Get an MBA and acquire the healthy level of narcissism that is necessary to become a leader

What do you get from an MBA? One recent study found that MBAs acquire an enormous amount of self-confidence during their graduate education. They learn to believe that they are the best and the brightest.

This narcissism has a real career impact. Psychologists at Ohio State University studied the behavior of 153 MBA students, who were put in groups of four and asked to orchestrate a large financial transaction on behalf of an imaginary company. The psychologists observed that the students who had the strongest narcissistic traits were most likely to emerge as leaders.

According to Amy Brunell, the lead author, the results of the study had large implications for real-world settings, because “narcissistic leaders tend to have volatile and risky decision- making performance and can be ineffective and potentially destructive leaders.”

Brutal commentary coming out of Bloomberg, considering a good chunk of their readership has come out of an MBA program at some point.

The study does validate something I've seen-- that it DOES take a level of gumption/ego/reality distortion field to rise to lead/manage within an organization or have the guts to go out and do things that change the world. Whether that change is for good or for evil probably depends on the person's motivations and the levels of unhealthy narcissism, though.

I've heard that you can trace the downturn of industry sectors by the percentage of exiting MBA grads surveyed who say they want to go into that field post-graduation. Is it a wonder that finance is suffering now after being the career of choice for decades? By the time people find out what the next hot thing is, that thing has peaked.

Another big 'most-wanted' company by MBA grads these days? Google.

Money = Happiness only if it's an investment in experiences. I'm living proof.

Money can lead to greater happiness for the person possessing it and those around them, if it is used to buy experiences, not possessions.

This explains why a spoiled rich kid can have all the toys in the world and still be empty inside. Buying stuff is a short term high, but money also lets you experience more too, and that's what matters in the long run. I'd add another aspect to this -- money is needed to let you connect to other people.

Last year, I spent many thousands on pro camera equipment (dSLR, pro lighting gear, top quality lenses and all the accessories). But along the way, I discovered that I absolutely loved capturing the beauty of life in photos. I got to go to concerts for free, get to know party promoters, connect with cool local SF bands, and help them on their road to stardom in some small way with my concert photography. Same with the various models I did promotional shoots with. I got to take photos on editorial assignments with a hip hop magazine Hood Star Magazine, and got to see a side of hip hop and street culture from the inside I would never have seen otherwise.

My first interaction with Paul Graham and Jessica Livingston of Y Combinator was actually through my photos of Startup School. Shortly afterwards, one of my photos appeared on the front page of the Startup School -- with thanks from PG himself. Awesome, I thought. It might well have given us a small push when we applied for YC later that year. When Jessica invites me to an event these days, she makes sure to ask if my camera is coming too. =)

I also learned the wonder that is a great, functioning user-generated content community (Flickr), and it helped Sachin and I every step along the way as we designed Posterous. Flickr addiction taught me the virtuous cycle that can happen when personal creativity gains a very real audience.

So I think the money was well spent. The experiences it purchased altered the very trajectory of my life. It put me in touch with new and awesome creative people, let me express myself in a powerful new medium, and in aggregate I'm happier and more engaged in my life now than ever before.

The next time you're considering whether or not to drop the cash on that new gadget or that trip or whatnot, think about whether it will unlock new avenues. If it will, consider it an experiential investment. Take that path and good thngs will come.

Shane Battier, basketball, statistics and unselfishness in NY Times Magazine

A must-read article by Michael Lewis for anyone interested in any of those 4 things. I'm interested in the last 3, personally. It's hard to be that interested in Shane Battier, to be honest... but that was before I read this article. Turns out he's a total badass.

I'm a total sucker for articles about moneyball, especially when it comes to basketball... and especially when it is written by the actual author of Moneyball.

EDIT: A particularly cool quote from Hacker News regarding this article just caught my eye:

I think over the next decade we're in for a huge shortage of analysts and statisticians in almost all fields of life. Availability of data is ever increasing. The benefits from using it more effectively than competitors are immense. In almost all of the startup businesses in our portfolio (venture capital firm), we've now hired number-crunching guys who do nothing but metrics and we're seeing the results.

Statistics + computers + smart people = beat your opponent, whether it's Kobe Bryant or the startup next door.

Weekend Brand Critique: Cost Plus World Market

Steph and I are on a random tour of Stevens Creek Blvd in Santa Clara, CA. One of the places we decided to stop at was Cost Plus World Market. I never really realized it but the store aint half bad. There is a decent selection of reasonably priced houseware and relatively exotic imported food. It is like a Trader Joe's mixed with Crate and Barrel. I can't help but wonder if it would be much better served by a name that isn't quite so literal. By being called Cost Plus, they are needlessly diluting their brand equity. I would feel happier and more proud shopping at a distinctive name brand that has no low cost connotations, especially if rationally I know I am getting a great deal. That is how brands become sticky and addictive.

Scott Adams says early popularity lets you achieve and create quality

If you are planning to create some business or other form of entertainment, you will need quality at some point to succeed. But what is more important than quality in the beginning is some intangible element that makes your project inherently interesting before anyone has even sampled it. That initial audience will give you the luxury of time to create quality.

Be popular, then be excellent. Words to live by.