How to Get Rich: One of the World's Greatest Entrepreneurs Shares His Secretsby Felix Dennis
Great book, funny, smart, and it will make sure you never look at the world or yourself the same way again. Go buy this book.
As the American critic H. L. Mencken once wrote: “The inferior man’s reasons for hating knowledge are not hard to discern. He hates it because it is complex— because it puts an unbearable burden on his meager capacity for taking in ideas. Thus his search is always for short cuts. All superstitions are such short cuts. Their aim is to make the unintelligible simple, and even obvious.” Mencken was right
A book like this is a tool, not an artifact.
I got rich my way. You might even say the old-fashioned way. By making errors, lots of errors, and learning from them.
If it flies, floats or fornicates, always rent it—it’s cheaper in the long run.)
Whatever qualities the rich may have, they can be acquired by anyone with the tenacity to become rich. The key, I think, is confidence. Confidence and an unshakable belief it can be done and that you are the one to do it.
Tunnel vision helps. Being a bit of a shit helps. A thick skin helps. Stamina is crucial, as is a capacity to work so hard that your best friends mock you, your lovers despair and the rest of your acquaintances watch furtively from the sidelines, half in awe and half in contempt. Luck helps—but only if you don’t seek it. The answer to the question, then, is perhaps this: not those who want to and not those who need to, but those who are utterly determined to—whatever the cost.
What are the biggest myths you know regarding getting rich? The first is the claim that people did not set out to get rich but became rich by “accident.” “Oh, I only did what I love to do and woke up one day to find myself wealthy.” That sort of thing. It may have happened. But very rarely in my experience. The second myth is that people got rich by having a “great idea.” While this is a more feasible hypothesis than having got rich by accident, it is a trap, because it is a partial truth. All of us have had great ideas from time to time. The follow-through, the execution, is a thousand times more important than a “great idea.” In fact, if the execution is perfect, it sometimes barely matters what the idea is. If you want to get rich, don’t sit around waiting for inspiration to strike. Just get busy getting rich. Thirdly, and lastly, I think that perhaps the most destructive myth about becoming rich lies in remarks like: “Well, it was OK for you starting out in the late 1960s. But times have moved on. You couldn’t do it that way today.” Perhaps not, but you can certainly do it some way. Times change, but human nature, the lure of wealth and the determination to acquire it remain a shining constant in the world of ambitious men and women.
And just what is the most precious thing in life that riches can supply? Easy. For me, it’s Time.
It sounds crazy, but the richer you are and the more financial advisors you employ, the less likelihood there is that you can ever discover what you are really worth. It’s a nice problem to have, but it is still a problem.
In the words of the art collector and oil billionaire John Paul Getty: “If you can actually count your money, you are not really a rich man.
in a nutshell, my experience has been that money is color-blind, race-blind, sex-blind, degree-blind and couldn’t care less who brought you up or in what circumstances. Money is one of the most neutral substances on earth. Others may conspire against you obtaining it through bigotry or prejudice. But they can only succeed if you permit them to.
Young, Penniless and Inexperienced? Excellent. You stand by far the best chance of becoming as rich as you please. You have an advantage that neither education nor upbringing, nor even money, can buy—you have almost nothing. And therefore you have almost nothing to lose.
Nearly all the great fortunes acquired by entrepreneurs arose because they had nothing to lose.
Never trust the vast mountain of conventional wisdom. It contains great nuggets of wisdom, it is true. But they lie alongside rivers of fool’s gold. Conventional wisdom daunts initiative and offers far too many convenient reasons for inaction, especially for those with a great deal to lose.
You have stamina far, far beyond those who are twenty or thirty years older— the stamina necessary for long, grinding hours of labor in the cause of getting rich. Stamina enough to party all night and go straight back to work for a twelve- or sixteen-hour day.
Along with a degree of callousness and enviable powers of speedy recuperation from reverses, stamina is your secret weapon.
In addition, your instinctive knowledge of modern technology gives you another edge.
Anyone not busy learning is busy dying. For as long as you foster a willingness to learn, you will ward off sclerosis of the brain and hardening of the mental arteries. Curiosity has led many a man and women into the valley of serious wealth.
Ambition, fearlessness, self-belief, stamina, a degree of callousness, a willingness to learn. These are your advantages over the middle-aged and the old.
Slightly Better Off and On the Way Up? This is the point at which many people vaguely wonder about starting their own business,
I employ a great many people smarter than I am. That’s not false modesty, that’s a stone-cold fact. The only two reasons such geniuses continue to work for me and put money into my pocket are that, on the positive side, they enjoy their work, and on the negative side, they fear losing what they have already gained—challenging work, congenial colleagues, a certain status and the promise of promotion and pay raises.
fear holds them back, with the exception of those rare individuals who are content with their lot.
“Fear is the little death, death by a thousand cuts,” goes the ancient Japanese saying.
My earnest advice is to get yourself a young and fearless partner with tons of stamina. Choose him or her with care. It’s your best chance to get rich.
Let us explore factors likely to exclude an individual from becoming rich.
There’s health, for a start. People in poor health usually find it difficult, no matter how clever they are, to muster the stamina that becoming rich demands.
We must also factor in disadvantage and age. Not of color, sex, race, religion, upbringing or lack of education. None of those present insuperable hurdles in a Western democracy. But mental handicap, growing senility and the physical decline of old age—none of which need be life-threatening in the short term—virtually rule out any serious accumulation of wealth, except by inheritance or winning a lottery.
