TIME

The Real Truth About the Wall Street Bailouts

It happens to be the one we already know

It was probably inevitable, which doesn’t make it any less absurd. And it is certainly a reflection of their remarkable success, which doesn’t make it any less unfair. But six years after the spectacularly unpopular Wall Street bailouts, the government rescuers are under fire again—this time, not for their alleged generosity to financial firms, but for their alleged stinginess.

On Monday, a trial began in a lawsuit filed by AIG shareholders who claim the government somehow violated their rights when it rescued the busted insurer and salvaged their worthless investments. But even commentators who have admitted the lawsuit is “asinine” (in the New York Times) and “mostly insane” (in The New Republic) have suggested it’s nonetheless performing a public service, because it’s going to reveal the truth about the Wall Street bailouts. And on Tuesday, the Times ran a blockbuster story quoting unnamed sources who claim the government also could have bailed out Lehman Brothers, the venerable investment bank whose implosion nearly cratered the global economy. Again, the implication is that the official story is askew.

In fact, the lawsuit over the $182 billion AIG bailout is precisely as asinine and insane as it sounds. The government officials who stabilized the world’s most dangerous financial firm were the ones who performed a public service. And they absolutely would have rescued Lehman as well if they could have. Unfortunately, Lehman was hopelessly insolvent, and the government had no legal or practical way to save it without a private buyer willing to take on at least some of its risks. As for the truth about the Wall Street bailouts, well, the truth is already out there.

I have a bias here; I helped former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who helped rescue AIG and tried to rescue Lehman when he was president of the New York Fed, with his memoir, Stress Test. I was even peripherally involved in the AIG case, when Greenberg’s lawyers sought access to transcripts of my conversations with Geithner.

But I wrote a pretty high-octane defense of the AIG bailout back in January 2010, before I ever met Geithner. And it stands up pretty well, except for the part where I said taxpayers would take a hit; in fact, taxpayers ended up earning a $22.7 billion profit on their investment in AIG.

Overall, taxpayers have made more than $100 billion on the bailouts. More importantly, the aggressive U.S. financial response—along with similarly aggressive monetary and (initially) fiscal policies—helped rescue a free-falling economy that was crashing at an 8 percent annual rate. We’ve recovered better than the rest of the developed world—Europe still has 11 percent unemployment—and much better than nations that endured much less damaging financial crises in the past. It’s kind of amazing that we’re still arguing about an emergency response that turned out so much better than anyone, even the emergency responders, expected at the time.

But here we are. Critics still doubt the official story that Lehman could not be saved. They also insist the Fed could have forced AIG’s senior creditors to accept less than 100 cents on the dollar; they’re excited about the lawsuit because they expect it to expose shocking evidence about why the government didn’t insist on haircuts. In fact, these questions have been asked and answered. Geithner tells the story of Lehman and AIG at length in Stress Test. You can find a quick explanation of why Lehman couldn’t be rescued in on pages 206-208 and a quick summary of why AIG’s counterparties didn’t absorb haircuts on pages 246-248. Again, I’m biased, but if you’re interested in this stuff, you should read the whole thing.

Here’s a shorter version. The old conventional wisdom that Geithner and his colleagues were desperate to prevent big Wall Street firms from collapsing during the crisis was basically correct, although I’d say they were right to be desperate. The firms were all dangerously interconnected with the rest of the global financial system at a time when markets had lost confidence in their housing-related assets, and it was clear that any one of them defaulting on its obligations could further depress confidence and spark runs on the others. That’s why when Bear Stearns was failing in March 2008, the Fed helped engineer a deal for JP Morgan Chase to acquire it and stand behind its obligations, providing an emergency loan backed by some of Bear’s sketchiest mortgage securities. And when Lehman was failing that September, Geithner and his colleagues worked feverishly to recruit a buyer for a similar deal, holding a series of emergency meetings documented in crisis books like Too Big to Fail and In Fed We Trust.

So what happened? The only bank willing to buy Lehman and its toxic assets that chaotic weekend was the British firm Barclays—and British regulators balked before a deal could be finalized. That left the Fed without options. It’s only allowed to lend against plausibly solid collateral, and Lehman looked hopelessly insolvent. At the time, then-Fed chair Ben Bernanke and then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson suggested publicly that they had chosen to let Lehman fail, because they didn’t want to accelerate the panic by making the government appear powerless. But really, they had been powerless. They knew the consequences of failure would be disastrous. They would have been thrilled to find a way to save Lehman.

