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By Ivo Dias de Sousa
Copyright © 2012 Ivo Dias de Sousa For personal use only The images used are public domain http://twitter.com/ivosousa2 http://www.facebook.com/IvoDiasDeSousa Translated from Portuguese by Sarah Katooki and revised by Jane Thackray.
The book on Amazon.com
To Jane Thackray, a cool canadian
Thanks to Fatima Conceição, Ana Saragoça, Jane Thackray and Sarah Katooki for the ideas and suggestions on how to improve this book. I am also thankful to the staff of the restaurants ‘Mata Porcos’, ‘Simpy Café’, of ‘Riviera’, the coffee shop ‘Sabor das Sandes’ and the no longer existing ‘Chocolate’ where parts of this book finally came to life. Last but not least, a big thanks to all those who decided to get involved with an accidental writer. ;)
Disclaimer: The point of view of P.T. Barnum hereby expressed, although based on real facts, is a pure work of fiction.
Table of contents
Preface ............................................................................................................................................ 5 Who was P.T. Barnum?..................................................................................................................... 6 1. Spend less than what you earn .................................................................................................. 11 2. Pick the right career .................................................................................................................. 15 3. Choose the right location........................................................................................................... 16 4. Avoid debts ............................................................................................................................... 17 5. Perseverance ............................................................................................................................. 19 6. Whatever needs to be done, must be done properly ................................................................. 21 7. Rely mainly on your own efforts ................................................................................................ 22 8. Hire the best people .................................................................................................................. 24 9. Don’t underestimate your business ........................................................................................... 25 10. Learn something useful ........................................................................................................... 27 11. Be optimistic but not too much................................................................................................ 28 12. Focus your efforts in one direction ........................................................................................... 29 13. Have a method ........................................................................................................................ 30 14. Follow the news ...................................................................................................................... 31 15. Try to stick to your area of competence ................................................................................... 32 16. Be a wise guarantor ................................................................................................................. 33 17. Advertise your business ........................................................................................................... 34 18. Try to be the news ................................................................................................................... 37 19. Be nice and polite with your customers ................................................................................... 38 20. Do charity ................................................................................................................................ 39 21. Don’t talk too much ................................................................................................................. 40 22. Keep your integrity .................................................................................................................. 41 Summary of the principles ............................................................................................................. 42 Conclusions ................................................................................................................................... 44
Accumulating wealth has always been one of the main objectives of mankind. However, it is evident that different people have different types of success. Only few have achieved great success. It is very important to learn how they did it and, follow their leads. One of these successful people was P.T. Barnum. P. T. Barnum (Phineas Taylor Barnum-1810-1891) was a millionaire in a time when a dollar was worth 10 times more than the current value. In other words, he was extremely wealthy. He gained and lost many fortunes during his life. He is considered the first millionaire of show business. In his time he was one of the best known Americans in and outside the US. Besides his role as an entrepreneur he was also an author and a successful public speaker. This book is based on one of his books (“Art of Money-Getting or Golden Rules for making Money” by P. T. Barnum, published in 1880). In his book, P. T. Barnum outlines his views on business, making money and (let’s not forget) keeping it. The reader might not be very convinced about today’s validity of P.T. Barnum’s theories. One might even enquire on the point of updating a book written in the XIX century, since we are living in the XXI century, and the gap is immense. I couldn’t concur more. However, there is a very simple reason for this; the principles explained by P. T. Barnum are timeless. This book is not only an update of the original edition from the XIX century as it was written by P. T. Barnum, but also shows the point of view of a man of his time who’s been watching over humanity from above since his death. Obviously, this P. T. Barnum has quite a peculiar view of the present. I hope the reader finds his point of view interesting. Do not forget though, that in the America known by P.T. Barnum there was no electricity and no cars. Moreover, slavery was common practice during some time of his life.
Who was P.T. Barnum?
Phineas Taylor Barnum (1810-1891) was, among other things, a showbiz entrepreneur, showman, writer, philanthropist and politician. He was famous, namely, for having founded one of the biggest circuses in the world, which still exists today. When he was alive, he was one of the richest people in the United States.
He was born in Connecticut (US). He always liked math and hated physical work. He got married at the age of nineteen. When he was in his twenties he started his career as an entrepreneur, founding the weekly magazine ‘The Herald of Freedom’. His editorials against the leaders of the Calvinist church led to a series of trials, which eventually ended with his imprisonment for 2 months. In 1834 he moved to New York. There he started his career as an entertainer. He bought the Scudder’s American Museum and changed its name to include his own. In the museum he started to show peculiarities and human curiosities such as mermaids and dwarves. One of his shows featured a blind slave almost completely paralyzed (Joice Heth). Barnum used to tell the legend that Joice Heth was the lover of George Washington and was over 160 years old. Barnum showed his first famous freak in 1842: a creature with the head of a monkey and the tail of a fish, known as the mermaid Feejee. He justified showing these freaks as generating publicity for his museum. Between 1844 and 1845 Barnum took his famous freaks on a tour through continental Europe where he allegedly met Queen Victoria and the Czar of Russia. When he went back to the US in 1846, his museum was attracting about 400,000 visitors a year. In 1850, Barnum promoted the American return of the singer Jenny Lind (known as the ‘Swiss nightingale’), for which he paid her the astonishing sum (for the times) of $150,000 for 150 shows, all expenses included. Such a risky decision worked out marvelously. Meanwhile he started to organize flower shows, dog shows, as well as beauty contests. The most popular of these were beauty contests for babies, awarding prizes for the cutest or the chubbiest. In 1854, he finished writing his biography (Life of P. T. Barnum), which sold over a million copies. During his lifetime, he wrote additional books like ‘The Humbugs of the World’ (1865), ‘Struggles and Triumphs’ (1869) and ‘The Art of Money-Getting’ (1880) on which this book is based. In the 1850s his fortune almost disappeared due to bad investments. In fact, these investments caused him to be on trial for many years and were also cause of great public humiliation. As a outcome of the trials he turned into a public speaker, which helped him to resolve part of his financial problems. By 1860, most of his financial problems were solved. Many skeptics were ready to argue that he was never going to rise to the peaks of his previous success. As a matter of fact he managed to obtain even bigger fame by creating the first American aquarium and opening a waxwork museum. In 1865, a fire of unknown origins destroyed the Barnum museum. He built a new museum in another location in New York, but once again, the building mysteriously burned down in 1868. These events caused Barnum to leave the business of museums. Barnum only entered the business of circuses at the age of 61. Within a decade he and his collaborators created the most famous circus in the world, better known after many changes of name, as Barnum & Bailey’s. One of its main attractions was an elephant bought in an English zoo in 1882.
This business had its problems too, with new fires and train accidents (train was the main mode used to move the circus around) but, besides that, the business kept flourishing. The main reason for Barnum’s success was his innovative way, for the times, of promoting his activities. Through his promotions, he started to become known as the Shakespeare of publicity. The huge success of his autobiography (over a million copies sold), which was written with the sole purpose of self-promotion, is a brilliant example of his marketing mind.
Barnum had a heart attack in 1890 during one of his shows and died later in 1891. At the time of his death he was probably the most famous American in the world.
