Who Wants to be a Billionaire

By Boris Tsimerinov and Mark Borkowski

People’s measures of success are different. Is creating or helping build a multimillion dollar – or maybe even a billion-dollar business part of your definition of success? If so, please read on.

Several members of the Advisory Panel of Prolific Wisdom, the Harvard Alumni Business Book Club (Mark Brooks, CEO, Courtland Brooks (Malta); Andre Lamontagne, Research Manager – Servomex (UK) and Boris Tsimerinov, Principal, Investments & Operations, CIEL Capital & Director, Semper8 Capital (Canada)) reviewed The Self-Made Billionaire Effect: How Extreme Producers Create Massive Value(1) and spoke with this book’s authors, Dr. John Sviokla (PwC’s Global Thought Leadership Leader) and Mitch Cohen (PwC’s Vice Chairman).

Here are several takeaways from Prolific Wisdom’s review of The Self-Made Billionaire Effect (“SMBE”):

What Do We Know About Self-Made Billionaires?

There are approximately 800 in the world.

Most lean on prior experience: 70% of the sample were over 30 when they launched their blockbuster idea(s), 75% had direct sales experience, 70% had prior ownership of a P&L.

Few launch in “Blue Oceans”(2) 80% sailed in “red oceans”, operating in highly competitive and mature industries where they were able to spot disruptive opportunities.

Less than 20% of the sample were in high-tech industries.

Many have partners: More than 50% of the billionaires were successful in their core business as part of a producer-performer partnership with producers as the company visionaries and performers as exceptional execution executives.

What Skills / Abilities Have They Developed?

Duality of judgement and vision: Seamlessly hold on to multiple ideas and perspectives without limiting ones’ thinking to existing parameters.

Empathetic imagination: Identify and understand problems by being empathetic to the potential customers and identify creative solutions.

Inventive execution: Execute in an unusual and creative manner to originate a blockbuster product.

Patient urgency: Slowly prepare and wait for an opportunity, but move quickly when it is the right time.

Focus: Work relentlessly in pursuit of between one and three priorities. Those who focus achieve more than those that pursue six or eight priorities at a time. Can maintain patient urgency on other areas of interest, but need to focus on the few that count.

What Can You Do?

Read more and read strategically: Mark Cuban credits his success with his appetite for information. Billionaires consume lots of information. Try to consume information which is likely to be useful. Foster interest in diverse areas, subjects and fields.

Protect your mindspace: Billionaires guard their time, doing away with extras, distractions, and nonessential activities so they are able to support their most vital work.

Focus on ideas that have the promise of scale: Billionaires consistently dedicate their time only to ideas that had the potential to build massive value, at real scale.

Learn from mistakes: When you fail, try and determine what might have turned things around. Also, learn from the mistakes of successful people around you and those publicized in the media.

Pick great partners: Find people who have faced down real life challenges and know how to get back on their feet. Find people who share your business culture, but have complementary abilities. Great producers should find great performers and the other way around.

Develop empathy: Train to improve your understanding of others’ perspectives, needs and desires. Consider the other side of your client / service provider relationship, the other side of your next negotiation or the consumers’ reaction to various new products.

What Else Can You Read?

-The Self-Made Billionaire Effect.(1)

-Rex Jung’s Work on Transient Hypofrontality (3): Showed that creative people can turn off the evaluative functions of their brains allowing themselves the mental freedom to invent. They need to be in an environment where mind wandering can happen. One needs to give Producers enough “free” time to create.

-Daniel Kahneman’s Prospect Theory (4): Individuals’ perceptions of risk can be influenced by framing, context, personal experience and other factors. Self-Made Billionaires are not huge risk takers, but they keenly consider the risk of not taking opportunities.

What Should You Know About SMBE?

SMBE takes the readers on a tour of successful companies from Morningstar to Lululemon and pioneering billionaires from Mark Cuban to T.Boone Pickens.

The authors reveal such concepts as “empathetic imagination”, “patient urgency” and “inventive execution” in an effort to understand the workings of the Billionaires’ disruptive minds and to reveal patterns in their phenomenal success.

SMBE is useful to both entrepreneurs and corporate executives. It teaches that a partnership between a “Producer” (creative strategic thinker) and a “Performer” (skilled and thoughtful tactician) in a new business or an existing enterprise can lead to outstanding results.

SMBE is well written and well structured, but tackles a broad topic. It is very much worth reading, especially if you want to create a winning business or have a C in front of your title.

1. http://www.pwc.com/us/en/self-made-billionaire-effect.html
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Ocean_Strategy
3. http://www.rexjung.com/
4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prospect_theory

Mark Borkowski is president of Mercantile Mergers & Acquisitions Corporation. Mercantile is a mid market M&A brokerage firm – www.mercantilemergersacquisitions.com

Boris Tsimerinov is an investor with CIEL Capital, family office expanding its investments in mid-market businesses, and a transaction, operations and financial consultant to companies and high net worth individuals with Semper8 Capital. He can be reached at bt@semper8.com