But What For Takeaways - No. 025

"One word of truth shall outweigh the whole world." Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Welcome to all our new subscribers! I write a weekly newsletter, sent out every Thursday, with takeaways from materials I think are worth reading. I also share my own thoughts, inspired by others’ works, on Sundays. If you enjoy the newsletter, please share it with a few friends/colleagues.

As always, any suggested materials can be sent to social@butwhatfor.com. Thank you!


This Week from But What For?

I stumbled across Alexandr Solzhenitsyn’s 1970 Nobel Prize lecture a few months back, put it on a list of things that I should go back and read, and proceeded to forget about it for too long. I’m a fan of Solzhenitsyn’s writing (though I still always have to double-check that I get his name spelled correctly…)… and also think his translator (Thomas P. Whitney) for the Gulag Archipelago did a fantastic job - deserving an award in his own right.

Pulling this speech back out, I got curious if there were any other names on the list of Nobel Prizes in Literature that I would recognize. I pulled together a few below that I thought were recognizable individuals with speeches that were also interesting reads.

Looking forward, I don’t have any specific topic planned for next week yet - shoot me a note if you have come across anything interesting recently. I always appreciate suggestions!

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I hope everyone has had a great week thus far,

— EJ


Latest from But What For?

Fredrick Taylor Gates – Uncommon Common Sense

Last Thursday I mentioned that I wanted to share a little bit about a “particularly competent and undeservedly unknown man” from the late 1800s / early 1900s. John D. Rockefeller, who, as we will discuss, eventually entrusted his philanthropic activities to him, said that this man combined “business skill and philanthropic aptitude to a higher degree than any other man I have ever known.”

Quiet the compliment from one of the most successful businessmen in history.

This man was Fredrick Taylor Gates – and the University of Chicago, Rockefeller University, the Rockefeller Foundation, and America’s model of medical school education and medicine research can all be tied back to his steadfast efforts and uncommon common sense.

There are many more stories that we could go into where Gates made a difference – such as the killing off of a good portion of hookworm globally and the founding of black high schools in the South to support equal education opportunities (his uncle was a noted abolitionist and judge in New York – Cyrus Gates), but I think the picture is clear.

Gates was an uncommonly gifted individual, for sure – but he was also a curious learner and hard worker who knew how to take what he learned and apply it in the real world. Because he happened to do so, the world is a better place – even if his name is not commonly known.


Elsewhere

(Underlined titles are links to sources)

T.S. Eliot Nobel Prize Speech [1948]

  • Takeaway: Art can connect those otherwise unconnected

Poetry is usually considered the most local of all the arts. Painting, sculpture, architecture, music, can be enjoyed by all who see or hear. But language, especially the language of poetry, is a different matter. Poetry, it might seem, separates peoples instead of uniting them.

In the work of every poet, there will certainly be much that can only appeal to those who inhabit the same region, or speak the same language, as the poet. But nevertheless, there is a meaning to the phrase «the poetry of Europe», and even to the word «poetry» the world over. I think that in poetry people of different countries and different languages – though it be apparently only through a small minority in any one country – acquire an understanding of each other which, however partial, is still essential. And I take the award of the Nobel Prize in Literature, when it is given to a poet, to be primarily an assertion of the supra-national value of poetry. To make that affirmation, it is necessary from time to time to designate a poet: and I stand before you, not on my own merits, but as a symbol, for a time, of the significance of poetry.


William Faulkner Nobel Prize Speech [1949]

  • Takeaway: If you are afraid, you cannot create

He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed – love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice.

Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.

The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.


Ernest Hemingway Nobel Prize Speech [1954]

  • Takeaway: Rewards come, if at all, to those who do for the sake of doing

No writer who knows the great writers who did not receive the Prize can accept it other than with humility. There is no need to list these writers. Everyone here may make his own list according to his knowledge and his conscience.

Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.

For a true writer, each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed.

How simple the writing of literature would be if it were only necessary to write in another way what has been well written. It is because we have had such great writers in the past that a writer is driven far out past where he can go, out to where no one can help him.


Alexandr Solzhenitsyn Nobel Prize Speech [1970]

  • Takeaway: One word of truth shall outweigh the whole world

In order to mount this platform from which the Nobel lecture is read, a platform offered to far from every writer and only once in a lifetime, I have climbed not three or four makeshift steps, but hundreds and even thousands of them; unyielding, precipitous, frozen steps, leading out of the darkness and cold where it was my fate to survive, while others – perhaps with a greater gift and stronger than I – have perished. Of them, I myself met but a few on the Archipelago of GULAG [Solzhenitsyn was imprisoned in Stalinist Russia along with other writers], shattered into its fractionary multitude of islands; and beneath the millstone of shadowing and mistrust, I did not talk to them all, of some I only heard, of others still I only guessed…

And as I stand here today, accompanied by the shadows of the fallen, with bowed head allowing others who were worthy before to pass ahead of me to this place, as I stand here, how am I to divine and to express what THEY would have wished to say?

This obligation has long weighed upon us, and we have understood it. In the words of Vladimir Solov’ev:

Even in chains we ourselves must complete
That circle which the gods have mapped out for us.

As the Russian saying goes, “Do not believe your brother, believe your own crooked eye.” And that is the most sound basis for an understanding of the world around us and of human conduct in it. 

But now during the past few decades, imperceptibly, suddenly, mankind has become one – hopefully one and dangerously one – so that the concussions and inflammations of one of its parts are almost instantaneously passed on to others, sometimes lacking in any kind of necessary immunity. Mankind has become one, but not steadfastly one as communities or even nations used to be; not united through years of mutual experience, neither through possession of a single eye, affectionately called crooked, nor yet through a common native language, but, surpassing all barriers, through international broadcasting and print. An avalanche of events descends upon us – in one minute half the world hears of their splash. 