So that leaves the relatively fit and those not old enough to call themselves old.
Real winners are people who know their limits and respect them.
The odds may still appear daunting, but only to those lacking sufficient guts and determination to try. If the odds of getting rich put you off, then you deserve to stay poor. Or, to put it more kindly, whether you deserve it or not, you will stay poor.
I would use, instead: “Once begun—the job’s half done.” Because taking that first, irrevocable step has proved to be the most difficult part of nearly every venture I have been involved in.
All debate can do is clarify, support or contest the next step. The risks remain, however much talking is done.
A commander may be proved wrong. He may be proved right. But prompt decisions and orders, right or wrong, are far healthier than endless debate and prevarication. This applies equally to a debate within one’s own mind. Fretting is counterproductive at any level. And so is lack of action. Knowing that fear of failure is holding you back is a step in the right direction. But it isn’t enough, because knowing isn’t doing.
Fear of failure and the avoidance of blame, then, is what drives Jeremiahs and haunts them. To be fair, it haunts all of us. In essence, it comprises two components. The first is our natural desire to avoid letting ourselves or others down, perhaps with calamitous financial repercussions. The second is the exposure of that failure to the outside world.
Imputing desires or fears or loss of morale to others probably has a fancy psychological monicker—like auto-displacement activity. And it’s not always a bad thing. At least it encourages serious communication, even if it adds little to the decision process. Even so, it is a form of well-disguised cowardice.
To sum up then, if you wish to be rich, you must grow a carapace. A mental armor. Not so thick as to blind you to well-constructed criticism and advice, especially from those you trust. Nor so thick as to cut you off from friends and family. But thick enough to shrug off the inevitable sniggering and malicious mockery that will follow your inevitable failures, not to mention the poorly hidden envy that will accompany your eventual success. Few things in life are certain except death and being taxed. But sniggering and mockery prior to any attempt to better yourself financially, followed by envy later, or gloating during your initial failures—these are three certainties in life. It hurts. It’s mindless. And it doesn’t mean anything. But it will happen. Be prepared to shrug it off.
• If you are unwilling to fail, sometimes publicly, and even catastrophically, you stand very little chance of ever getting rich. • If you care what the neighbors think, you will never get rich. • If you cannot bear the thought of causing worry to your family, spouse or lover while you plow a lonely, dangerous road rather than taking the safe option of a regular job, you will never get rich. • If you have artistic inclinations and fear that the search for wealth will coarsen such talents or degrade them, you will never get rich. (Because your fear, in this instance, is well justified.) • If you are not prepared to work longer hours than almost anyone you know, despite the jibes of colleagues and friends, you are unlikely to get rich. • If you cannot convince yourself that you are “good enough” to be rich, you will never get rich. • If you cannot treat your quest to get rich as a game, you will never be rich. • If you cannot face up to your fear of failure, you will never be rich. The truth is that getting rich means sacrifice.
After a lifetime of making money and observing better men and women than I fall by the wayside, I am convinced that fear of failing in the eyes of the world is the single biggest impediment to amassing wealth. Trust me on this.
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy; the chance to draw back; always ineffectiveness concerning all acts of initiative and creation. There is one elemental truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one commits oneself, Providence moves all. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issue from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of incidents and meetings and material assistance which no one could have dreamed would come his or her way. —JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE
We do get to choose, if we are determined enough, what it is we want to do for a living.
In other words, if you feel absolutely moved toward a particular vocation, then that’s exactly where you should head. But be aware that if you want to make huge sums of money, then earning a living by slowly swarming up the greasy pole is rarely the way to do it.
The salary begins to have an attraction and addictive-ness all of its own. A regular paycheck and crack cocaine have that in common. In addition, and more to the point, working too long for other people can blunt your desire to take risks.
If you want to be rich, you are not looking for a “career,” except as a launch pad or as a chance to infiltrate and understand a particular industry. A job for the rich-in-training is merely something to keep you ticking over, to put food on your plate and wine in your glass. Additionally, it will provide excellent training in management and negotiation skills; it will supply inside market information; above all, it will act as a salutary reminder of what happens to 99.99 percent of your colleagues—the ones who buy lottery tickets and dream of becoming rich but who haven’t a hope in hell of achieving any such thing.
So if you want to be rich and you are in the Search phase of your life, then get used to one thing. You are not part of a team—although you may have to pretend you are. To put it more politely, you may have to adopt the idea of teamwork, for the time being, to help yourself understand better how individuals, departments, companies or industries function.
Working for others is a reconnaissance expedition; a means and not an end in itself. It is an apprenticeship and not a goal. You should have no long-term, or even medium-term, requirements
Team spirit is for losers, financially speaking. It’s the glue that binds the losers together. It’s the methodology employers use to shackle useful employees to their desks without having to pay them too much.
When it comes right down to it, “team spirit” and not letting your colleagues down is a feeble reason for procrastination when opportunity comes knocking. Nearly always, it is an excuse to avoid the possibility of humiliating failure.
Those who can never be rich may not want you to become rich.
While you may not necessarily want to be in a glamorous sector of any market, and they are often very crowded sectors, it helps to be in a growing one.
