A Rich Man’s Greatest Secret

He’s rich, powerful, respected and proud of the fact that he has the same best friends since he was an early teenager.

Nothing was handed to him; he earned it all.

If you ask him, as I did in 2011, he’ll tell you his unusual success all comes down to consistent application of his “greatest secret to success”.

Think of it like a formula for gaining power and just about anything else you want in life.  This formula can work for you.  I’m sure of it.  It can turn you into a powerful, wealthy man if that’s what you want.

However, here’s the rub… You’ll probably reject it as too simplistic. Most people do.  You’ll see it as risky.  You’ll have to start giving a lot more of yourself and, odds are, you won’t want to do it.   You’ll think it’s unfair so you won’t really try.

Nevertheless – if you can get over yourself, apply and evolve the formula over time, you can have virtually anything you want.

Early in life, you probably discovered there are two ways to get what you want.   You can try to take what you want or you can find a way for the things you want to be given to you.  Of course, ‘taking’ can often be unethical so that’s not a long-term formula for success, which leaves us with convincing people/world to give us things.

How does one encourage the world to give its fruits?

It sounds a bit harsh when put this way, but it’s true: much of life is transactional.  We give when we get.  If I want something from the world, I know I have to earn it.   Whether it is love or a job or even a pleasant greeting from someone, you can have it all if you’re willing to give in advance.

As my friend put it,

“If you wanted people to do nice things for you and be a part of your life, you had to always keep the “friendship bank” in the black.”

A tactic to get what you want from others

‘Giving to Get’ is the first step in developing a value creation disposition and value creation is the secret to getting everything you ever wanted.  You can make great progress by developing the habit of always asking yourself, “how can I add value to this person/situation?”   It won’t come naturally.  It will require focus and training as you learn to set aside your desires so that you’re more objectively able to help another.

A Giving to Get approach can take you pretty far and most of the successful folks I know have mastered at least this step.  Giving to get is a tactic.  It’s manipulation and political maneuvering.  It is self-serving, first, which isn’t necessarily evil, but certainly can be.

Still, Giving to Get, or giving first and hoping for benefits later is the root of all successful relationships.   Give love if you want to receive love.  Give a kind word first if you’re hoping for one in return.  Give trust if you hope to be trusted.  Give your full faith and effort toward common cause if you want the same.

Giving to Get vs. Going to Bat

Giving works all the time, but most feel it’s risky so they hold back.   That’s precisely why the Give to Get crowd finds such greater success then average.   Being willing to take on the little bit of risk and give in advance moves Give to Getters up the ladder quickly.

Giving to get is effective and is why, unfortunately, most folks stop here, at step one, thinking they’ve reached the top.  Giving to Get produces results, but only in relatively tiny ways and in limited circles.  The truth is, Giving to Get is superficial.  It’s a start, but it’s the two dimensional version of value creation… productive in the short term and simply unwise in the long game.  [The “long game” is a topic for another day, but trust me, this is the game you want to be playing.]

So, what’s better than giving to get?

Try this for a change.   Try going to bat for someone.   Look to a friend or colleague who’s been struggling to beat back some demon or overcome an overwhelming obstacle… steel yourself and say to them, “don’t worry.  I got this one.”

I’m suggesting you do this without regard for any gain on your part.  I’m telling you to throw down for them.   Make their plight your own, not to be swept up in the drama of it, but to sweep it aside as a demonstration of your power and love for that other person.

In his words,

“It is truly amazing how learning to be generous, at all times, can change your life. As you know… it’s not an effort to “buy” people — that doesn’t work. It’s just an effort to let people know that you’re not ever going to “take” from them. And being with you — whether it’s dinner out on the town or working in your company — is always going to be over-the-top.”

Try it and see what happens.

How to create long lasting business partnerships

In the late 90’s a bright, ambitious financial writer managed to strike a deal with a successful publisher.  As part of the deal, this young writer received financial backing, mentorship and a stake in the new fledgling publishing company they created.  In exchange, he would be the driver of the business.  The partners would support him, but even at the start, everyone knew that success or failure rested most firmly on the shoulders of the writer-turned-entrepreneur.