But the yardstick by which to measure those events and to evaluate them in accordance with the laws of unfamiliar parts of the world – this is not and cannot be conveyed via soundwaves and in newspaper columns…

And if there are not many such different scales of values in the world, there are at least several; one for evaluating events near at hand, another for events far away; aging societies possess one, young societies another; unsuccessful people one, successful people another. The divergent scales of values scream in discordance, they dazzle and daze us, and in order that it might not be painful we steer clear of all other values, as though from insanity, as though from illusion, and we confidently judge the whole world according to our own home values. Which is why we take for the greater, more painful and less bearable disaster not that which is in fact greater, more painful and less bearable, but that which lies closest to us. Everything which is further away, which does not threaten this very day to invade our threshold – with all its groans, its stifled cries, its destroyed lives, even if it involves millions of victims – this we consider on the whole to be perfectly bearable and of tolerable proportions.

We shall be told: what can literature possibly do against the ruthless onslaught of open violence? But let us not forget that violence does not live alone and is not capable of living alone: it is necessarily interwoven with falsehood. Between them lies the most intimate, the deepest of natural bonds. Violence finds its only refuge in falsehood, falsehood its only support in violence. Any man who has once acclaimed violence as his METHOD must inexorably choose falsehood as his PRINCIPLE. At its birth violence acts openly and even with pride. But no sooner does it become strong, firmly established, than it senses the rarefaction of the air around it and it cannot continue to exist without descending into a fog of lies, clothing them in sweet talk. It does not always, not necessarily, openly throttle the throat, more often it demands from its subjects only an oath of allegiance to falsehood, only complicity in falsehood.

And the simple step of a simple courageous man is not to partake in falsehood, not to support false actions! Let THAT enter the world, let it even reign in the world – but not with my help. But writers and artists can achieve more: they can CONQUER FALSEHOOD! In the struggle with falsehood art always did win and it always does win! Openly, irrefutably for everyone! Falsehood can hold out against much in this world, but not against art.

And no sooner will falsehood be dispersed than the nakedness of violence will be revealed in all its ugliness – and violence, decrepit, will fall…

Proverbs about truth are well-loved in Russian. They give steady and sometimes striking expression to the not inconsiderable harsh national experience:

ONE WORD OF TRUTH SHALL OUTWEIGH THE WHOLE WORLD.


Take care and have a great rest of the week,

— EJ


But What For? Writing about anything, as long as it’s interesting


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Uncommon Common Sense - Frederick Taylor Gates

“He combines business skill and philanthropic aptitude to a higher degree than any other man I have ever known.”

Welcome to all our new subscribers! I write a weekly newsletter, sent out every Thursday, with takeaways from materials I think are worth reading. I also share my own thoughts, inspired by others’ works, on Sundays. If you enjoy the newsletter, please share it with a few friends/colleagues.

As always, any suggested materials can be sent to social@butwhatfor.com. Thank you!


Last Thursday I mentioned that I wanted to share a little bit about a “particularly competent and undeservedly unknown man” from the late 1800s / early 1900s. John D. Rockefeller, who, as we will discuss, eventually entrusted his philanthropic activities to him, said that this man combined “business skill and philanthropic aptitude to a higher degree than any other man I have ever known.”

Quiet the compliment from one of the most successful businessmen in history.

This man was Frederick Taylor Gates - and the University of Chicago, Rockefeller University, the Rockefeller Foundation, and America’s model of medical school education and medicine research can all be tied back to his steadfast efforts and uncommon common sense.

Opportunity doesn’t knock if you are not prepared

Gates was born in New York in 1853 and grew up neither poor nor rich. The son of a Baptist minister, he followed in his father's footsteps, completing seminary at Rochester University in 1880. From the ages of 27 to 34, he served as a pastor in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to a small congregation of “those made to feel unwelcome” at the larger churches of the city.

He was a hard-working and earnest man - known for his work ethic as much as for his devoted adherence to Baptist teachings. Innately, he was also an uncommonly curious individual, spending his free time reading about education, economics, finance, political science, and medicine through self-directed study. Thus, his small Baptist congregation was fortunate to have a well-educated, good-natured head of the church.

People noticed and would seek his advice from time to time. George Pillsbury - the patriarch of a wealthy local family - came to him with a rather large problem. Pillsbury was dying, and it had always been his intention to set up a Baptist institution of higher learning. He had just written into his will a gift of $200,000 (late-1800’s dollars) for such purposes, but he feared that the endowment would be misused and wasted. Could Gates think of a way to structure the gift to ensure success?

Gates spends some time researching successful educational institutions and surprises Pilsbury with what he comes back with - namely, don’t pledge $200,000 all upfront. More specifically, Gates leverages his understanding of economics and human nature based on his own studies and common sense, suggesting that:

Success for such an Academy will only be assured if local Baptists themselves contribute a considerable sum. “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Instead of your $200,000 pledge, Mr. Pillsbury, you should offer conditionally to give say, $50,000 to the Academy, provided the Baptists of the state first contribute an equal sum.

Of the hundred thousand thus raised, half should go into a needed new building and the other half into endowment. With proper safeguards in place that all this proves successful, with confidence, you can then safely leave the remaining $150,000 in your will.

Gates then offers to go raise the needed $50,000 himself!

Pillsbury is pleasantly caught off guard and backs Gate’s plan. Gates raises the money, Pillsbury Baptist College is founded and the entire community is standing together behind the project.

As a side benefit for Gates, his fundraising capabilities are being noticed far and wide.

Competence is sought after as it is hard to find

A group of Baptists in Chicago reaches out to Gates with a problem of their own - the lack of a premier Midwestern (Baptist) university that rivals the Ivy League schools in the North East. For years, they have tried to attract the attention of a well-known Baptist and businessman - John D. Rockefeller. So annoyed by their uninspiring overtures, Rockefeller has even instructed his organization to ignore the group’s attempts to contact him altogether.

Gates agrees that such a school in the Midwest is a worthwhile endeavor, and after a failed in-person trip to New York where Rockefeller refuses to meet with Gates, Gates writes a letter in a last-ditch attempt at persuading Rockefeller.

For some reason, Rockefeller reads the letter. And he is blown away by the proposal.

