A Wolf Like Me

We’ve talked before about how hard it is, but let’s revisit. It’s fucking hard. We’ve talked a bit about what it’s like try and run the marathon–to consciously set out on a path totally your own, to train and attempt something many think is foolish. But let’s try this marathon, what we face as we stand on the cusp on an entirely new age.

As everything I see and read and hear converges, I become more convinced of a single conclusion. That the whole fucking world has been built on a foundation of lies, of exploitation, of moving food around on a plate. And it’s not working anymore. The Emperor Has No Clothes. Apparently, he never did.

I know it’s hard to believe but many of the people you respect from afar, cherish for their business acumen, or generally defer to as intelligent are utterly incompetent. Literally, people who were on the top of industrial power just a few short years ago are stumbling around like idiots, clutching for just a shred of their former kingdom. And we have a generation of carpetbaggers who think they can beat them to the chase–like what they had is worth holding on to.

Think about how scary that really is–that hey, even though it’s still working today, still pulling in millions of dollars, I am going to stay clear of it because it could fail in the future. It’s called the Entrenched Player’s Dilemma for a reason. And the difference between a dilemma and a problem is that problems have solutions. What we stand on the face today is as big a change as the Industrial Revolution–a fundamental shift in technology and interaction that will force a realignment in how we fight our wars, govern our people, discover or create meaning, accumulate wealth, and the organizational structure of our cities. A change in literally almost every aspect of life.

And so culture shifts with it. How we think shifts with it. Who we are shifts with it. So you have a choice, are you going to lead, muddle along or die in the transitional chaos. It’s not easy. It’s so fucking easy to be a douche. To throw words around like viral and openness and change but then get your nails done and think about ways you can sell the infant off into prostitution.

Consider for the first time that there is an alternative course. You don’t have to buy in. It’s hard sure, but it’s certainly not harder than it used to be. It’s like John Galt standing up in the middle of the meeting and saying that he’d had enough, that he’d destroy their world. And then doing it…

With a large group of young, hungry people willing to take the pyramid/privilege model seriously, Hollywood has no business model. Privilege and fear are never far from one another. And the writers I knew, for all the yakkin’ I heard about “the integrity” of their craft, were as every bit as complicit in preserving the pyramid scheme as anyone else I met. Hugh/GapingVoid

Again, buying in makes sense. I know all about the sucker’s payoff. But I also know about the dead cat bounce. At 20, we’re faced with a choice. At any age, in any position, you’ve got decide today whether you want to exist in this universe much longer or not. And that means a total change in how you think, how you plan and how you live your life.

Can you cut the ties and run hard and fast? Can you resist the impulse to extract–to rape value? Instead, trying to create it for yourself and the others whenever possible. Can you understand that differences in efficiency structures and stop trying to play God? The Zero-Sum Game is dead. Can you ignore pageviews and Alexa? Cherish influence and connection. Can you drop the buzzwords and the bullshit and just be honest? Analysis. Insight. Surprise. Responsibility. Humor Creativity. Guts. Respect. Charisma. Vision. Calm. Love

from: Tucker Max tuckermax @ gmail.com

to: ryan.holiday @ gmail.com,

date: Jan 10, 2008 7:34 PM

There a very people like me and you. And they generally get rid of us or co-opt us before we destroy them.

There is this Aurelius line about sticking with the right thing, even though they’ll “stab you with knives and shower you with curses.” The right thing here is so intuitive that it’s counterintuitive. Looking for something that helps, that entertains, that you don’t try to trick people into paying more than its worth. Thinking less about eyeballs and more about people. Forgetting business school because no matter how well you master it, the lessons will never mean more than the love, the passion and the energy.

These are the things I am learning here in Hollywood. Figuring them out, one by one. Seeing the illusions shattered and ironically, the idealism strengthening. So that is my question, what are you setting yourself up to be? A relic, a carpetbagger or a wolf like me?

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.