New or rapidly developing industries, whether glamorous or not, very often provide more opportunities to get rich than established sectors. The three reasons for this are availability of risk capital, ignorance and the power of a rising tide.
the combination of ignorance and misconception that surrounds any new market or technology works in your favor. If you are quick at grasping concepts and jargon, you become an “instant expert.” The owners of capital love “experts.”
Finally, the power of a rising tide masks many start-up difficulties, putting individuals and small companies on a more even footing with conglomerates and established operators; for a while, at least.
As a general rule of thumb, then, growing industries with relatively low start-up costs offer more opportunities for those who want to get rich than declining industries, or those that require huge start-up investment. This is not an iron-clad rule, however. While magazine and newspaper sales have been in slow decline in the Western world for decades, this “declining” industry is where I made a great deal of my own money.
So how to choose the arena in which you intend to carve yourself a fortune? There are usually three factors involved in the Search: inclination, aptitude and fate.
So how do you judge your own aptitudes? Trial and error is the only way I ever heard of. The problem is that we create an image of ourselves in our childhood and youth (often at the urging of parents, siblings or friends), and subsequently attempt to graft reality onto this image. More often than not, the graft doesn’t take and the result is bewilderment and disappointment. Far better to ruthlessly analyze what your particular aptitudes are and act upon them rather than attempt to graft an oak tree onto a dandelion.
Their ability to take chances and to subsequently exploit initial success counted more than their inclination toward a particular industry. Their execution of a strategy trumped the subject of their obsession.
To put it less fancifully, they were lucky in the Search and skillful in their follow-up. Boldness helped. Conquering fear of failure helped. Persistence helped. But, without some luck, no one can get anywhere in the search to discover the exact arena in which to do battle, the arena that suits an individual’s aptitudes and inclinations.
“Luck is preparation multiplied by opportunity.” — SENECA, ROMAN PHILOSOPHER “The harder I practiced, the luckier I got.” — GARY PLAYER, GOLF CHAMPION “Luck is a dividend of sweat.” —RAY KROC, MCDONALD’S
Fortune favors not just the brave but the bold. Boldness has a kind of genius in it, as Goethe pointed out. It can lead to complete failure and defeat, because conventional wisdom often proves to be at least wisdom of a kind. But should boldness succeed, should the chance be seized and sufficiently well executed, then success will surely lead to glory.
All around us, every day, opportunities to get rich are popping up. The more alert you are, the more chance you have of spotting them. The more preparation you have done, the more chance you have of succeeding. The more bold you are, the better chance you have of getting in on the ground floor and confounding the odds. The more self-belief you can muster, the more certain will be your aim and your timing. And the less you care what the neighbors think, the more likely you are to take the plunge and exploit an opportunity. Here is the key, then, in the Search. Whatever your inclinations, your aptitude, your abilities or your preferences, never shrink when opportunities arrive. If you have weighed the odds and find yourself convinced, ignore the protestations of sensible people and their conventional caution.
Having a great idea is simply not enough. The eventual goal is vastly more important than any idea. It is how ideas are implemented that counts in the long run.
Good ideas are like Nike sports shoes. They may facilitate an athlete who possesses them, but on their own they are nothing but an overpriced pair of sneakers. Specially adapted sneakers may be a good idea. But the goal is still to win,
Ray Kroc, of McDonald’s fame, did not invent the idea of “fast food.” Humans have been stuffing their face “on the run” since the dawn of history. His genius was merely to recognize this fact and implement a simple five-point plan: standardize the food and prices, franchise the outlets, produce the food swiftly in clean surroundings, offer value for money and market the whole shebang relentlessly. Easy to state; hard to implement. And it flew in the face of all conventional wisdom concerning the sale of fast food at the time. But it was the implementation of this plan that turned a 52-year-old milkshake-mixer salesman with diabetes and asthma into a billionaire.
There is another side to the subject of ideas in commerce. Stealing them. Or to put it more pleasantly, emulating them. The error of failing to emulate a winning idea pervades every industry at all levels.
Why people should be loath to emulate success is a matter for psychologists. The fact that they do is a matter of fact. The result of such ostrichlike behavior can be catastrophic.
The lesson is clear. Despite the words of the old rock ’n’ roll song, the original is not the greatest. Not always. If you want to be rich, then watch your rivals closely and never be ashamed to emulate a winning strategy.
The problem with the great idea is that it concentrates the mind on the idea itself. This is fine as far as it goes. But unless the idea is executed efficiently and with panache and originality, then it doesn’t matter how great the idea is, the enterprise will fail.
But an idea is not enough. It is never enough. And even its successful execution as a piece of technology is not enough if the company refuses to join with the rest of the world and its own customers in cooperative exploitation.
Even so, beware of the great idea. You must encourage great ideas and search for them diligently. But either you control and develop such ideas or the ideas will come to dominate your waking thoughts. And that would not be such a great thing.
If you never have a single great idea in your life, but become skilled in executing the great ideas of others, you can succeed beyond your wildest dreams. Seek them out and make them work. They do not have to be your ideas. Execution is all in this regard. If, on the other hand, you spend your days thinking up and developing in your mind this great idea or that, you are unlikely to get rich. Although you are likely to make many others rich. That is usually the way of it. Ideas don’t make you rich. The correct execution of ideas does.
There are only six ways of obtaining capital. You can be given or inherit it; you can steal it; you can win it; you can marry it; you can earn it; you can borrow it.
