Conversations that Changed Everything

Favorite quotations, etc.
User avatar
Ego
Posts: 3814
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:42 am

Conversations that Changed Everything

Post by Ego » Wed Jul 15, 2015 8:51 pm

Tell us your story of a conversation that changed everything.

slsdly
Posts: 194
Joined: Thu Mar 14, 2013 1:04 am

Re: Conversations that Changed Everything

Post by slsdly » Wed Jul 15, 2015 10:49 pm

Hmm, story time huh. Okay, I'll share.

Over a decade ago I had my first job in an office. The previous co-op had been fired for drinking or something, so I wasn't trusted to do much at the start.

I had a saving grace though. This in house project was long overdue and a contractor suggested they give me a shot at helping. He was very critical, but a good teacher. I was keen to impress. He said my first work was barely a pass, but he figured he could work with that. After that I was worked very hard but the coding was a lot of fun.

On my last day, I went to his office to say goodbye. He was very intense. I think he asked me how old I was (18). "You can't waste your life on this crap. You have the talent to do greater things than this." The conversation continued but that was the theme. I am certain his own regrets in life were part of the reason for bringing that up, although he was reluctant to delve into that. He later told me he feared creating a monster out of my ego.

Now, for many years prior to this, my only encouragement and compliments had been delivered in a backhanded way, as such to really be an insult (from peers). The price to be paid for being different and alone I suppose. An easy target. There was more to it than that of course but that's the relevant piece. My self esteem was barely nascent, born out of last embers of my rage. I hated everyone around me, especially myself and my death dominated my thoughts. What could I inspire at best, a sad newspaper article about a life cut short too soon.

I also hated to lose though. In the end I marched. I resolved to give my next steps everything I had left in me. Better to go out swinging right? It doesn't matter that I don't believe I'm worthy, I will become someone who is. Clearly I read too many fantasy novels with the redemption trope. Funny how forgiving everyone who hurt you is so much easier than forgiving yourself for weakness. But I pulled it off nonetheless over time.

But the truth of the matter was, it wasn't enough. The only confidence I had was false bravado, more of a defense mechanism I learned than anything else substantial. I didn't know what the answer was and I despaired to make it real.

So back to that conversation. It was the first compliment I could remember that I felt was genuine, that I had earned, that wasn't just a way to hurt me. The idea that somebody believed in me, even when I did not, was very powerful. And a decade later, I still love that man for it.

There is even an ERE connection! In the darkest days of my career a few years ago, I asked myself about this conversation. The work in of itself was interesting, but was furthering the career of sociopaths only out for themselves really a great purpose? And so I began to wonder about alternatives until the fateful day I considered my savings rate and arrived here hah.

User avatar
jennypenny
Posts: 5291
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:20 pm
Location: Stepford USA

Re: Conversations that Changed Everything

Post by jennypenny » Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:26 pm

I don't do real conversations, but a few here have really challenged my views and/or gotten under my skin ...

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=2335

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=5044 (and a couple others about charity)

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=2398 (and others about stoicism)

SimpleLife
Posts: 771
Joined: Wed Aug 21, 2013 8:23 pm

Re: Conversations that Changed Everything

Post by SimpleLife » Thu Jul 16, 2015 9:25 pm

I really can't think of one, most of it for me was a series of things that built up into enough pain that I achieved more than the average as a result of that pain.

I think one thing that may have been valuable to me that might change everything for me is a recent vlog I listened to on youtube. The couple were FI millionaires who loved their jobs/business and wanted to keep working. The host asked them what made them decide to quit. It was when they realized they were paying 50% of their earnings in taxes, they decided it was crazy.

I have no doubt they wanted to say that they didn't want to work half of the time to pay for people who don't work, but that is politically incorrect. Regardless, the thought keeps popping into my head. What am I paying in taxes between property, business, w2 income and sales tax. Why do I keep sacrificing my physical, mental and emotional health to pay for an increasingly welfare state when I can stop working right now....

Then I realize it's the opportunity cost of quitting a high income job, and one more year...