Dear reader, things have changed a lot since my times. I believe I lived in a time and place (the US in the XIX century) full of opportunities, and for this I can already feel the envy of the reader. I lived in a time full of great opportunities, and this is mostly true when speaking from an economic and technological point of view. For the most part of my life telephones didn’t exist. Now, one can call anywhere in the world and even go around with a mobile phone! Moreover, people have the possibility to do business over the Internet from one side of the world to another. In terms of economic possibilities I have no doubt in stating that the reader lives in a time of privilege compared to the world I lived in. This doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is better these days. Let’s consider, for example, the way women dress today. I am not saying that women in my times used to behave better (although they pretended to), but they were at least more modest. But let’s get back to the point of this book: money-getting. Those aiming for financial independence only need to focus their attention and adopt the right methods. Today more than ever, this goal can be reached. However, if making money can be easy, keeping it is the hard part. To clarify the way I see things, I must say that although I find it quite easy to make money in today’s world, I think that preserving one’s fortune is harder than in my times. Temptations are too many today, but I will address this issue later in the book.
1. Spend less than what you earn
The secret for getting rich can be reduced to a basic principle: spend less than what you earn. I am not saying that the person who spends less than what he earns is among the happiest people on earth but following this principle is certainly necessary, although not sufficient, in order to be happy. Spend less than what you earn Even though one could be happy in the short term by spending more than he earns, in the long term money will start to become a constant in his thoughts. I hope anyone would agree this is not the best condition for a quiet life. I am not an advocate of saving at all costs, or, to say it in other words, being a penny-pincher. Such a way of saving money can lead to serious consequences. If you have a small pain in the tooth, it might be a good idea to consult a dentist, as a small thing can transform into something more dangerous; like losing a tooth just to avoid spending money on a dentist. Unfortunately, I am talking from the perspective of my own experience. If you have teeth problems, follow my advice and don’t do what I stupidly did. Go to the dentist. I don’t see anything wrong with someone appreciating a good meal at a restaurant or enjoying other mundane activities, of course provided that he does not drown himself in debts in the process. Moreover, such activities should not stop him from saving a good part of what he earns. The real core consists in earning more than what you spend. For example, and I am addressing this mainly to women (things haven’t changed much to this regard), one should use clothes until they are to be thrown out rather than until they are out of fashion. What about updating old clothes to new tendencies, my dear ladies? The male readers should wipe the smiles off their faces at this point, as what I am saying can also be applied to mobile phones. I know perfectly well that for some of you it would be easier to go around naked than without your mobile. I do hope, at the end, common sense (and decency) will prevail.1 However, even if someone doesn’t have money problems, I still believe it is a good idea to avoid purchasing the particular mobile phone of a new generation that you have been lusting after for months. What’s the point in buying it immediately? Within 6 months it will probably cost half the price. Dear readers of both sex, let me give you a piece of advice. When you are considering a purchase, do ask yourself the following question: how many hours do I have to work to buy this? If you start thinking this way, you’ll soon realize that you are not just spending money, because you have to translate that money into hours of work. Needless to say, by following this system you are going to save quite a lot.
A coin here and a note there, if saved wisely, will bring good results. Sooner or later, financial
1 Note for Fátima: nudists should consider themselves warned.
independence will be obtained. Obviously, you need some training to master this art but it is all worth it in the name of financial freedom. Sometimes financial independence can come in the form of an unexpected gift, like in the case of people winning the lottery. It was quite upsetting to discover that most of the winners, after 4 or 5 years, were in the same financial situation as they were before winning the big prize. Personally, I am convinced that this is mainly due to three factors. The prize can be big but it is not ‘endless’. People who come into possession of huge quantities of money that they were never used to, think that money is endless. Believe me when I say (knowingly, as I have had serious debts after being very rich), that if you spend as if there is no tomorrow, money will eventually run out. Another downside consists in so called ‘friends’ and relatives. When someone wins the lottery, lots of ‘friends’ and relatives tend to mysteriously appear around the lucky winner; those people must be carefully controlled. Moreover, the main factor is the fact that people like to show their fortunes off to the world. In this perspective, wasting money has the sole purpose of impressing society; meanwhile entire fortunes can slip through the fingers without ever coming back. The temptation to which many fall, of buying fancy cars (like a Ferrari) is something that never fails to astound me. The idea of investing in a car that is 4 or 5 times the average annual salary of a citizen in a rich country is frightening. It seems to be one of those gestures made only in order to show off to people. On top of this, I cannot stop thinking about the fact that a new Ferrari, once it leaves the showroom, loses up to a fourth of his original value! I could imagine some worse deals, but not that many. You better think twice before buying a new car. To me, the biggest advantage of being rich is having more freedom, which means not depending on anyone. I am not suggesting that the reader who is already independent financially should drop his job. It doesn’t hurt to have a job that we like, and a person who doesn’t need to work for a living could always leave his job and move abroad. On the other hand, if someone is not wealthy enough, the situation can be trickier. Some readers might even ask how they can possibly pay their mortgage without a fixed income. The American constitutions states that we are born ‘free and equal’. I think it is a beautiful thought and might even concur. However, we are not all born equally rich; some of us have rich parents, others don’t. In this regard, and in others, things are not that equal and that’s why, my dear reader, you should be grateful to have two arms and two legs. I know children who were born without arms and legs. Try to be grateful and do the best with what you have. The world is full of people (and I am the living proof of it) who improve their financial situation and the reader could be one of them. Or maybe this is already the case. I have a suggestion for you, dear reader. Make a list of what you have spent in the past couple of months. Even if it amounts to less than what you earn, ask yourself this question: can the satisfaction I gained by buying those things justify the expense? If you are completely honest with yourself, I am sure you will realize that some items on that list might have been eliminated. The men and women who are used to satisfying all their desires and impulses are going to have a hard time in cutting the unnecessary expenses. For example, it might be difficult for them to buy a car less fancy than the one they are used to. I am the first to admit the appeal of having a Ferrari.
The bright red would definitely get the attention of the opposite sex, which leads to a whole series of exciting possibilities. People must be as receptive towards learning about money-getting as towards any other issue. Certain actions produce expected effects. It’s not possible to accumulate a fortune by following the path that leads to financial disaster. One must be brave enough to do a U-turn and go back to take the road to wealth. A normal situation for people who have just started to make money (and I am the first to admit it) is wasting a lot on luxury goods; up to the point that sometimes these expenses end up swallowing most of their profits. Then, when fortune turns her wheel, they will still need to spend to keep up appearances. Obviously, the results are disastrous and these people usually end up in a worse position than the one they started in, as by now they have probably accumulated some debts. Bottom line: if you start to earn more (well done, you) keep an eye on your expenses. Do not splash out on fancy stuff like a rich socialite. Leave that to the French. Good health is a necessary condition to have success in life. And I am not only talking about being an essential condition to accumulate wealth, but it is also important to reach happiness. Of course, there are also people who managed to accumulate fortunes and be happy in spite of their health conditions but we must all agree that these people have had a harder time doing it. If health is the basis of success and happiness, you should learn what’s best for your health. More than a century has passed since I have written the original version of this book, and the advance of medical knowledge has led to many improvements in the health department. You can look for information on how to improve your health in books or on the Internet - I am sure you’ll find a lot of information. I realize that what I am about to say regarding health is going to sound obvious and even a bit repetitive to the dutiful reader, but I think certain things are worth repeating. Tobacco continues to be a plague today as it was in the XIX century. Millions of people smoke many packs of cigarettes. Despite the enthusiasm of tobacco sellers, during my life it was already clear to me that smoking was bad for the pockets and for the health of every individual. Today it is well documented that smoking can significantly reduce life expectancy, not only of those who smoke but also all the people around them. Surely, the reader must know a relative or a friend who has suffered a heart attack due to this ugly habit. In my day, many of my male friends and men in my family used to smoke. Most of them were married, and I have to admit that smokers do not tend to beat up their wives like some alcoholics do. However, I don’t think it can be pleasant for a woman to tolerate the bad breath of their husbands. I sometimes have difficulties in being in close proximity to men who smoke, and I am not even the one married to them! The worst is when people have heart attacks due to this disgusting habit. Some die, and others end up in the care of their own families, causing emotional and financial distress. Some even leave their loved ones in very uncomfortable financial situations as the whole family was solely supported by their work. I notice that today there are as many women smoking as men. In my time smokers were mainly
men, and it was quite inappropriate for a woman to smoke. Back then women used to fight for their rights and freedom, which is something I find very noble. I totally understand it’s not good for both the physical and mental health of anyone to have to depend on a certain type of husband as domestic violence used to be incredibly frequent in my time. Today women could use the freedom they have conquered for much more useful things than smoking. There are certainly smart women out there who could employ their time better and achieve great things. The arguments against tobacco are also valid for alcohol. Alcohol (especially white drinks, like vodka) can intoxicate the body, and the problems caused by it can worsen with time. In the distant past most people used to travel around by carriage or horse, so any excessive alcohol consumption by the driver could have been helped by the wisdom of the animal. This is not the case with modern cars. Any drunk person can get behind the wheel of a car and cause multiple damages to him and to people around him. If someone drinking and driving ends up hurting himself it is fine by me, but if someone causes troubles to others then it’s a different story. In my opinion, drinking and driving should be severely punished. Making money requires a lucid mind. A person must know that two plus two equals four, and must plan his business carefully and examine all the pros and cons before starting anything. Rationality must be the force behind every person’s dreams. It doesn’t matter how smart someone is; if his mind is intoxicated with alcohol it will be impossible for him to achieve success in business. I know that after my death, new drugs (like LSD) were created, but the negative effects of alcohol on society are far more dangerous than the ones of any other drug. After my death I was in favour of a permanent ban on alcohol. However, I witnessed prohibitions in the USA during the 1920s and saw that it didn’t bring any good results (‘the remedy is worse than the disease’), so I changed my mind again. Die and learn.
