GETTING A RESULT

I loved the movie, Social Network.
When I came out of the cinema I was buzzing.
But my son was down.
He said he found it depressing, the way Mark Zuckerberg had screwed his friend, and fellow Facebook founder, Eduardo Saverin.
I hadn’t seen it that way.
What I saw was a movie about what it takes to be successful.
It takes a willingness to go through, or crawl over, any barriers.
Like a tank.
Zuckerberg was willing to do that, Saverin wasn’t.
Zuckerberg wanted to go fast, Saverin didn’t.
So Zuckerberg went ahead without Saverin.
Saverin got left behind.
He feels he got screwed.
But the alternative was for Zuckerberg to slow down to the speed Saverin wanted to go at.
Which would, at best, have been a much, much smaller success.
So Zuckerberg sidelined Saverin.
He cut him adrift.
I thought the film had a happy-ish ending.
After the lawsuit, Saverin walked away with a billion dollars.
That’s a thousand – million dollars.
All for a twenty grand investment.
Who wouldn’t be happy with that kind of return?
“You give me twenty grand now, and later on I’ll force you out of the company, but you’ll get a billion dollars. What do you say, are you in?”
Any one of us would have bitten Zuckerberg’s arm off.
What I liked about the film was that it wasn’t about right or wrong.
It wasn’t the normal melodramatic Hollywood good guys and bad guys.
It was all about getting a result.
And it was about what you are prepared to do to get that result.
It was about what works and what doesn’t work.
Which isn’t synonymous with right and wrong.
Isaac Newton is remembered as one of the most brilliant people in history.
His great rival was Robert Hooke.
Hooke was one of the most important scientists and mathematicians of The Enlightenment.
But today Hooke is almost forgotten.
We don’t even know what he looked like.
Why is that?
Why aren’t there any pictures of Hooke?
Apparently he once accused Newton of stealing some of his ideas.
Newton never forgot or forgave.
Newton succeeded Robert Hooke as Chairman of The Royal Society.
He had all the examples of Hooke’s work destroyed.
He had all the portraits of Hooke destroyed.
As far as he could, he erased Robert Hooke from history.
Gottfried Leibniz was one of the great philosophers and mathematicians of The Enlightenment.
He invented calculus.
He published it before Newton, and his system was superior.
When Newton later published his system, Leibniz accused him of plagiarism.
Newton never forgot or forgave.
He used his influence to have Leibniz ostracised and ridiculed.
Leibniz died a pauper.
No one knows where Hooke or Leibniz are buried.
But everyone knows where Newton is buried: Westminster Abbey.
It isn’t that there isn’t any such thing as right and wrong.
It’s that they have nothing to do with getting a result.
It’s like expecting the morally superior team to win in a football match.
It’s irrelevant.
Who wins the match is the team that scores more goals.
However they score more goals.
And moaning about the result afterwards won’t change anything.
After World War Two, Hermann Goering was being tried at Nuremberg.
When he was found guilty, he was asked if he had anything to say.
He said “What is the point? The victor always makes the rules.”
Then he swallowed a cyanide capsule and died.
He understood it’s a waste of time debating right and wrong.
It’s over.
You lost.
End of story.
New Yorkers understand this.
It’s summed up by a cartoon in New Yorker magazine.
A patient is lying on the psychiatrist’s couch.
He’s obviously just finished unburdening himself to the psychiatrist.
Divulging his deepest, darkest secrets
His fears, his regrets, his missed opportunities, his thwarted intentions, his unfulfilled expectations.
The psychiatrist simply looks up and uses an old New York expression.

He says “Yeah, yeah, yeah: “Coulda – Woulda – Shoulda”.”

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    Surely the point of debating the merits, demerits, rights and wrongs is for future reference.

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    Monads
    – you know what I’m saying Dave? That was Leibniz wasn’t it? Tiny invisible entities that made causality what we know it to be today. Sadly those monads didn’t prevent Newton from ruining him.

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    I’m with your son on this one – I want to be successful and have all that comes with success, but not if the cost of success is my own morality and sense of right and wrong. I think that Zuckerberg and Newton may be the type of people who can sleep at night knowing that they have caused someone harm or distress. But not me – I’d rather be a bit less successful and retain friendships than the other way around because come the crisis (whatever form that might take), money won’t save you, but friends might.

