Here and There

The dirty secret that you learn when get to leave stop writing and start doing is that the difference between the daily existence of an amateur and professional is mainly illusion.

The biggest property owner in Los Angeles looks for tenets for six story buildings with For Lease signs. Just like I’d sublet my apartment. A company with 5,000 employees still has uses Craigslist to find employees. If you’re going to do a $40,000 ad spend online, you email the site and ask how much it’s going to cost. This one is a stretch but the notion of greenlighting movies with A-listers, I think, is less about some misguided economic theory and fundamentally about the comfort of having heard of the person you’re trusting millions of dollars to.

The things that seem so foreign at the highest levels are subject to the biases and tendencies and limitations that everyone deals with on a daily basis.* I think it’s really easy to get impressed by a 40 foot banner advertising a building for rent, so much so that you forget it has exactly the same purpose as a taped flyer. Or you think, ‘man, if only I had their resources’ when they’re constrained by virtually all of the human restrictions that you are. The difference is mostly about one group needing other people to believe that they’ve got it all figured out. Reality though is that it’s scary how limited the capabilities of most things are.

There’s not some larger, earth shattering point here. In fact, all I’m saying is that you don’t need to wait to learn these things when you get the big leagues because you can intuitively understand them right now. They’re simple and basic. They are right there in front of you. But are you cynical enough to notice?

*A great illustration and nice way to feel better about yourself is to look at the photos from events like a expensive charity ball or a political fundraiser. The people you’ve heard lionized as tyrants or ‘shrewd, cunning strategists’ look like your fatter versions of your parents. Personally, the photos in Variety of Hollywood executives are my favorite.

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.