Your credit rating is extremely precious. The interest rates on credit cards or similar instruments are beyond the capacity of nearly any legal business to sustain, and while bankruptcy laws have become more generous to creditors in recent years, a history of bankruptcy will plague and hinder you when you seek to return to the fray. Better to labor as a wage slave than as a beast of burden to a loan shark.
While it may not look like it to you, there is simply too much money in the world; too much capital seeking too few investment opportunities.
How to Get Rich: One of the World's Greatest Entrepreneurs Shares His Secrets
Venture capital companies are one way to raise capital, for sure. But the price they demand is nearly always that you hand over a huge chunk of equity. More often than not, they also insist on a date by which your new venture must be sold, either back to yourself or to outsiders. Persistence is a powerful tool in the hands of a hungry young hustler on the make. I had created capital by swimming with the fishes.
One last word on obtaining capital. It’s the worst part of the whole business of getting rich. Nothing is more humiliating or debilitating than trudging the rounds with your hand out, no matter how good your project or fierce your determination. Everyone has to do it and everyone hates it. For a self-made man or woman there is no avoiding it. Beware of anyone who tells you that there are short cuts to obtaining even a small amount of capital. Outside of family and friends, there are none that I ever heard of.
But I would not give in. That was the secret ingredient. I would not be a wage slave. I would not take “no” for an answer. I would not give in. I was going to be rich. Some how. Some way. Someday soon. And I would not retreat to the safety of a decent job until I was starved out of house and home. I would not give in.
In one of the finest such books in the world, Letters to My Brother by the artist Vincent van Gogh, collected and published long after his death, you will find unbearable heartbreak, madness, rejection, hunger, passion, nightmare terrors and a tale of a man who never gave in. Who would not give in, though it cost him his life.
All error springs from flawed assumptions. If there are no assumptions, there can be no error.
I am told that during the Vietnam War, a sign was kept nailed on a wall above a particular marine commander’s desk which said: “Assumption is the mother of all f***-ups.”
Worse still, by continually wishing and never delivering, you risk denting your confidence, beginning a vicious downward spiral that appears to draw misfortune like a magnet. The assumption that you might be able to achieve some goal if you only wished hard enough is not just a f***-up. It’s a potential personal tragedy.
Life is not some kind of rehearsal.
Do not mistake desire for compulsion. Only you can know the song of your inner demons.
When the going gets tough, when all seems lost, when partners and luck desert you, when bankruptcy and failure are staring you in the face, all that can sustain you is a fierce compulsion to succeed at any price.
The answer is that not only does lack of cash flow eventually doom any enterprise, it just as surely prizes control of any entity from its owner or majority shareholder. And it is control and ownership of a business entity which brings with it the promise of future wealth. Lose control of a business by running out of cash and you are relegated to the status of minority investor or salaried employee.
Cash flow is something that any entrepreneur must fully comprehend from the get-go. Balance sheets are a matter for accountants, banks and auditors. But cash flow is the heartbeat of your company.
You can improve cash flow by observing the following suggestions in a start-up’s early days: • Keep payroll down to an absolute minimum. Overhead walks on two legs. • Never sign long-term rent agreements or take upmarket office space. • Never indulge in fancy office or reception furniture, unless your particular business demands that you make such an impression on clients. • Never buy a business meal if the other side offers to. You can show off later. • Pay yourself just enough to eat. • Do not be shy to call customers who owe you money personally . It works. • In a city, walk everywhere you can. It’s healthy and sets a good example. • Check all staff travel and entertainment claims with an eagle eye. • If you’re going to be late paying, call the vendor’s boss. Give a date. Stick to it. • Always meet payroll, even at the expense of starving yourself that week. • Issuing staff credit cards, company cell phones or cars is the road to ruin. • Leaving lights, computers, printers and copiers on overnight is just stupid. • A vase of beautiful flowers in reception every week creates a better impression than £100,000 worth of fancy Italian furniture. • Get used to groveling. Groveling is an effective tool in a start-up’s cash flow. • They want your business. Play one supplier off against another. Ruthlessly. • Only enter a factoring deal in absolute extremity. Exit it fast. • Keep your chin up. It could be worse. You could be working for them.
A very great retailer once said: “There is no victory over customers.
“Success is never permanent; failure is never fatal. The only thing that really counts is to never, never, never give up.” That’s that old windbag Winston Churchill again.
Most of the worst errors I have made in my life came from forgetting to act small. It’s hard to do when you’re rolling around in coin and everything is going your way. But acting big leads to complacency, and complacency is the reason that many successful start-ups falter.
Every day you have to hit the ground running, putting in more hours than even your most dedicated member of staff. You have to stay flexible. You have to be willing to listen and to learn and to emulate success elsewhere.
Think big, act small. It’s a recipe that never goes out of style. While especially important for start-ups, it will serve you faithfully long after you have established yourself as a serious player.
If you are determined to be rich, there is only one talent you require. Can you think what it is before your eyes skim down to the next paragraph? Right. You need the talent to identify, hire and nurture others with talent. “There is no substitute for talent. Industry and all the virtues are of no avail,” wrote the novelist Aldous Huxley.
The French impressionist Degas once said: “Everybody has talent at twenty-five.
Talent is indispensable, although it is always replaceable. Just remember the simple rules concerning talent: identify it, hire it, nurture it, reward it, protect it. And, when the time comes, fire it.