Similar to Gate’s approach with Pilsbury, he suggests a measured pace and thoughtful approach to funding the suggested university. The Baptist group in Chicago had been too interested in making large progress quickly. Gates, however, suggests that…

All things come to him that waits. Our best and greatest schools have developed broadly and hardly step-by-step in this way. Holding the possible scope of the institution in abeyance for a few years will cost nothing, while time will, of itself, solve the question [of the best long-term approach] easily and with certainty.

The letter results in a face-to-face meeting with Rockefeller, the eventual donation of a large sum to the Baptist group ($600,000 from Rockefeller to match a $400,000 raised from local interests), and the founding of what eventually becomes the University of Chicago!

Not too bad for a 35-year-old minister in the Midwest - but Rockefeller knew that he had in Gates someone with the potential to do even more.

Gates relocates with his family to New York in order to run all of Rockefeller’s philanthropic efforts. Rockefeller was constantly “hunted, stalked, and hounded almost like a wild animal” by well-intentioned spokespersons for causes across the United States.

Using his proven, thoughtful approach, Gates took over and managed these interactions - focusing on large-scale philanthropic efforts where donations had a chance to make significant improvements. And he was good at it.

So good, in fact, that Rockefeller started to look to Gates to manage not only his philanthropic efforts but select family office investments as well.

Common sense is not commonly found

Gates feels out of his element, but he tackles the challenge the same way he first attacked the problem of fundraising and properly allocating donations. Namely, he used his common sense that had been built up over the years due to his self-guided studies.

This appears to be part of what Rockefeller saw as unique in Gates - the ability to apply common sense to complicated problems until they are understood and approached properly.

Of Rockefeller’s decision to use Gates in this way, Gates says that…

In his Reminiscence [Rockefeller’s memoirs], he excuses himself for his choice of me, with my lack of expert knowledge and my inexperience, on the ground that I had a “great store of common sense.” His excuse is valid in its implication that common sense diligently applied is usually the best possible solvent of difficult business problems.

Taking the three investments called out in Chapter 38 of Gate’s autobiography, Chapters In My Life, we have a few quick case studies. In all three investments, Rockefeller had trusted, sight unseen, the suggestions of friends and acquaintances. While traveling for his philanthropic efforts, Gates makes detours to inspect and report back on these assets.

In the first two investments - iron furnaces in Alabama and Wisconsin - Gates quickly realizes that Rockefeller had been cheated. In both instances, the money invested by Rockefeller had dissipated due to losses incurred but that these losses had been hidden from the wealthy financier. Interestingly, also in both situations, Gates uncovers that the true intentions behind raising money for the furnaces were so that the project coordinators, who owned land in the surrounding area, could sell out to speculators who believed the to-be-built furnaces would bring about an increase in land valuations.

In the third - gold mines in Colorado - Gates starts out much less certain in himself given his belief that mining is too technical of a business for him to wrap his arms around. However, he says that…

My self-distrust proved my salvation. I would not rely at all on any examination of the mines.

If these consolidated gold properties were what they were represented to be, they would be well known. They ought to be well known throughout Colorado. There must be men in Denver itself that knew of them. I could and would find out what experienced and reliable men in Colorado knew of these mines…

Unfortunately for Rockefeller, his money here was also lost. There was no gold in the mines owned by the enterprise in which he had invested. Every reputable mining man in Denver, and a few bankers as well, knew this - all one had to do was ask them. A promoter looking to line his own pocket had tricked Rockefeller’s friends into giving him money, and they in turn had walked Rockefeller into the same trap.

In all three cases, Gates extricates Rockefeller from these situations as best he can - but he is not satisfied with only uncovering past mistakes. He can himself direct non-philanthropic investment for the family as well. And so he does, starting in 1893 when a US-wide economic depression was brought about by crashing export commodity prices, over-investment in mining and railroads, and subsequent runs on the banks.

While everyone else was running for the hills, Gates directed $40 million of investment into a mining enterprise in northeastern Minnesota called the Masabi Range. The story is a long one, but in short, between 1893 and 1901, Gates amasses a fleet of transportation vessels, mines, railroads and docks and then sells the entire organization to U.S. Steel and J.P. Morgan for $90 million.

In today’s dollars, that is over a billion dollars of profit for Rockefeller’s family office - in a period of only 8 years!

Study for its own sake can open up opportunities

Outside of his work with Rockefeller, Gates continued his habit of self-directed reading in topics that interested him. As would be the case for many of us, I’m sure, on a family vacation in the mountains of New York, he brought along a 1,000-page medical school textbook. And he was bothered by what he learned…

I saw clearly from the work of this able and honest man [the author of the medical textbook], perhaps the ablest physician of his time, that medicine had in fact, with only four or five exceptions, no cures for disease.

Medicine could hardly hope to become a science until medicine was endowed, and qualified men were enabled to give themselves to uninterrupted study on ample salary entirely independent of practice. To this end it seemed to me an institute of medical research ought to be established in the United States on the general lines of the work of Koch in Berlin and the Pasteur Institute in Paris.

And here was an opportunity for Mr. Rockefeller to do an immense service to his country and perhaps the world. This idea took possession of me.

The more I thought of it, the more interested I became. I knew nothing of the cost of research; I did not realize its enormous difficulty; the only thing I saw was the overwhelming need and infinite promise, world-wide, universal, eternal.

Gates brought this idea back to Rockefeller, and after some time and additional research, the first biomedical research institute in the United States was founded - Rockefeller University. Focusing primarily on medical sciences while providing doctoral and postdoctoral education, the University has been associated with 26 Nobel Prizes in chemistry, physiology, and medicine.

Beyond Rockefeller University, Gates also played a part in bringing the learnings from the 1910 Flexner Report - a book-length deep dive into America’s medical schools, its deficiencies, and suggested methods for improvement - to life across the United States.

