“Why Smart People Do Dumb Things” (Like Not Backup Their Hard Disk)

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A strong mind masks immaturity.

—Dr. Mortimer Feinberg and John J. Tarrant

How did you end your summer? A nice barbeque at the beach or maybe a quiet afternoon with the family? Mountain biking? Surfing? Bloggin? Playing in a hockey tournament? Go ahead: Ask me how my summer ended.

On Saturday, September 2nd, I got up and found that my MacBook’s hard disk was quasi hosed–not totally hosed like “Accept fate–there’s nothing you can do, it’s dead.” I could somewhat access files and even come close to booting the MacBook. So unlike millions of other people, I ended my summer cajoling, coercing, and cursing my MacBook’s hard disk assisted by Data Rescue II (which got back some files I thought I’d never see again).

The $64,000 question is, “Why didn’t I have my MacBook completely and currently backed up?” During this weekend of aggravation, I read a book (at the suggestion of my buddy Bill Meade) called Why Smart People Do Dumb Things by Dr. Mortimer Feinberg and John J. Tarrant, and it answered this question.

Truly, the book answers much deeper questions than why I was too dumb to backup my MacBook, but the concepts are the same. The authors list four reasons why smart, famous, powerful, and rich people who should obviously know better end up crashing and burning:

  • Hubris. Pride to the point that you no longer feel shame, no longer believe that you are subject to public opinion, and no longer need to fear “the gods.” Examples: Gary Hart’s involvement with Donna Rice that ended his run for the presidency and the Dennis Kozlowski’s (Tyco) $2 million toga party.

  • Arrogance. From the Latin word arrogare: “to claim for oneself.” Arrogant people believe they have claim to anything and everything they want–they are “entitled” to it. King David, for example, felt entitled to the wife (Bathsheba) of one of his soldiers. Modern day King Davids feel entitled to corporate jets and an entourage to tell them that their keynote speech rocked.

  • Narcissism. Self absorption to the point that you are blind to reality. The world only exists to provide you gratification. Examples: Richard Nixon and Watergate; the Clintons and Whitewater—really just about every politician and CEO who falls from grace.

  • Unconscious need to fail. If you think failing is hard, try winning. The questions that go through people’s minds when they they are on the doorstep of success are: Do I really deserve to win? Do I want the pressure of constantly having to win in the future? Can I really handle success? Perhaps this explains why professional athletes still take performance enchancement drugs even after watching their colleagues get busted.

The authors go on to discuss maturity (the “capacity to make constructive use of our inmost feelings”) and what they call the “Six Basic Principles of Maturity.”

  1. Accept yourself. “You’re on the road to maturity if you can begin to appreciate yourself without trying to be what you cannot possibly be.” The CEOs who failed at Apple did so because they wanted to be another “Steve Jobs.” They couldn’t accept themselves and their own, different capabilities and shortcomings.

  2. Accept others. “Your relations with other people are a basic test of your maturity. If you don’t get along well with others, it’s not because you’re not smart enough, or because you’re smart and they’re dumb. It’s because you still need to grow up in some vital centers of your being.” For example, there are companies in Silicon Valley that maintain a “tyranny of PhDs” where only the advanced degreed are held in high esteem and marketing, operations, and others are fodder.

  3. Keep your sense of humor. “Your humor reflects your attitudes toward people. The mature person uses humor not as a bludgeoning hammer but rather as a plane to shave off rough edges.”

  4. Accept simple pleasures. “The capacity to get excited over things even when they seem ordinary to others—this is a sign of a healthy personality.” For example, some tech entrepreneurs have yachts that can barely pass under the Golden Gate Bridge. (I’d just be happy if I could skate backwards.)

  5. Enjoy the present. “Emotional grown-ups don’t live on an expectancy basis. They plan for the future, but they know they must also live in the present. The mature person realizes that the best insurance for tomorrow is the effective use of today.”

  6. Welcome work. “Appreciation of work is a hallmark of mature people…. Immature people are constantly fighting certain aspects of their work. They resent routine reports, or meetings, or correspondence. They allow these annoyances to grate on their nerves continually. Satisfaction in doing a good job is blocked out by the dust speck in the eye of resentment over trivia.”

Good stuff, huh? You could photocopy this posting and slip it under the corner-office door of you-know-who. There’s so much material in this book that this may turn into Feinberg-Tarrant Week. But back to my wasted weekend. Why didn’t I, a seemingly smart person with a computer background with difficult-to-replace files, not back up my hard disk?

  • Hubris: I no longer feared the hard-disk gods.

  • Arrogance: I was “entitled” to a trouble-free hard disk. Even if it did fail, I have enough connections for some company to jump through hoops to recover it for me.

  • Narcissism: Hard disk failure cannot happen to me, Guy Kawasaki. Now let me get back to admiring myself.

