the way we were

The Streisand Effect” refers to an attempt to censor a piece of information that backfires because it brings more attention to the information than would have occurred without the attempted censorship.

At the risk of Streisanding the hell out a minor comment, I’ll talk about something I’d rather censor.  Noting the rather dated news of my departure from my prior company, an anonymous commenter to an anonymous and erroneous blog post recently said:

Thank goodness they finally got rid of this guy. He was the worst hire the company ever made.

Here’s what I have to say about that:  I like to think it could very well be true.

I like the idea that there are some people who took a good hard look at the history and said, ‘Yep, this guy was terrible, he almost destroyed the place, good bye and good riddance!’ Because that would mean that I was in a position to make some important decisions, and that I made decisions at the risk of being unpopular – that I did much more with the opportunity than just quietly collect a paycheck.

Now, please don’t misunderstand this:  I’m not saying that the critics are wrong, that they don’t understand, that I was both righteous and right.  Even my own review of my Linden tenure welcomes ambiguous judgment.  Obviously, I think and I hope that I did good things, but I could certainly be wrong, I could certainly be delusional.

But the one thing I don’t want to be is simply in the middle.  I don’t want anyone’s assessment to be, ‘Well, he was neither among the worst nor among the best, he was just there and he didn’t do a damn thing.’ To me, that’s a lot worse than being the worst.

So, if you had any opportunity to think about my work, and you thought I was the worst, then I thank you.  Let me give you my special gift in return:

I hereby waive any right I may have to sue you for libel for any statements you make about my work at Linden Lab, so long as:

  • your statements are posted exclusively by you on a blog open to anyone with Internet access; and
  • you post with your real name; and
  • the blog accepts comments from anyone; and
  • the post in question prominently links back to this blog post.

Simple enough, yes?  Forget Streisand, I call this the Safety Dance.

And you can act real rude and totally removed
And I can act like an imbecile

social media cheat sheet

I tweeted a friend’s WSJ post, and he asked me why the update didn’t show up on my Facebook status.  Damn, I was afraid someone would ask me that someday.  The reason is that I use extremely precise and entirely idiosyncratic rules for how I publish personal social media.  Here is a cheat sheet:

social site receives from publishes to primary purpose
Facebook FriendFeed no external publishing for both personal and professional contacts to get mostly personal updates from me
Twitter no external sources FriendFeed for me to broadcast updates to contacts as well as strangers
ginsudo blog Flickr FriendFeed, LinkedIn open publication of longer form pieces, often for blatant self-promotion
LinkedIn ginsudo blog no external publishing distributes professional info only, to professional contacts only
Flickr no external sources Facebook, FriendFeed, ginsudo blog photo sharing for contacts and strangers
FriendFeed Twitter, Flickr, ginsudo blog Facebook (thru FF app) for social media junkies to get as much public me as there is, without much personal detail
Google profile no external sources open publication in case someone Googling me searches for “gene yoon” instead of “ginsu yoon”
Picasa Picasa desktop private links only photo sharing for family and friends
private blog no external sources no open publication therapy notes, homemade platitudes, risqué pictures, cartoons, country music lyrics

To the untrained eye, this may seem somewhat insane – that’s ridiculous, it’s completely insane.

madness, I say, it's madness!

Updated 29 Apr 2010: Finally decided what I wanted to do since Facebook acquired FriendFeed.  Going to hook up blog, Flickr and Twitter directly to Facebook, disconnect FriendFeed app from Facebook.  This means that the things that I previously shared to siloed audiences, I now share to all audiences, and I share them through Facebook as a central sharing point.  Which of course, is exactly what Facebook wanted from the FriendFeed acquisition.

loving and leaving linden lab

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Crack-Up” (1936)

I love Linden Lab.  Over the past four years, I’ve poured everything I had into the company.  Leaving was a tough decision.  But at the same time, it was easy to see that it was time for me to go.

Departure missives are a tricky thing.  This is actually my third for this same departure:  I said goodbye to the company internally, I posted to the company blog, and now here’s one for my own blog.  Why so many?

I’ve studied the art of the departure memo, it’s really quite interesting.  The business world sees many comings and goings, and in certain companies, internal communications are destined to get leaked – and you can see that the authors know this.  Compare two examples from the same company, Yahoo:

  • Stewart Butterfield’s resignation was bizarre, funny, and ultimately a scathing indictment of a place that overdiversified and lost the love of innovation.
  • Sue Decker was more restrained, with a classic and classy goodbye that nevertheless could be read as a defensive listing of all the progress made under her watch.

In their own way, each goodbye note took pains to remind people of the author’s special qualities and accomplishments.  I avoided doing that in my earlier announcements.  It’s not that I’m especially modest –  I just didn’t want to muck up messages to colleagues, customers and company commentators with shameless self-promotion.  There’s a time and place for self-promotion.  Like right here, on my own damn blog.

Ah, but I’ve never been great at claiming credit.  I’m struck by the wisdom that one mentor told me earlier in my career, which I’ll paraphrase as:

Success has many fathers, and even more virgins trying to claim paternity.  No one who wasn’t there can really understand the full story, and even the ones who were there didn’t see everything.  But you’ll know what you did, and so will the people that matter.  Let the others play their guessing games.

So then here’s a game to play.  When success really does have many fathers, how do people claim any successes for their own?  I thought about what successes I’d want to highlight from my time at Linden, and I realized that any of them could have at least two opposing interpretations.

my would-be claim one idea opposing idea
key exec in managing company growth from early revenue to profitable phenomenon can spot and guide a winner just along for the ride
lead exec in many areas through company history: international markets, legal, finance, HR, developer relations, enterprise segment, business and corporate development multifunctional business executive short attention span to the point of personality disorder
led finance through early revenue, raising $15+ million equity and debt financing, accurately projecting 2+ years of revenue growth within 10% talented early-stage financier and prognosticator wild-ass guesser
early leader of international growth from 30% to 70+% of audience makes worldwide progress with limited resources strained the organization beyond its ability to grow
established basic legal and regulatory policy and strategies, with humor insightful thinker on social and governmental issues paper-pushing policy dork, with wicked streak
architected Linden Dollar as unique virtual currency and multimillion real dollar business fearless and creative new product innovator reckless and dispiriting goon
wrote, tweaked, and rewrote the Tao of Linden sensitive guardian of company culture feckless appeaser of management fads
executive sponsor of startup-within-a-startup initiative for enterprise segment constant pioneer in new markets and strategy focus-diluting disruptor
negotiated and managed acquisition and integration of several businesses accomplished M&A dealmaker heartless crusher of helpless entrepreneurs
helped recruit and integrate new management team before departure selfless assembler of talent ruthless operative in reorg-and-run

Can I claim any of these successes as wholly my own? Where does the truth lie? Would the modesty of my saying that all opposed ideas could be true be undercut by the implication that I would then be claiming a first-rate intelligence?

Ah well, that’s about the best I can do for self-promotion.