Scott Adams is a cartoonist. More specifically, he is the creator of Dilbert, a comic that gained most of its popularity in the mid to late 90s. Scott Adams is also pretty widely considered highly successful, which is why Tim Ferriss interviewed him here, seeking to reveal some of the practices/routines Scott has kept in order to achieve his success. I liked this interview (and Adams in particular) because there is so little sense that the things he has achieved aren’t attainable by literally anybody. Adams himself said in a BI interview “You can’t control luck directly, but you can move from a game with bad odds to a game with good odds. The world is like a reverse casino. In a casino, if you gamble long enough, you’re certainly going to lose. But in the real world, where the only thing you’re gambling is, say, your time or your embarrassment, then the more stuff you do, the more you give luck a chance to find you. If you do one thing and stop, you didn’t give luck a chance to find you. You only need one thing to work.” Adams is just a guy who didn’t give up and didn’t mind the potential embarrassment or loss of time it took to be great. And because you can’t control who you know, or even what you know, but you can control how much you are willing to find out, I can’t but admire the commitment to the “gamble”.
Among the many things that they talked about in the interview, one practice that caught my ear especially was the routine Scott used to have when he was starting out, where he’d basically write the declarative sentence that he was a cartoonist over and over (15 times) to begin everyday. The repetitive nature and the seeing the words everyday made it easier to visualize and accept, even before it was a reality. I took that practice and decided I’d try it out. I figured it couldn’t hurt and the value of it working vs. the expense of energy to do it was pretty good. So everyday I write out “I, Inno focus on myself, on building the most influential businesses, giving the have-nots more access to the world’s resources, and creating value worth billions in the process.” ten times a day. It isn’t a short sentence, but each component is necessary. Let me explain:
I, Inno focus on myself
I get distracted. We live in a society of distraction if we’re honest. As time passes and technology advances, there are just more opportunities to basically waste time being distracted. Everything’s looking for our attention. There is this constant attempt at a grab for eyeballs to either sell stuff or advertise for other people to sell stuff to our collective relative public awareness. I find myself humming the melody to “Hotline Bling” all the time and I’m not even sure that I like the song anymore. Distractions are just everywhere, taking up mindshare. And more to my point, that mindshare we have is finite. Time to think, time to dream, time to plan, time to imagine, all come from the same limited pot. I personally want to spend less time being distracted and more time focusing on building things that bring value to the world.
on building the most influential businesses
I spend a lot of time thinking about pain points or challenges that we all as people have and share. Some are bigger than others but for the most part, they all tend to be issues that are in my face. Things like financial inequality and the fact that my generation doesn’t really save/invest as much as it probably (DEFINITELY) should, or that we really don’t trust the grownups “running” things because we can actively see them destroying our planet. Race issues, gender issues, gun regulation, drug regulation… I think about them all because they’re not easily solvable and because they will clearly be here a while. I think about these issues in terms of business because that’s what I understand best. It’s my understanding that all business is, is an organization wrapped around a product or service that is focused on solving a particular problem in exchange for commercial gain. And if I got that part right (it is very possible that I do not), then most if not all of the world’s issues can be solved and bring more opportunity to more people at the same time. The bigger the pain point, the bigger the solution. The bigger solution, the bigger the customer base/business. The bigger the influence. The bigger the opportunity to do well by doing good. You get the point.
giving the have-nots more access to the world’s resources
The way I see it, there are two ways to become “made” in this country:
1. You develop a solution for a few very rich people, which either helps them make more money or show off their money.
2. You develop a solution or even better, a platform that gives the masses the ability to create income for themselves and for you.
I have the capacity to admire anyone who is able to utilize either option, but have a special respect for an individual or organization that accomplishes the very rare feat of creating productive value for the masses and for themselves. Generally, using technology to lower the barrier of entry into an already established industry does this. That lowering of the barrier, whether it is based on startup capital cost or education, allows those who are less connected (which there are many more of) to organize, discover their power, and benefit from the strength of those newly discovered numbers. I personally understand real estate best at this point, but there are so many ways to challenge the way so many industries do commerce to benefit the few. So many. Neither option is an easy option. Both options involve an adequate balance of resilience and controlled insanity to pull off actual success, but hey…you know… F%&k it.
and creating value worth billions in the process.
Every part of this declarative sentence is placed in an order based on importance. This part comes last precisely because it is least. The focus, the building, and the giving come before because they are all the necessary components needed to actually create the value. I say “billions” because I don’t actually plan on retiring ever and this is much more than likely an amount I can look to seek as opposed to actually attain. Also, “trillions” is just outrageous. (Like, if anyone was ever to become an actual trillionaire in our lifetime, I just have to assume ALOT of people died for that to happen) The real point here is about giving more people the chance to create not riches, but wealth for themselves. I think that even in our capitalist system, it can be done.
Over time, what I write every morning will probably change based on my circumstances and frame of mind, but I have found that since doing it, I am able to better control what I allow into my consciousness to take my time. I mean, I still love Love LOVE vine compilations but I think more about what I want out of the time I have. Maybe you can try it too. For like a week. See if it changes anything.
Happy Veterans Day,