Being brilliant at business has little to do with IQ or education.
Richard Branson became a billionaire even though he is dyslexic and can’t read a financial spreadsheet.
A high-school educated circus clown created the most impressive show of our time—Cirque du Soleil.
Warren Buffett started getting rich as soon as he stopped investing the “Warren Buffett Way.”
Suze Orman built her personal wealth by ignoring her own advice of frugality.
Bill Gates got his start not because he’s a computer genius or an “outlier” but because he executed on a simple three-step business strategy that anyone can learn.
Steve Jobs stumbled into his greatest fortune by sheer accident – and then rewrote history so it looked like it had been his plan all along.
In his book Business Brilliant: Surprising Lessons from the Greatest Self-Made Business Icons, Lewis Schiff busts the commonly held myths around achieving success in business.
He takes a look at some of the most notable cases of successes and failures in the business world and backs it up with the extensive research over 12 years he calls the Business Brilliant survey that was conducted among self-made millionaires. He then compares the answers to those of the middle-class respondents and draws amazing comparisons between the beliefs of the two groups.
To sum it all up, he found 7 behaviors that explain the success of self-made millionaires:
- They are better at “following the money.” Self-made millionaires focus on those activities which are extremely valuable to others.
- They are better at asking for money. Self-made millionaires always ask for more even though they know that most of the time the answer will be ‘no.’
- They execute. Self-made millionaire know that doing something well is more important than doing something new.
- They cultivate their networks. Self-made millionaires know that friends or associates who can help them when it matters most can make a difference.
- They can walk away. When the deal isn’t right, self-made millionaires move on.
- They build teams. Self-made millionaires try to maximize their time by undertaking tasks where they add more value than others. In other cases, they try to delegate.
- They fail. Self-made millionaires know that failure is not a stigma, it’s a powerful learning tool to learn what you’re best at.
Lewis ends the book with a powerful call to action:
“Double down on what you do best. Press your advantage whenever and wherever you have the advantage. Work your network. Try and try again.
Above all: Ask. Ask for what you want. Ask even when it feels uncomfortable. Ask for more than what you need. Ask for what you’re afraid to ask for, and ask for it more than once. Ask until the word “no” loses its sting.
When you can laugh at “no” and look at each setback as a source of instruction, then you’ll know you’ve become one of the lucky people destined to become Business Brilliant.”
Thanks to Gus Iurillo (Career Transformation Expert/Business Ownership Coach, The Entrepreneur’s Source) for turning me on to this excellent book and for the additional notes that follow:
Business Brilliant – Lewis Schiff
Self-made millionaires are better suited to thrive in this new, freewheeling economy because they’re more comfortable dealing with risk. It’s not that they’re big risk takers; they’re just more proficient at controlling it
Seven in 10 middle class believe “Do what you love and the money will follow; only 2 in 10 millionaires believe the same. They believe “Do what you love, but follow the money”
-8 in 10 of them have a substantial ownership stake in their work vs. 1 in 10 middle class (despite fact that 6 in 10 middle class believe it’s important)
Many in middle class suffer from paycheck paralysis. They start out following the passion and get stuck dependent on the rewards and what others demand of them, to figure out what they truly want for themselves
9 in 10 self-made millionaires say it’s important in negotiations to exploit weaknesses of others; 2 in 10 middle class agree
-in salary negotiations, most people accept 1st offer, when employer was often willing to give more and respect person more for asking’
Middle class chooses conflict avoidance and being well regarded over earning more $
1 in 3 expect to be taken advantage of, in negotiation vs. 2 in 3 millionaires
If you never hear No in negotiations, you’re not trying hard enough
7 in 10 middle class believe “big or new idea” needed to become wealthy; only 3 in 10 millionaires agreed
People like a good innovation story, but the reality is that most new businesses aren’t based on innovation, but better execution
88% of Inc. 500 said business based on exceptional execution of an ordinary idea
9 in 10 millionaires said it was more important to do something well than something new
Companies typically aren’t born in garages; they’re born in other companies
Most franchise companies based on ordinary ideas, well executed, with ongoing improvements in execution developed by other franchisees
Kinko’s – voice message system that allowed store owners to broadcast ideas to colleagues all over country every day
9 in 10 middle class believe putting one’s own capital at risk is critical to success while less than 4 in 10 millionaires agree
Buffett’s rule: Invest in a way that limits your risk, so you won’t lose all your money if a deal goes south
6 in 10 millionaires think you need to get others to invest with you and 4 in 10 believe don’t risk any capital at all
Many small businesses fail because owners run out of capital just as they reach brink of success
Smart entrepreneurs look for deals where success will be rewarded but failure exacts minimal cost
One percent of households have investment in private business managed by someone outside household
Entrepreneurs take profits by brokering relationships between disparate groups who would ordinarily not find each other
Millionaires tend to have smaller, tighter networks than Middle Class
7 in 10 millionaires say it’s important to know motivations of my business associates, while only 2 in 10 middle class agree
