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Seabiscuit and Technology

by Derrick Story
Mac Newsletter for 08/29/2003

Dear Mac Reader,

I've been listening to "Seabiscuit" by Laura Hillenbrand on my iPod, and I haven't been able to resist drawing parallels between the story of a tenacious, Depression-era racehorse and the current state of affairs I'm observing in the world of technology.

As an aside, I wouldn't even be able to "read" this book if it were not for the iPod. Just like everyone else, I'm working twice as hard to stay even. Reading a novel is a luxury I don't have. But I still have to drive my car to the office, speaking engagements, and photo jobs. On those journeys is when I've been able to absorb and think about Seabiscuit's story.

As I see it, there are three major themes. First, by joining together with others with a common goal, we can change the direction of our lives. Second, there's no substitute for pure, gut-level determination. And third, those who successfully demonstrate the first two attributes can influence and uplift those around them. Every one of the six primary characters in the story (owners, trainer, jockeys, and horse) vividly demonstrates these qualities.

Then I look at the state of technology. Many argue that we're not in a depression, or even a recession. Tell that to the thousands of people who have lost their jobs. Try promoting a conference, selling a book, signing a deal for web advertising, opening a retail store, or hanging your shingle as an independent consultant or software developer. It's hard out there right now.

The themes in embodied by a short, muddy brown, knock-kneed racehorse and its trainer somehow apply to the world I see around me -- band together with others, dig in your heals, and don't stop driving until you've reached the goal.

There's one key to success that isn't in the script ... timing. But certainly the timing for the release of Seabiscuit, in this economy, has had much to do with its success.

If you've been knocking your head against the business wall, maybe take a moment and listen to someone else's triumph over the odds. There are hundreds of books out there that fit this bill. Two that I've enjoyed lately are "Seabiscuit" and "The Second Coming of Steve Jobs." Both books are on audible.com.

Until next time,

-Derrick

--
Derrick Story
Mac DevCenter Editor
derrick@oreilly.com

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