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Aug 24, 2007

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Self Help, Perseverance and Success

Self Help, Perseverance and Success

A startup business crumbles after 2 years and needs a couple of
million dollars of funds to keep it afloat. Entrepreneur A seeks
financial help from banks, negotiates scheme of arrangement
with creditors, and when all these don't materialize, he prays
that a white knight will come to his rescue. Entrepreneur B
adopts a similar approach with banks and creditors. However,
instead of waiting for help, he goes out to look for the white
knight. He spends months sourcing and researching, speaking
to contacts, traveling to meet potential investors, and finally
manages to find parties willing to inject funds into the company.
Company reinvents its business and Entrepreneur B is back on
his road to success. Attitude is what distinguishes the struggling
entrepreneurs from the successful ones.


Hercules and the Waggoner

Self Help, Perseverance and Success

[The Apotheosis of Hercules (painting on the ceiling), by
François Lemoyne (1733-1736), Salon of Hercules, Château
de Versailles, France.]

A Farmer was driving his wagon along a miry country road after
a heavy rain. The horses could hardly drag the load through the
deep mud, and at last came to a standstill when one of the wheels
sank to the hub in a rut.

The farmer climbed down from his seat and stood beside the
wagon looking at it but without making the least effort to get it
out of the rut. All he did was to curse his bad luck and call loudly
on Hercules to come to his aid. Then, it is said, Hercules really
did appear, saying:

“Put your shoulder to the wheel, man, and urge on your horses.
Do you think you can move the wagon by simply looking at it
and whining about it? Hercules will not help unless you make
some effort to help yourself.”

And when the farmer put his shoulder to the wheel and urged on
the horses, the wagon moved very readily, and soon the Farmer
was riding along in great content and with a good lesson learned.


Self help is the best help.
Heaven helps those who help themselves.

Quotable Quotes:

“Why potential buyers even look at projections prepared
by sellers baffles me ... I never give them a glance, but
instead keep in mind the story of the man with an ailing
horse. Visiting the vet, he said: 'Can you help me?
Sometimes my horse walks just fine and sometimes he
limps.' The vet's reply was pointed: 'No problem – when
he's walking fine, sell him.'” ... Warren Buffett

“A terrace nine stories high
Rises from a handful of earth;
A journey of a thousand miles
Starts from beneath one's feet.”
... Laozi

“Problems can only be solved by the people who have
them. You have to try and coax them and love them into
seeing ways in which they can help themselves.”
... John Harvey-Jones

“Great works are performed, not by strength, but
perseverance: yonder palace was raised by single stones,
yet you see its height and spaciousness. He that shall
walk with vigour three hours a day will pass in seven
years a space equal to the circumference of the globe.”
... Samuel Johnson

“Perseverance is more prevailing than violence; and
many things which cannot be overcome when they are
together, yield themselves up when taken little by little.”
... Plutarch

“There are no secrets to success: don't waste time
looking for them. Success is the result of perfection,
hard work, learning from failure, loyalty to those for
whom you work, and persistence.” ... Colin Powell

[browse collection of quotes and quotations]

Lessons in life:

Many successful entrepreneurs owe their success, not to a hand
of God, but to their own hard work, perseverance and
determination. Certainly other factors chip in too, such as help
and support from spouse, family and friends. We cannot do
without charity and help from people, but the difference is in
the attitude.

The life stories of some of the world's greatest entrepreneurs are
always inspirational reads. We are familiar with the Forbes list
of wealthiest persons. Ingvar Kamprad, listed as the 4th richest
in the world, with an estimated net worth of US$33 billion, is the
Swedish founder of home furnishing chain IKEA. His first
business started when he was a young boy, buying matches in
bulk and reselling them in smaller quantities to his neighbors.
From matches, he went on to sell pens, fish and ornaments on his
bicycle. At 17, with the little money his father gave him, he
founded IKEA, an acronym from the initials of his name,
Elmtaryd (the farm where he was born) and Agunnaryd (a nearby

He operated out of his home and sold goods by mail order. When
the business grew, a store was opened and furniture was added to
the list of items sold in IKEA. What got tongues wagging the most
is Kamprad's frugal lifestyle. Despite being a billionaire, he hardly
wears business suits, flies economy class, eats at cheap
restaurants and drives an old Volvo car. This, it seems, is the
image he wants to project, one of modesty and humility. It is his
way of telling us how much he values the hard work that is put
into earning the money. A reminder to us that tomorrow's success
depends on our continued perseverance today.