Successful folks have more weak ties, where they are connectors or bridges between many networks, rather than deeply embedded in one (Book: Connected)
8 in 10 millionaires believe luck is important to their success vs. 4 in 10 for middle class. Middle class seems to favor Know-How over Know-Who (contributor to luck)
7 in 10 millionaires can walk away from a deal if it’s not just right vs. 2 in 10 middle class
Least interest principle – the party with the least to lose from a deal can insist that terms go their way
Most middle class don’t realize when they have upper hand or afraid to exploit least interest position, when they have it
When you project an air of indifference about whether deal succeeds or not, it make the other party envision what they might lose
Among the top self-made millionaires, fewer than 2 in 10 believe Win/Win is a winner
-what that really means is that they either seek out a true Win/Win or walk from the deal, rather than be so preoccupied with trying to make it work, that they get Win/Lose
-need to determine what you really want, what you’ll accept and what would make you walk away, before getting into negotiation
Having written goals correlates highly with success (you know what you want before you go out into the world or a negotiation)
-writing goals makes you feel more committed and less likely to change your mind later
You want to understand the other side’s interests, but not lose sight of your own; empathy can actually get in the way
More bad sales/deals are made based on the neediness of someone than any other single factor
Most people set goals that are too modest, fail to prepare and lack desire to succeed
It is hard for most people to set high goals because they fear the bad feelings they’ll have when they fall short, even by a little
97% of millionaires believe in business dealings, it’s not their responsibility to look out for other person’s interests vs. less than 25% for the middle class
9 in 10 self-made millionaires believe Machiavellianism is key to their success vs. 2 in 10 middle class
-not as affected as others by social norms and social pressures
9 in 10 self-made millionaires delegate tasks they’re not as good at to others while 2 in 3 middle class say they would do those tasks anyway
Companies headed by dyslexic owners grow 2x faster than those run by others
Fewer than 1 in 10 millionaires interested in trying the unfamiliar, rather they prefer to focus on what they’re already exceptionally good at
They spend their time avoiding their weaknesses so they can focus on their strengths, where fulfillment and profits are found
85% millionaires know what they’re good at that makes them money vs. half of middle class
7 in 10 say that setbacks and failures taught them what they’re good at vs. 2 in 10 middle class
-most of them have had at least 3 serious setbacks in their careers (if I fail more often than you, I win)
-middle class usually let one failure get them never to try again
They also trust others to do the work for them, but keep blame and responsibility for themselves
9 in 10 say they’re excited by what they do at work, 8 in 10 agree they find work stressful and not enjoyable (coaching opportunity)
80% of them say that early retirement is not one of their goals
9 in 10 say perseverance critical to success and 8 in 10 said failure was, too, vs. 2 in 10 middle class thinking failure was important
50% of middle class say serious setback cause them to give up and focus on other project while another 30% try again, but in a different field
8 in 10 millionaires try again and, in the same field, to leverage the insight from failure to get better at that particular endeavor
-you need to try things that are risk-prone and difficult because that’s where the money is
-there exists a winnowing process, where the tenacious become wealthy by struggling and getting to the top of their field
-success belongs to the rare people who focus, overcome the pain of failure and push through
-for most of the middle class, failure is so painful, they don’t want to hang around long enough to learn from it
-most people feel uncomfortable with even trivial levels of uncertainty, whereas wealthy realize uncertainty provides freedom to discover meaning
7 in 10 self-made millionaires say the most important change they make is within themselves; less than 2% try to change partner’s behaviors
1/3 of Inc. 500 CEOs started their business when they were fired from another company
Failure faith puts into perspective any fear you have because rejection is a form of failure that has no downside
-if you don’t accept this, you tend to hang back and look for low-risk, pain-free opportunities
70% of middle class acknowledge failure but only 20% know others who have failed (they don’t share it)
80% of millionaires have colleagues who have failed, because they surround themselves with like-minded colleagues who acknowledge failure
College graduates in alternative fields (history, biology, math) 2-3X likely to become entrepreneurs than B-school graduates
Same applies to people who change their jobs more frequently throughout their career
LEAP – Learning, Earning, Assistance and Persistence
- Write down your goals ( and include incremental/milestone goals along the way
- Commit to what you do Best (only 1/3 of employees say they do)
- Follow the Money (be where value creation and money exchanging hands takes place)-only 1 in 10 self-made millionaires go there working for others-Climb the line of money ladder-Premium pricing (hourly rate)-Project Pricing-Percentage pricing- Proprietor/equity pricing
- Run the numbers (cost to play, stay, how high is up, how hard the floor)
- Protect your personal bottom line (minimum reward/maximum risk to make it worthwhile)
- Press your advantage
- Plan the divorce in advance
- Keep your network small and focused
- Manage your network upward (look out for new members, cull the underperformers)
- Build a team (delegate things you don’t want to do/focus on your best)
- Get a Coach
- Make friends with Failure
- Keep your changes to Yourself (take personal responsibility for everything)
- Don’t procrastinate
- 15) Make your own Luck