Gates directly hired Abraham Flexner, who had conducted the study and compiled the report, to deploy resources across the United States to pursue the goals he had laid out in his report. Gates supported Flexner, such that…

From his grantmaking post at the GEB [Rockefeller’s General Education Board, which Gates chaired], Flexner set to work to raise the standards of medical education dramatically. More specifically, Flexner sought to replicate nationally the model of medical education developed at Johns Hopkins, where the medical faculty devoted themselves "full-time" to clinical work at the university and its affiliated teaching hospital rather than splitting their time between university work and their own private clinical practices.

To that end, the GEB systematically funded the reorganization of select medical schools, including, initially, the medical schools at Washington University in St. Louis, Yale, the University of Chicago, and Vanderbilt University.

So, not only did Gates play a hand in the first medical research-focused university in the Americas, but he also supported a broad professionalization and building-up of medical school education standards and best practices across the nation.

And maybe we have time for one more selected accomplishment - the establishment of the first permanent philanthropic foundation.

Don’t be afraid to be appropriately blunt

In 1905, after nearly two decades of working for Rockefeller, Gates was bothered by what the future might hold when Rockefeller inevitably would pass the reins over to his heirs. But…

It was not until 1905 that I ventured with many misgivings to approach Mr. Rockefeller with the question of the use and disposition to be made of his fortune. It might be argued that I was trespassing on a domain in which I had no proper business.

But to myself, it was very intimately my business, for I had come clearly to see that unless Mr. Rockefeller were to make some such disposition of his fortune, for a great part of it my life was doing more harm than good.

Rockefeller’s fortune was rolling up so fast that his heirs would dissipate their inheritance or become intoxicated with power unless we set up a permanent corporate philanthropy for the good of mankind.

So at last I broke my silence. I wrote a letter. It is dated June 3, 1905.

Of course, we know where this leads - the founding of the Rockefeller Foundation. Since it was informally set up in 1906, the foundation has donated $17 billion to causes globally across medicine, agriculture, the arts, and social sciences.

Before he retired in 1923, Gates oversaw $500 million in distributions for the Rockefeller family’s philanthropic efforts - this is ~$10 billion in 2020 equivalent dollars!

In Summary

There are many more stories that we could go into where Gates made a difference - such as the killing off of a good portion of hookworm globally and the founding of black high schools in the South to support equal education opportunities (his uncle was a noted abolitionist and judge in New York - Cyrus Gates), but I think the picture is clear.

Gates was an uncommonly gifted individual, for sure - but he was also a curious learner and hard worker who knew how to take what he learned and apply it in the real world. Because he happened to do so, the world is a better place - even if his name is not commonly known.


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Take care and have a great week,

— EJ


But What For? Writing about anything, as long as it’s interesting


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But What For Takeaways - No. 024

"The reason I'm here," he finished his story, "is that the Americans didn't run out of tanks.”

Welcome to all our new subscribers! I write a weekly newsletter, sent out every Thursday, with curated quotes and one-line takeaways from material I think is worth reading. I also share my own thoughts, inspired by others’ works, on Sundays. If you enjoy the newsletter, please share it with a few friends/colleagues.

As always, any suggested materials for our Thursday newsletter can be sent to social@butwhatfor.com. Thank you!


This Week from But What For?

This week has gone by far too quickly and it feels like I have more to do now than when the week started! That might be the best one can hope for, though - not everyone is fortunate enough to be busy.

But, despite the hectic week - I am looking forward to sharing an article this Sunday on a particularly competent and undeservedly unknown man who was born in the mid-1800s.

His story is a unique one. A young man who followed in his father’s footsteps to become a Baptist minister in a small town in Minnesota, he has a chance encounter that up-ends his quiet life and thrusts him into the world of business and philanthropy.

Constantly exceeding expectations and proving his merit, he ultimately ran the largest philanthropic institution of his day, with the institution’s patron patriarch sharing that…

He has been the guiding genius in all our giving.

He came to us first to undertake certain business matters requiring talent of a high order and showed phenomenal business ability. He combined with this the rare quality – born, no doubt, because he had the right kind of heart – of being able to direct the distribution of money with great vision.

We all owe much to him, and his helpfulness should be generously recognized. He combines business skill and philanthropic aptitude to a higher degree than any other man I have ever known.

If I do his story any justice, the ringing recommendation above will hopefully come across as an understatement.

Until Sunday —

Leave a comment

I hope everyone has had a great week thus far,

— EJ


Elsewhere

(Underlined titles are links to sources)

About Face: The Odyssey of an American Warrior, by David Hackworth & Julie Sherman [Book - 1989]

  • Takeaway: Discipline equals freedom

I often remembered Italy in 1946, when I was detailed to guard German prisoners of war. One of the prisoners was a damn tough lieutenant captured at Salerno. He spoke English, so I whiled away my duty hours giving him a hard time. Once I asked him why, if he and all his Kraut friends were such brilliant soldiers and such supermen, was fifteen-year-old me the one holding the weapon and he the prisoner of war. He answered me with a story. "I was an 88-mm antitank battery commander," he said. "We were on a hill, and the Americans kept sending tanks down the road below. Every time they sent a tank we knocked it out. They kept sending tanks, and we kept knocking them out, until we finally ran out of ammunition. The reason I'm here," he finished his story, "is that the Americans didn't run out of tanks.”

The fact is, generally there's no "time-out" for mourning on the battlefield. But it's really no different than the father often who comes home to find his house on fire with all his kids sleeping inside. He doesn't stop and cry over the first child he finds dead. To do so would be to sign a death warrant for the other nine. A CO is often in the same situation. To do anything but continue on would be a complete dereliction of duty, and, in the larger picture, could possibly lead to even worse carnage among his troops. So you do what you have to do, and only later, when things settle down, do you allow yourself to grieve.


The Common Denominator of Success [Transcript - 1940]

  • Takeaway: You will never succeed beyond the purpose to which you are willing to surrender

Of course, like most of us. I have been brought up on the popular belief that the secret of success is hard work, but I had seen so many people work hard without succeeding and so many people succeed without working hard that I had become convinced that hard work was not the real secret even though in most cases it might be one of the requirements.

And so I set out on a voyage of discovery which carried me through biographies and autobiographies and all sorts of dissertations on success and the lives of successful individuals… In short, I was looking for the common denominator of success.

