Good fortune? The fact is
The more that you practice,
The harder you sweat,
The luckier you get.
Ideas? We've had 'em
Since Eve deceived Adam,
But take it from me
Execution's the key.
The money? Just pester
A likely investor.
To get what you need
You toady to greed.
The talent? Go sign it.
But first, wine and dine it.
It's tedious work
With a talented jerk.
Good timing? To win it
You gotta be in it.
Just never be late
To quit or cut bait.
Expansion? It's vanity!
Profit is sanity.
To walk on two legs.
The first step? Just do it
And bluff your way through it.
Remember to duck!
and Good Luck!
The books tells about how Felix Dennis got rich without a college education or capital.
Just how quickly can I become rich?
"Quicker than you probably deserve, but slower than you would like — there are too many variables for a definitive answer."
"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." — H. L. Mencken
"You can get it if you really want..." — Jimmy Cliff
You can get rich, but only if you really want to. And only if "you try... try and try... and try again...".
Felix got rich by making errors, lots of them. And learning from them.
Felix believes that the key is confidence and an unshakable belief that it can be done — and that you're the one who will do it.
Also, tunnel vision helps. Being an ass helps. Thick skin helps. Stamina is crucial, and the capacity to work really, really hard. Luck helps too — "but only if you don't seek it".
Execution is a thousand times more important than a "great idea". "If you want to get rich, don't sit around waiting for inspiration to strike. Just get busy getting rich".
Taking the next quote from one of his poems...
How does one become your ilk? Is it bred in mother's milk? Many paths can lead to riches Few in sunlight, most in ditches.
When asked how rich you want to be, the usual answer is "rich enough to be happy". But "riches do not confer happiness".
Riches do not bring happiness.
Part One — Reasons Not To Get Rich
"If you truly believe that your race, sex, or upbringing can keep you from becoming rich, then you had best give up here."
"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."
"Anyone not busy learning is busy dying"
"Curiosity has led many a man and women into the valley of serious wealth"
A Million to One
If you're in poor health, it's hard to muster the stamina to become rich.
"If you can afford it, always get someone else to do the grunt work"
"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."
Part Two - Getting Started
Harnessing the Fear of Failure
Fear is like an 800-pound gorilla.
"Once begun — the job's half done" because the first steps are always the hardest.
"No matter how much faculty of idle seeing a man has, the step from knowing to doing is rarely taken" — Ralph Waldo Emerson
There's a lot of reasons not to do something. And people will gladly remind you.
Two components of fear: letting yourself or others down, and exposure of your failure to the world.
So what if you fail. It doesn't matter. Don't care what others think.
You have to grow a mental armor if you want to be rich. Not so think that you can't hear criticism and advice (especially from those you trust), and not so thick that you cut yourself off from friends and family either.
But thick enough that you don't hear the mockery of your failures. And envy of your successes.
If you want to be rich, you have to
- Be willing to fail (publicly and or catastrophically, even)
- Don't care what others think
- Bear the thought of causing worry to close ones because you go your own way, rather than get a regular job
- Work more than anyone you know
- Know that you are good enough
- Treat your quest to get rich as a game
- Face up to the fear of failure
Getting rich is means sacrifice — but it's not always you that's making it.
See your fear of failure as something that can be tamed. If you can't, you'll remain poor.
"If you shy away for any reason whatever, then the way is blocked. The gate is shut — and will remain shut. You will never get started. You will never get rich."
"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy; the change 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
Most people did not pick their careers. They either stumbled into it or were pushed into it.
But we can choose - if we are determined enough.
A regular paycheck and crack cocaine have attraction and addictive-ness in common. Working too long for others can blunt your desire to take risks. And that's an important point; "the ability to live with and embrace risk is what sets apart the financial winners and losers in the world."
If you want to become rich, you are not looking for a career. Unless it's used as a launchpad or a way to get your foot in the door. It's a means to an end.
"If you want to be rich, working a damn sight harder than the punk next to you is the only sensible option".
Don't buy into this 'team spirit'. You're not "one of the boys" nor are you "in this thing together". That mentality makes other people rich, not you.
You don't have to work in a 'glamorous' industry. People get rich doing the 'dirty' jobs too.
"Too many people want to make a blockbuster movie and live in Beverly Hills. Not enough people want to dig holes".
New or quickly growing industries bring more opportunities to get rich than established ones. Three reasons:
- Availability of risk capital
- Power of a rising tide
Investors are drawn to those industries hoping to make easy money. If you want to make money, you'll want to be where they're throwing that money around.
Because of the ignorance (people not understanding the new industry), you can become a 'quick expert'. Investors love experts.
