Inspired by the Enron – Smartest Guys in the Room Documentary

A decade ago, I was in a job interview for a place I ultimately was employed. My soon-to-be boss asked me how much money I’d like to make in, say, 5 years. It was about that time, blackouts were rolling through California and Wired, Fast Company, Red Herring were all obese with advertising. We were giddy with optimism.

Tonight, I watched 2929 Entertainment‘s documentary, Enron – Smartest Guys in the Room. It took me back to that moment in a more measured, rational, and methodical way than Startup.com. Perhaps 4 years of hindsight had something to do with it. 😉

From the documentary, Enron had a singular goal – to make money.

Problem is, that’s a goal for a robot. A goal as Enron proved, that can be abstracted from reality and automated. Like counting the number of times a file was downloaded doesn’t mean more people have read it – just means it’s been downloaded more times, something a robot can do. Both of these examples miss the point that the goals (money, downloads) are actually byproducts of the process – not the end result.

I remember the number I declared. An arbitrary number. One I’ve stopped paying attention to since working for myself.

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