In its carefully hedged, anonymously sourced story, the Times is now suggesting some New York Fed officials were “leaning toward the opposite conclusion—that Lehman was narrowly solvent and therefore might qualify for a bailout.” Put it this way: Their bosses did not agree, and neither did the market; as the Times noted, Bank of America had estimated Lehman’s net worth at about negative $66 billion that weekend. In fact, a subsequent study by economists William R. Cline and Joseph E. Gagnon—a study not mentioned by the Times—found that Lehman was at least $100 billion and perhaps $200 billion in the hole at the time.

“Our overall judgment on Lehman is that it was deeply insolvent,” Cline and Gagnon concluded.

One more point about Lehman: Even if the Fed had broken the law to lend into a run on an insolvent firm, and had somehow managed to stabilize Lehman rather than kiss its cash goodbye, it wouldn’t have defused the larger crisis. The government still lacked the authority to inject massive amounts of capital into the financial system—and a Congress that initially refused to grant that authority through the notorious TARP even after Lehman’s failure certainly wouldn’t have granted it before a failure of similar magnitude. Whatever. I guess some people find it comforting to believe the government could have snapped its fingers and ended the crisis early. It’s not a reality-based belief.

The perennial question is how, if the Fed lacked authority to rescue Lehman, it somehow found the authority to rescue AIG the next day. The short answer is that AIG, despite the awful misjudgments of a subsidiary that insured trillions of dollars worth of mortgage securities, had valuable revenue-generating businesses and a plausible claim to solvency. While Lehman was really nothing more than the sum of its toxic assets and shattered reputation as a venerable brokerage, AIG had solid collateral that the Fed could lend against with a decent expectation of repayment.

Ultimately, AIG would receive an astonishing $182 billion in government financing, and it would pay back every dime with interest. Its shareholders, who would have received nothing if the government had let the firm collapse, are now complaining in court that they should have gotten more. In his Times op-ed, Noam Scheiber aptly compared them to “a formerly starving man insisting he deserved filet mignon rather than a rib-eye.” Yet Scheiber argued that their filet mignon demand “may end up serving a constructive purpose.” He thinks the trial underway in Washington will reveal the real reason AIG’s creditors didn’t face haircuts; he doesn’t think the official explanation—that voluntary haircuts were impossible, and involuntary haircuts would have accelerated the panic—makes any sense. Times columnist Gretchen Morgenson not only called the lawsuit a “public service,” she actually portrayed AIG as an innocent victim in the financial crisis, “the patsy at the poker table.”

Uh…no. AIG was as rapacious and reckless as any bank. The government did push for modest haircuts for its creditors that might have saved taxpayers as much as $1 billion, but seven of the eight top creditors flatly refused. Unfortunately, the Fed could not force them to change their minds; several of them weren’t even U.S. firms. And the Fed could not impose the haircuts without forcing AIG into default; the creditors logically concluded a government that was spending $182 billion to avoid a default wasn’t going to create a default on purpose to save $1 billion.

This is the key: In a financial crisis, default is the enemy. The fear that secured debts won’t be repaid in full is the fear that drives panics. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation learned this the hard way a week later when it foolishly haircut Washington Mutual’s creditors, instantly triggering a run on the next-weakest bank, Wachovia; its ten-year bonds lost two thirds of their value the day after the haircuts. The whole point of the bailouts was to avoid defaults. This is not “counterintuitive” (Scheiber’s word) to anyone who has endured a financial crisis.

But the critics—who were wrong when they predicted the bailouts would cost trillions, and when they warned that the banking system could not be saved without mass nationalization, and in so many other ways—think the frivolous AIG lawsuit will reveal some dirty backroom deal where Geithner and Lord Voldemort conspired to rip off widows and orphans on behalf of Goldman Sachs. “Traumatic historical episodes often require a high-profile public reckoning before the country can move on,” Scheiber wrote. OK, he then admitted, the financial crisis inspired a litany of those, “but none fully exposed the weakness of Mr. Geithner’s logic.”

Hmm. Maybe it’s someone else’s logic that’s weak. And maybe it’s already time for the country to move on.

TIME Startups

Reddit Gets $50 Million in Venture Funding

A big step for a major Internet hub

The popular online message board Reddit has secured $50 million in new venture capital funding, the company announced Tuesday. The website known as the “front page of the Internet” is getting a cash infusion from a long list of investors that includes Y Combinator president Sam Altman, Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz and the rapper Snoop Dogg.