Capitalism does not reward the ones who got the idea. Nor the ones who did the work. It rewards whoever took the most financial risk. Those who own the most stock.
You need capital, but you also need to keep as much ownership (stock) as you can. You want to keep ownership — even if it's 51/49.
How do you find the sector in which you'll get rich? Three factors:
- Judge this by trial and error. Analyze what your aptitudes are and act upon them.
- Determination is needed. And a willingness to discard any perceptions you have of yourself.
- "Luck is preparation multiplied by opportunity" — Seneca
- "The harder I practiced, the luckier I got" — Gary Player
- "Luck is a dividend of sweat" — Ray Kroc
"An understanding and passionate affinity with any subject, in combination with effective management, sales, and marketing techniques, could well provide a tailor-made solution to the Search".
Those who become wealthy made their own luck. They never stopped searching.
The Fallacy of the Great Idea
Great ideas are good. But they won't make you rich alone. It's how they're implemented that counts.
It doesn't matter who had an idea. You can't patent an idea — only your own method for implementing it. That's why people can become rich without ever having a great idea.
It's important to be able to emulate ideas. You can still implement the idea, even if you didn't have it. You should be prepared to emulate great ideas. You take what works for your competition and learn from what doesn't.
The original is not always the greatest.
"Nobody really cares if an idea is 'right', except the person who came up with it".
Be careful of trying to prove your idea right, rather than making money. That can waste your time.
"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."
Six ways to obtain it
- Steal - don't ever steal. It's not worth it.
- Win - gambling is no way to become rich. And playing the lottery is foolish.
- Earn - this is a long term game plan. But if you can demonstrate the ability to earn early on, people are more likely to borrow you money.
- Borrow - this usually becomes a necessity sooner or later.
The book will only discuss the latter two (earning and borrowing).
Avoid sharks. "Better to labor as a wage slave than as a beast of burden to a loan shark".
It's hard to borrow 'a little money'. Felix wanted to borrow $20 million but was offered $100. But only if they could get themselves in for "a piece of the action".
And that's what they do. VCs are a way to raise capital, but they'll want equity. And then they'll want your business to be sold (insisting on a date for this) — either back to yourself, or to someone else.
They want this because their funds come from rich people who want high returns in a short period of time. So the VCs will join your board and will do anything to maximize short-term returns.
Nevertheless, you might still need them. So you'll need some degree of success to exhibit to them. And "you will need to be somewhat humble — except in your financial projections".
VCs aren't bad or evil. They're usually smart and great. But their "first loyalty is to the quick buck".
If you are offered VC funds, seek legal advice for the negotiations.
It is much easier to deal with money coming from "Friends, acquaintances, relatives, business colleagues, small investors, friendly bank managers, professional advisors, ex-employers, suppliers, and vendors" (to name a few).
Obtaining capital to start your venture can be the worst part of your venture. But everyone has to do it. There's no avoiding it.
Never Give In
The journey might suck. But never give in. Don't take "no" for an answer. Never give up.
"If you want to be rich, then you must walk a narrow, lonely road to get the capital to make it so."
Everyone will tell you to stop. To give in. And if you're merely a wannabe, then these asks will prevail. But if not, you don't give in. And you'll be rich.
The Five Most Common Start-Up Errors
Mistaking desire for compulsion
"All error springs from flawed assumptions".
"Wishing for or desiring something is futile without an inner compulsion to achieve it"
Overoptimism Concerning Cash Flow
If you run out of cash and therefore lose control of your business, you'll become a minority investor or salaried employee rather than owner.
All businesses require positive cash flow if they want to grow and succeed.
You should be monitoring and forecasting cash flow.
How to improve cash flow (in the early days of your start-up):
- Keep payroll to a minimum
- "Never sign long-term rent agreements or take upmarket office space"
- Don't buy expensive furniture — unless needed (example: designer furniture store)
- Don't buy a business meal if the other side offers to
- "Pay yourself just enough to eat."
- "Do not be shy to call customers who owe you money personally"
- "In a city, walk everywhere you can."
- "Check all staff travel and entertainment claims"
- "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."
- Don't give staff company credit cards, cell phones, or cars
- Don't leave things on overnight if they don't need to be on
- "Get used to groveling"
- Suppliers want your business. Make them compete for it.
"If something fails, stop doing it and start doing something else"
But when do we know that we have a failure on our hands? "Too late, is the answer—always too late."
Thinking Small and Acting Big
"Thinking big. That’s the secret."
"But the corollary of thinking big is to act small. Just because you have a success or two under your belt doesn’t mean you have it made."
