How to become a successful businessman or a wealthy person?
Throughout time and history, money or material possessions (like gold diamonds etc.)have remained a symbol of social power, prestige, and influence and thus most wanted and dreamt of. However, the worst thing about our so-called modern culture or civilization is the ever growing ignorance towards what is really valuable or worth fighting for in life. From an early age, we are brainwashed and thus join a long-distance or never ending rat race where the success or achievement is measured not by who we are, but by what we own. That is why nearly every one wants to know how to earn money or increase wealth by making more money. And thus every Tom, Dick and Harry is trying to become an advisor or expert on the subject. In short, money has become a symbol of social power as well as approval. Keeping this in view, literature advising on “how to get rich and wealthy” has also become popular than ever. And then there is a whole class of advisors who are even going to make you a popular writer and thus earn money. In other words making knowledge a commodity in the market and devaluing it to a level where it is bereft of any wisdom and full of non-sense.
This kind of literature is being published and sold in large numbers making, at least, writers and publisher richer than ever, if not the readers. Moreover, the books on money making ideas are being published and sold like hot cakes while the books of wisdom are gathering dust everywhere from bookshops to libraries:
- The Millionaire Next Door
- Rich Dad, Poor Dad
- How Rich People Think
- Think and Grow Rich
- The Power that Comes with Money
Thus theme of money and riches has become very prevalent theme in literature. Some of the books even sell in millions. For instance, “The Richest Men in Babylon” by George S. Clason (originally released in 1926) has sold more than four million copies. Before that one of the most popular books in history was “Marco Polo’s book, “The Travels of Marco Polo.” It was originally known as Livre des Merveilles du Monde or Devisement du Monde (“Description of the World”). The book was translated into many European languages in Marco Polo’s lifetime. The year 1998 had marked the seventh hundredth anniversary of the composition of the book. His acceptance into the court of the great emperor Kublai Khan, and his service to the vast and dazzling Mongol empire, led him to places as far away as Tibet and Burma, lands rich with gems and gold and silk that were virtually unknown to Europeans. His book not only sold in millions but also inspired many to travel to East in search of gold and other riches. Regardless, literature of this kind contains lot of theories, suggestions, hypotheses, conjectures, premises, suppositions, beliefs (mostly stereotypes) etc. about how to become a successful businessman/woman or business owner or how to become rich and wealthy (quick or not so quick). Every other writer is a financial or business advisor who would claim to be the most expert in the field and ensure that his guidance would prove wonderful, even magical, in making you “most successful business owner” or a “wealthy person”by assisting or helping you creating something of value and having control over how much money you make” and then live happily ever after. Moreover literature about money making is also projecting the idea that the only success in life is earning more and more money. Thus making them poor in all other aspects of life.
Thus from financial books that teach you about planning and investing to inspirational stories about everyday millionaires, there are innumerable books as well as motivational speakers out there telling us tricks about making money.
Some of the usual tips given for this purpose are mentioned below:
a) Hard work: Some also use the term “Grit” which means having stone like strength.
b) Passion: This usually means putting long hours in work and giving sacrifice for the business.
c) Taking risks: It means being prepared to face potential dangers. However, you are told that opportunities may far outweigh the potential dangers.
d) Visualizing and focusing on the goals.
e) Hiring a team of professionals. These professional partners should also be willing to working long hours together and make stressful decision.
Discipline, creativity, analytical skills, flexibility, customer service, feedback etc are also described a gems of business wisdom, in addition to the above traits.
Some will even go to the extent of advising you to work hard like a robot exhausting all your energies in pursuit of “American Dream.” For instance, see the following quote by a Nigerian Business Magnate:
“I enjoy myself a lot but I derive more joy in working. I believe in hard work and one of my business success secrets is hard work. It’s hard to see a youth that will go to bed by 2am and wake up by 5am. I don’t rest until I achieve something.” — Aliko Dangote
Does this make any sense to work 21 hours a day just for the sake of money (that is only a face value) when there is not even a guarantee that you will be alive the very next moment?
Moreover there is a lot of literature (especially best sellers) including books and online material including youtube videos where, in addition to promoting the concept of American Dream (giving particular importance to money), other tips are given to fulfill the dream. For instance:
I) How to get out of debt quickly and easily.
II) How to put your money to work, so you can work smarter instead of harder.
III) Ways to attract good luck when it comes to your finances
IV) How to choose wise investments.
V) Ways to safeguard your fortune as it grows.
