I came across a link to this story on Slashdot. I always enjoy reading Paul Graham, because he writes quite simply, but obviously has the technical knowledge and experience to write on the topics he does. This particular article was a brief analysis of trends in the market during the DotCom Bubble and talks a little bit about the future based on some of the market trends and techniques from that time period. A good read, and it gives me hope that maybe I can still get rich. After all:
I have no illusions about why nerd culture is becoming more accepted. It’s not because people are realizing that substance is more important than marketing. It’s because the nerds are getting rich. But that is not going to change.
Now, I don’t think I’m overly hung-up on “getting rich,” but it sure would be nice not to have to worry about how much I’m paying for food and whether or not I can afford rent this month. Opposed to that, rich sounds pretty nice. If not rich, at least “comfortable.” I also liked the quote about dressing informally:
Dressing up is not so much bad in itself. The problem is the receptor it binds to: dressing up is inevitably a substitute for good ideas. It is no coincidence that technically inept business types are known as “suits.” Nerds don’t just happen to dress informally. They do it too consistently. Consciously or not, they dress informally as a prophylactic measure against stupidity.
So true, so true! While I fully understand the importance of appearance, people seem to miss the seemingly obvious fact that even underdressed people can be very talented and have good ideas. I have found in my IPRO that while people need direction and leadership, they also need freedom and informality. That way they can get their work done on their own terms. Frankly, as a leader, it shouldn’t matter how the work gets done (within reason, of course), as long as it gets done. Obviously there are limits to this (for example, I require that students follow a standard comment format when writing their code), but the idea is that most smart people work better when they can work on their own terms. I have had managers argue with me about this, and I have decided that dumb people exist, and that if you require someone else to tell you how to get your work done, you must also be dumb. It is against my policy to work with dumb people. FInally, I really like what Graham says about young people:
A 26 year old may not be very good at managing people or dealing with the SEC. Those require experience. But those are also commodities, which can be handed off to some lieutenant. The most important quality in a CEO is his vision for the company’s future. What will they build next? And in that department, there are 26 year olds who can compete with anyone.
You better believe it. While I do my best to defer to my elders, I don’t think the fact that they are 20 years older than I is a default reason for them to make better decisions than I do. And frankly, I do know a lot more about some topics than they do. Consustently, however, I get little or no respect from people just because I am young. On the other hand, I am lucky in that I have several older people who I deeply respect that also seem to respect me and my abilities (Dr. Sun, my friend Patrick). For the rest of you who think I’m too young to be any good at anything, how about reading a little bit of the Bible:
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.