But never give in easily. If you can, attempt one step farther along the road than appears sensible before giving in.
“Persistence” is a vital attribute for those who wish to become rich, or who wish to achieve anything worthwhile for that matter.
As is the ability to acknowledge that one has made a mistake and that a new plan of action must now be made. Any such acknowledgement is not a weakness, it is a sign of clear thinking. In its way, it is a kind of persistence in itself. Try, try, try again, does not mean doing what has already failed, over and over again. Quitting is not dishonorable. Quitting when you believe you can still succeed is. You must keep the faith. Belief in yourself and faith in your project can move mountains. But not if you insist on trying to scale the mountain by an impossible route which has already failed.
This is the core of it. Persistence is not quite as important as self-belief. If you will not believe in yourself, then why should anyone else? Without self-belief nothing can be accomplished. With it, nothing is impossible.
There is nothing wrong with doubt, or with fear. They are immensely useful tools. But you either learn to incorporate them into your thinking and your life, or you will be ruled by them. There is no “middle way.” It is doubt multiplied by the fear of failure, unconfronted, which leads to the creation of a vicious cycle where self-belief is eroded and nothing is achieved. Doubts can and should be confronted, as should fear. This is best done in daylight, under rigorous examination.
if you have ever escaped from very serious trouble indeed, or have been at the point of death, then you will know that one of two things happens. Either you become cautious to an absurd degree, or you are liberated from many ordinary fears. With liberation comes the knowledge that nothing is really very important in the lives of men; nothing is as terrifying as the fear itself. And from that, paradoxically, comes self-belief—a belief that anything is possible. Secondly, you should remember that you are unique. Any scientist will tell you so. No other human was ever born, or will ever be born, with the same combination of upbringing, flaws and qualities that you possess. Why should you not believe in yourself?
If you want to be rich you must work for it. But you must believe in it, too. You must believe in yourself, if only to armor yourself against the laughter of the gods in your quest. Your mad quest to be rich.
I am not a manager. I am not even a businessman. I’m an entrepreneur and I go with my gut.
Trust your instincts. Do not be a slave to them, but when your instincts are screaming, Go! Go! Go! then it’s time for you to decide whether you really want to be rich or not. You cannot do this in a deliberate, considered manner. You can’t get rich painting by numbers.
Make More Baskets: Diversify!
I am one of the richest self-made men in Britain for two reasons. I own my company outright, and I began to make more baskets the minute the first had a few eggs in it. Let’s get down to how and why.
If you have a successful monthly magazine, for instance, and then launch a weekly in the same category, you will inevitably weaken sales of your original title. This will follow as surely as night follows day. So should you launch the weekly magazine? Yes! A thousand times yes! Why? Because if you do not launch the weekly edition, even though you know it is a good idea, then your rivals will do it for you.
Learning to evolve or die is a cardinal virtue. Things do not stay the same. Either you learn to go with the flow and change as rapidly as you are able, or you will be left stranded, like the last dinosaur, by the last warm lake, on the last continent the ice age has yet to reach. Richard Branson has perfected one cardinal rule: he owns or part-owns more baskets than almost anyone alive. “Wait until it grows. Match investment with growth. Make it pay,” Just remember that this advice is not designed for your start-up phase. During the start-up, you concentrate on that one basket as if your life (and the life of your firstborn) depends upon it. But once you have something that’s working and making some money, start looking around quickly for another opportunity. The more baskets the better.
I am often, along with my group CFO, Ian Leggett, the only one voting to close down one project or another at my various companies. To the young people involved in that project, it is a matter, seemingly, of life or death. To a man with many other fish to fry, it is just another problem in need of a solution. The reverse of that medal, of course, is that I do not bring to any project the passion and insight of those more closely involved. Even so, by diversifying and building other baskets in other countries, I believe I have become better able to make hard decisions more often. That’s a definite plus.
But when you stop listening, you stop learning. And if you stop learning, it’s time to get out of the kitchen and let someone else do the cooking.
Listening is the most powerful weapon after self-belief and persistence you can bring into play as an entrepreneur.
If you have experience, a little investment cash and will make the time, then the world will bring to your door an amazing collection of visionaries, con artists, madmen and budding entrepreneurs. They all have something to say. Most of your time will be wasted. But what is not wasted will make you richer. Much richer.
Courtesy is not a cardinal virtue in getting rich, I admit. But it helps. It works. It greases wheels where force will not prevail.
Trouble is, business is not a talking shop. It relies on decisions, often hard decisions, being made in as short a time as makes sense.
Seneca, coined the following: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” I have never come across a better definition—that’s why I’m repeating it. Preparation multiplied by opportunity. Say it again. Learn it off by heart. Let it become a daily mantra. Luck is preparation multiplied by opportunity.
Preparation is the key. Be prepared. Do the heavy lifting and the homework in advance. Get on with the job, but remain alert enough to spot an opportunity when it arrives. Then hammer it.
Despite what you will read in many self-improvement tomes, “partnering” and “symbiotic evolution” are no way to get rich. They may be a way to a better world. They may make you a happier person and a better manager. But they will not make you rich— except, perhaps, in spirit. To become rich you must behave as a predator. I will go further, you must become a predator.
