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Hard work brings success. Success brings arrogance. Arrogance brings failure


rsodhi
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It seems as though this applies to everyone but Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger. It certainly applies to me. They have achieved success at all levels while remaining focused, rational, and completely down to earth. As a student of investing I have been looking for an antidote for this vicious poison, and have tried to develop a frame of mind where it is possible to remain completely level-headed despite achieving success. Charlie Munger said a very powerful thing earlier this month at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting. This allowed me to tap in to their intellectual framework and understand their approach to achieving consistent success. Munger, who is often referred to as the reincarnation of Benjamin Franklin referred to the accumulation of knowledge as the removal of ignorance. It is easy to say, “I’m smarter now than I was last year”. But this approach brings a certain air of arrogance. Instead, Munger would say, “I’m a lot less ignorant than I was last year.” This implies that ignorance is something that we should strive to remove, and that we always can remove with hard work.

 

 

 

The exact quote reads, “In buying See’s Candies, the main contribution to Berkshire’s success was the removal of ignorance. If it weren’t for fact that we weren’t so good at removing ignorance, we’d be nothing today. We were pretty damn stupid when we bought See’s - just a little less stupid enough to buy it. The best thing about Berkshire is that we have removed a lot of ignorance. The nice thing is we still have a lot more ignorance left.”

 

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Guest deepValue

It's not too difficult to be outwardly humble when your success is obvious. But Silicon Valley a-holes could certainly learn a thing or two from Charlie and Warren.

 

I think one's reaction to success comes down to one's upbringing. Look at all the newly rich tech entrepreneurs and wildcatters and you'll find a bunch of Lamborghini-driving I-can-do-anything misfits. Look at guys like Gianni Agnelli, the Koch Brothers, Buffett, George H.W. Bush, and others who built on top of a privileged upbringing and you'll find men who handle success with more restraint.

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Well, look at guys like Floyd Mayweather, tweeting about how much he made, including per second, in last week's fight.  Then having two women lie on his bed and count $100K cash.  These people are just idiots to begin with or try and maintain that bad-boy persona because it sells tickets.

 

Then you have people who always think that their success is solely dependent on them, and not others...but then you get such a nice contradiction when you have someone like Kevin Durant, who gave an amazing MVP speech last week, relegating himself to the last person who deserved all of the credit and put his team-mates, coaches and his Mom well ahead.

 

I think if you just step away from the whole thought-process of your own success, and simply focus on the work at hand, that would help you the most in avoiding this...in other words, just try and let go of your emotions, good or bad, and play the game for fun...easier said than done though I suppose!  Cheers!

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Systematically spend some time outside the gilded gate. Once/month in a soup-kitchen, secret-santa, etc. Once every few years; a few weeks in a 3rd world country, touring around in the back of a truck. Laugh at yourself, & often.

 

Nothing cures arrogance faster than friends in low places, or darwinism; but you have to expose yourself. Be an a-hole & you will get spat in the face - because you should know better. Throw your weight around when it isn't warranted, & you WILL sleep a little earlier than intended. You are being taught humanity, & by experts in the subject.

 

You cannot fully appreciate what you have untill you see what disease, maiming, & poverty can do; smell it, hear it, & see it first hand. Then in all of that, some kid will come running past you, completely content! Suddenly - you're not so special.

 

Notice how that colourfull 5% always seem to have a wicked sense of humour? Of course, the trick is to not be in that 2-3% where the crazy's are - Larry, Curly, & Moe!

 

Not for everyone, but hard to ignore.

 

SD

 

 

 

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I think it's more a matter of personality. People come from a sales/promotional function tend to be more flashy - Ellison, Trump, etc. More introverted engineering types tend to show more constraint and self-introspection - Gates, Zuckerberg, Page/Brin etc.

 

The vast majority success stories tend to come from people with a middle/upper middle class upbringings - they are not rich enough so they still have motivations but they still have access to resources to nurture their talents.

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Well, look at guys like Floyd Mayweather, tweeting about how much he made, including per second, in last week's fight.  Then having two women lie on his bed and count $100K cash.  These people are just idiots to begin with or try and maintain that bad-boy persona because it sells tickets.