2. Pick the right career
The simplest way for young people to be successful is to choose a profession that reflects their interests and capabilities. Thank goodness, parents these days are much better (still not perfect) than they used to be in the time I lived in. In my time, it was fairly common for a father to decide whether the son was going to be a doctor or a lawyer. Choose a path according to your interests and capabilities. . This type of pressure from the parents never led (and still doesn’t) to good results. Not only did the kids never succeed in the way their parents hoped for, but also they often ended up very unhappy. Let’s just stop for a second to think about how frustrating it must be to work for years and years in a job you don’t like. Seriously, just stop and think. Imagine how it must feel to work hours and hours as an accountant when your vocation is to be a farmer or something else. This is definitely not an exciting perspective. Enthusiasm is a very important component of money-getting as it is of many other activities. Actually, now that I am writing this I confess that another activity, more important than trying to make money and also requiring lot of enthusiasm, just came to my mind…but let’s continue with our story. Without doubt, each one of us was born for a sensible purpose. There are big differences in our brains and bodies. For example, I was born with the physique of a person that can work in a field under the sun day after day for his whole life. Some of us are born with a natural inclination towards being mechanics while others deeply dislike any sort of machine. In a group of 10 children it often occurs that most of them have very different abilities and desires from each other. It’s good for the world and for our own sake that we are all born different. If we were all to do what we like and what we are good at, the world would be a better place. Thank goodness for the people who like mechanics (different from me)! Without them, the circus I created (which still exists more than a century after its foundation) would not be here today as no one would have known how to operate most of the machines. It was natural for me to hire someone with competence to do a job I was not able to do myself. Do not pick a profession only because you think you will earn lots of money; this scheme can easily backfire. Choose something you enjoy. There are very few things more rewarding than doing a job you like. When I entered the world of entertainment, my parents deeply disapproved as they thought I was having too much fun. Truth is that I was full of enthusiasm and eager to learn all there was to know about the entertainment world. Clearly, my chances of succeeding were superior to those who just worked for the sake of doing something with their time. Success comes easier to those who do what they are good at. Unfortunately, not everybody on this earth has found out his or her real vocation. In this world, for example, there are too many doctors who should have been sales people. And our health is paying the price.
3. Choose the right location
After deciding on a profession, you must also choose the right location. This is the only principle I strongly advocate that has lost its original importance. Carefully choose the right location Why is this important? Mainly for two reasons: Number one, the means of transportation have developed a lot. I used to do shows on both sides of the Atlantic and travelling by ship used to take several weeks. Now by plane, the same distance can be done in a few hours. Second, modern technology allows many activities to happen independently from one’s physical location. For example, many American companies base their customer service team in India or in other English speaking countries. The possibilities we have today never fail to impress me, especially since in my time we didn’t even have phones. It feels like I was living in the caves, but we are only talking about less than two centuries! The Internet is what amazes me the most. I used to play poker and always needed to move from one location to another to do that. When I was travelling abroad it was quite hard to find players, as the game was not well known. Now, on the Internet, it is possible to play anytime and wherever you are. It is not like playing live, but it’s still extraordinary. The location has lost its importance; a virtual shop can be located anywhere on the planet. However, the right location is still relevant for many activities where you need to deal with clients in person. The reader might be a great hotel manager, but living and working in an isolated village is never going to bring the amount of business necessary for the good functioning of the hotel. Even if he only lives in the village and works in a hotel somewhere else, he’s never going to manage to commute on a daily basis. Maybe in the future they will invent a form of tele-transportation (these days, one can never know) but until that day comes his life is going to be hell. The same argument can be applied to any other profession. It is not accidental that most doctors are concentrated in big urban areas. Not only because most of their patients live there, but it is also easier to exchange professional opinions with other fellow doctors. I am sure the reader has got the gist of my speech. Carefully evaluate the importance of location according to your profession. It might be irrelevant or it can be essential. If it is important, make sure you are based in the right place. Only this way can you have the success you deserve and the world can benefit from your talents.
4. Avoid debts
One doesn’t need to be a prophet to realize that those who live above their means are never going to gain financial independence. Unfortunately, I lost my independence (or, in other words I went bankrupt) because I got into debt in order to make an investment, and on top of that I never made a profit out of the investment. I lent money to develop the city of East Bridgeport, in Connecticut, and not only did the planned investments never take place, but I also had to watch my money ‘fly away’ to a distant location. This was the way I went bankrupt, and it took many years to pay off the debts. Luckily, I turned the situation around and, thanks to the experience, I ended up being richer than I was before. The only thing worse than being poor is being poor after having been rich. Learn from my experience: avoid debts. Avoid debts The basic principle of avoiding debts is even more important today than it was when I was alive. Why? Because it is very easy to get into debt today. How many lives have been ruined by the unreasonable use of credit cards? It’s too easy; just swipe the card through the reader and you are done. Beautiful clothes and expensive dinners are even more pleasurable when bought by a simple swipe of the card. Pity about the bank statement at the end of the month. Then, when you start to get behind with the payments of all the various credit cards, the (many and mean) interest starts to accumulate and, ultimately, the victims of credit cards become in essence bank employees forced to pay off the debts increased by the impossible interest rates. High interest debts contribute to the sweet dreams of the creditor, since he’s going to wake up in the morning richer than when he went to bed. On the other hand, the debtor is already poorer, as while he was sleeping, the interest was accumulating and his debt growing. It is obvious that running into debt to buy luxury goods is never going to help you reach financial independence. Moreover, there is a small aspect of the issue that most people tend to forget: getting into debts to consume today will lead to less consumption in the future. You can escape from debts but they will follow you anywhere. The best option is to stay away from them in the first place. There is no other category of people in the world with the same extraordinary memory of creditors; they never forget about your debts. And when you reach the deadline to pay off those debts, the creditors will punctually appear at your door. Sometimes the creditors seem to be so concerned about the debtor’s health that they even decide to break one or both his legs just to put him out of misery (this is the way I like to look at it). Obviously, the only effect of this is an increase in the level of stress of the poor debtor and nothing else. Crazy stories, I know. But it did happen and it will happen again. Besides credit cards, I also find incredible all the financial assistance given these days to clients by retail shops. Some stores sell television and computers that clients can pay starting after 3 months or even longer. Sometimes, although they say it is interest free, the margins of profit are very high to compensate for the late payments.