Reddit is well-known for its primitive website design and laissez-faire attitude toward moderating its users. The company is a former subsidiary of Conde Nast that was later spun off into an independent company. CEO Yishan Wong said the new funding will help Reddit grow its relatively small staff of 60 and improve its app and ad products. “An investment like this doesn’t mean we’re rich or successful,” Wong said in a blog post. “Money can become worthless very quickly, value is something that is built over time through hard work.”

Reddit faced criticism earlier this month for allowing users to link to a vast number of stolen nude photos of celebrities. The startup defended the right of its users to post controversial content but ended up banning the page with the nude photos because some of the images were of minors.

With more money may come more pressure for Reddit to both generate profits and conform to the standards of traditional media companies. For now, though, Reddit is still playing by its own rules. The startup, which acknowledged it was still unprofitable earlier this year, has agreed to give 10% of its 2014 ad revenue to charity. The company promised Tuesday that investors involved in the latest funding round will give 10% of their shares back to the Reddit community (details on the practicality and legality of this are still to come, Wong said).

Reddit is no longer a scrappy startup underdog. It’s a company with a valuation pegged as high as a half-a-billion dollars that has hosted a conversation with the President, among other leaders. But Wong remains confident that backers will let the newly-rich Reddit keep being weird.

“We have been entrusted with capital by patient, long-term investors who support our views on difficult issues,” he said. “We believe in free speech, self-governing communities, and the power of voting. We find that this freedom yields more good than bad, and we have chosen investors based on this belief.”

TIME Software

Forget Windows 9, Microsoft Just Announced Windows 10

Microsoft says the next version of Windows won't be "one UI to rule them all," but a single product family with an interface specially tuned for each device.

How do you get everyone’s attention if you’re not the world’s most sought-after smartphone or tablet maker, but still the world’s largest operating system manufacturer by miles?

You do something a little weird, say formally skip a version of your operating system, chronologically speaking. If your company name happens to be Microsoft, that means you leap (instead of hop) from Windows 8 right over the wondering heads of pundits proclaiming the imminent arrival of “9” and on to something dubbed “Windows 10.”

What happened to 9? Who knows. Call it a very public sacrifice to the gods of predictability.

Microsoft made the announcement today during an offline press event, then on its Windows blog, where it said Windows was “at a threshold,” and that it was “time for a new Windows … built from the ground-up for a mobile-first, cloud-first world.”

We know a little bit about Windows 10 already, but only a little bit. The Start Menu is coming back (not a surprise). Everything will now run in a window, including Windows Store apps. Snapping now supports up to four simultaneous apps (and you’ll be able to see other apps available for snapping). You can have multiple desktops, and there’s a new “task-view” button on the taskbar will let you switch between open files as well as alternative desktops. And File Explorer will now display your most recent files and frequently visited folders.

The number you slap behind your iconic IP, of course, means nothing when it comes to actually delivering on promises made at press events. It’s simply the marketing cap and sequential delimiter companies like Microsoft and Apple use to establish that this is what this thing does as opposed to that one.

But find your mainline product sporting a lower number than a competitor’s, and all marketing bets are off. Microsoft’s been in the single digits with Windows forever, whereas Apple’s been on the 10th iteration of its Mac-based OS X (technically pronounced “oh-ess-ten”) for well over a decade, simply adding a “dot” (and codename) to signify major releases.

It’s not clear whether Windows 8’s potentially behind-looking proximity to Apple’s ten-based naming scheme forced Microsoft’s hand (or galvanized its marketing team), but let’s just say the theory’s at least of passing interest.

TIME Companies

L’Oreal Halts Business Travel to Hong Kong Amid Protests

Hong Kong has been embroiled in protests this week

The cosmetics company L’Oreal said Tuesday that it’s suspending all business travel to Hong Kong amid pro-democracy demonstrations that have brought the city to a standstill, in a troubling sign for the global hub of business and finance.

The company has “a ban on business travel to Hong Kong until October 6,” a spokesperson told AFP.

Hong Kong has been embroiled in protests this week as pro-democracy activists seek concessions from Beijing.

[AFP]

TIME Regulation

FCC Ends Rule That Led to NFL ‘Blackouts’

Tom Brady
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throws a pass during pre-game warm-ups before playing the Kansas City Chiefs on September 29, 2014. Matthew J. Lee—The Boston Globe/Getty Images

The FCC brushed aside the NFL's objections that blackouts were needed to drum up attendance at undersold games

The Federal Communications Commission unanimously voted Tuesday to revoke its support for “sports blackouts,” in which a sports team can suppress local broadcasts of its games until it has sold a certain percentage of stadium seating. But the FCC said blackouts could continue as part of separate agreements between teams and local broadcasters, raising questions about whether the rule change will really lead to fewer blackouts.

