During his biannual multicity lecture tours, Sedaris says he routinely notices imperfections in the text simply through the act of reading aloud to other people.
“I used to hate it when a book came out or a story was published and I would be like ‘damn, how did I not catch that?’ ” he says. “But you pretty much always catch it when you’re reading out loud.”
He circles accidental rhymes or closely repeated words, or words that sound alike—like night and nightlife—in the same sentence, rewriting after each reading and trying out revisions during the next stop on his tour.
Taking the collective temperature of an actual room helps Sedaris gauge how well a joke is working or if a story has gone on too long or has a satisfying ending. “There is no substitute for a live audience,” he says.
When he looks back on books like Naked (1997), which he wrote before he began reading his work on the road several weeks a year, Sedaris says his reaction tends to be: “ ‘Oh my God, what was I thinking?’ I wish I could go back in time and work those in front of an audience.”
Had he done so, he says, many of the stories would have been shorter. “Also, on the page it seems like I’m trying too hard, and that’s one of the things I can usually catch when I’m reading out loud,” he says. “ ‘Oh, that sounds a little too obvious,’ or, ‘that sounds like somebody who’s just straining for a laugh.’ ”
After the highest highs, the good times started to fade. We began burning a lot of cash and couldn’t stay on the path we were headed. The days got longer and the adrenaline bumps were few and far between. A fresh Red Bull only got us so far. The only way out was to push even harder, so we did. We were all topping 80 hour weeks. It just wasn’t sustainable.
Eventually, I burnt out. Hard.
I remember coming home and curling up into a ball. I was so emotionally and physically exhausted, I couldn’t even move. My productivity was cut to nothing. The next day at the office, I found myself just staring into my computer, for hours. No movement, just staring.
While I don’t endorse all of Sterling’s speech – the writer pushes his examples to extremes in order to make his point, and therefore his remarks themselves deserve our skepticism (Dell, for instance, did have a presence at SXSW, despite Sterling claiming the opposite) – it should be prescribed reading for anyone in the business of startups. Sterling spoke for nearly an hour, and I encourage you to listen to it in its entirety. But for me, two passages stood out. They speak for themselves as follows.
I’m okay with disruption, I’ve seen a lot of it, I’ve seen how it works. I’ve participated in it. I’ve known people who have benefited by it; I’ve known people who have suffered by it. I have seen disruption in music, literature, the arts, entertainment, publishing, the fourth estate, the military, political parties, manufacturing – pretty much everywhere, except finance, health, the law, and the prison/military industry, which is why they’ve got all the money now and the rest of us are reduced to disruptic global peons. Computers were really radically disruptive; mobile devices are so disruptive that they even disrupted computers, they’re a bigger deal than the dead bookstores. We’ve got guys who own cellphones in this world who can’t even read. And I’m very intimate with this spectacle, I’m very keen on all its in and outs. The thing that bugs me about your attitude towards it is that you don’t recognize its tragic dimension. This is something that literature has always been very keen on, that technology never gets around to acknowledging: the cold, the wind, the moaning through the empty stone box. [Throughout his speech, Sterling used the stone box, an artefact of an ancient culture, as a metaphor for the personal computer.] When are you going to own up to it? Where are the Dell PCs? This is Austin, Texas, Michael Dell, the biggest tech mogul in Central Texas, why is he not here? Why is he not at least selling his wares? Where are the dedicated gaming consoles you used to love? You remember how important those were? I could spend all day here just reciting the names of the casualties. In your line of work, it’s always the electronic frontier; nobody ever goes back to look at the electronic forests that were cut down with chainsaws and tossed into the rivers.
It wasn’t always like this. When I first started MetaLab, I often pulled all nighters and typically worked upwards of 80 hours a week. I rarely saw my friends and spent every waking hour on the business. But then it all broke down. After two years of non-stop work, I was left with a dysfunctional relationship, a dwindling social life, and a shelf full of books I hadn’t read. So I decided to give it up. For my own sanity, I decided to limit my workday, leave work at the office, and take evenings and weekend off, even if it meant taking a hit to my entrepreneurial success.
Paradoxically, the more I let go, the more things seemed to take off. Short workdays forced me to focus on the important stuff instead of dicking around in my inbox, and I quickly learned to delegate the day-to-day. I started working smart instead of working hard.
1. You Failed To Unleash Their Passions: Smart companies align employee passions with corporate pursuits. Human nature makes it very difficult to walk away from areas of passion. Fail to understand this and you’ll unknowingly be encouraging employees to seek their passions elsewhere.
2. You Failed To Challenge Their Intellect: Smart people don’t like to live in a dimly lit world of boredom. If you don’t challenge people’s minds, they’ll leave you for someone/someplace that will.
3. You Failed To Engage Their Creativity: Great talent is wired to improve, enhance, and add value. They are built to change and innovate. TheyNEED to contribute by putting their fingerprints on design. Smart leaders don’t place people in boxes – they free them from boxes. What’s the use in having a racehorse if you don’t let them run?
4. You Failed To Develop Their Skills:Leadership isn’t a destination – it’s a continuum. No matter how smart or talented a person is, there’s always room for growth, development, and continued maturation. If you place restrictions on a person’s ability to grow, they’ll leave you for someone who won’t.
5. You Failed To Give Them A Voice: Talented people have good thoughts, ideas, insights, and observations. If you don’t listen to them, I can guarantee you someone else will.
6. You Failed To Care: Sure, people come to work for a paycheck, but that’s not the only reason. In fact, many studies show it’s not even the most important reason. If you fail to care about people at a human level, at an emotional level, they’ll eventually leave you regardless of how much you pay them.
7. You Failed to Lead: Businesses don’t fail, products don’t fail, projects don’t fail, and teams don’t fail – leaders fail. The best testament to the value of leadership is what happens in its absence – very little. If you fail to lead, your talent will seek leadership elsewhere.
8. You Failed To Recognize Their Contributions: The best leaders don’t take credit – they give it. Failing to recognize the contributions of others is not only arrogant and disingenuous, but it’s as also just as good as asking them to leave.
9. You Failed To Increase Their Responsibility: You cannot confine talent – try to do so and you’ll either devolve into mediocrity, or force your talent seek more fertile ground. People will gladly accept a huge workload as long as an increase in responsibility comes along with the performance and execution of said workload.
10. You Failed To Keep Your Commitments: Promises made are worthless, but promises kept are invaluable. If you break trust with those you lead you will pay a very steep price. Leaders not accountable to their people, will eventually be held accountable by their people.
If leaders spent less time trying to retain people, and more time trying to understand them, care for them, invest in them, and lead them well, the retention thing would take care of itself. Thoughts?
The true goliath of the Chinese Internet, Tencent is sitting on $3.7 billion in cash compared to Sina’s roughly $700 million. With its massive gaming revenue stream, it is far better poised to weather an expected dip in advertising revenue due to the country’s slowing economy