The choice of a move is a comparison of resources and aims.
- David Bronstein Contender 1951 World Chess Championship

When you're 80 years old and looking back, no matter how big the pile of money is that your sitting on, all you will really have is the memory of the things you did and the people you did them with.
–John Fanning

The more amazing the truth the more people will swear it is a lie.
–John Fanning

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."
-- Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC), maker of big business mainframe computers, arguing against the PC, 1977

"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out anyway."
-- President of Decca Records, rejecting The Beatles after an audition, 1962

"Transmission of documents via telephone wires is possible in principle, but the apparatus required is so expensive that it will never become a practical proposition."
-- Dennis Gabor, British physicist and author of Inventing the Future, 1962

"There is practically no chance communications space satellites will be used to provide better telephone, telegraph, television, or radio service inside the United States."
-- T. Craven, FCC Commissioner, 1961
(the first commercial communications satellite went into service in 1965)

"The world potential market for copying machines is 5000 at most."
-- IBM , to the eventual founders of Xerox, saying the photocopier had no market large enough to justify production, 1959

"I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year."
-- The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957

"Space travel is bunk."
-- Sir Harold Spencer Jones, Astronomer Royal of the UK, 1957
(two weeks later Sputnik orbited the Earth)

"To place a man in a multi-stage rocket and project him into the controlling gravitational field of the moon where the passengers can make scientific observations, perhaps land alive, and then return to earth--all that constitutes a wild dream worthy of Jules Verne. I am bold enough to say that such a man-made voyage will never occur regardless of all future advances."
-- Lee deForest, American radio pioneer and inventor of the vacuum tube, 1957

"You ain't going nowhere, son. You ought to go back to driving a truck."
-- Jim Denny, manager of the Grand Ole Opry, in firing Elvis Presley after a performance, 1954

"If excessive smoking actually plays a role in the production of lung cancer, it seems to be a minor one."
-- W.C. Heuper, National Cancer Institute, 1954

"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons."
-- Popular Mechanics, "predicting" the relentless march of technology, 1949

"Television won't last. It's a flash in the pan."
-- Mary Somerville, pioneer of radio educational broadcasts, 1948

"Television won't last because people will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night."
-- Darryl Zanuck, movie producer, 20th Century Fox, 1946

"You better learn secretarial work or else get married."
-- Director of the Blue Book Modeling Agency, advising Marilyn Monroe, 1944

"That is the biggest fool thing we have ever done [research on]... The bomb will never go off, and I speak as an expert in explosives."
-- William D. Leahy, U.S. Admiral, advising President Truman on atomic weaponry, 1944

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
-- Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

"The energy produced by the atom is a very poor kind of thing. Anyone who expects a source of power from the transformation of these atoms is talking moonshine."
-- Ernst Rutherford, New Zealand physicist, 1933

"There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean the atom would have to be shattered at will."

-- Albert Einstein, German-born American physicist, 1932

"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."

"Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well."

I think that one of the best tips for improving your social skills is to behave in a congruent manner and communicate in an authentic way. People seem to really like authentic communication. And there is much inner enjoyment to be found when your thoughts, words and actions are aligned. You feel powerful and good about yourself.

When words and thoughts are aligned then that shows through in your communication. Because now you have your voice tonality and body language - some say they are over 90 percent of communication - in alignment with your words.

With these channels in alignment people tend to really listen to what you're saying. You are communicating without incongruency, mixed messages or perhaps a sort of phoniness.

Also, if your actions aren't in alignment with what you're communicating then you start to hurt your own belief in what you can do. And other people's belief in you too.

See the good in people and help them.

"I look only to the good qualities of men. Not being faultless myself, I won't presume to probe into the faults of others."

"Man becomes great exactly in the degree in which he works for the welfare of his fellow-men."

"I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people."

There is pretty much always something good in people. And things that may not be so good. But you can choose what things to focus on. And if you want improvement then focusing on the good in people is a useful choice. It also makes life easier for you as your world and relationships become more pleasant and positive.

And when you see the good in people it becomes easier to motivate yourself to be of service to them. By being of service to other people, by giving them value you not only make their lives better. Over time you tend to get what you give. And the people you help may feel more inclined to help other people. And so you, together, create an upward spiral of positive change that grows and becomes stronger.

By strengthening your social skills you can become a more influential person and make this upward spiral even stronger. A few articles that may provide you with useful advice in that department are Do You Make These 10 Mistakes in a Conversation?
and Dale Carnegie's Top 10 Tips for Improving Your Social Skills. Or you can just move on to the next tip.

