Apparently arrogance isn't a job qualification
May 12, 2001 10:02 AM   Subscribe

Apparently arrogance isn't a job qualification I've read some attacks on dot-commers for being self involved yahoos. So the Chron found someone willing to own up to being a self involved yahoo in print. It's painful to read.
posted by rdr (24 comments total)
Actually, if you read the original version at lies damned lies it becomes obvious that the chron article was edited to make the guy look bad.
posted by rdr at 10:18 AM on May 12, 2001

I've wondered why some people love to hang out on fuckedcompany and delight when a company goes down, and it's probably annoyance with the get-rich-quick attitude displayed by a lot of dot com guys.

But this guy says he wasn't looking for money, but that he desperately wanted to be successful.

I would argue that a driving desire to be extremely successful, and basing your personal worth on such success to be as bad or worse than simple get-rich-quick greed. He even compares himself to Larry Ellison, someone with the worst "I must be CEO of the universe" problem imaginable.

Someone should do a book, an exhaustive psychological study of CEOs from the dot com boom, see why they desperately seek validation via success. Is it pride? Is it greed? Is something missing in their life that success will replace?
posted by mathowie at 10:26 AM on May 12, 2001

The guy's got some chutzpah - asking people to donate $10 for a "subscription" to his newletter/diary/whatever. Not good or bad - just ballsy. BTW, I hate that so many people seem to take such delight in picking on dot-com failures.
posted by davidmsc at 10:28 AM on May 12, 2001

Matt: I assume at least some of that was self-deprecating sarcasm. That's not to say there isn't a whiff of truth about to anyway, of course.
posted by rodii at 10:29 AM on May 12, 2001

And from Reuters, here's the story of how arrogant bastards like this guy have ruined the lives of their employees. Not that the employees are any less to blame for joining in the Fools' Gold Rush, but at least they didn't personally hurt anybody but themselves with their greed.
posted by aaron at 10:38 AM on May 12, 2001

Matthowie: As for the "why" of people thinking they must be successful, isn't it at least a smidgen cultural? Hasn't this long been an American thing? It's cute when kids say they want to be president. Sometimes the go-getting thing is endearing in adults. At least we try. We think big. But even Tocqueville noticed 200-plus years ago that doing so leaves people forever unsatisfied and neurotic. Now you have to factor in the role of constant mass media imagery of what "success" is. Then you can get your rep ruined overnight, since every other media outlet seems ready to prove that everyone who tries to live up to an image -- or becomes a new image style-setter, a myth of sorts -- is corrupt or has a hidden, dark motivation. Time to grow up, sounds like.
posted by raysmj at 10:42 AM on May 12, 2001

anonymous from the responses page:

"..the reason why I'm unable to do anything else is that I profoundly believe that it isn't for the riches, it isn't for my arrogance, but it is for finding and being part of the best stories."
posted by register at 10:43 AM on May 12, 2001

Via arron's link I had the following thought:

The news of a year ago and before was that there was little housing for lower income artists and the like. The artists who helped make San Francisco so appealing to the jet-setting, gold rush frenzied out of towners were being pushed out of their own community, built by them, as costs skyrocketed. I would like to hear what the core community is saying now. Anyone have a good link?

I can, from my hometown offer you this at least. . . (Which I'm certain that exact link was provided here some time ago).
posted by crasspastor at 11:41 AM on May 12, 2001

but it is for finding and being part of the best stories

so getting media coverage is their driving force? That doesn't seem healthy.

I've been doing interviews and photo shoots lately but I couldn't see living for that, or worrying about how much I'm getting. I've always thought it was nice and fun and all, but not something I'd actively seek out.
posted by mathowie at 11:50 AM on May 12, 2001

Well, to each his own, I guess. Where would we be without these people? Some other equally annoying specimen of humanity would no doubt take their place in the media spotlight.

On a side note, hey Mathowie, what are the interviews and photoshoots for? MeFi, or work related? (hope you don't mind that I ask, but it sounds interesting)
posted by FPN at 12:22 PM on May 12, 2001

For a more intelligent take on the path to bankruptcy, try "Waking Up from the Economy of Dreams: or The Intricate and Peculiar Torture of Taking One's Tech Company Bankrupt." Written by the founder of WebMind, this is a really interesting story about trying to develop and commercialize artificial intelligence.
posted by waxpancake at 12:29 PM on May 12, 2001

FPN: magazine and newspaper stuff about MetaFilter.
posted by mathowie at 12:35 PM on May 12, 2001

It's terribly amusing to see the disconnect between entrepreneurs and, well, the people who work for them. You do all realize you're very predictable, don't you? God, this is the first time in my life I've ever felt like a Republican. "It's class envy!"

