Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I have been too harsh

I have been too harsh in a few recent posts. Specifically:

- "How to Promote an Online Business": I was a little too sharp with this PR man. He did raise some good questions in our phone conversation last week, and although the services he subsequently offered me weren't what I was looking for, our conversation did spur me to do some more research on topics he brought up. Also, I should remember that most business services vendors are geared toward big corporate clients instead of entrepreneurs, and for good reason. Entrepreneurs tend to be more results-oriented and tight-fisted, and less likely to be in business a few months from now. All good reasons to focus on selling to big corporate clients instead. Sorry, M.

- "Get Mad You Sons of Bitches" and "A Critique of Pointless Blogging". In both cases, I could have shared my criticisms and suggestions via e-mail first, or, just kept them to myself, I guess. There's an old saying about the folly of offering advice: wise men don't need it and fools won't head it. That saying is probably right about the folly of giving advice, but perhaps not precise enough in the reasons why offering advice is often folly. Neither of the subjects of those two posts were fools: Stearns has an MBA from a top-20 school (Georgetown) and Persky has a degree from MIT. Being intelligent, though, doesn't necessarily make you receptive to advice or criticism. You have to be ready to hear it. This I know from experience. I've had friends who meant well give me good advice in the past, and watch me ignore it because I simply wasn't ready to hear it. So it shouldn't be a surprise to me that Persky deleted my comments on his blog, and continues to paste in filler text without offering any of his own insight or other commentary, or links to the original sources.

Being unemployed and looking for work, as Persky and Stearns are, is, in a sense, a form of purgatory. A quote from a film comes to mind here [consider this a half-assed spoiler alert: the film, Jacob's Ladder, is nearly 20 years old, but if you haven't seen it by now stop reading here]. Before I get to that quote, take a minute and three quarters to watch the original trailer for the movie, to set the table for it:

OK, now here's the quote, from a character named Louis (played by Danny Aiello) who is the protagonist's (played by Tim Robbins) chiropractor/friend/guardian angel:

Louis: Eckhart saw Hell too. He said: The only thing that burns in Hell is the part of you that won't let go of life, your memories, your attachments. They burn them all away. But they're not punishing you, he said. They're freeing your soul. So, if you're frightened of dying and... and you're holding on, you'll see devils tearing your life away. But if you've made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the earth.

Similarly, in a non-eschatological sense, sometimes the trappings and pretensions of your old life need to burn away before you can move on.

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