Felix Dennis Part 2: Succeeding as a Founder

I’ve read two-thirds of Felix Dennis’s book How to Get Rich: One of the World's Greatest Entrepreneurs Shares His Secrets. Dennis pairs the wisdom he gained with entertaining stories from his journey. Dennis was a colorful person, and I’m starting to get a feel for the type of founder he was.

As I said yesterday, this book is about how to succeed as an entrepreneur, not just how to get rich. That mental framing was helpful as I read the book. I’ll keep swapping the two terms in this post.

Here are my takeaways from the second third of the book:

Part Three: Succeeding as an Entrepreneur

  • Persistence – Persistent people have the conviction that they’re right and that that will be confirmed shortly. Stubbornness is persisting even when there’s plenty of evidence that you’re wrong or that you shouldn’t. Acknowledging a mistake and realizing a new plan is needed are signs of clear thinking and help focus your persistence on the right activities. The most successful people I know are persistent but also rational and clear thinkers.
  • Instincts – Trusting your own judgment is essential to success. Always be on high alert and looking for opportunities. When you find one, trust your instincts and move fast. Making judgment calls quickly is instinctual. If you deliberate too much, it’s hard to develop your instincts or trust your judgment.
  • Evolve or die – Learning to evolve is essential to survival. If someone is going to “strangle your baby,” it’d better be you. If your product is going to be cannibalized, it’d better be by you, not your competitor.
  • Listen and learn – Talking to team members and industry friends is necessary, but the real learning happens when you talk to people you don’t know, or who work in an obscure corner of your industry you’re less familiar with. If you’re not learning, you’re slowly dying. Make listening and learning priorities, or your days are numbered.
  • Luck – Two things are part of getting lucky. Preparation is required to capitalize on an opportunity. “Do the heavy lifting work and homework in advance.” You must also recognize an opportunity when it happens. Don’t be so buried in the details you can’t see an opportunity that’s right in front of you. Luck tends to evade micromanagers and people who can’t let go. Stay alert and on the lookout for your lucky break.
  • Balance of weakness – In negotiations, usually, both parties have a weakness—to one degree or another. Determining which weakness is most pressing and “potentially catastrophic to which party” is key. The “immediate balance of weaknesses may well prove more decisive than any long-term balance of strengths.” Weaknesses are usually hidden. Make it your top priority to determine the balance of weakness in negotiations. If their need outweighs your greed, you’re in a great negotiating position.
  • Delegation – People are your most precious asset. Delegation is a tool to incentivize your people and bring out the best in them. They’ll make mistakes as they learn, but as your people succeed, your company succeeds.

Dennis’s wisdom is simple but not easy. I’m looking forward to finishing this book.

Prefer listening? Catch audio versions of these blog posts, with more context added, on Apple Podcasts here or Spotify here!