John Paul Getty​

John Paul Getty

April 24, 2012

“When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Time to put the coach hat back on. Now that that congressional debt deal debacle seems to be behind us, let’s lift our vision together shall we? So here’s the question: Envy … or wisdom? How do YOU handle your observations of intensely successful individuals?

I suppose it depends on how they got to where they are. But one thing which *is* relatively “safe” is mining our history for the stories of billionaires — and how they did what they did. There are always principles to bring forward to today. In fact, their power is increased because of the deteriorating work ethos and wisdom of our current age (at least, in my humble opinion, that is!). I’ve recently read up on John Paul Getty–at one point, the richest man in the world. Here’s some of what he did…Mark Clark’s “Real World” Business Strategy The Way of The Billionaire 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.

I’ve gathered the essence of some of them for you here–and regardless of whether or not you run your own business, they apply.How To Assess A Decision Whenever 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 should 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.” When advising businesspeople, I’ve suggested 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. Whenever I’ve seen others follow this advice, 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 or other financial 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. You’ll feel like the “master of your fate and the captain of your soul.” And your likelihood of success will become greater and greater. With my “coach hat” firmly in place this week!