  • Unconscious need to fail. This, honestly, doesn’t apply to me. ๐Ÿ™‚ Although, perhaps I had a conscious need for my hard disk to fail so that I wouldn’t have to answer my backlog of 300 emails.

As I learned from reading this book, whether you’re talking about business, politics, or your hard disk, it pays to be mature. The first thing I’m going to do is change my backup strategy….


Addendum: I am surprised by the reaction to this posting. I wanted to communicate a message about the corruption of power, money, and fame. However, people have focused on backup experiences and strategies. ๐Ÿ™‚

Be that as it may, Ross Williams pointed out a very funny site about the Tao of Backup. You must check it out.



By | 2016-10-24T14:24:37+00:00 September 7th, 2006|Categories: Management|Tags: |87 Comments

About the Author:

Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is also the author of The Art of Social Media, The Art of the Start, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.

87 Comments

  1. Thiago September 7, 2006 at 9:44 am - Reply

    Or maybe because making backup copies takes time (that is, time !=0), needs to be remembered and commanded, and usually hogs you machine for som etime.

  2. Christopher Aycock September 7, 2006 at 9:45 am - Reply

    The “Harvard Business Review” recently had an article on the psychology of over-acheivers. In essence, the A-players often suffer from insecurity; that’s why they try so hard to outdo everyone else. That is also why they berate colleagues they see as inferior. It’s a complex.

  3. Jennifer September 7, 2006 at 9:46 am - Reply

    Wow. Your hard drive bites it, and we get King David and toga parties and Watergate? I love it!
    This was a most-enjoyable post, and I’d comment further except that I haven’t backed up my hard drive for a couple of months, and I have the urgent, sudden need to do so.

  4. Ema September 7, 2006 at 10:01 am - Reply

    take it easy, next spring with Leopard and it’s “time machine”, you will be admiring yourself all time long
    ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Ema

  5. Hans Suter September 7, 2006 at 10:04 am - Reply

    “skating backwards” oh yes !

  6. CMA Daily News September 7, 2006 at 10:28 am - Reply

    Why Smart People Do Dumb Things

    From Guy Kawasaki’s Blog Signum sine tinnitu On Saturday, September 2nd, I got up and found that my MacBookโ€™s hard disk was quasi hosed–not totally hosed like โ€œAccept fate–thereโ€™s nothing you can do, itโ€™s dead.โ€ I could somewhat access files

  7. Lara September 7, 2006 at 10:36 am - Reply

    I hate to say it, but I’ve had a hard drive die before and I STILL don’t have a backup scheme in place for my desktop computer. I have no excuse for not having done it already, other than that most of my important files are on my (daily backed-up) laptop.

  8. Richard A. Muscat September 7, 2006 at 10:37 am - Reply

    and here i was wondering whether guy is on holiday or simply lost interest in his blog ๐Ÿ™‚
    i’ve recently been writing a mini-chapter about ‘dumb mistakes’, and i’d like to offer some entrepreneurial-minded takeaway value.
    backing up your hard drive is not really hard, and copying the important stuff will only take around 30 minutes, and everyone *knowss* it’s the smart thing to do … but no one does (Apple says it’s 4%)
    why? narcissim, arrogance and hubris surely fit in. possibly also laziness (i dont’ have 30 mins to spare cos i’m a very busy VC, etc…). all these attributes contrive to make a process “transparent”, i.e.: people see right through it: the task, and its importance, is right there in front of them but they can nonchalantly ignore it.
    a product or service can try to achieve unprecedented value by finding these transparent processes and make them *really* see through. Apple did it with Time Machine: right from the start, it assumes you’re too lazy to set up a backup schedule and simply backs up everything for you. the windows mobile OS does it also by automatically saving anything you do (contacts, appointments, documents, notes, etc…) without the need to press a “save” button.
    richard
    Malta-EU

  9. CMA Daily News September 7, 2006 at 10:38 am - Reply

    Why Smart People Do Dumb Things

    Why did a smart person like Guy Kawasaki author of Art of the Start not back up his hard drive – before it got hosed? Click here to read why smart people do dumb things – it’s worth it.

  10. anonymous September 7, 2006 at 10:47 am - Reply

    Forget about backups and setup a subversion repository in one of your desktops machines.
    Place everything important to you under subversion control, commit often and update from several machines. You can then backup your subversion repository, but even if that one fail, you have copies in your client machines (you just loose history data).
    If you are to deal with confidential data, check-in PGP-encrypted versions of it.
    PS.- Great post! (I mean, the non-backup related part)

  11. Titanas September 7, 2006 at 11:01 am - Reply

    Among your points please consider the following:
    It’s electronics nature that makes us believe nothing bad will happen. How often do you have your screen or DVD failing or maybe your hard drive.
    It’s that notion that there’s nothing mechanical in there (not true for hard disks), thus nothing bad will ever happen.
    Can you imagine yourself thinking like that for your new car or bike? I bet not!
    All i’m saying it’s our perspective of home – office electronics reality that makes us act like that.

