The 10 Commandments of Successful Self Made Individuals
86% of the world’s really wealthy people did not inherit wealth. They are not born with a silver spoon in their mouth, and come from diverse backgrounds.
But there are some common traits that they all share, and these are like the 10 “commandments” in their professional lives.
1. Thou shalt stick to a single Idea in the beginning – Expansion can come later
From Mark Zuckerberg, to Bill Gates, to Dane Miller, to Larry Ellison, to James Dolan, to Nick Woodman, all self-made people begin with a single idea, whether it is to develop a website, a software program, or a single product.
Dane Miller, CEO of Biomet, began with an idea for a better arm sling. Once successful, he expanded and now produces artificial hips and knees.
2. Thou shalt be curious about all things and have a love of Learning
Self-made people are also self-learners. They are curious about how things “work” or don’t “work” in the world, and try to find ways to make things work better. One of the most interesting examples of this commandment is James Dolan, founder and owner of the Dolan Company.
A number of years ago, he was curious about a 100-year old legal newspaper that seemed to be pretty stagnant. He wondered why subscribers still purchased subscriptions when the “news” could be found for free anywhere online.
So he surveyed them. Turns out, they continued to subscribe because they were interested in the listing of foreclosures, not the legal news. He bought the paper and turned it into a national publication of foreclosures. He now has a huge paid subscriber following and buckets of money in his pocket.
3. Thou shalt overcome all obstacles with Belief and Passion
Obstacles can come in many forms – being poor, having “naysayers” all around you, regulations, lack of investors, etc. Consider Larry Ellison, founder and CEO (until his retirement in 2014) of Oracle, the largest database software firm.
He was born to an unwed mother who gave him over to poor relatives to raise on the Southside of Chicago. His adoptive father continued to tell him that he would never amount to anything, and that seemed to bear some truth as he started and then dropped out of two colleges.
He never took a computer science class but got a book and taught himself, finally landing a job with a firm that developed databases for companies and government agencies including the CIA. He and two others left that company and founded their own, ultimately getting that CIA contract. The rest, as they say, “is history.”
4. Thou shalt know that there is no problem that cannot be Solved
All self-made successes have faced problems on their way to the top. But they hold the attitude that there is always a solution. In fact, they openly seek problems for which they can find answers.
Mark Zuckerberg wanted to solve a problem on his college campus – a way in which fellow students could connect with one another online. The ultimate result was Facebook.
5. Thou shalt know that anything really worthwhile involves Risk
Dropping out of college, especially an institution like Harvard, in order to follow a dream, is a pretty big risk. After all, a degree from Harvard opens a lot of doors. But that is just what Bill Gates did.
And all self-made successes have taken big risks. They have either quit great-paying jobs (Larry Ellison), bought failing businesses (James Dolan), or dumped what money they did have (Nick Woodman), into their ideas.
6. Thou shalt not be cynical about the world
Self-made people have a positive outlook about the world and its future. They see the limitless possibilities rather than the things that are wrong with our society, our economy, and our government.
Warren Buffett, who might have had many reasons to be cynical in recent years, based upon the crash of 2008 and the horribly slow recovery of the economy, has never once faltered in his optimism about the benefits of investing in companies that hold a promise for our future.
7. Thou shalt not work for someone else
When you work for someone else, according to self-made people, you only make them rich and you are limited by their bureaucracies. Further, any idea or solution you come up with during your employ belongs to that company.
You have to be your own boss, for only then can you be fully free to pursue your own ideas and passions and to reap the rewards of your work. This is why Larry Ellison left Ampex to start his own firm. He was too limited and anything he designed would belong to them.
8. Thou shalt not be Afraid of Failure
Failure is to be seen as a learning experience and as a motivation to move on to the next venture. If looked upon in this way, every failure just gets you closer to the success that is sure to come.
Nick Woodman had two major failures – Empowerall.com, a site that sold electronics at a $2 markup, and Funbug.com, a site gaming site. What he learned was that his heart was not in those endeavors. He had to find the one thing that came from true passion, and he did.
The result is Go-Pro Cameras which has now made him a billionaire and was born of his own passion for extreme sports.
9. Thou shalt be Patient when necessary and impatient when necessary
Mark Zuckerberg knew when to be impatient. If he did not leave school and pursue social media right then and there, someone else would have beat him to the punch.
Dane Miller, on the other hand, was willing to be patient, to allow his arm sling business to build before he looked into other opportunities. Both men have realized amazing success. The key is to understand the urgency or lack thereof.
10. Thou shalt not “go it alone.”
If you look at the stories of self-made individuals, you will see that they had partnerships, teams, investors, or plenty of moral support. It is a lonely path to pursue a dream or goal all on one’s own.
To have others around that share the passion and the dream is what is needed when discouragement rears its ugly head. There truly is strength in numbers, no matter how small those numbers may be.
So, if you want to be a self-made success, how do you measure up? Can you follow these commandments? They certainly seem to have worked for the people we now admire.
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