Mostly it is emphasized that “Wealth, like a tree, grows from a tiny seed. The first copper you save is the seed from which your tree of wealth shall grow. The sooner you plant that seed the sooner shall the tree grow. And the more faithfully you nourish and water that tree with consistent savings, the sooner may you bask in contentment beneath its shade.”
Although all these tips can make you a successful businessman/business owner or a wealthy person but not without a cost and that cost might be too high. In other words, you can become a successful businessman at the risk of being “an unsuccessful human being.”
In a nutshell you can become rich mostly by becoming selfish, stingy, greedy etc. And as only hard work is not a surety that one will get rich, one can also resort to dishonest and illegal means to get rich (quickly) and that has also become a norm in today’s societies.
In Merchant of Venice (Ironically Marco Polo was also a Venetian), a play by Shakespeare, a world is portrayed where even love has a price. Similarly, In Macbeth (again by Shakespeare), corruption is discussed throughout the play. It causes Macbeth to perform heinous acts and leads to his downfall.
In this context, following short and humorous story by Danish author Hans Christian Anderson gives a whole new dimension to the idea of really becoming rich:
This story by Hans Christian Andersen is about an old man and his loving wife who never sees a problem with anything he does. The only thing they own of any value is a horse, which they decide to sell or trade for something more useful. The man sets off for town and, after several trades along the way, comes home with a bag of rotten apples. As always, his wife was delighted with the result instead of getting or growing angry. But that was not just the end of the story. Read the full story below for real insight:
“What the Old (or Good) Man Does is Always Right”
There was once a very old farmhouse in country, with thatched roof, with all sorts of moss and plants growing on it. The walls of the house were crooked and only one window could be opened.
Outside a dog lay around most of the day, barking at everything that passed by. An old couple lived in the house, a peasant and his wife. Poor as they were, they had only one thing that was valuable, and that was a horse, which only lived by eating grass which it found growing at the side of the road. The old peasant sometimes rode into town on his horse and his neighbours often borrowed it from him, and paid for the loan of it by helping the old couple in some way.
After a while they thought they might as well sell the horse, or exchange it for something a bit more useful. But what might that thing be?
“You know the best, old man,” said his wife. “The fair is on today, so ride into town and get rid of the horse for money or exchange it for something good. Whatever you decide is fine with me, off you go now.”
She fastened his tie for him, for she could do that better than he could, straightened his hat and gave him a kiss. Then he rode away upon the horse that was to be sold, or exchanged for something else.
The sun shone with great heat, and not a cloud was to be seen in the sky. The road was very dusty, for many people, all going to fair, were driving, riding or walking on it. There was no shelter anywhere from the hot sun. Among the crowed a man came along, bringing a cow to the fair “I’d say she gives good milk,” said the peasant to himself. “That would be a very good exchange: the cow for the horse.”
“Hello there! You with the cow,” he said to the owner of the cow. “I’d say my horse is worth more than your cow, but I would like to have the cow. Will you swap?”
“To be sure I will,” said the man, delighted.
The men exchanged the animals. When it was done, the peasant could have gone home, for he had done what he had come to do. But having made up his mind to go the fair, he decided to go ahead. So on he went to the town with his cow. Leading the animal, he walked on quickly, and after a short time, overtook a man with a sheep. It was a good fat sheep, with fine wool on his back.
“I would like to have that sheep,” said the peasant to himself. Perhaps it would be better to have a sheep than cow.” “Shall we exchange?” he asked the man.
The man with the sheep was quite ready to exchange, and bargain was quickly made. And then our peasant continued his way on the road with his sheep. Soon after this he past out another man, who had come into road from a field, and was carrying a large goose under his arm.
“What a heavy creature you have there! said the peasant. “It has plenty of feathers and plenty of fat, and would look well tied to a string, or paddling in the water at our place.That would be very useful to my wife, she could make all sorts of money out of it. How often she has said, ‘If I only had a goose!’ Now here is an opportunity, and, if possible, I will get it for her. Shall we exchange? I will give my sheep for your goose.”
The other man didn’t mind swapping, and so the exchange was made, and our peasant took the goose.
By this time he had arrived very near the town. The crowd on the road had been gradually increasing, and there was quite a rush of men and cattle. The cattle walked on the path and by the fence, and at the gate they even walked into a potato filed, where a hen was strutting about. The tail feathers of this hen were very short, and it winked with both his eyes, and looked very clever as it said, “Cluck cluck.”
As soon as our good/old man saw it, he thought, “why , that is the finest hen I ever saw in my life, upon my word, I would like to have that hen. Hens can always pick up a few grains that lie about, and almost look after themselves with no work. I think it would be a good exchange if I could get it for my goose. Will we exchange?” he asked the hen owner.
