December 26, 2011

"Pretend to be completely in control and people will assume that you are."

The most highlighted sentence in the Kindle edition of the Steve Jobs bio.

Second most highlighted: "People DO judge a book by its cover... We may have the best product, the highest quality, the most useful software etc.; if we present them in a slipshod manner, they will be perceived as slipshod; if we present them in a creative, professional manner, we will impute the desired qualities.”

Here's the most highlighted one that I also highlighted: "People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint." It's actually the 6th most highlighted. It's a quote from Steve Jobs. The first 2 above are not Steve Jobs quotes. They are, respectively, by Nolan Bushnell (Jobs's role model, the founder of Atari) and Mike Markkula (first big Apple investor).

ADDED: Here— chez Amazon — is a list of the most highlighted passages of all time. #1 is: "Because sometimes things happen to people and they’re not equipped to deal with them." Oh, man. I guess obviousness brings out the old highlighter (among readers of Suzanne Collins books). She's got the second most-highlighted passage as well: "It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart." It's fun to read these things because you're seeing... something about a certain type of reader. #13 shows what leaped out at readers of Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People":
Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment.
Ha ha. Think about that next time you're out to manipulate people, you little weasel.

50 comments:

EDH said...

Sorry I'm not completely up on the technology, but are you saying that Amazon et al. can monitor what sentences each user highlights on a Kindle, etc.?

Or is that just another example of "pretending to be completely in control [so that] people will assume that you are"?

MayBee said...

Do they track what people highlight?

That's creepy.

edutcher said...

Like the line about PowerPoint, but one of Jobs' "evangelists", Guy Kawasaki, had some of the best advice ever about presentations.

Especially in PowerPoint.

Scott M said...

""Pretend to be completely in control and people will assume that you are.""

Do something. Even if it's possibly not the right thing.

When I was 20 and in ROTC, I remember very clearly noticing that even among a bunch of people who were training to be leaders, there were a small minority that everyone still deferred to. If there were a gaggle of people standing around and the NCO's told us to get everyone organized and from A to B, cadet rank notwithstanding, the same people were always the one's getting everyone moving in the same direction.

You can be outgoing without be a leader, but I don't think you can be an inspiring leader (leadership, after all, is inspiring people to do what you want them to) without being outgoing.

Ann Althouse said...

"Sorry I'm not completely up on the technology, but are you saying that Amazon et al. can monitor what sentences each user highlights on a Kindle, etc.?"

I think there's a point where you choose whether you want to share your highlights, and I know you can choose whether to see what other people have highlighted, so that there's a faint dotted line under things a certain number of other people have highlighted. (That number seems to vary from book to book as it collects more and more highlights.)

Ann Althouse said...

It is creepy if they track it without you're agreeing to it, but if you get to choose whether to share, it's just another kind of social networking, and it's anonymous to other readers.

I like it!

Joan said...

You can be outgoing without be a leader, but I don't think you can be an inspiring leader (leadership, after all, is inspiring people to do what you want them to) without being outgoing.

Clearly, you have never seen Firefly.

In all seriousness, though, being a leader requires the willingness to take a risk and make decisions, and possibly make mistakes. This quality does not depend on gregariousness. It does require some confidence, resilience, and faith.

I like these quotes, but don't necessarily agree with the PowerPoint one. PP has its uses, and people who use PP effectively know that it's there to support -- not repeat -- what you are saying. I don't need to be read to, tyvm. The best PP presentations show graphs or animations of several graphs demonstrating change; the presenter can talk about what all that data means while you see it playing out.

Ann Althouse said...

Now, I'm just figuring some of this stuff out. Read this.

You can set your privacy level at your Amazon account. And you can display all your highlights on a single page and even have that page appear on line. This is easily done with just a click.

I don't know if I'd want to do that, because I don't want to think, each time I highlight, whether I'm doing it for myself or for the whole world. I like to blog sentences that I particularly like, so I have my outlet for public expression.

But you can make a page that looks like this.

MayBee said...

Who wants to share the highlights they've made during the casual reading of a book?

