Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Published on March 7, 2009 By Draginol In Blogging

As some of you know, I started out in life with relatively little. It’s one of the reasons I don’t tend to be the most sympathetic person towards people who spend their entire lives being poor. 

Americans who are chronically poor, in most cases, can look at their own poor choices as being why they’re in the state they’re in.  The remaining are people who are physically more mentally disabled and those people I have endless compassion for.

Being wealthy doesn’t mean you’re better than others. It just means that you have managed to adapt yourself to the social/economic conditions of your environment.  That happens to be a skill I’m reasonably good at.

For me, wealth has never been a goal. Freedom is the goal. I want to be free to do what I want which requires a threshold of wealth to be obtained. Beyond that, I don’t care. I’m not heavily motivated to build empires of wealth just for the sake of building empires – particularly if it results in some loss of personal freedom.

Different people have different levers that motivate them. Some people crave respect. Other people crave adulation. Still others use wealth as a score card to live a life of achievement. And there are of course people who crave material wealth because that’s what makes them happy.  For me, it’s what I said, freedom. I want to do what I want to do.

I’d argue that I have a form of narcissism. Not the self-love kind but rather excessive self-ego. I do care about other people and how what I do will affect other people but I relentlessly pursue my own personal agenda.

A normal company of our size wouldn’t have its CEO out on the forums mixing it up with customers. And for good reason – I’m pretty rude and unprofessional. When I get into the mud with some disgruntled customer, it makes me and my company look amateurish and it costs us money in terms of business.  Clearly, since I know those things and will still continue to hang out on the chat channels and the forums chatting with other users rather than using an alias or having “handlers” do that sort of thing I must have other priorities  and I do – being able to do what I want.

In my experience, most people who are wealthy are people who have become extremely adept at doing what they are doing. And what they are doing produces wealth that enriches them.  What happens, in many cases, is that the means becomes the end – their ambition becomes the goal rather than the means to a concrete objective. It’s a path that I think leads many people to have regret later in life.

Some people, which we’ll generally call “losers”, look at the most successful people and think they’re greedy. If only that were the case. The most successful people are often people who are achieving for achievement’s sake with money being the scorecard. That is what I am trying to avoid. 

Sometimes, when I get busy, I will nearly forget why I’m working so hard. Because I happen to be so good at what I do, new opportunities arise to do even more – the ambition starts to become an ends unto itself.  So I have to remind myself why I do this – freedom.  The freedom to live my life as I see fit. To able to be the husband I want to be for my wife and the father I want to be for my children without having to compromise.  It’s often a delicate balance between sticking to ones goals and controlling the urge to let ambition take over.


Comments (Page 1)
on Mar 08, 2009

Brad,

Do you agree with most of ayn rand's objectivism?  It sounds that way

from your post (eg rational self interest)

on Mar 08, 2009

Cool. Freedom is a sincere reason for a CEO to work hard towards achievement. Myself, I am a bigger fan of people who work hard for accomplishment, to create something, to do something great, or to be someone with a life worth living.

I have spent countless hours pursuing a career in science because I believe that is somewhere I can go where I can build something useful in society. I think I can improve lives, either as a medical professional or a contributer to human knowledge, and thus indirectly, a contributer to beneficial technology. I want to be able to fix nature, God's mistakes, and make the world a better place.

Specifically, I am interested in creating chemicals that will level the cognitive playing field, allowing strength of character to prevail over the chaotic distribution of intellegence. I am studying neuroscience at a top 20 university now, and hopefully, one day my dream will come true.

Unfortunately, a real catch-22 exists. My goal is a lofty one, and it is one that very few could hope to accomplish. Ironically, the factor most invovled in determining success is the one I hope to eliminate . Compounding the problem, what if the drug costs too much, and only the elite can afford it? Have I only taken a step backwards? What if it has undesirable side-effects? Should people be pressured to use it?

on Mar 08, 2009

And there is always the lurking question. Should I succeed, did I actually make the world a better place? Who am I to judge?

 

By the way, there are already a few examples of drugs that can enhance cognitive performance. Stimulants, for example, increase focus. Provigil will keep you alert. And a new class of compounds called "ampakines" shows promise in increasing memory. It's only a matter of time before someone, me or otherwise, succeeds in doing this.

Actually, the situtation is even more interesting than that. There are drugs that can do pretty much anything. Anabolic steroids to make someone stronger, antibiotics to make someone healthier, prozac to make them happier. Recently, someone invented a drug that promises to make people live longer (he actually takes it himself, although I do not recommend it).

on Mar 08, 2009

coderunner82
Brad,

Do you agree with most of ayn rand's objectivism?  It sounds that way

from your post (eg rational self interest)

Any sort of "ism" is something that tends to fail when practiced in its pure form.

