I recently familiarized myself with undoubtedly one of the great leaders of the written history: Napoleon Bonaparte
What could a 21st century entrepreneur learn from him?
That question in mind I borrowed a few quotes from Napoleon.
1. If you wish to be a success in the world, promise everything, deliver nothing.
This idea seems strongly counterintuitive but depends a lot on what kind of a success you’re after. The hint of truth that I see here is the fact that delivering nothing is actually a bit overrated. A half-assed effort on making things happen often looks worse than completely dismissing the task. But I have to agree that there is great power just in the promise itself. Aiming high is the key.
2. Ability is nothing without opportunity.
Being an entrepreneur, you will work with people with enormous amounts of skills and abilities. I feel the entrepreneur should be the least able person of the team. But the entrepreneur is the person who shows the opportunity and directs the ability to where it’s needed.
3. When small men attempt great enterprises, they always end by reducing them to the level of their mediocrity.
This sounds like saying don’t try anything big cause you’ll fail. But I will argue there’s a bigger truth underneath. The greatness of the entrepreneurial team is dependent on the amount of balls they have on their effort. The factual evidence seems to indicate that most teams eventually “get real” on their vision. Reality is what brings great ideas to mediocrity. But there is an easy way out and that is not accepting the reality. A good reason to do something is that people tell you it can’t be done.
4. There is one kind of robber whom the law does not strike at, and who steals what is most precious to men: time.
This is a fact. Still few people act accordingly. Irrelevant things and chores keep stealing the time of people. People work without knowing why. No money in the world can buy back your wasted time. It should be criminal to make people do work that they wouldn’t do gladly even without pay.
5. To do all that one is able to do, is to be a man; to do all that one would like to do, is to be a god.
So true. God was an entrepreneur.
Most people agree that the amount of sleep you get at night is not necessarily related to how rested you feel the following day. Being anxious about something could make it more difficult to fall asleep and make you wake up even without an alarm clock. I usually experience this when I have a flight to catch the following morning.
Sleep can be quite counterintuitive.
During this 62 days of my project I’ve slept on average 1½ hours less per night than I used to sleep before. I have set an alarm clock on about half-a-dozen times during this time period. The funny thing is that I have woken up before the alarm every time. Working long days could also have the opposite effect.
It seems I need less sleep when I’m doing things that I like to do.
Dustin Curtis has experimented with his own need of sleep in his blog entry How to Hack your Brain, Part 1: Sleep. This is quite interesting stuff. Curtis argues that one can manage with just a few quick naps during the day, provided that the naps are regular enough. If this is indeed possible, we should ask ourselves:
Why waste time sleeping if you can stay awake and do anything?
But I think this is the wrong question. I’ve always been a huge advocate of daytime naps but timing your naps sounds outright wrong. However, the opposite is quite tempting:
Forget the alarm clocks and start sleeping whenever you feel like it.
Already that would completely change the way people behave in our society. Just think of the amount of stress that would reduce.
How do our anticipations of future events actually guide our actions in the present? A good example of this is the TV Series FlashForward that airs on ABC (Nelonen in Finland). The basic idea of the show is that people black out for 137 seconds and in that time they see a glimpse of their future about six months ahead of time.
What if one would somehow find out their future?
The characters in the series struggle with this issue. The future seems to be inevitable no matter how much they try to avoid it. People refuse to accept the future although it’s given to them on a silver platter.
I think the important question here is how would knowing your future guide your actions? If you had a vivid dream of a future that you’d find desirable, would you do everything in your power to make it happen? What about if you’d merely decide your future and start believing in it?
Our history dictates our future
People extrapolate their future based on their history. Very few people are willing to believe that their future would considerably diverge from the path they’ve already taken.
All you’ve done and experienced is an integral part of the future that you will be having. Our history is an important part of who we are but it doesn’t limit what we want to be.
Do you believe your destiny is a continuation of your past or something else?
That is a question each individual should ask themselves from time to time.
After starting this project I’ve felt physically more alive than ever before. Every morning, I wake up happy and full of energy.
This has made me accomplish more every day. Or at least that’s how it seems. I’ve taken on so much extra work through this project that there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day.
Luckily much of this extra work has been about sharing my ideas with people. After a while each person can have their share of the responsibility and be trusted by the rest of the team.
So put time working for you, not against you
Or you will run out of it.
As I wrote in the previous post, this project isn’t a bet but if it were there would obviously need to be strict rules on what constitutes a success and what doesn’t. This entry covers a bit on that issue and will also function as an FAQ.
The concept of a millionaire is global one and on the global scale money equals US dollars. With the current exchange rate $ 1,000,000 makes merely 730,000 €. Let’s set the sum in US dollars to make it globally comparable.
The project starts February 10th, 2010 and lasts until the start of June 29th, 2010. One could also consider the fact that I’m born 8:51 pm in the evening so I would still have time on the 29th before I’m actually 30 but let’s say we’ll be celebrating the first million on my birthday and I’m having a day off.
- 4½ months
- 19 full weeks
- 139 days
- 3336 hours
- around 200,000 minutes
- and around 12,000,000 seconds
between these dates. Given that a new CEO of a large corporation is usually given about 100 days to get on top of things, I have plenty of time.
Since I have no need for the actual money, there is no special rule that I should have it on my bank account after paying the income tax or that I should need to liquidate assets whatsoever. I can have the million in any form of stocks or securities. If the stocks are from a limited company that is not listed in a stock exchange then a valuation has to have taken place before the deadline. The stocks are valued either at their price in the previous valuation or at a fair market value (FMV), whichever is lower. The value of stocks in a company without any previous valuation is considered to be zero.
I won’t use my savings to pull up the sum even if my savings would make the difference in reaching the $ 1,000,000 milestone. However, I can borrow from my savings to do investments.
Time = Money
To gather the sum, I will have to make an average of $ 7,200 per day. Assuming I will be continuing my daily routines, I will spend at least 10 hours per day either sleeping, traveling or eating. Then I obviously have some previously agreed engagements that can’t effectively be used for promoting this objective. Let’s assume there is one full week of those engagements. Taking these figures into account I should be making an average of around $ 550 every hour for the remaining 138 days.