  12. freecia September 7, 2006 at 11:22 am - Reply

    You, Joi Ito, so many of my macbook based role models have fallen prey to macbook failures. Maybe I better go buy SuperDuper! (used by the fantastic Omni Group http://blog.omnigroup.com/2006/08/29/software-we-like/ )
    Could it just be low priority for a time sucking endeavor? Was an automated process in place? Were you backing up the “right” stuff like those valuable contacts and e-mails?
    If it can happen to you, it can happen to us all. I ah, need to go backup my system now. Thanks.

  13. Tom Hillard September 7, 2006 at 11:55 am - Reply

    Perhaps a more appropriate title:
    “What We Do When We Become Too Comfortable”

  14. Deepak September 7, 2006 at 12:47 pm - Reply

    There is a great essay by Scott Berkun, which talks about a similar issue. The essay is called “Why smart people defend bad ideas”. I highly recommend it.
    http://www.scottberkun.com/essays/essay40.htm

  15. andy b September 7, 2006 at 1:00 pm - Reply

    The real test of your maturity will be in six months, after the memory of the hard drive failing fades, if you are still backing up your hard drive (in whatever shape or form you choose.)
    It continually amazes me how easy it is to relapse into bad behaviors (like speeding after getting a ticket, failing to backup after having a drive fail, etc) when we absolutely positively know that the behavior is bad for us.
    Sad actually.

  16. Alex James September 7, 2006 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    Guy,
    You think forgetting to backup is bad… try deleting everything accidently!
    Alex

  17. Dina at Wordfeeder.com September 7, 2006 at 1:35 pm - Reply

    Dear Guy,
    I’m sorry to hear about your hard drive misgivings, but happy to see you telling the story freely and gift-wrapping it in a valuable lesson. Or is the lesson wrapped in the story? Either way – it shows that you’re comfortable in your own skin. I like that in a venture capitalist. Or whatever you are. ๐Ÿ™‚
    And yes – I think many of us can relate to the dreaded computer crash! Painful, but good for commissery.
    Keep it up, More Experienced Brotha!

  18. alo September 7, 2006 at 1:59 pm - Reply

    como se dice “smart guy”?

  19. Harry Chong September 7, 2006 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    This problem is currently being solved by Apple. God speed!

  20. charles September 7, 2006 at 3:32 pm - Reply

    Not backing up your drive drive (I do it, but only started a few months ago) is like not buying renter insurance (still don’t have one): we tend to not want to deal with something if it is (relatively) unlikely to happen. The potential cost is very high, but the probability is too low to get enough attention.
    And then, there’s procrastination.
    I think this has nothing to do with what the book seems to be talking about.

  21. Dave September 7, 2006 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    Guy,
    The “Unconscious need to fail” is a really interesting concept. In your line of business you must have seen the results of this. Are you able to elaborate, especially on the root causes or signs to be wary of?

  22. Bob Monsour September 7, 2006 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    Do get yourself a firewire drive and a copy of Super Duper and take care of this. This combination works wonders and it will only get better with that same firewire drive and the forthcoming Time Machine in Leopard.
    Regards,
    -Bob

  23. Doug September 7, 2006 at 4:23 pm - Reply

    The Clintons and WhiteWater? You must be a Republican.

  24. Chrystian Guy September 7, 2006 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    Been there, done that and got the t-shirt.
    PS. I thought Mac did not crashed? ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Lorri Randle September 7, 2006 at 6:44 pm - Reply

    About two months ago my husband dropped my computer. It had been two months since I backed up. It cost $2500 to get the info back, I will not mention the company we sent my drive to.
    I think that Steven Pressfield touches on the Arrogance, Hubris and the Unconscious need to fail with his book “The War of Art” that talks about resistance.
    Here is a question though:
    My husband is a director of photography for a company called CopperRain. He has about a terabyte of video that he needs to back up. Right now he just has individual hardrives for each project-but we are running out of physical space to keep them all. Putting the files onto dvds messes with the quality… Any suggestions? I’ve heard good and bad things about Raid 5.
    Thanks!

