A billionaire’s strategy for success

This e-zine was originally sent on December 10, 2009.  It may have been edited somewhat from the version that was originally emailed, so be sure to sign up to make sure you are getting our e-zines fresh!

“The past does not define you, the present does.”
– Jillian Michaels

Hi Collin County Parents,

I just got back from sharpening my legal saw at a three day seminar in Phoenix.  It reminded me of all the years my family and I went to Phoenix (Mesa, actually) when I was a kid to visit my grandparents for Thanksgiving.  Nice weather during the day, but a little cool in the evenings!

Well, we are all gearing up for Christmas around here.  My oldest daughter has her school choir concert this week, which should be fun. We’ve got the tree up and decorated and we are all set (well, we would be if we could find the elusive Zhu Zhu Pets, whatever those are 🙂 ).

This week I thought I’d share some success strategies of John Paul Getty that I recently ran across.

Let me know your thoughts!

Aaron Miller’s
“Straight Talk” Personal Strategy
The Billionaire’s Strategy For Success

John Paul Getty became the richest man in the world during his time by practicing a few basic principles of risk-taking and reward throughout his life.  Regardless of whether you run your own business or not, they apply.

How To Assess A Decision
Whenever John Paul Getty was considering a business decision, he would ask, “What’s the worst possible thing that could happen in this situation?” Then, when he was clear about the worst possible outcome, he focused all his attention on making sure that it didn’t happen. You can apply this technique to every risk situation or investment you ever make.

The Billionaire’s Strategy for Success
Remember Murphy’s Law: “Whatever can go wrong will go wrong.” There are several secondary laws to Murphy’s Law, such as “Whatever can go wrong will go wrong at the worst possible time” and “Of all the things that can go wrong, the most expensive thing will go wrong at the worst possible time.”

Another sub-law is “Everything takes longer than your best calculation.” Whenever I get together with business owner friends, many of them ask me how I think about this issue. When that happens, I suggest that they take their very best estimate of break-even for any business venture and then triple it to arrive at a more realistic number. I’ve found that whenever I encourage a friend about this, they are amazed to find that, in spite of their best initial calculations, it indeed takes about three times longer than they thought it would to start making money.

Always Add A Fudge Factor
Another sub-law is “Everything costs more than you can possibly anticipate in advance.” In minimizing risk in any venture, always add a “fudge factor” to account for the degree of uncertainty. Whenever I do a business plan, I always add 20 percent to the total of all costs that I can identify, to come up with the probable cost. Anything less than this, whether in business or your personal life, is likely to be an exercise in self-delusion and open you up for some unhappy surprises. Once you have identified the worst possible things that could go wrong, make a list of everything that you could do to offset these negative factors. Engage in what is called “crisis anticipation.” Look down the road, into the future, and imagine every possible crisis that could arise as the result of changing external circumstances.

Do The Things You Fear
One of the very best ways to develop your ability to take intelligent risks is to consciously and deliberately do the things you fear, one step at a time.

A very good way to overcome the fear of risk taking is to set clear, written, measurable goals for yourself, and then to review those goals regularly. When you have clear goals and plans, and you continually work on them and evaluate your progress each day, you will see what you’re doing right and how you could improve your performance. You’ll feel more competent and capable and better about yourself. You’ll become more thoughtful and reflective and willing to take on even greater challenges. And your likelihood of success will become greater and greater.

Action Exercises
Now, here are three steps you can take immediately to put these ideas into action.

First, take any worry situation in your life today and ask, “What is the worst possible thing that could happen?” Then go to work to make sure it doesn’t occur.

Second, look into the future in your life and determine the worst things that could happen. Engage in “crisis anticipation” regularly and continually be taking steps to guard against them.

Third, work from clear, written goals and detailed plans. Review them regularly. Consider alternatives and always look for ways to increase the likelihood of your success.

I hope this helps!

To your family’s wealth, health, and happiness!

Aaron Miller

Miller Law Firm, PLLC
Your Life is Our Life’s Work
101 E. Park Blvd., Suite 600
Plano, Texas 75074
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Written by Miller Law Office

Miller Law Office

The Miller Law Office is here to help you build and protect your legacy. Rather than having a traditional estate planning practice, which is focused on transactions (such as the drawing up of wills and other documents), we have a more relational focus – having on-going contact with clients over the long-term, helping clients to protect themselves and their families.