I wonder how much that changes highlighting and reading behavior. The reading is no longer just for your own pleasure, but part of a demonstration for others.

Tim said...

"Pretend to be completely in control and people will assume that you are."

and:

"When I was 20 and in ROTC,..."

I think the greatest simple lesson I learned in the Army was a quote Patton cadged from Thomas Paine and bastardized: "Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way."

It's utility is constant.

Ann Althouse said...

"I like these quotes, but don't necessarily agree with the PowerPoint one."

I don't necessarily agree with it either. I highlight (and blog) based on interestingness (and a desire to preserve something I once noticed).

In the case of that quote, I'm interested in the self-justification. And I myself have never used PowerPoint, even though I've given thousands of public presentations in the era of PowerPoint.

I don't know if "I know what I'm talking about" is the justification I'd use. Maybe it's more: I don't want to be nailed down that specifically. I like things to unfold in a more natural way, with more room for spontaneity. And I think people should look at the human being who is talking and not at a lighted screen. I could come up with more reasons such as I don't want to fiddle with equipment during class.

Eh... maybe I should undertake to use PowerPoint next semester just for an experiment. Make myself do it in some futile effort to unshrink my aging brain.

Rialby said...

"People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint."

Total bullshit. Powerpoint presentations are mostly not for the person presenting but for the short-attention span executives who demand that the person provide 3 slides that summarize information succinctly to provide a foundation for decisions.

EMD said...

People who are terrible presenters rely on PowerPoint to present for them. They build overly verbose slides and then basically read them to the audience.

Or they use stupid clip art and terrible animations to get their point across.

One should strive to present without PowerPoint before presenting with it.

MayBee said...

People who know what they're talking about don't need PowerPoint, but do need to see if other people have highlighted the same sentences they have.

bagoh20 said...

Well, it is a lot easier to pretend to be completely in control, but how does that really help you or others, compared to just being prepared?

I'm watching the first episode of "Band of Brothers" on the tube right now. It's about a paratrooper Captain who is so incompetent that his men clearly expect he will get them all killed. They conspire to get him transferred him before that happens. Pretending to be in complete control can be a serious matter.

bagoh20 said...

The power point thing is just nonsense. It can be a crutch, but when explaining things, someone who knows his stuff will teach much more effectively with it. Is this even debatable?

The Elder said...

"Think about that next time you're out to manipulate people, you little weasel."

Exactly who is the weasel to whom you are referring?

Maguro said...

The Powerpoint comment, besides being a typically catty snipe at Bill Gates and Microsoft, just seems a little out of date. Back when Powerpoint started to be widely used, a lot of people went overboard with sound effects, sliding text blocks, weird fonts and other annoying bullshit. That stuff has mostly disappeared and these days your trpical Powerpoint deck isn't any better or worse than underlying data or analysis.

Ann Althouse said...

"Exactly who is the weasel to whom you are referring?"

All the little weasels who are trying to get somewhere using the Dale Carnegie approach.

For everybody else, it's a warning: Watch out for weasels!

AJ Lynch said...

I got an IPAD for xmas and I was sruck at how little clutter the box had. It was just in a nice, small box - no packing styrofoam, no tape,no bubble wrap, no multi-language instruction books etc.

Ann Althouse said...

"The Powerpoint comment, besides being a typically catty snipe at Bill Gates and Microsoft, just seems a little out of date. Back when Powerpoint started to be widely used, a lot of people went overboard with sound effects, sliding text blocks, weird fonts and other annoying bullshit. That stuff has mostly disappeared and these days your trpical Powerpoint deck isn't any better or worse than underlying data or analysis."

If it's out of date, why did you agree with it? You did, you know. Read the quote again!

Meade said...

"Exactly who is the weasel to whom you are referring?"

He asks, manipulatively.

bagoh20 said...

I have never highlighted a book in my life - in school or out. I think those who do are pretending to be completely in control.

Ann Althouse said...

The first post in the history of this blog was about marking up books.

Ann Althouse said...