The common denominator of success – the secret of success of every individual who has ever been successful – lies in the fact that he or she formed the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.

It’s just as true as it sounds and it’s just as simple as it seems. You can hold it up to the light, you can put it to the acid test, and you can kick it around until it’s worn out, but when you are all through with it, it will still be the common denominator of success, whether we like it or not.

Then people go into a slump, it simply means that they have reached a point at which, for the time being, the things they don’t like to do have become more important than their reasons for doing them. And may I pause to suggest to you managers and agents that when one of your good producers goes into a slump, the less you talk about production and the more you talk about purpose, the sooner you will pull that agent out of that slump?

Many people with whom I have discussed this common denominator of success have said at this point, “But I have a family to support and I have to make a living for my family and myself. Isn’t that enough of a purpose?”

No, it isn’t. It isn’t a sufficiently strong purpose to make you form the habit of doing the things you don’t like to do for the very simple reason that it is easier to adjust ourselves to the hardships of a poor living than it is to adjust ourselves to the hardships of making a better one. If you doubt me, just think of all the things you are willing to go without in order to avoid doing the things you don’t like to do. All of which seems to prove that the strength which holds you to your purpose is not your own strength but the strength of the purpose itself.

Here’s the answer. Any resolution of decision you make is simply a promise to yourself which isn’t worth a tinker’s damn until you have formed the habit of making it and keeping it. And you won’t form the habit of making it and keeping it unless right at the start you link it with a definite purpose that can be accomplished by keeping it, in other words, any resolution or decision you make today has to be made again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, and the next, and so on. And it not only has to be made each day, but it has to be kept each day for if you miss one day in the making or keeping of it, you’ve got to go back and begin all over again. But if you continue the process of making it each morning and keeping it each day, you will finally wake up some morning, a different person in a different world, and you will wonder what has happened to you and the world you used to live in.

But as long as you live, don’t ever forget that while you may succeed beyond your fondest hopes and your greatest expectations, you will never succeed beyond the purpose to which you are willing to surrender. Furthermore, your surrender will not be complete until you have formed the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.


Productivity [Link - 2018]

  • Takeaway: It is not productive to be productive in something not worth doing

I think I am at least somewhat more productive than average, and people sometimes ask me for productivity tips.  So I decided to just write them all down in one place.

Compound growth gets discussed as a financial concept, but it works in careers as well, and it is magic.  A small productivity gain, compounded over 50 years, is worth a lot.  So it’s worth figuring out how to optimize productivity. If you get 10% more done and 1% better every day compared to someone else, the compounded difference is massive. 

It doesn’t matter how fast you move if it’s in a worthless direction.  Picking the right thing to work on is the most important element of productivity and usually almost ignored.  So think about it more!  Independent thought is hard but it’s something you can get better at with practice.

The most impressive people I know have strong beliefs about the world, which is rare in the general population.  If you find yourself always agreeing with whomever you last spoke with, that’s bad.  You will of course be wrong sometimes, but develop the confidence to stick with your convictions.  It will let you be courageous when you’re right about something important that most people don’t see.

Also, don’t fall into the trap of productivity porn—chasing productivity for its own sake isn’t helpful.  Many people spend too much time thinking about how to perfectly optimize their system, and not nearly enough asking if they’re working on the right problems.  It doesn’t matter what system you use or if you squeeze out every second if you’re working on the wrong thing.

The right goal is to allocate your year optimally, not your day.


Politics and the English Language [Orwell - 1946]

Now that I have made this catalog of swindles and perversions, let me give another example of the kind of writing that they lead to. This time it must of its nature be an imaginary one. I am going to translate a passage of good English into modern English of the worst sort. Here is a well-known verse from Ecclesiastes:

I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Here it is in modern English:

Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compels the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.

This is a parody, but not a very gross one.

In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.

Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification.

Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers.

People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements.

Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them. Consider for instance some comfortable English professor defending Russian totalitarianism. He cannot say outright, ‘I believe in killing off your opponents when you can get good results by doing so’. Probably, therefore, he will say something like this:

While freely conceding that the Soviet régime exhibits certain features which the humanitarian may be inclined to deplore, we must, I think, agree that a certain curtailment of the right to political opposition is an unavoidable concomitant of transitional periods, and that the rigours which the Russian people have been called upon to undergo have been amply justified in the sphere of concrete achievement.

The inflated style is itself a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outlines and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink. 


Take care and have a great rest of the week,

— EJ


But What For? Writing about anything, as long as it’s interesting


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But What For Takeaways - No. 023

"The first rule of a happy life is low expectations. That’s one you can easily arrange. If you have unrealistic expectations, you’re going to be miserable all your life."

Welcome to all our new subscribers! I write a weekly newsletter, sent out every Thursday, with curated quotes and one-line takeaways from material I think is worth reading. I also share my own thoughts, inspired by others’ works, on Sundays. If you enjoy the newsletter, please share it with a few friends/colleagues.

As always, any suggested materials for our Thursday newsletter can be sent to social@butwhatfor.com. Thank you!


This Week from But What For?

First off, I want to say thank you to everyone who shared the Simple Sabotage Field Manual article from Sunday (see below) - it set a record for most email shares. Very much appreciate everyone forwarding around the article and welcome to all our new subscribers!

This week, I have been thinking a lot about my day job, which is attempting to make profitable investment decisions in the tech space. At the start of the year, many investors offer up “annual letters” or “year-end reviews”. As boring and old-fashioned as it sounds, I always look forward to hearing what Charlie Munger, Warren Buffet, and Howard Marks have to say.

What is interesting is how much general investment advice can be repurposed and thought of as applicable to many areas of a person’s life.

Unrelated to this topic is the very first link - an excerpt from one of Tim Ferris’ recent books. Last week, I mentioned I have not felt very interested in my day-to-day routine and was stuck in a bit of a negative spot (thank you to those that shot me a note). This excerpt probably stood out to me as a hold-over from last week. Sometimes you need a little kick in the butt to remember that moping around doesn’t help anyone - you got to get out there and do something!