User avatar
Ego
Posts: 3814
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:42 am

Re: Conversations that Changed Everything

Post by Ego » Thu Jul 16, 2015 9:35 pm

SimpleLife wrote: I think one thing that may have been valuable to me that might change everything for me is a recent vlog I listened to on youtube. The couple were FI millionaires who loved their jobs/business and wanted to keep working. The host asked them what made them decide to quit. It was when they realized they were paying 50% of their earnings in taxes, they decided it was crazy.
Reminds me of this quote from Robert Twigger.

We are lead to believe that all 'top jobs' are occupied by smart people. But really smart people don't have jobs.I mean- why would they? Of course at times they work very hard. But this work is like the work you do on a hobby that really absorbs you.

And those 'really smart' people don't often seem so very smart when you meet them, rather they appear enthusiastic.

SimpleLife
Posts: 771
Joined: Wed Aug 21, 2013 8:23 pm

Re: Conversations that Changed Everything

Post by SimpleLife » Thu Jul 16, 2015 10:56 pm

Ego wrote:
SimpleLife wrote: I think one thing that may have been valuable to me that might change everything for me is a recent vlog I listened to on youtube. The couple were FI millionaires who loved their jobs/business and wanted to keep working. The host asked them what made them decide to quit. It was when they realized they were paying 50% of their earnings in taxes, they decided it was crazy.
Reminds me of this quote from Robert Twigger.

We are lead to believe that all 'top jobs' are occupied by smart people. But really smart people don't have jobs.I mean- why would they? Of course at times they work very hard. But this work is like the work you do on a hobby that really absorbs you.

And those 'really smart' people don't often seem so very smart when you meet them, rather they appear enthusiastic.
Very fitting post.

7Wannabe5
Posts: 2736
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Conversations that Changed Everything

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Fri Jul 17, 2015 4:56 am

My second grade teacher told me "I know that you already know all of this, so you can just sit quietly and read."

User avatar
Ego
Posts: 3814
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:42 am

Re: Conversations that Changed Everything

Post by Ego » Fri Jul 17, 2015 7:21 am

Senior year of college. Camping trip with the girlfriend to the Blue Rocks in Pennsylvania. Snow on the ground. Rather than eating camp grub in the cold we decided to visit the local diner-bar. After dinner we chose a beer in the warm bar over the frozen tent that awaited. I sat next to an old guy hunched over his beer. His wife nursed a coke while they waited for a table.

He turned to me and grunted, "What's your story?" I suspected he had something to say so I gave him the abbreviated version then asked for his. He told me about his years of hard work and about how he and his wife always planned to visit Hawaii after he retired. She loved to garden and wanted to see the tropical flowers. But a few years before retirement arrived her sight began to get fuzzy. By the time he was freed from work she had lost most of her vision to macular degeration.

He bitterly regretted the fact that he put off that trip to Hawaii and he repeated several times, "Do it while you're young. Do it while you can."

An old man offering unsolicited advice to a young guy. Conversations like this are usually forgotten. For some reason this one ran through my head as I tossed and turned that entire bitterly cold night and much, much longer. Within months I was in California.

IlliniDave
Posts: 1675
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2014 7:46 pm

Re: Conversations that Changed Everything

Post by IlliniDave » Fri Jul 17, 2015 8:12 am

I haven't had one of those. My big epiphanies all came after extended introspection often connected with reading.

But one recent conversation with my dad stands out. It was actually an email exchange, and I'm having to paraphrase because it's been nearly a year. None of you know my dad, so some of the context will be lost since one of the more striking things to me was that it was bluntly out of character for him.

We had been discussing my desire to buy a lakeside cabin up in the Northwoods. I was narrowing things down, about ready to make my first offer, and expressing uncertainly about the wisdom of spending the amount of money in question. His reply concluded with, "I know it's a difficult decision for you, but it's also difficult being my age and thinking about all the things you should have done." The core sentiment there is nothing I hadn't encountered before--it's a rather common sentiment and one I've been sensitive to for some time. But coming from him (frugality is a semi-passionate recreational activity for him and he puts no value on having "luxury" possessions) at that time (not long after we'd learned of my mother's cancer) it was enough to tip the scales and in time I went through with a purchase.