More than a decade later both the partnership and the partners have flourished beyond anyone’s best hope. The partnership has become a 9 figure/year business and the undeniable leader in its industry.   There’s no way the business could have achieved such rare success if the partnership hadn’t been in a position to thrive along the way.

This profitable partnership shares the same qualities of other great partnerships I’ve witnessed, including:

1. Everyone understands ‘the deal’.   “I’m responsible for X, you’re responsible for Y and we’re going to share in the upside and downside 50/50 (or whatever).”

2. Everyone is an honest broker.  There can be no conflicts of interest.

3. There is genuine respect and admiration all around.    You might get into spats from time to time, but the shared interest and mutual respect ultimately win the day.

All this is pretty basic, but here’s the important part….

The business will evolve as will the lives and relationships of the partners.   Ultimately the evolution can make ‘the deal’ unfair for one or more of the partners.   Unfairness sows the seeds of the most destructive force in any relationship… resentment.   Resentment has the ability to take down your business in a way that no competitor or economic threat ever could.

“A deal is a deal” – is Bunk.

Relationships are not about contract enforcement.  They are about making sure that all parties have an environment where they can flourish individually and in pursuit of the shared goals.    As things evolve, “the deal” will need to evolve with it.

We’re not talking about the day to day workload or temporary shifts in contribution to shared goals.  Focusing on that type of ‘fairness’ is petty and deeply counterproductive.  We’re talking long term, fundamental changes that virtually ensure ‘the deal’ would be unfair as far into the future as one could imagine.

If you want a partnership to succeed over the long term, it’s up to you to always be mindful of the fairness for both you and your partners.

New World Entrepreneurship

Adding value is the key to success as an entrepreneur, but how quickly you can drive revenue for your new venture depends on how you view your business.   What’s most important?   What leverage points exist or can be built to quickly grow the business?

Nearly everyday I speak with an entrepreneur or aspiring entrepreneur about their business ideas.   One thing I often ask is, “What is the easiest way to make money with this idea?”   “How can you create revenue in 30 days or less?”

Granted, I view business from a pretty lazy perspective.   I seek leverage points and areas of Low Hanging Fruit to earn money and provide value very quickly.   I hate the idea that an entrepreneur is suppose to toil for years before turning a profit.   Maybe that’s the way it was at one time, but now… in the new world of Entrepreneurship this is totally unnecessary.

If, as an entrepreneur, you enter into a great business struggle you should know that you are doing it by choice, not by necessity.

So, in your business, what can you do to drive revenue within the next 30 days?

If nothing comes to mind then ask yourself what resources or assets you would need to be able to drive revenue within 30 days and focus with great intensity on creating that leverage point.

You tell me…What assets do you have (or might you create) in order to be able to produce revenue growth within 30 days?

Preparing for dramatic moments…

There’s going to to come a time when you, going about your day in your normal routine, are going to find yourself in the midst of a dramatic and perhaps defining moment.  It’ll come quickly and unexpectedly and how you respond in the crucial seconds depends on how you’ve prepared in advance.

Last night, my wife and I were having dinner in a popular area in Buenos Aires.   There were many people out enjoying the pleasant summer night.  It was nice and perfectly predictable…until it wasn’t….

I heard the sounds of the violence long before I saw what was going on. If you’ve never been part of or witness to a serious throw down fight, let me tell you that the thumping of fists on bodies is a unique sound.   When you hear it, you know what it is right away.

I looked first at my wife, then turned 45 degrees to face the scene.  About 30 feet from us we saw two men beating the living shit out of another man.   The victim had been sitting outside the cafe throughout dinner strumming on his guitar.   It was clear he was homeless and just trying to entertain to generate some money from the passing hordes of tourists.   When I noticed him earlier, I figured the homeless guy was either high on something or just plain crazy.   In any case, the guy certainly wasn’t aggressive or acting like a threat.

Two guys in there 20’s beating the shit out an older, crazy, homeless man.  It was a bad scene.

Within a few seconds I was in the middle of it.

What never ceases to amaze me is that we, as humans, have become watchers of events around us rather than participants.   After a min or two, I’d stopped everything and, frankly it didn’t take much.

When it was done… still on the ready, and fueled with a rush of adrenaline, I took a look at the scene around which the violence occurred.

