In his thoroughly entertaining book The Prime Movers: Traits of the Great Wealth Creators, Edwin A. Locke gives this example of the way entrepreneurs think:
An average person observes evergreens growing along the roadside and thinks that they look pretty, especially when partly covered with snow. At this point, his thinking stops. An entrepreneur observes the same trees and thinks, “These trees would look good in people’s living rooms at Christmas. I wonder what people would pay for them?”
And he would continue to ask such questions as…
•How hard is it to grow evergreens?
•What investment is required?
•How big should they be before being cut?
•How difficult would it be to cut and transport them?
•How much would it cost?
•How long would they keep before losing their needles?
•Where would they be sold?
•What would the competition be like?
•Could I make other related products – e.g., wreaths?
•Can I make money in such a seasonal business?
•How can I get started?
This kind of active, directed thinking is one of the things that separate entrepreneurs from the rest of humanity. In fact, the most successful entrepreneurs in history – all of them mega-billionaires by today’s standards – seem to have had dynamic, pragmatic minds.
Locke gives plenty of examples, including these:
Thomas Edison: He was a “virtual thinking machine. Almost until the day he died, his mind poured forth a torrent of ideas, and he might track as many as 60 experiments at a time in his laboratory.”
Steve Jobs: He bombarded people with his ideas – his investors, his board of directors, his customers, his subordinates and his CEO, John Sculley.
Henry Ford: In Robert Lacey’s words, “He threw himself into every detail, insisting on getting small things absolutely right… [But] he never lost sight of the ultimate, overall objective. He had a vision of what [the Model T] should look like. From all the improvisation, hard thought and hard work came a machine that was at once the simplest and the most sophisticated automobile built to date anywhere in the world.”
You may be thinking, “Hey, I’m no Thomas Edison or Steve Jobs or Henry Ford.”
Well, neither am I. And I could rattle off a dozen multimillionaire entrepreneurs I know who don’t have that kind of brain capacity either.
Raw intelligence is not the issue. There are plenty of genius scientists locked in university labs who would be rich if intelligence were a true predictor of wealth.
What really matters in the world of commerce is how you think.
Some people, whether because of their upbringing or their DNA, have a natural billionaire mind. But just about anyone who is smart and ambitious can learn to think like a billionaire.
You can transform your mind completely and permanently in a matter of a few short months by making small changes, one at a time. It will take some effort, though. As Joshua Reynolds once said, “There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking.”
Begin by vowing to talk to every successful person you know or meet. Tell them how much you admire what they have accomplished and ask them how they do what they do.
You may be amazed at how open they will be to such inquiries. Nine times out of 10, they’ll be eager to tell you just about everything they know.
The Billionaire Mind
Unfortunately, many of the 20th century’s greatest entrepreneurs have been disparaged by historians and the media. As Locke points out in The Prime Movers, if you mention the names Andrew Carnegie or John Rockefeller or Cornelius Vanderbilt to most people, they think “greedy robber barons who took advantage of their circumstances.”
They know nothing about the accomplishments of these men. What most people know, for the most part, is based on prejudices that prevent them from learning from these men and prospering.
When you become super successful, you’ll have to learn how to handle the people who are going to resent you for achieving what they themselves have been unable to. But first, you have to get yourself into that enviable position. And you do that by practicing the thinking of the great entrepreneurs who thought like billionaires and so amassed billions.
So let me tell you, right now, eight characteristics of “normal” people and how the “billionaire mind” contrasts:
1. A normal person is concerned with protecting his ego. When dealing with a problem he doesn’t really understand, he pretends he understands the contributing factors and doesn’t try to find out what anyone else thinks. A person with a billionaire mind asks questions incessantly. He has no ego when it comes to learning. He knows that knowledge is power.
2. A normal person has a consumer mentality. He looks at a hot new product and thinks about how he would like to own one. A person with a billionaire mind takes an entrepreneurial bent. He looks at it and thinks, “How can I produce this or something similar in my own industry?” Or even more simply: “How can I make money from this?”
3. A normal person is wish-focused. He daydreams about making gobs of money. A person with a billionaire mind is reality-based. He is always analyzing his own success and the success of others and wondering how he could learn from it.
4. A normal person, when confronted with a challenging idea, thinks of all the reasons it might not work. A person with a billionaire mind sees the potential in it and disregards the problems until he has a clear vision of how it might succeed.
5. A normal person resists change. A person with a billionaire mind embraces it.
6. A normal person accepts the status quo. A person with a billionaire mind is always looking to make things – even good things – better.
7. A normal person reacts. A person with a billionaire mind is proactive.
8. A normal person looks at a successful business owner and thinks, “That guy’s lucky” or “That guy’s a shyster.” A person with a billionaire mind thinks, “What’s his secret?” and “How can I do that?”
Start by being humble and asking questions. Do this until it becomes a habit.
Go through the list, mastering one characteristic at a time, and within three months you will be able to create new businesses almost automatically. You will become a natural leader. Money will flow to you like water coming down a hill. And then you’ll be ready to deal with all the normal people who are jealous of your incredible success.