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I hope everyone has had a great week thus far,

— EJ


Latest from But What For?

Simple Sabotage Field Manual – How to Destroy Your Organizations

The manual, published in 1944, has now been declassified – but it was once used as a reference guide for OSS operatives globally to train individuals in German-occupied territories how to best become “citizen saboteurs.” It says that “purposeful stupidity is contrary to human nature” and thus the manual means to serve as inspiration and direction for saboteurs.

In short, the best way that ordinary citizens, unhappy with the German occupation, could aid the Allied military was to drive inefficiency in their workplaces – to slow down every attempt at progress and make even the simplest tasks frustrating.

Specific examples involved mechanics not repairing engines on time, misplacing tools so that they are hard to find, or misusing tools so as to break them more frequently. Bus drivers could “accidentally” go past the bus stops where German officers would most likely be found or want to get off. Train operators could issue the wrong tickets to travelers so they end up at the wrong destination, or they could issue two tickets for the same seat to cause delays. Janitors could ensure a disorderly workplace environment by keeping things dirty or placing rice in water cooling systems. Even those without jobs could get involved – by giving wrong directions when asked, changing signposts to point the wrong way, or pretending to not speak whatever language the other person is using.

This all got me thinking about Charlie Munger, and how he has said it is often easier to solve problems backwards than it is to solve them forwards – try to uncover the things that would most effectively prevent you from achieving your goals and just don’t do those things – avoid what is certain to bring about failure so that you give yourself the best shot at success…


Elsewhere

(Underlined titles are links to sources)

Ten Short Life Lessons from Steve Pressfield

  • Takeaway: What do you really want?

I’m probably hopelessly out of date but my advice is to get real-world experience: Be a cowboy. Drive a truck. Join the Marine Corps. Get out of the hypercompetitive “life hack” frame of mind. I’m 74. Believe me, you’ve got all the time in the world. You’ve got ten lifetimes ahead of you. Don’t worry about your friends “beating” you or “getting somewhere” ahead of you. Get out into the real dirt world and start failing. Why do I say that? Because the goal is to connect with your own self, your own soul. Adversity. Everybody spends their life trying to avoid it. Me too. But the best things that ever happened to me came during the times when the shit hit the fan and I had nothing and nobody to help me. Who are you really? What do you really want? Get out there and fail and find out.

I got a chance a couple of years ago to visit a security firm, one of those places that guard celebrities and protect their privacy — in other words, a business whose total job was to say no. The person who was giving me the tour told me that the business screens every incoming letter, solicitation, email, etc., and decides which ones get through to the client. “How many get through?” I asked.

“Virtually none,” my friend said. I decided that I would look at incoming mail the same way that firm does. If I were the security professional tasked with protecting me from bogus, sociopathic, and clueless asks, which ones would I screen and dump into the trash? That has helped a lot.

In the world of writing, everyone wants to succeed immediately and without pain or effort. Really? Or they love to write books about how to write books, rather than actually writing . . . a book that might actually be about something. Bad advice is everywhere. Build a following. Establish a platform. Learn how to scam the system. In other words, do all the surface stuff and none of the real work it takes to actually produce something of value. The disease of our times is that we live on the surface. We’re like the Platte River, a mile wide and an inch deep.


Charlie Munger: 2021 Daily Journal Annual Meeting Transcript

  • Takeaway: A happy life is a simple life

I have a very simple idea on the subject. I think you should try and make your money in this world by selling other people things that are good for them. And if you’re selling them gambling services where you make profits off of the top, like many of these new brokers who specialize in luring the amateurs in, I think it’s a dirty way to make money. And I think that we’re crazy to allow it.

Well, I’m constantly making mistakes where I can, in retrospect, realize that I should have decided differently. And I think that that is inevitable because it’s difficult to be a good investor. I’m pretty easy on myself these days. I’m satisfied with the way things have worked out and I’m not gnashing my teeth when other people are doing better.

By the way, the Harvard Business School, when it started out way early, they started out with a history of the business. They’d take you through the building of the canals and the building of the railroads and so on and so on. You saw the ebb and flow of industry and the creative destruction of the economic changes and so on. It was a background that helped everybody. And, of course, what I’m saying is that if I were teaching business I would start the way Harvard Business School did a long time ago.

Well, I do have a tip. At times in my life, I have put myself to a standard that I think has helped me: I think I’m not really equipped to comment on this subject until I can state the arguments against my conclusion better than the people on the other side. If you do that all the time; if you’re looking for disconfirming evidence and putting yourself on a grill, that’s a good way to help remove ignorance.

What happens is that every human being tends to believe way more than he should in what he’s worked hard to find out or where he’s announced publicly that he already believes. In other words, when we shout our knowledge out, we’re really pounding it out. We’re not enlarging it. And, I was always aware of that and so I’ve accepted these damned annual meetings. I’ve been pretty quiet.

There’s an old German proverb I’ve always liked. It says that man is too soon old and too late smart. That’s true whether you’re Benjamin Franklin or Joe klutz. We all live with that problem. We’re all pretty forgiving of ourselves too which is probably a good thing.

I wouldn’t change my life all that well. I think most people who are assuming tolerable success in life are about as happy as they were ordained to be. They wouldn’t be a lot happier if they were richer or a lot less happy if they’d been poor. I think most people are born with a happystat. That happystat has more to do with their happiness and their outcomes in life

A happy life is very simple.

The first rule of a happy life is low expectations. That’s one you can easily arrange. If you have unrealistic expectations, you’re going to be miserable all your life. I was good at having low expectations and that helped me.

Also, when you get reverses, if you just suck it in cope, that helps if you don’t just fretfully stew yourself into a lot of misery.

There are certain behavioral rules. Rose Blumpkin had quite an effect on the Berkshire culture. She created a business with like 500 depression dollars that became a huge business. You know what her mottoes were? Always tell the truth and never lie to anybody about anything.

Those are pretty good rules and they’re pretty simple.

