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Speed Review: Business Brilliant

Speed Review: Business Brilliant

Speed Review: Business Brilliant

Surprising Lessons from the Greatest Self-Made Business Icons

by Lewis Schiff

In Business Brilliant, Lewis Schiff combines compelling storytelling with ground-breaking research to show the rest of us what America’s self-made rich already know: It’s synergy, not serendipity that produces success.


Seven Principles To Shine With Brilliance

Personal finance guru Suze Orman advises millions of her fans on the importance of rigorous saving as the path to great wealth. The problem, according to Lewis Schiff, author of Business Brilliant, is that Orman didn’t become very wealthy by saving more; she became wealthy by making more. (For example, Schiff describes how Orman dipped into her retirement fund to buy a $7,500 Cartier watch.) Schiff insists that saving your way to wealth is a myth — one of many myths about becoming wealthy that he targets in his book. Schiff, author of two previous books on wealth creation, developed the seven principles in Business Brilliant from two national in-depth surveys he commissioned that looked at the habits and attitudes of two groups: middle-class respondents and self-made millionaires who rose from the ranks of the middle class — in other words, those who got very rich, and those who didn’t.

While there was an overlap in some of the responses, it is in those responses that didn’t overlap between the two groups that revealed the differences between those who aspire to be wealthy and those who actually achieve great wealth. In many cases, middle-class respondents were mistaken about the best path to financial success. On the issue of saving, for example, Schiff found that self-made millionaires placed more emphasis on income than on saving. Thus, one of Schiff’s principles for creating wealth is to save less and earn more.

Follow the Money

Another mistaken notion of those who haven’t become rich is the oft-repeated notion that “if you do what you love, the money will follow.” The self-made millionaires in Schiff’s surveys disagree. Yes, it’s important to do what you love; but it’s equally important to follow the money rather than waiting for the money to magically flow in. For example, Guy Laliberté, the visionary founder of Cirque du Soleil, never forgot that access to funding was the key to achieving his vision. Laliberté is quoted as saying, “I always said that if Cirque makes it big, it will be because it succeeds at marrying art and business.”

The remaining principles for creating great wealth are:

  • Imitate. Don’t Innovate. The true inventors aren’t the ones who make the big fortunes on their “big idea.” Just ask Gary Kildall, who invented the first operating software for personal computers.
  • Know-How Is Good. Know-Who Is Better. There’s a reason why the word entrepreneur is based on the French words, “between” and “to take.” Wealth comes from becoming the link between the right people.
  • Win-Win Is a Loser. For many of the wealthy, Win-Win is more Wimp-Win, with the win-win aficionado being the wimp.
  • Spread the Work, Spread the Wealth. Let others do the tasks they do better.
  • Nothing Succeeds Like Failure. Setbacks teach people what they do well.

Take the LEAP

In the last chapter of the book, Schiff addresses the question of whether successful entrepreneurship and wealth creation can be learned. This is a topic on which he has worked extensively, based on his research, and from which he developed four core action steps that those aspiring to be wealthy must take: Learning, Earning, Assistance and Persistence (LEAP).

The first step, learning, is to identify what you do best and focus on opportunities based on what you do best. The second step, earning, means that self-made millionaires “take on projects and make deals that maximize the dollar potential of those opportunities while limiting their downside risks.” Assistance is cultivating the right network of friends, associates and partners. Persistence involves learning from mistakes and trying again. But for Schiff, it also means never to procrastinate and making your own luck.

In the seven chapters that cover the seven principles, Schiff offers compelling evidence of why much of the common wisdom on creating wealth is mistaken. For these thoughts alone, the book is worth reading. In the final chapter of this insightful and inspiring book, Schiff helps his readers take their mindset on wealth and begin the journey toward their own goals.

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