“Exchange?” repeated the man. “Well, that would be fine,” he replied. So they made an exchange. The man took the goose, and peasant carried off the hen.
Now all this swapping the animals on his way to the fair was hard work and he was hot and tired. He wanted something to eat, and a nice drink, so he went into an inn. He was just to enter, when the stable man came out carrying a sack. “What have you in the sack?” asked the peasant.
“Rotten apples,” answered the stable man, “a whole sack full of them. They will be good for feeding the pigs.”
“Why, that is a terrible waste,” the peasant replied. “I would like to take them home to my wife. Last year our old apple tree gave us only one apple, and she kept it in the cupboard till it went rotten. She would be delighted with a whole sack full.”
“What would you give me for the sack of apples?” asked the man.
“Well, I will give you my hen in exchange.” he replied.
So he gave up the hen and took the apples, which he carried into inn. He leaned the sack carefully against the stove, and then went to the table. But he didn’t realize that stove was hot.
There were many people present — horse dealers, cattle-owners and two men from England. The Englishmen were so rich that their pocket bulged and seemed ready to burst. They suddenly noticed a hissing sound coming from the apples that were beginning to roast by the stove and went over. The peasant saw them and told them the whole story of the horse, which he had exchanged for the cow, and all the rest of it, down to the sack of now roasting, rotten apples.
“Well, your wife wouldn’t be very happy with you when you get home,” laughed one of the Englishmen. “Won’t she be angry with you and give out to you?”
“What! Give out for what?” said the peasant. “Why, she will kiss me and say ‘what a (good) old man does is always right’”
“let us make a bet on it,” said the Englishman. “We’ ll bet you a ton of gold coins”
“No, a sack of gold would be enough,” replied the peasant. “I can only bet a sack of apples in return, and I’ ll bet myself and my wife as well. That will be a fair bet I think!”
“Done!” replied the Englishman and so the bet was made.
A coach came to the door and the two Englishmen and the peasant got in, and away they drove. Soon they arrived at the peasant’s house.
“Good evening, dear,” he said to his wife when she came out to greet them.
“Good evening, my dear,” she replied.
“I’ve made an exchange.”
“Ah well, you know best about these things,” said the woman. Then she hugged him and paid no attention to the strangers. She didn’t notice the sack.
“I got a cow in exchange for a horse,” said the peasant.
“Oh, how delightful!” she said. “Now we shall have plenty of milk, and butter, and cheese on the table. That was a great swap”
“Yes, but I exchanged the cow for a sheep.”
“Ah, better still!” cried the wife. You always think of everything. We have just enough land for a sheep to graze. Sheep’s milk and cheese, woolen jackets and warm stockings! The cow could not give all these things. You think of everything!”
“But I changed away the sheep for a goose.”
“Then we shall have the roast goose to eat this year. You dear man, you are always thinking of something to please me. This is delightful. We can fatten up the goose before we roast her.”
“But I gave away the goose for a hen.”
“Ah hen! Well , that was a good exchange,” replied the woman. “the hen will lay eggs and hatch them, and we shall have chickens. We shall soon have a yard full of hens and chickens. Oh this is just what I was wishing for!”
“Yes, but I exchanged the hen for a sack of rotten apples.”
“What I must really give you a kiss for that!” cried the wife. “My dear good husband, now I will tell you something. Do you know, almost as soon as you left me this morning, I began thinking of what I could give you nice for supper this evening, and then I thought of fried eggs and bacon but no herbs, so I went over to the schoolmaster’s. I knew they had plenty of herbs, but the schoolmistress is very mean, although she can smile so sweetly. I asked her to lend me a handful of herbs. “Lend,!” she exclaimed, I have nothing to lend you, not even a rotten apple, my dear woman, and she shut the door in my face. But now I can lend her ten, or a whole sack full. It makes me laugh to think bringing them to her and see the look on her face.” Then she gave him a hearty kiss.
“This is great,” said both the Englishmen. “Things keep getting worse and they are still having a laugh. It’s the worth the money to see it.” So they paid all the gold to the peasant who, whatever he did, however bad, was always kissed for it. Isn’t that a great way to be?
Moral of the story:
When you are kind, considerate, generous and always willing to give more rather than take more, you are doing a good business, and you are ultimate winner. Profit and loss can’t always be measured in terms of money alone. Moreover, compassion and altruism are the best practices.If you are a good human, you are a good businessman.