A lot of the good rules of life are like that. They’re just very simple. Do it right the first time. That’s a really good rule.


Berkshire Hathaway 2020 Annual Letter

  • Takeaway: Never bet against America

Charlie and I will simply deploy your capital into whatever we believe makes the most sense, based on a company’s durable competitive strengths, the capabilities and character of its management, and price… If that strategy requires little or no effort on our part, so much the better. In contrast to the scoring system utilized in diving competitions, you are awarded no points in business endeavors for “degree of difficulty.” Furthermore, as Ronald Reagan cautioned: “It’s said that hard work never killed anyone, but I say why take the chance?”

In 1958, Phil Fisher wrote a superb book on investing. In it, he analogized running a public company to managing a restaurant. If you are seeking diners, he said, you can attract a clientele and prosper featuring either hamburgers served with a Coke or a French cuisine accompanied by exotic wines. But you must not, Fisher warned, capriciously switch from one to the other: Your message to potential customers must be consistent with what they will find upon entering your premises.

At Berkshire, we have been serving hamburgers and Coke for 56 years. We cherish the clientele this fare has attracted.

When you next fly over Knoxville or Omaha, tip your hat to the Claytons, Haslams and Blumkins as well as to the army of successful entrepreneurs who populate every part of our country. These builders needed America’s framework for prosperity – a unique experiment when it was crafted in 1789 – to achieve their potential. In turn, America needed citizens like Jim C., Jim H., Mrs. B and Louie to accomplish the miracles our founding fathers sought.

Today, many people forge similar miracles throughout the world, creating a spread of prosperity that benefits all of humanity. In its brief 232 years of existence, however, there has been no incubator for unleashing human potential like America. Despite some severe interruptions, our country’s economic progress has been breathtaking.

Beyond that, we retain our constitutional aspiration of becoming “a more perfect union.” Progress on that front has been slow, uneven and often discouraging. We have, however, moved forward and will continue to do so.

Our unwavering conclusion: Never bet against America


Something of Value

  • Takeaway: Times change; make sure you do too

His investment style relied on fixed formulas to arrive at measures of statistical cheapness.  Graham went on to achieve enviable investment performance although, funnily enough, he would later admit that he earned more on one long-term investment in a growth company, GEICO, than in all his other investments combined.

To summarize, businesses are both more vulnerable and more dominant in today’s world, with much greater opportunities for dramatic changes in fortune, both positive and negative. On the positive side, successful businesses have much more potential for long runways of high growth, superior economics, and significant durability, creating a huge pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and seemingly justifying valuations for the potentially deserving that are off-puttingly high by historical standards. On the negative side, it also creates immense temptation for investors to overvalue undeserving companies. And companies with here-and-now cash flows and seeming stability can see those evaporate as soon as a bunch of Stanford computer science students get funding and traction for their new idea.

Skepticism is important for any investor; it’s always essential to challenge assumptions, avoid herd mentality and think independently.  Skepticism keeps investors safe and helps them avoid things that are “too good to be true.” 

But I also think skepticism can lead to knee-jerk dismissiveness.  While it’s important not to lose your skepticism, it’s also very important in this new world to be curious, look deeply into things and seek to truly understand them from the bottom up, rather than dismissing them out of hand. 

Value investors are likely to consider it easy to predict and value Company A, with its time-tested product, stable revenues, well-established profit margins and valuable production facilities.  The process requires only a few simple assumptions: that something that has been successful will remain so; that next year’s sales will be equal to this year sales plus some modest growth; and that the profit margin will remain where it has been for years.  It seems intuitively obvious that chugging along as in the past is more predictable and reliable than rapid and durable growth, and thus that industrial stalwarts are more capable than innovators of being valued with precision.

Company B, on the other hand, is at an early stage in its development, its profit margins are far from maximized, and its greatest assets go home every night rather than residing on the balance sheet.  Valuing it requires guesses about the ultimate success of its products; its ability to come up with new ones; the response from competitors and the targeted industry; its growth runway; and the extent to which it will be able to increase profitability once doing so becomes its focus.  Company B seems more conceptual in nature and more dependent on developments in the distant future that are subject to significant uncertainty, so valuing it might have to be done on the basis of broad ranges for future sales and profitability rather than reliable point estimates.  Assessing its value also requires conversance with a technologically complex field.  For all these reasons, value investors are likely to consider Company B hard to value, “speculative” and thus not investable under the canon. 

When you find an investment with the potential to compound over a long period of time, one of the hardest things is to be patient and maintain your position as long as doing so is warranted on the basis of the prospective return and risk.  Investors can easily be moved to sell by news, emotion, the fact that they’ve made a lot of money to date, or the excitement of a new, seemingly more promising idea.  When you look at the chart for something that’s gone up and to the right for 20 years, think about all the times a holder would have had to convince himself not to sell. 

In other words, if you have a compounding machine with the potential to do so for decades, you basically shouldn’t think about selling it (unless, of course, your thesis becomes less probable).  Compounding at high rates over an investment career is very hard, but doing it by finding something that doubles, then moving on to another thing that doubles, and so on and so on is, in my opinion, nearly impossible.  It requires that you develop correct insights about a large number of investment situations over a long period of time.  It also requires that you execute well on both the buy and the sell each time.  When you multiply together the probabilities of succeeding at a large number of challenging tasks, the probability of doing them all correctly becomes very low.  It’s much more feasible to have great insights about a small number of potentially huge winners, recognize how truly rare such insights and winners are, and not counteract them up by selling prematurely.  


Take care and have a great rest of the week,

— EJ


But What For? Writing about anything, as long as it’s interesting


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Simple Sabotage Field Manual - How to Destroy Your Organizations

"The purpose of this paper is to characterize simple sabotage, to outline its possible effects, and to present suggestions for inciting and executing it."

Welcome to all our new subscribers! I write a weekly newsletter, sent out every Thursday, with curated quotes and one-line takeaways from material I think is worth reading. I also share my own thoughts, inspired by others’ works, on Sundays. If you enjoy the newsletter, please share it with a few friends/colleagues.

