I’m a heavy reader. I used to read a number of weekly and monthly magazines but find that now I am focused more on reading blogs, news sites and other information. I am varied in my reading, too. I read venture capitalists and tech news, I read political news and information, I read about sports. I also read books, mostly history, and a single magazine (National Geographic), which gives me insights in anthropology, history and the natural world.
Even with all this reading I have found myself too narrowly focused, especially in technology reading. I am finding myself distracted by Silicon Valley. Sean Murphy pointed this out to me a couple of weeks ago. He questioned my plan for a new app, comparing it to certain “Valley” fanboy companies like DropBox and Evernote, and he pointed out that I am trying to make comparisons to outliers.
I have consistently struggled with my own desires for running a business. I have been conflicted between grow a large company well respected in the industry and being happy with a smaller business that gives me the flexibility to do what I want in life.
I have two daughters, one five and the other three, and they have been obsessed with the idea of famous. “I’m famous” they’ll say, of which I or their mother responds, “Yes, in your head you are.” But they don’t really know what famous is, it is just a word they like. When they finally asked what it means my answer was as follows: “Famous is when people you don’t know know you. There are degrees of famous. For instance,” I explained, “I am more famous than your mother but Nemo is more famous than me.” (Hey, their 5 and 3. Who was I going to say, Lady Gaga?)
The truth, though, is that I have been obsessed with famous myself and didn’t realize it until Sean pointed it out: I have been obsessed with being recognized for my business accomplishments, I have been obsessed with growing a company recognized as a world-class leader, I have been distracted by the desire to be better known than I am. Reading all those Valley rags, which focus on the outliers more than most, was contributing to my obsession. And to be honest, obsession really doesn’t suit me very well.
So I’m done with all that, or at least being obsessed by it. I just can’t control those things. And frankly it is hard enough controlling the things I can control let alone the ones I can’t.