Young people who are just about to start their lives must be very careful with getting into debt. Very few things can cripple a person as much as debts, and unfortunately, we see many young people falling into debt and consequently losing their self-esteem. In many cases it all starts with a series of small purchases paid in installments. At the beginning it might even be possible to pay off all the installments and get out of debt, but in the long term, this way of purchasing goods can transform into a vicious habit. It’s like always going around carrying an invisible weight of 20 kilos: you’ll have to work all your life to pay off the debts and you’ll end up with nothing. It’s not only an annoying situation, but also quite tiring. When things start to get too ‘heavy’ to bear, the first temptation is to find a shortcut and usually one ends up contracting more debts to pay off the old one. This is the signal that things are definitely not going well, as in the majority of cases this behavior leads us to reach the bottom and feel as if we were ‘drowning’. I am not talking about the merchants who buy and sell on terms, or those who can buy on terms and manage to transform the purchase into a profit (however, even in this case it is better not to be in over one’s head). Too many debts mixed with carelessly taking risks could lead any business to its ruin. Unfortunately, I know what I am saying. Well, I am not saying that we must avoid debts at all costs. If someone has serious health problems, incurring debts might be the only solution to get proper health care. In order to buy a house many of us take on a mortgage (which makes perfect sense as it’s way better than wasting money on rent). Money is like fire: it is a great servant but an awful master. When money employs you (and the interest accumulates), you are its slave. However, if you let money work for you, you will have a very good employee working day and night to please you. Do not let money work against you: if you do that, you’ll have no chance to succeed.
Many people who almost reached the target of their ambition, after having lost faith in themselves, decided to change their path and give up. This way they lost their chance forever. When we are on the right path we must persevere. Sooner or later our efforts will bring good results. If you don’t persevere you might end up like those people who spend months and months looking for oil in the ground and give up just before discovering a huge well, leaving all the glory to the next (more patient) guy. Persevere I am just saying this because I know that there are some people who seem to “have been born tired” because they are clearly lazy and don’t have self-confidence or patience. You must, therefore, cultivate these qualities and follow the advice of David Crockett: “Remember these words when I am dead. First be sure you're right, then go ahead.” Perseverance and self-confidence are just habits and can be cultivated day after day, until they end up being part of your personality. Even if you don’t possess them, pretend you do. If you believe in yourself, you’ll convince others as well. Those qualities are a habit that can be easily acquired and we are, after all, creatures of habit. You must be determined to not let the events (even the tragic ones) impact your life to the point that you’ll let yourself down. By doing this you’ll keep going straight on the road to independence without giving any importance to all the possible impediments. The death of my wife and other family members had a profound impact on me, but I didn’t let those feelings rule my entire life. I tried to keep myself together, and eventually I remarried and went on with my life. Obviously, perseverance needs to be ruled by wisdom. As Shakespeare said, “there’s a tide in the affairs of men that, if followed, will lead to fortune.” If you see that by persevering you are not getting satisfying results, do something else: this way you will obtain different results and if you like the new results, keep doing what you are doing. If you don’t like the results, at least you know what to avoid. If you hesitate for too long in trying to get what you want, someone else will get it and you’ll be left empty handed. Perseverance is often a synonym of self-confidence. Many people tend to look at the negative side of life and ask for trouble. They are merely pushed around by the current and don’t believe in themselves. The readers must understand the importance of having faith in his or her self, as this is the essential ingredient for success. Moreover, the reader must have an optimistic view of reality. Obviously, I am not suggesting ignoring reality, but instead to focus on the bright side. Let me give an example: imagine you are driving a car and have an accident. Nothing happened to you but the car is destroyed. Both the optimist and the pessimist will agree with the facts of reality that the driver is fine and the car is destroyed. The difference is that the pessimist will focus on the wrecked car and probably within a year his friends would have heard the sad story of his accident a hundred times.
The optimist, on the other hand, will focus on the fact that he walked away uninjured. This attitude has two advantages: first, from a psychological point of view, it’s easier to overcome the trauma and get back on your feet in a relatively short time. Second, the optimist learns faster than the pessimist. In fact, the latter keeps talking about his troubles without doing anything to understand how to avoid them in the future - he keeps blaming others. Meanwhile, the optimist reflects on the events and maybe realizes that he shouldn’t have drunk so much or driven so fast. Next time he is probably going to drink less or drive slower, to avoid another accident. I have met men who incurred financial misfortunes and decided to take their lives because they felt there was no way out. I have also met men who, facing the same difficult situations, managed to overcome their problems by believing in themselves and staring over. Being optimistic is an essential condition to be lucky in life. An optimistic person does more with his time than a pessimistic person. He also makes more mistakes than a pessimist, but it’s only because the pessimist never really acts because he fears failure. Being optimistic also has another great advantage, as we tend to favor views that confirm our beliefs and disregard what goes against them. For example, if a student who always has good marks fails a test, the natural tendency of the teacher is to ignore the bad result. The same happens when a bad student get good marks; it is easy to assume that he had copied. How is this related to luck? Well, the optimist, being aware of his luck, is more open to the opportunities that are presented to him. The same way, when opportunities are right in front of the pessimist, he tends not to notice, too busy focusing on his bad luck in life. Persevere on your way to success.
6. Whatever needs to be done, must be done properly
Start to work, if necessary, from early in the morning until late, in or outside your work place. Leave no stone unturned and never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today. An old proverb still current says that whatever you do, you should do it properly. Many energetic people get rich while their neighbors stay poor because they only worked half as hard. Whatever needs to be done must be done properly. Luck always favors the brave and never favors those who don’t help themselves. Find out what you want in life. Help yourself and do not wait for something to come up. For those who sit back and watch, poverty or prison is the normal condition. Not doing anything creates bad habits and doesn’t buy you proper clothes. The poor says to the rich: “I have discovered that if we equally share everything, there is enough money for everybody on this planet. This way we would all be happy!” The rich replies: “If we were all like you, all the money in the world wouldn’t last a month and then what would you do?” To which the poor comments: “We would share it again, of course!” Dear reader, we must agree that this is not the way to go. I do agree that we must help those in need. Of course, we must do so by teaching them to fish and not by merely providing them with plenty of fish. Giving away free fish can only help people in the short term and generate bad habits. Do your part or you won’t be successful. One day Muhammad heard his followers saying: “I am going to free my camel and leave it in the hands of God.” Muhammad then said: “Keep your camel tied up and have faith in God!” Do what you can to help yourself, and only then have faith in whatever you like to believe in. God helps those who help themselves. After my death I heard a delightful story. There was a man who used to pray every day to win the lottery. He did this for years and nothing ever happened. One day he got tired of waiting and started to go around saying that God didn’t exist. At that point, God decided to speak to the man and told him: “Could you please at least buy a lottery ticket?” Everything is possible in life, but success is more likely to smile on those who buy a lottery ticket once in a while rather than at those who sit back and do nothing.