Continue to grow and evolve.

"Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position."

You can pretty much always improve your skills, habits or re-evaluate your evaluations. You can gain deeper understanding of yourself and the world.

Sure, you may look inconsistent or like you don't know what you are doing from time to time. You may have trouble to act congruently or to communicate authentically. But if you don't then you will, as Gandhi says, drive yourself into a false position. A place where you try to uphold or cling to your old views to appear consistent while you realise within that something is wrong. It's not a fun place to be. To choose to grow and evolve is a happier and more useful path to take.


"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

Be persistent. In time the opposition around you will fade and fall away. And your inner resistance and self-sabotaging tendencies that want to hold you back and keep you like you have always been will grow weaker.

Find what you really like to do. Then you'll find the inner motivation to keep going, going and going. You can also find a lot of useful tips on how keep your motivation up in How to Get Out of a Motivational Slump and 25 Simple Ways to Motivate Yourself.

One reason Gandhi was so successful with his method of non-violence was because he and his followers were so persistent. They just didn't give up.

Success or victory will seldom come as quickly as you would have liked it to. I think one of the reasons people don't get what they want is simply because they give up too soon. The time they think an achievement will require isn't the same amount of time it usually takes to achieve that goal. This faulty belief partly comes from the world we live in. A world full of magic pill solutions where advertising continually promises us that we can lose a lot of weight or earn a ton of money in just 30 days. You can read more about this in One Big Mistake a Whole Lot of People Make.

Finally, one useful tip to keep your persistence going is to listen to Gandhi's third quote in this article and keep a sense of humor. It can lighten things up at the toughest of times.

Without action you aren't going anywhere.

"An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching."

Without taking action very little will be done. However, taking action can be hard and difficult. There can be much inner resistance.

And so you may resort to preaching, as Gandhi says. Or reading and studying endlessly. And feeling like you are moving forward. But getting little or no practical results in real life.

So, to really get where you want to go and to really understand yourself and your world you need to practice. Books can mostly just bring you knowledge. You have to take action and translate that knowledge into results and understanding.

You can check out a few effective tips to overcome this problem in How to Take More Action: 9 Powerful Tips. Or you can move on to the next point for more on the best tip for taking more action that I have found so far.

"There is no likelihood that man can ever tap the power of the atom. The glib supposition of utilizing atomic energy when our coal has run out is a completely unscientific Utopian dream, a childish bug-a-boo."

-- Robert Millikan, American physicist and Nobel Prize winner, 1928

"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"
-- H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, maker of silent movies, 1927

"While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially I consider it an impossibility, a development of which we need waste little time dreaming."
-- Lee DeForest, American radio pioneer and inventor of the vacuum tube, 1926

"There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom."
-- Robert Millikan, American physicist and Nobel Prize winner, 1923

"The radio craze will die out in time."
-- Thomas Edison, American inventor, 1922

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?"
-- David Sarnoff, American radio pioneer, 1921

"Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and reaction and the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react. He seems to lack the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high schools."
-- New York Times editorial about Robert Goddard's revolutionary rocket work, 1921 (note that the day after Armstrong walked on the moon in 1969, the New York
Times printed a short boxed item on page 2. It read in full:

"Errata: It has now been conclusively demonstrated that a rocket ship can travel through the vacuum of space. The Times sincerely regrets the error.")

"Taking the best left-handed pitcher in baseball and converting him into a right fielder is one of the dumbest things I ever heard."
-- Tris Speaker, baseball expert, talking about Babe Ruth, 1919

"The idea that cavalry will be replaced by these iron coaches is absurd. It is little short of treasonous."
-- Comment of Aide-de-camp to Field Marshal Haig, at tank demonstration, 1916

"Caterpillar landships are idiotic and useless. Those officers and men are wasting their time and are not pulling their proper weight in the war."
-- Fourth Lord of the British Admiralty, 1915

"Lee DeForest has said in many newspapers and over his signature that it would be possible to transmit the human voice across the Atlantic before many years. Based on these absurd and deliberately misleading statements, the misguided public ... has been persuaded to purchase stock in his company ..."
-- U.S. District Attorney, prosecuting Lee DeForest, American radio pioneer, for selling stock fraudulently through the mail for his Radio Telephone Company, 1913

"That the automobile has practically reached the limit of its development is suggested by the fact that during the past year no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced."
-- Scientific American, Jan. 2 edition, 1909

"I confess that in 1901 I said to my brother Orville that man would not fly for fifty years. Two years later we ourselves made flights. This demonstration of my impotence as a prophet gave me such a shock that ever since I have distrusted myself and avoided all predictions."
-- Wilbur Wright, American aviation pioneer, speech to the Aero Club of France, 1908

"Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote."
-- Grover Cleveland, U.S. President, 1905

"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value."
-- Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre, 1904(?)

