Hustling

Given a choice of two options, if you grab both, you are a hustler.

There are some medieval Indian folktales about a witty character called Tenali Rama. The story goes that as a kid, a goddess appeared before him, holding a cup of milk in each hand. She offered him a choice: the milk of wealth or the milk of intelligence.

Tenali grabbed and drank both before the goddess could react.

Now that’s hustling.

Read Career Advice: How do I become a hustler? on Quora

How to make decisions quicker

You can make life-changing decisions on the flip of a coin. I know, because I did.

If a decision is a difficult one, you need to work out WHY it’s difficult. Are the two alternatives genuinely different, or is the decision difficult because whichever option you choose, the outcome will be roughly the same?

Example: it took me ages to choose where to go to university. Like, months. I wanted to go to a university somewhere in the north of England, a big red-brick university that was good academically but also in a big city with a good nightlife and plenty of students. There are a fair few unis that fit the bill.

I narrowed it down to two places – Leeds and Manchester – and agonised endlessly over the two.

Then I realised: both of these places tick all the boxes They both have everything I want from a university. Whichever one I pick, I’ll probably be pretty happy. And if I’m not, it’s not like it’s an irreversable choice.

Still, how to pick between the two? That was easy. Flip a coin, pick one, and then go and get on with your life.

A short lesson on investing from Warren Buffett

Below is an excerpt from Warren Buffett’s annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, which is an excellent read as ever. I’m posting this here essentially as a reminder to myself – there are so many different lessons in here, e.g. rationally analyzing a situation, making your decision based on the long-term and not getting distracted by short-term noise, making sure you have resources to take advantage of opportunities when they arise, cultivating a network that can bring these opportunities to you and help you maximize it, etc. Here’s Warren Buffett for you.

Let me tell you about two small non-stock investments that I made long ago. Though neither changed my net worth by much, they are instructive.

This tale begins in Nebraska. From 1973 to 1981, the Midwest experienced an explosion in farm prices, caused by a widespread belief that runaway inflation was coming and fueled by the lending policies of small rural banks. Then the bubble burst, bringing price declines of 50% or more that devastated both leveraged farmers and their lenders. Five times as many Iowa and Nebraska banks failed in that bubble’s aftermath than in our recent Great Recession.

In 1986, I purchased a 400-acre farm, located 50 miles north of Omaha, from the FDIC. It cost me $280,000, considerably less than what a failed bank had lent against the farm a few years earlier. I knew nothing about operating a farm. But I have a son who loves farming and I learned from him both how many bushels of corn and soybeans the farm would produce and what the operating expenses would be. From these estimates, I calculated the normalized return from the farm to then be about 10%. I also thought it was likely that productivity would improve over time and that crop prices would move higher as well. Both expectations proved out.

I needed no unusual knowledge or intelligence to conclude that the investment had no downside and potentially had substantial upside. There would, of course, be the occasional bad crop and prices would sometimes disappoint. But so what? There would be some unusually good years as well, and I would never be under any pressure to sell the property. Now, 28 years later, the farm has tripled its earnings and is worth five times or more what I paid. I still know nothing about farming and recently made just my second visit to the farm.

In 1993, I made another small investment. Larry Silverstein, Salomon’s landlord when I was the company’s CEO, told me about a New York property adjacent to NYU that the Resolution Trust Corp. was selling. Again, a bubble had popped – this one involving commercial real estate – and the RTC had been created to dispose of the assets of failing savings institutions whose optimistic lending practices had fueled the folly.

Here, too, the analysis was simple. As had been the case with the farm, the unleveraged current yield from the property was about 10%. But the property had been undermanaged by the RTC, and its income would increase when several vacant stores were leased. Even more important, the largest tenant – who occupied around 20% of the project’s space – was paying rent of about $5 per foot, whereas other tenants averaged $70. The expiration of this bargain lease in nine years was certain to provide a major boost to earnings. The property’s location was also superb: NYU wasn’t going anywhere.

I joined a small group, including Larry and my friend Fred Rose, that purchased the parcel. Fred was an experienced, high-grade real estate investor who, with his family, would manage the property. And manage it they did. As old leases expired, earnings tripled. Annual distributions now exceed 30% of our original equity investment. Moreover, our original mortgage was refinanced in 1996 and again in 1999, moves that allowed several special distributions totalling more than 150% of what we had invested. I’ve yet to view the property.