Entrepreneurs have to be driven, have to believe in themselves when nobody else will, and if the object of their lives seems a chimera to the rest of us, well, so what? If you feel burned by an entrepreneur -- some of you seem to feel that way -- did anyone hold a gun to your head? Don't most businesses eventually fail anyway?

What's wrong with $10 donations? Did we suddenly forget all the webloggers with AHS $1 donation buttons? No, I guess those are labors of love that we should feel privileged to support. This guy -- he's just a lizard. Yep.

Facile characterizations R us.
posted by dhartung at 2:41 PM on May 12, 2001

dhartung: It's not that he's asking for donations. It's that he wants to move to NYC and states that he can afford a $1,000 apartment. That's not totally his busines his time, I don't think or, rather, the issue's bigger than himself. This is just the sort of behavior that starts class warfare. Which is only partly why it should be discouraged. The other is it's . . . well, it's just insane. The guy needs an intervention. Going on a surprise "duck hunt" with a klutz like myself and a couple of other people with large caliber rifles might work, just as long as we use blanks. Sort of a more natural form of shock therapy.

I was feeling bad for the guy, for his upbringing and his dad's inability to teach him that you don't have to be the big cheese to be worthy of respect and love, etc. Then I reread the thing. Apparently he has learned nothing. It's not a matter of entrepreneurship and risk-taking. Asking strangers for enough money to pay $1,000 a month in rent after going bankrupt is sick.
posted by raysmj at 2:54 PM on May 12, 2001

I have trouble feeling sorry for jad, as his lies and damn lies is some of the most self-absorbed clueless whatever I've ever read, and I keep having to unsubscribe to it (the majordomo genies hate me.
He kind of killed all sympathy in me with this sentence: "I assumed that I would be a millionaire by now -- six years quicker than my father, who reached that milestone at 36. "

However, I have rather different feelings about the web-boom. I had waited tables in san francisco for about 5 years before I took a job at a web company basically to get off my feet. It changed my life-- I went from bored waiter waiting until my savings account got big enough to go travel again to try to kill some ennui to a (possibly obsessed) web geek. I've found the act of building virtual spaces the most exciting pleasurable thing I've ever done.

When I left the first dotcom that gave me my break after two years, I had to choose between two jobs-- on that let me do what I wanted, one that paid me 2K more. I chose the smaller amount. I took a bigger pay-cut for my next job. I'm happy if I have 600 bucks in the bank. My daddy was never a millionaire but he has lived a happy life. He told me "There are twenty-four hours in a day. You sleep eight of those. if you work eight hours, that's half your waking life. You had better well like your job."

Because of the web I got to do something I actually enjoy. I got to like going to work. It bugs me that none of these articles talk about that. I have a lot of waiter and barrista friends who were just making enough for beer money-- sick of life basically-- who had taken web jobs originally to make a better paycheck, and found themselves suddenly having fun. Enjoying life.

Sometimes I feel like I've been waiting for the web-- waiting for a media that is collaborative, communicative, real time, lively, fast, mutable, accessible... and so much more. It's here, and it's my playground.

So the gold is gone. So what. The web ain't going away.
posted by christina at 3:03 PM on May 12, 2001

It's that he wants to move to NYC and states that he can afford a $1,000 apartment.

ray, how much do you think that apartments in NYC cost? he'll probably be lucky to get a $1000 apartment. see: newyork.craigslist
posted by palegirl at 3:20 PM on May 12, 2001

FPN: Don't let Matt fool you.
He's been doing Hustler Magazine: BE-HIND The Scenes @ Metafilter

(it is a joke. funny. laugh.)
posted by owillis at 3:59 PM on May 12, 2001

palegirl: Sure, but *he can't afford life in NYC period.* Can't he live somewhere else? Lord, it's a big country. If you can't afford an apartment in New York, don't live there. Also, please don't tell me you can't make it as a freelancer anywhere else. Lots of cozy little writer-packed small towns throughout the U.S. (Esquire had a guide to them out a few years back.) You have to be good, but you can make it there. In any case, if you're broke, a freelance writing is not exactly the best line of work to go into regardless. I knew one freelancer, a top one, now deceased, who was owed thousands by the freakin' Hearst Corp. for a couple of years and worried about a lot. Also don't ask that you prefer female roomates, regardless of your history.
posted by raysmj at 4:05 PM on May 12, 2001

