Tag Archives: values

a healthy sense of detachment

NewYork_2012-04_April-5“For [Europeans] work was not an obsession or even, it seemed, a concern. And the notion that a person should subordinate himself to a corporation, especially an American corporation, was, to them, laughable.”

“If you are a self-possessed man with a healthy sense of detachment from your bank account and someone writes you a check for tens of millions of dollars, you probably behave as if you have won a sweepstakes, kicking your feet in the air and laughing yourself to sleep at night at the miracle of your good fortune. But if your sense of self-worth is morbidly wrapped up in your financial success, you probably believe you deserve everything you get. You take it as a reflection of something grand inside you.”

“There was a deep behavioral connection between bond trading and takeovers as well: Both were driven by a new pushy financial entrepreneurship that smelled fishy to many who had made their living on Wall Street in the past. There are those who would have you think that a great deal of thought and wisdom is invested in each takeover. Not so. Wall Street’s takeover salesmen are not so different from Wall Street’s bond salesmen. They spend far more time plotting strategy than they do wondering whether they should do the deals. They basically assume that anything that enables them to get rich must also be good for the world. The embodiment of the takeover market is a high-strung, hyper-ambitious twenty-six-year-old, employed by a large American investment bank, smiling and dialing for companies.

And the process by which a take-over occurs is frighteningly simple in view of its effects on community, workers, shareholders, and management. A paper manufacturer in Oregon appears cheap to the twenty-six-year-old playing with his computer late one night in New York or London. He writes his calculations on a telex, which he send to any party remotely interested in paper, in Oregon , or in buying cheap companies. Like the organizer of a debutante party, the twenty-six-year-old keeps a file on his desk of who is keen on whom. But he isn’t particularly discriminating in issuing invitations. Anyone can buy because anyone can borrow using junk bonds. The papermaker in Oregon is now a target.”

“My father’s generation grew up with certain beliefs. One of those beliefs is that the amount of money one earns is a rough guide to one’s contribution to the welfare and prosperity of society…It took watching his son being paid 225 grand at the age of twenty-seven, after two years on the job, to shake his faith in money. He has only recently recovered from the shock.”

—Michael Lewis, Liar’s Poker, 1989
Recommended to us on yoga hike by Miguel
We got a lot of good stuff that day

Steel-welded Sculpture, The Sun God, by J. McKeon

the highline

highline-nycChatting with a friend last night, I realized how much I’ve accomplished this year. While there was some time wasted in ways I should have known better, all in all, I got a lot done. Even better, I’ve seen how strong, supportive and beautiful my friends are. My students were as amazing and inspiring as ever, and I’m floored by the majority’s willingness to stand up for what’s right, and stand up for each other. Talking to Bij last week about which neighbor would sell you out if the Germans came knocking, we agreed one should never be surprised. Yet this fall, I’ve been impressed by people’s willingness to come together and protect each other.

While there are a few bad eggs only out for their own interests (1%), they’re easy to spot, and easy to avoid. The miserable little man who claims everyone else is an idiot, whose idea of conversation is talking at people who can’t escape, the disingenuous woman with painted-on smile and seething eyes, scratching madly at everyone, terrified her incompetence will be caught out—they deserve our sympathy, if not our time. There are so many amazing, loving people out there, it’s quite easy not to dwell on these creatures. Don’t.

Just as I started to write, M sent me a link to a Friedman column. Though I think Friedman’s a wanker (“Where does a guy whose family bulldozed 2.1 million square feet of pristine Hawaiian wilderness to put a Gap, an Old Navy, a Sears, an Abercrombie and even a motherfucking Foot Locker in paradise get off preaching to the rest of us about the need for a ‘Green Revolution’?”—Matt Taibii), I did like this line:

“The days of leading countries or companies via a one-way conversation are over,” says Dov Seidman, the CEO of LRN and author of the book How. “The old system of ‘command and control’ – using carrots and sticks – to exert power over people is fast being replaced by ‘connect and collaborate’ – to generate power through people.” Leaders and managers cannot just impose their will, adds Seidman. “Now you have to have a two-way conversation that connects deeply with your citizens or customers or employees.”

Oh, I guess it’s all a Dov Seidman quote. That’s why. Yes, connect and collaborate. Finally, it’s happening.

Something else I’ve always known but truly learned this year: Avoid people who put you down, want to keep you down, take you for granted, treat you poorly, or are generally negative or selfish. Even if they are funny. Even if you’re crazy attached. You know, deeply, that it will affect you. It rubs off and the end result is never pretty. Stand up for yourself, your friends, and your beliefs. Value yourself, your talents, your work, your community, and others will, too. It’s cliche and we hear it often, but live it. You’ll be in good company.