Income from both the farm and the NYU real estate will probably increase in the decades to come. Thoguh the gains won’t be dramatic, the two investments will be solid and satisfactory holdings for my lifetime and, subsequently, for my children and grandchildren.

I tell these tales to illustrate certain fundamentals of investing:

  • You don’t need to be an expert in order to achieve satisfactory investment returns. But if you aren’t, you must recognize your limitations and follow a course certain to work reasonably well. Keep things simple and don’t swing for the fences. When promised quick profits, respond with a quick “no”.
  • Focus on the future productivity of the asset you are considering. If you don’t feel comfortable making a rough estimate of the asset’s future earnings, just forget it and move on. No one has the ability to evaluate every investment possibility. But omniscience isn’t necessary; you only need to understand the actions you undertake.
  • If you instead focus on the prospective price change of a contemplated purchase, you are speculating. There is nothing improper about that. I know, however, that I am unable to speculate successfully, and I am skeptical of those who claim sustained success at doing so. Half of all coin-flippers will win their first toss; none of those winners has an expectation of profit if he continues to play the game. And the fact that a given asset has appreciated in the recent past is never a reason to buy it.
  • With my two small investments, I thought only of what the properties would produce and cared not at all about their daily valuations. Games are won by players who focus on the playing field – not by those whose eyes are glued to the scoreboard. If you can enjoy Saturdays and Sundays without looking at stock prices, give it a try on weekdays.
  • Forming macro opinions or listening to the macro or market predictions of others is a waste of time. Indeed, it is dangerous because it may blur your vision of the facts that are truly important. (When I hear TV commentators glibly opine on what the market will do next, I am reminded of Mickey Mantle’s scathing comment: “You don’t know how easy this game is until you get into that broadcasting booth.”)
  • My two purchases were made in 1986 and 1993. What the economy, interest rates, or the stock market might do in the years immediately following – 1987 and 1994 – was of no importance to me in making those investments. I can’t remember what the headlines or pundits were saying at the time. Whatever the chatter, corn would keep growing in Nebraska and students would flock to NYU.

There is one major difference between my two small investments and an investment in stocks. Stocks provide you minute-to-minute valuations for your holdings whereas I have yet to see a quotation for either my farm or the New York real estate.

It should be an enormous advantage for investors in stocks to have those wildly fluctuating valuations placed on their holdings – and for some investors, it is. After all, if a moody fellow with a farm bordering my property yelled out a price every day to me at which he would either buy my farm or sell me his – and those prices varied widely over short periods of time depending on is mental state – how in the world could I be other than benefited by his erratic behavior? If his daily shout-out was ridiculously low, and I had some spare cash, I would buy his farm. If the number he yelled was absurdly high, I could either sell to him or just go on farming.

Owners of stocks, however, too often let the capricious and often irrational behavior of their fellow owners cause them to behave irrationally as well. Because there is so much chatter about markets, the economy, interest rates, price behavior of stocks, etc., some investors believe it is important to listen to pundits – and, worse yet, important to consider acting upon their comments.

Those people who can sit quietly for decades when they own a farm or apartment house too often become frenetic when they are exposed to a stream of stock quotations and accompanying commentators delivering an implied message of “Don’t just sit there, do something.” For these investors, liquidity is transformed from the unqualified benefit it should be to a curse.

A “flash crash” or some other extreme market fluctuation can’t hurt an investor any more than an erratic and mouthy neighbor can hurt my farm investment. Indeed, tumbling markets can be helpful to the true investor if he has cash available when prices get far out of line with values. A climate of fear is your friend when investing’ a euphoric world is your enemy.

During the extraordinary financial panic that occurred late in 2008, I never gave a thought to selling my farm or New York real estate, even though a severe recession was clearly brewing. And, if I had owned 100% of a solid business with good long-term prospects, it would have been foolish for me to even consider dumping it. So why would I have sold my stocks that were small participations in wonderful businesses? True, any one of them might eventually disappoint, but as a group they were certain to do well. Could anyone really believe the earth was going to swallow up the incredible productive assets and unlimited human ingenuity existing in America?

To make something great, start by creating something crap

I read a story just now about iterative learning, the danger of perfection and how to get better by failing:

The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.

His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pound of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot”albeit a perfect one”to get an “A”.

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work”and learning from their mistakes”the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

 

That’s from a book called Art & Fear, which I’ve just added to my wish list.

