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Reid Hoffman

Internet Entrepreneur

Reid Hoffman: Well, we get a lot of criticism of being boring over the years. There's both some fairness and some non-fairness to that criticism. The fairness is that I'm sure we could -- year by year we endeavor to make the service better, more interesting, easier to use. The unfairness is, actually, in fact, our goal isn't entertainment. Our goal is helping put the tools of navigating the network world of work into people's hands. And people don't do that to watch cute cat pictures or funniest home pet videos or whatnot. Entertainment is not our goal. Transforming people's abilities to lead their economic lives is our goal. And frequently, by the way, that requires some work, and is not simply entertaining and whatnot. So I would say that, broadly speaking, I pay attention to that feedback as a way to help me improve, making the service better. But I don't lose track of the fact that my primary goal is, "How do I enable people's economic lives?"
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Reid Hoffman

Internet Entrepreneur

Reid Hoffman: What happened is I had led the first round in Friendster, because most people who wanted to do networks wanted to come talk to me. And I did LinkedIn. Then I had all this press that was like, "Well, is this having your cake and eating it too? Or aren't these competitive?" And I'm like, "No, they're not competitive." But one of the key things about integrity is to not just have integrity but also appear to have integrity. It's important to both have the substance and the appearance. So appearance matters to being able to show and live with how much integrity matters. So when Sean called me and said, "Well, you know, there's this thing called The Facebook." It was called "The Facebook" at the time, versus Facebook. And I was like, "I know about it. It's awesome. I'd love to invest. But, you know, probably I shouldn't lead because of this thing. But Peter would be excellent and so Peter should lead and I will participate." And then I also brought in Mark Pincus, because Mark and I had this patent that we shared called the Six Degrees patent. I thought it was just fair that since we were doing that, he should also be invested here. And I think Sean had also talked to him. So we all were in the first money. And Peter led and joined the board. Obviously, it was a massively successful investment for Peter and for me, even with following him. But it was probably -- on a pure economic basis -- was probably the most expensive decision I've made. But integrity's worth it.
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Khaled Hosseini

Afghanistan's Tumultuous History

Khaled Hosseini: It felt more like I was capitalizing on something that was suddenly of intense interest, and just because it was in the news and everybody was talking about it, and then here comes a guy with a book -- you know. I said to Roya, I said that, "Good timing is a good thing, but this feels like I'm capitalizing on this." And besides, quite misguidedly, I thought, "We're the pariah now and nobody wants to benefit me by reading my book. I'm from the country that " But it was really kind of naive and really short-changing people and not giving them enough credit. People were, as I said, people have been incredibly kind and gracious. So Roya said, "No, you're being really silly. You have to finish this book. A: You have to go back to writing it, and B: you have to submit it, because it will help readers appreciate a different side of Afghanistan that they are not getting, especially now. All that we are hearing is Taliban, Bin Laden, war, Taliban, Bin Laden, war, Taliban, Bin Laden, war. And your story is about family. It's about friendship. It's about love and forgiveness and very, very human, simple human things. And your book can at least give people a glimpse of something other than the usual things that we hear about Afghanistan." And so, as I said, she was an attorney, and she made her case, and I listened to her, and I eventually submitted the novel in June of 2002.
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Khaled Hosseini

Afghanistan's Tumultuous History

Certainly there was a sense of survivor's guilt about my life in the U.S. when I went back to Kabul in '03 finally. Went back there as a 38-year-old doctor, and I had left an 11-year-old boy. And I saw what my life could have been. I saw these Afghans were living there, and I realized the reason I'm not there and my life is -- I have a 401K at home, and I have a home with children and everything, is sheer dumb luck. That's really all it is. So there is a sense of you that questions whether you made the most of what you were given and whether you deserve to be where you are. And that's a kind of guilt that I think a lot of people that are refugees from states that are in conflict have. And then you go through a phase where you kind of get over that, and you think, "Well, how do I turn that into something a little bit more positive, more productive? How do I turn that -- instead of turning you inside, how do you turn it back out and externalize and do something useful with it? And so I reached that stage as well." And part of the reason why that happened is because people began contacting me because my books became quite well read, and I had credible organizations that wanted to work with me and give me an opportunity. To use a tired old phrase: "to give back" -- and to kind of segue my literary success into something, hopefully a little bit more meaningful.
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Khaled Hosseini

Afghanistan's Tumultuous History

Khaled Hosseini: I have met so many people who say they've got a book in them, but they've never written a word of it. I think to be a writer, you have to write. You have to write every day, and you have to write whether you feel like it, whether you don't, and be stubborn. And you also have to read a lot. Read the kinds of things you want to write, read the kinds of things you would never write. I find I learn something from everybody. I would never say I've been influenced directly by a given writer, but I feel like I've learned something from every writer that I have read. And I read with kind of a different -- I read to pay attention to the voice. I pay attention to how they write dialogue. I pay attention to how they resolve conflict, how they form structure, the rhythm of a story. Sometimes with a critical eye, often with an admiring eye with really great writers. And so keep writing and -- probably the best advice that I can give is to write for an audience of one, and that is yourself. The minute you start writing for an outside audience, that immediately taints the entire creative process. I wrote both of these books because I was telling myself a story. I really wanted to find out what happens to Amir after he betrays his friend. Why does he go to Afghanistan? What does he find there? I wanted to find out for myself how the relationship between these two women changed. You really have to tell it to yourself, and then when you are done with it, hope that other people will enjoy it, and just shut everybody else out during the writing process and put yourself in a mental bunker.
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Ron Howard

Oscar for Best Director

The thing that I've also understood is because my father is sort of a freelance actor, a character actor, he's never become a star. He's never had leverage. He's never had power in the industry. But he's always worked, and he's made his living. But it's always a struggle. It's always a struggle. I was always extremely fortunate, but I could see my father struggling in what I view as kind of a noble way, because he's not really getting all the kudos, and the perks, and all the stuff that a lot of people are attracted to the business for. He just liked being a part of it. He liked being a part of it. And that's what I began to understand -- that I was a part of something. And I started to think about what that thing was. What is that process of staging a television show or movie, and communicating with the audience? And it began to be much more to me than just showing up and fulfilling a function because somebody handed me a script. It became an exploration. It became a chance to really keep challenging myself and keep trying to honor this process, this system.
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Ron Howard

Oscar for Best Director

Ron Howard: I've had, I think, an extraordinarily blessed journey. At the same time, if I can give myself credit for anything, it's probably for not taking it all for granted. I don't think I've ever assumed it was going to go on forever unless I kept earning my way, earning my keep, maybe even to a neurotic extent. I never want to coast on past performances. It's probably one of the reasons why I wanted to become a director, because I wanted to be able to control those opportunities so I could keep doing good work.
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