  26. Vivek September 7, 2006 at 7:40 pm - Reply

    Well I was working on a paper during the beginning of the year and the same thing happened….unfortunately, i had a WinXP installed in my Presario. All I could do was reinstall and curse myself for not doing a backup…

  27. S. Chander September 7, 2006 at 7:43 pm - Reply

    To Lorri:
    RAID 5 is great – I use it for our entire home server, except the OS. I have had a drive go down, and was able to hot-swap, rebuild, and keep going without a hiccup. You should be able to build a RAID system with a couple of terabyte “relatively” inexpensively.
    Also consider offsite storage , though. The new Blu-Ray burner is out, if you are willing to drop a few $$. One other alternative is digital tape – perhaps others could comment on that.
    Guy: I agree with what has been said previously – I only implemented the RAID once I lost my entire document drive. In general, “type-A” persons, meaning most executives, accountants, lawyers, etc, don’t back up because it takes too much time, and thus it gets put lower down on the list of priorities. Apple gets it. Microsoft?

  28. Zoli's Blog September 7, 2006 at 9:15 pm - Reply

    Mozy is a Lifesaver

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    Blogging BackupRight September 7, 2006 at 10:51 pm - Reply

    Is Backup A Question Of Intelligence?

    Guy Kawasaki has an interesting post on his blog about Why Smart People Do Dumb Things and this often includes not backing up their data.
    Backing up your files is so easy, is it really necessary to make a dumb mistake and suffer loss of …

  29. Leigh Hunt September 7, 2006 at 10:58 pm - Reply

    This just happend to my on my one year old Toshbia G25, why me???

  30. Anshu Sharma September 7, 2006 at 11:26 pm - Reply

    If there are still people who believe that SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) will never succeed because you cannot trust your data with a company out there on the internet, they need to read your story.
    Millions of us suffer this fate every few years, if we are lucky.
    One day, all my mail will be stored remotely in a world-class facility with professional backups. (This is already true).
    One day, all my documents will be stored… (Not yet).
    One day, all my pictures will be stored…
    (Partly true).
    ….

    ..
    .
    One day we will have Web-based applications with rich UI aka Web2.0
    And our businesses will similarly use Enterprise2.0 apps (one of my blogging topics).

  31. Martin Henk September 7, 2006 at 11:46 pm - Reply

    Great post! Will start backuping right now! ๐Ÿ™‚

  32. RsyncX September 7, 2006 at 11:52 pm - Reply

    On the Mac, you’re going to want RsyncX for backing up (to an external firewire/usb drive or otherwise-networked drive). It’s not only free software but also downloadable at no cost. You can either manually click sync every night before going to sleep or set up an automated backup time.
    http://archive.macosxlabs.org/rsyncx/rsyncx.html

  33. Nortius Maximus September 8, 2006 at 1:29 am - Reply

    Beyond the truth of what Thiago wrote…
    The highfalutin’ Feinberg-Tarrant explanation actually feeds the egos it criticizes.
    There are simpler reasons at play — or perhaps this is just another set of views of the same “Mount Hokusai”: lots of recent work seems to show that people don’t evaluate risk “objectively” most of the time, even when it’s something as simple as doing household maintenance or driving to the corner store. Or picking up money from the sidewalk.
    I know *I* don’t. I speculate that it’s a local-Bayesian calculation: if it’s never happened to me yet, the odds are (emotively) “zero”.
    We also are built to have a forgettery of the form “what have you done for [to] me lately?” — See Axelrod’s tit-for-tat stuff. Being wired for animism, we treat things as critters. If my laptop has been behaving itself, it’s a “good laptop” — until it turns and bites.
    The “unconscious incompetence” stuff is another piece of the puzzle.
    Anyway, thanks for the thoughts — I just wanted to point out some things beyond the ego-stroke/-bash angles you seem to be emphasizing in this post.

  34. TeddyTheBear September 8, 2006 at 1:55 am - Reply

    you wrote: The first thing Iโ€™m going to do is change my backup strategy….
    I hope, you IMPLEMENTED your daily automatic backup BEFORE you wrote your post. If not, get yourself an external drive at least the same size as the drive in your MacBook, download SuperDuper and within a few minutes you have an automatic (bootable!) backup. Use “Smart Update”, which is much faster than cloning your hard drive completely every day.
    I use it to automatically backup daily at 2am in the morning and I sleep so much better now ๐Ÿ˜‰

  35. The PC Doctor September 8, 2006 at 2:41 am - Reply

    Smart people do dumb things – Back up your data!

    I like Guy Kawasaki’s blog. He’s a very smart guy andhas a great way of pulling twoideas together. Inone of hislatest blog post entitled “”Why Smart People Do Dumb Things” (Like Not Backup Their Hard Disk)”&nbs…

  36. Conrad September 8, 2006 at 5:47 am - Reply

    Next time that happens, put it in the freezer and get it really cold. Cold hard drives work a lot better and sometimes can buy enough time to get what you need off a hard drive before it fails completely.