Why I’m a big fan of Genghis Khan

I was channel-surfing last night when I came across a show about Genghis Khan. I immediately stopped channel-surfing and sat engrossed for 10 minutes or so. My girlfriend walked in and asked what I was watching.

“It’s a show about Genghis Khan. He’s so awesome.”

“Why? Didn’t he just kill and rape a bunch of people?”

Always eager for a chance to prove my girlfriend wrong, I ran upstairs, grabbed my copy of Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford, and turned to a passage I’d highlighted in the introduction.

In American terms, the accomplishment of Genghis Khan might be understood if the United States, instead of being created by a group of educated merchants or wealthy planters, had been founded by one of its illiterate slaves, who, by the sheer force of personality, charisma, and determination, liberated America from foreign rule, united the people, created an alphabet, wrote the constitution, established universal religious freedom, invented a new system of warfare, marched an army from Canada to Brazil, and opened roads of commerce in a free-trade zone that stretched across the continents. On every level and from any perspective, the scale and scope of Genghis Khan’s accomplishments challenge the limits of imagination and tax the resources of scholarly explanation.

If that doesn’t inspire you, then I don’t know what will. Check out 9 lessons on power and leadership from Genghis Khan by Ryan Holiday. I’m also a big fan of the Conqueror series by Conn Iggulden, which is a historical fiction series based on the lives of Genghis Khan and his descendants Ogedai, Mongke, and Kublai Khan – which Iggulden calls “the greatest rags to riches story in human history” (start with book 1, here).

What I learnt from two years of online poker

I wrote this a couple of years ago on a poker forum I used to visit. Since then I have probably played poker a max of five times – but throughout university I regularly played at least 3-4 hours a day, pretty much 7 days a week. While it did keep me from having to get a “real” job while I was a student, I finally decided that online poker would ruin my life if I didn’t stop. Having said that, I wouldn’t change it, because the decisions I made along the way helped shape the man I am today. Here’s what I learned on my two year journey through the world of online poker.

I got my feet wet in poker just like anyone else: around 2005-2006 a few friends and I would get together on a friday night, drink some beers, and play poker. We were all 16-17 at the time, so we didn’t go out on the town as much as we do now – we just got our parents to buy us beer and give us a ride round to whichever unfortunate friend had been designated to host our night of rowdiness. Cue much drinking, beer spilling, chip-splashing, and the occasional hand of poker.

We played £5 entry, winner takes all, usually 5-6 of us. I remember one week when so many people had got wind of our fun that about 15 people turned up. We all sat around the same table to start with, and each hand took about 20 minutes. Then someone had the bright idea of splitting it up into two tables, by which time I had already busted out through my arrogant, aggressive playing style, and had to sit and watch everyone else for about 4 hours. Hey ho.

Back in those days, we all thought we were pretty good, but the best player was undoubtedly Omar*. Omar used to push us around on the table, winding us up until our 16-year-old adolescent pride couldn’t take it any more, and then we’d shove our weak pair into his nut flush. He would always say things like “this is such a waste of time, I could make more playing online than I could playing here”. One time he actually brought his Mac to the table, wearing his cherished Pokerstars hoodie, and played 3 tables of 1/2 limit hold ‘em while simultaneously taking our pocket money. 
He bragged to us once at school how he had started with $50 on Pokerstars, and ran it up to $3,000, before his parents found out and made him withdraw everything except the initial $50. Then he did it again. And again.

I always wanted to be like Omar. It was my dream to be able to walk into bars and think nothing of buying drinks for all my friends, and then go out the next day and buy some sick new trainers, or a PS3, or a Mac.

But then we all turned 18 and drinking, not gambling, became the first concern for most of us on a friday and saturday night. Now that we could go out of the house and legally drink, we did. A lot. And life was good. I earned my money during the week and spent it on the weekend. I studied hard in school and got into a good uni, where I continued to drink and study hard and enjoy life and get good grades. And life was good.

Then, in the summer of 2009 after my 2nd year of uni, I was working some shitty temp job cold-calling people to do telephone surveys. It was soul-destroying, mindless, uncreative work, the kind of work that makes people strangle themselves with their own telephone cord, which I would have done, except for the fact that we had to wear wireless headsets.