But I would say I subscribe to the basic concept of objectivism.

on Mar 08, 2009

SlyDrivel
Cool. Freedom is a sincere reason for a CEO to work hard towards achievement. Myself, I am a bigger fan of people who work hard for accomplishment, to create something, to do something great, or to be someone with a life worth living.

I have spent countless hours pursuing a career in science because I believe that is somewhere I can go where I can build something useful in society. I think I can improve lives, either as a medical professional or a contributer to human knowledge, and thus indirectly, a contributer to beneficial technology. I want to be able to fix nature, God's mistakes, and make the world a better place.

Specifically, I am interested in creating chemicals that will level the cognitive playing field, allowing strength of character to prevail over the chaotic distribution of intellegence. I am studying neuroscience at a top 20 university now, and hopefully, one day my dream will come true.

Unfortunately, a real catch-22 exists. My goal is a lofty one, and it is one that very few could hope to accomplish. Ironically, the factor most invovled in determining success is the one I hope to eliminate . Compounding the problem, what if the drug costs too much, and only the elite can afford it? Have I only taken a step backwards? What if it has undesirable side-effects? Should people be pressured to use it?

High intelligence is not a predictor for success. There have been plenty of studies on that topic.  Success tends to require a certain minimum threshold. But after that, preparation and opportunity are the key factors and no chemical will solve that.

 

on Mar 08, 2009

By the way, there are already a few examples of drugs that can enhance cognitive performance. Stimulants, for example, increase focus. Provigil will keep you alert. And a new class of compounds called "ampakines" shows promise in increasing memory. It's only a matter of time before someone, me or otherwise, succeeds in doing this.

Actually, the situtation is even more interesting than that. There are drugs that can do pretty much anything. Anabolic steroids to make someone stronger, antibiotics to make someone healthier, prozac to make them happier. Recently, someone invented a drug that promises to make people live longer (he actually takes it himself, although I do not recommend it).

Modafinil won't make you successful. It will make you alert and more focused. But success isn't based on that.  The most intelligent people in the world don't tend to be any more successful than people with merely above average intelligence.

Don't put too much stock on exceptional intelligence. 

on Mar 08, 2009

I think consistency in whatever you do is one key element in success. Although, I guess that goes along with the long term goal and not just the instant gratification.

on Mar 09, 2009

I want to be able to fix nature, God's mistakes, and make the world a better place.

I hope you don't mind my curiosiy about this particular comment of yours but, when you say God's mistakes (and I am not trying to make this a religious thing BTW) hw do you know they are mistakes? I have often questioned the concept of considering some people crazy just because they can see or do things most people can't so how does one define a mistake made by God? How do we know it was not meant to be that way? I'm just curious, if we can't even understand how the brain truly works fully, how can we say something from nature is a mistake?

Sry for not sticking to the topic of the article on this comment Brad but that comment just caught my attention.

on Mar 09, 2009

If you don't mind Brad, you have inspired me to write an article on this since I have so much to say and don't want to take up too much space on your article. I would, however, like to say that while it's unusual to see the CEO of a company mingle with those in his forums, I think it's actually pretty cool that you do. It shows that you can be part of this world as much as part of the Business world as oppose to sticking to one or the other alone.

on Mar 09, 2009

Draginol
Don't put too much stock on exceptional intelligence. 

Sure, if you consider high IQ and SAT/ACT scores the sole measure of intelligence.

I say that [un]common sense is perhaps a more accurate measurement of a person's intelligence.  An exceptionally sensible person sees the need to work for a living to avoid being poor.

You've pretty much said yourself that even "intelligent" people can lack this sensibility.  Why should you think you're not as smart as them, when you clearly understand something they don't?

on Mar 09, 2009

Success tends to require a certain minimum threshold.

 

Modafinil won't make you successful.

 

Yes, of course. I wouldn't dream of making everyone extremely intelligent. I would just want to ensure that everyone had the neccesary, even if not sufficient* , potential to succeed.

I will tell you that I am biased in terms of what I believe chemicals can do. I received an ADHD diagnosis, and atomoxetine has been helpful for me.   I have always been able to score high on standardized tests, so I want to make it clear that I am not talking about IQ, which can be complicated and controversial. Given standardized test scores I have accumulated over the years, I would conservatively estimate my IQ at around 125, yet I have been fired from pretty much every job I have attempted, due to inadequate social skills. More simply, I think chemicals can give struggling people a chance. When a child is given the hope that if s/he works really hard s/he can become a symbolic professional, it should not be a false hope, not for biological reasons anyway.