Then again, Albert is more intelligent than I am. He had a grand education and read all the right books at university. He is not a self-taught scholar, as I am. But there is a downside to all this intelligence and imagination. He thinks a little too much before he acts. He weighs the options too carefully. He is capable of imagining defeat.
As H. L. Mencken put it: “The chief value of money lies in the fact that one lives in a world in which it is overestimated.”
• Prepare yourself for luck, but don’t seek her out. Let her come to you. • Make your own luck • Don’t whine or ever describe yourself as “unlucky.” (You’re alive, aren’t you?) • Be bold. Be brave. Don’t thank your lucky stars. The stars can’t hear you. • Stay the course. Stop looking for the green grass over the hill. • Don’t try to do it all yourself. Delegate and teach others to delegate. • Remember that most predators are lucky most of their lives, unlike their prey. • Whiners and cowards die a hundred times a day. Be a hero to yourself. • If being a hero isn’t your style, then fake it. Reality will catch up eventually. • Just do it. It is much easier to apologize than to obtain permission. • Never take the quest for wealth seriously. It’s just a game, chum. • Next time you bump into Lady Luck, giver her a whack on the rump from me. • Be lucky. Get rich. Then give it all away. (We’ll get to that bit later.)
How to Get Rich: One of the World's Greatest Entrepreneurs Shares His Secrets
All negotiations arise from weakness, unless you are one of that strange tribe who finds themselves intoxicated with the process of bargaining and negotiating itself.
All great companies, all well-run organisations, need great managers and great staff. That much, at least, is pretty obvious. You forget it at your peril.
all organizations are a reflection of the people who start them.
The only “style” I assume you’re interested in developing is an efficient money-making machine which is also a great place to work.
Please remember: you are not reading this book to become a successful manager. Managers rarely become rich. Most managers are lieutenants.
Personally, I don’t think I was a very good managing director or CEO of any of my companies, so my advice concerning your choice of middle management is limited to the following: the world is full of aspiring lieutenants. Most people seek job security, job satisfaction and power over others far more than they seek wealth.
Serious negotiations are very different from day-to-day bargaining and should be approached differently. They imply a weakness in the position of at least one of the parties involved in the negotiations, unlike day-to-day bargaining, where no such weakness need exist. The first thing to be done, perhaps the most vital thing, is to establish exactly where those weaknesses lie.
Weaknesses in serious negotiations usually exist in both camps, of course, at least to some degree or another, and it becomes important to swiftly determine which weakness is most pressing and most potentially catastrophic to which party. An immediate balance of weaknesses may well prove more decisive than any long-term balance of strengths.
• The flea has established to his own satisfaction the elephant’s urgent need. • The flea has learned to ignore flattery. • The flea has learned that an elephant cannot be your friend in negotiations. • The flea has learned he is not a good negotiator. • The flea has learned to “empty” himself and make himself believe he does not care. • The flea has overcome his lack of skill by setting a price he will not deviate from. • The flea has hardened his heart and has walked away when the price was not met. • The flea has introduced a rogue element (the trade magazine) into the negotiations. • The flea has weighed Greed vs. Need. He believes Need will outweigh Greed.
A Few Tips on Negotiating
• Remember that few of us are any good at detailed negotiations. That includes your opponent, by the way. • If you are a poor negotiator, like me, then set a limit on what you will pay or accept and on any conditions attached. Do not deviate. Your first thought is your best thought. • Most negotiations are unnecessary. Don’t enter into them. Remember that “the fortress that parleys is already half taken.” Save serious negotiations for serious occasions. • Do your homework. And do it rigorously. What you don’t know or haven’t bothered to find out can kill you in any type of serious negotiation. • Despite my jungle book examples above, the devil really is in the detail in serious negotiations. Get all the professional help you can trust. But do not surrender control of the negotiations or the agenda to such professionals. They are not the ones who will have to live with the consequences—you are. Professional advisors are there to explain and advise, not to decide. • If your advisors are leading you down a path you don’t approve of during your negotiations, call a “time-out” and tell them privately that if they continue along that route you will get yourself some new advisors. The world is full of them. • Never fall in love with the deal. A deal is just a deal. There will always be other deals and other opportunities. • Avoid auctions in business like the plague—unless you are selling something, that is. You will nearly always pay more than is wise if you are the “winner” of an auction process. • The negotiator opposite you is not your new best friend. He is not your partner. He is not your confidant. You have no obligation, outside of ordinary courtesy, to please him or satisfy his demands. He is the enemy. If you do not understand that real winners and real losers emerge from serious negotiations, then you will be robbed, whatever the circumstances. • Take no notice of management manuals that tell you to leave passion and emotion out of the negotiating room. If you are emotional or passionate about something, then let it show. But leaven emotion with courtesy, and, if possible, with wit. If you’re not the witty type, then flattery and self-deprecation are good substitutes. • Listen when engaged in serious negotiations. Then listen some more. You are in no hurry. Nobody ever got poor listening. Also, use silence as a weapon. Silences are disconcerting. People tend to fill silences with jabber, often weakening their bargaining position as they do so. • Choose a rogue element to your advantage and bring it into the negotiation at a late stage. You’ll be amazed at how often this tactic produces results. • The British created the largest geophysical empire in the world with one tactic: divide and rule. It always works. It never fails if you can get to exploit it. Get to know the other side. There may be slight differences in the individual approaches of their senior managers and, possibly, in their goals. Drive a wedge and keep hammering. • Permit no such weaknesses in your own camp. I have often banned senior executives from taking part in negotiations simply to avoid this trap. Better you are in there on your own, outgunned, outflanked and outmaneuvered, than to have two or three of you silently squabbling. • Everyone thinks they are a great negotiator, but most of us simply are not. If it’s your company, then, for better or worse, you are the final arbiter. That remains true whether you are a good negotiator or a bad one. • If you suspect you perform badly on such occasions, do not attend, even if you are the 100 percent owner. Get someone else to do it after setting out your response to every conceivable option that might arise. This tactic can be devastating to the other side, and Peter, Bob and I have used it on many occasions in the past. You have to trust your nominee completely, though. • Above all, establish where the balance of weakness lies in any serious negotiation. Most strengths are self-evident, especially strengths...