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    I really loved Facebook the movie too Dave (especially the lawyer bit at the end).

    It was a really interesting insight into human behavior.

    I loved the fact that an introvert with hardly any friends invented Facebook.

    And generally I agree with the ‘coulda.. shoulda.. woulda.. philosophy’.

    But Facebook would not have existed without Saverin’s money and initial society contacts. The two men were a team. Saverin did not lag behind, he was cheated and pushed out. He was also Zuckerberg’s best friend.

    I’m also sad to hear Newton was such a bully, intolerant of free speech.

    Hooke and Leibniz ‘did’ they just got trampled on it seems, which is not right or fair.

    Unlike Newton, there are many people in the world, putting their ‘own’ ideas into action, quietly and kindly.

    I’m not sure who lost in Facebook, Zuckerberg or Saverin? Fame, power and money, is that all that matters in life?

    I think how we get a result – is just as important as getting a result.

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    I want to complain about how your boys always pull their finger out against us.

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    Dave, speaking of the New Yorker the following was recently voted by a reviewer as one of the magazine’s funniest cartoons ever . The setting : a cat in a suit sitting at a desk. Telephone rings and cat answers ” I can’t talk now, I’m with a piece of string”.
    Sounds a bit like some advertisng types (and clients) we all know, and tends to put those people in the appropriate context. Not really that bright but bunging it on. They’re not the winners you speak of.

    John Whittingham

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    Not your greatest blog. Your logic makes Rupert Murdoch better than Jesus. You simply can’t take ‘right and wrong’ out of the human equation.

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    “Mister Newton, I said, the apple that just landed on your head was put there thru gravitational pull.” “Grilla, that sounds interesting. Pray tell me more…” “Okay, Mister Newton, let me finish my banana + I’ll continue with my theory.”

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    As no-one else has said it, allow me to say how saddened I am by the attitude expressed in this piece.

    Striving for excellence and success doesn’t need to mean being willing to do anything to succeed, progressing your own career or growing your bank balance at the expense of others. True success should be about working together as a team to achieve goals which see everyone benefitting, not going through (squashing) any barriers (which don’t forget are human beings as well) like a tank.

    Indeed I would suggest that measuring success and progress on the basis of wealth or personal legacy, as seems to be the suggestion of this piece, is not only selfish but is what has led to the unsustainable nature of the world we currently inhabit.

    Yes it might slow down your personal “progress” to work together and care about others, but I personally would rather not be remembered in a caring, sustainable world than become famous for helping to create a selfish, unsustainable world.

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    Ps Dave i’d just like to add what a lovely bloke you are and how much i appreciate how open you are to other people’s opinions (you also know how to take a joke 🙂 X

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    Guys, a lot of you seem to think I’m advocating selfishness and greed.
    I’m not advocating anything, just laying out the facts:
    “It isn’t that there isn’t any such thing as right and wrong.
    It’s that they have nothing to do with getting a result.
    It’s like expecting the morally superior team to win in a football match. It’s irrelevant.”
    Right or wrong is WHAT you do.
    Win or lose is HOW you do it.
    Maybe you choose friends over success, that’s a valid choice.
    You will end up with more friends, and less success, than someone who chose the opposite.
    So don’t grumble because you always get what you chose.
    A lot of people secretly want success but don’t have the courage to admit it, or actively choose it.

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    Thanks Soap Box,
    Actually, my professional life is a closer parallel to Saverin than Zuckerberg.
    But the movie really helped me see things from the other side.

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    Chris Worsely, I don’t think we got the first part of that comment Chris, but I agree with the part we did get.
    Leibniz’s thinking predated Kant’s synthetic a priori by 100 years, Darwin’s evolution by 200 years, and Einstein’s relativity by 300 years.

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    Dave
    Would you say, in your experience, that successful people aren’t very reflective? That they don’t get to the top by being the sort of person who is endlessly questioning themselves, analysing their position on what they are going to do? Most successful people just go forward?
    I always thought it was ‘right’ to analyse what’s gone before in order to learn from any successes or more poignantly, mistakes. Of course the past must be kept in perspective. Perhaps it’s in the nature of creatives to be constantly looking for the next ‘kick’ and so aren’t so keen in looking back?

