Category 3. Business

Work

By the time I landed my first professional-track job, I had a great deal of experience with the working world.

When I was 14, I got my first summer job. Despite being the son of a prosperous lawyer, I took an opportunity to work as a janitor in a lower middle class housing complex – I wanted the spending money that a job would give me.

My responsibility was to clean out all of the trash rooms daily. It was a dirty, smelly job, especially on hot days, and it taught me all about how badly some people behave when they think nobody is watching. Some assumed that because I was their janitor, a long-haired kid (hey, it was the early seventies) wearing t-shirts, jeans and sneakers that were often pretty dirty, I was far beneath them socially; I was somebody to whom they could behave thoughtless...

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A Paean to Risk

A former colleague of mine once said something wonderful:

“If you are not making any mistakes, it’s because you’re not making any decisions.”

When I consider the single characteristic that is most vital to the success of an individual, an organization or a society, I conclude that it is a willingness to innovate. Whenever we try to freeze time, and lock in the benefits of now, we consign ourselves to a future failure that will be far more painful for our efforts to avoid the change that is inevitable.

What is this innovation, then, that is so important at every level of society? It is, quite simply, the product of risks that have been taken. Note that I do not assert that it is the result of risks taken successfully, because it is also the end product of all the risks that were ta...

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