Joss Delage

"How to get rich" by Felix Dennis

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All,

I am currently reading a book by entrepreneur and multi-millionaire Felix Dennis (he's largely a UK publisher of magazines, but he has a whole series of businesses) called "How to get rich". It's a book about entrepreneurship, and more specifically about how to get very rich by starting your own company.

In that light, it is an extraordinary read by an extraordinary entrepreneur. I cannot recommend it enough. Dennis is a ruthless business man, with none of the PC attitude you find in many business books. His views are refreshing, and I couldn't help but think of Hank Rearden while reading the book. Dennis also understand the whole concept of values and that pursuing them to the exclusion of other things is key. He talks for example of one of his top salesperson who one day left the company (despite huge salary and bonuses) to become a mediocre painter, and how given her values, that was the right decision. Similarly, he explains that he should have quit after a few tens of millions to do what he really enjoys rather than kept going (his wealth is around $400M to $900M).

This is not a book for the "missionary" entrepreneur, those who want to become the best cook, or CEO, or software engineer, etc. It's a book for people who want to make loads of money (legally, that is).

He's an ex-hippie who seems to have turned well. He's been through periods of self destructive behavior, but is now really living according to his values and (apparently) virtuously. He delegates as much of the day to day business to his CEOs and execs, and dedicates several hours each day to writing poetry, which he enjoys. As an ex-hippie, he has amazingly positive things to say about Churchill, Thatcher, and John Major, and bad things to say about the "public services", taxation, etc. He sounds to me like someone who would only need to be explained Objectivism to become one (but then all I know about him is what he writes in this book).

"How to get rich" by Felix Dennis

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Here's a good quote:

Watch out for blowhards. There are a lot of them out there and they are very negative influences. They can stop you from getting started, from getting going, from taking a massive running leap into the dark. Always remember that they want you to fail, just as they did. Ignore them.

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Here's a good quote:
Watch out for blowhards. There are a lot of them out there and they are very negative influences. They can stop you from getting started, from getting going, from taking a massive running leap into the dark. Always remember that they want you to fail, just as they did. Ignore them.

Yep, I read this in Italy last year and concur, it's an interesting one.

His company publishes Viz magazine incidentally

Viz

I'm not sure if Americans would get this humour, or whether it's narrowly British?

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This is not a book for the "missionary" entrepreneur, those who want to become the best cook, or CEO, or software engineer, etc. It's a book for people who want to make loads of money (legally, that is).

I have not read Felix Dennis' book, so I cannot state any agreement of disagreement for the book, yet.

I find the term "missionary entrepreneur" confusing, because who goes into business to lose loads of money? I went into business to make a lot of money which demands that I become as efficient as I can or I will go out of business. I make myself into the best cook, CEO, or software engineer, because if I do not I will not have many clients and hence no money. There are some types of people (from my perspective, most business people) that cannot grasp the big and small picture. But there are the greats that can see how every little thing, such as how many welds go on a barrel of oil, and the large, such as getting the product out to the buyer even if it is not a perfect product, that seperates the good from the great.

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Ray,

I was talking specifically about the fact that in some fields, great performance does not corresponds to loads of money. Cooking is a good example. If you are the best cook in the world, you are likely to make a decent amount. But if you want to become *very* rich in the cooking field, you will be better off becoming a celebrity chef and opening numerous restaurants.

Or to put things more simply, Howard Roark didn't go into architecture (*his* flavor of architecture) to make boatloads of money.

Felix Dennis is a (presumably very good) publisher to make money. He's not in publishing due to an unquenchable love of publishing.

JD

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Joss, I understand that there our people who value a great performance/perfection more than money. What I do not understand is why this is supposedly called "missionary entrepreneur."

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Joss, I understand that there our people who value a great performance/perfection more than money. What I do not understand is why this is supposedly called "missionary entrepreneur."

Oh, I see. This is my poor attempt at condensing in a shorter format the idea of "entrepreneurs who are in it for the love of the craft / idea more than for the love of the money but still want to make some decent money".

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Or to put things more simply, Howard Roark didn't go into architecture (*his* flavor of architecture) to make boatloads of money.

In Alas Shrugged, Rearden says that his goal is to make money, rather than saying that his goal is to smelt steel or invent Rearden Metal. I think what the former implies, but the latter does not, is the selfishness of the pursuit. Ultimately, he’s not working for work’s sake, or even because he loves the work. He’s working because he expects that work to benefit his life, he expects to gain a reward from it. That’s why the movers went on strike. What the looters counted on was that the productive man’s love of his work was a given, that they could count on him doing it whether he was rewarded or spit on for his efforts.

Making money means matching ones best against the best in others. It doesn't just mean receiving currency, let alone fiat currency. The paper has meaning only as a tool of exchanging the productive effort of two individuals. That's why the looter is faking reality, because "to make money" must be an act of voluntary trade to mutual advantage. Remember Jim Taggart bragging to Dagny about the money he'd "made" through Washington deals?

Now I'm sure that Miss Rand didn't mean from Rearden's words to imply that because he had a greater ability to make money than others, this made him necessarily more virtuous than someone who made less. There's always an individual context, including innate ability and ones personal values. A teacher isn't going to make the money that a doctor does, but that isn't an indication that one profession is right and the other is wrong. But in understanding what it means to "make money", that the money represents the value produced for ones life, then I don't understand the goal of pursuing a line of work one loves, one is truly passionate about, but professing not to care about making money. That, to me, signals a mind/body breach - that the person prides their spiritual values but does not grant them metaphysical significance, or regards their results in reality as of secondary importance. That couldn't be farther from the truth.

Since you raised the example of Roark. Do you believe that had the world not rejected what he had to offer, snubbed him, made it so difficult for him to survive, he would have been satisfied to work in poverty? Would he say to himself, "the money isn't important"? Or would he sell his buildings at the highest price he could obtain knowing what they were worth and knowing that he deserved every penny?

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I don't know. Clearly, one can choose for the right reasons to be in a craft one is not passionate about "for the money" (being understood that here the money is a shortcut for one's ultimate, value-based goals), and one can choose just the same course of actions for the wrong reasons (e.g., to please one's parents). Rearden was virtuous, Keating wasn't.

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I don't know. Clearly, one can choose for the right reasons to be in a craft one is not passionate about "for the money" (being understood that here the money is a shortcut for one's ultimate, value-based goals).

But such a job is not a break or departure from your values, even if it isn't something you're passionate about doing. Because through that job you are producing and living by that production. If your love for a career is a higher value than its material benefits, then wouldn't it be a sacrifice to ever work in any other? So why did Roark work in a rock quarry, rather than starve to death as an architect no one wanted? Isn't it because his career was a means to producing material values for his life, and not an end in itself?

Rearden was virtuous, Keating wasn't.

Rearden was virtuous because he produced values. Keating wasn't because he was not a producer, he was a parasite. He wanted the money and primarily, the recognition, of a producer but without the necessity of earning either. Both worked, but I would not say that they "chose the same course". Only one "made money".

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