  37. Security Incite: Analysis on Information Security September 8, 2006 at 6:02 am - Reply

    The Daily Incite – September 8, 2006

    September 8, 2006 – #112 Good Morning: This morning Im feeling old. I know Im not, but I just dont recover like I used to. In the days of yore, I could get by for days on 4 hours of sleep, including lots of partying and other mischief

  38. m.bevers - words September 8, 2006 at 8:26 am - Reply

    Everybodys talkin bout backups

    Backups seem to be on everyones mind these days. First, the NYTimes publishes an article on the increasing popularity of backup drives and services (which is the 2nd most emailed article today), then Guy Kawasaki chimes in on his recent loss, a…

  39. Dorothy September 8, 2006 at 8:30 am - Reply

    Perhaps the more updated version – Robert J. Sternberg’s “Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid” from 2003 (http://www.amazon.com/Why-Smart-People-Can-Stupid/dp/0300101708/sr=8-8/qid=1157729005/ref=pd_bbs_8/103-0972519-5270226?ie=UTF8&s=books).

  40. Vinnyt: Technology, Life and the open road September 8, 2006 at 8:30 am - Reply

    Why smart people do dumb things.

    Im going to have to pick up this book. I think there should however be a book called why dumb people do dumb things. However, that would require so much paper that it would cost several thousand dollars to publish a single copy so never mind.

  41. Scott Howard September 8, 2006 at 8:35 am - Reply

    What a great post. The “Six Basic Principles of Maturity” carries alot of wisdom. Accepting yourself is a must as I believe that God gives all of us different gifts for a reason. Also, keeping your sense of humor is key to really enjoying life and for others to enjoy life with you. If you want to really have a sense of humor check out http://www.dipnoi.org/archives/category/comedy/

  42. JoeDuck September 8, 2006 at 8:38 am - Reply

    Guy! You were right not to do it and you are way too hard on yourself.
    Backup time is not *directly* productive, it’s insurance against problems. Thus you must balance your problem against the 2,000 people who did NOT backup and did NOT have a problem. They, collectively, saved a YEAR of time assuming very modestly, only one hour of “work” needed to backup. An entire YEAR was saved and you probably only spent a few days recovering stuff.
    Conclusion – do NOT backup due top poor ROI. There are some things that offer good insurance value for the time/money. Backing up in the normal fashion is not one of them for most users (banks excluded).

  43. Defiant1 September 8, 2006 at 8:59 am - Reply

    My question is… why do smart people need to read a book to tell them their flaws? Books of this nature are a load of crap. They collect info, nitpick it and spit it back out to anyone that will give them money.
    Why didn’t you back-up your hard drive? Because other things were more important to you at the time. Life is a gamble. You didn’t even take the time to roll the dice. Give the author of the book whatever credit you want, but you will have bad things happen to you again whether you do your best or not. I backed up all of my data onto a new hard drive and the damn thing crapped out as soon as I did.
    I am arrogant. I am above these things. I’m not going to blame myself for somebody else’s poor manufacturing quality.
    Defiant1

  44. Lifehacker September 8, 2006 at 9:00 am - Reply

    Ask the Readers: Why do you do dumb things?

    Former Apple evangelist and Silicon Valley bigwig Guy Kawasaki discusses how his Macbook’s hard drive went kaput and why he, as an intelligent guy, had not backed up his important data. Kawasaki highlights four reasons why smart people do…

  45. LB September 8, 2006 at 9:21 am - Reply

    Could you explain to me how Whitewater compares to Watergate? Conspiracy with it’s own slush fund vs. a failed investment?
    No charges were ever brought on Whitewater whatsoever and there was no evidence of any wrongdoing after years of investigation. I guess that really is the same as ordering a burglary of the DNC.
    Maybe you’re not as smart as you think?

  46. Stephen Fowler September 8, 2006 at 9:33 am - Reply

    Funny you should talk about back ups it is something I have been talking about recently on my blog in particular this article Your Contacts are Sacred, treat them like so!
    Also it may interest you to know I did actually sign up for box.net in the end which I refer to in the next article Free Data Backup for your sacred contacts
    What I like most about them is they are free and there is no credit cards or anything, its like getting 1 gig pendrive for nothing. If you want more space they will charge you but it is certainly cheaper than buying a spare hard drive. Anyway thought you may want to check it out.

  47. I Am Skooter September 8, 2006 at 9:37 am - Reply

    Why Smart People do Dumb Things

    The always interesting Guy Kawasaki writes a good article and (sort of) review of the book Why Smart People do Dumb Things and explains the importance of backing up your hard drive. Which I, incidentally, have not been doing lately….

  48. JGraham September 8, 2006 at 9:46 am - Reply

    I’d like to add just general laziness to the list. That’s hurt me more than most things. For smart people, things tend to come easy to them, and they never really learn the value of the work it takes to understand something or to accomplish something. Thus, they aren’t willing to do other things that don’t seem as easy, and tend to just adopt a near fatalistic attitude of ‘Good things will come my way. If they don’t, they weren’t worth it. I don’t have to get up.’

