Hello! Welcome to MarkFord.net
This is the open-for-inspection half-way home for my writing!
What you’ll find here are essays, stories, book chapters, poetry, and journal entries, as well as words and images from others that I want to share.
The bulk of the essays will be about business, wealth building, and personal productivity. But there will also be things I’m equally or more interested in, such as art, education, economics, physics, philosophy, psychology, neurobiology, fitness, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Since much of what you’ll be reading here will be early drafts of work meant for publication I welcome any comments or suggestions you might have that will help me strengthen them.

Superstars and Thoroughbreds

February 8, 2012 in Briefs

There is nothing that will change your business faster than getting a superstar to work for you. A superstar is someone who comes with his own high-powered battery pack fueled by nothing more than the desire to be your best performer.

Finding them takes work. Lots of work. You have to sift through a hundred wannabes to find a true superstar.

Hiring them is easy if you show them that you recognize their potential. Give them base compensation that is slightly better than industry standard and performance compensation that can make them rich. The most important thing a superstar wants in his job is the authority and tools to accomplish his goals.

Make sure, in hiring him, that he has what he needs.

Managing the superstar takes skill and patience. Superstars are like great thoroughbreds. They need to be well fed, shod, and cared for to be at their best. But they also need a lot of exercise and a good, lightweight jockey to steer them now and then.

And finally this: When your thoroughbred fails to win the race, change the jockey… don’t kill the horse.


There is nothing good writers like to argue about more than what constitutes good writing.

In my 30+ years in the publishing business I have taken part in my share of arguments about good writing. Many of them were lively. But few, if any, were ever resolved.

Of course you can’t agree on what’s good about anything unless you begin with a definition of “good” that is both mutually agreeable and objective. Put differently, it’s impossible to have a useful discussion of good if by good you mean “It pleases me.”

Three people read Walt Whitman’s I Sing the Body Electric.

One person says it isn’t any good because the meter is awkward and because it does not rhyme. “I like only poetry that is regular and rhymes,” he says.

The second person says the poem is great because it evokes beautiful images. He quotes snippets: “The bodies of men and women engirth me” and “framers bare-armed framing a house.”

The third person says it’s “just okay.” What pleases him about poetry is what Ezra Pound called melopoeia – the emotional impact of the musicality of the language. “I got some of that from the poem,” he says, “but not enough.”

Such conversations are dead from the start because they don’t have an objective measure of “goodness” everyone can agree on.

But most discussions about good writing are worse than that because the participants don’t even articulate their underlying preferences. Indeed, they may not even be aware of them.

The ancient Greeks had similarly volatile discussions about what constitutes good drama. They, too, had lots of strongly held opinions but no objective criteria on which to posit their opinions. In 335 BC, Aristotle solved this problem with history’s greatest essay on literary theory: The Poetics. In that essay he attempted to articulate what made “great” Greek theater great.

Continue reading How to Become a “Really” Good Writer


February 3, 2012 in Humor

Thanks to Cristina for this.

Photo by Mike Blake REUTERS

These glorious insults are from an era before the English language got boiled down to 4-letter words..

· A member of Parliament to Disraeli: “Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease.”  “That depends, Sir,” said Disraeli, “whether I embrace your policies or your mistress.”

· “He had delusions of adequacy.” – Walter Kerr

Click to continue… Insults

By High Talk and Rumors

Study for the Poet King
Julio Larraz
1944 –

The paintings of Julio Larraz are realistic landscapes and precise still lives – strong images in tropical colors, mystical and metaphorical. Study for the Poet King is a fascinating figurative work with the poet typing away while his papers fly with the wind, shaded by the wing of his plane recently landed on the beach. Through his use of light and shadow, land and sky, the poet’s white suit, the table and white cloth Larraz creates the visual reality… and the viewer wants to know the meaning.

Click to continue… Study for the Poet King

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