Some years ago, I was in Dubai, working for a wealthy oil client.
Whilst with him at lunch, my bank’s financial adviser called to arrange a meeting with me regarding some of my recently transferred earnings. I agreed a time to meet upon my return.
The Oil-man laughed – actually scoffed/choked out loud at me when I put the phone down.
Oil Man: “ What car does your banker drive?’
Me: Don’t know.
OM: A Ferrari?
Me: Don’t be silly, he works for Natwest, not Goldman.
OM : Is he a self made millionaire?
Me: No. He works in a high street bank.
OM: Yeah, and earns sixty thousand a year and will never be really wealthy. Why the f**k would you take advise from a guy like that?
Oil Man continued.
“ I hire you to work with my family and staff to change certain behaviours. I do this because I know that you yourself have handled worse situations than they have, and that you know how to do what I’m paying you for. I do not however hire you to give me advise on how to grow my company, appoint my directors, create new products, find new wells, or negotiate with Arabs. Why?”
OM: “ You know why – it’s because you do not have experience in those areas. You might be able to read a book and get a sense of what I do. You may be able to pick up some knowledge from what I say. But you do not have real life EXPERIENCE in the Oil business and I would sooner let a petrol pump attendant run my companies than you. Mike, if you want investment advice, go to a self made millionaire.”
I never did meet the NatWest financial adviser and many years later I still look back on that moment with appreciation.
Real life experience is the essential ingredient for any person aiming for competence in their field, in the same way that practitioners are very different to academics. Reading or being told about life, is profoundly different from direct experience.
So here’s 5 tips for becoming a success in most endeavours:
Think less about it.
Read less about it.
Stop believing you can or cant.
Be welcoming of mistakes and learn from them.
Get out there and actually do it.