 

Floyd Mayweather is an interesting example to use because he exemplifies different expressions of arrogance. You are referring to the "Money" Mayweather cartoon that we see between fights. But in the ring, he is a more disciplined fighter than past talents like Sugar Ray Leonard and Roy Jones Jr. Every move he makes between the ropes in intended improve his odds of winning. And, of course, he is always in shape. So you see the practitioner's humility in knowing that he is only exceptional in so far as he behaves smartly, and not due to some inherent characteristic of being special just because.

 

 

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Well, look at guys like Floyd Mayweather, tweeting about how much he made, including per second, in last week's fight.  Then having two women lie on his bed and count $100K cash.  These people are just idiots to begin with or try and maintain that bad-boy persona because it sells tickets.

 

Floyd Mayweather is an interesting example to use because he exemplifies different expressions of arrogance. You are referring to the "Money" Mayweather cartoon that we see between fights. But in the ring, he is a more disciplined fighter than past talents like Sugar Ray Leonard and Roy Jones Jr. Every move he makes between the ropes in intended improve his odds of winning. And, of course, he is always in shape. So you see the practitioner's humility in knowing that he is only exceptional in so far as he behaves smartly, and not due to some inherent characteristic of being special just because.

 

 

Yes I think a much better example is Mike Tyson, who thought he was exceptional just because, and in the end showed the world that he is just a flesh eating rapist who should've never left the ghetto.

 

 

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Well, look at guys like Floyd Mayweather, tweeting about how much he made, including per second, in last week's fight.  Then having two women lie on his bed and count $100K cash.  These people are just idiots to begin with or try and maintain that bad-boy persona because it sells tickets.

 

Floyd Mayweather is an interesting example to use because he exemplifies different expressions of arrogance. You are referring to the "Money" Mayweather cartoon that we see between fights. But in the ring, he is a more disciplined fighter than past talents like Sugar Ray Leonard and Roy Jones Jr. Every move he makes between the ropes in intended improve his odds of winning. And, of course, he is always in shape. So you see the practitioner's humility in knowing that he is only exceptional in so far as he behaves smartly, and not due to some inherent characteristic of being special just because.

 

Agreed.  The fact remains, he probably would have even bigger box offices if he got rid of the schtick (arrogance or act) and stuck to boxing.  Cheers!

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It's not too difficult to be outwardly humble when your success is obvious. But Silicon Valley a-holes could certainly learn a thing or two from Charlie and Warren.

 

I think one's reaction to success comes down to one's upbringing. Look at all the newly rich tech entrepreneurs and wildcatters and you'll find a bunch of Lamborghini-driving I-can-do-anything misfits. Look at guys like Gianni Agnelli, the Koch Brothers, Buffett, George H.W. Bush, and others who built on top of a privileged upbringing and you'll find men who handle success with more restraint.

 

Wow I must say that I am quite surprised that you point the finger at Silicon Valley a-holes and on other hand talk up people like the Koch brothers in the same sentence as Buffett.

 

I do not have a deep understanding of the Koch brothers, but I know they are highly reviled in multiple circles.  (as is the younger Bush, although you could say that of most any politician)

 

What Silicon Valley a-holes are you referring to exactly? Mark Zuckerberg who has taken the giving pledge?  Larry and Sergey from Google?  Reid Hoffman?  Perhaps Elon Musk?  Or the arrogant Larry Ellison who has also taken the giving pledge?  I guess that it makes sense to point at Silicon Valley given the disruptive nature of the industries here, and the necessity to be at least a little bit arrogant to think one can reinvent an industry. That said the majority of Silicon Valley people I know of are highly intelligent and want to give back to a cause.

 

I am also surprised that this thread has not yet mentioned the high-frequency trading hedge funds and wall street folks like a fabulous Fabrice. 

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Guest deepValue

It's not too difficult to be outwardly humble when your success is obvious. But Silicon Valley a-holes could certainly learn a thing or two from Charlie and Warren.