I thought to myself, “There has to be a better way to make money than this.” And then I remembered Omar, and his Mac, and his trainers, and the rounds of drinks he would buy for everyone. So I posted on a forum that I used to frequent, saying “I want to be good at Texas Hold ‘Em poker. Where do I start?” And someone gave me a link to the TwoPlusTwo poker forums, and to a couple of strategy guides, and I was off down a path that would lead me on an emotional rollercoaster.

I devoured forum threads like they were crack. I read more poker theory than you can imagine. I heard about guys beating the $50 no-limit games and thought “woah, these ballers, how can you ever play for a $100 pot?” I deposited my obligatory $50 on Stars, and set to grinding the lowest possible stakes, 1c/2c blinds. I bought some software that tracks all your hands, and I was ready and raring to go. I started playing full-ring games (9 handed) until someone on TwoPlusTwo told me to play 6 handed tables instead because they were “more profitable”. Oh, how wrong he was.

But it started out well. I managed to turn my $50 into about $120, at which point I started playing the 2c/5c cash games. Then I went on a downswing, and it was boring. I had about $105 left in my account when I went out for my friend’s 21st birthday. We had a fantastic night in this great club, we got drunk, threw up – everything you’d expect from a 21st birthday party.

Then I got home at about 4am, and fired up some tables. In my drunked recklessness I decided to play what I thought were “high stakes” – the 5c/10c tables. I remember being really nervous that there was a 10c chip being used as a blind. Woah. Surely this wouldn’t end well.

But it did. I went on the biggest 4am drunken heater of all time, and won about $200 in less than 20 minutes, instantly tripling my bankroll. Boom. Now I was really playing with the big boys.

I continued to grind 5c/10c games for a month or so (joining DC during this time), until I spent all my money on booze and takeaways and needed to cash out my winnings. Being the genius that I am, I emailed one of my friend’s housemates, who I knew to be a good midstakes player, and asked him to stake me. He would provide the money for me to play with, and accept any losses. Any winnings we would split 50-50. I showed him how I had crushed the lower stakes games and wanted to move up. He agreed, and gave me $750 on Full Tilt to play with.

I then proceeded to lose $500 over about 2 months. And life was bad. I got stressed. I would stay up all night trying to grind back my losses. I remember getting into bed at 1am as I had lectures at 10am the next morning, and firing up a couple of tables. I lost some money, and for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to deposit $100 on Pokerstars to play tournaments. I played in a bunch of $1 tournaments all night until about 7am, when I fell asleep, still playing 3 tables. Total profit from 6 hours play: $0.30. I missed all my lectures.

My grades slipped. I was unhappy.

I so wanted to be like Omar. I wanted to have the money and all the stuff the money could buy. $500 was a lot of money to me back then. My constant losses were a blight on my soul, a constant reminder that I wasn’t as good as I thought I was. It was hard to deal with. I spent hours and hours studying poker, reading books, reading strategy threads, and even got a coaching session or two.

But over time, I gradually turned into a breakeven player, and then a (very) marginal winner. I got a couple of nice “frequent player” bonuses from Full Tilt Poker. I won back all I had lost and more. I received my first paycheck from my backer, who I think was as relieved as me that I had stopped texting him at 2am saying “Still losing. Can’t figure out why. Sooo frustrating.”

I would still get stressed out by poker. The losses were still bad, but winning was a relief, a break from the constant emotional stress of being a breakeven player. It didn’t help that I was still spending all of my money on booze and takeaways, and not doing a lot besides playing poker and Call of Duty. My grades slipped a bit more.

There were some times when I would lose so much, and keep losing, to the point where I was literally in tears (times I’ve cried due to poker: 3). But I didn’t want to stop playing, so I fired up 12 tables of 9 handed games and played monotonically, soothed by the constant alert and chip sounds of the game. I had barely ever played 9 handed games before – I looked down on those who did. Everyone played so tightly. It was boring. There was no action. But I couldn’t bring myself to stop playing, so I played 12 tables, playing fairly tight preflop, and extremely tight postflop. And funnily enough, I would usually win back all my losses from the 6 handed games. Of course, I moved back to 6 handed straight away, because it was “more profitable”.

I talked with my backer, and he agreed to boost my roll up to $1500, so I could play in the 25c/50c games. Now I was ready for the big time. And then I promptly lost about $700. And I got stressed, and life was bad again. I would stay up all night trying to recoup my losses.

I remember the summer of 2010, when I was working night shifts at my local supermarket. I would finish at 7am, and then come back and play poker. I thought it would be a good idea to play some heads-up poker, one on one. The players were aggressive, the variance was ridiculous, but I didn’t care. I knew I could take them on.

