL YOU DIE.
Love is also horrible in that it can blind you to a partner’s faults, make you irrational almost beyond belief, or get you to commit to a soul-crushing bad marriage. Have you ever seen one of those movies where aliens are about to destroy the human race, then they finally realize what love is and change their minds? Truthfully, if the aliens understood how completely nuts love makes us, they’d probably be more likely to exterminate our species.
…… And all of that describes people who are still in love. When love ends badly, it ends in decimation.
Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life….You give them a piece of you. They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like “maybe we should be just friends” turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It’s a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love. — Neil Gaiman
Then there’s the worst option of all: sitting around wondering what’s wrong with you because you haven’t been in love in a long time and there’s no love on the horizon. That’s enough to make even a Kim Kardashian-style wedding look good in comparison.
Next: Are friends overrated?
Over the course of my life, I’ve read hundreds of books about how to better your life and I’ve been fortunate enough to interview and converse with an enormous number of extremely successful people.
What I’ve learned is that for most people, success is no accident. Winners are winners for a reason just as losers are losers for a reason. Here’s some of what I’ve learned.
1) Winners do things losers won’t do.
Oftentimes, it’s the people who go to almost unthinkable lengths who manage to make it to the top. Thomas Edison reportedly tried more than 1000 different substances as filaments before he found the right one for the light bulb. Henry Morton Stanley, who was one of the greatest explorers in human history, nearly died time and time again going on expeditions across Africa that took years under some of the most dangerous and miserable conditions imaginable. Ross Perot and his wife both worked and then they lived off his salary while they saved every cent of her salary to fund his new business. These are people who went to extraordinary lengths to reach the top and they did it instead of just complaining that “life is hard” and giving up.
Henry Morton Stanley spent his afternoons doing this for years at a time
Next: EPIC FAIL!!!
I own or co-own five websites: Right Wing News, Linkiest, Viral Footage, Trending Right, and The Looking Spoon. I write weekly columns for Townhall and PJ Media along with a weekly post for the Huffington Post. I’m also on Twitter here and here, G+, and Facebook. I do 1-3 hours of radio appearances and get 1000 emails in an average week and I also have a hand in a GOP fundraising project that I co-founded called Raising Red. That’s in addition to socializing, dating, working out, consulting, reading, watching TV, writing a book, eating, sleeping, relaxing, and everything else I do in a week.
How do I do all of that? It’s not easy. But here are a few hints that you can hopefully adapt and apply in your own life.
7) The Fan Boys.
I have no idea why some guys think they can show up on Facebook, find some attractive woman they’ve never met, talk about how pretty she is in every photo, compliment her excessively, and somehow turn that into a relationship. Does this work for anyone, ever? You never hear any woman say, “Oh, I met my boyfriend on Facebook! He just showed up every day, kissed my ass relentlessly, and then of course, it all ended in hot monkey sex!” What you do hear, however, are attractive women privately referring to people like that as “creepers,” as in, “That creeper creeps me out!”
The sad case of Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14-year-old gay kid who committed suicide after being bullied, has inspired Lady Gaga to try to get involved in the situation. She’s insisting that bullying be made illegal. Since she’s a spoiled pop star suggesting an idea that’s about as sensible as wearing a meat suit, she probably won’t have much luck with it. And she certainly shouldn’t.
That being said, I have more empathy for Jamey Rodemeyer and other kids like him because I was bullied in high school and can tell you that it’s a horrible experience. Not only are you afraid that you’re going to be physically attacked, you flinch from the terrible things that are said about you. Worst of all you feel badly about yourself for allowing it to happen. It turns run-of-the-mill experiences — like walking from class to class, getting on a bus to go home, or finding out who’s going to be in your homeroom — into anxious nightmares.
You know why I was bullied? I was a quiet, meek, non-confrontational kid who liked to read and had zero interest in getting in fights. In other words, I was an easy mark. There was really nothing more to it than that. As I look back at it now, I can’t think of a single thing I ever did to merit being bullied. I didn’t mouth off, I didn’t pick on people, I didn’t want any conflict (as opposed to the present, where I’ve learned to revel in political warfare). This is one of the many reasons that to this day I roll my eyes when people say, “Why do they hate us?” I damn well know from personal experience that there are a lot of evil people who will try to hurt you for no other reason than because they think they can get away with it.
Let me also note that the tactics most people advocate to combat bullying are laughably ineffective. If you get bullied, go tell your teacher! Call a bullying hotline!
The reality is that if the teachers were really keeping a close eye on everything that’s going on around the school there wouldn’t be any bullying going on in the first place. The biggest reason bullies can exist is because teachers don’t pay attention to what’s happening most of the time.
One of the odd things about the Internet is that so many people don’t seem to understand that it’s real. Sure, they realize that there’s a computer in front of them, a “series of tubes,” and then…it gets kind of foggy. It’s like they think there are magical pixies from the land of Lulz on the other end, as opposed to their family, friends, co-workers, and old boyfriends who are obsessively poring over their Facebook page.
Granted, they are aware that they do need to be careful about a few things: viruses, hackers, identity thieves, Nigerian princes who want to give them millions of dollars — all the standard stuff. But there are some lesser known dangers of the Internet that can steamroll your life like Paris Hilton stampeding towards a line of cocaine.
1) Upload naked pictures and videos.
