Let Nothing You Dismay

| December 16, 2009

Fear is a useful thing. In an article in the New York Times Magazine a couple of months ago, Robin Marantz Henig described current research exploring the complex links between temperament and the brain. It was a fascinating article, but what struck me is that the more we learn about the psychology of fear, it seems like we become less able to predict how it will affect any given individual.

Keep Your Eyes Off the Prize

| October 12, 2009

A universal trait of RMITs is the ability to execute, to get across the goal line without dropping the ball. What also sets RMITs apart, however, is the ability to adapt to new circumstances, and even change the goal when necessary. Dan Duncan, the richest man in Houston, told me that he runs his businesses, Enterprise Products Partners and Duncan Energy Partners—not to mention his five-thousand-acre Double D Ranch and his considerable philanthropic contributions—according to one piece of advice his grandmother gave him: “Just get up every day and do the best you can that day.”

Eighty Percent of Success Is Showing Up—and Showing Up, and Showing Up

| July 28, 2009

In my last post, I said that addiction to ambition is a good thing: Find your perfect pitch, a great idea, believe in yourself, and work, work, work. That’s all well and good, but it can’t be that simple, can it? What if you don’t have that brilliant, category-killing idea? Not all of us can be business geniuses. David Rubenstein, who became the richest man in the nation’s capital through his investments in private equity, is widely considered one of the smartest people in Washington. Not so, he told me: “When you get older in life, you realize there are very few geniuses in this world. Most likely, you will never meet one, and Randy, you did not meet one today.” Rubenstein is certainly no dummy, but just as there are brilliant successes who are less than brilliant, there are also plenty of smart, unsuccessful people. Brains is part of the equation, but it’s not the determining factor in becoming an RMIT.

The Virtues of Vice

| July 24, 2009

In my last post, I wrote about the dangers of dependency: the narcotic effects of a regular paycheck and the false sense of security that comes from working for a corporation. Many RMITs never allowed themselves to get cornered in a corner office, embarking on an independent career right out of school (or during, or before). The best way to kick the habit, of course, is never to start. I found that those RMITs who did spend time in a gilded cubicle, however, looked at the experience in one of two ways: Some saw a stint in corporate life as an apprenticeship (or sometimes as indentured servitude)—an opportunity to learn everything they could. Others hit bottom, and found they just couldn’t go on putting all of their ideas and energy toward someone else’s vision. Some of these, like Bernard Jacobs, who cofounded Home Depot after he was fired from his job with the Handy Dan hardware chain, were forced to go cold turkey. But all of these recovering salary junkies told me something unexpected. What I’m about to say will sound counterintuitive at best, plain crazy at worst: Addiction is a good thing.