Get rich slowly

Because nobody wants to get rich slow.

Warren Buffet

Being rich is not about money but about living the life you want to live. Every guru in their Facebook and Instagram ads will tell you: why wait: you can have it now (spoiler: ads are seldom truthful because they want your money).

It is about consistency

As Warren Buffet is known for compounding interest, you should look at what can compound for you to get rich. Do you want to run a marathon? You can do that now, right away. It won’t be fast, it won’t be a pleasant experience, but you can. You can also take three years to train steadily to make it an enjoyable experience which you can repeat every few months.

Do you want to lose 10 kilos? Just stop eating. You will get there. Though when you start eating again, the kilos you lost will bring some of their friends to keep you company. Consider changing your diet, add exercise, and you might lose those kilos, though more importantly, instead of crashing to some goal, make a sustainable change to stay where you want to be.

Consistency is boring

Intensity makes a good story. Consistency makes progress.

James Clear

The Warren Buffet quote at the end is from a conversation with Jeff Bezos and shows that the most giant trap you can fall into is trying to be a hack and avoid simple, proven and patient and try to replace it with complex, luck and now. Yes, sometimes you get lucky, but if you don’t want to need luck, put in the work (or abstain from pleasure traps and quick rich schemes) every day that is required.


Amazon founder Jeff Bezos once asked Warren Buffett: “You’re the second richest guy in the world. Your investment thesis is so simple. Why don’t more people just copy you?”

Buffett replied, “Because nobody wants to get rich slow.”

You need to choose to win or lose

Half my lifetime ago, I was an open-water long-distance swimmer. And every year, a 25km event crosses the biggest lake in the Netherlands. I never was able to see this as a competition. Just getting across was, for me, the goal. Nevertheless, I finished second and twice third in the three times I participated.

I never won

Besides, the competition was world-class, and I did not match that level. I never won. Part of this is that I was not competing. I was completing. If you focus on competing in a race, your approach is different. You are racing against others. If you complete, you are racing yourself. Sometimes you are lucky, and racing yourself is enough to be faster than others, but often, you get what you focus on. And I am still happy with it.

I never lost

Even though the second place is the first loser, it never felt like such. Each finish after 5 or 6 hours felt like a bonus and colossal achievement. Getting a price afterwards was nice, but it was not the reward. The reward was completing what I set up to achieve.

Either way is fine

You do not have to compete and win. You also do not have to settle for completing. It is your choice. Though if you decide to complete, do not be sad you did not win. If you compete and do not win, do not be unhappy. Losing is the majority of the competition since there is only one winner.

Making a choice and giving it the best you have is essential. Since if you provide the best, the result is your best, independent of where your end up. Be happy with the work you did.

When you get interested in this race, the IJsselmeer Swim Marathon is this year on September 11th. And at this moment, I am still #31 of the 179 people who succeeded in crossing the IJsselmeer.

Always set two goals

Setting a single goal, for example, running under the 4 hours for your upcoming marathon or having an excellent outcome for a meeting, make your life difficult. What happens if the conversation goes in a completely different direction or if there is a lot of wind during your run? You failed. You are still on step one and can start over again.

Minimal and Maximal goals

If you set two similar goals, you just doubled your chances on failure. Therefore you should not consider equal objectives. You should consider a minimal goal (simple, achievable, but still a step forward) and a maximum goal (can be utopian, a big bet or just your ideal solution).

How it makes life easy

Having a minimal and maximum goal creates bandwidth in between, which you can navigate. Your minimal goal should be entirely in your control, or you should at least be able to influence it. For example:

Minimal goal: I want to maintain our relationship and learn more about the other person

Maximum goal: I close this deal and open the door for after-sales.

Minimal goal: I want to maintain a good running technique, especially in the last 10k.

Maximum goal: I will run this marathon below 4 hours.

Set yourself up for success

If your minimal goal is a stepping stone for your maximum goal, you help yourself move in the direction you want to go. You could set your minimal goal as a smaller version of your maximum goal (e.g. I run the half-marathon in 2 hours). However, do not make your minimal goal a stretch already since it might only create frustration that you did not reach either of your goals.

You do not have to achieve the minimal AND the maximum goal. Achieving one of them is good progress. And as long you are progressing, you are growing.

Enough is a beautiful thing

Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little.

Epicurus

Did you do enough? Are you enough? Do you have enough? What is enough? Knowing what is enough for you is a beautiful thing. It gives you peace of mind, and in some cases, it helps you to focus.

