Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos Drink 10 Cokes A Day, And So Should You!

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.

 

 

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Rhino’s vs. Unicorn’s

I hate unicorn startups.  Most of them are complete fakes.  Take Fab.com, a typical unicorn startup that had great hype and marketing, but never a real business model and when one thing goes wrong, it collapses like a house of cards.

A typical unicorn startup has the following properties.

1 – A lot of hype and is great to look at.  Looks almost unreal.  The founders look and act like the next Steve Jobs (remember Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes).

2 – A ton of money behind it from flashy VCs who look and act like rainbows.

3 – A unicorn startup, like a unicorn, will collapse and need to be put down if the tiniest thing goes wrong, like a sprained ankle.

Unicorn startups are weak, fake, and built on hype.  A few of them include Theranos, FAB, One Kings Lane, and Outcome Health.

In the case of Outcome Health, it was such a sparkling unicorn that it fooled even Google Ventures, Goldman Sachs and some of the top VCs in the industry.  Everyone wanted it to be a unicorn and they fell in love with the founder story.  Even politicians like Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren and the mayor of Chicago visited Outcome Health and were spellbound by the company.  Yet, in the end, it was all fake.  A complete sham.

If you are an aspiring VC, please note that if you see these traits in a startup, run the other way – a lot of hype, flashy founders with no substance, a lot of money behind them, a product that is hard to explain / mysterious.  These type of companies almost always break an ankle easily and need to be put down.

 

Now, a Rhino startup is what you want to invest in.

1 – Rhino startups are tough as hell.  They don’t budge and if challenged, they get more into the fight.  This is the trait I want in the founders of a Rhino startup.  I love founders who are real and genuine.  They know who they are and don’t pretend to be someone else.  I remember living in Silicon Valley when Facebook became hot and seeing all these wanna-be founders walking around with a hoodie and acting like Mark Zuckerberg.  Stay away from those founders.  They are fake, flashy, and weak.  They crumble at the first sign of trouble.

I only invest in founders who know who they are and don’t pretend to be anything else.  They may be rough around the edges, they may be difficult to work with, and they might not fit in the mold of a “typical founder”, but I know I am getting the real thing.  I want founders who are tough, not afraid of a good fight and will not let go of something until they succeed.   You can shoot a Rhino 20 times and they will still keep coming at you.   Rhino’s don’t quit and that’s what I want to invest in.  What I don’t want to invest in is a founder who like a unicorn, at the slightest sign of trouble, they crumble and run the other way.

2 – Rhino startups are hard to move and hard to stop because of their size and speed (yes, they run over 30 mph).  I like startups that can build an unstoppable momentum behind them.  A great startup will generate marketshare fast and make it impossible for someone else to stop them.  Think of the network effect of Facebook, Microsoft and eBay.  Or think of the utility value created by Google, WhatsApp, and Uber.  All of these companies created such scale and momentum that they are hard to stop.  In fact, these companies generate such a momentum that even company mistakes can be overcome.  Think about all the mistakes Uber management has made and how most other startups would have crumbled.  Yet, because Uber is such a good product with such scale, they can survive.

3 – They have a killer single horn.  Their product is so good and so focused that it’s next to impossible for another company to catch them.  Google did nothing but search for 6 years, Microsoft was just an OS for 7 years, and Facebook is still “only” a social network.  Most Rhino startups are really really good at one thing and make a lot of money from it.  I love companies that have a category killer product.  Something so good and powerful, that’s its 100x better than the competition.  A Rhino’s horn is a killer feature / product of the Rhino.  I expect each startup I invest in to have something similar.  In comparison, a unicorn’s horn is weak and fragile.  It won’t do you much good in a fight.  Most unicorn startups have horns like these.  They don’t work in the real world.  Remember the startup called Color.  It had all the makings of a unicorn startup and the tell tale sign was that they had a product no one wanted to use.

You will never go wrong investing in a Rhino.

 

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