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Mean People Fail, by Paul Graham


Stashed in: Character, #kindness, Awesome, @paulg, Philosophy

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I think I understand his point, but he never defines "mean".

Steve Jobs was mean, but he was very successful in the tech industry.

I'd love to see more acts of kindness in the world, so this resonated with me:

It struck me recently how few of the most successful people I know are mean.

There are exceptions, but remarkably few.

Meanness isn't rare. In fact, one of the things the internet has shown us is how mean people can be. A few decades ago, only famous people and professional writers got to publish their opinions. Now everyone can, and we can all see the long tail of meanness that had previously been hidden.

And yet while there are clearly a lot of mean people out there, there are next to none among the most successful people I know. What's going on here? Are meanness and success inversely correlated?

Part of what's going on, of course, is selection bias. I only know people who work in certain fields: startup founders, programmers, professors. I'm willing to believe that successful people in other fields are mean. Maybe successful hedge fund managers are mean; I don't know enough to say. It seems quite likely that most successful drug lords are mean. But there are at least big chunks of the world that mean people don't rule, and that territory seems to be growing.

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