How to define enough

It can be simple. Enough could be a number. If only you had 4 million euros, that would be enough for you to retire, or wouldn’t it? The issue with numbers is that, in this case, if 4 million is enough, is 3,999 million also enough? It is known as the Sorites Paradox:

This ancient Greek parable talks about the effect one small action can have when repeated repeatedly. One formulation of the paradox goes as follows: Can one coin make a person rich? If you give a person a pile of ten coins, you wouldn’t claim that they are rich. But what if you add another? And another? And another? You must admit that no one can be rich unless one coin can make them so.

What is enough?

Instead of focusing on a number, focus on what you can do (or have done) or how the world looks differently—the more specific, the better. If enough money means you can retire and go on holiday twice a year to your favourite destinations, the number becomes less important. Of course, it is still there, but it is not the focal point.

Were you productive enough today? What does it mean for you? Does it mean you cleaned your to-do list (doing and replanning)? Does it mean you picked your number 1 thing and moved it further? Or did you help a colleague with one of their challenges? Pick something, though do not make it a number (I need to do X tasks).

Define your enough level as something meaningful for yourself and appreciate what you have.

Ulysses pacts instead of discipline

“I will just watch one more video / Instagram story/tweet and get back to work”. And after you said it and look at your clock again, it is 1 hour later, and your work is still there.

“disciplined” people are better at structuring their lives in a way that does not require heroic willpower and self-control.

James Clear

We have all been there or are still there. Do not torture yourself by thinking you have the most extraordinary willpower in the world and enormous self-control. And even if you have, wouldn’t it be great if you could use it for something different than keeping yourself in check with your phone?

What is a Ulysses pact?

The term refers to the pact that Ulysses (Greek name Ὀδυσσεύς, Odysseus) made with his men as they approached the Sirens. Ulysses wanted to hear the Sirens’ song although he knew that doing so would render him incapable of rational thought. He put wax in his men’s ears so that they could not hear and had them tie him to the mast so that he could not jump into the sea. He ordered them not to change course under any circumstances and to keep their swords upon him and to attack him if he should break free of his bonds.

Upon hearing the Sirens’ song, Ulysses was driven temporarily insane and struggled with all of his might to break free so that he might join the Sirens, which would have meant his death. However, his men kept their promise, and refused to release him.

Wikipedia

You are not better than Ulysses

Tieing yourself up to increase productivity might be somewhat counterproductive. However, you can tie up your distractors. Some examples:

  • Put your phone out of sight (in your bag, in a drawer). Or you can buy one of those boxes with a timelock if it has to be like this.
  • Consider limiting screentime for specific apps. You can still extend your time in the app, depending on the settings, but every time it will make you think if you need to spend more time.
  • Disable notifications. Yes, you will still get the email, also without notifications. If you are so anxious, you can also temporarily disable your notifications.
  • Adopt the Pomodoro technique in which you decide to focus for 25 minutes to work on a single task. Since you committed to the job for 25 minutes doing anything else might make you feel guilty enough not to do it.

You do not have to be better than Ulysses

Be kind and not overly strict with yourself. There is no need for you to expect you will be that superhuman who is super productive from day one. You try this. Monitor your progress, take notes, learn what works for you and improve over time.

The key is over time. Success is built sequentially. It’s one thing at a time.

Gary Keller

Even though you are a strong person, don’t rely on willpower and self-control alone. Make it easy for yourself and figure out what your Ulysses pact is that makes productivity easy and enjoyable for you.

Morning rituals

You do not have to get up at 0300 and run a marathon in the morning to be successful. There are many other ways to get started with your days (or do it later in the day, whatever is best for you).

Consider these four elements when crafting your day:

Set your day with intention

Our intention creates our reality

Wayne Dyer

Decide for you what this day will be about. Will you finish a big piece of work, or will you attend meetings the whole day? Be intentional about what you will do and accept that you are not always in control of how your day will go.

It is not about achieving your intention. It is about working towards it.

Focus on you

Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.

Spend enough time with the most crucial person in your life: you. Do not touch your phone. For example, walk (or run that marathon) for a reasonable amount of time.

Be alone with only your thoughts.

Practice mindfulness

A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open

Frank Zappa

Observe where you are, what you are doing and what is going on around you. Mindfulness is not an exercise to see if you are in the right place and if the right things are going. It is observing without judgement. Some people like to write this down in a journal. For some others, just the thinking is enough.

