How and why “simply taking a contrarian or one-off view” – and acting on it – can be the secret to success
This is a sort-of memoir during which Alan Weiss reflects upon especially significant personal experiences throughout his 30-year career thus far. It is also one of those books that remind me that there are some people who are delightful companions during a 16-hour flight from JFK Airport to Hong Kong and others who are not. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Million Dollar Maverick and suspect others will not.
Weiss immediately establishes a cordial, almost collegial rapport with his reader. These are among the subjects about which he shares his thoughts and feelings, each having the same prefix, “How to”:
o Differentiate yourself by developing a contrarian mindset
o Lose the fear of failure (it really is a precious learning opportunity)
o Earn trust and respect that increase your influence
o Develop critical thinking skills
o Learn “the hard way” how to get serious
o Compartmentalize pain to avoid extended suffering
o Master the art of the setup
o Communicate with intent, purpose, and agility
o Attract people who attract other people
o Adopt a mantra of “life, contribution, and success”
Weiss asserts: “It’s not the road most traveled or less traveled. It’s the road you create for yourself.” As I worked my way through his lively narrative, I was again reminded of several other insights expressed by contrarians. Here are five, all of which are relevant to Weiss’s assertion:
From Socrates: “If indeed I am the wisest man in the world, it is because all that I know is that I know nothing.”
Voltaire: “Cherish those who seek the truth but beware of those who find it.”
Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”
Marshall Goldsmith: “What got you here won’t take you there” to which I presume to add “nor will it allow you to remain here, wherever and whatever ‘here’ or ’there’ may be.”
Finally, from Ernest Becker in Denial of Death who acknowledges the inevitability of physical death but asserts that there is another form of death than CAN be denied: that which occurs when we become wholly preoccupied with fulfilling others’ expectations of us.
This last insight is precisely what Alan Weiss has in mind when referring to “the road you create for yourself.” However, he stresses the great importance of collaboration and teamwork in Chapters 9 and 10 as well as in the Epilogue when urging his reader to “Follow your own passion…surround yourself with liberal arts learning…read voraciously…engage in writing…and coach and teach others.”
Don’t follow his “path” or anyone else’s but you do need to have an ultimate destination in mind and it make sense to know where the land mines, quick sand, and shark-filled waters are. I agree with Steven Wright: “The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.” Bon voyage!