 

I think one's reaction to success comes down to one's upbringing. Look at all the newly rich tech entrepreneurs and wildcatters and you'll find a bunch of Lamborghini-driving I-can-do-anything misfits. Look at guys like Gianni Agnelli, the Koch Brothers, Buffett, George H.W. Bush, and others who built on top of a privileged upbringing and you'll find men who handle success with more restraint.

 

Wow I must say that I am quite surprised that you point the finger at Silicon Valley a-holes and on other hand talk up people like the Koch brothers in the same sentence as Buffett.

 

I do not have a deep understanding of the Koch brothers, but I know they are highly reviled in multiple circles.  (as is the younger Bush, although you could say that of most any politician)

 

What Silicon Valley a-holes are you referring to exactly? Mark Zuckerberg who has taken the giving pledge?  Larry and Sergey from Google?  Reid Hoffman?  Perhaps Elon Musk?  Or the arrogant Larry Ellison who has also taken the giving pledge?  I guess that it makes sense to point at Silicon Valley given the disruptive nature of the industries here, and the necessity to be at least a little bit arrogant to think one can reinvent an industry. That said the majority of Silicon Valley people I know of are highly intelligent and want to give back to a cause.

 

I am also surprised that this thread has not yet mentioned the high-frequency trading hedge funds and wall street folks like a fabulous Fabrice.

 

If you need a different analogy, this one might help:

Newly rich behave like Richard Sherman

Old money behaves like Peyton Manning

 

The Koch brothers have given more money to charity than any of the execs you mentioned; most rich people are active in the charity scene, but that's not the point. Tech entrepreneurs scream back and forth at each other and generally behave without respect for their competitors, while more refined businessmen act with more restraint. Donating to political causes is not arrogant, though it may be controversial.

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If you need a different analogy, this one might help:

Newly rich behave like Richard Sherman

Old money behaves like Peyton Manning

 

The Koch brothers have given more money to charity than any of the execs you mentioned; most rich people are active in the charity scene, but that's not the point. Tech entrepreneurs scream back and forth at each other and generally behave without respect for their competitors, while more refined businessmen act with more restraint. Donating to political causes is not arrogant, though it may be controversial.

 

Quite the generalization ..  how about some names of these execs who are shouting and screaming at each other?

 

Newly rich behave like the tech execs I mentioned, and others like say Buffet and Bill Gates who earned most of their money.

Old money behaves like Paris Hilton, The Marriott sisters, and a host of other spoiled rich kids. (Kids in the Johnson & Johnson inheritance feud)

 

Speaking of shouting at one another and behaving without refinement:

 

http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/06/06/the-10-most-infamous-family-inheritance-feuds/

 

9. Fred Koch

Value of estate: $5.6 billion

Amount contested: $2.3 billion

Feuding parties: four brothers

 

The four sons of Fred Koch, co-founder of energy conglomerate Koch Industries, spent nearly twenty years feuding with one another over whether two brothers, Charles and David, cheated the other two, William and Frederick, out of $2.3 billion when they sold their shares of Koch Industries in 1983 for around $1 billion. For years, the billionaires reportedly communicated only through lawyers, occasionally making efforts to publicly humiliate and discredit one another. After years of fighting and millions of dollars spent on legal fees, the brothers reconciled in 2001.

 

In any case this is kind of a useless argument because there is a large enough sample set that one could find an example of just about anything to support one's point of view. There are going to be spoiled Rich kids, refined responsible inheritance kids, newly rich people who think they are the gift of God, and really rich people who want to change the world, and to do good.  If you have any actual studies, That would be more interesting and perhaps more convincing.

 

I think that ultimately it comes down to the individual's character and in particular also whether they acknowledge the role of luck and Fortune in their situation.  For particular individuals I think it's worth asking whether their hard work and success has brought arrogance, but I don't think it's fair to make a blanket statement that tech execs and particular ones in Silicon Valley, Of which you have still not named any, or any other new money somehow always acts arrogantly by default.