User avatar
Gilberto de Piento
Posts: 852
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:23 pm

Re: Conversations that Changed Everything

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Fri Jul 17, 2015 8:18 am

My boss at my first real job after college took me aside and asked if I was putting any money into the 401k. I said that I was saving 20%. He said this was great and explained to me how important it was to have "f%&@ you money" so that you're never trapped in a job. This stuck with me and helped to motivate me to save even more.

Years later I had lunch with him and mentioned that I appreciated his advice about the FU money. I thought he would be happy that I took his advice so I said that I had really taken it to heart and now had saved enough so that my employer didn't own me. Instead of him being happy for me he said something like "it must be nice, wish I could do that." I thought this was weird given that he makes six figures and is frugal. This just shows that it's best not to talk about money even when you think you know a person.

rube
Posts: 425
Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:54 pm
Location: Europe (NL)

Re: Conversations that Changed Everything

Post by rube » Fri Jul 17, 2015 1:14 pm

10 years ago meeting a Canadian guy in his 40's, traveling for 6 months or so in Asia. He: Oh, yeah. No I don't really work...yeah well only now and then when I want. Me (en 20's then): How do you do that. He: I own my own place and 2 others that I rent out.
Last edited by rube on Fri Jul 17, 2015 9:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Did
Posts: 611
Joined: Mon Apr 01, 2013 7:50 am

Re: Conversations that Changed Everything

Post by Did » Fri Jul 17, 2015 2:20 pm

Programmers will appreciate this. In 1998 (when I was 24) I met a fellow who goes by the initials RMS. He gave us a talk on free software. Someone from the crowd said, hey RMS, any advice to give a young programmer? His reply, 'avoid expensive habits or you become a slave to your employer'. It rocked my mind for days. But you know what, I forgot it. Life ticked on. It took years for me to really get it again.

Did
Posts: 611
Joined: Mon Apr 01, 2013 7:50 am

Re: Conversations that Changed Everything

Post by Did » Fri Jul 17, 2015 2:21 pm

I might add that I found out later that he was such a weird f*cker that he slept in his Uni office for 10 years before he was booted out. So I guess his advice seemed less relevant when I saw that lifestyle. It seemed sad and lonely.

User avatar
Chad
Posts: 3849
Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2010 3:10 pm

Re: Conversations that Changed Everything

Post by Chad » Fri Jul 17, 2015 2:35 pm

I can remember having one conversation that should have changed everything, but I was too stupid to realize it at the time. Every year after the college football season we all had one-on-ones with the head coach. During mine he found out I had switched majors from engineering to accounting. Now, he was a big hearted guy, but not very tactful. He blurted out, "Why are you doing that? You are actually interesting and have a personality!" Looking back it was a prescient comment from him, as I ended up really hating accounting. Unfortunately, I had just made one big change with my major and wasn't enough of a real person yet to understand that one big change doesn't mean you can't make more. 6 years after graduation I was done with accounting and I hated those years.

@Ego and IlliniDave
I can definitely relate to those stories.

@Did
He had good advice. He just implemented it poorly.

Did
Posts: 611
Joined: Mon Apr 01, 2013 7:50 am

Re: Conversations that Changed Everything

Post by Did » Fri Jul 17, 2015 10:37 pm

"Stallman has devoted the bulk of his life to political and software activism.[95] Professing to care little for material wealth, he explains that "I've always lived cheaply...like a student, basically. And I like that, because it means that money is not telling me what to do."[96]

Until 1998, his office at MIT's AI Lab was also his residence.[97]"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Stallman

dalralmi
Posts: 81
Joined: Thu Feb 21, 2013 1:12 am

Re: Conversations that Changed Everything

Post by dalralmi » Fri Jul 17, 2015 10:49 pm

My father has always been one to insist you always try out, always accomplish you dreams and never be afraid to do something. In middle school I was afraid to try out for a team and he use to ask "what's the worst that could happen?" I would inevitably respond with "I don't make the team...I suck" and he'd cut you off with a "wrong the worst that can happen is the coach kills you... And you know that isn't going to happen so you might as well try out."

