Robert Jordan wants you to have a good year.
The author of "How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights from the Heart of America" is an entrepreneurial advisor who figures that while you're waiting to replace that job you lost thanks to the recession, you should think like a billionaire anyway. Become your own boss -- hey, it worked for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Jordan talked to 45 successful entrepreneurs to discover their recipes for success. The goal of his book, however, isn't to net you billions, although that sounds pretty good. "At the end of the day, we have a book that is not a rigorous academic study -- it’s a work of art meant to inspire, and that’s all," he said.
Despite the book's title, Jordan said, it really doesn't focus on money. Instead, he chose to interview his subjects for their ability to inspire.
"When the public hears about someone who’s made it, we learn nothing about the trials along the way. [Think Ted Williams, the new voiceover for 'Lean Forward.'] "I wanted to learn how they decided to start, because they all started from zero, and how they overcame challenges -- because those two things are what are most daunting for entrepreneurs."
So what kinds of entrepreneurs did he interview for the book? "Interestingly, while we self-selected for massive success -- $100 million on up -- the reality was that virtually all of the founders hit big obstacles at one time or another. And most of the founders in the book, even beyond their first successful company, tend to start more companies. And their employees start them as well. It’s a good kind of success virus. While I’m sure they all love their status, the motivation seems pretty clear: to create things that change [or] improve the world. Clearly it can’t be just about the money!"
Here are a few tips from the author if you want to give entrepreneurship a try:
- "These billionaires and millionaires are like you and me in that they started at the same point as any rookie entrepreneur -- from scratch."
- "Very few of the ideas were rocket science -- these were not startups that had bulletproof intellectual property. [There] was no inherited family business or other leg up in the game, and most importantly, they hit obstacles as much -- actually more than most people in business."
- "They became different over the time of their experience. They took risks! Most of us avoid failure, and that is not a recipe for becoming a billionaire. Incidentally, they failed far more often in various ways -- but they did something different with the failed experiences. Attitude trumps skill all day long. Far better attitude, much less cynical than most folks."
When asked if he was a billionaire, he replied, "No, I am not a billionaire. Yet.