"The horse is here to stay, the automobile is only a fad."
-- Advice of President of Michigan Savings Bank to Horace Rackham, lawyer for Henry Ford, 1903
(Rackham ignored the advice and invested $5000 in Ford stock, selling it later for $12.5 million)

"Flight by machines heavier than air is unpractical and insignificant, if not utterly impossible."
-- Simon Newcomb, Canadian-born American astronomer, 1902

"Man will not fly for 50 years."
-- Wilbur Wright, American aviation pioneer, to brother Orville, after a disappointing flying experiment, 1901 (their first successful flight was in 1903)

"I am tired of all this sort of thing called science here ... We have spent millions in that sort of thing for the last few years, and it is time it should be stopped."
-- Simon Cameron, U.S. Senator, on the Smithsonian Institute, 1901

"If God had intended that man should fly, he would have given him wings."
-- Widely attributed to George W. Melville, chief engineer of the U.S. Navy, 1900

"The amount of misguided ingenuity which has been expended on these two problems of submarine and aerial navigation during the nineteenth century will offer one of the most curious and interesting studies to the future historian of technologic progress."
-- George Sutherland, American lawyer and author of 20th Century Inventions, 1900

"radio has no future."
-- Lord Kelvin, British mathematician and physicist, president of the British Royal Society, 1897

"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible."
-- Lord Kelvin, British mathematician and physicist, president of the British Royal Society, 1895

"X-rays will prove to be a hoax."
-- Lord Kelvin, British mathematician and physicist, president of the British Royal Society, 1895(?)

"It is apparent to me that the possibilities of the aeroplane, which two or three years ago were thought to hold the solution to the [flying machine] problem, have been exhausted, and that we must turn elsewhere."
-- Thomas Edison, American inventor, 1895

"The more important fundamental laws and facts of physical science have all been discovered, and these are now so firmly established that the possibility of their ever being supplanted in consequence of new discoveries is exceedingly remote.... Our future discoveries must be looked for in the sixth place of decimals."
-- Albert. A. Michelson, German-born American physicist, 1894

"Fooling around with alternating current is just a waste of time. Nobody will use it, ever."
-- Thomas Edison, American inventor, 1889
(Edison often ridiculed the arguments of competitor George Westinghouse for AC power)

"We are probably nearing the limit of all we can know about astronomy."
-- Simon Newcomb, Canadian-born American astronomer, 1888

"The phonograph has no commercial value at all."
-- Thomas Edison, American inventor, 1880s

"Such startling announcements as these should be deprecated as being unworthy of science and mischievous to its true progress."
-- Sir William Siemens, on Edison's light bulb, 1880

"Everyone acquainted with the subject will recognize it as a conspicuous failure."
-- Henry Morton, president of the Stevens Institute of Technology, on Edison's

light bulb, 1880

"... good enough for our transatlantic friends ... but unworthy of the attention of practical or scientific men."
-- British Parliamentary Committee, on Edison's light bulb, 1878

"The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys."
-- Sir William Preece, Chief Engineer, British Post Office, 1878

"This telephone has too many shortcomings to be considered as a means of communication. The device is of inherently no value to us."
-- Western Union internal memo, 1876

"The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon".
-- Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon Extraordinary to Queen Victoria, 1873

"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction."
-- Pierre Pachet, British surgeon, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872

"It's a great invention but who would want to use it anyway?"
--Rutherford B. Hayes, U.S. President, after a demonstration of Alexander Bell's telephone, 1872

"A man has been arrested in New York for attempting to extort funds from ignorant and superstitious people by exhibiting a device which he says will convey the human voice any distance over metallic wires so that it will be heard by the listener at the other end. He calls this instrument a telephone. Well-informed people know that it is impossible to transmit the human voice over wires."
-- News item in a New York newspaper, 1868

"Well-informed people know it is impossible to transmit the voice over wires and that were it possible to do so, the thing would be of no practical value."
-- Boston Post, 1865

"Dear Mr. President: The canal system of this country is being threatened by a new form of transportation known as 'railroads' ... As you may well know, Mr. President, 'railroad' carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 miles per hour by 'engines' which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside, setting fire to crops, scaring the livestock and frightening women and children. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed."
-- Martin Van Buren, Governor of New York, 1865(?)

