To understand this book it is crucial that we make a distinction between academic intelligence and practical intelligence. Ellsberg argues that once a person has obtained the basic logical, analytical, and academic skills, developing additional academic intelligence will have virtually no impact on your life success. Developing your practical intelligence instead will have far more impact on the quality and success of your life.
We currently live in a world of Digital Marxism, in which inexpensive computers, wireless handheld devices, and ubiquitous low‐cost connections to a global communications network take the overhand. As a result, workers can now ‘own’ the means of production. More and more of these self‐ employed, small‐business owners and ‘micropreneurs’ are realizing that for them, formal educational credentials are irrelevant to the new economic reality they are working in.
Academic education is still necessary to learn how to do great work. It allows you to expand your mind, sharpen your critical thinking skills, get exposed to new ideas and perspectives, and revel in the intellectual and cultural legacy of the world’s greatest thinkers. However, most education that ends up earning you money is actually self‐education in practical intelligence and skills.
This book is a guide for developing these practical success skills in the real world. Therefore, Ellsberg interviewed a bunch of successful people a.k.a. millionaires, often without a college degree.
SUCCESS SKILL 1:
“How to make your work meaningful and your meaning work?”
People face a serious dilemma:
Either we follow our passions and purpose and live a meaningful life OR we follow a safe, predictable and boring life. Either we choose the path of heroism OR we choose the path of safety.
Looks obvious, doesn’t it?
In fact, both paths contain risks.
The risk of the former or following our passions is the risk that we might end up entirely broke, lonely and back into our parents’ basement. The risk of the latter or not following our passions is the risk of ending up full of regret in our lives; the risk of spending your entire life not doing what you want to do on the bet that you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.
Randy, a multi‐millionaire, argues that the idea of ‘keeping your options open’ is an illusion. That’s because people think they can’t lose if they’re not making any decision. The reality is that they are making a decision all the time, i.e. the decision to not follow a path that might lead to their ultimate fulfillment.
Now, is there a way to combine the relative safety and security that our parents and society advocate WITH the passion, meaning, creativity and freedom that we all dream about?
Yes, there is.
It’s called the “Art of Earning a Living”. It is the art of creating a career path that both provides a high likelihood of financial security AND allows you to pursue your dreams and make a difference in the world. This art requires a great deal of self‐inquiry into what, exactly, the difference you want to make is, and also a lot of creative, entrepreneurial problem‐solving to figure out how you could make decent money while making that difference.
There are 4 steps to put the ‘Art of Earning a Living’ to work – or to align your money and your meaning.
STEP 1: Get on your feet financially
Get financially stable. Get a square job, a corporate job, a temporary job, a boring nine‐to‐ five, whatever. Give up your ‘art’, ‘purpose’ or ‘meaning’ for a little and learn what it means to be financially stable.
STEP 2: Create more room for experimentation
Having gained financial stability makes it a lot easier to take some measured risks in your life: now free up some time and space for some experiments in leadership, innovation, making a difference, and finding meaning. If you’re still working a job, try to create some flexibility in your workday (through flexitime, working at home, telecommuting, etc.)
STEP 3: With the new space in your workday, begin experimenting!
- Experiment with taking some risks toward making a difference within your organization, workplace or industry.
- If you’re working in an organization, keep seeking out opportunities to exercise more leadership, keep looking for ways to stick your neck out, to take risks, to innovate, to make a difference, in the name of taking your organization to the next level.
- Also start experimenting with other potential sources of meaning, passion and purpose outside of work. Explore your passions.
STEP 4: Striking out on your own (for those who want to become self‐employed)
What if your current industry, company, or organization doesn’t reflect your deepest sense of purpose and meaning?
- Start experimenting with things that might one day become both a source of meaning and a source of serious income for you outside of your current job. How?Start a small business, do some self‐study to prepare for a different career, etc.Without failing, there is no learning. A lot of people see the idea of starting a business as an incredibly risky affair. They visualize themselves as “would‐be entrepreneurs” living homeless on the street after their ventures failed. This view on entrepreneurialism is – of course ‐ highly exaggerated.