7. Rely mainly on your own efforts
When a business grows it is inevitable to have employees. Without employees, it is impossible to have a big business. There are basically two reasons for this. First of all, a day is only made of 24 hours and it’s not possible for one person to do everything. For example, I couldn’t have been able to sell tickets for my circus and at the same time made sure everything was ready for the show. Secondly, it has to be said that many employees do certain jobs better than their employers. My circus had trapeze artists; you know...those artists who perform stunts in the air on a trapeze and there’s a net below them in case they fall… Well, the simple thought of being up there with them makes me faint. Moreover, my natural tendency towards roundness restrains me from attempting such exercises. However, the eye of an employer is usually worth more than the hands of a dozen employees. It is only natural that an employee is more loyal to himself than to his employer. Many employees wouldn’t be able to notice certain important things as quickly as their employers. It is also probable that, in the eventuality of the employees becoming the owners of the business, they would more swiftly notice such details. Nobody has the right to expect success in life unless they apply their dedication and experience to really understand their business. A person can be a shoemaker but he still has to learn his craft, starting from his own experience. He will learn something new every day and make new mistakes every day. Somehow, making mistakes is very good (just try to avoid making mistakes where there is nothing to be learnt). Mistakes can be considered as failed experiences. They might even be considered ways of not doing things. Even if you are not sure of what exactly to do, give it a try and, eventually, do it wrong. Do not repeat the same mistakes twice. The system of trying and getting it wrong is the best way to learn, unless you start to lose too much in the process. Understand your business through experience and hard work. Many times, the difference between success and failure is based on the timeframe within which mistakes occur. Those who often misstep tend to do so because they have more initiative and end up finding the right path more easily. Let me give you a word of advice: if you have been thinking for a while about doing something that doesn’t cost much in terms of effort and won’t be the end of the world even if it turns into a failure, then do it. There are two advantages with this approach. First, you’ll finally stop obsessing about it. Second, there is always the chance that everything goes well. What I am going to say is not very scientific, but I have noticed that people tend to underestimate their chances of obtaining their goals. Try to make many mistakes in a short period of time and try to do so in a smart way, without repeating the same errors over and over. This means you are doing something. Taking action will eventually allow you to harvest the fruits of your labor. The millionaire Rothschild’s motto seems to be a paradox: be careful and audacious. At first it might seem a contradiction, but after a second analysis it starts to make sense. This maxim shows great wisdom. In other words, Rothschild is trying to tell us that we must be careful in planning, yet enterprising.
A man who is just plain careful never has the initiative needed to be successful. Also a man who is simply audacious will end up being negligent and fail. Someone might make a lot of money with only one right financial speculation, but In this case, when guts are not accompanied by caution, the win can be considered a mere accident. Put more faith in your own efforts than in chance, especially because if you make an effort you’ll be luckier. It hasn’t been heard of for a man to find a bag full of money outside his home for two consecutive mornings. If such things happen, they must happen incredibly rarely. Certain actions produce certain consequences. If someone adopts the right approach, he’s going to be successful. He won’t have to depend on fate in order to have success. This way, using the right approach, it will be easier to take advantage of good luck when it presents itself. If the person is still not successful, it might be for reasons I cannot grasp.
8. Hire the best people
The person hiring employees must look for the best. This is true today as it was during my time. I think you will agree with me when I tell you that you must always use the best tools - the same principle should be applied when choosing your employees. You must hire the best employees you can find If you have a good employee it’s best to keep him rather than hire someone else. For as good as the new employee can be, he will always need some time to adjust to the new job and learn how to do it. A good employee, on the other hand, will learn something new every day and bring great benefit to his employer. For this very reason, his work is more valuable in the present than in the past. Needless to say, when the employee realizes his own value within the company, he will demand a huge pay rise because he thinks he is irreplaceable. In this case show him the door. It is one thing to ask a reasonable pay increase, but another is demanding huge amounts. If something like this happened to me, I put the guy in street. First, this showed him that someone else can take his place. Second, if someone is arrogant enough to think they are irreplaceable, he probably wasn’t that good. The third reason is not to give a bad example to the other employees. Graveyards are full of the bones of those who considered themselves irreplaceable. However, I would, if possible, keep the guy in my service to benefit from the results of his experience. An important element of an employee is his brain. This applies today more than ever. Why? Knowledge was always very important, but at the speed we are making new discoveries these days, it has now turned out to be essential. More and more every day, most jobs require people with mental skills. Even in manual labor (the most popular job back in my day), it is important to have a brain. ‘Hands’ with no ‘brain’ are not worth much. Sometimes they are even the cause of great losses. During the course of my life, I owned many museums that were destroyed by fires. At least in one case the fire was because of some ‘hands’ were used without ‘brain’ some years before. I confess that at the time I was very tempted to ‘take care’ of the employee in question (maybe with a punch of two). After giving it some thought, I decided it was better to just let him go, without ‘taking care’ of him, as he deserved. Morally, it was a good decision. In practice it was a good decision too, because I avoided spending some extended ‘holidays’ in a jail. If possible (and other things being equal), I would rather hire employees with a good head on their shoulders. Employees with intelligence and experience are the most valuable and it’s important not to let them go. In these cases, it is best for both the employer and the employee to keep the work relationship going and leave space for a pay rise from time to time. Don’t be a scrooge when it comes to your employees’ salaries. If you don’t pay enough you will condemn yourself to lose all your good workers, who will naturally go away and look for more money (since nobody likes to bring home a piece of dry old bread). If you are a penny-pincher, get used to ending up with the worst workers, which is in no way good for business.
9. Don’t underestimate your business
What do many young people do after they have learned a profession or a business? Usually they do nothing, instead of following their career and advancing in the industry. They say they have learned a job but they don’t want to be employees. They are really asking: “What is the point of learning a business if not to start your own?” To me, with that type of attitude, it is going to be hard for them to establish themselves on their own. So I ask: “ Do you have an initial investment?” “No, but I will.” “How exactly are you going to get the money?” “Between me and you, I have an old aunt who’s not going to last for much longer. And even if she goes on living, I’ll find someone who’s willing to lend me some money. If I get the money to start, everything will be fine.” The biggest mistake a young person can make is to believe that he is going to be successful thanks to borrowed money. Why? A millionaire from my time once said that he found it a lot harder to gain his first thousand dollars than all the other millions he had made afterwards that had contributed to the creation of his huge fortune. Money is good for nothing unless you learn its value from your own experience. Try to give a young man money to start his business. He will probably lose everything within the first year. It’s like winning the lottery: money comes and money goes. They don’t know the true value of money, as, in terms of value, nothing is worth anything unless you work for it. Young people must not wait for the money of the rich aunt or any other family member; they must take action. I am saying this because there is no other social group of people who manage to stay away from death as long as possible, like rich old people. Looking at it in a different light, living a long life ends up being good for the people in question and for their heirs. Some people make their own fortune and others are born rich. Those who had to conquer their own wealth are more likely to stay wealthy as they remember how hard they had to work for it. Moreover, they are more likely to be able to grow their capital. In building their own fortune they have learned many things that the heirs of big estates cannot even grasp. This way, in relation to wealth, those who earn their own wealth proceeded confidently, studying the rules and, most of all, examining human nature. Day after day, experience and knowledge grow, allowing one to get closer to financial independence. Generally speaking, poor people can end up rich and rich people can end up poor. A rich man, upon his death, leaves a big inheritance to his family. The older sons, who had contributed to the building of such a fortune, know the value of money from experience. This way they are able to multiply their inherited money through a series of wise investments. The youngest sons, who grew up in money, have more chances to waste their inheritance due to
their reckless spending habits. If the parents are not careful enough in raising their kids, they will inevitably grow up to become spendthrift and consider their fortune as endless, even though we all know that is hardly the case. Not knowing the real value of money (since they didn’t earn it), the youngest heirs will tend to develop a taste for lavish expenditures. I have already seen them spending the college years without studying, partying all the time or doing silly pranks, wasting what they have and what they don’t have in the hope that their parents will keep supporting them forever. Honestly, I can’t deny that I have committed a couple of pretty silly pranks myself when I was young. Well, maybe even more than a couple. However, I did learn from my mistakes and became a more responsible person because of it. I am not saying someone should not have fun. It’s your duty to have fun, but within certain limits. The reader knows what I am talking about. Rich and poor share the same ambition, to be the best at what they do. This goal has the power to make us (and the world in general) better. Down here on earth, all the entry level jobs seem to be occupied, but the more you go up the ladder the more vacancies you’ll find and the better the salaries. No job or business is ever too crammed at its top levels.