The little-known rule, which was first put into effect in 1975, disproportionately affected NFL games, which were blacked out if the team hadn’t sold 85 to 100 percent of its tickets 72 hours before kickoff.

The FCC called the rule an “unnecessary and outdated” means of drumming up ticket sales. “Television revenues have replaced tickets sales as the NFL’s main source of revenue, and blackouts of NFL games are increasingly rare,” the FCC said in a statement announcing the decision.

TIME Advertising

This ‘Bra Cam’ Shows How Often Women’s Breasts Get Ogled

Nestlé created video in honor of October's Breast Cancer Awareness month

In honor of October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month, Nestlé FITNESS launched a campaign encouraging women to #CheckYourSelfie.

How did the company drill the message home? By chronicling how often people ogle women’s breasts by implanting a camera in a bra. And it turns out that the volunteer’s breasts get checked out a lot, by men, women, babies, and dogs, alike.

To be fair, though, the woman in the video is walking around with a bright pink bra sticking out of her shirt, which is likely to draw attention — although far be it from us to knock a breast cancer awareness campaign.

This isn’t Nestlé’s first go at smart-bra innovation. In 2013, the company created a bra that tweets every time it gets unclasped:

We can only imagine what undergarment-related promotions 2015 will hold.

TIME Smartphones

Apple’s iPhone 6 Is Headed to China

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A young boy uses an iPhone to take photos in Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 30, 2014. Greg Baker—AFP/Getty Images

New device faced security concerns from Chinese regulators

Apple’s iPhone 6 will soon arrive on China’s shores. The company’s latest flagship device, along with its bigger cousin the iPhone 6 Plus, will go on sale in China on Oct. 17, while pre-orders will begin on Oct. 10.

For Apple, China has become a critical market that now comprises 16% of the company’s overall sales. The iPhone 6 launch had reportedly been delayed there because China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology was slow to approve the new device. Regulators said as much in a statement on Tuesday, noting that Apple had to address security concerns related to third party access to user data before the device could be sold in China.

Apple has previously been forced to deal with concerns over iPhone security in China. Over the summer, a Chinese state-backed TV station issued a news report calling the iPhone a “national security concern” because of its location-tracking features. Apple issued a swift response pointing out that it doesn’t have access to that location data. CEO Tim Cook has since stressed Apple’s commitment to security in another statement, saying that the company had never allowed a government agency access to its servers. U.S. tech companies have been facing a chilly reception from foreign regulators since Edward Snowden’s revelations of mass government surveillance by the National Security Agency.

Even with security concerns assuaged, Apple faces challenges in China. A new crop of domestic phone manufacturers like Xiaomi now offer smartphones with robust feature sets at a fraction of the iPhone’s cost. Indeed, Apple is not even one of the top five phone makers in the country — but analysts say the jumbo-sized iPhone 6 Plus will appeal to Chinese users’ tastes and could be a big hit there.

TIME Careers & Workplace

33 Ways to Fix Being Utterly Bored at Work

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Bob Handelman—Getty Images/Photographer's Choice

Here's how to keep yourself motivated

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This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article below was originally published on The Muse.

You’ve taken on new projects. You’ve gone above and beyond. You’ve talked to your boss about additional responsibilities and gotten the old “definitely—once we have a position open / more budget / don’t need you to focus on X anymore.”

Frankly, you’re bored with your job.

And while sometimes, that’s a sign that you should hightail it out of there, others it’s a matter of keeping yourself moving forward (and not gouging your eyes out) until the next busy season, new client, or promotion comes along.

If you’re in that boat, you’re in luck: Here’s a roundup of things you can do in the office or during off-hours to up your professional game even when your current job isn’t exactly doing it for you.

If You Want to Network

1. Start a Book Group

Pick books that are related to your field—or a general business read that everyone can get some use out of, like something from the 99U book series orGood to Great. A great cadence is once per month—take over a conference room for your lunch hour or, better yet, meet for happy hour and chat at a bar.

2. Create a Networking Group

Have a few friends in your field you see from time to time at industry events? See if they’d all want to get together every month for an informal networking group, where you all meet to chat (and get advice!) about challenges you’re facing.