- In fact, most successful people didn’t take “bigger” risks, they developed a style of working that allows them to take lots of small bets – bet after bet after bet after bet – making sure they don’t get wiped out of the game if one of them went south. Successful people are characterized by resilience: they’ve got that edge were they are prepared to take chances and fail and eventually pick themselves back up. They are always ready to pick themselves up, adjust course, and try something else when they fail. That is the essence of learning. No failure = no learning.
To avoid these ‘horror‐story’ scenarios described above to reach for your dreams is to start a service business.
Overhead and start‐up costs are low, you don’t need to borrow a lot (or any) to get started and you can begin generating revenue immediately. Even if the business doesn’t work out, the consequences of failure are limited. You’re probably not going to end up on the street.
Summarized: try something new, but small and low‐risk. See how it works. Keep it if it works well, and don’t be afraid to turn on a dime if it doesn’t work. It all involves intentionally exposing yourself to lots of small, survivable failures, so that you can get feedback from the real world, adjusting course as quickly as possible to avoid investing time and money down a dead‐end path.
SUCCESS SKILL 2:
“How to find great mentors and teachers, connect with powerful and influential people and build a world-class network?”
Let us begin this chapter with a quote of motivational author Jim Rohn : “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
This means – on a bigger picture ‐ that you are the reflection of the twenty or thirty people who give you the best advice. Underlying message: if you want to be successful in your life, find and surround yourself with great people who you can learn from.
It’s all about giving. If you want to recruit powerful mentors and teachers to your team, the secret is giving. Giving. Giving. Support them. Figure out how you can help them, and do it. Be the water beneath them, and push them up. Be enterprising about it – figure out ways to give and support them that will blow their mind. And do all this with zero expectation of getting anything in return. Trust in the fact that if you’re of service to them, they will be of service back. Give, do not take.
Connection capital. Successful people spend an inordinate amount of time, effort, and money investing in the growth and maintenance of their connection capital. Connection capital is anything that helps you to expand your network of connections. There are 2 big forms of connections capital:
- Your already existing connections: the bigger your existing network, the bigger it becomes. The more connections you have, the more you make still. Reason? The more people you have in your network, the more they connect you to other people, and the more people who want to join it.
- Your ability to give good advice: There are 2 main questions that you can use at parties, conferences, and events in order to give valuable advice and grow your network:
- “What’s most exciting for you right now in your life/business?”
- “What’s challenging for you in your life/business right now?”
Asking these 2 questions will allow you to use your insights, resources, or connections that could help them in the area of whatever they answer. Sometimes, just an ear to listen, an empathetic understanding, or a dose of common‐sense guidance is a massive gift you can give.
Several areas where you can give valuable advice to – and therefore greatly serve – people who are more successful than you, include:
- Marketing and Sales
- Food, weight, and nutrition
- Spirituality, purpose, and meaning
- Hobbies, passions and interests
Your self‐study and learning in these areas is key. If you become well‐rounded in these areas of marketing and sales, health and nutrition, spirituality and personal philosophy, and interesting hobbies and passions, you will almost always have something to help people with.
Remember: as you give more, and serve more, you’ll eventually attract the right teachers in all these areas, who will help you learn more.
So what kinds of value can you give then? You can give time and elbow grease (manual labour); this is what most twenty somethings give, for low pay and low appreciation. You just follow the orders, supplying labour for someone’s else brilliant plan. That’s a dead end.
More meaningful is giving connections. Once you’ve got a great network in place, that’s a highly time‐leveraged form of giving. These connections can be life‐changing for people. If someone is having trouble with their business, their relationship, or their health and you can give them a juicy suggestion that sets them on the right course and changes their life, you’ve just provided massive value in the space of a suggestion.
