Larry shared some thoughts on the Book of Faces that I thought you might enjoy. Their words are italicized, Larry’s are bold -Jack
“Entrepreneurship is like one of those carnival games where you throw darts or something.
Middle class kids can afford one throw. Most miss. A few hit the target and get a small prize. A very few hit the center bullseye and get a bigger prize. Rags to riches! The American Dream lives on.
Rich kids can afford many throws. If they want to, they can try over and over and over again until they hit something and feel good about themselves. Some keep going until they hit the center bullseye, then they give speeches or write blog posts about ‘meritocracy’ and the salutary effects of hard work.
Poor kids aren’t visiting the carnival. They’re the ones working on it.”
That’s defeatist horseshit, and another great example that just because somebody crafts an analogy it doesn’t mean it makes sense.
I was one of the poor kids who worked that carnival. I grew up poor. And not collect a government check poor, I mean farm poor, which has all the disadvantages of being poor but with the added benefit of constant backbreaking manual labor for little to no reward. I suppose I’m supposed to be bitter about that and be a good little communist or something, but instead I still got a bunch of throws at the dartboard. Go figure.
My family literally lost the farm. I moved out when I was 16 and my family moved to a different state. My first throw missed, when my own little herd of steers I’d been raising in the hopes of selling for college money got tetanus and died. Oh well. Later I managed to get a scholarship because I was good at judging dairy cows in FFA. I kid you not.
I later lost that scholarship because I decided I really didn’t want to work with cows anymore and switched majors. I worked my way through college at various stupid grunt work or college student peon jobs. I had a new goal and new career path!
Which totally didn’t work out at all, I wasted a year and a half going through the application process at various agencies, finally got hired… and that department then had emergency budget cuts and layoffs the week before I was supposed to report to POST.
So fuck it. I got a degree, and a young wife and a new baby to take care of, let’s switch gears and throw a dart at the corporate world! And… I hated my first real professional job. Despised it. Evil mega corporation. Terrible boss. Seriously, her nickname company-wide was The Harpy.
Yet I learned a ton. I picked up valuable skills. I honed my bullshit detector. And then the day I caught where a senior executive had fucked up and cost the company a quarter million dollars, and the Harpy screamed at me for doing my job (because she couldn’t very well yell at a department head and she had to hold somebody accountable!) I mentally checked out and the timer started for my next dart throw.
Let’s throw a dart at being an entrepreneur! I now had business skills. I love guns. There’s some other dudes I know who know guns but not business, let’s open a machine gun store!
I can’t really call this one a miss, because I learned a lot. I made a multitude of contacts. I picked up a really unique and oddball skillset… however, I was fucking poor again, and working 60-80 hours a week. And no, that’s not an exaggeration. It was like milking cows again, only with slightly less shit, and slightly more government. So the dart hit the board sideways.
And of course, during all this, I was writing books for fun, and gradually getting better at it. I was sharpening that fucking dart to a razor point. I self published my first book at this point.
When I reached my breaking point at the gun store (right around when I got so angry and frustrated one night doing paperwork that a little blood vessel in my forehead literally popped) and I sold out, I was then unemployed for four months. And of course this was right when the economy took a dump and nobody was hiring.
Big miss, right?
Nope. Forced unemployment meant I had plenty of writing time, and I milked that for all it was worth. For the first time in my life I had time to actually write, and I treated that like I was milking cows and I churned out words. This was when I wrote Hard Magic, and considering what that series did since, that was the best paying unemployment ever.
This whole time I was looking for good paying professional business work again, and losing, badly. Often to guys with way more experience than me because that was just how shitty the economy was at the time and there were a lot of laid off accountants. But we were broke, and I now had 3 kids to feed, so I was about to start a job driving a bread delivery truck for a friend’s company.
Except then one of the dozens of darts I tossed ended up hitting a little start up 8A military defense contracting company, which wasn’t even planning on hiring an accountant yet, and I only cold called the CEO because another friend of mine had applied for an IT job there, and mistakenly thought they said they were looking for a finance guy. I ended up talking to the CEO for two hours about what having a full time accountant could do for her.
I spent the next 5 years there while that company grew ten times in size. Best accounting job I ever had. Great people. Big challenges. Lots of work. I ended up the finance boss.
Oh hell no. I wasn’t done. I was still writing books during all this, and it was while I was doing military contracting I got my first New York Times bestseller. (I didn’t even tell the CEO I was a writer on the side until after I’d been there for long enough to prove myself so she wouldn’t think I lacked focus).
And then I still worked as an accountant for a few more years after that to make sure I had all my ducks in the row before throwing another dart at full time entrepreneurship.
Which I’ve been doing ever since.
Looking at the darts I’ve thrown my life has been poor, really poor, poor, lower middle, poor, lower middle, middle, poor, middle, upper middle, rich, and I’d really like to hit Fuck You Money before I die so I can be like JK Rowling and sue random deserving shit heads on Twitter for fun.
But when you talk about Pull Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps now, people cry and whine and tell you all the multitude of reasons its impossible and the American dream is dead, that’s all fucking bullshit from losers and people who want you to be as miserable as they are. Don’t fall for it.
Sure, there are people who’ve gotten fucked by life out the gate, who will never have a chance because of health problems or baggage or whatever. But most of you aren’t them. And even for those people, get the fuck out of their way with your defeatist garbage.
Most of the people who mope and fail aren’t doing so because of the station of their birth or the strength of their body. They’re failing because trying is hard and we live in a malignant society where self anointed victimhood scores you social points.
My home life growing up was fucked up. My family had issues. Only I don’t whine about those on the internet because my parents did the best they could with what they had and bitching about it later as a grown ass adult is just pathetic and unbecoming. I forget how awful some of the stuff from my childhood was until I’ll be telling a story to my kids because I think its funny, and my kids will be like wow dad your life sucked. 😀
Well yeah, but there’s no reason to be a big baby about it!
There’s people who had it a thousand times worse than me who’ve still managed to land a fuck ton of darts in that board. And there are people who had it a thousand times better who squandered everything.
And then there’s fuckers who snort Parmesan cheese out of the shag carpet of their stripper baby mama’s trailer because they mistook it for crack dust, and they still inexplicably make $80k a month “consulting” for foreign oil companies and selling shitty paintings to the Chinese secret police, and yet the same fuckers who cry the hardest about inequality still vote for that crack head’s dad.
But anyways, what I’m saying is that it doesn’t matter where you come from, you can do better than that. Period. Outside of shit that’s beyond your control like cancer or having your dog get shot by ATF agents, you are the master of your destiny.
I’m never going to get paid millions of dollars to do drugs and bang strippers because my dad was VP, but I’ve come a long way from milking cows.
So fuck your defeatist bullshit and your stupid carnival analogy. Crying doesn’t do shit. Get good at something and get paid.