As always, any suggested materials for our newsletter can be sent to social@butwhatfor.com. Thank you!


History of the Simple Sabotage Field Manual

Before the CIA, there was the OSS - the Office of Strategic Services.

Formed in 1942 in order to shore up American intelligence capabilities at the request of Franklin D. Roosevelt, before the end of WWII the OSS eventually employed ~24,000 people and had operations across Europe and Asia. Amongst its responsibilities was frustrating the German war effort, and to that end, it wrote a short set of “best practices” - the Simple Sabotage Field Manual.

The purpose of the manual is fairly straightforward - it is to…

characterize simple sabotage, to outline its possible effects, and to present suggestions for inciting and executing it.

Sabotage varies from highly technical coup de main acts that require detailed planning and the use of specially trained operatives, to innumnerable simple acts which the ordinary individual citizen-saboteur can perform. This paper is primarily concerned with the latter type….

Simple sabotage requires no destructive tools whatsoever and produces physical damage, if any, by highly indirect means. It is based on universal opportunities to make faulty decisions, to adopt a non-cooperative attitude, and to induce others to follow suit. Making a faulty decision may be simply a matter of placing tools in one spot instead of another. A non-cooperative attitude may involve nothing more than creating an unpleasant situation among one’s fellow workers, engaging in bickerings, or displaying surliness and stupidity.

This type of activity, sometimes referred to as the “human element," is frequently responsible for accidents, delays, and general obstruction even under normal conditions. The potential saboteur should discover what types of faulty decisions and cooperation are normally found in this kind of work and should then devise his sabotage so as to enlarge that “margin for error."

The manual, published in 1944, has now been declassified - but it was once used as a reference guide for OSS operatives globally to train individuals in German-occupied territories how to best become “citizen saboteurs.” It says that “purposeful stupidity is contrary to human nature” and thus the manual means to serve as inspiration and direction for saboteurs.

In short, the best way that ordinary citizens, unhappy with the German occupation, could aid the Allied military was to drive inefficiency in their workplaces - to slow down every attempt at progress and make even the simplest tasks frustrating.

Specific examples involved mechanics not repairing engines on time, misplacing tools so that they are hard to find, or misusing tools so as to break them more frequently. Bus drivers could “accidentally” go past the bus stops where German officers would most likely be found or want to get off. Train operators could issue the wrong tickets to travelers so they end up at the wrong destination, or they could issue two tickets for the same seat to cause delays. Janitors could ensure a disorderly workplace environment by keeping things dirty or placing rice in water cooling systems. Even those without jobs could get involved - by giving wrong directions when asked, changing signposts to point the wrong way, or pretending to not speak whatever language the other person is using.

How to Sabotage Your Team Most Effectively

This all got me thinking about Charlie Munger, and how he has said it is often easier to solve problems backwards than it is to solve them forwards - try to uncover the things that would most effectively prevent you from achieving your goals and just don’t do those things - avoid what is certain to bring about failure so that you give yourself the best shot at success.

In order to achieve our goals or to make progress generally, many times we rely on working with others. Often, this collaboration happens in the workplace. And this is where the OSS focused their expertise - how might we best destroy the ability of our organizations to make efficient and meaningful progress?

So, with Charlie Munger’s guidance in mind, what can we learn from the OSS’ Simple Sabotage Field Manual? What do the experts say is the best way to sabotage the organizations in which we work?

Think about how many of these things are a standard where you work. Does it feel like CIA operatives have been sabotaging your current workplace for decades - or that you might unwittingly have started to help their efforts? If so, can you do anything about that?

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Simple Steps to Ensure Organization Disfunction

It is probably easiest to ensure progress will not be made if you are the owner or leader of an entire organization. In this position, you can cause great distress and destroy morale if you…

Insist on doing everything through “channels.” Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.

Make “speeches.” Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your “points” by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate “patriotic” comments.

When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration.” Attempt to make the committees as large as possible — never less than five.

Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.

Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.

Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.

Advocate “caution.” Be “reasonable” and urge your fellow-conferees to be “reasonable” and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.

Be worried about the propriety of any decision—raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the jurisdiction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.

However, do not despair if you are not yet the leader of an entire organization as managers of smaller teams can also do their part to bring down a group of people otherwise motivated to do well. It would be best if you can…

Insist on perfect work in relatively unimportant products

When training new workers, give incomplete or misleading instructions… Give lengthy and incomprehensible explanations when questioned.

To lower morale and with it, production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions. Discriminate against efficient workers; complain unjustly about their work.

Hold conferences when there is more critical work to be done.

Don’t order new working materials until your current stocks have been virtually exhausted, so that the slightest delay in filling your order will mean a shutdown.

In making work assignments, always sign out the unimportant jobs first. See that the important jobs are assigned to inefficient workers of poor machines.

Last, but not least, if you are more of an employee looking to frustrate the well-intentioned efforts of those around you, it is best that you…

Work slowly.

Spread rumors.

Do your work poorly and blame it on bad tools, machinery, or equipment. Complain that these things are preventing you from doing your job right.

Contrive as many interruptions to your work as you can. When you go to the lavatory, spend longer time there than is necessary.

Never pass on your skill and experience to a new or less skilful worker.

Be as irritable and quarrelsome as possible without getting yourself into trouble.

And there we have it - some of the easiest ways to prevent a group of people from effectively working together. If you are like me, many of these things sound surprisingly familiar. A manual written in 1944 seems to suggest that the best way to break down organizations is to utilize behaviors that organizations today treat as “best practices.”

The next time you see these things causing trouble, maybe it makes sense to call them out. Explain how things might be done differently to improve your chance at success by avoiding the things sure to cause failures.

If you get any pushback, send around this manual - maybe knowing that the U.S. military’s best suggestion for citizens to help it win a war was to destroy an enemy’s organizational efficiency will cause some pause. The military suggested the same practices you have been using to attempt the opposite.

This may at least prompt a discussion about how we might improve our processes today.


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Take care and have a great week,

— EJ


But What For? Writing about anything, as long as it’s interesting


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