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Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

Let’s say you have a typical life and try to live it in the healthiest way. You might allocate your 24-hour weekday this way:

Sleep: 8 hours
Exercise: 1 hour
Work: 8 hours
Eating: 2 hours (leisurely)
Hygiene: 1 hour
Travel: 1 (Commute, errands)

That leaves you three hours for family time, sex, shopping, food preparation, chores, household repair, volunteering in the school, and so on. If you have a dentist appointment, or your talkative relative calls, or American Idol has a two-hour special, you’re tapped out.

It’s a challenge to live a happy life if you aren’t giving enough attention to all of those categories, yet doing so is nearly impossible.

One time management strategy is to be independently wealthy, freeing up eight hours a day. But that option isn’t available to many. And apparently it isn’t fulfilling because most rich people continue to work full schedules.

Another strategy is to ignore the fact that you are slowly killing yourself by not sleeping and exercising enough. That frees up several hours a day. The only downside is that you get fat and die.

A third path is to work less than you could, live economically, enjoy each day as it comes, and try not to think about living on cat food when you retire.

Which strategy have you picked?

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Last night I met a script supervisor. She works with directors to make sure a movie has the right continuity, and one scene fits the next. It’s a fascinating job, hobnobbing with top directors, writers, and celebrities. No two assignments are the same. How do you get that kind of career? She earned a degree in anthropology and just “fell into it” through a series of events.

I know the feeling. I majored in economics, got an MBA, worked at a bank, then a phone company, and became a cartoonist.

For every person who studies something specific, such as the law or medicine, and actually ended up in that sort of career, I think there are five who let chance pick their careers. That works out more often than you’d think, but you can’t recommend it as a career strategy. Instead, I recommend a general formula for success. Allow me to explain.

If you want an average successful life, it doesn’t take much planning. Just stay out of trouble, go to school, and apply for jobs you might like. But if you want something extraordinary, you have two paths:

1. Become the best at one specific thing.
2. Become very good (top 25%) at two or more things.

The first strategy is difficult to the point of near impossibility. Few people will ever play in the NBA or make a platinum album. I don’t recommend anyone even try.

The second strategy is fairly easy. Everyone has at least a few areas in which they could be in the top 25% with some effort. In my case, I can draw better than most people, but I’m hardly an artist. And I’m not any funnier than the average standup comedian who never makes it big, but I’m funnier than most people. The magic is that few people can draw well and write jokes. It’s the combination of the two that makes what I do so rare. And when you add in my business background, suddenly I had a topic that few cartoonists could hope to understand without living it.

I always advise young people to become good public speakers (top 25%). Anyone can do it with practice. If you add that talent to any other, suddenly you’re the boss of the people who have only one skill. Or get a degree in business on top of your engineering degree, law degree, medical degree, science degree, or whatever. Suddenly you’re in charge, or maybe you’re starting your own company using your combined knowledge.

Capitalism rewards things that are both rare and valuable. You make yourself rare by combining two or more “pretty goods” until no one else has your mix. I didn’t spend much time with the script supervisor, but it was obvious that her verbal/writing skills were in the top tier as well as her people skills. I’m guessing she also has a high attention to detail, and perhaps a few other skills in the mix. Probably none of those skills are best in the world, but together they make a strong package. Apparently she’s been in high demand for decades.

At least one of the skills in your mixture should involve communication, either written or verbal. And it could be as simple as learning how to sell more effectively than 75% of the world. That’s one. Now add to that whatever your passion is, and you have two, because that’s the thing you’ll easily put enough energy into to reach the top 25%.  If you have an aptitude for a third skill, perhaps business or public speaking, develop that too.

It sounds like generic advice, but you’d be hard pressed to find any successful person who didn’t have about three skills in the top 25%.

What are your three?

Dilbert MBA

Dilbert MBA

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