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Archive for December, 2010

Common Wisdom Isn't Always Right

Today’s post is going to be very different than my normal posts, I’ve decided today to write about a random observation I made some time ago. Which leads me to the main topic of this post, and that is to question what we take for granted. Just like in my previous post where I suggest that having a job is NOT necessarily safer than being an entrepreneur, today I’m going to give you another example why it’s important NOT to take conventional wisdom as fact. Especially as an entrepreneur!

Conventional wisdom says that violent video games cause people to become more aggressive and violent. And if you think about it, it does seem to make sense on the surface of things. But is it really true? Sure there are examples of people who played violent games that did become violent, but I’m sure I can find examples of people that are into other very non-violent activities and hobbies that did just as violent things. I will wager that somewhere there is a quiet and shy librarian or butterfly collector that has had some kind of violent outburst.

The question isn’t if there are examples because you can find examples for just about anything, especially with the internet and YouTube these days. I can probably find several examples of people that lost their pinky finger and have made more than a million dollars starting their own business. I’m sure I can find examples of people who purchase DVD players in December that have are balding prematurely. You can almost always find at least one or two examples of anything if you look hard enough. Just because there is an example doesn’t mean it’s related.

The bigger question is if there’s a correlation. Once we have a correlation, we can then investigate if there’s a causation. For example, as the number of pirates have decreased, there has been an increase in global warming over the same period. Therefore is the lack of pirates is the cause of global warming? Since the 1950s, both the atmospheric CO2 level and crime levels have increased sharply therefore CO2 causes crimes. In both of these cases it’s obivous that there is a correlation but it’s also obvious that the correlation doesn’t causation. That is to say that one cased the other.

Back to our question, do video games actually make you more violent?

But before we answer that question, let’s look at sports. Do sports make you more violent? Or more precisely does watching sports make you more violent? Conventional wisdom here would say no, that watching sports shouldn’t make you any more violent. How could watching sports make you more violent? If anything it would make you less violent than playing sports.

Let’s be even more specific, since sports can include a lot of different sports, some more violent than others. Can watching football make you more violent? What about basketball or hockey? What about soccer?

If you answered no, then let me ask you another question. Why was there such a police presence at the World Cup? Why were they needed? Why were they prepared long in advance? Why is that after most major championship games there’s generally a strong police presence? Why are they almost every time? Why are the fans so violent after the events? In other words, why are there riots after many major sporting events?

With that in mind, let me ask you this. Was there a police presence at the E3 Expo (Electronic Arts Expo)? This is after one of the biggest, if not the biggest, gaming event in the world. The one where all the biggest game titles are released. Where people get to try and play the latest games. The one with an attendance of over 45,000 people.

If video games have a tendency to cause people to become violent, shouldn’t there have been at least one major incidence? One riot? Shouldn’t there at least be some police presence? In the 10 plus years of the event, and correct me if I’m wrong, I’ve never heard of any major issues with violent outbreaks. I’ve never heard of the event requiring any kind of police presence beyond what’s standard at events of that size.

Which leads me back to my original observation and question, do video games make people violent? If your answer is still yes, then I cringe at what watching sports events do to people.

So if someone ever tells you that’s how you should run your business because that’s just how it’s always done and everybody does it that way, don’t assume it’s always right.

Entreneurship is Safer Than a Job


Many people will argue that a job is much more reliable and safer than being an entrepreneur, but they’re wrong! The worse part is that they’ve never really taken more than a second to actually look at the differences, they just assume it’s better. The reality is different. Do you remember that old saying “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”? Well we’ll get to that shortly, but in the meantime just remember that a job means you’re putting all your financial revenues in one single basket, your employer.

But before that, let me give you an example of just how unsafe a job really is. Have you ever been laid off? Has your project ever been terminated early? Have you ever worked for a company that’s been downsized? How about a company that’s closed? What about a company that closes down your department? A company where the business model no longer works? A company that closes your location?

And it’s not just at the company level, what about on a personal level. Have you ever worked with a difficult boss? What happens if you make a bigger mistake one day? What happens if you get sick? What if your boss is not a good person? What about co-workers? The list goes on.

With a job it’s generally you have a job or you don’t have a job. It’s on or off. You don’t have a partial job, you have one or you don’t have one.

An entrepreneur however isn’t so black or white, it’s more of shades of gray. In other words it’s rarely one or the other. You generally have some revenues, some customers. The company makes some money. Unless something catastrophic happens, which affects both the employee and entrepreneur the same way, you generally see an incline or decline in revenues over time. It’s not overnight. You don’t come in one morning to see your business completely come to a complete halt without any warning.

In other words, as an entrepreneur you don’t have all your eggs in one basket. You have multiple clients, they’re just called customers, whereas as an employee you have only one customer, your employer. If you lose that one customer, you have nothing. Zilch. Nada. The big goose egg. It’s over. As an entrepreneur a single loss of a customer isn’t nearly as catastrophic as it is for an employee. Not that you want to lose customers, but the difference is that not everything is tied to one and only one customer.

So let me ask you again, which is safer, being an entrepreneur or being an employee?



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