9 Billionaire Truth Bombs That Will Change How You Do Business
“Wherever I see people doing something the way it’s always been done, the it’s ‘supposed’ to be done, following the same old trends, well, that’s just a big red flag to me to go look somewhere else.” — Mark Cuban, billionaire Shark Tank investor
Ah, truth bombs — those facts or bits of knowledge with the potential to rock the world view of the person on the receiving end. Aren’t they wonderful?
Truth bombs usually aren’t something we want to hear; the delivery may not be very diplomatic and the content might sound unbelievable or even mean-spirited. Sometimes truth bombs are awful and can be devastating; check out the #truthbomb hashtag on Twitter some time to see what I’m talking about.
No one likes being on the receiving end of a truth bomb.
Still, sometimes you should listen up — especially when the person firing away is one of the world’s most successful people. These truthy sound bites of wisdom can be really useful — they can challenge us to reconsider our beliefs or to think of things in a new light.
We should probably sit up and take note when billionaires share even a tiny bit of their wisdom and experience with us, even by way of a single quote that might sound contrary to everything we know and believe about business. Even when — no, especially when — they’re dropping a truth bomb.
American business magnate Sheldon Adelson, for example, challenges the status quo with this gem:
“For me, businesses are like buses. You stand on a corner and you don’t like where the first bus is going? Wait 10 minutes and take another. Don’t like that one? They’ll just keep coming. There’s no end to buses or businesses.”
But aren’t we supposed to do what we love and really put every ounce of our being into it? Aren’t we supposed to persist? Isn’t that what they drill into us in school? Adelson didn’t become a billionaire by riding out ideas that weren’t working; there’s something to be said about knowing when to cut the cord and move on.
Oh, speaking of school, PayPal co-founder and billionaire Peter Thiel unleashed this truth bomb to let you know it may actually be a waste of your time:
“University administrators are the equivalent of subprime mortgage brokers selling you a story that you should go into debt massively, that it’s not aconsumption decision, it’s an investment decision. Actually, no, it’s a bad consumption decision. Most colleges are four-year parties.”
Michael Dell, billionaire and college drop-out, agrees and shared this truth bomb of his own:
“You don’t have to be a genius or a visionary or even a college graduate to be successful. You just need a framework and a dream.”
You have to have the right framework, though. Conventional wisdom tells us to set goals that are S.M.A.R.T.: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.
Good luck with that. It might help you achieve your goal of buying a new couch next year or cutting back on caffeine, but big goals need big dreams. As billionaire Indian businessman and philanthropist Azim Premji says,
“If people are not laughing at your goals, your goals are too small.”
You can’t just decide one day that you’re going to be a billionaire, though. Sure, it’s a big goal, but oil magnate John D. Rockefeller has a little truth bomb of his own for you:
“If your only goal is to be rich, you’ll never achieve it.”
You have to blow the competition away in your business. This is where conventional wisdom can be really dangerous to your business success.
Think about everything you learned in school, or even in moderately successful businesses throughout your career. All of those lessons you picked up — they’re the same things everyone else in your class or training group learned.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m not saying there’s no value at all in business schoolor practical experience. Obviously you need that foundation to build on and I learned a ton of useful skills and lessons in college. But if you feel like you’re just plodding along and failing to achieve great heights in your business, it’s probably time to shake things up and start challenging your beliefs about how success works.
For example, we’re taught right from the start that the customer is number one; you have to give the people what they want. This is the key to success in business, right?
Not so, according to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, arguably the most influential billionaire in recent history, who said,
“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”
As your business grows and you seek out investment and possibly even become a public figure (as many CEOs and founders today do, thanks to social media), remember you’ll have all eyes on you. Successful business people today are often also speakers, authors, and online influencers. Steel magnate Andrew Carnegie reminds us of this truth:
“As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.”
Once you reach the height of your success, what will that look like? Who will you be? It won’t make you a better person, that’s for sure, as billionaire investor Warren Buffett points out in a truth bomb of his own:
“Of the billionaires I have known, money just brings out the basic traits in them. If they were jerks before they had money, they are simply jerks with a billion dollars.”
So don’t be a jerk. And don’t believe everything you learned in school.
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Originally published on Inc.com