Practice gratitude

Feel compliments as deeply as you feel insults.

James Clear

It is easy to focus on what you need to do and what could be better. Though press pause and look around. What are the things you can be grateful for? Take your time for it and enjoy it. Also, is there anything you are thankful for that you can share with others?

Keep in mind: how you start your day and when you start your day is up to you. Pick something that works for you and that you enjoy. Remember that it is consistency that drives your progress.

You have to find your own rainbow to follow. There is no gold at the end of somebody else’s rainbow.

Bill Grundfest

If you focus on failure, you push away learning

“You need to fail fast.”

“embrace failure”

“Failure is a good thing.”

It is easy to write down more of these platitudes and motivational quotes that sound like good advice but aren’t. Since if you focus on failing, all you get is a failure. You get those 100 ideas that do not work, not the one that does. There is no need to glorify failure.

Nature doesn’t embrace failure. Evolution builds upon success and not on failures. Failures disappear. And that is the thing you should do: build upon success, not on failure.

Words Matter

It is not about failing. It never was. What it is about is learning. However, that doesn’t sound as sexy and as a struggle. Of course, you can brush this off as a simple play of words, though words matter. There is a massive difference between “I stopped smoking” (you stopped doing something) and “I am not a smoker” (you stopped being a particular type of person).

When you need to embrace failure and fail fast, your eyes and mind are on failing and not on the learning experience it brings you.

Failing was too easy anyways

Failing is that you need to do something that does not work. However, if this is the approach, you only know one thing: it does not work. Which only leaves you with 10,000 more options to explore that do not work.

And of course, I know that Thomas Edison said:

I Have Not Failed. I Have Just Found 10,000 Things That Do Not Work.

But did he find 10000 things that did not work? Or did he find something he did not know in every failure and learn from it? I assume Mr Edison would be as happy if he had managed to stop after 100 things that did not work or when it had taken 50,000 iterations since he was learning every time.

You either learn or find the solution

You need to experiment when you do not know if it will work. There is no use in experimenting (or failing if you want to persist on this language) when you already know it works or is not going to work. The outcome of an experiment is not either “it works” or “it does not”. Since “it does not” is not a scenario.

“it works or not” does not have to be that binary. It would be best if you were open that either it works (wow, fantastic you are done) or when it does not deliver the expected outcome, be curious about what it does, why it does this thing, how did you get there.

By going from either it is a success or a learning, you move from either it is a success, or it gives me insights on why we ended up here and not in the place I expected (and often in science, discoveries start with ending up in a very different place than expected, sometimes even by accident, such as penicillin)

Fall in love with learning for the future you

To learn to open yourself up to be creative, writer Mo Willems said once:

Creativity opens you up to brand-new worlds. It doesn’t open anything up to brand-new worlds. You don’t know what it opens you up to. It’s not a line from A to B. It’s a line from A to strawberry pizza.

Mo Willems

Suppose you stayed in your binary flow of failing and succeeding. You would only see that it was either a line from A to B or not. You would have missed out on the discovery of strawberry pizza. Is that pizza the thing you need now? Most likely not, though that is the beauty of learning: it stays with you, and whenever the moment is there, and there is a considerable demand for strawberry pizza, you are the one who was open enough to learn about it. The more you spend time running experiments exploring, and learning, the opener you make your mind to new ideas.

Work on your language

Make the implicit explicit. You are not looking for more failures. You are looking to learn. Talking about failure will get you that: one more thing that does not work. And that is where you will stay if you do not learn.

Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently doing what’s not working.

Derek Sivers

If you focus on “failure”, you only do a binary evaluation of experiments. It works or doesn’t. When you concentrate on learning, you do precisely the opposite: you are opening more and more doors for now and for the future.

Have you considered a question?

A few weeks ago, I was asked to present for a group of CX professionals on leveraging data in their work, like telling people that the floor is made out of floor. It felt so contentious that I would describe what they needed to do as yet another white man.

The issue with telling other people what to do is that there is one certainty: you do not get any wiser out of it. Since it is just you telling people what you already know while hoping that it is somewhat relevant for them.

You do not precisely know what is relevant for the people you are presenting to, even when they have told you what they would like to know. You do not know their exact background, what they already have done, what they could do and why they are here. So why assume that your slides with statements are relevant.

You don’t always have to be the smartest person in the world.
It is better and easier to be the best at explaining things.
That local maximum will get a better outcome most of the time than absolute brilliance if there is no ability to recreate or incept that idea in others.