Create a ‘contributor’ mind‐set with which you focus on providing valuable, high‐impact, high‐ leverage advice and leadership in the main areas of concern we’ve seen above: money and business, sales and marketing, spirituality and purpose and health and relationships. These are the areas people tend to “want things” in, since these areas are near and dear to people’s deepest desires, fears, worries and dreams. If you learn how to help them get what they want in these areas, you can connect with anyone you want. Ellsberg argues that the more you adopt this giving mind‐set in your personal relationships and your network, the more people want to be around you and connect to your network. Even stronger: the more they want to hire you as well!
SUCCESS SKILL 3:
“What every successful person needs to know about marketing and how to teach yourself”
Most of us have a negative connotation for ‘marketing’.
The reason for this, is that we perceive marketers as people who want to sell stuff, and they try to push it on us by all kinds of communication ‐as if by force‐ .
However, this is really not the essence of marketing. Marketing has to do with the concept of the product or service itself, and how well it is designed to meet needs or solve the problems of a specific target market.
Good marketing always starts with a problem that you can solve for a customer. Good marketing is NOT something you do after you create the product (the fact that most marketing is done this way is why so many people hate the word ‘marketing’). Good marketing is something you should think about before a product or service is created. This means thinking about, anticipating , and meeting the needs of a market in an original, effective and compelling way. Then and only then will the market be glad to hear about your offering.
The key to making money is to cause someone to joyfully give you money in exchange for something that they perceive to be of greater value than the money they gave you. The key here is ‘joyfully’ and therefore not tricking people or pushing them to buy your product.
To be able to do this, you need to get inside the heads of your prospects, figure out what matters most to them in their lives, and talk to them about that, not about what you want to sell them. Good marketing speaks to the prospect about their deepest emotional realities, their innermost desires, and about helping them achieve what they want in those realms.
Thus, the best marketing is all about human connection, on a genuine level. Talk with your prospects about what is most important to them; they will listen and they will trust what you have to say. As a help, you can make a list of your prospects’ biggest fears, frustrations, desires, dreams, and nightmares around the issue your product or service helps them with. List 25 answers for each of these categories.
There are 2 kinds of marketing:
- Brand marketing: traditional aim of painting a pretty ‘picture’ in your mind of the product or service, or giving you a warm, fuzzy feeling when you think about it in the hope you’ll buy it once you’re in the store.
- Direct‐response marketing: aimed at causing a specific and immediate response to occur – whether it’s joining your newsletter, purchasing your product or making a donation.
Good marketing is the art of spreading your gifts as widely as possible in the world. The world needs your gift now. It can’t wait for you to keep it to yourself. The way for you to get your gift out into the world is to learn marketing, that is, learn the art of talking with people about their deepest needs and desires, and about why what you’re offering might help them meet those needs and desires.
TIP: *Must see about marketing*
SUCCESS SKILL 4:
“What every successful person needs to know about sales and how to teach yourself”
Sales is persuasive communication. It can be relevant anytime you are talking with someone and you want a specific outcome to arise from the conversation. No single skill you could possibly learn correlates more directly with real‐world success than learning sales.
Ellsberg further talks about the myth of higher education, which states that if you just get better at your craft, you get better at what you do and will be more successful as a result. The fact is that the skill of the craft is independent from the skill of success.
That’s because success is its own skill. You can learn the skill of success while you also learn your craft. But don’t get fooled into thinking you only need to get good at your craft and you’ll be financially set or successful right away.
That’s the lie of higher education.
So what is the skill of success? It contains of 3 parts:
1) Skill of Marketing: If you can get people who don’t know about you, or your service or your company, to become aware of you, then you’re successful in marketing.
2) Skill of Sales: Sales is the ability to take someone who knows about you, but who has never given you money, and turn them into someone who knows about you AND who is also giving you money, if what you’re offering is a good match for them. That’s it.
3) Skill of Leadership: Leaderships refers to the ability to change the hearts and minds of people. It has nothing to do with controlling people. It’s more about influencing and inspiring them to do what is best to do.
