Just finished 400 plus pages of the book The New New Thing – A Silicon Valley Story by author Michael Lewis. Wow! That’s what I gotta say about this book. Quite surprised I managed to finish this book within a week – considering the length of the book and the fact that I have NOT been reading much in the past couple of months.
Michael Lewis is a great story-teller whose writing skills manages to make this big book a quick and easy read. Not to mention exciting and humorous too. He set out to find the world’s most important technology entrepreneur and found his man in Jim Clark. The whole book is about Jim’s life and how he managed to create 3 billion-dollar companies!
If you want a story about life in the so called “New Economy”, here it is. Time Out wrote that, “If you want to know what the future holds, read this book or feel forever out of the loop.”
Jim’s life, as portrayed in this book, exemplifies passion. Passion about life. Passionate about making a difference in the lives of people around you. Passionate about embracing changes and the fast-paced lifestyle that is inevitable in the New Economy. Yes, here’s also a man passionate about making money and lots of them. But I believe there’s more to making money that’s the big motivation for him doing what he does. From within him is a heart that searches unendingly for adventure, passion and excitement in life.
The New New Thing. That’s what Jim is always going after – finding out the latest marketable idea that will change the world and the way things work in the New Economy. And he did that at least three times – in creating Silicon Graphics, Netscape and Healtheon.
Jim is a “searcher for the new new thing” and one who “conforms to no well-established idea of what people should do for a living.” And that’s what makes his life so ultra exciting!
How many of us live passionate lives? How many of us have a passion in life? In the past few years, I am finding out more and more how there is so little passion about anything in the life of so many people around me. So many peoples’ lives are boring. So many peoples’ lives are so routine. There isn’t anything exciting to look forward to. No goals set that will challenge and motivate them in life. It’s just the same old thing over and over again. Thinking about changes has been so daunting for so many people that they’d rather live a plain and simple life – without excitement, without passion…and I’d have to say, without true LIFE at all. It’s as though they were not living life at all.
Clark’s life is totally the opposite. Lewis writes, “Clark’s inability to live without motion and change had gotten him to where he was.”
While most people may see this book as one that will help people understand more about “technogeeks” like Clark and what really happens in the Silicon Valley, I see this book as a challenge to pursuing a whole different lifestyle – one like that of Jim Clark. A passionate and exciting lifestyle – never lacking in experiencing more and more fullness that life can offer…never lacking in learning. ..never lacking in adapting to changes…never lacking in adventure.
[Yup, this book does give insights to business trends in the New Economy. I’ll pause here to quote a bit from the book about New Economy business. For example, in this Internet age, Lewis writes that the
Prime Mover of Wealth was no longer a great industralist who rode herd on thousands of corporate slaves, or the great politician who rode herd on a nation’s finances, or the great Wall Street tycoon who bankrolled new enterprise. He was the geek holed up in his basement all weekend discovering new things to do with his computer. He was Jim Clark
It didn’t take long for Clark to become deeply irritated by the rules of American capitalism. In his opinion, the game was rigged so that the people who really mattered go the shaft. He believed in his bones that the people who mattered most were the brilliant engineers: the chefs who cooked up the new recipes.
But Clark wanted it this way – and got it too:
The guy who finds the new new thing and makes it happen wins. The engineers who help him do it finish second. The financiers and the corporate statesment, the sucker fish of economic growth, finish a distant third.
…a lot of old rules of capitalism were suspended. For instance, it had long been a rule of thumb with the Silicon Valley venture capitalists that they didn’t peddle a new technology company to the investing public until it had had at least four consecutive profitable quarters. Netscape had nothing to show investors but massive losses. But its fabulous stock market success created a precedent. No longer did you need to show profits; you needed to show rapid growth. Having a past actually counted against a company, for a past was a record and record was a sign of a company’s limitations. Never mind that you weren’t actually making money – there’d be time for that later, assuming someone eventually figured out how to make money from the Internet. For the moment you needed to plow all of your revenues back into growth. You had to show that you were the company not of the present but of the future. The most appealing companies became those in a state of pure possibility…Another old rule that changed was the rule that the financiers who backed the company, and perhaps the CEO who steered it to success, made the most money and accumulated the most power.
So that’s business in the New Economy.]
Back to what I was talking about – Passion! Excitement! Adventure! That’s what life ought to be like! If it is anything less, it’s not a life worth living.
Young people, find your passion in life. If you are a Christian, you may think that your love for Christ is your passion. That may be true. That should be true. But there is more to that. If you’re a Christian with a full-time calling into ministry as a pastor, teacher, evangelist, missionary…etc, then are you doing it with your whole heart? Being excited about what you’re doing?
But for Christians who don’t have that calling into some sort of full-time calling into ministry, then are you living your life passionately? I’m not talking about your Sunday Church life or the time during your Cell Group during the week. I’m not talking about anything to do with Christian things and activities like attending worship service or prayer meeting or cell group…etc. I’m talking about non-Christian activities. If you’re a doctor, are you passionate about doing your job? Do you long to make a difference in lives around you? If you’re a teacher, do you consider teaching young people an adventure?
That’s what I’d like to see more in peoples’ lives. That’s what is so lacking. This is especially so in young people. If you haven’t found your passion and calling in life – one that brings you excitement and adventure – then you’d better start thinking and reflecting about what kind of life you’re going to live in future. Will it be one of routine, tending to boredom. Or will it be one that’s meaningful and adventurous. One that will embrace and adapt to changes.
I’m currently doing my National Service (NS) for my nation – Singapore. All young man of around 18 years old or so have to serve between 2 to 2.5 years in the Army. My experience in the Army is that the place is a “passion-killer”. Unless you’re an Officer, you won’t learn much and you’ll just be wasting your prime years there.
I’m doing a Clerical job there and it’s ultra boring. And if there’s one thing that really stand out about the lifestyle of my colleagues, it’s that almost all I know live passionless lives. The clerical job itself is already one of the worst jobs you can get. There’s no challenge, no meaning. Just repetition. But that’s just like the life of most people anyway. These people do it to earn a living. There’s nothing exciting about their jobs. And the moment our primary motive of working is to earn money, it’s a sure sign we don’t know what life is about.
Ok, I guess I’ll end here soon. But I want to mention one last thing. I talked to a Church friend some time back and she told me how she’s working now in an administrative/clerical kind of job. She purposely took this less exciting job because she felt it’s a good way to learn humility. Before she was one who gives orders. Now she’s one who takes orders. Could this sometimes be God’s way of doing things?
That’s very interesting. I actually don’t know what to think of it considering the fact that I’m so “on” about “passion” in one’s job.
But despite what I’ve said, an important principle that Scripture teaches us is that many times God’s ways aren’t like that of the world. Whatever man thinks is good, may not be what God thinks is good. Whatever man looks up to, God may frown upon.
The world and culture around us may look up to the wealthy and rich and famous and those with status and authority. But those that God chooses are different – “Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.” (1 Corinthians 1:26)
In the same way, the world looks up to those who are strong. But God’s ways are different. He says, “My power is made perfect in weakness.” And Paul can say, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my wakenesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
What I’m trying to say is this. Whatever I said about the cool passionate, exciting and adventurous life of Jim Clark. And however I have looked up to such a lifestyle. It’s not always the case for God. Perhaps that Church friend of mine is right? God could call people to do a job that seems so unexciting and passionless. And that could be so that we don’t get caught up in life itself, but depend on God.
I think this closing thought doesn’t negate what I said earlier about living a passionate life. But I think it balances it out.