I've heard this speech from him many times on many circumstances... (Job interviews, college applications, going against the grain, etc...). I now use it as a personal benchmark. My favorite instance of this speech was him talking to a coworker challenging his decision to do something against company policy..."what's the worse they do fire me? No the worse they can do is take my kids away from me and my wife already did that so I really don't care."

Either way every decision I make has that ringing in my ears...

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 9032
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: Conversations that Changed Everything

Post by jacob » Sat Jul 18, 2015 8:25 am

1) The Danish school system had no special consideration for "gifted children" of which I suppose I was one, so until I was 15 I spent the minimum effort just cruising along ("What did you learn in school today?" my parents would ask. "Nothing we haven't gone over already") and being tremendously bored while having one of the highest GPAs in my class. (I considered dropping out after the 9th grade). Then in what corresponds to the 10th grade, I "met" a guy online who was a year older than me and called himself miniGauss (after Friedrich Gauss). We talked math and physics (I was mainly interested in programming) and it turned out that he had self-studied on those topics to what would appear to correspond to freshman or sophomore college level. The idea that I didn't have to wait for my teachers to teach me something (yeah, I know, right) changed everything. I started going through every university level physics book the library had to offer.

2) http://verdant.net and http://www.jayhanson.org/oldindex.htm (dieoff.org ...it looked different back in 2000 but similar to this link) completely changed the way I saw the world. However, it wasn't really a conversation as much as reading through the entire archive. (So when people email me and tell me that they did that with the ERE blog, I like to think that maybe I had a similar impact on someone else.)

3) Before I moved away from the village I grew up in and into a dorm and started have 1hr+ conversations with my next door neighbor every night, I suffered from the common presumption that "everybody else thinks in the same way as I do" which is not a very accurate nor useful assumption when you're an INTJ. We also talked about many other things. At the time it was probably the deepest connection I've ever had with another human being and I was crushed when she hooked up with one of my friends.

4) Every job-interview I've ever had (not counting phone interviews) for a "real" job has always resulted in a job offer; I have always accepted said offer; and I've always moved 1000M+ to get there and whether consciously or unconsciously, every move has resulted in a radical change of "lifestyle". Internally (values, thoughts, ...) not much changed, but externally and in terms of experiences everything changed.

ffj
Posts: 1455
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:16 am

Re: Conversations that Changed Everything

Post by ffj » Sat Jul 18, 2015 10:37 am

IlliniDave wrote:I haven't had one of those. My big epiphanies all came after extended introspection often connected with reading.
This is pretty similar to my situation. I've always been fairly introspective but it wasn't until around college age that I finally cemented some of my philosophies and shed a lot of pre-conceived notions.

The reality is that all people act in self-interest. Even the self-described altruists. Nobody will work for the collective until their personal self-interest is threatened. Everything else is just noise that masquerades as morality. Once I accepted this my life became much easier.

For those of you who have watched Breaking Bad the greatest scene ever was at the end when Walter finally admitted that he did everything for himself, and not the ruse of protecting the financial interest of his family. He said for the first time in his life he finally felt alive, even though he was dying. I know this was a fictional show but there was a lot of profound truth in the ending.

1taskaday
Posts: 336
Joined: Wed Dec 04, 2013 11:45 am
Location: England

Re: Conversations that Changed Everything

Post by 1taskaday » Sat Jul 18, 2015 3:47 pm

ffj,spot on-this is my exact philosophy and understanding of the world and of the people in it.Even when it comes to family.

I think once you really grasp and understand this,life is actually very simple.

User avatar
Tyler9000
Posts: 1279
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:45 pm
Location: Austin, TX

Re: Conversations that Changed Everything

Post by Tyler9000 » Sat Jul 18, 2015 5:35 pm

A few short stories:

Talking to a large client
Me: I assume the boss told you that our company is going out of business. That's too bad, as I have really enjoyed working with you.
Client: Have you ever considered moving to California?
...