  49. Sean September 8, 2006 at 9:58 am - Reply

    Wow. I just had this happen to me. And here I thought my failure to back up my hard drive was a general antipathy toward learning how computers work. Turns out I’m just too arrogant to do it.

  50. Stephanie Quilao September 8, 2006 at 11:09 am - Reply

    On the upside, doing dumb things can make for good fodder for one’s blog.

  51. Mark James September 8, 2006 at 11:21 am - Reply

    As I wrote in our Jasmine Disk Drive 20 manual, 20 years ago, Chapter 3 was about Backup. Steve Costa from BMUG was quipped as the Chapter headline:
    “Real Men Don’t Back Up”
    Can’t believe I did that 20 years ago, and it is still sadly true. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  52. Status September 8, 2006 at 11:47 am - Reply

    Why Smart Executives don’t manage technology well

    This is a riff off a riff on the book “Why Smart People Do Dumb Things”
    … which I have not even read yet. But I think I’ll pick it up, because decision-making processes are something that fascinate me in general, and this particularly topic is of inte

  53. The Heretic September 8, 2006 at 12:06 pm - Reply

    As far as I can see (I haven’t read the book yet), the four reasons seem to come down to one issue: most people don’t think (most of the time anyway) – they react, emotionally.
    If a person tries to make it a habit to think rationally and critically, even some small percentage of the time, they become aware of just how little they do think. Thinking isn’t easy, especially for those that aren’t used to it (which is just about everybody). It is much easier to just react emotionally – to “feel” your way through life.
    But if you can break out of that cognitive laziness and start thinking more and more often, if you can increase the time that you think from one percent to two percent, you develop that most valuable of human organs – your brain. As it develops, as you learn to actually think, you find that life becomes easier and the stupid things you do slow decrease – and more importantly you learn not to repeat them.
    Don’t worry about other people catching up or learning this secret – most people can’t grasp it; it requires that they think, and they are too lazy and entrenched in their current way of living to even try.

  54. John Emerson September 8, 2006 at 12:06 pm - Reply

    I’m more interested in the question, “Why can’t the most arrogant people in the world design a robust computer?” (Sort of a Maytag or Toyota computer).
    And second, why don’t the arrogant weenies who spend so much money on computers ever complain about this?
    Would it, for example, be possible to put in a warning light telling you that your fan is failing and that the computer is starting to overheat? That seems to me as though it must have already been possible by about 1920, but I guess I don’t know anything.

  55. Jess McIsaac September 8, 2006 at 12:30 pm - Reply

    Hey guys, one of my friends just sent me a link to this thread. I work for an online backup company called Carbonite.
    Carbonite backs up everything on a Windows XP PC completely automatically over the Internet for $50 per year. It’s the same price no matter how much data you have.
    It makes backup into a no-brainer — new and changed files in your backup are updated completely automatically whenever your computer is connected to the Internet. There’s not even a button to push.
    You can download a free 15-day trial (email and password signup only, no credit card needed) at http://www.carbonite.com/manage/signup.aspx
    Downside is that right now it’s Windows XP only — the Mac version will be out at the beginning of next year. (It will be a good complement to Apple Leopard’s Time Machine, since Time Machine still won’t save your tush if something happens to your physical setup.)
    If you have questions about Carbonite, feel free to shoot me an email. jmcisaac at carbonite dot com. Thanks guys!

  56. levinson September 8, 2006 at 2:07 pm - Reply

    Wait, am I the only one shocked that Guy can’t skate backwards? I always figured him to be the Herbie Wakabayashi of Silicon Valley.
    **********
    I must admit I’d never heard of Herbie Wakabayashi. I thought he was a Japanese VW bug or something. But he’s for real:
    http://web.bu.edu/athletics/hall-of-fame/bios/wakabayashi-herb.html
    Learn something every day!
    Thanks,
    Guy

  57. aaron September 8, 2006 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    … surprised by the reaction…wanted to communicate a messag…However, people have focused on backup experiences and strategies…
    Interesting result. (and observation)
    I’ve wondered about maturity and wisdom, as being smart is no guarantee of having either. I’ve also wondered if being smart, it’s easier to cover up your lack of maturity and wisdom with a facade.
    I key off the right words. I have the socially acceptable response catalogued. But it doesn’t reach inside. I still wonder and sometimes fume at those who “get” it, seem so relaxed with themselves, wonder how hard they’re working to fake it. Because, you know, they couldn’t possibly be “real”.
    Fortunately age, marriage, and children have worked their slow magic. Or, perhaps, I’ve just listened better as they’ve taught me how to grow up.
    my .02.