I remember losing $250 in about 30 hands. I got stressed, and punched a lightswitch, then broke my desk chair. My parents weren’t happy, but they didn’t understand. I was tilted! I didn’t have an anger problem, it was this guy’s fault for sucking out on me with his combo draw.

One of my friends pointed out to me “Lynch mate, you’re an idiot. You lose money in one-on-one and 6 handed games, but make money in 9 handed games. Why aren’t you just playing 9 handed?”

I made some excuse about how those games were boring and how I was developing my game faster by playing in aggressive and getting in tough spots that made me think. He said, “No, that’s bullshit. You play poker to make money. You make money playing 9 handed and you don’t playing 6 handed. Simple as.”

I took his advice, and switched to 9 handed games. And something clicked. And I made a lot of money. I paid for a holiday to Greece in September 2010 purely with poker profits. I bought a computer, and some new trainers, and drinks for all my friends in a bar. I was Omar.

I liked being Omar. It felt good to have money for once. I started to play more and more poker – it’s not a gambling problem if you’re winning, right? I played 16 tables for 5-6 hours at a time. Why bother going to lectures when my hourly rate was so good? My backer was pleased, and moved me up to the 50c/$1 stakes. So I started playing that, and broke even for a bit, then moved back down to 25c/50c because it was easy money, and I like easy money.

I played 120k hands of poker in October. I won some good money. But I didn’t do much else other than play poker. My girlfriend got annoyed. But she didn’t understand – this was my job! I didn’t have a gambling problem. She just worried too much.

I played 90k hands in November. I made some decent money. My girlfriend cried because I played so much poker and never talked to her. So I promised to cut down the amount of time I played. Then she went to work, and I played 16 tables all night while she was out. She came back, and I told her I had been doing some reading for uni.

December was going OK. I had broken even for most of the month, and tried to play some higher stakes, but always got knocked back. Then one day I sat down at some 50c/$1 6 handed tables, and lost a hundred bucks. Never mind. Then I lost another hundred. Then I won three hundred.. Then I lost a grand. I moved back down to lower stakes to try and grind it back again, and lost another two hundred. In total that day I lost over $1100. And I cried, and I shouted at my parents, and I punched the wall, and I broke some CD cases.

I didn’t play again for a few weeks. I tried meditating, and practicing Buddhist things like mindfulness. I became happier. I did some serious introspection and self-analysis. I came to a couple conclusions:

- I definitely had some emtional problems
- I might have a gambling problem

Why did I force myself to go through all of this? It all comes back to Omar, and how much I wanted to be like him. I was so desperate to have the money, and the Mac, and the trainers, and the drinks for all my friends. I thought that would make me happy. And I thought that poker was the way to achieve that. I wanted so much to be able to fly to Vegas (which Omar did one summer, and came back $50k richer). I wanted the lifestyle. I dreamed of being a baller, with stacks of bills, and a limo, and a concierge. I thought that would make me happy.

And in pursuit of that, I made myself so unhappy that often I didn’t even want to get out of bed in the morning. I literally sat in bed all day playing micro-stakes, thinking that if I could just get a good run of cards, I would be on the path to happiness. I could quantify exactly how I felt about myself – all I needed to do was look at my results.

Poker was good to me in some respects – after everything I’ve been through, I’m still a winner lifetime – but in other ways it has been the worst thing that ever happened to me. I love the game, and the online community, and the rush you get from winning a big pot or making a sick bluff. But none of that is worth the 18 months that I sunk into poker almost full-time to the exclusion of everything else. As in poker and life, balance is critical. Doing one thing to the exclusion of everything else will seriously fuck you up, and it’s just not worth it.

And then my backer said he needed his money back, so now I couldn’t afford to play stakes that would be meaningful to me, so I stopped playing altogether. I became much happier, more productive, and more optimistic about life almost overnight.

So what did I learn?

- A lot of poker coaches stress the importance of emotional control. They’re not being paternalistic, or trying to make the world a better place. They’re doing it because it makes money. If you’re not evaluating your own emotions and mindset, you will make bad decisions and lose money.

- Never do what other people are doing just because you think it’s more glamorous, or will make people think more highly of you. Stick to your circle of competence.

- Losses always felt worse when I desperately needed the money. Having plenty of cash in the bank felt brilliant because I knew even if I lost one day, I wouldn’t go hungry the next. James Altucher talks about this a lot.