"No one will pay good money to get from Berlin to Potsdam in one hour when he can ride his horse there in one day for free."
-- King William I of Prussia, on hearing of the invention of trains, 1864

"Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy."
-- Drillers whom Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil, 1859

"I watched his countenance closely, to see if he was not deranged ... and I was assured by other senators after he left the room that they had no confidence in it."
U.S. Senator Smith of Indiana, after witnessing a demonstration of Samuel Morses's telegraph, 1842

"The abolishment of pain in surgery is a chimera. It is absurd to go on seeking it...knife and pain are two words in surgery that must forever be associated in the consciousness of the patient."
-- Dr. Alfred Velpeau, French surgeon, 1839

"Rail travel at high speeds is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia."
-- Dionysius Lardner, Professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy at University College, London, and author of The Steam Engine Explained and Illustrated, 1830s

"What can be more palpably absurd than the prospect held out of locomotives traveling twice as fast as stagecoaches?"
-- The Quarterly Review, March edition, 1825

"What, sir, would you make a ship sail against the wind and currents by lighting a bonfire under her deck? I pray you, excuse me, I have not the time to listen to such nonsense."
-- Napoleon Bonaparte, when told of Robert Fulton's steamboat, 1800s

"I would sooner believe that two Yankee professors lied, than that stones fell from the sky."
-- Thomas Jefferson, U.S. President, on hearing reports of meteorites, 1790s(?)

"The view that the sun stands motionless at the center of the universe is foolish, philosophically false, utterly heretical, because contrary to Holy Scripture. The view that the earth is not the center of the universe and even has a daily rotation is philosophically false, and at least an erroneous belief."
-- Holy Office, Roman Catholic Church, ridiculing the scientific analysis that the Earth orbited the Sun in edict of March 5, 1616

"The multitude of books is a great evil. There is no limit to this fever for writing; every one must be an author; some out of vanity, to acquire celebrity and raise up a name, others for the sake of mere gain."
Martin Luther, German Reformation leader, Table Talk, 1530s(?)

" many centuries after the Creation it is unlikely that anyone could find hitherto unknown lands of any value."
-- Committee advising King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain regarding a proposal by Christopher Columbus, 1486

"He who laughs last laughs longest."
-- Old Chinese proverb

One of lifes great fascinations is watching people evolve over time. Some people grow and develop, while others seem to be stuck in patterns that limit their happiness and wellbeing. Others excel in certain areas of their lives while failing miserably in others. A small few are spectacularly successful by conventional measures, yet are perpetually dissatisfied. Is there a simple model we can use to make sense of these observations?
Many years of watching and thinking have led me to believe that we can further our understanding by simplifying the problem. The model I use consists of three fundamental states, characterized by the Yiddish words schlepper macher and mensch. First, I will describe the states, and how people move from one state to the next. Then I will explain how people can get stuck in one of the earlier states, and how to address that failure mode. In addition, Ill talk about people in different states in different parts of their lives at a given time. Finally, Ill address the issue of the distribution of the population in the various states and the implications for getting along in the real world.
I want to be a little precise with words here. I call the three states phases, because I believe that there is a natural progression that is accessible to all people. The phases become available as people grow, mature, and come to terms with the real world, learning how to make appropriate compromises between their belief systems and the exigencies of everyday life. Unfortunately, sometimes people get stuck in a phase and dont move on. That leads to thinking of them as a class of people. But the wordclass is overloaded with lots of other implications, social and otherwise. Hence, I avoid the use of that term. Why is this important? We have a tendency to believe that life is complex, and there is a wealth of academic research on the interactions of social groups in many different contexts: family, business, teams, and so on. Most of it is inaccessible to the average person. What I have come to believe is that this very simple model explains a wide variety of real-world data and has predictive power. A simple model that people can understand and apply and that works 80 percent of the time is more useful than a complex and hard- to-use model that works 95 percent of the time.


