The other day I had a conversation with the richest man who ever lived. I did most of the listening while he did most of the talking. I hit him with some hard and heavy questions I wanted to know:

  • How he got out of his own way to achieve success
  • What habits he practiced every day to make sure he stayed on track
  • What his personal value stream was and how did he come to find it
  • Simply, what was a day in the life-like for him
  • How can I apply some of his strategies as well as teach them to others

We got into a few more topics but I wanted to share with you all what I learned from the richest man whomever lived.

Meet the richest man that ever lived

Every right implies a responsibility; Every opportunity, an obligation, Every possession, a duty.

Ok, confession time. The richest man whomever lived died at the age of 98 in 1937. My conversation was with John D. Rockefeller. I’ve been slowly chipping away at his biography Titan (I say chipping away because it’s 832 pages of pure wisdom) as well as Mastering The Rockefeller Habits.

It’s probably best that I couldn’t have a direct conversation with the man. This way I can keep my foot out of my mouth while he does all the talking. The lessons I learned from these two books are invaluable. If you want success, why not study those that are most successful and immerse yourself in their knowledge, habits, and strategies.

However, how many of you have read some really awesome ass-kick, motivational, or helpful material, got fired up and then never applied it?

Uh… yeah, me too.

So all hands in the middle and lets yell…..1…..2…..3 – APPLY THIS MO-FO!

Routines and Systems

Usually between 10PM and 11PM John would hit the sack and wake up at 6AM to start it all over again.

What to take from this: Practicing consistency, routines, and systems makes it difficult to get confused and overwhelmed. I know personally, I struggle sometimes when there is a lot on my plate. By taking an hour or so at the end of my day to map out my tomorrow I am able to relieve a little stress and clear up what needs to be done in order for me to feel productive.

All you are and where you are in life is a collection of your habits.

One way I have started to apply this is by scheduling each day hour by hour. From the time I wake up to the time I get to bed my day is mapped out just like John. I schedule in when I will eat, exercise, and even time to take breaks, check email, and listen to music. It’s important to get sh*t done but it’s equally important to relax and enjoy your day.

One of the best resources I have found for this is David Seah’s productivity tools. Personally, I prefer to write things down. There is some research out there and I have noticed with myself that this seems to make things “Stick” a bit better in the old noodle.

If you’re more of an APP kinda person, take a look at Remember The Milk.

Definitely read Getting Things Done by David Allen as well. It’s like the productivity bible.

Had his head on right

John maintained a mindset that would not allow him to fail. He not only believed but also displayed his belief through his actions that his ultimate destiny was determined by the choices he made on a every day basis.

Maybe that’s why he was so diligent with his schedule.

Unsuccessful people believe that success is a matter of luck and out of their control. John knew he was in control of how successful he could be. He did this by simply paying attention. He looked to what had worked in the past, what was currently working, and let the numbers speak for themselves. He looked to key metrics and data that told him what would work and what wouldn’t work. He happened to do something we’ve already talked about here.

He educated himself, he took action, he reflected, and finally he rinsed and repeated.

Rockefeller choose success by paying attention, measuring progress, and making adjustments based on his observations. This is something you and I can both do whether we are looking to get healthier, start our own business, or have some other worthwhile goal.

Whatever it is you may want to achieve take some time to educate yourself on the subject. Read books, talk to people you trust, and look to those that are already doing or have already achieved what it is you are hoping to achieve. Reach out to them.

You need to know if it is working or not. Measuring progress is essential. Keeping a nutrition log in a note book or by using one of the many online fitness resources like Fit-day, or My Fitness Pal. Recording your workouts, take body measurements and photos as well.

If traveling to Japan is something you have always wanted to do pay attention to your finances and track your spending. I’m currently using mint.com. He tracks all of my income, expenses, debts, and credits. At any given moment I know where my money is going. If I’m spending too much on cups of joe or at the grocery store. It’s an amazing way to hold yourself accountable.

You can also use this amazing resource inspired by Tim Ferriss to help you clarify what it is you want and the amount of money it actually takes to achieve it. I use this tool every few months when I’ve set some new having, being, or doing goals.

  • Having – Material goals. Car, house, boat, etc…
  • Being – Fluent in a language, great cook, etc..
  • Doing – A triathlon, traveling to another country, etc…

John was particularly dialed in when it came to his finances. He tracked every penny in and every penny out. If you owed him a penny he was relentless about getting it back and the same goes for if he owed you a penny. He was just as relentless about making sure you got it back.

He valued his time

One of the most taken for granted things in this world today is time. Most of us never get anything done because we tell ourselves we can start on Monday or there will be plenty more time down the road.

What then usually ends up happening is nothing is ever started or you get overwhelmed with the need to get things done last-minute.

Rockefeller valued his time by not putting a price tag on it. Which is what most of us do when we decide how much we are worth per hour when we accept a job. Instead, he valued his time by defining how productive he could be with it. Rockefeller did this by:

  1. Created multiple streams of revenue in one focused industry (oil refinery).
  2. Leveraged the talents and efforts of others. Instead of wasting time trying to become the smartest, best, or pursuing B.S. credentials in areas outside of himself he focused on his own talents and strengths and surrounded himself with others that excelled in his weaknesses.
  3. Rockefeller focused on leading and empowering others and less on himself.

Coincidence… I think not

While reading the two books I could not help but laugh a little bit as I noticed some other characteristics ol’Johnny D. displayed. Rockefeller routinely practiced the 12 habits of happy people. These are 12 habits that have been scientifically proven to promote more happiness to those that practice them the most often.

1. Express gratitude
2. Cultivate optimism
3. Avoid over thinking and social comparisons (keeping up with the Jones’s)
4. Practicing acts of kindness
5. Nurturing social relationships
6. Developing strategies for coping
7. Learning to forgive
8. Increasing flow experiences
9. Savoring life’s joys
10. Committing to your goals
11. Practicing either religion, spirituality, or both (there is a difference. I’m not very religious but I consider myself very spiritual)
12. Taking care of yourself (exercise, nutrition, rest, meditation, actually acting happy )

Although Rockefeller was diligent and focused entrepreneur he displayed these character traits almost regularly. Turns out you and I might not be that much different from Johnny D. Practicing these 12 things consistently is well with-in our reach if we take the time to effort.

Homework assignment

Each day for the next 12 days I would like you to start with #1: Gratitude and practice it for the day. 

At the end of each day perform a bit of a review. How did practicing the “Happiness traits” make you feel? How did they affect your day? What are some things you noticed from yourself and from others as you were practicing?

Don’t just read and move on. Take action.