3. Go on Lunch Dates

Ever heard of “Let’s Lunch?” It’s a (free!) online network that matches you up with someone in your area for lunch during the workweek. Connect your LinkedIn profile, provide your availability and geographic flexibility, and the site’s algorithm matches you up with a like-minded lunch partner. It’s a great way to grow your network utilizing the free time that’s already built into your day. (Via Allison Stadd)

4. Ask a Co-worker to Join You

Go out to lunch with a co-worker you don’t know well. Not only will you get to know someone new, you’ll learn more about how your company operates—and potentially find new ways to collaborate and get involved.

5. Start a Lunch Club

Grab four other officemates, and assign everyone a day to bring enough lunch for everyone else on a specified day of the week. Cook once, get delicious meals (and team bonding) all five days!

6. Start the Company Softball League

Or frisbee team. Or 5K for charity. Showing some initiative to get everyone out of the office and hanging out with each other on a non-work basis will show the higher-ups you have what it takes to shine in the office, too.

7. Build Your LinkedIn Following

One expert suggests we should be using LinkedIn more like Twitter—finding and engaging with as many followers as possible. So start building your network. Here are a few more things you can do on LinkedIn every month, week, and day.

If You Want to Boost Your Skills

8. Try Morning Pages

Start every day with 15 minutes of creative writing. Entrepreneur Chris Winfield says it has “become an essential way to clear his mind, unleash creative ideas, and quiet his inner critic, reducing his anxiety.”

9. Start a Blog

It can be a place for you to write about happenings in your field, share thoughts on pop culture, or even pursue a hobby—just be clear on what your purpose is and who you want to read it. Then, get started by making a long list of topics you could potentially write about. Commit to pushing something out at least once a week to keep your (obviously avid) followers engaged.

10. Or a Podcast

Blogging not for you? Start a podcast. Better yet, invite industry leaders to be interviewed on your podcast. You’re boosting your personal brand and your professional network at once!

11. Write an Article

Then, try to get it published on an industry website. You’ll hone a new skill—writing and researching—and you’ll start to build your name as a thought leader in your space.

12. Get Your Voice Heard

Look for an upcoming conference or event you could speak at, and pitch yourself as a panel speaker or leader. Here’s exactly how to do it.

13. Look for Hidden Benefits

Browse your company’s benefits page, and make sure you’re taking advantage of all of them. Many companies offer free financial planning services, a professional development budget, or even sabbaticals or trips to other offices. Hey, if it’s cool with HR, it’s bound to be cool with your boss.

14. Learn to Code

No, really—it’ll boost your career no matter what you do (take it from this PR pro).Here’s a cool way to get started.

15. Or Learn Something Else

Pick a class, any class—here are 50 (cheap) ideas.

16. Or Teach Something

Consider developing live or online courses, workshops, or seminars in your areas of expertise. (Platforms like Skillshare make it easy to share what you know.)

17. Build a Personal Website

No matter what field you’re in, it’s a great idea. We have a seven-day plan that makes it super easy, and at the end of it all you’ll have an online presence that shows off who you are and displays your best work.

If You Want to Make Your Office Happier

18. Revamp Your Cubicle

It’s amazing what some fresh photos, some non-fluorescent lighting, and some organization can do for your inspiration (not to mention sanity). Here are a few ideas to get you started.

19. Fix Something

Look for a process, procedure, or meeting that everyone grumbles about, and think of one or two ways to improve upon it. Put together a plan, present it to your boss, and see if you can be the one who turns it into action.

20. Teach the Group

Offer to research and present on something to your team—whether it’s socially responsible business practices or a new project management tool.

21. Launch a Brown Bag Program

Once a month, invite cool speakers in to chat with your team about something in your field.

22. Mentor a Junior Employee

Look to see if your company has an official program you can participate in, or just look for younger co-workers who you could take under your wing.

23. Make a List

Create a list of resources you find helpful, sites you love to read, the best conferences or classes in your field, or anything else you think your co-workers might find useful, and send it out to everyone on your team.

24. Ask for a New Employee

If you don’t already have one, come up with a proposal for getting an intern or other direct report. Having someone to take some work off your plate can open up space for you to work on more inspiring projects—and having someone to mentor can be a great growth experience.

25. Create a Client Survey

Ask your customers and potential customers key questions that could help you better serve them (as well as for their general feedback). At minimum, you’ll get some helpful guidance for future sales or initiatives, and you’ll probably look like a star while you’re at it.