For the record, his INGKA Foundation aimed, at promoting
innovations in architecture and interior design, has an estimated
net worth of $36 billion. This makes it unofficially the world’s
largest charitable organization compared to Bill and Melinda Gates
Foundation, which has a net worth of approximately $33 billion.
Speaking of which, we knew that Warren Buffet, ranked 3rd
richest, with a net worth of US$52 billion, recently committed a
huge charitable donation of about US$30 billion to Bill and
Melinda Gates Foundation.

Warren Buffet is another extraordinary businessperson who leads
a simple and frugal lifestyle. Like Kamprad, he started his first
business at a very young age of 6. He made money through
reselling 6-packs of Coca Cola and chewing gum. At 11 years of age,
he bought his first shares. He delivered paper for the Washington
Post and made $5,000, enough to buy a 40-acre farm. After being
rejected by Harvard Business School for being too young, he went
into Columbia. It was there that he learned invaluable investment
lessons from his mentors Ben Graham and David Dodd.

Buffet married Susie Thompson and their first home was a three-
room apartment rented for $65 a month, not in a good state and
with mice running about. The bed their new-born daughter slept in
was a made-shift dresser drawer bed. Full of confidence in his
investment philosophy, he built his reputation over time as an
astute investor, who focused on the management of the company
rather than its bottom line in deciding whether to invest in it. The
small house he bought in Omaha for $31,500, nicknamed
“Buffett's Folly”, is still the house he lives in today. Since he took
control of Berkshire Hathaway, the shares in the holding company
had risen from about US$8 a share to today's US$118,800.

His sound strategy is simply to buy well managed businesses and he
adopts a hands-off approach. He sets annual goals for these
managers and urges them not to lose the shareholders' money. If the
goals are met, he doesn't think there is a need for further interaction.
In his reports to shareholders he admits to all the mistakes he had
made in the reporting year, as he believes that without that it would
be a sales document. Other than good management, he looks out for
businesses with durable competitive advantage in sectors that he
understands. Since the days when he bought his first share at US$38
and sold at US$40 (only to learn later that it went up to US$200), he
had learned the virtues of patience in investment. With a buy-and-
hold strategy, he is able to tide over market volatility and correction.

A critic of the overly luxurious lifestyles of the super-rich, Buffet
was not surprisingly hesitant when his company bought an aircraft
and subsequently the Executive Jet. His ideal happy life is eating
popcorn while watching football games in his sweats in front of a big-
screen television. To bring home the point of cutting unnecessary
spending, his advise to young people is to stay away from credit
cards and to invest in themselves through learning and education.

In his interview with CNBC on The Billionaire Next Door program
(November 20, 2006), he shared his secret for success: “If people
get to my age and they have the people love them that they want to
have love them, they’re successful. It doesn’t make any difference
if they’ve got a thousand dollars in the bank or a billion dollars in
the bank … Success is really doing what you love and doing it well.
It’s as simple as that. I’ve never met anyone doing that who doesn’t
feel like a success. And I’ve met plenty of people who have not
achieved that and whose lives are miserable.”

Remember that the road to success is paved by you, and if you do
not take a proactive step yourself, nobody, not even the Gods, can
help you.

Related Articles:

Importance of planning
Focus on your proven strategy
Turn Adversity into Opportunity

Books worth reading:

Be inspired by the financial wisdom of Warren Buffet in
The Essays of Warren Buffett : Lessons for Corporate America.
Although Buffet does not comment on stocks owned by his
Berkshire Hathaway company, he is happy to share the
principles behind his investments. Pick up good tips from his
essays and understand how he has built his immense fortune.

If you are such a fan of Warren Buffet, perhaps get hold of
Of Permanent Value: The Story of Warren Buffett/2007
International Edition/in 2 volumes to read all about him,
his life and his wisdom.

© Business Fables and Management Lessons

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I heard that ikea's charitable foundation INGKA is pretty much a strategy for dodging tax, and in fact gives very little money to charity (less than 2 million per year in some reports, compared to Gates 1.5 billion).

"In 2004, the Inter IKEA group of companies and I.I. Holding reported combined profits of €553m and paid €19m in taxes, or approximately 3.5 percent"

If it's true, it's really not so cool, and maybe we shouldn't be comparing Ikea to the Gates foundation who really are giving big money to good causes


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