10. Learn something useful
It doesn’t matter how wealthy we are, we all must develop our skills and learn a useful profession. The world changes a lot, sometimes showing us the good side, sometimes the bad one. Without knowing how to do something useful we are all at its whim. Any back-set (like a financial crisis), can take one from wealth to misery. Learn useful skills or a useful profession The reasons for losing money can lie in us, in external circumstances or even in a mix of the two (usually this is the case). When I was alive, the United States went through a civil war. Besides the death and suffering of many Americans, many also ended up financially ruined. I would guess that the readers of this book are living in a developed country not torn by wars (and I hope it will stay like this), with a history of more than 50 years after the Second World War. You are probably thinking that you are never going to see a war in your life. I used to think the same, two or three years before the start of the Civil War. Even if the reader might not want to have anything to do with wars, wars might happen. This simple statement reflects a reality. Also, let’s not forget about natural catastrophes (like earthquakes), which can have the same impact on our lives as wars. Imagine your house collapsing because of an earthquake – it’s the same effect as if a bomb hit it. Even if you don’t want to have anything to do with earthquakes, they can always strike when you least expect them. If you have a useful activity or profession, you’ll always have a safety net you can rely on, just like the trapeze artists in my circus. Without a safety net, the various acrobatic exercises they performed might have ended up pretty badly (in this case, probably on the floor). Not having a safety net could lead to very inconvenient consequences (again, I know what I am talking about) for your financial situation. If such accidents happen, our lives, financially speaking, might even end or be seriously damaged. When I lost my fortune (and it was not a small one), it was a huge shock for me. Imagine how it was to have everything good and perfect and then suddenly (I get goose bumps just thinking about it...) I had to count the money in my pocket and rely on the goodness of my friends. In the end, with the help of these friends and thanks to the fact that I am a good speaker (a useful skill) I managed to get back on my feet. I paid back all my debts within 4 years. After that, I ended up being even richer than I was previously. But I still didn’t enjoy the experience at all.
11. Be optimistic but not too much
Optimism is an essential ingredient for success in business and in other areas of our lives. Without optimism I would have never been rich. If I were a pessimist, I would have assumed that all my ventures would have ended badly and I would have never started them. Optimism was even more important when I lost my fortune. Many in my situation, would have given up. I didn’t. I fought, took all the necessary measures and gained an even bigger fortune. Being optimistic is an essential ingredient for success in business and in other areas of life. Unfortunately, according to my own experience, I can say that a small group of people are too optimistic for their own good. They always think that everything is going to be fine and they take unnecessary risks. Poker players who lose because of a wrong system represent an example of this category of people and, not accepting the defeat, they keep playing with the same systems. However, my experience also tells me that the majority of people are too pessimistic for their own good. In other words, they consider their chances to reach certain goals as less than what they are in reality. For example, the world is full of men who don’t have the courage to invite out a pretty woman just because they fear being rejected. My dear male readers let me tell you one or two things about beautiful women. First, beautiful women are just like any other woman. Some of them are good people, others are not; some are smart, some are not, and so on. The only difference is that they are prettier than others. It’s like with rich people; the only difference between rich people and others is that they have more money. I don’t agree with those who claim that wealth makes people act badly. I think the point is another; riches allow people to show their real side. Bad rich people would be bad even if they were poor. Simply, when they were poor they had fewer chances to show their bad side. Back to the issue of beautiful women. Contrary to common male knowledge, beautiful women are easier to approach than the others. Why? Because most men think they are too hard to approach, so nobody tries. This way, many gorgeous women are just waiting for a man to show his interest in them and it never happens. Dear reader, respect a beautiful woman but don’t sell yourself as a bargain. If you are genuinely interested in a pretty woman, you should show it. In the worst-case scenario she will reject you, which is not the end of the world. As I said, according to my experience, the majority of people are too pessimistic for their own good (meaning that they consider their chances to do anything well to be fairly low). It’s in your own interest to develop an optimistic personality and allow yourself to be successful in business and in life. Probably your chances are higher than you think. At the base of success are many people who just took a leap of faith and believed in themselves.
12. Focus your efforts in one direction
Dear reader, focus your efforts in one business until you become successful or come to the conclusion that is time to quit. If you realize that you are not suited for your business, it is better to change quickly. Obviously, you can use what you have learned to build up a new activity more suited to your taste and skills. Focus on only one business until you become successful or realize that you better change the activity Focusing your efforts has at least two advantages. One of them is obvious; a business normally takes some time to take off. If someone doesn’t focus only on one thing, this time can extend considerably and, this could cause one to easily feel discouraged and abandon his path when things are about to start kicking in. For the second advantage, when our attention is focused on one specific thing, our mind is keener to produce valuable ideas for improvement. If we are busy doing a dozen different things at the same time, many great ideas could just pass by without us knowing. Many people let entire fortunes slip through their fingers because they were too busy doing many different activities at the same time. Focus your efforts wherever you think they are best invested in. Those who try to do too many things at the same time might end up not doing anything at all.
13. Have a method
We must follow a precise method when we do business. People doing business following specific rules know that there is a time and a place for everything and perform their jobs promptly. By proceeding this way, we will manage to do double the work with only half of the problems incurred by those who don’t have a method. If we create a system for everything and do one thing at the time, following a precise timeline, we will end up with more free time to do what we really like or simply to have fun. On the other hand, those who always do half of the things they are supposed to and hop from one thing to another will end up with many loose ends in their business. Moreover, these people will never know when their work time is over because nothing has really been completed. You must follow a specific method in your business Of course, there is a limit to how methodical one can be. Excesses are never good. Let me recount a small story to illustrate this. Before dinner, the butler instructs his staff: “Here everything is done following a specific system. When the soup course is over, you must ask what should come next.” The waiter then tries to follow the instructions of the butler to the letter. One of the guests at the table didn’t fancy eating the soup and asked the staff to take the dish back to the kitchen and serve him the fish course instead. The waiter then glanced at the full dish of soup and, keeping in mind the instructions, said, “Not until the soup is finished, sir.” This is a perfect example of taking the whole idea of a system too far. It’s good to have some flexibility and be able to deal with unexpected circumstances. This means that if a great opportunity presents itself, we should be willing to abandon our method and take advantage of it. Obviously, this should be an exception that conforms the rule.