When you wrap these skills of success around your craft, you can become wildly successful at whatever it is you do !
Now let’s dive deeper into sales. What the hell works in sales?
If you want to figure this out, read “SPIN selling” by Neil Rackham. Basically, everything you thought sales was about, including the scripts, pressure, pitching, gimmicky ‘closing’ techniques, sleazy guilt tripping, truth stretching – in other words, all the stuff that makes you want to run away when you hear the word “sales” – doesn’t actually work.
What works than? Well, it’s simple. While we normally think of salespeople as fast‐ talking slicksters, it turns out that the more the prospect talks – about their problems, their fears and frustrations, their desires and needs concerning your product or service, the more likely they will want to do business with you.
Effective sales isn’t about spewing off a slick pitch. It’s about asking a lot of questions. The right questions. And then listening.
But what are the right questions?
Any question that gets the prospect deeply connected with their frustrations, fears, and desires around the problem that your product or service addresses. And once you inquired thoroughly with your prospect about what’s going on at that core emotional level, if it turns out that what you’re offering honestly and effectively addresses that, then great – you’re a match, and it’s likely you’ll do business together. And if not, then you refer them to someone who can help them with that (see success skill 2!).
At NO point would you ever try to manipulate or pressure someone into buying something that is not a great match for their deepest desires and needs.
Sales essentially is nothing more than an honest conversation between two authentic human beings.
*MUST-READ BOOKS ON SALES*
‐ Rich dad, Poor dad: what the rich teach their kids about money – That the Poor and Middle class do not! By Robert Kiyosaki
‐ Tribes: we need you to lead us by Seth Godin
‐ SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham
‐ Think and Grow rich by Napoleon Hill
‐ The richest man in Babylon by George Clason
SUCCESS SKILL 5:
“How to invest for success?”
The central concept is this chapter is bootstrapping.
In the world of business, it is a strategy that involves getting to the point of profitability as quickly as possible – even if the profits are small – and then continually reinvesting these profits to fuel growth.
It is derived from the sentence : “pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps”. The essence of bootstrapping is keeping expenses low, generating income right away (even if it’s just a little bit) and continually reinvesting as much of that income into expanding your future income. Unfortunately, most American people do the opposite of bootstrapping: it’s high‐expenditure, high‐debt up front now, and revenue (if at all) much later.
You can also bootstrap your own education and success. Therefore, Ellsberg advises to continually make small, incremental investments (time + money) in our human capital and earning power.
For example, buy some books on marketing and sales; take workshops or online training programs. We should also invest in our network of connections and mentors by going to conferences, expos, trade shows, meet‐ups, etc. related to our fields or success skills. When these investments pay off, use these increased earnings of these investments to make more investments in your earning power and human capital. It’s a snowball effect.
Your own human capital is the only great thing you can fully rely on. It’s your greatest investment, and if you are savvy about investing in it – as most successful people do – it will never let you down and it will keep providing value and cash for the rest of your life.
The value of bootstrapping, saving and building up capital – whether it’s financial or human capital – is that it keeps on giving, year after year, without being depleted. It will keep paying dividends for the rest of your life.
That’s why reading is also very important. Winners read. Voracious reading is a common quality of successful people .
SUCCESS SKILL 6:
“Build the brand of you”
There is a lot written about the word “brand”.
Ellsberg makes it really, really simple: Your brand is what people think about when they hear your name.
Your brand is one of your biggest assets. It is far more valuable than your resume. Great brand, no resume: no problem. Great resume, no brand: welcome to position #347 of the herd of five hundred equally great resumes.
People go to college in large part because it builds up a resume; They sometimes even spend years and years adding to that resume. But they spend zero time building up their brand, their reputation. That’s a huge mistake, and a huge misallocation of time, money and attention. Most great, world‐class jobs don’t get filled by people e‐mailing in resumes.