If You Want to Get Out of the Office

26. Plan a Trip

Research shows that just the act of planning a trip makes you happier, as you’re anticipating what’s to come. While we don’t recommend doing the actual planning on company time, daydreaming about your destination will certainly make the day go by faster.

27. Plan a Fundraiser

Or otherwise get involved in a cause you care about. Bonus: It’s a great way to network—reach out to people you haven’t talked to in a while or think are interesting with an invite.

28. Do Something Totally Unrelated to Your Job

Take a bartending class, sign up for a half-marathon, get SCUBA certified. While it might not have anything to do with your job, you’ll definitely be more inspired in your off hours, and that’ll give your life inspiration an overall boost.

29. Learn a New Language

Along similar lines, even if you don’t speak Spanish or German at work, speaking and reading in a new language can get your brain thinking in totally new ways. (Here are five fun ways to give it a whirl.)

If You Want Something Totally New

30. Take on a Side Project

Start that funny Tumblr you’ve always wanted to, sell your wares as a consultant in your field, or start an Etsy store. It’ll give you a good challenge outside of your day job—not to mention some cold, hard cash.

31. Go Pro Bono

Use some of your free time to do some work for a nonprofit or early-stage startup with a mission that you’re really excited about. This will give you a chance to grow your skills (or potentially learn new ones) and remind you why you loved your work in the first place, plus it could even turn into an exciting full-time opportunity down the line.

32. Get a New Job

If you’ve tried everything and are still bored at your current gig, it’s probably time to look for a new one. Start making a list of your favorite companies, polishing up your resume, and getting some informational interviews on the calendar. On that note:

33. Take a Day Off

Hey, if you’re bored at work, you can probably afford it. Try this one-day, 10-hour plan to totally kick start your job search on a day off.

TIME Careers & Workplace

28 Secrets of Exceptionally Productive People

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Cavan Images—Getty Images

Want to work smarter, not harder? Learn from the best

This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

By Jeff Haden

Occasionally, I stumble on my own productivity tools and strategies, but mostly I borrow them from others.

So does Ryan Holiday, the author of the best-selling The Obstacle Is the Way (a really great book) and the compulsively readable Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator.

He’s also the founder of Brass Check Marketing and somehow finds time to give monthly book recommendations to 30,000 people.

“Like all people, I like to think I am a productive person,” Ryan says. “If I am, though, it’s because I’ve been ruthlessly efficient at one thing: stealing secrets and methods from people a lot smarter than me.

“In my career, I’ve had the fortune of coming in contact with best-selling authors, successfulentrepreneurs, investors, executives, and creative people. Others I didn’t meet but found their thoughts in books. Whether they knew it or not, I cased all of them and took from them what I thought were their best ideas on productivity.”

Here are productivity secrets Ryan has borrowed–and you will, too:

Bryan “Birdman” Williams

Birdman founded Cash Money records and is worth about $500 million. I was shocked the first time I was supposed to meet him at the studio at 1 a.m. on a Sunday. His day was just starting. He works at night and sleeps during the day.

Like I said, at first it was weird, but then I realized: He picked the hours that were most productive for him.

Screw what most people think is normal.

Casey Neistat

From this popular YouTube filmmaker and artist I picked up the trick of keeping a small Moleskine journal I write in every day: thoughts, reminders, notes, lessons. I prefer one that can fit in my back pocket; that way, I always have paper on me.

The past few months have been incredibly difficult, and my journal helped me cope. More important, I learned how to keep track of these journals (and everything else I own) in case I lose them: In big letters, write “If Found Please Return [insert name & number].”

Tim Ferriss

From Tim, I learned the art of the to-do list. A simple, straightforward to-do list: one note card, five to six big items, that’s it. Every day, I cross items off and tear up the card. Simple and extremely effective.

Another from Tim: You don’t have to be the first person to sign up for things. Wait a bit on new apps and social networks. Let things sort themselves out, let other people do all the trial and error, and then when you come into the picture, just be the best.

Robert Greene

Robert Greene, renowned author of The 48 Laws of Power, showed me how he creates books.

His note-card system has changed my life. Every book I read I fold key pages and later go back through and transfer the information to note cards I organize by theme in card boxes. I now have hundreds of thousands of these cards, which I always turn to if I need an anecdote, a fact, inspiration, a strategy, a story, or an example.

From Robert I also learned that swimming is a great productivity tool. Why? Because it requires total isolation: no music, no phone, no possible interruptions–just quiet, strenuous exercise.