Let us begin with the first state. People in this phase are collectively known as schleppers. This term comes from the Yiddish verb schlep, which means to drag. Colloquially, it also means to carry something around, as in schlepping those bags through the airport. In most common parlance, a schlepper is thought of as a lazy, sloppy person, but this is not the connotation that I wish to apply here. For me, a schlepper is someone who is in the first stage of his or her development. Literally, a schlepper is a carrier. In the good old days, a perfect example of a schlepper was a caddie, a kid who carried golf bags. You are not doing a lot of heavy thinking when you are schlepping; you are performing useful but perhaps menial labor, usually in the service of someone else. Schlepping is not very glorious, but nonetheless one should not underestimate its importance.
First of all, just because you are schlepping does not mean you are forbidden to think. In fact, just the opposite is true: Because the work content of schlepping includes little thinking, you can use this time to think and learn while you schlep. Many creative ideas occur during schlepping. For instance, how can I schlep this stuff with less effort? One of the very first caveman (or perhaps I should say caveperson) schleppers invented the wheel as a result. The act of routinely repeating a boring, uninteresting task, or having to expend what seems like an inordinate amount of labor to achieve a mundane goal, often causes even the dullest schlepper to have an ideanecessity (made most obvious by pain or fatigue) being the mother of invention. My experience is that people who have schlepped often see new and interesting ways to avoid schlepping, even when the schlepping is associated with a new domain. They develop instincts for when something is going to turn into a big schlep and head off that eventuality at the pass. Ex-schleppers make great engineers, for example.
In general, we all need to schlep. It builds character, as trite as that may sound. It teaches us humilityhumility of the sort, If I dont get smarter about this, Im going to have to schlep the rest of my life. There are some interesting aspects of this phenomenon.
Schleppers quickly perceive the great injustice of life. Here you areyoung, smart, good looking, and so onand you have to schlep for some old, fat, dull idiot who just 1 happens to be your boss. How did that happen?
Sometimes these bosses can be downright stupid, to the point of making you schlep more than you should have to. Other times, they can increase your grief through deliberate cruelty. And because you are the designated schlepper, you have two choices: schlep in silence, or go schlep somewhere else. The third option, making a ruckus, is usually counterproductive, as schleppers are basically interchangeable by definition, and noisy ones are quickly replaced.
Some amazing truths reveal themselves to observant schleppers. For example, schlepping in silence causes erosion of the stomach lining, so the learning schlepper will attempt to deal creatively with his work or social situation in such a way as to minimize grief. Quitting and schlepping somewhere else (option two) is most often found to not be a solution at all, for just as all schleppers are interchangeable, all schlepping jobs are basically the same. Most of the time, its out of the frying pan and into the towering inferno.
Skipping over the schlepper phase is dangerous, even if you could do it. Actually, some people dothose who are born rich. They never get to experience the benefits of schleppingfor instance, the joy of creative schlepping, or the pride one takes in a load well-schlepped. As a result, they never understand what most of the world is going through. They take too much for granted and are not well grounded in reality. And, it is almost impossible to become a schlepper later in life if you never were one to start with.
But more important, you miss out on important lessonshumility, the value of a dollar earned through a hard days work, the intrinsic unfairness of the world, and how screwed up things are down in the trenches. The other irreplaceable lesson comes through contact with the enormous variety of people the real world presents the schlepperthe gonifs, the liars, the cheats, and what used to be called in less politically correct times, the common people. Most important, there are those wonderful others who see something special in you and say to themselves, Why is this kid schlepping? Surely he can do more, and then act on it. They become our mentors, coaches, and champions, and that is one of the ways we move beyond the schlepper phase. Sooner or later, every schlepper must come to understand that in order to make progress, you have to move beyond the schlepper phase. This involves investment. You can schlep forever and blame it on the evils of the class system, free-market capitalism, or whatever, but the system is there. To stop schlepping, you have to be able to do something that gets someone to say, Hey, Im not paying you to schlep that

A gonf is a common thief.

Stuff; get someone else to do it! Often this takes the form of actually making the effort to get more education or training, thinking, or doing something that makes you stand out in a positive way. It requires, in Churchills words, blood, sweat, tears, and toil.2 Youmust show that you can add value at the next level. This is a two-part proposition. First you have to get the training, acquire the skills, get the result, do the deed. Then you have to get someone influential to recognize that something has changed and that you are ready to graduate from the schlepper phase. These are the mentors I described previously.
So, we all start out as schleppers. Kids are the schleppers in every family. Think of being a schlepper as being an apprentice. Kids are apprentice adults. If they are watchful, can avoid getting killed, and listen from time to time, they can graduate to adulthood. If not, they remain kids forever.
Resign yourself that in everything you doevery new job, every new sport, every new relationshipyou start out as a schlepper. How long you remain one is up to you. And remember, while you are a schlepper, to maintain your dignity.