“Success is never permanent; failure is never fatal. The only thing that really counts is to never, never, never give up.” — Winston Churchill
Stay 'in touch'. Stay flexible. Examine how your company could do better. Be humble.
Think big. Act small.
Skimping on Talent
You need to be able to identify, hire, and nurture talent.
When you come across real talent, it might be worth it to let them choose their own labor. Let them take responsibility and control for a new venture.
Talent doesn't always just want money. Sometimes it's the opportunity to prove themselves. Or the chance to run the show.
You can't get rich without talent. Maybe it's your own talent, but more likely it's the talent of others.
Remember these rules regarding talent: "identify it, hire it, nurture it, reward it, protect it. And, when the times comes, fire it."
Part Three - Getting Rich
These are the cardinal virtues of getting rich.
"I do not believe anyone can be 'improved' by buying and reading a book. They can only be 'improved,' if that is the word, by their own actions."
"'Never give in' is a useful catchphrase. But don’t take it too literally. We must all surrender at some time, to love or desire or death. You will be forced into the last of these, and a fool if you never surrender to the first. But never give in easily. If you can, attempt one step farther along the road than appears sensible before giving in."
"Do not be afraid to change tack, alter course or make new plans with whatever you are attempting to achieve. Especially if you sense that you are on the wrong track." "Above all, avoid banging your head against the same piece of wall. The wall will not get any softer. And don’t give up—if you want to be rich."
"If you will not believe in yourself, then why should anyone else?"+
"Without self-belief nothing can be accomplished. With it, nothing is impossible."
Doubt and fear are useful tools but don't be ruled by them. Incorporate them into your thinking — use them.
"Write down your doubts and fears. Examine them. Hold them up to the light. Suck the wisdom out of them and discard their husks in the trash."
Trust Your Instincts
"You develop it over the years. You certainly aren’t born with it."
"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. You can only do it by becoming a predator, by waiting patiently, by remaining alert and constantly sniffing the air and by bringing massive, murderous force to bear upon your prey when you pounce."
Make More Baskets: Diversify!
No matter how good your idea is, it can (and will) fail. So you have to prepare for that.
"I began to make more baskets the minute the first had a few eggs in it."
Sometimes you have to 'strangle your own baby' to grow. It's quite common. Felix gives the example: if you have a monthly magazine, and then you launch a weekly in the same category, then that'll weaken the sales of your monthly. But you should still launch the weekly, because if you don't, your rivals will.
"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"
How many baskets? As many as makes sense. Best to keep them related to your core business.
But diversifying is not recommended during the start-up phase. During the start-up phase, you concentrate on that one thing (as if your life depended on it). But once it's working and marking money, start looking for more opportunities.
"The biggest basket I ever built wasn’t my first or second. It was my twentieth. But if I hadn’t built the second, I would never have reached the twentieth."
Listen and Learn
"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."
"But the courtesy of listening is not an excuse for inaction. Unfortunately, this is often the very use to which it is put. How virtuous we all feel listening, taking notes, interjecting our own two-penny-worth and promising to consider the matter and get back to whoever has come to visit. 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."
"you do not owe your employee a single cent for bringing his or her idea forward. That’s especially true if your money, or your company’s money, was used to test and develop the idea."
But if someone in your company brings you a great idea that worked well, you should reward that person. And thank the person publicly.
A Few Words About Luck
Don't quickly go from one thing to the next.
It's a mistake to think too much before acting (see analysis paralysis).
You have to be willing to delegate. You can't do everything yourself. Not everything has to be 110% perfect from the start.
- Prepare for luck — don't seek it.
- Make your own luck (work for it).
- Don't whine or call yourself 'unlucky'.
- Be bold & be brave.
- Stay the course (the grass isn't always greener on the other side).
- Be a hero to yourself (don't whine, be brave). If you can't, fake it until you become it.
- Just do it — easier to apologize than getting permission.
- Don't take the quest for wealth seriously — it's just a game.
The Art of Negotiating
"The fortress that parleys is already half taken." — Russian proverb
Negotiating out of fear is not negotiating. It's surrendering.
- Most of us are bad negotiators
- Most negotiations are unnecessary
- The other side is usually as smart as you are
- The balance of weakness almost always decides the issue
- If Greed vs. Need, the former wins
You aren't trying to become a successful manager — you're trying to become rich. But you might have to masquerade as one (for a short time). When you can, hire a replacement and abandon the role.
If you need a loan, it's better to 'not need it'. Then people will be all over you to loan you money.
A Few Tips on Negotiating
- Not many of us are good at it — this includes your 'opponent'.
- Set limit conditions from which you won't deviate.
- Most negotiations are unnecessary.
- Do your homework.