 

Now if you're talking about sports, you will also find arrogant idiots who just got rich, as well as more refined individuals.  Although I would agree that there tend to be more of the former than the latter, although that might be biased as well since you will clearly hear more about the former than the latter...

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Guest deepValue

In any case this is kind of a useless argument because there is a large enough sample set that one could find an example of just about anything to support one's point of view.

 

That's why generalizations are useful...

 

I think that ultimately it comes down to the individual's character and in particular also whether they acknowledge the role of luck and Fortune in their situation.  For particular individuals I think it's worth asking whether their hard work and success has brought arrogance, but I don't think it's fair to make a blanket statement that tech execs and particular ones in Silicon Valley, Of which you have still not named any, or any other new money somehow always acts arrogantly by default.

 

Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs, and Page/Brin have all publicly declared thermonuclear war (or its equivalent) on competitors at one point or another. You even noted Ellison's arrogance in your original comment. In general, tech entrepreneurs are more belligerent than others and, in general, successful tech companies reside in and around Silicon Valley (and it seems reasonable to assume that tech produces the most newly-rich entrepreneurs). Belittling one's competitors is hardly a productive endeavor.

 

Reality TV trust fund babies aren't pertinent to the discussion. Remember: we're talking about people who have built successful businesses. See if you can find an instance where Charles or David Koch publicly trashes a competitor or George H.W. Bush (an ex oil man) calls Exxon a dinosaur (as Jeff Skilling did).

 

It's not a particularly important point, and people with different backgrounds will have different experiences and biases, but it's an observation that I find difficult to deny.

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If you need a different analogy, this one might help:

Newly rich behave like Richard Sherman

Old money behaves like Peyton Manning

 

The Koch brothers have given more money to charity than any of the execs you mentioned; most rich people are active in the charity scene, but that's not the point. Tech entrepreneurs scream back and forth at each other and generally behave without respect for their competitors, while more refined businessmen act with more restraint. Donating to political causes is not arrogant, though it may be controversial.

 

Quite the generalization ..  how about some names of these execs who are shouting and screaming at each other?

 

Newly rich behave like the tech execs I mentioned, and others like say Buffet and Bill Gates who earned most of their money.

Old money behaves like Paris Hilton, The Marriott sisters, and a host of other spoiled rich kids. (Kids in the Johnson & Johnson inheritance feud)

 

Speaking of shouting at one another and behaving without refinement:

 

http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/06/06/the-10-most-infamous-family-inheritance-feuds/

 

9. Fred Koch

Value of estate: $5.6 billion

Amount contested: $2.3 billion

Feuding parties: four brothers

 

The four sons of Fred Koch, co-founder of energy conglomerate Koch Industries, spent nearly twenty years feuding with one another over whether two brothers, Charles and David, cheated the other two, William and Frederick, out of $2.3 billion when they sold their shares of Koch Industries in 1983 for around $1 billion. For years, the billionaires reportedly communicated only through lawyers, occasionally making efforts to publicly humiliate and discredit one another. After years of fighting and millions of dollars spent on legal fees, the brothers reconciled in 2001.

 

In any case this is kind of a useless argument because there is a large enough sample set that one could find an example of just about anything to support one's point of view. There are going to be spoiled Rich kids, refined responsible inheritance kids, newly rich people who think they are the gift of God, and really rich people who want to change the world, and to do good.  If you have any actual studies, That would be more interesting and perhaps more convincing.

 

I think that ultimately it comes down to the individual's character and in particular also whether they acknowledge the role of luck and Fortune in their situation.  For particular individuals I think it's worth asking whether their hard work and success has brought arrogance, but I don't think it's fair to make a blanket statement that tech execs and particular ones in Silicon Valley, Of which you have still not named any, or any other new money somehow always acts arrogantly by default.

 

Now if you're talking about sports, you will also find arrogant idiots who just got rich, as well as more refined individuals.  Although I would agree that there tend to be more of the former than the latter, although that might be biased as well since you will clearly hear more about the former than the latter...

 

Yes, you can find respectable people and not so respectable people in both the new and old money crowds.  The only conclusion I draw from this is that, regardless of background, some people are idiots and some aren't.

 

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