You’d be surprised how many people have naked pictures of themselves. Maybe they’re guys like Anthony Weiner who have the mistaken impression that anyone wants to see their junk. Maybe they’re women who get a little excited at the idea of a man seeing them naked. Maybe they’re even a couple who wants to take it to the next level by filming themselves having sex to see if it looks more like a porn movie or two sea lions fighting under a blanket. Whatever the case may be, the problem is that in a digital age, these pictures and videos can get out to a much larger audience than originally intended. Just ask Weiner about that.
Personally, I once had a roommate call me in to look at some woman he’d met online who was trying to turn him on via webcam. I’ve also had more than one guy who broke up with his girlfriend who just flat out offered to show me naked pictures of her. One of them had dated the girl for almost two years. In all of those cases, the offers were completely unsolicited, so who knows how many other people got a look? I could tell you another half dozen disturbing stories about naked pictures (yes, it’s really that common of an issue) — but instead, let me just say this: you’d be surprised at how often those pictures end up causing problems. Think very, very hard before you take those pictures in the first place because once they get out of your control, you’ll never get them back.
If you went back through the whole of human history, for the most part you’d find people living in poverty and ignorance under one sort of tyranny or another. Travel was difficult, disease was rampant, wealth was sparse, scientific advances were slow and uneven, and parents had little reason to think their children would have a better life than they did.
This really started to change, at least in the parts of the world you’d want to live in, less than 150 years ago. Many of the life-altering inventions that we take for granted today were invented during that very limited time period. Just to give you a few examples, here are the years when the following inventions first became mainstream enough to be acquired by 75% of American households: radio – 1937, refrigerator – 1948, television – 1955, telephone – 1957, automobile – 1960, and the VCR – 1992. The Internet just hit that same magic mark in 2007 and the ramifications of that may be more serious than we realize.
That’s not to say the Internet is a bad thing. To the contrary, every person reading this column could reel off a plethora of great things about the Internet: connecting friends across the world, cheaper communication via email and Skype, new business opportunities, games, MP3s, internet dating, file trading, social networking, streaming movies, Amazon, Google, eBay, Craigslist — it goes on and on.
The thing is, everyone seems to be able to tell you about what makes the Internet great, but the ways that it negatively impacts us seem to be slipping under everyone’s radar. That’s not shocking if you think about it. How long do you think it took the public at large to catch on to the hazards of drunk driving, drive-by shootings, and the Fast and the Furious series? The same thing could be said for the Internet, except it’s so new we have very little data to study.
“Find something you love to do so much that you’d do it for free and find a way to make it into a career.” — Anonymous
I don’t know who came up with that quote, but it changed my life. You see, I’ve always been an ambitious person, but the only thing I knew for sure was what I DIDN’T want to do. I didn’t want to be a corporate wage slave doing a job I didn’t like, for bosses I didn’t respect — so I could retire and start doing things that I wanted to do in 40 years.
Besides, I was utterly unsuited to scale the corporate ladder. I hate wearing suits, I’ve got an anti-authoritarian streak a mile wide, and I have an almost pathological inability to pay attention to useless tasks. That’s probably why I used to regularly fall asleep in meetings, even when I was sitting next to my boss (yes, really).
Then there was the big three-day-long shindig at work where all the managers got together off-site to have a corporate trainer do utterly pointless exercises that had almost nothing to do with what we did day in and day out. At the end of the session, the trainer went person to person and asked us to tell everybody what we thought about the training. Every last person talked about it like it was the single most wonderful experience of his life….except me. I told the truth, which was that it wasn’t very useful and we’d have probably been better off back in the office working. I actually got dinged for that months later in a performance review.
But, if I had to give you one story that sums up the corporate experience for me, it would be from a job I had earlier in my career. I was a peon hoping to make assistant manager and I came up with an innovative plan to make an extra $10,000 a year for the company. I jotted it down, handed it to my boss, it was implemented, and the firm made a lot of money. Later, after he passed me over for a promotion, he told me he was completely unimpressed with what I came up with because it was written in pencil.
On top of all that and perhaps most significantly, work just wasn’t “fun” for me. Of course, most people reading this are probably thinking, “Oh, so work wasn’t fun for you? Well, join the club, jackass. Work’s not fun for me either!” This is where I probably part with much of humanity because I viewed this as a problem. My thinking was that if I am going to spend 1/3 of my life for forty years engaged in an activity, I should enjoy it. Sure, this isn’t the way it works for most people, but I never bought the idea that I had to be “most people.”
So, I started thinking about what I like to do. Writing was at the top of the list and the Internet was just starting to take off. Unfortunately, there was very little evidence that anyone could make it as a professional political blogger when I created Right Wing News in 2001. Back then, to the best of my knowledge, Andrew Sullivan was the only political blogger making a living at it and he was already well known before he became a blogger. Meanwhile, ad sales were in a freefall. You see, the Internet was a very new market and when the economy took a downturn, the first thing people cut from their budgets was advertising on the web. Worse yet, the advertising model at that time was based on paying websites a set cost per thousand impressions; so when the market collapsed, it completely decimated the entire industry. There were stories floating around about ad networks stiffing websites on five and even six figure checks as they went out of business.
Still, that’s what I wanted to do and although I couldn’t figure out exactly how I would make it work, I essentially was an advocate of the Underpants Gnome philosophy of business — Step 1: Get visitors to my website. Step 2: ????????? Step 3: Profit!