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    Dave, pray terminate one of my near identical comments [glitch fault, not mine] – u decide which. Ta.

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    Choco Leibniz, Dave – Is he the great great great great grandson of the Leibniz u + Chris r on about? I’m a big fan of his coated biscuits + in this weather what biscuit in its right mind would go out without a coat? [Perhaps monads r one of the ingredients that make them so tasty?]

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    Best two lines from The Social Network.

    ‘Dating you is like dating a Stairmaster’

    ‘If you guys were the inventors of Facebook you’d have invented Facebook’

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    Hi Soapbox,
    The line that made me laugh out loud was when he called the Winklevoss twins ‘The Winklevii”.
    But the one that was a life lesson (IMHO) was when he was unsure about paying the settlement and the legal advisor said to him “This is a speeding ticket.”

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    Dave, you are so right ‘ in the scheme of things’.
    Zuckerberg was also right about the ‘Winklevii’ 🙂

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    I’ve never wanted to punch a cartoon so much in my whole life.
    One thing I will say is that this blog is from a very success-orientated mindset since at the end of the day (and by that I mean life) success and failure mean equal amounts of fuck all.

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    Tom,
    I agree with what you say of course.
    Ultimately everything is meaningless.
    But, given we’re here we might as well play.
    And we’ll enjoy whatever game we’re playing more if we try to win it.
    If we know it’s ultimately meaningless, it doesn’t have to be deadly serious, it’s just a game.
    We can just have fun with it.
    But why did you want to punch a cartoon?

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    Will-power empowers.

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    Dave,
    I’ve been thinking about this blog post a lot.
    .
    Your football analogy is quite convincing;
    The team that scores the most goals wins, not the morally superior team.
    Their morality is irrelevant, it’s just about the final result.
    .
    However…
    .
    Whilst the teams personal morality might not be important,
    win or lose, they all still operate within a larger consented framework of morality, aka, the rules.
    .
    So where your analogy falls short is by dismissing morality as having any relevance, when the game itself is dictated by what is right and what is wrong.
    .
    “A landscape defined by the competitive market will promote self interested behavior”.
    (Life Inc by Douglas Rushkoff)
    .
    Isaac Newton and Zuckerberg both operated in a competitive market and both acted in self interest.
    But just like the rules in a football game, these competitive markets are just man made ‘systems’, and as such have their own winners and losers.
    .
    Viewed from a financial system, Zuckerberg is a winner,
    viewed from a legacy perspective, Isaac Newton is a winner, but viewed from a morality perspective, they are both total losers.
    .
    By only observing the financial system (Zuckerberg) or legacy systems (Newton) as the ones that count or have value, you ARE advocating self interested behavior as the only path to SUCCESS.
    .
    Or as Mark Griffiths put it:
    “Your logic makes Rupert Murdoch better than Jesus.”
    .
    There are other ‘systems’ of achievement that you are neglecting to mention;
    you could clarify friendship as a system,
    parenthood as a system,
    academia as a system, etc.
    All of which an individual could be ‘successful’ in,
    without having to operate selfishly or sacrifice their morality.
    .
    Holding up The Social Network to demonstrate “what it takes to get a result” is also flawed. You should re-title this blog, “what it costs to get a result”.
    .
    Zuckerberg’s drive, if you believe the film, is not actually for money, but a ‘better life’;
    to go to the right parties, to meet the right ‘people’.
    And therein lies the tragedy:
    The film starts with Zuckerberg in a busy uni bar, surrounded by people, as he sits talking to his girlfriend.
    The movie ends with him alone in a room with his laptop and his ‘successful’ creation, trying to friend his ex-girlfriend, who hates him…
    .
    The film illustrates the moral ‘cost’ of Zuckerberg’s self interested behavior, in his pursuit of ‘success’.
    .
    Zuckerberg is a tragic figure, he has all the money but none of the friends.
    .
    Your son was right.

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    There’s no such thing as a wrong decision.