Friday, March 28, 2003

Ten Commandments

Thought to frame the day:
"Hope is costly, as Augustine said, but not as costly as giving up."
--Anne Lamott, author of "Bird by Bird," "Traveling Mercies" and other unforgettable works

The excellent story on Google in the new (April) Fast Company Mag. has put to rest, for now at least, my concerns that the magazine's new owner--a mildly clueless, blandly rapacious German publisher--would quickly kill their jewel. There's at least hope now that they'll only slowly kill off what made it special and unique, in the meantime giving us time to at least give it a decent burial. The two visionary ex-Harvard Business Review founders have been patted on the head and given the magazine equivalents of academia's emeritus title, while the rest of us are left to hope that, like the Jesuits and their universities, these two inspired gurus have been able to inculcate sufficient fervor in their proteges to carry on their work even when the clerical collars are fewer and further between. Anyway, the Google story is full of solid reporting and great insights that both say something new about a much-covered company AND provide some take-away clues that nearly anyone could apply to their own situation. I recommend it.
It recalls for me the very story that first made me sit up and take notice of the magazine. Still had the hard copy in my files, and I've reread it occasionally, and been impressed by how true it was at so very early a juncture--summer of '96, even if it was steeped in the then-recent success of Netscape.
Its title is Ten Commandments for Success on the Net, and for a lot of people it introduced new terms such as "strategic generosity" and well-articulated ideas such as this: "Nets punish ruthlessly any attempt to control how they want to evolve..." But maybe the two most important commandments for me were Generosity Begets Prosperity (a deeply counterintuitive, even paradoxical idea for a lot of people) and No One is As Smart As Everyone. I was pleased to find it still available in the FC archive. You'll find it at: (we'll get this damnable blogger linking command working yet. George?).
--John Ettorre


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