Tag Archive | "ambition"

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A Quick Note Regarding Enthusiasm

Posted on 03 August 2009 by GlazednConfused

billymays

My spouse and I have a lot of education, relative to our friends. For some reason, that makes them believe that we know what we really want to do in life. That could not be farther from the truth. In reality, except for doctors and lawyers, secondary education after four years is generally just procrastination and maybe something cool to hang on your wall. This is especially true now as MBAs serve you breakfast at IHOP. What really gets anyone anywhere in life is drive and ambition. What do I tell people who are desperate enough to ask me for advice? Unless you are super smart and/or starting your own business, just do what you enjoy. Throw your entire being into it, or get really good at faking it.

Faking enthusiasm is important in life – a survival instinct, in fact. Take for example a crazy successful singer who has never written his or her own songs. Cher or Celine Dion sing like their songs and the feelings expressed come from their heart and soul, although 99% of them were just paychecks. Singing convincingly about heartbreak although you are richer than God and you’ve been married to your manager for 15 years? That is a lot tougher than it looks. Myself, I couldn’t keep from rolling my eyes when I listen to Sarah Palin, even if I had a gun to my head. Needless to say, I did not earn the “Pretend I Care” merit badge in Boy Scouts.

Witness the Daily Show video below, about the epic battle of two companies over the rights to publish “pull my finger” apps for the iPhone:

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Yes, you heard me right. If you listen carefully you will also hear “$10,ooo a day” and “number two application in the iPhone store” mentioned. That is indeed a lot of success for an app that produces a whoopie cushion noise with a fingerstroke. A lot more money has been made on dumber ideas, so that detail is unimportant. What really interested me was the professionalism that these men, especially Eric Stratton, describe their pointless creations. I don’t think Jarvik presented his artificial heart with this much pride. How can they possibly be this zealous about something so dumb? Who knows, but Eric Stratton had faith and is selling it like a cure for cancer discovered by Sean Connery that must now be protected by the evil corporations.

The recent parting of Billy Mays is another perfect example. When I first saw him, I actually thought he was just some guy who got recruited to be a pitchman. The awkward gestures, the staccato delivery – I thought he was just some assistant handyman dragged off set construction. Mays had actually been a salesman since 1996 (here is a brief but great article from Fortune magazine). Although he was essentially a self-secribed mercenary, he still realized that a salesman’s faith in the product is important in convincing people to buy in. How many times have you looked into a salesman’s eyes and wondered “He can’t really believe that, can he?”? I never thought that of Billy Mays.

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