- The devil is in the details — get professional help. But don't surrender control to them. You're living with the consequences, they aren't.
- If your advisors are going somewhere you don't want to go, call a timeout and tell them. Tell them that if they continue, you'll get new advisors. There's plenty.
- Don't fall in love with a deal. There'll be more.
- Avoid auctions.
- Understand that real winners and real losers emerge from serious negotiations.
- You don't have to leave passion and emotion out of the negotiation room. Wit is good.
- Listen closely.
- Always have a trick up your sleeve — and save it for later in the process.
- Divide and conquer (the other side).
- Don't allow them to divide and conquer your side.
- Establish where the balance of weakness lies. Strengths are usually self-evident. Weaknesses are usually hidden. Reveal them.
- Always fulfill the bargain.
"If you would work [negotiate with] any man, you must either know his nature and fashions, and so lead him; or his ends, and so persuade him; or his weakness or disadvantages, and so awe him; or those that have an interest in him, and so govern him. In dealing with cunning persons, we must ever consider their ends to interpret their speeches; and it is good to say little to them, and that which they least look for. In all negotiations of difficulty, a man may not look to sow and reap at once; but must prepare business, and so ripen it by degrees." — Francis Bacon
Ownership! Ownership! Ownership!
Getting rich is just a game.
To become rich, you must be an owner. You must try to own it all. Own as near to 100% of your company as you can.
Every single percentage point is absolutely crucial.
"If you take what you're given, you will probably not become rich."
"In a partnership, the making of money comes first. Friendship and affection comes later."
Establish yourself before seeking partners.
The Joys of Delegation
"Work is of two kinds; first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth's surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so. The first is unpleasant and ill paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid." — Bertrand Russell, "In Praise of Idleness"
"The exercise of delegation (...) allows you to bring out the best in others and to make yourself rich in the process"
Delegate whenever it makes sense to do so.
Hire people smarter than you. People that work hard and love what they do. People who ask intelligent questions and don't waste time gossiping. People who listen and correct their errors — and don't repeat them. People who want your job.
Delegation and promotion are among your most powerful weapons.
Don't delegate to replicas of yourself. You have your strengths and weaknesses — let people in who can compliment that.
Working hard and doing too much yourself is a bad approach. You want to delegate as much as you can. Ease up your own schedule for things that you can't delegate.
Learning to delegate wisely is a matter of trial and error.
When you see someone doing great work, tell them.
A Piece of the Pie
Risk = reward.
Employees get salaries and bonuses. Nothing more. They take no risks. You do. They will get none of the pie.
"Your aim, as an owner, is simple: it is to improve management efficiency, productivity and frugality, and thereby improve future profits while still encouraging growth."
Twenty-one Ways to Make More Pie
- Make annual bonuses generous.
- "Ring fence" investments cost from "ongoing" business.
- Keep costs down.
- Never delegate bonus arrangements.
- At senior level, insist on collective responsibility for bonuses.
- Praise excellent work.
- Fire malingerers, incompetents, toads and glory hounds mercilessly.
- Turn a cold eye on company "perks".
- Avoid all "jollies".
- Offer legal perks that you have paid for yourself to employees.
- Set an example.
- Encourage senior managers to go over annual results with you one-on-one.
- Back up your managers.
- Search out and promote talent.
- Interview your rivals' talent.
- Discourage secrecy.
- Save a little bit of pie for suppliers.
- Never bad-mouth rivals.
- Sell early.
- Enjoy the business of making money.
- Never miss an opportunity to promote your asset.
The Power of Focus
You're trying to become rich — nothing else.
Go to where the wealth appears to be gravitating to. That's where the money is. Focus on that.
Not many fortunes are made in mature industries. (instead, go for computer software, technology, and such).
Timing is important.
You can't get rich on your own. You have to create (or work within) the right environment. Hire intelligent people.
Focus Tips When Choosing "Human Capital"
- Never choose an important employee or a key supplier alone.
- Go further than reading a person's references.
- Make notes. Speak little.
- Good suppliers respect attention to detail.
- Pay employees well. Bonus better.
- Be alert for "crossovers" (they are better for another job in your company than the one you are interviewing them for)
- Only hire winners
- Ignore your prejudices, likes, and dislikes.
- Promote from within when you can.
- Don't leave senior employees in any job too long.
Focus on Doing an Outstanding Job
"Ownership Shall Be Half of the Law;
Doing an Outstanding Job Shall Be the Other Half."
No point in owning 100% of a rubbish company.
Whatever you're trying to get rich by doing, get good at it.
Hire people who are better than you at it.
Listen and learn and get better still.