The second phase of life is that of the macher. I believe the origin of macher is related to the verb to do or to make. Phase two is the longest and, in some ways, the most enjoyable phase of life. A macher is someone who gets things done, who makes things happen, who gets results. When you are a macher, you are putting points on the board. This phase is incredibly productive, and most machers get a real sense of satisfaction from doing what they do. Some machers enjoy it so much that they stay machers foreverand this is not a totally bad thing. If it werent for the machers of the world, wed all still be schlepping.
Machers are not just the inventors, the entrepreneurs, the craftsmen, and the geniusesalthough those folks generally are machers. What distinguishes a macher is that he or she adds value and makes a difference. Being a macher is usually equated with high performance, not the ordinary or mundane. Those who put in their eight hours and dont mess up too often arent machers; theyre sort of advanced schleppers. No, to be a macher, you have to be in that category that is often characterized by the exclamation, We need a real macher to fix this! In many firms, machers are the rainmakers, the folks who generate business. The litmus test is thisif you take away the macher, the organization not only suffers greatly, its just not the same.
2 If you want to leave footprints in the sands of time, I suggest you wear work boots. Also, the more accurate quotation of Churchill is, I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat, in his May 13, 1940 speech. It has been misquoted so often as to become part of the language. Note, for example, the rock band Blood Sweat and Tears.

They are usually very focused, to the point of being driven.
They are intense.
They are results-oriented.
They understand the goal and can get it in the crosshairs. It is usually a bad thing to get between a macher and the machers desired result.
Machers are charismatic, in both the good and bad sense. It is unusual for a macher to not be charismatic, because this trait is so often linked with leadership. There are exceptions, but not enough of them to warrant more space here.
There is a dark side. Machers will err on the side of believing that the end justifies the means because, to them, it does. They can be absolutely ruthless. People who are squeamish about hurting other peoples feelings themselves will often employ machers, who have no such compunctions. The macher has no illusions about what hes getting paid forits to get a result. But, if the truth be known, the macher would almost always do it for freeachievement is a very potent drug.
Machers can be self-limiting. The really good machers discover early in their careers that you have to be careful about breaking too much glass. Annoy enough people and you wont be able to get others to help youeven other machers! There are a lot of obnoxious young machers, but very few obnoxious old machers. The reason is obvious: Its hard for machers to progress if they cant build groups consisting (incidentally) of other machers. The scope of the problems they are asked to solve increases and gets to the point where fielding a team is the only answer. If the macher is incapable of developing the interpersonal skills necessary to get others to play, he will eventually wind up isolated and be overtaken by even more clever machers.
Machers enjoy a side benefit that is not insignificant. To some extent, they can be prima donnas and make their own rules. Why? Because many people and organizations will tolerate some pretty outrageous behavior if the problem to be solved is serious enough or the gain is big enough. So the macher can avoid much of the petty tyranny of organizations and bureaucracies by explicitly placing himself outside the normal system. Many machers choose this path simply because this is the only way they can function:
by setting up a context in which they can get the job done by their rules. In any other context, they will fail because they have to obey constraints that they judge to be too onerous. But, live by the sword, die by the sword. When a macher fails, there is never an insufficiency of people waiting to bury himhis enemies tend to accumulate and have long memories. To survive outside the system, you have to be really good and have real integrity. Jf you dont, your first mistake will be your last. Sometimes machers can become intoxicated by the power they wield and can really get out of control. In the end, an overly aggressive macher will self-destruct, but not

Machers have the following interesting characteristics:
before creating a pretty big mess. Machers rarely fade away quietly; rather, they go out in a blaze of fireworks. Hubris just catches up, and because machers do everything on a grand scalethey do have visionthey generally fail spectacularly.
Can you be a macher without having been a schlepper? Yes, but it is rare. Machers who have not served some kind of apprenticeship usually have a piece missing. It is tough to be a macher if you are not grounded in reality, and schlepping is the quintessential training ground in reality.
Machers tend to stay in the macher phase because they are an elite. They enjoy lots of tangible and intangible rewards in the business world in exchange for the results they achieve for their organizations. They are constantly being recruited for bigger and betterchallenges. Its a great life, and the risks are feworganizational backlash from time to time, and perhaps a premature coronary from excessive Type-A behavior. But most machers can deal with it.
In other areas of life, being a macher means being competent; actually, it means performing at the highest level of competence. Theres a tendency to aspire to be a macher in all parts of ones life. Once one has become a macher in one part, it can be frustrating, as competency can be highly domain-specific. Ergo, many machers become one-dimensional, focusing their energies in their area of dominance. Because they tend to be competitive by nature, this is a natural stalling-out point for them. Once you are better than most of your peers, what is there left to strive for?
As exalted as machers are, there is a higher state. The Yiddish word for itmensch is pretty much untranslatable into English.


