Saturday, November 05, 2011

Volume 3 Issue 45: Intelligent Investing

Everyone Wants To Be A Billionaire

"I wanna be a billionaire so fucking bad" - Bruno Mars
After the so-called success stories of infamous college dropouts like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and more recently, Mark Zuckerberg, a myriad of teeny-techies rushed to Silicon Valley to create names for themselves. The trend is still very much on-going, but it has spread beyond just the IT industry. More and more start-ups with brilliant ideas keep popping up. Just the other day, I posted a little story on Dropbox and how it became the Internet's hottest start-up.

The success stories of these "supposedly" normal people are very misleading. I mean, Steve Jobs was adopted, and lived a life full of bumpy roads before guiding Apple to be the biggest tech company in the world. So normal is hardly an understatement. But what is truly understated is the failure rate of start-ups. Every young adult dreams of owning his/her own company some day. It is sad to say, not all of them will succeed. Starting up a company is easy enough. Keeping it alive for more than three years, not so much.

Here is what Zuckerberg thinks about his startup, Facebook:
Zuck revealed a number of fascinating things about entrepreneurship, founding Facebook, and product development, but one of the more interesting (and surprising points) came at the end of the interview when Livingston asked him what he would do different if he could go back in time. Zuck replied: If I were starting now I would do things very differently. I didn’t know anything. In Silicon Valley, you get this feeling that you have to be out here. But it’s not the only place to be. If I were starting now, I would have stayed in Boston. [Silicon Valley] is a little short-term focused and that bothers me.
As I have said time and again. Having long term goals are not only essential, but is necessary. He added:
“There’s this culture in the Valley of starting a company before they know what they want to do. You decided you want to start a company, but you don’t know what you are passionate about yet…you need to do stuff you are passionate about. The companies that work are the ones that people really care about and have a vision for the world so do something you like.”
This mantra simply cannot be repeated enough. Steve Jobs has said it before, and now Mark Zuckerberg repeated it. Here is what Bob Parsons, founder of has to say about his 16 rules of success:

1. Get and stay out of your comfort zone.
I believe that not much happens of any significance when we're in our comfort zone.  
I hear people say, "But I'm concerned about security."  My response to that is simple: "Security is for cadavers." 
2. Never give up.
Almost nothing works the first time it's attempted.  Just because what you're doing does not seem to be working, doesn't mean it won't work. 
It just means that it might not work the way you're doing it.  If it was easy, everyone would be doing it, and you wouldn't have an opportunity. 
3. When you're ready to quit, you're closer than you think.
There's an old Chinese saying that I just love, and I believe it is so true.  It goes like this: "The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed." 
4. With regard to whatever worries you, not only accept the worst thing that could happen, but make it a point to quantify what the worst thing could be.
Very seldom will the worst consequence be anywhere near as bad as a cloud of "undefined consequences."  
My father would tell me early on, when I was struggling and losing my shirt trying to get Parsons Technology going, "Well, Robert, if it doesn't work, they can't eat you." 
5. Focus on what you want to have happen.
Remember that old saying, "As you think, so shall you be."
6. Take things a day at a time.
No matter how difficult your situation is, you can get through it if you don't look too far into the future, and focus on the present moment.  
You can get through anything one day at a time. 
7. Always be moving forward.
Never stop investing.  Never stop improving.  Never stop doing something new.  The moment you stop improving your organization, it starts to die.  
Make it your goal to be better each and every day, in some small way.  Remember the Japanese concept of Kaizen.  Small daily improvements eventually result in huge advantages. 
8. Be quick to decide.
Remember what General George S. Patton said: "A good plan violently executed today is far and away better than a perfect plan tomorrow." 
9. Measure everything of significance.
I swear this is true.  Anything that is measured and watched, improves. 
10. Anything that is not managed will deteriorate.
If you want to uncover problems you don't know about, take a few moments and look closely at the areas you haven't examined for a while.  
I guarantee you problems will be there. 
11. Pay attention to your competitors, but pay more attention to what you're doing. 
When you look at your competitors, remember that everything looks perfect at a distance. 
Even the planet Earth, if you get far enough into space, looks like a peaceful place. 
12. Never let anybody push you around. 
In our society, with our laws and even playing field, you have just as much right to what you're doing as anyone else, provided that what you're doing is legal. 
13. Never expect life to be fair. 
Life isn't fair. You make your own breaks. You'll be doing good if the only meaning fair has to you, is something that you pay when you get on a bus (i.e., fare). 
14. Solve your own problems. 
You'll find that by coming up with your own solutions, you'll develop a competitive edge.  
Masura Ibuka, the co-founder of SONY, said it best: "You never succeed in technology, business, or anything by following the others."  
There's also an old Asian saying that I remind myself of frequently.  It goes like this: "A wise man keeps his own counsel." 
15. Don't take yourself too seriously. 
Lighten up.  Often, at least half of what we accomplish is due to luck. None of us are in control as much as we like to think we are. 
16. There's always a reason to smile. 
Find it.  After all, you're really lucky just to be alive.  Life is short.  
More and more, I agree with my little brother. He always reminds me: "We're not here for a long time, we're here for a good time!"
And finally, here is Zuckerberg again:
“The biggest risk is not taking any risk…In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”
Anyone up for a start-up?

HT: Business Insider, TechCrunch