Part For: Troubleshooting and Endgame
When you encounter failure, figure out what went wrong and learn from it.
You can't know if something will fail.
But you'll know earlier than others when it's your business. So what do you do?
- How much time is left? What's your burn rate?
- What would have made you money? Can it make someone else money? Does it have uses that you haven't considered? If viewed in another light, can it do make money? Can it be something else? Would more capital help?
Even if it is worthless, try to sell it.
If everything fails, you might have to declare bankruptcy.
In that case, play it straight with your suppliers. Be honest. Do your best to see that the little people get paid, as well.
Screwing up isn't illegal, but covering up is.
Closing a business or going bankrupt sucks. But don't make it worse by not apologizing or bearing the responsibility that you ought to.
Don't do anything illegal. Seriously. Declare anything that the company buys 'for you'.
Don't try to cheat with taxes.
When you never do something wrong, you won't have to waste time covering up and wondering if you will be found out.
Hire competent tax advisors as soon as you begin making money over and above your salary.
If you want to say rich, pay your taxes, and don't 'milk the cow' without reporting it.
A Recap for Idlers
The Quest for Wealth: A Health Warning
This chapter is very hard to summarize, but it's very important.
Becoming rich is not what you think it is.
Time is finite. Realize that you are richer than anyone older than you.
If you are young: Break loose from your parents and family home. It's possible to get rich there, but unlikely.
Cut yourself loose from naysayers and negative influences. They'll try to drag you down. These people can even be those closest to you. It's not that they don't care — they do so in their own way — but their fears rule their concern. They're afraid that you're placing yourself in harm's way. And they're afraid that, should you succeed, you'll expose their own timidity.
Don't despise them. Calm them. or hide from them what you are about. If you can't do that, ignore then and move on. You can't spend your life in fear of failure (and success).
Getting rich comes from an attitude of mind. It's not going to happen if things keep going as they are now.
Cut loose from working for other people.
You can't be defined by your job. You want to become rich — and it won't matter how (as long as it's legal).
Choose the Right Mountain
Tell yourself this, repeatedly:
The world is full of money, some of it has my name on it. All I have to do is collect it.
Look for the mountain that is already making a lot of other people rich. That's a good bet.
Ideas are ten a penny.
A few good 'mines': telecommunications, Internet, legalized gambling, and property.
Don't do something because you feel you have to. Do what attracts you. Do what exploits your talents.
Life is a bitch. Get used to it. Fear nothing.
All that is stopping you is fear.
Go! Go! Go!
Time is ticking. Go. Start.
There are always reasons not to do something. But if you want to get rich, there are no reasons why you shouldn't. Your reasons are imagined — not real.
The Upside-Down Pyramid for Getting Rich
- "Commit or don't commit. No half-measures."
- "Cut loose from all negative influences."
- "Choose the right mountain."
- "Fear nothing."
- "Start now."
How to Stay Rich
- "Keep giving your money away — the faster you do so, the more will come back. Spend less time defending and more time making."
- "As soon as you've spent it, gifted it, loaned it, or invested it, forget it."
- "Never loan it to friends. If you do so, you'll lose a friend as well as your money."
- "Get "first flush" barminess out of your system as fast as possible. If you get rich, you're going to go a little crazy with it. Get that over phase as fast as possible."
- "Your oldest friends are your only friends."
- "Get used to being "cut off"."
- "Avoid developing "plate-glass" vision."
- "Develop a passion outside of making money. Fast."
- "Get your own private advisors."
- "Watch out for fraud in the early days."
- "Do not try to be friends with your staff."
- "Do not sleep with your staff."
- "Choose personal aides with enormous care."
- "Don't abuse it."
- "Be safe."
- "Never stop looking for talent and promoting talent."
- "No deal is a "must-do" deal."
- "Lead. Do not be led."
- "Stay as healthy as you can."
- "If you're bored with a business, sell it."
- "Try to sell before you have to."
- "Retirement will kill you."
- "Remember that you are only richer than them. Not smarter than them."
"Believe in your own bullshit and grow steadily poorer, or listen to the people you employ and get richer and richer".
The Eight Secrets to Getting Rich
- "Analyze your need. Desire is insufficient. Compulsion is mandatory."
- "Cut loose from negative influences. Never give in. Stay the course."
- "Ignore 'great ideas'. Concentrate on great execution."
- "Focus. Keep your eye on the ball market 'The Money is Here'"
- "Hire talent smarter than you. Delegate. Share the annual pie."
- "Ownership is the read 'secret'. Hold on to every percentage point you can."
- "Sell before you need to, or when bored. Empty your mind when negotiating."
- "Fear nothing and no one. Get rich. Remember to give it all away."