A mensch is a gentleman, a fine person. But that doesnt quite capture the feeling of Hes a real mensch! The essence of being a mensch is to have a global perspective, to be somewhat introspective and philosophical, and to be kind. A mensch is good at us- tening and very good at seeing the other persons point of view.
We should remark here that the word mensch in German means human, and secondarily, man. While that makes this phase of life accessible to both genders, it is mud more inclusive than the Yiddish usage. In Yiddish, not all humans are mensches.

Theres a big difference between machers and mensches. First, machers usually hav a very hard edge to them; mensches are mellower, softer, and more patient. Machers hav a sense of urgency; mensches have a sense of inevitability. The mensch really believes that it all comes out in the wash. The schlepper is often viewed as dull or stupid, - in fact all he may be guilty of is ignorance; the macher is viewed as being smart or clevei:
the mensch is always viewed as being wise. You go to the macher when you want a lem solved now; you go to the mensch when you are looking for a long-term solution. I some sense, the schlepper cant do anything, the macher is the tactician par excellenc and the mensch is the strategist.

Before I let you think that the mensch is just a Yiddish incarnation of Yoda, I should point out that the mensch is not just a dispenser of advice, but also a doer of deeds. The thing that sets the mensch apart is that he not only knows the right thing to do, but he acts on it, even at great personal cost. Unlike the macher, the mensch is not at all interested in getting the credit for the result. He is vitally interested in the result for its own sake and doesnt really care if anyone ever knows he was the facilitator. A typical mensch-like thing to do is to make a large, anonymous donation to charity, for example.
Machers sometimes make good mentors, but only as an almost accidental side effect of their primary objective, which is to get results. Machers more often mentor more junior machers, as opposed to schleppers. Mensches, on the other hand, make superb coaches and mentors, because they are so highly attuned to the needs of others; they help everyone because they empathize with everyone. They also have a quintessential long-term perspective, so they understand the leverage of developing others and building infrastructure. They understand the Zen-like beauty of injecting energy into the system, unaware of when or where the positive consequences of that act will appearyet confident that they certainly will.
The mensch also provides a lot of lubrication in any organization. Hes above the fray, committed to the organization and its goals, but without a personal agenda, unlike the macher, who always has one. The macher is territorial, whereas the mensch is extra- territorial. The mensch will endeavor to be a peacemaker, a mediator, and someone who is creative in trying to find a solution when there appears to be none. Appearances notwithstanding, the mensch is a highly effective person. His strength comes from his ability to work well with everyone and from the respect everyone has for him.
Can you become a mensch without having been a macher? There are two points of view.
The first is that the schlepper-to-mensch transition is sort of like going from apprentice to master craftsman without ever having been a competent journeyman in between. In this point of view, the wisdom the mensch exhibits is accumulated from years of being a macher; the really good machers age well and eventually become mensches.
The problem with this point of view is that there seem to be some clear exceptions. Just as we have noted that many machers never graduate to menschhood, it is also the case that we find a few people displaying the characteristics of mensches who have not been machers. They have schlepped for extended periods of time but have not become bitter. They have accumulated wisdom, are kind, and are secure in themselves. They universally understand people and the human drama, and they exhibit lots of empathy.
Their judgment is impeccable. The mystery is where their wisdom came from.

More on Mensches

The Swiss physicist and ecologist Olivier Guisan told me 30 years ago that the key to growing up was to have ones eyes opened without having ones heart hardened. A maturing process that enables us to cope with the sometimes daunting realities of life, without becoming cynical, is essential. The schlepper is typically a pessimist, the macher a cynic. The mensch is an optimist. He believes in the goodness of people and in civilizations ability to find solutions to complex problems. His own humanity is of course part of this, but he ignores that.