Sitting at a hotel bar in China with a vendor from the US
Me: Wow -- you live here half the year for work? Do you miss your family?
Vendor: I'm just staying with my wife until the kid graduates. I never see her. But I'm depressed because my chinese girlfriend I picked up at a KTV just moved out and only left a Dear John letter. I'm so lonely.
(I politely nod, finish my drink, and proceed to update my resume.)
...

At the dinner table with my wife
Wife: I think we should leave these stressful jobs and retire early.
Me: I've studied the finances, and I think we can get there in about four years.
Wife: No! That's not acceptable. What can we change to do it sooner?
...

In a doctor's office
Me: My ear is bothering me. Can you help me? (Doctor pokes and prods)
Doctor: Your ears seem fine. You'll get used to it. But has anyone ever mentioned that you have a lump on your throat?
...

Sitting in a small conference room with my boss
Boss: Everything ok? What's up?
Me: My wife and I have decided to take some significant time off to enjoy life outside of work, and I need to talk to you about what that means.
...

User avatar
fiby41
Posts: 698
Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2015 8:09 am

Re: Conversations that Changed Everything

Post by fiby41 » Sun Jul 19, 2015 7:16 am

jennypenny wrote:I don't do real conversations, but a few here have really challenged my views and/or gotten under my skin ...

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=5044 (and a couple others about charity)
Is Charity Immoral?: viewtopic.php?f=20&t=3975

oldbeyond
Posts: 129
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:43 pm

Re: Conversations that Changed Everything

Post by oldbeyond » Mon Jul 20, 2015 3:40 pm

Most of the paradigm shifts in my thinking have taken place after I've discovered new written material in one form or another(most often I found the basic idea on blogs/forums, and then turned to books for the specifics and subtleties). Perhaps this is explained by introversion. Still, a few sea changes were due to conversations.

- A rather pedestrian discussion about recent political events with a friend suddenly made me realize that my religious adherence to extreme libertarianism, that I hid from other people due to shyness, perhaps wasn't the Truth and had to be tested against what I could observe from the world around me. After this, I've always been attempting to tear down platonic constructs, rather than trying to hide in them(I should say that I'm not dismissing all forms of libertarianism, simply the extremely theoretical and idealistic anarcho-capitalist ones).

- A series of conversations with a bohemian friend of mine in college finally made me realize that not only wasn't he alarmed by his failure to engage in upper middle class status-seeking behaviour, he actually took pride in it! And this without embracing some form of reactionary counter culture - he simply created his own path in life. I'll never be as free as him, mentally, but I'll never give up trying to be free.

User avatar
Ego
Posts: 3814
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:42 am

Re: Conversations that Changed Everything

Post by Ego » Mon Jul 20, 2015 6:34 pm

oldbeyond wrote:A rather pedestrian discussion about recent political events with a friend suddenly made me realize that my religious adherence to extreme libertarianism, that I hid from other people due to shyness, perhaps wasn't the Truth and had to be tested against what I could observe from the world around me. After this, I've always been attempting to tear down platonic constructs, rather than trying to hide in them(I should say that I'm not dismissing all forms of libertarianism, simply the extremely theoretical and idealistic anarcho-capitalist ones).
You are not alone in your preference falsifications. There are times when I believe it is the most damaging thing we can do to one another.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preference_falsification

One of the reasons conversations here are better than elsewhere is because FU money buys Alice freedom from having to manage Bob's perception of her.

http://206hwf3fj4w52u3br03fi242.wpengin ... image1.jpg

Alice can do the thing most critical for a good conversation. She can speak her mind. She can argue as if she is right and listen as if she is wrong.

7Wannabe5
Posts: 2736
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Conversations that Changed Everything

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Mon Jul 20, 2015 7:21 pm

Alice doesn't need money to do that. She just needs brass in pocket.

User avatar
fiby41
Posts: 698
Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2015 8:09 am

Re: Conversations that Changed Everything

Post by fiby41 » Tue Jul 21, 2015 6:28 am

jacob wrote:Every job-interview I've ever had (not counting phone interviews)
So akin to all the people who say "I am completely debt free, except for the the mortgage."

Post Reply