Real life is the best teacher. But it’s costly and time consuming. Personally, my favourite shortcut is to learn from people who have figured out some of life’s puzzles and become wildly successful.
For my money, Mark Ford is the next-best thing to having your own success coach whispering in your ear. Mark is an American self-made millionaire entrepreneur who I’ve learned a great deal from – before I ever even met him and he became my colleague (more on that later). Mark is an entrepreneur, best-selling author (with 24 books under his belt), copywriter, real estate investor, Brazilian jiu-jitsu champ, and a self-made multimillionaire who’s launched dozens of businesses.
In coming weeks, every Monday I’m going to pass on to you Mark’s views and insight about wealth, living life well, and achieving success. I always make time to read Mark Ford because I always learn from him.
But before I tell you more about Mark, I want to share with you his thoughts about “getting rich.”
The First Step to Truly “Getting Rich”
By Mark Ford
When you put one of your life goals above all others, things change. Situations that used to seem complicated are suddenly simple. Problems that once perplexed you are now easy to solve.
My decision 30 years ago, to make “getting rich” my No. 1 goal, was based on Dale Carnegie’s advice in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People. He said that most people fail to achieve their dreams because they don’t set goals. But he also noted that some people fail because they have too many goals.
When you have too many goals, Carnegie explained, you burn up energy by pursuing two or three or a dozen objectives simultaneously. You make progress in several areas, but you achieve mastery in none.
Too many goals? That was my problem at the time. I wanted to be a published writer, a teacher, a philosopher, a martial artist, and a world traveler. And ever since I was a kid, I’d wanted to be rich. Carnegie’s advice was to narrow my objectives down to three and then two and then one. And make that my top priority.
It was a challenge to go through the process. In making “getting rich” my top priority, I worried that I would abandon all the others. I was a goal-setting lothario, choosing one, and only one, woman to be my wife.
But when I set that priority – as I said – everything changed. Not the world around me, of course, but the landscape of my mind. I now viewed every decision through a new lens, constantly asking the question “Will doing – or not doing – this make me richer?”
Making this mental shift had an immediate and positive effect.
1. It changed my values.
The pride I had once taken in industry editorial awards now seemed like arrogant vanity. My natural inclination to challenge every rule was modified by the pragmatic consideration of whether the rule actually made financial sense. And my loyalty to our company’s employees was superseded by a respect for and loyalty to the company’s customers. I now understood that making our customers happy would help the company become more profitable. And that, in turn, would help me get rich.
2. It changed the way I saw my role in the company.
I had been spending about four hours per day working with our writers to improve their style and fix their grammar and punctuation. I now realized that stylistic and grammatical improvements would not make the company more money.
So I began focusing on other aspects of the business. How we could use our editorial copy to support our marketing efforts. How our marketing could be improved with big, exciting editorial ideas that would appeal to our readers.
3. It changed the way I used my time.
I was in the habit of showing up 15 minutes late and leaving 15 minutes early. After the change in my mindset, I began working about 65 hours per week, beginning each workday at 9 a.m., working until about 8 p.m., and working at least half a day on Saturday and Sunday.
4. It changed the way I viewed my working relationships.
I stopped having lunch with our vice president of operations. He was a very intelligent guy, and I had previously found him engaging and amusing. But his clever comments, I now realized, issued from an emotional quagmire of negative feelings toward the business and its owner.
Talented employees who did ordinary work began to irritate me. (Why couldn’t they work harder and be more useful to the business?) And my feelings toward the company’s owner morphed from repressed resentment (as a working-class kid, I disliked and distrusted all “rich” people) to cautious admiration (he had, after all, accomplished that which was now my life’s goal).
5. It changed the way I made decisions.
With “getting rich” as my top priority, almost every decision I made became clear and easy. The same will be true for you. All you have to do is ask yourself a very simple question: “Will this make me richer or poorer?”
I’m not just talking about the obvious wealth-building decisions. This works for most of the little decisions we all face every day. Because every one of those little decisions stems from the BIG decision of establishing “getting rich” as your main goal.
Consider this example…
You go out to dinner with your boss and his wife. You figure that your share of the bill is about $100. The waiter places the check on the table. Your boss reaches for it. Do you let him get it? Or do you grab it first?
You might think, “Let the boss pay. He’s richer than I am and he expects to pay. And if I let him pay my share, that makes me instantly $100 richer.”
But if you have experienced the mental transformation I’ve been talking about here, that’s not what you’d do. You’d grab the check and insist on paying. You’d tell your boss that you have benefited from the opportunity to talk to him and paying the check is a small token of your appreciation.
That will signal to him that you are a certain kind of person – someone who is not afraid to invest in his future. Saying it and meaning it will tell your boss that you may be the person he’s been looking for all these years, the person that might one day run the company when he steps down.
You are flying to a trade show. You will be on board for three hours. Do you watch the movie? Or read that recommended marketing book?
You might think, “I’ve worked hard all week and I’m tired. Watching the movie will relax me, and it’s a fair reward for the extra work I’ve done. Plus, it’s a movie I’ve been wanting to see.”
Or you might think, “There is a reasonable chance that I will find at least one thing in this book that will help me become a better marketer. There may even be some nugget of information here that will make me more productive at the trade show.”
With “getting rich” as your top priority, you’d know exactly what to do.
Yet another example:
Let’s say your favorite leisure activities are golf and tennis. You can afford to join one club. Which should you choose?
You might tell yourself that it makes no difference. Or that it is smarter to choose the club that is less expensive. Or you might choose golf because it’s a game you can play with your boss. But if you have your priorities in order, you will know that you can’t afford to play golf regularly because golf takes too much time. On average, it takes twice as much time as tennis.
In the short run, this may seem insignificant – a difference of three or four hours per week. But over a year, that difference amounts to 150-200 hours. Hours that could be spent becoming your company’s best employee or starting a side business. Every day, you make hundreds of small decisions that either add to or subtract from your eventual wealth. Most people, most of the time, never stop to notice. But if you do notice and make the right decisions, you can greatly accelerate your journey to wealth.
It begins by making “getting rich” your top priority.
More on Mark Ford
I first “met” Mark a few decades ago, when I sent away for a course on copywriting developed by a man named Michael Masterson. Although I didn’t become a copywriter, I learned more about writing from that course than I did from university and graduate school put together. And I went on to make a career out of writing.
Fast forward to five years ago, when I joined an investment research company that’s closely affiliated with one of Mark Ford’s businesses. It didn’t take me long to piece together that Michael Masterson was a pseudonym that Mark Ford had used. Since then, I’ve been fortunate to work with Mark and to learn from his vast and deep experience.
Mark grew up in New York and started his first business when he was 11 years old. Not long after university he took a job with a small publishing company in the U.S. state of Florida, where he helped drive growth to US$135 million in annual revenues – in the process he became a multimillionaire. Mark retired (for the first time) at age 39.
After a year of writing poetry, he became a consultant to the health and investment publishing industry. He was later involved in developing dozens of multimillion-dollar businesses, including one where revenues recently grew past the US$400 million mark.
He has also written a dozen books on entrepreneurship, personal productivity, and wealth building. Three of these were New York Times best sellers.
After turning 60 years old, Mark “retired” again. He now focuses on growing his investments and writing for an independent investment research firm in Florida.
Look for Mark’s thoughts next and every Monday over the coming months.