Home > Advice, Personal > Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good — Tales in Optimism

Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good — Tales in Optimism

Rejection – Noun

1. the act or process of rejecting.
2. the state of being rejected.
3. something that is rejected.

Rejection: It’s not the word you want to define your job, but as a PR guy for a new Internet startup the word is synonymous with everyday life. Sure there are the one-in-ten moments when the message isn’t just written off, but it doesn’t necessarily make up for the nine times you get told “no.”

Most reporters do it with class. “Look I get at least a few of these calls a day,” one highly-respected Wall Street Journal reporter told me over the phone. “Quite frankly I need to see a track record. I can’t put time into everything, I need to get things to print.” He then politely told me to send an email and said goodbye. I hung up the phone with my dignity still intact. I sent the email and waited. Nothing. But that’s okay, he was civil, understanding, and honest. It is his job to filter through the noise and decide what to write about–not mine.

This brings me to Sarah Lacy’s new book One You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good. Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0. A current BusinessWeek reporter, Sarah lays out the back story of Digg, Slide, Facebook and a slew of other Internet giants. She goes in depth about the minds behind the phenomenons. The egos, insecurities, broken marriages and mood swings. Sometimes it isn’t pretty.

But one underlying theme remains throughout the entire read: Optimism. More than once Sarah refers to a quote by an entrepreneur about how difficult it was to move forward when everyone else thought he was nuts. The book does a fine job of discussing the line between sanity and stupidity: Zuckerberg turning down one billion just to have his company now valued at up to $15 billion. MySpace selling out to NewsCorp for far to less than it should have. The arms race in Facebook Apps, and why there are sixteen of every application.

I read the book in a night. Then read it again. I’ve now read it four times. This is rare. If I don’t return it to the library soon it may eclipse the Bible. (At that point my parents may stop talking to me all together) But every time I read it, I remember what it takes to stare down negativity and push forward. Just like inspirational I-swam-across-the-Atlantic-in-24-hours adventure books, the personalities, companies, and stories are real. And that dose of reality, the reality I lived near while in California, is a nice reminder that nine-out-of-ten is still better than getting rejected ten-out-of-ten times.

Categories: Advice, Personal
  1. Wendy
    July 17, 2008 at 1:44 am

    Tim, at what cost did these various people find “greatness”? At the cost of personal lives and inner peace–gosh it is such a choice sometimes don’t you think? I wonder at the driven nature it must take to push through and while I find myself admiring it, I also can imagine the huge downside when trying to live a full existence.

  2. Susan
    July 17, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Tim, this book resonates with you because you are, at your core, optimistic. You’ll find, however, that optimism is not enough. Hopefully you’ll find this out sooner than later as it will change your orientation considerably.

    When optimistic ambition becomes compassionate intention you will recognize an even deeper resonance in yourself.

    I’m requesting the book from the library today.

    PS For a enlightening example of optimistic ambition turning into compassionate intention, I suggest you go see Wall-E (on the big screen ONLY and DON”T miss the ending credits. See it in the daytime so that you can walk out of the theater into daylight or twilight.)


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