I may well have been only able to put a few hundred million dollars in the bank because I recognized that this getting rich malarkey is just a game.
To become rich you must be an owner. And you must try to own it all. You must strive with every fiber of your being, while recognizing the idiocy of your behavior, to own and retain control of as near to 100 percent of any company as you can. If that is not possible, in a public company, for example, then you must be prepared to make yourself hated by those around you who are also trying to be rich.
To become rich, every single percentage point of anything you own is crucial. It is worth fighting for, tooth and claw. It is worth suing for. It is worth shouting and banging on the table for. It is worth begging for and groveling for. It is worth lying and cheating for. In extremis, it is even worth negotiating for. Never, never, never, never hand over a single share of anything you have acquired or created if you can help it. Nothing. Not one share. To no one. No matter what the reason—unless you genuinely have to.
Ownership is not the most important thing. It is the only thing that counts.
Nothing counts but what you own in the race to get rich. If you haven’t much skill, or much wit, or much talent, or much luck, and yet you insist on owning more than your fair share of any start-up or acquisition, then you can become rich. If you take what you’re given, you will probably not get rich.
Because ownership isn’t the important thing. If you want to be rich, it’s the only thing.
Not everyone works to get rich. In fact, most people do not. But almost everyone wishes to be respected.
If you want to get rich, then learn to delegate. Don’t learn to pretend to delegate. Delegation is not only a powerful tool, it is the only way to maximize and truly incentivize your most precious asset—the people who work for you.
The financier John Paul Getty put it best half a century ago: The meek shall inherit the earth, but not the mineral rights. Exactly. Risk equals reward. “An honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay” is not risk-taking.
Competition isn’t some misty-eyed concept that should be confined to students of the “dismal science,” Economics. Competition is the heart, soul, liver, lungs and kidney of the beast we call Western capitalism. How you react to it, how you face up to it, defines whether you can stay rich, and probably whether you can get rich at all.
No intelligence-gathering exercise is ever entirely wasted in business. There is only so much pie. Talent bakes that pie.
What is it you are attempting to achieve here? You are trying to become rich. This must be the main focus of your business life. Becoming rich.
How to Get Rich: One of the World's Greatest Entrepreneurs Shares His Secrets
If you have entrepreneurial flair, then you can go into just about any business and make money.
If you wish to become rich, look carefully about you at the prevailing industries where wealth appears to be gravitating. Then go to where the money is! That is where you should focus your efforts.
There is no substitute for good timing. There is always luck involved, but it’s often the kind of luck you help make yourself.
You cannot get rich all on your own. No one can. You have to create, or work within, the right environment.
In the same way, it is almost impossible to build an individual fortune without colleagues, confederates and one or two professionals on board.
You will need others who believe in your idea or your talent to work with you and for you.
You just can’t do it on your own. You need to create an environment.
But why would clever, cunning and adept people work for a mug like you? Simple. There are many clever, cunning and adept people who are risk-averse. You are not risk-averse because you are dedicated to becoming rich.
Your employees, your colleagues, your suppliers and your customers are all human capital. Choosing among them is an art form. Yet creating the right environment in which money can be made is essential.
1. Never choose an important employee or a key supplier alone.
2. Go further than reading a person’s references.
3. Make notes. Speak little.
4. Good suppliers respect attention to detail.
5. Pay employees well. Bonus better.
6. Be alert for “crossovers.” Many times I have been interviewing someone for a job and realized that they are not suitable for the job in question. However, the candidate would be perfect in another position in my company.
7. Only hire winners.
8. Ignore your prejudices, likes and dislikes.
9. Promote from within when you can.
10. Don’t leave senior employees in any job too long.
Whatever it is you intend to do to get rich, get good at it. Hire people who are better than you at it. Listen and learn and get better still at it.
Why does it count? Why is it important to focus on doing an outstanding job? Firstly, talent will flock to your company. Talented employees mean you have more opportunities to make more money. Secondly, you will make fewer errors. The quality of your management will see to that. Thirdly, it places a premium on your assets and the worth of your business. That means you get richer faster. Fourthly, it’s simply more enjoyable—which means you will enjoy coming to work and will spend more time focusing on doing an even better job.
If there is any way at all you can play “pass the parcel” with a venture you believe is destined to fail and in which you are a principal, then do not hesitate. Pass the damn parcel and move on to the next opportunity.
Experience is only a name we give to our failures.
You have to cut loose to get rich. There isn’t any other way.
