I despise the word “nice.” It evokes a Pavlovian response reminiscent of my retreat from the Netherlands caused by the phrase “do maar normal.” In Dutch, to “act normal,” as I was told a few too many times, was one of the reasons I left the Netherlands almost thirty years ago.
Being nice is how many people want to be characterized today. It means you fit in, behave according to the rules, and operate in a way that makes everybody around you feel good about themselves.
I am in good company, as just yesterday I watched Jony Ive, the former design chief at Apple, tell a story about how Steve Jobs, in front of the whole design team, had rudely turned down a design Jony’s team had worked hard on that made Jony worried about how his team would perceive that rejection. Steve answered that Jony should not worry about what people thought of him, as the product quality they were building would secure that perception.
Over one year ago, I drove my seventeen-year-old daughter through a one-way street full of parked cars when a driver of another vehicle wanted to enter the road I was on from the opposing direction. He pushed forward, and I completely stopped. For about five minutes, I did not move one inch. My daughter sitting next to me flipped out, yelling why do you not let him go? Because he is bound to hurt someone else with his illegal action was my answer.
Last week, I set an advisor to the government of Australia straight on the policies that affect how the risk of technology businesses running amok can be mitigated by board control. This consultant spewed nonsense from his management consultancy playbook without knowing what he was talking about. I made that clear politely but in no uncertain terms. He then played the victim card. His unchallengeable viewpoint is bound to hurt the collective interests of Australians.
I left a former Chief Investment Officer of CalPERS dumbfounded when I asked him how ten levels of embedded bottom-heavy risk in asset management can never produce the consistency of returns the members of a pension fund demand. I explained how risk managers know nothing about risk when asset classes are organized by distribution and not by risk. It spawned a follow-up with a CalPERS board member on his way out. The reluctance to be questioned deflates returns and hurts the members.
I did the same with the head of one of the largest banks in Europe who, after a lengthy exchange about the ancient methodologies of asset management, could do nothing but criticize why I was up at 5 a.m. debating with him. “I run on the beach before sunrise, and you are cutting into my workout schedule,” I told him. His ignorance damages the helpful role banks can play.
On tour on The Hill in Washington, D.C., I asked members of Congress about the definition of freedom. The freedom we heavily lean on in our Constitution, prod and preach to the world, and grant ourselves supremacy. None of the members I spoke with could answer the question succinctly or intelligently. Let alone acknowledge how freedom cannot exist without paradoxical rules left undefined in a soup of laissez-faire governance. We all know by now we are led by morons we do our best to ignore daily. Their ignorance hurts the strengthening of humanity.
In all these cases, the pursuit of personal freedom unchecked by truth cannot usurp the trust in collective freedom. The hatred shown by those caught in a self-fulling prophecy shows the pursuit of truth is not for the faint at heart. They live in the opposite world where being nice is proven wrong by logic.
I set many people straight straight, given the keys to the arbitrage of humanity. I debate with them not because I am a “know-it-all all” but because our so-called leaders are rebels without a cause, all too easily caught with their pants down. The burden of proof about the promulgation of current constructs belongs to them, not me. Their inability to deliver tangible evidence of their suppositions puts the development of humanity at risk.
Why must scientists deliver proof of their theorems and our leaders do not? What would you think of scientists deploying a theory that relies solely on popular opinion rather than normalizations of truth derived from nature? With string theory, some imposters of science tried and failed. Dear Congress, why does democracy, coagulating human wants, equate to human needs as defined by nature? Crickets.
The result of humanity insufficiently questioning our foundational beliefs is hugely damaging. All of the constructs we have conjured up and popularized have failed. Human intelligence should use that evidence to acknowledge the normalization of the truth from which we derived those constructs are flawed. The denial of our best understanding of nature’s truth, deflating the renewal of excellence in society, rests in dependence on the exchange of money sans evolutionary merit nature completely disregards.
Sine Qua Non
My not being nice reflects my attitude and the perception of our leaders who have been caught with their pants down. An uncomfortable situation, as in many cases, their whole life has revolved around selling make-believe that destroys the excellence of human renewal. Their family, pension, stature, and riches depend on the infinity of their unquestioned merit. In their mind, the human Titanic’s chairs ought just to be reshuffled.
We live in a society that is sorely broken and detached from nature’s first-principles that, in actuality, determine human excellence. And because I am not a greater fool, I cannot accept how unquestionable constructs promoted by their advocates, our so-called leaders, hold humanity hostage.