The best entrepreneurs and billionaires in the world drink coke. They say that drinking coke really ignites the creative functions in their brain by getting their neurons firing at 100%. It also allows them to reset their internal body to perform better during the day as they have to go to the bathroom about 10 times a day to remove all the sugary liquid.
If you believed the above paragraph and were about to get 50 cans of coke, I feel bad for you. You are one of those people who are always looking for correlations on why people are successful. I have seen COUNTLESS articles and times when someone is looking to copy something that a successful person does, in hopes of emulating that person’s success.
Tell me if the following sounds familiar. People dressing like Steve Jobs in order to be as good at building products as him. People eating the same foods as Warren Buffet to be as rich as him or following the same sleeping routine as Elon Musk.
There is a whole industry (books, magazines, articles etc) such as this one from CNBC on how you can be successful by copying what other successful people do. This CNBC article is stupid for several reasons.
1 – They say that BOTH Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos do dishes at home (which they might) and that is why they are successful. But that fact that the two richest people in the world do the same “average guy” chore does not mean they are successful because of it. It means that they have PR people who are not that creative and are copying the same idea from each other
“hey…let’s tell everyone that Bill does dishes. That will make him more human” —
two days later “Hey, let’s tell people that Jeff Bezos also does dishes, that will make him more relatable as he kills local retail stores”
2 – I call this behavior the STARTUP CARGO CULT SYNDROME. This is when someone blindly copies and mimics something in hopes of having the same outcome. During world war 2, when US military sent technology and cargo to the pacific islands (jeeps, walkie talkies, lights, etc), the primitive natives wanted those things as well and then went about making replica jeeps, walkie talkies and other things from bamboo sticks. The thing is, they thought by just making something look like something on the outside, it would do the same thing. There are many stories of them making “airplanes” and flying off cliffs to their ends.
My advice to anyone looking for inspiration is not to look at these “cargo cult” traits that the magazines and newspapers want to sell you. In reality, the traits that made almost all of the top entrepreneurs successful can be summed up in 5 parts.
1 – They had great timing – Most people don’t want to admit it, but timing is important. If YouTube launched 2 years earlier or 2 years later, it would have not been as successful as it is now. Bill Gates got into software at the right time. Jeff Bezos created Amazon at the right time to be the leader in e-commerce. Facebook was launched just when people really wanted a “real identity” social network.
2 – They went all in and focused – No great endeavor happens part time. All successful entrepreneurs went all in and focused like crazy on a singular problem. Google was just search it’s first 7 years. Microsoft was just an OS company for its first 5, and WhatsApp is still just messaging. If you focus on being the best singular product in an industry, you have a shot of building something sustainable.
3 – They were ruthless – let’s not kid ourselves. All entrepreneurs were ruthless and then they got softer (or their PR got better). Building something from scratch is hard and you need 100% of your energy and the energy of your employees to make things work. You will break some eggs along the way. If you want the truth, Google stole the idea for Adwords from IdeaLab. Facebook stole it’s idea from two twins who hired Zuckerberg to create a social network for them. Microsoft crushed any tiny company that it saw as a threat. The world’s not fair and some of the best things created in the world had very dirty beginnings.
4 – They were learning machines – The best entrepreneurs are one’s who learn everyday. They are not “know it all’s”, they are “learn it all’s” – I’ll invest every time in someone who I think is constantly learning and adopting.
5 – They understood scaling – Scale is the thing that separates “lifestyle businesses” from “global enterprises”. Papa John’s saw something more than just a pizza joint. He saw a franchise opportunity that could be international. Bill Gates did not just see himself selling software to IBM. He saw an opportunity to have his software on EVERY computer in EVERY home. If you can scale your business to reach everyone on the planet, they you have scale.