Now you must cut yourself loose from naysayers and negative influences:
Firstly, they fear that you are placing yourself in harm’s way—and, to them, that cannot be a good thing. Secondly, they fear that if you should succeed, you will expose their own timidity to the light of day.
You cannot spend your life assuaging the fear of failure (and success) that is the common lot of the risk-averse.
Now you must leave the safety of the ant colony and the hive. You are to become a loner, an outcast, cut off from the very thing that defines what many of us believe we are. But it cannot define you. Not anymore. You are a wild pig rooting for truffles. You are a weasel about to rip the throat out of a rabbit. You are an entrepreneur. You are going to be rich, and you don’t much care, within the law, how you are going to do it.
THE WORLD IS FULL OF MONEY. SOME OF IT HAS MY NAME ON IT. ALL I HAVE TO DO IS COLLECT IT.
You see, you have to choose a new mine where you suspect there is money, or an old mine with a different angle to get rich. The right mountain. A great new mine right now is in telecommunications, or the Internet, or legalized gambling. Property is always good. (You can start small in property and you can get lucky quickly. It’s a crowded market, though, for that very reason.)
Fear nothing. Another easy-to-say and impossible piece of advice. Tough luck, chum. Life’s a bitch and then you die. Get used to it. It isn’t going to change anytime soon.
If you want to be rich you must make a pact with yourself about fear of anything. You cannot banish fear, but you can face it down, stomp on it, crush it, bury it, padlock it into the deepest recesses of your heart and soul and leave it there to rot.
you will instantly perceive (among many other things) just how much money there is in the world and how pitifully easy it is to obtain it. Money that already has your name on it. All that is stopping you is fear. I do not know of what kind. It may even be fear of succeeding. But if you want to be rich, gentle reader, and if you can read these words, then all that is stopping you is fear of one kind or another. You have no one to blame but yourself. The world is full of gazelles with diamonds in their guts.
But I do know that you must make an accommodation with your fears if you are to succeed. At least, I know that to be true in my own case. As to how such a trick is to be accomplished, I cannot help you. We each, in turn, must face down our secret demons, if we can, whether we wish to be rich or not. To succeed in the game of piling up material wealth, it becomes a necessity. In the words of the wisest of men, William Shakespeare: “Present fears are less than horrible imaginings.”
You will never start unless you start NOW! That’s right. Right now. Even as your eyes scan this page, your brain should be plotting and planning ideas and possibilities, weaving a web to ensnare what you could achieve, if only you will cease this endless prevarication and commit yourself. Commit yourself heart and soul, mind. Heart and soul. No half measures or lukewarm approach is likely to succeed
There is a place for impetuosity and leaps of faith. A place for belief. That place is here. And the time is now. You must take your first steps on the long, lonely road to wealth by beginning now,
When opportunities come you must pounce. Whether you are just starting out or have been at it for a long while. If an opportunity should arrive just as you are taking your family on vacation, for example, do not weaken.
Need will drive you, but you must not prevaricate. You must act at the slightest hint of a chance to make money. You must go, go, go!
If you wish to get rich, there are no reasons why you should not get rich. None at all. For they are not “reasons”; they are excuses. For the most part they are pitiful alibis, half truths and self-serving evasions you have erected to spare yourself from the quiet terror of taking your own financial life in your hands and making your dreams concrete reality.
The only three valid reasons for not attempting to become rich are: “I do not wish to be rich.” Or, “I wish to be rich but I have other priorities.” Or, “I am too stupid to try to get rich.”
The Upside-Down Pyramid for Getting Rich
1. Commit or don’t commit. No half-measures.
2. Cut loose from all negative influences.
3. Choose the right mountain.
4. Fear nothing.
5. Start now.
• Keep giving it away. The faster you give it away, the more money will flow back to you. Not because of “karma” or “universal cosmic forces,” but because you then spend less time defending it and more time making more of it.
• Get your own private advisors. The professionals who help run your company must be first class.
• Never stop looking for talent and promoting talent. This single suggestion will keep anyone rich. Talent is all most companies consist of. Talented people are crucial to keeping your company humming right along and growing.
No deal is a total make-or-break deal. Not one. If you cannot get the terms you know make sense, then walk away.
Lead. Do not be led.
The Eight Secrets to Getting Rich
1. Analyze your need. Desire is insufficient. Compulsion is mandatory.
2. Cut loose from negative influences. Never give in. Stay the course.
3. Ignore “great ideas.” Concentrate on great execution.
4. Focus. Keep your eye on the ball marked “The Money is Here.”
5. Hire talent smarter than you. Delegate. Share the annual pie.
6. Ownership is the real “secret.” Hold on to every percentage point you can.
7. Sell before you need to, or when bored. Empty your mind when negotiating.
8. Fear nothing and no one. Get rich. Remember to give it all away.
In the words of John Gall, writing about “Systemantics” twenty years ago in The Whole Earth Catalogue: Systems tend to oppose their own proper function. Systems tend to malfunction just after their greatest triumph. [We all] have a strong tendency to apply a previously successful strategy to the new challenge. The army is now fully prepared to fight the last war.
How to Get Rich: One of the World's Greatest Entrepreneurs Shares His Secrets
“We all are learning, modifying, or destroying ideas all the time. Rapid destruction of your ideas when the time is right is one of the most valuable qualities you can acquire. You must force yourself to consider arguments on the other side.
— Charles T. Munger”
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