14. Follow the news
Try to always be aware of what goes on in the world, especially if it can influence your business. The world today has methods of communication that didn’t exist during my time; radio, TV and, most of all, the Internet. Be careful in choosing the most reliable source. Be aware of what goes on in the world, especially if it can influence your business A good newspaper allows you to know what goes on in the world. Also, today it is possible to read news in real time and choose information according to specific parameters (like by subject or keywords). Compared to my time, many new inventions and improvements have been made in most areas of business. If you don’t keep yourself constantly updated about these developments, you’ll miss out on things that can make your business more successful and in the end you’ll fail. Remember that your competitors never sleep.
15. Try to stick to your area of competence
Today, as in the past, we see people making big fortunes and losing them all of a sudden. In many cases this is due to gambling or other bad habits. It is possible to lose what you have earned in months, or even years, in only one night at the casino. Moreover, it often occurs that someone loses a fortune because of bad investments made outside of their area of competence. Avoid making investments outside of your area of competence When a person becomes rich thanks to his business, we tend to think that he was born lucky and whatever he touches transforms into gold. From this to suggesting that he could easily multiply his wealth by playing the stock market, is just a short step. The stock market is known to be a fertile territory for many speculations of a doubtful nature. Gradually, it is possible to forget your economical habits; the focus of what you know about the business and what made it work. You might follow the distant voice of mermaids and incur catastrophic consequences. First you invest millions in the stock market in the hopes of gaining hundreds of millions within hours. Before you know it, unexpected consequences will force you to invest even more money in the stock market, which you know nothing about. Sometimes, people get to the point of borrowing more money to sustain such allegedly simple trading. This is how someone can manage to flush a huge fortune down the toilet. With much disappointment, I confess that I am familiar with such situations and their awful consequences. In this case, try to benefit from my experience; do what I say and not what I did. Try to stick to your area of competence. Do not let a legitimately earned fortune slip through your fingers because of investments made outside your sphere of expertise.
16. Be a wise guarantor
I have already said while I was alive that no man should ever be a guarantor for someone (even to his own father or brother) for an amount of money superior to what could be lost without troubles for the guarantor. I say the same now that I am dead. If necessary, make sure you ask in advance for goods that can cover the amount of money you are guarantor for. A person asking you to be his guarantor will tend to say that it’s just pro forma (in other words, that the guarantor will never be required to pay such an amount on behalf of the guarantee). This, sometimes, is a lie. Banks and other similar entities need people to have guarantors for evident reasons. If the debtor doesn’t pay, they can ask the money of the guarantors. Of course, the guarantors are then entitled to get the money back from the debtors. However, this doesn’t make much difference, especially if the debtors don’t have the money. Normally at the beginning things go well. Someone you know asks you to be a guarantor for him for a loan from the bank. The amount is reasonable so you help him. The other person even manages to pay back the loan to the bank. Later on, the same guy asks you to be guarantor for a bigger amount of money or even for the same amount various times. You don’t seem to see any problem and keep helping him. The guy might even have the best intentions but meanwhile the amount of his loans gets bigger. One day, the business of this guy goes bad. Instead of coming clean with you, he asks you to sign more documents so that he can get more money and you end up being the guarantor of a huge amount of debts. You can end up selling some of your properties to pay off someone else’s debts and you might even go bankrupt together with the person you have been a guarantor for. Avoid being a guarantor. However, if you cannot avoid it, be wise and calculate carefully your risks. Do not grant for amounts that, if lost, could put you in a difficult situation
17. Advertise your business
After my death, I had access to a lot of academic research demonstrating the main reason why small companies don’t grow. The reason is they don’t advertise their products and services and potential customers are not aware about their existence. The immediate consequence is that sales are not as good as they would be if a proper marketing campaign had been carried out. This is exactly how small businesses don’t grow. We all depend, some more than others, on the public. We all have to deal with people - lawyers, doctors, artists, shoemakers, headmasters and university professors. Those who deal with the public must make sure that the products and services they are selling are of some value, have good quality and can satisfy the customers. When a product is worth the money and will satisfy the customers, this must be made known to everybody.
You must wisely advertise your business because it is clear that if someone offers a product or a
service and nobody knows about it, they won’t profit from it. In my time, a good medium for advertising was the newspaper. Now there are many other alternatives. Besides newspapers and magazines, you also have radio, television and the Internet. Obviously, I cannot know the best way to publicize your business, but whatever the best medium is, you must take advantage of it in order for your business to profit. You must advertise your business because it’s clear that if someone offers a product or service and nobody knows about it, you will never profit from it Farmers plant the seeds first and then they collect what grows from them. It doesn’t work the other way around; first they plant, and then they harvest. The same principle can be applied to all types of business and especially to publicity. If someone has a good product, he must let the world know about it in order for people to benefit from it. Obviously, the product must be really good; the type of thing your customers would like. A bad product will never work out on the long term because people are wiser than you think. Men and women ultimately try to do what’s in their best interest (nothing wrong with this). We like to put our money where it is best invested. Obviously, we always try to find good opportunities. It is possible to advertise a bad product and convince people to purchase it (at least one time). People will then start to say that it was all a scam and your business will eventually be damaged by the bad publicity, leaving you without anything. We all need customers who buy our products all the time. One thing is certain; too little publicity is bad. If you only advertise your business a little bit, you probably won’t get good results. It is necessary to persist and keep advertising, as people need to hear and see advertisements many times before remembering a product. Without people understanding exactly what you are selling, you’ll end up wasting the money you invested in publicity. You must choose carefully how to advertise your product and insist on promoting it. Publicity is a necessary investment if you want the world to benefit from what you offer.
18. Try to be the news
Don’t try to make the news at all costs, but do try to make the news. If you or your business makes the headlines for fraud, that’s not good. However, making it into the news is generally good. The news doesn’t have to be related directly to your business, but it would be good if your profession (doctor, lawyer or shop owner) was at least mentioned. Some people reading the paper might be drawn out of mere curiosity to check out your business or purchase what you sell. If these people find out that spending their money on what you sell or do is a good investment, they might turn into a loyal customer. The news will grab the attention of many potential customers who, by buying a good product, will come back for more. Let me tell you a true story. In the 19 century I brought a great Swiss singer (Jenny Lind) into the United States. I auctioned the first ticket to her show in the States. The ticket was sold for the exceptional sum of $225 (equivalent to several months of salary for the average American). Imagine working for several months to purchase that ticket. The reader will consider this was a bad investment. It is certainly not the case, if, like the hat maker Genin who won the auctioned ticket, you have the right type of business that could benefit from this sort of publicity. The news of the huge amount of money paid by the hat maker ran fast throughout the States and many millions of Americans read it in the papers or heard it through word of mouth. Thanks to this publicity, Genin sold over 10,000 hats a year for the following six years. I am not saying that everybody should do what Genin did. However, I am saying that you should look for publicity and try to be in the news whenever the right opportunity arises. How could potential customers be aware of your business otherwise? Opening the doors of your shop or office and waiting for people to come in is not the best option. God helps those who help themselves. You must advertise your business and try to be in the news whenever possible
19. Be nice and polite with your customers
Nice manners and politeness are the best weapons in every business. A big shop with huge ads is worth nothing if the owner and the employees are not polite with their customers. Customers tend to buy more if the staff doesn’t treat them as if they were trying to squeeze all their money making the minimum efforts required. Those who make a sale as if they secretly wished not to see the customer again are probably going to end up with their wishes granted. Even if the prices are good, people don’t like to be treated badly. Nice manners and politeness are the best weapons in every business One of the employees in my museum was once trying to kick out a visitor who was behaving rudely. Basically, the guy insulted my employee and said that if he were asked to leave the establishment, he would never return. Moreover, he would take his friends to another place where he could have fun. In my experience, satisfied customers can do a lot for a business as they talk to their relatives, friends and acquaintances about their good experience. Obviously, this is good for business and brings in new customers. Meanwhile, an unhappy customer can ruin the positive consequences of many positive feedbacks. Besides not coming back, an unsatisfied customer tends to talk a lot more than a happy one. Also, his memory last longer. Let me explain this better with an example. When you were at school, you might have been mean to one of your classmates. If this was the case it is probable that you don’t remember (after all, it’s been a while). However, the mistreated classmate might still remember. Probably, if you meet him again and he is in the position to bring damage to you, he will certainly do so. The same happens with unsatisfied customers. My employee promised that in the future he was going to be calmer and deal better with customers who might get aggressive. He also suggested a pay rise, since he was expected to react with a smile when a customer insulted him. Smart employee, that one.