The homeless man was bleeding from the mouth and nose, but standing (remarkably).  The two attackers were still talking shit, making stabbing motions but now retreating.   And around me stood dozens of watchers.   Dozens of capable men, mouths slightly agape…just watching.

Not one of them, man or women did anything (except my beautiful, ballsy wife who was yelling something in spanish I didn’t understand).   Would they have stood there and watched this homeless guy get beaten into a coma or killed?   Would they have watched if, as I tried to intervene, I was overwhelmed?

I think they would have.  Here’s why…

Our lives are so predictable, so normal and relatively easy that we don’t really worry about these moments even though they happen all the time.

I’m a strong believer that if you want to act a certain way in a particular situation, you need to think about it in advance.  You need to prepare yourself mentally before the moment comes, so when it’s upon you… when you are witness to an accident, or see a man roughing up a woman, or a child in a dangerous situation… you don’t stand around like everyone else.   You don’t just wait for the man with the uniform to show up and take care of it.

Instead, you act.

I decided long ago that I would act each and every time I found myself in these moments.   And I beg you… literally… I beg you too to decide to act when the moments come.

Beg you?  Yes, that’s right.  The world needs leaders like never before.  Real leaders, who in moments of need stand up while everyone else remains seated.

You are what you do when it counts.

As a Misc. item;  Many people have asked me about where I own property in argentina.    I actually own property in Cafayate argentina as well as Buenos Aires.

Being Bold in Rough Economy

The economy is in deep trouble.   It’s bad now, but this is just the beginning.   There will be fundamental changes in the global banking system, the use of credit and the value of currencies.   It’s going to be rough.

So what do you do?   Wait it out?

I think this is a time to be bold.   Not stupid or careless, but bold.

So, in keeping with my “Be Bold!” strategy I’m still spending money, investing and growing my business.   In fact, I’m working on buying a pretty expensive domain name for a project right now and I plan to launch two completely new businesses in the next two months.

One of my biggest sources of income is selling domain names.  [I'm not talking about ultra-premium names I've kept in my portfolio for years either.   I'm talking about buying and quickly reselling domains for ~$300 each.]    Anyhow…In September of 2008, it really appeared that this part of my business was on a serious decline.   I couldn’t help but only expect it to get worse.

But, As quickly as my domain sales went down, they came back.   Right now, January 2009 is looking like my second best month ever.   How much money did I make flipping domains this month?  It’s a big number, trust me.

So, if I’m selling domains, that means people are still buying.   The world (especially the world of entrepreneurs and small businesses) is made up of innovative people who will strive to survive the downturn.   But more than that, there are many that will “Be Bold!” and take advantage of opportunities and weakness in the marketplace.

Your task, if you want to thrive in this bad economy,  is to serve be Bold by serving the Bold.

Bubble Living Kills Opportunity

We all live in a bubble. Within our bubble there is familiarity which makes us feel comfortable and, at least in part, content. It’s important to note that men can get use to just about anything and, no matter how objectively unpleasant or objectively desirable your familiar surrounds might be, over time they become what we’re use to; what we’re comfortable with.

It might sound strange that someone living in an Mumbai slum could be as comfortable and content in his bubble as a power broker living in a penthouse in Manhattan, or as a single dad living in a suburb of Chicago. But, it is absolutely true. The psychological adaptability of the human mind is remarkable. The only critical requirement is consistent predictability.

I enjoy comforts as much as the next man, but recognize their place. One cannot flourish without at least regular expansion of the bubble.  And, to truly grow quickly it’s often best to burst your bubble completely.

A bubble of consistent predictability is a hospice for opportunity where she can do little else but wither and die.

Foreclosures continue to expand…

According to the website zillow.com 1/4 of all houses sold last quarter were sold for less than was paid. Not only are people dumping their real estate as fast as they can, foreclosures just continue to accelerate. It seems that the government bail out plan hasn’t had an immediate effect on the problem.

If you’re interested in taking a look as some of the many foreclosure listings you can access one of the top sites on the Internet for free foreclosure listings, including foreclosed homes in all 50 states, HUD foreclosures and Washington Mutual REO properties.