  58. Steven K September 8, 2006 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    Speaking of maturity and how to get there, has anyone here heard about Holodynamics by Vernon Woolf? It looks rather promising, as a way to hack yourself into maturity, benevolently, by using your intuitive mind.
    And how about if you could easily sync up OSX’s Time Machine (and whatever Google and Microsoft come up with) to any external storage system? Maybe even some kind of holographically distributed peer-to-peer system? ๐Ÿ™‚

  59. Matt Edlund September 8, 2006 at 5:26 pm - Reply

    I know why I don’t back-up my hard disk. Lazy. Plain and simple. And *I* should know better. You should hear my lecture on backs-up, esspecially in a business environment! As a system admin you can bet I have had alot of practice perfecting THAT speech over the years. Yet for my hard drive at home I hardly ever back it up. And here is why
    I consider client (desktops and notebooks) machines to be untrustworthly period.
    With that perspective I change the way that I look at data and where it is stored. Personal work and data is much easier to access then business related material that may have restrictions on how and where you can access it. Personal data I can store anywhere that I can be assured of resonable security and data integrity. One of those places is Google. So I use my email account to store documents and projects that I am working on. If you have projects over 10megs, this might not be the best idea.. but it is an easy way to have at least some assurance of data integrity. I am also starting to use http://www.writely.com for much of my writing. Again run by google, writely lets me store my work in a resonably secure location.
    As for the home. I keep most of my data on a server. The vast majority of that is media which is easily replaceable. The rest is kept on Writely or gMail as well so it should one copy get toasted I still am fine. Just save the documents that you will need to work on remotely to the laptop and update the online version when you next get a chance. Use rsync or directory sycronization to automaticly store copies of work files to the server when you log into your home domain.
    The best part of all this.. I don’t have to change ONE tape, or burn a single CD. Like I said, I’m lazy!

  60. W.P. Wily September 8, 2006 at 11:17 pm - Reply

    I’m still wondering what’s wrong with having a toga party ๐Ÿ™‚ Or do you mean the $2 million spent on it? That’s a lotta sheets! ๐Ÿ˜‰
    ***********
    Do you know how to use Google? You could do some research about it. Try “tyco +toga”.
    Guy

  61. Sagacious Himself September 9, 2006 at 12:26 am - Reply

    Public confession is good for the soul

  62. All-but-dissertation September 9, 2006 at 1:12 am - Reply

    Ohmigawd! My entire PhD is on the laptop (Wintel) not to mention my million CV versions and my songs (not all of which I own on CD) and my photos (some of people who have since grown up considerably) and my phone numbers… Must back-up. Thanks Guy. I am not God so things CAN happen to me. Now whether they can happen to my husband’s laptop, that is another thing altogether..

  63. Keith September 9, 2006 at 4:16 am - Reply

    The main content of your story about smart people not backing up their copies of documents. Well, I don’t see why it should just be smart people; in fact I think generally people don’t backup their stuffs, all depending too much reliance on hardware that they assumed will not break down. I can’t disagree with you much further, but I think it pays to backup our own stuffs.

  64. levelcross September 9, 2006 at 5:02 am - Reply

    Thanks, Jess.
    www.carbonite.com works like a charm, with green dots and everything. $4.65/month, how can you lose?

  65. Mike Johnston September 9, 2006 at 5:33 am - Reply

    Guy… um…. .MAC !!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  66. LICAS Digital Blog September 9, 2006 at 6:40 am - Reply

    Tech News #003

    Hello. No news roundup yesterday. I woke up in a different town (in a different city!) and didn’t have access to my usual machine, my usual software and my usual supply of freshly-brewed coffee. I did manage to come home

  67. Steve MacGill September 9, 2006 at 6:53 am - Reply

    Great article on so many fronts. I must admit my first thought was I have not backed up for about two weeks now. But after that few seconds of fright (and taking the time to back up)I thought about how large groups of people exhibit the behaviors you talked about. Leadership teams as a whole often have collective hubris, arrogance and narcissism….not sure about the fear of failure. I am not sure if it is just following the leader or if these are just so much a part of how humans are wired….but in any event I could relate.
    Guess we need strong friends and confidants to see those weaknesses and have the courage to challenge us on them periodically.
    Thanks

  68. How to Save the World September 9, 2006 at 11:29 am - Reply

    Links for the Week – September 9, 2006

  69. Wholesomedick September 9, 2006 at 2:58 pm - Reply

    Lots of talk about acceptance… Reminds me of of 12-step programs.

  70. Rox September 10, 2006 at 2:45 am - Reply

    Re: your Addendum Guy:
    Hubris unveiled is a much more daunting topic for many; talking tech is certainly easier. Your role-modeling however is priceless. Much mahalo.