20. Do charity
We must donate money to charity because it’s not only our duty but also a pleasure (true generosity comes from the heart). If, to the reader, this still doesn’t seem a good enough reason, you must just bear in mind that those who practice charity are generally well regarded by the whole community. This is therefore good for your social life and, consequently, for you business. Practising charity will help you develop your good will and sooner or later it will bring great benefits to you. We must donate money to charity because is our duty and also a rewarding pleasure The best form of charity is to help those who are willing to help themselves. Ideally (and to use a metaphor), you should always provide the instruments to fish and not the fish itself. Giving away the fish is a very bad idea, as, instead of helping the person, you’ll just help the development of his bad habits. If you help those who are already helping themselves, the time and money you invest could have many positives effects. One of my favourite charitable actions is to help poor students who are willing to study. Continuing in their studies will allow them to change their lives, and the lives of their children, for the better. Obviously (and to continue with the metaphor), in extreme circumstances we must give away the fish. If people are fainting from starvation, it is quite useless to try and teach them to fish - a rumbling belly that ticks the hours can prevent anybody from focusing. First, we should feed these people and then we can start teaching them how to fish. Do not fall in the habit of certain churches that try to feed the starved with prayers. It is a lot easier to convert someone when his belly is full. People with empty stomachs tend to be too hungry to worry about their souls.
21. Don’t talk too much
I know I said that you should advertise your activity as much as you can. On the other hand, I shall suggest you are careful when telling people about the secrets of your business. Entrepreneurs, especially the successful ones, like to brag about how they made so much money and got to where they are. Not much can be gained by doing this, but a lot can be lost. You must be careful about what you divulge about your business It is generally better not to mention your profits, hopes, expectations and goals. This should apply to your conversations as well as to all written documents. Inevitably, men of business are always writing many letters. Words often end up dispersed by the wind but a written document can last in time and can always surface to reveal its content. Remember that times and circumstances are constantly changing. Written words once considered of no importance can always come up later on, in a bad moment, and damage you. What I just said is even more important if your business is going through a rough patch (to say it in other words; you are losing money). In this case you must be very careful not to talk about it. Why? Let’s consider the example of the banks. Someone (cannot recall whom) provided a great definition to explain the activity of banks; a bank is like someone who offers you an umbrella when it is sunny and takes it away when it rains. This very same can be applied to suppliers and customers: some of them might try to take advantage of your situation to do business that can potentially harm you further.
22. Keep your integrity
Integrity is more precious than rubies and diamonds. Some parents tell their kids to make money, possibly honestly, but still to make money. This advice is not only malicious but also stupid. It basically implies that if you cannot manage to make money honestly, you can try and get rich dishonestly. Integrity is more precious than rubies and diamonds Is a common saying that the end justifies the means, which means more or less the same of what I have just stated. However, the end cannot always justify the means for a whole series of reasons. Firstly, because the means used can change completely what we were trying to obtain. Imagine that you win over the heart of a woman or a man through lies and similar obscure tricks. Naturally, most of the readers will have to deal with a guilty conscience. Also, the love of the other person, for how big as it can be, is based on lies. Sooner or later, al knots come to the comb and consequences will be very serious. The second reason is that making money dishonestly is the hardest thing in life. Many crooks or swindlers would be richer if they obtained their money legally. Prisons are full of people who tried to get rich by illegal means. The thing is that sooner or later these people will get exposed and because of the shady ways employed to gain their wealth, all the doors to success will be closed right in front of them. Success will still be possible, but it is going to be very difficult to grab. For example, the public tend to avoid people whose integrity has been compromised. As much as a man can be smart or nice, nobody will deal with him if they know he’s a crook. I personally believe that it is always possible to get back into the public’s good graces. However, I find life very hard on those who have abused the good grace of people. Honesty is fundamental to all success, whether success is financial or related to any other areas of life. Integrity is very important; those who possess it are blessed with a type of happiness and peace that can hardly be found otherwise (all the money on earth cannot buy that). Richness is often not a synonym of success. There are many rich men whom, from a merely human point of view, are very poor because they don’t follow any moral principles in their lives. Obviously, once we are aware of the possible side effects, it is always better to be rich. However, we must not pursue riches at all costs. A deep desire for money is the beginning of all evil. However, money well spent is not only useful, but one can also use money to make them happier and increase their own influence. Wanting to be rich is a universal desire and nobody can ever say that it’s not healthy. If the person with wealth is willing to accept his responsibilities and use the money to help others, then it’s all good.
Summary of the principles
1. Spend less than what you earn We must earn more than what we earn. 2. Pick the right career Choose a path according to your interests and capabilities. 3. Choose the right location You must carefully choose the right location for your activity. 4. Avoid debts 5. Perseverance Perservere in your pursuit of success. 6. Whatever needs to be done must be done properly. 7. Rely mainly on your own efforts Nobody can expect to be successful without basing the knowledge of his business on personal experience and hard work. 8. Hire the best people When hiring employees you must make sure that they are the best. 9. Do not underestimate your business 10. Learn something useful We must all learn a useful skill or profession. 11. Be optimistic but not too much Optimism is an essential ingredient for success in life and business. 12. Focus your efforts in one direction Try to focus on only one business until you become successful or realize that you had better change activities. 13. Have a method We must follow a specific method in our business. 14. Follow the news Be aware of what goes on in the world, especially if that can influence your business. 15. Try to stick to your area of competence Losses of big fortunes are often caused by bad investments made outside of one’s area of competence.
16. Be a wise guarantor Avoid being a guarantor. However, if you must be a guarantor, be wise and calculate carefully your risks. Do not guarantee for amounts that, if lost, could put you in a difficult situation. 17. Advertise your business Be careful in finding the most appropriate way to advertise your business because if someone provides good services or sell a good product and nobody knows about it, hardly any profit will be made. 18. Try to be the news You must advertise your business and try to be in the news whenever possible. 19. Be nice and polite with your customers Nice manners and politeness are the best weapons in every business. 20. Do charity We must donate money to charity because it’s our duty and also a rewarding pleasure.
The history of money-getting (better known as the history of trade) is also the history of civilisation. Where there were trades, art and science were flourishing. In fact, men who make money are quite beneficial for the whole humanity. It’s especially thanks to the successful men that we now have scholastic institutions and art galleries. Saying that the world is full of rich people who only want to get richer at the expenses of others is not a good argument against feeling the desire to make money. As for hypocrites in religion and smooth talkers in politics, many undeserving millionaires can infiltrate into the world of rich people. These people are probably the exception to the rule; generally speaking, those who manage to make money are very useful for both humanity and the people around them. My only wise piece of advice to all men and women is earning honest money. As Shakespeare used to say, those who don’t have money or possessions lack of two great friends.
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