Michael Covel interviews Ryan Holiday. Today they discuss his new book, “Ego is the Enemy.”
Ryan makes the case that ego is the worst factor that you can add into any situation. So many entrepreneurial ideas start out as crazy. However, when the idea works out after ignoring every critic or bit of sound evidence that it would not work, then that can create an ego that can easily get out of control. Ryan says, “This is how a person that builds an empire also destroys an empire.” He uses General Sherman from the Civil War as an example of controlled success. His greatness came gradually and unexpected as opposed to a person like Napolean who thought they were set for greatness from the outset. Google is another example. It was started by two men who did not set out to conquer the internet but because they focused on events as they came, one at a time, greatness gradually happened.
Next, Michael brings up one of Ryan’s book chapters relating to being a student. He tells the story of Kirk Hammett, one of the greatest heavy metal guitarist of all time, being a student of Joe Satriani who is one of the most famous guitar virtuosos of all time. Hammett hired him when he was already on his way to being famous. Even with his success, he knew he still had plenty to learn from Satriani. Hammett was able to be humbled enough, even after being chosen as the new guitarist of Metallica, to hire someone who was an even better guitarist than him so he could continue to learn. Steve Jobs is another example that is brought up. Before he created the iPod and iPhone there were many other layers to his story. His story could have ended after he was fired and he could have become a cautionary tail for CEO’s to learn from but instead he became an inspiring story that everyone can learn positives from.
Michael and Ryan move into breaking apart the “10,000 hour rule.” Ryan says that it isn’t a real number. It is egotistical to think that once you hit that 10,000th hour that you will gain your success at that moment. Outcome is one thing, but the process is something else. If we could learn everything from a book that would be great but some lessons can only be learned from painful experiences. It is a balance between learning from your own experiences and learning from others. Landing on the other side of fear, failure, success, and aspirations can be a great feeling. Ryan says that each person is constantly at one of those points in their life. It is ever changing, but the worst thing you can introduce into any of those phases is ego.
Michael finishes the conversation asking Ryan if he thinks his message will translate to the younger “millennial” generation. Ryan says that this is something he had thought a lot about while writing his book.
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