When I was younger I worked with a colleague who was extremely good at what he did. Despite receiving lots of praise for the high standard of work he would consistently produce, it seemed he never quite realised just how talented he was. A position in the company became available which would have been a promotion for my colleague and it was widely expected that he would get the job. In fact, I overheard people talking about future plans within the company as if this person was already in the new role.
Bill Gates has been one of the richest men in the world for several years. Elon Musk has founded several large companies including PayPal which was sold for $1.5 billion. Warren Buffett is the most successful investor of the 20th century. What do these and many other successful entrepreneurs have in common? Well, here is a clue.
When he was first starting Microsoft, Bill Gates started his day from four o’clock in the morning, worked more than 16 hours a day, and often stayed in his office all night.
I’ve heard many people in the past say to me that they have thought of a mind-blowingly great idea that will make them rich. Some of the ideas have indeed been great, some of them not so much. However, there has not been much of a correlation between the greatness of the idea and how rich they have become. Most of them have not converted that idea into affluence. As Felix Dennis says in his book “Ideas won’t make you rich on their own”. The eventual goal is vastly more important than any idea. It’s how ideas are implemented that counts.
Jerry Weintraub was an actor, producer, promoter and agent: a true self-made philanthropist. His book “When I stop talking, you’ll know I’m dead” documents several entertaining stories from his life. There are insights into his friendship with politicians such as George Bush and Jimmy Carter and anecdotes with world famous actors on the sets of some of the blockbuster films he produced such as The Karate Kid and the Oceans 11 trilogy. He’s done his fair share of work with musicians as well: from building and promoting John Denver’s career to staging Frank Sinatra’s comeback.
Elon Musk has long since entered the consciousness of the general public. Back in early 2012 people started to take notice. One of his companies had just built and delivered an all-electric car. Another of his companies had just flown a capsule to the International Space Station and back. He was being lauded as an entrepreneur on a par with the likes of Steve Jobs. However, whilst Jobs had succeeded in achieving similar feats in two different industries at the same time, Musk has since achieved it in three of them.
The idea for Amazon came to fruition in 1994. Over 20 years later the company employs over 90,000 people and has become one of the most well known businesses on the planet.
The visionary of this corporation was a gifted child and he’s evolved into a driven CEO, who with the help of the internet has created a single store that sells nearly everything. His name is Jeff Bezos.
Early in his career he showed many leadership qualities. He was charismatic, persuasive and confident.
In 2006 Blake Mycoskie was a 29 year old entrepreneur. He founded his first company when he was 19 and ten years on he was taking a break from his fourth start-up to go travelling in Argentina. During his travels he engrossed himself in the culture. He danced the tango, played polo, drank the wine and even wore the national shoe — the alpargata.
Ray Kroc is the man who turned McDonald’s from a single restaurant into the fast-food giant it is today.
His family did not have much money growing up but Kroc had a happy childhood. He liked playing baseball and learnt playing piano at the age of 6. He was also good at selling things, even at a young age. His entrepreneurial endeavours included running a lemonade stand and starting a music store with his friends. This early work set Kroc on the path to becoming a successful businessman.
Before vying to become President of the United States of America, Donald Trump wrote a book nearly thirty years ago that became one of the most successful business books of all time.
Trump starts by taking us through a week in his life back in 1987 when he’d just turned 40.
There are a distinct lack of formal meetings but a large amount of phone calls usually between 50-100 a day, that are short and to the point. Interspersed between these are a dozen or so impromptu meetings. After leaving the office at 6.30, the calls continue into the evening and all weekend.
Branson’s nickname from his staff is “Dr Yes”, because he can’t say no. If you want to do something, he believes you should just do it, even if people say it can’t be done.
Adam Holownia loves reading and writing about successful people from history. He has spent the last five years sharing what he's learnt online. He is the creator of educational YouTube channels Eudaimonia and The Art of Improvement which together have over 400,000 subscribers.
His first book, Mastering Machiavelli, is a collection of essays, breaking down key concepts and themes from the highly influential work, The Prince, written by Niccolò Machiavelli. It is almost everything he knows about Machiavelli, packed into a short digital book.