Thursday, October 29, 2009

Success Secrets: Ken Griffin, Billionire

Wonderful article on Bloomberg today about billionaire Ken Griffin of Citadel Investment Group. What can we mere mortals take away from an article about this titan? At least two key details.

Detail 1:
"He was always comparing himself to the biggest players on Wall Street,” says Frank Meyer, former head of Glenwood Capital Investments LLC"

As Brian Tracy says in so many of his books and tapes, part of your success depends on your chosen" reference group". Clearly Griffin, even as a student, saw his reference group as the the biggest and best

Detail 2:
" 'In retrospect, I wish I had had less leverage,' Griffin says..."

Warren Buffett calls leverage a "weapon of mass destruction". Both Jamie Dimon and Sandy Weil believed in a "fortess balance sheet" with a preponderance of assets over liabilities.

It is no surprise that, over and over again the key success secrets uncovered in this blog emerge as part of the personality structure of the greats. The only mystery...why so many have so much trouble emulating them. But then...that's why they're great.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Success Videos: Craig Barret's (In)Telling advice

I was listening to one of my favorite Podcasts, Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders, which was presenting a talk by Craig Barrett , former CEO and Chairman of the Board of Intel. In the middle of the podcast, as Barrett was discussing advice to the students, he mentioned this as his first concept:

“There is no replacement for sophisticated problem-solving methodology in life”

I repeat, for emphasis

“There is no replacement for sophisticated problem-solving methodology in life”

Note, he did not say “in business”. He said “in life”. This statement is the core of why this blog exists. Simple problem-solving methods don’t always work. From-the-gut “solutions” don’t always work. Life is complicated. Life is probabilistic. Modern life contains many many domains of expertise that have to be dealt with, either by learning, or by retaining the services of someone who has learned that domain. Even a “rising tide” may not lift your “boat” without expertise and problem-solving skills. Here are some of the methodologies I have come across throughout this blog, which relate to Barrett's advice:

Kepner and Tregoe "The Rational Manager"

Michel Michalko "Cracking Creativity"

Plan/Do/Check/Act , or, the Deming/Shewhart Cycle, mentioned by Barrett in his talk

G. Polya "How To Solve it"

But, in reality, this entire blog exists for the purpose of searching out methodologies that reach across domains, from business, to personal planning, to solving life problems. and Barrett's statement is a concise and telling reinforcement of this idea, probably the best statement, from a distinguished source, of what I am attempting here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Success Tools: Thomas Stanley's website

I am an unabashed fan of Thomas Stanley and his breakthrough book The Millionaire Next Door, so it was a great pleasure to come across both a new book Stop Acting Rich: ...And Start Living Like A Real Millionaire and his wonderful website.

Thomas Stanley has studied millionaires for decades, and the results of his research have uniformly shown the rich to be primarily hardworking, unostentatious people, who live far below their means and who very much enjoy hard work, saving, investing, and the simple pleasures of family life . The website also contains a blog, which is useful for continuous inspiration as well as the wonderful nuggets of fact he serves up. For instance, this quote from his blog post Avoiding The Money Pit:

There are nearly three times more millionaire households (1,138,070 versus 403,211) living in homes valued at $300,000 or less than there are millionaires living in homes valued at $1 million or more.

I'm sure I will be heading back to his site frequently for inspiration and instruction

New On My Reading List: Pete Peterson, Billionaire

Pete Peterson, legendary American businessman, public servant, co-founder of the Blackstone Group, and billionaire, has written an extraordinary autobiography. I am in the midst of reading it and hope to review it shortly. It has a lot in common with other biographies of World war II vintage titans, like Warren Buffett and Alan Greenspan. More to come.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Success tools: Free Startup Consulting

I've been a fan of the StartupNation podcasts for some time. Thanks to my membership on their site I received this link regarding Startmeup, an extensive free business startup consulting service from Resourcenation. The service apparently includes (according to the landing page) :

"A dedicated consultant
A customized startup schedule
Weekly articles, tutorials and advice tailored to the stage of your business
Assistance to help you find the best resources
Support in setting up your legal entity, insurance, marketing and more"

I am constantly amazed at how the ongoing process of disintermediation continues. Layer by layer, in our age, access to knowledge is being democratized, with the ongoing potential for a huge increase in individual productivity. I intend to explore these resources fully.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Success Books: Soon To be Reviewed

My reading is getting ahead of my reviewing. Here are two books I've enjoyed recently, and hope to review shortly:

Hugely true, honest, and practical.

I tried the exercises in this book and found they had an effect. Luck is not magic (at least not PURE magic). More in my upcoming review.

Success Secrets: Mind-Body 'Links"

Two links from Science Daily:

Body Posture Affects Confidence in Your Own Thoughts
"Researchers found that people who were told to sit up straight were more likely to believe thoughts they wrote down while in that posture concerning whether they were qualified for a job.

On the other hand, those who were slumped over their desks were less likely to accept these written-down feelings about their own qualifications."

Mediterranean Diet Associated with Reduced Risk of Depression
"Individuals who followed the Mediterranean diet most closely had a greater than 30 percent reduction in the risk of depression ..."

Imagine. Thousands of volumes have been written about confidence, positive mental attitude, etc. Yet, what if two of our most basic basic habits, our posture and our food intake, had an overwhelming effect on our entire view of the world and ourselves? One of the key takeaways of this research is summarized in the old adage: "man makes the habits, then habits make the man". Another conclusion might be that the evidence continues to come in that we have responsibility for ourselves. Even such intimate, and seemingly uncontrollable traits as depression, self-confidence, etc, are subject to the influence of self-responsibility. It is we, not our family history, that choose to sit up straight. It is we, not our genetic makeup, or our "class", etc, who are responsible for, potentially, our susceptibility to depression, etc. Imagine if 100 million people switched from therapists and pill-popping to merely sitting up straight and eating right.

I'm no opponent of either psychotherapy or psycho-pharmacology, but it is instructive to remember that, 50 years ago, the "well known fact" that exercise and cardiovascular health are linked, was not well-known at all. In 50 more years, the links between our physical selves and our psychological selves may turn out to be a commonplace assertion.

Certainly we associate confidence with an upright bearing. Soon I will be reviewing D.A. Benton's Executive Charisma: Six Steps to Mastering the Art of Leadership, which devotes an entire chapter to this fact. The chapter heading: "Stand Tall, Straight, and Smile".