Mimetic desires are the desires that we mimic from the people and cultures around us. If you hang out with a group of YouTubers, you’ll start to think you want your own channel. Chat to authors and you’ll believe you need to write your book. Associate with a group of consultants to discover that charging an hourly rate for your expertise might start to seem appealing.
This is all fine if that’s your path. If you’re a content creator, author, or consultant type with a strategy that’s on track. If that’s the case: join the masterminds, watch the how-to videos and experiment with creating in different forms. Put your art first and the money will follow.
If, however, your dream is to be a founder. A successful founder. A billionaire founder. A Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Ben Francis or Sara Blakely, content creation alone isn’t going to cut it. Falling for mimetic desire and hanging out with people who don’t want what you want could lead you going down a path that won’t result in achieving your goals.
Founders think in a specific way. The great ones do, anyway. Finding the billionaire founder mindset isn’t easy when everyone seems to want to be famous or hack their way to a comfy lifestyle. Mindset shifts are required to steer you along a course of life-changing wealth creation. Here are seven to make today.
Product = marketing
Less shallow hype, more depth of offering. More creating stuff that people love to buy. Rather than spending all your time planning your LinkedIn posts, straining for that perfect selfie and documenting your every move, zoom in on the needs of your customers and get hungry for the feedback they provide that you can channel into a better product. If you don’t have a product and a compelling offer, you’re climbing a very steep hill to success.
There is no better marketing than referrals from happy customers. But that doesn’t happen by accident. Your job is not to post on Twitter. Get famous for your business, not your fake controversial opinions. Figuring out how to surprise and delight your existing clients brings far more long term benefits than a few quick wins online. If people aren’t repeat buying, work out why. If people cancel, ask how you could improve. Everything goes back into the product until people can’t imagine life without it.
Don’t read business books
Everyone is reading the latest shelf help, listening to the same podcasts, and getting all the same strategies, the benefits of which are limited. Billionaires don’t do this. Larry Ellison wasn’t learning SEO hacks and Warren Buffet wasn’t copying someone else’s morning routine. They were hungry for knowledge without jumping on a bandwagon. They read about history and science fiction. They studied biographies of visionary leaders who had gone before them. They were exchanging long letters with ambitious friends on similar paths.
“Let me just check my email,” said no billionaire founder, ever. “I have to read this newsletter first,” said the CEO without a sense of priority. Laser-focus, a ruthless eye for the nonessential and cutting out the fluff in favour of the substance. Billionaires write books after they have made their billions. They record their principles to teach those earlier in their journey, or other people cover their story and save them the task. Know what will make the difference and don’t spend attention on whatever won’t.
Ask for help
Think like a founder by thinking about who could help, not what. Shift your mind from Googling the answer to working with people whose job is to do it for you. Your role is to zoom out of the day-to-day and get into the helicopter, calling on knowledgeable acquaintances when you know which problem you want to solve. Use your network remarkably well. Ask for help, ask for recommendations, ask people what they would do in the same position. Put together an unofficial board of advisors and listen carefully to their guidance.
In the pre-internet era, billionaires focused on phone calls with trusted friends, but now there’s a sea of knowledge to learn from. Billionaires learn what they need to learn in the best way for them to learn it. But that’s not an excuse to lose hours going down YouTube rabbit holes. Instead of browsing idly, spending time on whatever is recommended, successful founders are intentional about the articles, webinars and how-to videos they consume. Don’t fall into the funnels and stumble across the tripwires, make the information work for you. Hold the puppet strings rather than being the puppet.
Let go of other roles
Think like a founder by thinking like a founder, not like anything else. You have one job title, one role, one responsibility: make your company huge. Single-minded focus is required for this step. People will want to pay you for coaching, the PTA will want to make you the chair and publishers will want to publish your story. It’s nice to feel wanted and it strokes your ego, but now isn’t the right time for that. Let go of the other titles you could use in favour of one: founder.
Thinking like a founder leads to acting like a founder and putting every move through this narrow lens. For every decision, every action, every call in your calendar, ask, “Is this what a founder would do?” Remove anything that’s peripheral, nonessential, or that someone else could do. Make sure the vision is set and communicated, the team is assembled and motivated, and there’s cash in the bank to deliver the vision. Everything else can wait until after.
Should versus could
You’re a capable human being who could do a lot of things. But your time on this planet is limited, and success on the scale you dream of might take years. Keep this sense of scarcity at the forefront of your mind to remind you not to pick up tasks and responsibilities that won’t serve your company. Forget what you could do, do what you should do, and know the difference.
Ninety-nine per cent of your to-do list probably won’t make the boat go faster, and no one cares about your company as much as you. “It will only take a few hours,” “but I enjoy it,” and “I already said I would,” are dangerous phrases that can keep you playing small. Other people want your brain for their agenda, so fight your people-pleasing tendencies to keep coming back to base. You can refuse politely and the let-down can be gentle, just don’t succumb to the guilt that might be thrown your way.
Working hard to thinking hard
Billionaire founders don’t spend every waking minute in front of a computer. They aren’t on back-to-back conference calls and they are happy to keep people waiting. Many of them have a hobby or obsession where their professional mind switches off and their default mode network can do its thing. They play chess, go hiking or practice Brazilian jiujitsu. They swim in a lake, run on the treadmill, or play with their kids using their full attention. The great ideas surface when they least expect it, and huge problems disappear as their subconscious mind whirrs away.
If you’re thinking hard compared to working hard, you might appear idle. An onlooker might sneer that you are having too much fun and hint that you should be busier. They don’t realise your brain is working overtime, processing and sifting and getting to the route of problems. Billionaire founders know that their beta brainwaves, stuck in the day-to-day, can’t solve problems as well as their theta ones can. They’re switching off as much as possible, trusting the answers will arrive.
Monomaniacal focus on business
There’s just no getting around the fact that an incredible focus on work, and putting it before everything else, is the single thing every self-made billionaire has in common. For many, this meant compromising their family, relationships or health. While I’m not advising you skip the gym or forget to call your mum, the message is to be obsessed. As Sam Altman said, “extreme people get extreme results.” As Elon Musk’s ex-wife Justine Musk said, “If you’re not obsessed, then stop what you’re doing and find whatever does obsess you.” She too knows that “Extreme success results from an extreme personality.” One that you’re proud to own and happy to work with,” and said these extreme people, “combine brilliance and talent with an *insane* work ethic.”
When you wake up raring to go with your business and you love the thrill of solving problems, you’re thinking in more of a founder way. If your business is an afterthought to your follower count or bank balance, something has gone awry. Obsess about figuring stuff out, obsess about finding the best way, obsess about unlocking new insights and ideas. If other people consider you, “somewhat insane,” shrug your shoulders and carry on, because you don’t need their approval.
Think like a billionaire founder with these seven powerful mindset shifts. Put your product first, avoid the media everyone else is consuming, and ask for help at the earliest opportunity. Let go of other titles and other claims over your time, differentiate between what you should do and could do, create blank space for those brainwaves that wouldn’t happen any other way, then focus on your work to the point of obsession. Drop the thought patterns of your former, smaller self and step spectacularly into your brand new role.
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