It eats away at our essential humanity to deny people the chance of fulfilling their hopes. See the movie GATTACA. See the movie Amadeus. In my opinion, genetic inequality is essentially unethical. Anything that can be done to ensure that people who are really passionate about their lives will have an equal opportunity to succeed is something I condone. To me, giving the cognitively impaired** smart pills is no different than pursuing equal opportunity for minorities and women.

*I realize that unequal distribution of opportunity is another huge problem, and maybe one easier to solve. But I don't enjoy politics.

 

** I mean people who do not meet the threshold for success.

on Mar 10, 2009

Yes, of course. I wouldn't dream of making everyone extremely intelligent. I would just want to ensure that everyone had the neccesary, even if not sufficient* , potential to succeed.

I will tell you that I am biased in terms of what I believe chemicals can do. I received an ADHD diagnosis, and atomoxetine has been helpful for me.   I have always been able to score high on standardized tests, so I want to make it clear that I am not talking about IQ, which can be complicated and controversial. Given standardized test scores I have accumulated over the years, I would conservatively estimate my IQ at around 125, yet I have been fired from pretty much every job I have attempted, due to inadequate social skills. More simply, I think chemicals can give struggling people a chance. When a child is given the hope that if s/he works really hard s/he can become a symbolic professional, it should not be a false hope, not for biological reasons anyway.

It eats away at our essential humanity to deny people the chance of fulfilling their hopes. See the movie GATTACA. See the movie Amadeus. In my opinion, genetic inequality is essentially unethical. Anything that can be done to ensure that people who are really passionate about their lives will have an equal opportunity to succeed is something I condone. To me, giving the cognitively impaired** smart pills is no different than pursuing equal opportunity for minorities and women.

*I realize that unequal distribution of opportunity is another huge problem, and maybe one easier to solve. But I don't enjoy politics.

 

** I mean people who do not meet the threshold for success.

The problem is that even if you raise everhone's intelligence, the threshold simply moves up with them.

High intelligence isn't particularly helpful. It's being an idiot that hurts.  

I do agree with you of the power of chemicals. I'd love to see Modafinil (for instance) become an over the counter drug (certainly safer than Caffeine).

on Mar 10, 2009

Sure, if you consider high IQ and SAT/ACT scores the sole measure of intelligence.

I say that [un]common sense is perhaps a more accurate measurement of a person's intelligence.  An exceptionally sensible person sees the need to work for a living to avoid being poor.

You've pretty much said yourself that even "intelligent" people can lack this sensibility.  Why should you think you're not as smart as them, when you clearly understand something they don't?

I certainly don't consider IQ a very good measure of intelligence.

To use a computer analogy, IQ is like how fast your CPU is.  But CPU is only one aspect of how fast (smart) your computer is. Memory is another big factor.

Speaking purely of myself, I've never thought of myself as having a massive IQ. My "magic" advantage is memory. For whatever reason, my ability to accumulate knowledge seems to be a lot higher than normal.  So it's like having a decent CPU but an incredible disk cache. But there are few measurements of that (my short-term memory is average).

on Mar 10, 2009

The problem is that even if you raise everhone's intelligence, the threshold simply moves up with them.

This would be true if the entire spectrum shifted (if absolutely everyone took the drugs). Instead, the spectrum might be narrowed.The threshold might increase, but other factors aside from those modified would bridge the gap.

High intelligence isn't particularly helpful. It's being an idiot that hurts.

Although, that does bring up an interesting point. Coffee is a stimulant that works basically by causing the effects of adrenaline to persist longer. Over 50% of Americans drink coffee (and probably significantly more drink caffinated beverages in general). What if something that worked even better were made widely available?

I found a blog that addresses this:

http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/business/the-ethics-of-smart-pills/1208

And another (this one even references a potential "brain-chip" prosthetic technology, which sounds dubious. But who knows?)

http://www.britannica.com/blogs/2009/01/smart-pills/

 

 

 

 

on Mar 10, 2009

This is an interesting sub-discussion in itself, and intelligence as it's accepted by the majority in the psychology field (and this doesn't mean it's RIGHT, but just what the majority believe) in the psychology field is a general intelligence factor (g) that's composed of two subfactors crystallized intelligence (gC) which does measure acquired knowledge or long-term memory and fluid intelligence (gF) which is basically pattern recognition and problem solving.  These are usually the main things used when computing IQ. 

 

But it doesnt' take into account things like creativity, work ethic, knowledge, or wisdom which I think is just as important or even more.