How to get super rich and never have to work again

(Well, not really. Keep in mind that you’re reading a post by someone who is not rich and works like a dog almost every day.)

Here’s an interesting book if you’re curious about how successful technology companies get started: Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days by Jessica Livingston.

Founders at Work is a collection of interviews with 32 people who started, or helped start, super-successful companies like Adobe, TiVo, Blogger, Yahoo!, and more. It also includes interviews with people who founded not-very-successful-but-made-the-founders-super-rich companies, like Hotmail and Lycos. (Yes, I know, some people will disagree with me about those companies not being successful. Hotmail has had serious problems, and I think Lycos’ domain name expired yesterday. Just be glad I didn’t put Apple on that list!)

These types of books always interest me, because I am one of those individualist entrepreneur types. I don’t ever expect to “hit it big,” because my focus is always on narrow niches, but it’s still fun to read about people who, often enough, created extremely successful businesses without really trying to.

For example, PayPal began as a PDA application and initially told customers they didn’t want it to be used to pay for auctions. They eventually abandoned the initial goals of PayPal and now everybody uses it to pay for auctions.

Then there are the companies that almost collapse under their own initial success, like Blogger. Prya Labs didn’t set out to create a new “sphere” (as in blogo-), but when it did, had lots of users and no way to make any money off them. They had to lay off practically the entire company and run on fumes until someone with lots of money (Google) came in and made the one guy who stuck around super wealthy.

There are, of course, several companies represented in the book who did exactly what they set out to do. But that’s boring.

And there’s the occasional founder who was so wrapped up in what was happening to him that he doesn’t know what was going on around him: like Steve Wozniak (aka the Woz) who is still convinced that the Apple II set all sorts of records that it didn’t, and thinks Commodore passed on acquiring Apple when in fact Steve Jobs tried to push Jack Tramiel too hard and lost the chance. But I digress.

I can certainly recommend reading this book. At the very least, you’ll learn that nobody ever got rich because of a book or blog post they read, and most of the ones who do get rich don’t stop working after their bank accounts overflow.

Taking ownership of your words

Joel has a great rant about anonymous blog comments.

The way to give people freedom of expression is to give them a quiet place to post their ideas. If other people disagree, they’re welcome to do so… on their own blogs, where they have to take ownership of their words.

I agree, mostly.  I’ve been running this blog for over four years and never opened it up for comments, until a few days ago when I migrated to WordPress. That’s why you’ll see that almost every post on this site has no comments.

But I don’t think the answer has to be “no comments for anyone.” My blog is my own little dictatorship. There is no free speech here except where I allow it. I don’t think there is anything wrong with putting all comments into a moderation queue and filtering out the ones that peg the stupid meter.

And, of course, disallowing anonymous comments.

Anyway, where I really agree with Joel is on the notion of taking ownership if your words. On my blog, everyone knows who I am. If I say something controversial, I don’t hide behind a shield of anonymity. In fact, bloggers like Joel (and me) are putting a lot on the line when blogging about things that might make people mad. We’re also selling our stuff on the internet. I know without a doubt — because people have told me! — that my openness about some of my unpopular opinions has cost me sales. But an anonymous comment on a blog posts means nothing to me, because it takes nothing to say it.

More reasons to drink coffee

More reasons to drink coffee:

Study Shows Coffee May Prevent Alzheimer’s

A new study suggests coffee may go a long way toward protecting your brain cells from the damage of Alzheimer’s disease and several other neurological diseases.

Study Says Coffee Reduces the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Researchers at the University of California suggested that those having a cup of coffee a day cut the risk of having type 2 diabetes to 60 percent.

So enjoy that cup of caffeinated goodness.

Tearing up a credit card application isn’t enough

The Torn-Up Credit Card Application

Do you think tearing up those fifty credit card applications you get every week is good enough? Think again.

This guy received a credit card application in the mail. He tore it up into tiny pieces, taped it back together, changed the address on it, and then mailed it back to the credit card company.

And they sent the card to the new address.

Unbelievable. Glad I use a shredder!