The noted psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi3 has described a model in his book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.4 In this theory, there is a tension between knowledge and skill set versus the task worked on. If the task is too easy, boredom sets in, and people are unhappy. If the task isrelatively speakingvery challenging compared to competence, then people are stretched, but tense and anxious as a result. When there is a reasonable matchnot too easy, not too hardthen a flow state is achieved. Csikszentmihalyi calls the achievement of the flow state the flow channel, because it spans a broad range of competency and task difficulty. Flow is a state of grace, where achievement is high and one experiences a feeling of incredible well-being; athletes call it being in the zone.

What is interesting is that, in this model, schleppers would appear to be unhappy because they are constantly below the flow channel, working on tasks that they find boring. Machers, it would appear, are troubled because they are most frequently working above the flow channelthey are characteristically in over their heads. And mensches, by my reckoning, are happy and effective because they are so often in the flow channel. If achieving flow is a key, then mensches would seem to have discovered it.

Surprisingly, you dont have to be old to be a mensch, although many of the traits associated with mensches can come with age. No, being a mensch is a state of mind, available to all of us with the proper perspective and attitude.
Mensches are happy people. They are surrounded by happy people. They can deal with lifes worst surprises and help others to do so, too. They have extremely well integrated and balanced lives, and they are at peace.

Population Distribution

For every 100 schleppers in the world, there are 10 machers and one mensch. Why are there so many schleppers? The easy answer is to steal from Lincoln and say, God must have loved them, because he made so many. But even so, one would think that frustration would cause almost everyone to graduate sooner or later. Alas, it is not so. First, laziness plays a big part: Many people are just not willing to do what it takes to move up. Second, it requires maturity: An attitude adjustment is required to graduate
Pronounced chick-sent-me-high.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. (New York: Harper Collins, 1991.) See also Chapter 16 for more details on flow.

You need to take responsibility for your own destiny. It is easier to complain about the system and your inability to advance than it is to take matters into your own hands and succeed in spite of obstacles. Finally, there is a commitment to continue to grow. Moving beyond the schlepper zone is a fundamental change, and it scares many people, because it implies a new way of life that is bereft of the simpler comforts that the schlepper enjoys. Because the no gain comes with no pain, many schleppers can never quite get over the emotional barrier it takes to graduate. I think these three factorssacrifice, maturity, and fundamental life changeexplain why there are so many schleppers out there.
All this exists in the context of a real, sometimes harsh, external world. In my experience, intelligence and talent play much less a part in graduation than do hard work and a determined attitude. In todays global economy, I believe that the opportunity is there, that there are no insurmountable cultural, social, or other barriers. If you allow yourself to believe that external factors rule, you will consign yourself to the role of a schlepper. You can prevail over others who block the path, but no one can lift you over a barrier that you construct for yourself. That there are only 10 machers for every 100 schleppers is the greatest waste of human capital that I can imagine. It is a situation that I find untenable as we move deeper and deeper into the information economy. The schlepper jobs are going away, but the attitudes that have allowed them to persist for so long are not.
For those who graduate, a relatively short period of their lives is spent schlepping. If you are in this category, most of your life will be spent as a macher, so try to be a good one. If machers could look at this period of their lives as apprentice mensches, we might all be a little better off. I dont think it would make them much less effective, and, in the long run, wed all live longer and be happier. But its tough to alter the machers behavior, because he believes his effectiveness is tied to all the characteristics that distinguish him from the mensch. Its a puzzle.
I worry that my estimate of one mensch for every 10 machers may be higher than the actual number. The world needs more mensches, as they seem to be in constantly short supply. In too many cases, their period of menschhood is short, as their spirit is more durable than the body that contains it.

Some Final Thoughts on the Model

The model makes certain assumptions. You start out as a schlepper, grow to be a macher, and hope to become a mensch. That is the usual progression, with the exceptions noted throughout this chapter. Even though the model is simple, it is not perfectly neat; anytime we deal with generalizations about people, we will have messy exceptions to deal with.
The problem is that while I can tell you what you need to do to become a macher, I cant give you a recipe for becoming a mensch. You cant become a mensch through hard work, the way you can become a macher. It may be that mensches are born, not made. Asking how to become a mensch is a little like asking how to become wise, or how to become enlightened.
It helps to have come under the influence of a mensch or two, especially early in life when they can serve as examples. Growing up with a macher for a father and a mensch for a grandfatherand seeing how their styles played against each othercould be very enlightening, if the schlepper child were especially aware.
Another key idea is understanding that the mensches of the world want nothing in return for their kindness but that you pass it on to the next generation. But what do I know?