Managerial Competence

How To Be Successful & Only Work Two Hours A Day

Greene, in a rare moment, caught working
Greene Hard At Work

When Graham Greene was asked if he was a “9-to-5 man” he replied, “Me? Good Heavens, no. I’d say I’m a 9 to a quarter past 10 man.”

Greene wrote, on average, a novel a year during his professional career as well as numerous articles and reviews. How did he find the time if he only worked less than two hours a weekday?

One can only assume it came down to his strict discipline and routine. Greene wrote 500 words, Monday through Friday, and only 500 words no matter what. Not one word more or less. Exactly 500. If he was in the middle a sentence, he’d stop.

Michael Korda observed Greene at work and described the process in The New Yorker:

An early riser, he appeared on deck at first light, found a seat in the shade of an awning, and took from his pocket a small black leather notebook and a black fountain pen, the top of which he unscrewed carefully. Slowly, word by word, without crossing out anything, and in neat, square handwriting, the letters so tiny and cramped that it looked as if he were attempting to write the Lord’s Prayer on the head of a pin, Graham wrote, over the next hour or so, exactly five hundred words. He counted each word according to some arcane system of his own, and then screwed the cap back onto his pen, stood up and stretched, and, turning to me, said, “That’s it, then. Shall we have breakfast?”

In this day and age when leaders are required to innovate it’s useful to know that self-discipline and a set routine can help unleash creativity.  It’s further heartening to know that less than two hours labor a day can produce such extraordinary results.

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Fortune Favors The Bold: The Facebook Epic

In September Mark Zuckerberg, creator and founder of Facebook, was interviewed by The New Yorker contributor Jose Antonio Vargas. Zuckerberg said that he liked the Aeneid and later he texted Vargas a few of his favorite lines from the book.

“Fortune favors the bold.” was one of the lines Zuckerberg enjoyed.

A few weeks after the article was published the movie The Social Network was released. The movie depicted Mark Zukerberg’s life at Harvard and his rise to internet fame. Zuckerberg ultimately came off as a tragic hero–smart and deserving, but also socially stunted and brutally mean. On the screen it looked like fortune favored friendless, detached, types who would do anything to fit in.

But that’s the movies. For all of Zuckerberg’s flaws, tics, and documented use of profanity, he was nonetheless bold. He stole or adapted the idea for Facebook from fellow classmates, dropped out of Harvard to move to Palo Alto, and took loans out to keep everything moving.

He might not have made monumental sacrifices, but they were still bold moves for a college student.

Fortune favoring the bold is a good thing and the cornerstone to our idea of humanism. It means we can all have a say in shaping our own destinies–we can all work hard hard to gain favor. It’s not always easy and, as Zukerberg’s story illustrates, it’s not always a job that lets you have friends.  But that might not be the whole truth. “Fortune befriends the bold” says Emily Dickenson.