Monday, January 2, 2012

Only One thing You Can Control in Life?

Henry Blodget wrote a comment for Business Insider, There's Only One Thing In Life You Can Control: Your Own Effort:
It's New Year's resolution time, and Mark Cuban's new book offers the rationale for a good one.

There's only one thing you can control in your life--your own effort.

So if you want to give yourself and your company the best chance of success, work harder.

Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, tells the story of how, at 27, he was finally making "twice his age." His first company was doing well, and he had finally upgraded from 2-for-$99 polyester suits. He was engaged to get married, and he had just spent his entire savings--$7.500--on a ring. Then his fiance lost the ring in a movie theater, and a couple of months later, the relationship broke up.

The one thing Cuban had to fall back on was his business. And he rededicated himself to it:

In sports, the only thing a player can truly control is effort. The same applies to business. The only thing any entrepreneur, salesperson or anyone in any position can control is their effort.

I had to kick myself in the ass and recommit to getting up early, staying up late and consuming everything I possibly could to get an edge. I had to commit to making the effort to be as productive as I possibly could. It meant making sure that every hour of the day that I could contact a customer was selling time, and when customers were sleeping, I was doing things that prepared me to make more sales and to make my company better.

And finally, I had to make sure I wasn’t lying to myself about how hard I was working. It would have been easy to judge effort by how many hours a day passed while I was at work. That’s the worst way to measure effort.

Effort is measured by setting goals and getting results. What did I need to do to close this account? What did I need to do to win this segment of business? What did I need to do to understand this technology or that business better than anyone? What did I need to do to find an edge? Where does that edge come from, and how was I going to get there?

The one requirement for success in our business lives is effort. Either you make the commitment to get results or you don't.

That second point is critical, too. Making more of an effort is not the same thing as working longer. It's working better--setting goals and getting results.

Here are links to excerpts from Cuban's new book: How To Win At The Sport Of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It.

I know this article is popular nowadays but let me add my two cents. First, anything in life requires effort, not just running a business. Second, don't overlook luck. Even though they rarely mention it, Mark Cuban and plenty of other successful businessmen were extremely lucky. Third, and most importantly, process is more important than results.

I know the business school types place enormous importance on results. "Results count, show me the bottom line!" is their motto but that is a bunch of fluffed up, cookie-cutter nonsense. I will say this over and over, smart businessmen, money managers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, scientists, learn from failure. Failure is good and invaluable. The most important lessons in managing money come from when you lose money, not from when you're making money.

And yes, we all control our effort, and we should all learn to work more intelligently. My pet peeve is useless meetings that go nowhere, especially early morning meetings. I never believed in working crazy hours just for the sake of it. Also, leisure is important, it makes you more productive by giving you time to relax and focus on other things than work. Too many people forget this and end up depressed after suffering a burnout.

Finally, I know a lot of people are obsessed with success, money and power. It's all bullshit. I've met some of the most successful, powerful money managers and the best of them don't take themselves or this industry too seriously. And the ones that do are hopelessly miserable creatures.

A lot of people need to rethink their notion of success. It can be measured in many ways which are a lot more important than money and titles. My humble father, a psychiatrist with over 40 years experience, always reminds me of John Updike's famous quote, "sex is like money; only too much is enough." Keep that in mind and enjoy your life. On that note, I'm going to get my butt to the gym to enjoy a nice workout. Below, some humor on 'NORMisms'.

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