"I got an IPAD for xmas and I was sruck at how little clutter the box had. It was just in a nice, small box - no packing styrofoam, no tape,no bubble wrap, no multi-language instruction books etc."

Did the packaging impute desired qualities to the product?

The Crack Emcee said...

A person’s precious pride,...

Now ain't that the truth? It's no wonder we have to worry so often about narcissism these days, the poor babies.

Does it hurt?

People can be absolutely disgusting,...

Joe said...

"Pretend to be completely in control and people will assume that you are."

On the short term.

I've had several bosses who tried that. It soon became apparent that the only thing these managers were good at was pretending.

I've also observed the tendency for pretenders to become dictatorial and that the opposite is often, though not always, true.

AJ Lynch said...

Yeah now that you mention it. No clutter imputed ease of use.

I have never used an Apple product before but have heard it is very user friendly and everyone loves loves it. So I tend to believe the hype but have not used it yet.

Phil 3:14 said...

My son got the Jobs Bio on CD (for listening in the car).

I wondered out loud if, typical Jobs, two key chapters were left out for next year's revision.

MayBee said...

I have never used an Apple product before but have heard it is very user friendly and everyone loves loves it. So I tend to believe the hype but have not used it yet.

We love the Apple things we have, but sometimes they rely too much on their reputation for being user friendly, so when things go wrong they are tough to make right. Some of their updates have left me spending days trying to recover my music libraries, and the switch to OS5 was an all-day event. For my husband on his iPad as well.
Then they created the Cloud which is cool, but once you specify the account you want to use on your cloud you can't change it for 90 days. We've at various times used different accounts on several of our devices as we've expanded our Apple collection, so too late we discovered my iCloud notifications were also going to my husband and one son. As far as I can tell, now I have to turn off my cloud and wait 90 days to switch accounts.

If you haven't been using your devices in exactly the way they've imagined, new updates can cause headaches. If they would just provide a little explanation or choice, it would be easier in the long run.

EDH said...

Ann Althouse said...
It is creepy if they track it without you're agreeing to it, but if you get to choose whether to share, it's just another kind of social networking, and it's anonymous to other readers.

I like it!


Lily: I underlined the fuck scenes for ya...

Reggie: She underlines the fuck scenes for ya? Jeez, she must worship the ground you walk on.

Ned: They teach you how to underline in college.

Reggie: Not the fuck scenes, they don't. Braden, you gotta learn to put out more, you know what I mean?

Slap Shot "Loading the Bus" clip, with unavoidable commercial.

Freeman Hunt said...

Pretend to be completely in control and people will assume that you are.

Until they talk to you and find out that you are an incompetent pretending to be "completely in control."

Then they'll think, "Oh great, another one of these guys."

Or they might think, "He reminds me of the President somehow."

MayBee said...

I don't know if I'd want to do that, because I don't want to think, each time I highlight, whether I'm doing it for myself or for the whole world. I like to blog sentences that I particularly like, so I have my outlet for public expression.

Ha! This wasn't there when I was typing up my next comment.

Yes, that's what I would wonder.
If you blog (or discuss in person) you are reading, processing, and then filtering out the things you don't want to share. But if you are sharing everything as you read, there's more of a performance aspect. You also aren't explaining why you liked a line. Is there some pressure to highlight what others have highlighted?

Kirk Parker said...

"Or they might think, 'He reminds me of the President somehow.' "

Laughing while crying!!

frankz said...

i've never understood people who use "i myself" when speaking or writing. it is obviously redundant and probably has some psychological overtones.

Larry J said...

Total bullshit. Powerpoint presentations are mostly not for the person presenting but for the short-attention span executives who demand that the person provide 3 slides that summarize information succinctly to provide a foundation for decisions.

As a staff officer, I learned that rank times IQ equals a constant. Staff officers live and breathe details. Senior officers want bullet slides with 3 main points.

I know of major military organizations where teams of staff officers put in many hours each day preparing the commander's daily briefing. It gets absurd. If an enemy wanted to cripple the US military, it would release a virus that took out PowerPoint.

