Do-Say Something Syndrome

Blaise Pascal tells that

All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in quite room alone.

Confusing Activity with Results

Most of us are living in an illusion that more activity produces better results. I was stunned to read the recent report on the mobile phone usage.

  1. Users cannot leave their phone alone for 6 minutes.
  2. Check their phones up to 150 times a day.
  3. Send or Receive 23 messages a day.

In fact the mobile phones have entered into our bedrooms. What is the reason for this activity? Are we using it to gain knowledge? I do not think so. This activity is a mind numbing sedative.

In 1971, renowned social scientist Herbert Simon observed

What information consumes is rather obvious. It consumes the attention of its recipients Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.

Attention is the price we pay for our itch to do something.

Lead Banker’s urge to do something

I came across this hilarious story told by Warren Buffett in his 1999 Annual report. Just because you are getting paid, it does not mean that you have do something.

Here’s one story I can’t resist relating: In 1985, a major investment banking house undertook to sell Scott Fetzer, offering it widely — but with no success. Upon reading of this strikeout, I wrote Ralph Schey, then and now Scott Fetzer’s CEO, expressing an interest in buying the business. I had never met Ralph, but within a week we had a deal. Unfortunately, Scott Fetzer’s letter of engagement with the banking firm provided it a $2.5 million fee upon sale, even if it had nothing to do with finding the buyer. I guess the lead banker felt he should do something for his payment, so he graciously offered us a copy of the book on Scott Fetzer that his firm had prepared. With his customary tact, Charlie responded: “I’ll pay $2.5 million not to read it.”

Charlie Munger’s – I have nothing to add

In the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting, Charlie Munger answers “I have nothing to add” to most of the questions asked by Warren Buffett. Is he dumb? Of course not.

According to Warren Buffett, Munger has the best 30-second mind in the world. He goes from A to Z in one move. He sees the essence of everything before you even finish the sentence.

He does not say something just for the sake of it. This is an amazing quality we should all follow.

I had a colleague who sleeps most of the time in the office meetings. During the middle of the meeting he will wake up and ask a question and then go back to sleep. I asked him why he is doing this. By asking a question he told me that his presence will be felt. I cannot blame him. The system think that smart people will always ask questions. Who cares about the quality? Plato said

Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.