I’ve had some of my most productive brainstorming sessions in the pool.

Dov Charney

The first time I called Dov, I got his voice mail. It said: “I don’t use voice mail; email me.”

I’ve taken it a step further; I don’t even have a voice mail message. If it’s important, they’ll call back. If I have time, I’ll return the missed call. Either way, having “6 new voice messages” is something I haven’t worried about in years, because they don’t exist.

Ramit Sethi

Ramit has built a 40-plus employee, multimillion-dollar education business right before our eyes (he and I grew up in the same small town).

One trick I learned from Ramit–after first ignoring his advice several times–is that if you’re going to hire an assistant, make sure the person you hire is older and more responsible than you are.

Too many people make the mistake of hiring someone young and cheap, which is ridiculous, because it’s impossible for the person to understand the value of time and organization and he or she will wind up making you less productive, not more. If you’re going to have an assistant, do it right.

Another from Ramit: You don’t have to answer every email you get. The Delete key is a superquick way to get to inbox zero.

Tobias Wolff

In his book Old School, Tobias Wolf’s semi-autobiographical character takes the time to type out quotes and passages from great books. I do this almost every weekend.

It’s made me a) a faster typist, b) a much better writer, and c) a wiser person.

David Allen and Merlin Mann

Inbox zero.

Never touch paper twice.

Let these two phrases sink in, and follow them.

Napoleon Bonaparte

There’s a great quote from Napoleon about how he would delay opening letters so that by the time he did unimportant issues would have resolved themselves.

I try to do the same thing with email and issues from staff.

Marco Arment

Instapaper changed my life. I don’t play games on my phone; I read smart articles I queued up for myself earlier in the day. I don’t get distracted with articles while I am working at my desk–because I can easily put them in the queue.

James Altucher

No is a powerful, productive word (James also wrote a book about it). We think we’re obligated to say yes to everything, and then we wonder why we never have enough time. Learning to say no–more specifically, “No, thank you”–will energize you and excite you.

Use it–as much as you can.

Another from James: Entrepreneurs (and writers) are nuts. To save yourself many wasted hours of time and insanity, find a spouse who is better adjusted and balanced than you. James and his wife, Claudia, are an inspiring example of this important pairing.

Montaigne

From Montaigne I also learned the importance of keeping a commonplace book. If something catches your eye, write it down and record it. Use it later. Simple as that.

Andrew Carnegie

Carnegie has a great line about “being introduced to the broom” at an early age. In other words, intimately know even the most “lowly” tasks.

That doesn’t mean you still have to do the grunt work, but you should know how.

Aaron Ray

Aaron Ray was my mentor in Hollywood. He’s a hugely successful movie producer and manager, but I noticed one thing: He was never in the office. And he always had a ridiculous excuse why he wasn’t.

Eventually, I realized why: He was avoiding the office BS that sucks up most peoples’ time. By staying away, he got way more done. He could see the big picture.

And as an extra bonus, everyone was always talking about him: “Where’s Aaron?” “Has anyone seen Aaron?”

Tucker Max

You may be surprised, but Tucker has the biggest library you’ve ever seen. Why? He buys every book he wants.

So now I don’t waste time thinking about which books I want or where to get them cheapest. I buy them, read them, recommend them, benefit from them–end of story. (See my library here.)

I’m never without something to read, and I’m always driven to read more–because the shelves are looking down on me as a reminder of what I have left to do.

I also think Tucker was the guy from whom I learned the practice of listening to the same song over and over. It lets you space out and get into the zone (or flow state). My iTunes playlist is embarrassing, but I don’t care. Listening to the same song hundreds of times is how I get so much done.

Nassim Taleb

Speaking of books, from Nassim Taleb I learned about the “anti-library.” Don’t just collect books you have read; collect the books you haven’t read. It’s a testament to what you don’t know–and an on-hand resource whenever you need it.

Samantha Hoover

From my fiancée I learned a nice little trick: Delete Facebook from your phone. Just do it. Trust me. (Note: Pretty sure she’s relapsed, but I haven’t.)

Samuel Zemurray

The entrepreneur behind United Fruit (and one of my favorite books) said, “Don’t trust the report.”

We waste a lot of time trusting numbers and opinions we’ve never verified. Going backwards and doing something over ends up costing us far more than we saved by skipping over the work in the first place.

Anonymous

I forget who gave me the idea, but never buy in-flight Wi-Fi. Go off the grid for the whole flight. Catch up on stuff. Think. Read.

