Strong Opinions @marksbirch

Random thoughts from a NYC entrepreneur and investor about start-ups, technology and the people that make it all happen. Also find time for good tunes and good food.
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I read the following this morning:

It was about what it is always about with _________: hubris and control, the same tightly intertwined strands of his DNA that convinced him he would never be exposed, that the dozens and dozens of people privy to his pyramid scheme would remain muzzled forever.

You can easily fill in the blank if you have been watching any news this week.  But this is not an article about one person and the media circus.  You could insert any number of infamous names into the above quote and have it work just as well.


Success lifts you up and can easily knock you down.  On the way up, it feels exhilarating and exciting.  You can do no wrong when you are rocketing towards the stratosphere.  But then you start to really believe you can do no wrong as you drink in the success that you contribute solely to your singular brilliance and unimpeachable ability.  That is when things start to unravel.

The way down from the top is a journey through hell.  First, you tell a few lies.  Then you scramble to cover your lies.  Then you believe your lies are truth.  You aggressively stamp out dissension and critics as you surround yourself in a web of deceits and sycophants.  You become drunk by the control and power you wield with aplomb.  Then the hammer falls, the lies are exposed, and judgment is rendered.  All because you fell for the lie of believing too much in your own success.

Most people reading this blog are not at the top or even on that escalator to the rocket ship.  You are still searching for that thing which you passionate love and can build into a living.  But many folks often reach out to me as a mentor and ask the following question:

What is the single most important ingredient for success?

It is humility.  You attribute success not to the self as much as the confluence of events and people that make success a reality and of which you are merely the beneficiary.  By being humble, you minimize the effects of ego which leads to overvaluing your own capabilities and undervaluing the capabilities of others.  Humility also leads to hiring more capable employees, listening more intently to customers, and fostering better working relationships, where sharing and collaboration trump selfishness and self-serving motivations.  Most importantly, humility allows you to survive success and all that entails.

Do not mistake humility for meekness however.  Humility is a leveler which fairly weights the value of all contributions.  Humility is a counterbalance to the force of ego.  Yet ego and humility are both necessary to keep the momentum on vision. Humility keeps you focused on the vision while ego ensures that you do what it takes to make the vision happen.  Those who are meek are simply pushovers.

When you finally shoot up the ladder of success and fame, remember to keep it humble.  It is not easy.  Some are even programmed to crash and burn because they are inherently incapable of being humble.  But for most of us, we are capable of keeping it real and remembering our roots if we allow ourselves that bit of introspection.  Keep it humble and you will be better prepared to survive the ride and have a clear conscience through it all.

  1. marksbirch posted this