  71. Lispian's Radio Weblog September 10, 2006 at 5:47 pm - Reply

    A slew of stuff I’ve had tagged the past few weeks

  72. Mike the Mad Biologist September 10, 2006 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    Some Weekend Links

    Here’s some interesting links I’ve stumbled across this weekend

  73. Hasan Diwan September 11, 2006 at 4:00 pm - Reply

    I’ve never been able to gauge how a certain post will be received. Glad to see I’m not the only one.

  74. Michael Urlocker September 11, 2006 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    There is an automated desktop backup service from a telephone company, designed for small businesses… but it won’t help them if they don’t use it.
    http://business.telus.com/en_CA/National/products/Small_Business/Security/Backup_And_Recovery/details/natSmbDesktopBackup.html
    As it is, I think this type of service needs to be re-jigged to overcome exactly the user obstacles that you describe.
    There are ways to make this sort of service more convenient and accessible to even those who suffer the problems Feinberg and Tarrant describe. The key is you don’t want to tackle the job of ‘educating the consumer.’
    You want the service to work even for consumers who ‘do dumb things,’ as you put it.
    That would be disruptive.
    www.OnDisruption.com

  75. Satisfy Me September 11, 2006 at 8:34 pm - Reply

    Crashes happen to the nicest people

    As noted earlier this summer, my wife’s hard drive failed.
    And tonite I read that Guy Kawasaki’s…

  76. dbt September 12, 2006 at 9:50 am - Reply

    Doug —
    Or woefully uninformed. The clintons were exonerated of all wrongdoing in Whitewater in 1996 by Ken Starr’s predecessor, who was then fired by a judge and replaced by Starr.

  77. David Mould September 12, 2006 at 6:30 pm - Reply

    Guy,
    When you read around the context there is a good message here. I think I should go and get the book and add it to this one from William Lundin “When Smart People Work for Dumb Bosses”
    http://www.badbossology.com/i1073-c47
    Now on to your follow up “When Smart Companies do Dumb Things”

  78. Dazza September 12, 2006 at 8:05 pm - Reply

    For the backup and little in the way of thinkiness: SuperDuper.
    For your backward skating physical challenge: take a lesson from a figure skater. Really, no one backs up as well, although a goalkeeper can backup better and faster than any of the other five position players. You need an actual lesson, cannot learn it from a book. I figure an hour and you are ready for a try out with the California Golden Seals….white skates are easier to backup in! Go Habs!!
    Cheers, D.

  79. Guy-Renaud Kirouac September 13, 2006 at 8:53 am - Reply

    Dear Guy,
    Your point about witholding info to the CEO is very interesting and makes a lot of sense. I’ve recently found out that the military have coined an acronym for this kind of behaviour: S.N.A.F.U.
    Look it up, you’ll find the story behind it quite interesting too.

  80. Satisfy Me October 5, 2006 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    Crashes happen to the nicest people

    As noted earlier this summer, my wife’s hard drive failed. And tonite I read that Guy Kawasaki’s MacBookโ€™s

  81. 't Is Goud October 6, 2006 at 12:08 am - Reply

    What’s you’re excuse for not backing up?

    Guy Kawasaki wrote a really intere

  82. Jimmy February 21, 2007 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    Guy, after reading your entry, it brought back memories of my hard drive crash last summer. I did not back up my data regularly, assuming that I would be able to save my data the following day, and then the day after, and so on. I found a pretty cool tool/service called Tilana Reserve. It monitors, and backs up everything I tell it to. I’m not sure if they’re working on a Mac version yet, but I would still definitely check it out regardless. Their website is http://www.tilana.com

  83. me February 26, 2007 at 3:06 am - Reply

    you’re brilliant.
    having a rough time at work. and an even rougher time accepting that my pride is a part of the problem (not just my boss who is a real jerk). Having been searching the net for christian conduct at work. don’t know you’re religiuos leanings but your blog was the “preachin’ and teachin” htat i needed today. sigh.

  84. wagg.it February 28, 2007 at 10:46 pm - Reply

    How to Change the World: “Why Smart People Do Dumb Things” (Like Not Backup Their Hard Disk)

    How to Change the World: “Why Smart People Do Dumb Things” (Like Not Backup Their Hard Disk)

  85. gry July 16, 2007 at 3:15 am - Reply

    Do get yourself a firewire drive and a copy of Super Duper and take care of this. This combination works wonders and it will only get better with that same firewire drive and the forthcoming Time Machine in Leopard.

  86. Marketing & Strategy Innovation Blog October 14, 2007 at 9:29 am - Reply

    Why Smart Companies Do Dumb Things

    by: Guy Kawasaki Not a day goes by when I dont ask myself, Why do smart companies do such dumb things? We all know companies that cook the books and throw outrageous parties at one end of the spectrum to…

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