Adam Corolla

When he was doing Loveline, Adam would complain about how the producers wanted him to arrive 15 minutes before the show started. His refusal was simple: Every week that added up to an extra show–for free.

Important people can get a lot done in “just” 15 minutes, so they don’t give that time away. And they don’t mind looking bad in order to protect their time.

Niki Papadopoulos

My editor always says, “OK, well, try writing it then.” In other words, she means, get started. She usually says this right after I explain a big sweeping idea for a book or a chapter or an article.

Planning is great, but productive people get moving.

Frederick Douglass

“A man is worked on by what he works on.”

Steer clear of quagmires, toxic work environments, busywork, and unsolvable problems.

Aaron Ray

One more from Aaron: As a talent manager, Aaron showed me why you never waste your time, or your own money, doing your own negotiating.

His lesson has served me well. I pass incoming inquiries to a speaking agent, book projects to a book agent, interview requests to an assistant, movie or TV stuff to Aaron, etc. Yes, that means I pay them a fee, but guess what? All valuable services have a cost.

Only a fool represents himself or herself.

TIME Careers & Workplace

40 Inspiring Motivational Quotes About Gratitude

Sometimes, a totally different perspective can be found in a few simple words

This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

By Jeff Haden

Whatever your definition of success (everyone’s definition of success is and should be different), we all want more. That desire for more can blind us to what we already have–and should be grateful for.

Here are 40 quotes about gratitude that will not only remind you that what you have is pretty awesome, but will also, I hope, spur you to express that gratitude to the people who deserve it most.

  1. “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”William Arthur Ward
  2. “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” G.K. Chesterton
  3. “‘Enough’ is a feast. Buddhist proverb
  4. “If you count all your assets, you always show a profit.” Robert Quillen
  5. “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” Robert Brault
  6. “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” John F. Kennedy
  7. “Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” Charles Dickens
  8. “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” Eckhart Tolle
  9. “If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get.” Frank A. Clark
  10. “If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily.” Gerald Good
  11. “Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie
  12. “The world has enough beautiful mountains and meadows, spectacular skies and serene lakes. It has enough lush forests, flowered fields, and sandy beaches. It has plenty of stars and the promise of a new sunrise and sunset every day. What the world needs more of is people to appreciate and enjoy it.” Michael Josephson
  13. “Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy.” Fred De Witt Van Amburgh
  14. “The way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.” Charles Schwab
  15. “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” Epictetus
  16. “At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” Albert Schweitzer
  17. “The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.” William James
  18. “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” Oprah Winfrey
  19. “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” Buddha
  20. “Silent gratitude isn’t very much to anyone.” Gertrude Stein
  21. “Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” Henri Frederic Amiel
  22. “You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
  23. “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” Willie Nelson
  24. “It is impossible to feel grateful and depressed in the same moment.” Naomi Williams
  25. “One can never pay in gratitude; one can only pay ‘in kind’ somewhere else in life.”Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  26. “Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out.” John Wooden
  27. “No one who achieves success does so without the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude.” Alfred North Whitehead
  28. “Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” A.A. Milne
  29. “Forget yesterday–it has already forgotten you. Don’t sweat tomorrow–you haven’t even met. Instead, open your eyes and your heart to a truly precious gift–today.”Steve Maraboli
  30. “We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count.” Neal A. Maxwell
  31. “In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  32. “The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.” John E. Southard
  33. “I truly believe we can either see the connections, celebrate them, and express gratitude for our blessings, or we can see life as a string of coincidences that have no meaning or connection. For me, I’m going to believe in miracles, celebrate life, rejoice in the views of eternity, and hope my choices will create a positive ripple effect in the lives of others. This is my choice.” Mike Ericksen
  34. “Gratitude also opens your eyes to the limitless potential of the universe, while dissatisfaction closes your eyes to it.” Stephen Richards
  35. “Gratitude and attitude are not challenges; they are choices.” Robert Braathe
  36. “They both seemed to understand that describing it was beyond their powers, the gratitude that spreads through your body when a burden gets lifted, and the sense of homecoming that follows, when you suddenly remember what it feels like to be yourself.” Tom Perrotta
  37. “Gratitude is more of a compliment to yourself than someone else.” Raheel Farooq
  38. “Keep your eyes open and try to catch people in your company doing something right, then praise them for it.” Tom Hopkins
  39. “In life, one has a choice to take one of two paths: to wait for some special day–or to celebrate each special day.” Rasheed Ogunlaru
  40. “This a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.” Maya Angelou

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