- Poker can be great fun, but it can be a cruel bitch. A common poker saying is “one day you will run worse than you ever thought possible.” I would add to this that poker led me to feel worse than I ever had before. When your self-worth is so wrapped up in your results as mine was, a big downswing can destroy you mentally.

- Never measure yourself against anyone else, only against yourself. One problem for me was that whenever I improved my game and moved up a level, Omar did the same. I bought myself some trainers with poker money, he’d buy a car. I bought a holiday to Greece, he went to Vegas for 3 months. I was constantly comparing myself to his success, and coming up short.

- Poker was a fun hobby, but should have stayed exactly that: a hobby. Once I was relying on it for income, it became my life and I played, studied and talked poker to the exclusion of almost everything else. But poker will be around tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that. Enjoy it, but don’t ever let it become your everything.

Poker gave me some great highs, and some horrible lows. But that’s all in the game, yo.

* name changed for subtle reference to The Wire

How to work for yourself (even if you’re employed by someone else)

Charlie Munger, billionaire and long-time partner of Warren Buffett, had a revelation when he was starting out in his career. Buffett describes this in The Snowball:

Charlie, as a very young lawyer, was probably getting $20 an hour. He thought to himself, ‘Who’s my most valuable client?’ And he decided it was himself. So he decided to sell himself an hour each day. He did it early in the morning, working on these construction projects and real estate deals. Everybody should do this, be the client, and then work for other people too, and sell yourself an hour a day.”

Munger was still working as a lawyer, but began to take ownership over part of his day and work for himself during this time. And it eventually turned him into a billionaire and one of the most respected businessmen of the past 100 years.

Anyone can do this – carve out certain times, projects, or niches for themselves. James Altucher argues that choosing yourself isn’t just preferable – it’s critical and necessary due to changing technology and ways of working. And he’s not the only smart guy to make the argument that you need to move towards working for yourself. In fact, it’s exactly what Robert Greene recommends in the The 50th Law:

If we succumb to the illusion and comfort of a paycheck, we then neglect to build up self-reliant skills and merely postpone the day of reckoning when we are forced to fend for ourselves. Your life must be a progression towards ownership – first mentally of your independence, and then physically of your work, owning what you produce.

Greene offers four steps to achieving this:

1. Reclaim dead time.

Almost all of us must begin our careers working for others, but it is always within our power to transform this time from something dead to something alive. If we make the determination to be an owner and not a minion, then that time is used to learn as much as we can about what is going on around us – the political games, the nuts and bolts of this particular venture, the larger game going on in the business world, how we could do things better. We have to pay attention and absorb as much information as possible. This helps us endure work that does not seem so rewarding. In this way, we own our time and our ideas before owning a business.

2. Create little empires.

While still working for others, your goal at some point must be to carve out little areas that you can operate on your own, cultivating entrepreneurial skills…What you are doing is cultivating a taste for doing things yourself – making your own decisions, learning from your own mistakes…What you really value in life is ownership, not money. If ever there is a choice – more money or more responsibility – you must always opt for the latter.

3. Move higher up the food chain.

People are political creatures, continually scheming to secure their own interests. If you form partnerships with them or depend upon them for your advancement and protection, you are asking for trouble…Your goal in life must be to always move higher and higher up the food chain, where you alone control the direction of your enterprise and depend on no one. Since this goal is a future ideal, in the present you must strive to keep yourself free of unnecessary entanglements and alliances. And if you cannot avoid having partners, make sure that you are clear as to what function they serve for you and how you will free yourself of them at the right moment.

4. Make your enterprise a reflection of your individuality.

Your whole life has been an education in developing the skills and self-reliance necessary for creating your own venture, being your own boss. But there is one last impediment to making this work. Your tendency will be to look at what other people have done in your field, how you could possibly repeat or emulate their success. You can gain some power with such a strategy, but it won’t go far and it won’t last…There are ideas unique to you, a specific rhythm and perspective that are your strengths, not your weaknesses. You must not be afraid of your uniqueness and you must care less and less what people think of you…The world cannnt help but respond to such authenticity.

I’m still a long way off this yet – I’m trying to do step 1 and 2, but I’m a way off step 3 yet, and I’m still not sure I fully understand step 4, but I guess I will when I’m at that level. Anyway, when three smart guys all tell you something is a good idea, I’m going to listen to them.