Garry Tan

Enter: questions

Questions are way more fun than making statements about how the world is. Since you are never talking about THE world, you are talking about how you see the world and what worked for you. It is survivor bias in the purest form.

However, when asking questions, you trigger your audience to apply their domain knowledge differently. If you can help people to rethink their reality and open their minds, you are doing a better job than telling people what to do while they do not know why they should do it.

Ask the big questions:

  • How would it look like if X
  • What is the 1 thing
  • If you are wrong and the others are right, what does it mean
  • How do you know what to do, if nobody tells you
  • If you did not know anything about this, what would it mean

It is not about forcing people to your answer with your questions. It is about being naturally curious and opening doors, even doors that are closed for you, since what is more beautiful than while you are helping others to discover and learn that you are on precisely the same journey with them.

Next time you have to explain something to experts. Consider not presenting with statements. Explore it together with them with questions. You do not have to have all the answers since you will discover better ones together.

Don’t waste your energy on judging

Good message, lousy packaging, friendly person, horrible person, good food, nice place, never go there again, I am so stupid, he is silly, I look stupid, this should be easy.

We are judging all the time, though why, and does it help you?

I don’t judge anybody, I start studying them, why did they do that. Not in a judging way, but to learn from them

David Goggins

How does judging others help you? It doesn’t. It might wind you up. It might give you a way to vent, though, in the end, you are still in the same place, with less energy. You can learn anything from anybody: is somebody doing horrible things? Learn to be not that kind of person. Somebody is doing something stupid but still making a lot of money? Learn what they do right to make that money, and avoid being stupid.

Spend your energy on learning and improving yourself. There is nothing gained by pointing your finger at people and judging.

You cannot look at other’s people performance to judge your performance. You have to look at yourself

Max Verstappen

Comparison is the root of all unhappiness. For example, the comparison with other people or a “future you” that you have not yet become. If you feel the need to judge yourself, look at “past you”, did you put in the work to better than who you was yesterday, last week of last year.

It is about putting in the work to improve. Consistency is the one thing that allows you to make progress since success is one thing at a time.

Find that one thing for tomorrow, work on it, and accept that putting in the effort is good enough. Do not judge whether or not you are good enough to anybody’s standards, including your own. As long you keep working, you keep on improving and as long as you keep on improving, you will get better.

Rate this from 1-10

The easiest thing to do is rate something from 1-10 since you know what a one for you is and ten for you. You can give the same answers as somebody else with this scale, but are the answers the same, or did you select the exact numbers but you meant something else.

In the Netherlands, where I live, a seven or an eight is good. You do not get a nine or a 10. We consider that too much, not because we dislike it, but because we score very conservatively. This mindset is disastrous for anybody trying to do anything around Net Promotor scores.

The workaround is that the people asking for an NPS tell you that if you are happy or satisfied that you should select “the very satisfied” option, which is at the end of the scale. And even while you might not be delighted, you might do it because the instruction tells you you should choose the extreme option over de moderate ones. This instruction helps people get some promoter scores (9s and 10s). However, they might not capture the real intends from people.

Net promoter score (NPS) is a widely used market research metric that typically takes the form of a single survey question asking respondents to rate the likelihood that they would recommend a company, product, or service to a friend or colleague. [..]The NPS assumes a subdivision of respondents into “promoters” who provide ratings of 9 or 10, “passives” who provide ratings of 7 or 8, and “detractors” who provide ratings of 6 or lower. 

NPS Wikipedia page

Image by u/vladgrinch showing the different grading systems in just Europe

Decision Hygiene

To not fall into this trap, you could introduce good decision hygiene. Decision hygiene consists of ensuring accuracy, breaking the tasks /judgements down, making them independent, and refraining from adding any information that could create bias.

Accuracy

First of all, make sure that not any of the scores is an individual expression (personal interpretation of a judgement) but an accurate one.

Break it down and make it independent

Please do not make it one single question/score. Make it several independent tasks. Break down complex judgement (are you likely to tell a friend about it, how difficult is it to work with us, are you happy with the service delivered) into smaller fact-based assessments and ensure that each one is evaluated independently for others.

No extra information when not needed

Do not add information that people do not need to complete a questionnaire or survey, not even when accurate.

If you want to get feedback from customers on what they think, make sure that they can express themselves in a way that does justice to their viewpoints.