While I agree with everything from the third paragraph onwards (in the full article), I would qualify the opener, which says “his employer wasn’t interested”, which could give the impression that Cisco was somehow shortsighted, even negligent, in passing over this opportunity.

In the real world of portfolio management and strategic investment, it is not the “best” or “smartest” idea that gets funded, but the one that most meets the company’s objectives during the annual budget process. A fundamental rule of strategic investment is that there are always more candidate ideas than there is money to fund them, so in the final decision process, some very good projects get passed over – not because the company is “not interested”, but because there are other projects that better meet strategic objectives at that point in time – for example corporate social media. It could even be that Yuan’s project pitch was not as good as it could have been, and another project wowed the investment committee more – who knows.

Saying “his employer wasn’t interested” certainly makes for a more engaging “hero-vs-villain” story but could hide the fact that Cisco might have been completely justified by not funding Yuan’s idea – at that point in time.

Michael Gentle

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I just finished reading the full article. So many thoughts came up for me, and it all hearkens back to why I enjoy reading your work. Namely, I live a late-blooming, entrepreneurial, risk-taking, teenaged-law-breaking, internally motivated, and unfocused life, and feel very understood.

Contrasting the life I live with our culture and traditional paths really puts a spotlight on my weirdness (or is it the world's weirdness...) Our world's incentive structures and trajectory is broken and terrifying, respectively. At this point, I live the way I do out of a moral conviction to not participate in the tomfoolery and I'm unsure I would've came to a recognition of the tomfoolery if I didn't live the way I do. This is the primary reason why personal autonomy (of mind and body) is of paramount importance today: the broken structures destroying our planet and keeping people stuck (by the control/information dynamic) within its deception of stability and certainty can only be perceived by people who are autonomous. It's likely that the survival of our species depends on this kind of autonomy.

So, anyways, HAPPY FRIDAY (to all the atomized, non-autonomous 9-5'ers) and don't forget to practice revolutionary thought over the weekend instead of drowning your regrets and subconscious desire to escape your life in alcohol!

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Great distinction! Very interesting..

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Your post made me think of this article in the WSJ about the early career troubles of one of the Nobel Prize winners for developing the RNA vaccine.


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