Just to add to what raysmj said: even if New York is the place he needs to be, there's more to New York that Manhattan. Brooklyn, and plenty of places in Jersey will result in a longer commute, but much more reasonable rents.
posted by Witold at 7:36 PM on May 12, 2001

Allright... now that the dotcom boom is over, does it mean all those hyperinflated rents at the Mission and Soma will finally lower down back to their pre-boom prices?

At least I hope so.
posted by betobeto at 9:50 PM on May 12, 2001

Well, ray, get over whatever knee-jerk demon is driving you. I'm sure you love kicking him when he's down, but it's not very attractive.

When most people look at dot-com entrepreneurs, they assume that we sought a short cut to the money pot. But, I wanted success because everyone around me seemed to be so successful. With everything that I had going for me, failure implied that I was a complete moron.

More importantly, my father's values -- money and status -- had seeped into my own value system. Even though I tried to minimize the impact of those values, I couldn't hide from the fact that success was the one surefire way to make my father proud of me.

As I walked through the rain, the reality hit me. Hard. I couldn't get a job. I couldn't pay my bills. I had nowhere to turn for help. I failed. I failed when I followed my father's dreams (status) and I failed when I followed my own dreams (writing) and I failed when I followed nobody's dream (a job). Each failure became increasingly personal to the point that I felt I had failed as a human being.


As I turned the corner toward my house, I looked at my watch. It was 6:45 AM and the sun was rising. Today, I'm quitting the Internet rat race and simplifying my life. I am redefining success from titles, money, and status to friends, family, and happiness.

I'm going to pursue tango dancing and yoga, along with my dream of writing through my newsletter, I'm going to turn off the TV. I'm going to take more seven hour walks -- well, perhaps two-hour walks will suffice. And I'm going to light more candles to help me relax and enjoy life. Finally, every six months, I'm going to think about running remind myself of everything that I have.

As for my bills, I'll pay them when I pay them -- there's not much my creditors can do since my credit record already sucks. As for my dad, I can only hope that he is as proud, as I am excited, about my newfound conviction to write.

That's a pretty intense personal journey. Criminey, you'd think he's the first person to flame out and go to a big/different city to remake himself.
posted by dhartung at 11:10 AM on May 13, 2001

dhartung: He's not going to Argentina and dancing, nor will he be taking any long walks. He's going to New York and saying he's *able* to pay $1,000 for an apartment, preferably with female roommates. When he still can't pay his bills. He's an a-hole of the type the world doesn't need. Or rather, we don't need him where he is, or in his present incarnation. As any human does, I'm sure he has a place or niche or what have you. I'm sure he has redeeming, lovable qualities. He's just an a-hole now, though.

Also, he's suggesting we read books about power, one with Machiavelli quotes included, after giving the entrepreneurial talk and saying how he's going off to NY and blah blah. I think that would offend Niccolo himself. That's not a business book. It's not a book about personal relations. It's a book about being the leader of a nation, a book about politics, and has jack to do with business. That's a tiny complaint, relative to what he's saying in total. It's also so very '80s. But it proves he's a hack.
posted by raysmj at 11:43 AM on May 13, 2001

dhartung: Also, what he's describing as painful is no more painful than the pain anyone has felt as losing a job or having a dream die. Sometimes those jobs and dreams can be wrapped up together. What have you. But it's nothing compared to, say, losing a family member or having a horrible accident or whatnot. In any case, it's also what you learn from such losses at the job loss or business failure that define it, not the pain in and of itself.

It's also quite clear that, if he had the assets worth enough to pay for an apartment in NYC, he was never broke. Repeat after me: Never. Ever. Broke. Consequently, he shouldn't go around whining about his finances.
posted by raysmj at 12:05 PM on May 13, 2001

Maybe I'm naive, but if I had 1.5 million in stock options, I wouldn't risk it on another startup. It'd go into T-notes, ala _Your Money or Your Life_. Then spend some time working on problems that don't require large infusions of money to solve.
posted by mecran01 at 7:11 AM on May 14, 2001

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