Monthly Archives: June 2005

on cars, watches, and shoes

Superficial people are low value-add. They tend to be takers more then givers and seem to follow the latest trend more than an internal compass.

Three of the things that superficial people use to make judgments about other people:
cars, watches, and shoes

That’s right. They tend to look at the car you drive, the watch you wear, and shoes you walk in. This is especially true for men.

So if you drive a $100K red sports car, wear a $4000 watch and $700 shoes, you’ll likely be targeted by superficial people. If you are the exact same person, but drive a $20K car with a $20 watch and $100 shoes, you will likely not be targeted by superficial people.

So … what is it worth to you to not be on the superficial hit-list??

What could you be doing if you never watched TV?

I tried this experiment two years ago when I unplugged the TV and stopped cable. And wow. I’ve read more then ever, got more work done, took on new pursuits, and exercised more.

(Of course, when I travel and have a working TV in my room, I’m absolutely captivated because I’m so TV-deprived … )

Try unplugging your TV for a month and see what happens…

Don’t Play Golf

People often ask me questions about networking. How does one build connections? How does one build relationships? Should we go to Churchill Club meetings?

Woods0223_apMy advice: don’t do what others do. … be different …

Do what you like. Do what you have a passion in. Don’t do something just because others are going to it.

You love dogs? Get involved in helping dogs. I guarantee you’ll meet many more interesting people then if you force yourself onto the organizing committee for the hippest posh Atherton fundraiser.

Like when making decision to go to a lecture:
– are you going to be interested in the content?
– is the format of the meeting (like panel discussion with 200 people in attendance) conducive to your learning?
– is the cost of time (to travel there and attend) less than the benefit of what you learn?
– would you benefit more from listening to the lecture on your commute to work?

The rule: never go to an event just because you want to meet other people that will be there. Go because you are really interested in the content, you want to learn something, or you really believe in the cause.

I actually don’t go to tech conferences anymore. Though a lot of great people go, I rarely find the content useful and rarely learn much from the presentations. But I go to a lot of foreign policy conferences — because I tend to learn a ton there.

And only play golf if you really love golf. And I mean really love it. Don’t just do it because it is a thing to do. Don’t give into the fad or peer pressure. Make your own path. Don’t be a follower.

I’ve never played a game of golf in my life. I am planning on playing … on my 75th birthday …

Solving the European Efficiency Conundrum

In the wake of the recent “no” vote on the EU constitution by the French and the Dutch, the question arises about European efficiency. You’d think Europe, because of its adoption to of the highly efficient metric system, would have a higher productivity than the United States. But it doesn’t. No cigar. No cookie.

After much investigation, research, and employing the Olympic Committee to bribe every official in sight, I have been able to reach the following conclusions about why American productivity still trounces its European rivals:

* A4 paper and more

I don’t get why Europeans need to use bigger paper. Standard letter-sized paper seems fine — but this A4 paper that Europeans use is huge! All that paper being wasted surely decreases their efficiency.

European business cards are also much larger. What’s the deal? That not only means more paper but it also means larger wallets. More waste.

* Work, Siestas, Vacations, and Sabbaticals

Americans just work a lot harder than Europeans. And unlike Europeans, we don’t take as many vacations. We also don’t take a siesta at 2:00 pm every day. Nope — we work all the time (except when we are watching reality TV). When is the last time you saw a Frenchman check his voice mail while on vacation in Nice? Or an Italian who passes on wine during dinner because she has to be at work early the next day?

* Learning Different Spoken Languages

Americans generally know only one spoken language — English. All the energy that normally goes into learning other spoken languages can be focused on learning other useful things like computer languages or the language of Wall Street.

If you assume a brain can only hold a finite amount of memory before it runs out of storage, learning fewer spoken languages can be a huge advantage (especially if everyone else learns English).

I know what you are thinking — spoken like a true American.

Update: lest anyone think I’m serious … this was filed in the “humor” section …

Book: Anecdotal

Anecdotalcoveri mentioned that Jeremy Dann launched his blog and wrote a book called Anecdotal … well, i finished the book today …

this is the first fiction book i have read in almost two years … and its a good one. Jeremy is a great chronicler of San Francisco life in the post-dotcom era. and he charts a story of a love-struck protagonist. i highly recommend this book — great summer reading …

What’s with the huge attachments???

What’s with the huge email attachments???

I mean … come on …

I’m in a cab to the airport and I’m downloading my emails … laptop hooked up to my mobile phone … at 145 Kbps … and it turns out that a business colleague sent me a 5 MB attachment …
Jeeez … I finally download the attachment and excitedly opened it and … guess what? … it was not worthy of being 5MB. It was not even worthy of being an attachment at all. It was a really bad marketing brochure.

Which led me to the latest Summation Law:
The value of an email attachment is inversely proportional to its size.

Book: Freakonomics

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

this was an amazing book. buy it, read it, then buy it for a friend. (and it is also available on Audible — so I downloaded it and listened) …

you’ve probably heard of the book by now … it is Levitt’s take on crime, child birth, real estate agents, and more. the book is remarkably interesting.

it was recommended to me by Andrew McLaughlin and Tom Spengler. I even found out this weekend that Jon Hoffman read it.

Book: A World Lit Only by Fire

this is a great book — super enlightening. (unfortunately it is not available in audio-book so i read this one)

A World Lit Only by Fire : The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance – Portrait of an Age by William Manchester

this book (which was referred to me by Ian Shea) is about the history of how the Middle Ages transformed into the Renaissance. this is a must read for anyone in the innovation business … anyone that wants to understand the spread of technology and how it might impact the world.

the book starts first by describing the Middle Ages — a ghastly time to be alive. Manchester writes in great detail but also tells great stories of what it was like for the average person (not fun!). what is amazing that over 1000 years, very little changed. more changes now in a decade then changed then in a millennium.

then the book talks about the church and the excesses of the papacy at the time. it then talks large about the transformation to the Renaissance, Martin Luther, and a long overview of exploration and Magellan.

Summation: this is a short but excellent read. definitely should be required for any high tech entrepreneur or venture capitalist.

Brian Halla, CEO of National Semiconductor

I had the opportunity to interview Brian Halla at last week’s Silicon Forum.

Brian is CEO and Chairman of National Semiconductor ( — $2 billion annual sales and $7.22 billion market cap (as of today).  He serves on the boards of the Semiconductor Industry Association, the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group, the Technology Network (TechNet), and Foveon Inc. 

We had a wide-ranging discussion about China, its advantages, and what US policy should be. Brian is an extremely interesting and dynamic CEO who has a lot of insights into the world’s fastest growing economy. The boom in consumer products have been fueling the growth of National Semiconductor and other semi companies. And, of course, China plays a major role in the manufacturing of these products.

you can also view pictures from last week’s the Silicon Forum

Introducing Scott Kirsner

I met up with Scott Kirsner for lunch yesterday …. he just moved to the Bay Area from Boston where he has been a columnist for the Boston Globe and running tech conferences there. He’s also writen for Fast Company, Salon, Wired, Newsweek, the New York Times, and others.

he’s now “working on a book about new technologies have changed (and are changing) Hollywood for Random House/Ballantine Books.” To that end he just launched a blog entitled CinemaTech