PP can be an effective presentation tool but only if the speaker knows the subject. Few things are more boring or pointless than attending a briefing where the presenter simply reads the slides.

Sue D'Nhym said...

Powerpoint presentations are mostly not for the person presenting but for the short-attention span executives

Criticism is futile, because... eh, so leave out the insult and you get something the oft-highlighted Dale Carnegie might have muttered if he still lived. They are not for the person presenting, but for the executives [in the audience].

Sue D'Nhym said...

All the little weasels who are trying to get somewhere using the Dale Carnegie approach.

All those people, trying to figure out a way to give people what they want by appealing to what people are interested in personally. The nerve of them!

Jess said...

Few things are more boring or pointless than attending a briefing where the presenter simply reads the slides.

This is so true! That's why I hire Ben Stein to read my powerpoint slides for me.

Pastafarian said...

Alright, Althouse. Yet again, I have a bone to pick with you.

I feel compelled to defend the honor of all those having taken a Dale Carnegie course.

I haven't, of course. (Clearly I'm too assholish to win friends or influence people). And I'm somewhat introverted.

When I was very young I'd read the meager collection of books on our bookshelf; there were a couple of sets of outdated encyclopedias, a few novels, and a couple of books that my father had read -- a book on engineering drawing, and Dale Carnegie's book.

Years later I was struck by how incongruous this book was. My father was a gregarious guy, the last person in the world that would need such a book. And at some point I came to realize that he must not have always been such an outgoing person, that he made himself into this, probably when he was still a young man, newly a father, and worried about earning a living for his family.

I read this book; it's not about manipulation, as much as it is about clear and effective communication. Of course, it's been about 35 years, and maybe I'm misremembering. But even if it's manipulative, that's not necessarily weaselish. You teach lawyers, after all, you should agree with that.

Don said...

That "most highlighted passage of all time" sounds an awfully lot like something Julian "Cannonball" Adderley said.

Psychedelic George said...

I wholeheartedly agree with Pastafarian.

I read Carnegie's best known book a year ago. A masterpiece. There's a reason it's sold millions of copies.

Just finished reading "Make Yourself Unforgettable."

His approach is all about...being optimistic, listening to people, caring about them, being brave, expressing gratitude, being in the moment, doing for others.

It's all good stuff.

"Put a BIG, broad, honest-to-God smile on your face: throw back your shoulders; take a good, deep breath; and sing a snatch of a song," writes Carnegie.

Corny? Yes. Good advice? Yes.

george said...

I like to think of myself as a big weasel thank you very much.

Remember that the next time you are trying to manipulate us weasels.

EMD said...

Jobs was probably very deft at the pretending part, whereas many middle managers (even in creative roles) don't have his mad smoke-n-mirrorz skillz.

Joe Schmoe said...

Every time Jobs did one of his vaunted product introductions he was basically doing it to a Powerpoint. The giant screens behind him showed images and graphs that were synced to his presentation. Basically what we all call a Powerpoint now, even though it was likely done with Apple's iWork stuff or Adobe.

EMD said...

Jobs probably used Keynote (Apple's presentation software) once it was developed.

But it you notice the later presentations, they were ridiculously simple and effective.

Zach said...

I hate the "most underlined" feature in the Kindle, and turned it off immediately.

The problem is that a competent writer like Isaacson sends up huge signposts that a particular phrase is meaningful -- the line about judging a book by its cover is repeated throughout the book. So what good does it do to underline that sentence? Underlining it is pedantic and a little bit insulting.

frankz said...

i have to agree with pastafarian and others on this. the "weasel" accusation appears to be a classic example of projection. also, this comes in the wake of a reverential post of bil clinton, the prince of weasels. having worked in the mental health field for decades, i can offer a good referral if desired.

ken in sc said...

Corel Presentations was/is better and cheaper than Power Point. It's the Microsoft pretending that makes the difference.

rcommal said...

After reading Edward Tufte, I've never been able to view PowerPoint--or any other presentation app--in the same way. Highly recommended.