Creating and cultivating your own personal brand is a much more powerful way to become successful than adding to your resume all the time. Therefore, you have to do stuff in the real world. And then make sure there’s a Google trail (or Linkedin or Facebook or Twitter or any kind of online trail) to what you’ve been doing.
Create stuff. Market stuff. Sell stuff. Lead stuff. Make sure it’s good stuff, and make sure potential employers or clients know about that stuff. It does not matter what industry you are in, there is a community of those people on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. Network with those people. You than become known in that community and it becomes easier to get a job or acquire clients. Build an online presence.
The essence of building your own brand is people having heard of you – and having a positive impression – before you’ve even met them.
If you can create that effect, doors will open for you. Therefore it is important to always build up branding around your own name. Make sure you get YourName.com. Make sure you have your own home for your own brand on the Internet, which serves as the meeting place for blogging, You Tube, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Build up your online brand around you as a person, not around a concept, a company or a niche. People care much more about other people than they do about companies or keyword‐laden URLs.
So the main career advice is simply:
Build up your presence as much as possible on new platforms, media, and communities as they arise. Investing in your personal brand is one of the most important things you can do, because it will open doors for you that simply wouldn’t open otherwise.
SUCCESS SKILL 7:
“Know the difference between the employee and entrepreneur mindset”
Focus on contribution
Focus on entitlement
Focus on outcome
Focus on output
Do what is needed
Do what is requested
Work yourself out of a job (“promotion‐oriented”)
Work to protect your job (“prevention‐oriented”)
Go toward big decisions
Turn away from small decisions
See circumstances as illusory and temporary
See circumstances as fixed and permanent
Focusing your life on contribution means paying great attention to what you can contribute to any given person or situation you care about, banishing all sense of being entitled to or ‘deserving’ an outcome. It’s the give, give, give philosophy.
Business author and mentor Dan Sullivan summarized this idea perfectly with the following quote:
“There are two decisions you need to come to in order to be free and more effective. First is that you are not entitled to anything in the world, until you create value (read: contribute) for another human being first. Second, you are 100 % responsible for producing results. No one else. If you adopt those two views, you will go far.”
Successful people deeply engaged in the inquiry about what outcomes they specifically wanted to create in their lives and then relentlessly engaged in only the activities directly related to producing those outcomes in their lives. They cut out all extraneous crap not relevant to that outcome.
Instead, people with an employee mind‐set feel satisfied if they just work harder and harder and harder – in school, at a workplace, in a business– without paying much attention to whether all that effort is directly producing the outcomes they want. Output is not equal to outcome.
Successful people always look for and take care of what’s needed in a situation, rather than what’s requested by a boss, teammates, clients. Therefore, they’re always be the first ones to be promoted, to win new business, and the last ones to be laid off. Sadly, our education system is essentially one long series of contrived classroom situations in which the purpose is to do what has been requested by an authority figure. This is the opposite of how success occurs in the real world. To be successful, we need to train ourselves out of the habit – drummed into us from a young age at school – of simply responding to requests of authority figures.
Go towards big decisions, even without authority. Successful people didn’t wait around for someone to tell them to be successful. They didn’t wait around for someone to tell them they could make big decisions in their lives, and have a big impact. They just did it.
Instead, people with an employee mind‐set don’t want to be the one responsible for bad decisions, so they avoid them. It’s part of protecting their job. That’s the reason these people don’t make a real impact on the world, because they fail to make real decisions.
Lastly, successful people look at the world and see malleability, elasticity and flexibility. They are always looking how they can bend currently accepted “reality” toward the reality they would prefer.
Instead, those with the employee mind‐set see a world full of protocols, rules, regulations, fixed hierarchies and established orders. They bow their head down and “stick to the program”, hoping that if they just do what they’re told and what’s expected of them, it will turn out all right, just as Mom or Dad or Teacher or Boss said it would. Most people don’t even realize that they have options beyond what society tells them to do.
So… What script would YOU write if you were the author of your own experience rather than the passive follower of society’s program?