Business Philosophy

“everything around you, that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you”

First of all, let’s get something clear: I’m a “dumb shit”. 

These words of modesty come from Ray Dalio, self-made (unlike Trump) billionaire hedge fund entrepreneur. They are the opening lines of his the dual-volume Principles (of Life and of Work), which I am reading this week and finding fascinating.

Despite his modesty, Ray is a deep thinker; I imagine most self-made billionaires are, too. But the point he wants to make from the get-go is that he didn’t leverage intelligence to become a billionaire, he leveraged calculated investment of time. Discipline and fearlessness, over cleverness and brute force.

And his philosophical analysis of his life and work experience makes him happier than any material successes. He said he’d set the writing and public engagement aside after publishing Principles, but he just keeps at it, which is great. And obviously, he is not dumb!

Some words of wisdom from an even more notorious business philosopher:

everything around you, that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you

“When you grow up you, tend to get told that the world is the way it is … but life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: and that is that everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. And the minute that you understand that you can poke life … that you can change it, you can mold it, you’ll want to change life, make it better. 

Steve Jobs

I read a great article about Steve Jobs after he died which postulated that he was more than a businessman, he was a philosopher. A business philosopher. Like Andy Warhol before him. I don’t believe everything Steve Jobs says (he probably wouldn’t want me too, either). For example, I don’t believe that the only way to be truly satisfied in life is to love what you do. What do you think?

This may be true for Steve Jobs but I’ve met too many perfectly satisfied Spaniards, who are completely indifferent to what they do, to be able to square that assertion with my life experience.  

But tacked on to that idea was something similar but a little different: “the only way to do great work is to love what you do” . There is not one single doubt in my mind that this is pure truth. 

Roll your own philosophy

I believe it’s essential to hold your own philosophies, no matter how trivial or insignificant. Find things you believe are true. Are they also useful? Then hold on to them with all your might. As I have mentioned, deeply help beliefs are one of the prime drivers of confidence in the consultative sales process.

This is actually what sets “OK marketing” apart from beautiful marketing. The latter should be something you believe in deeply enough to connect it to your business philosophy.

What is yours, by the way? 

That’s not entirely a rhetorical question – if you think of the answer, drop me an email. (Oh and P.S.,  I collect definitions of “Digital Strategy” or just “Strategy”; lemme know if you have one for my collection.)

And by the way, my ideas are just borrowed from someone else and adapted to my situation. Here are some ideas I like to hold on to.

  • Everything in business can be understood by remembering that we are no greater, and no lesser, than animals with relatively huge cerebral cortexes.
  • By drawing an analogy between our business scenario and a similar scenario experienced by our prehistoric hunter-gatherer ancestors, we’ll focus on the most important variable: human nature. 
  • The subconscious mind is wiser than the conscious one and can provide solutions to creative problems. But it can also be fearful; we have to let our conscious and subconscious collaborate.
  • You never sell. When both sides want to proceed, both sides will know; otherwise, you’re using pressure and coercion, which will come back to haunt.
  • The reason high-end B2B consulting services require conversations is that it’s difficult to understand how they’ll be delivered and build value; trust must be established.
  • There is a gulf between the value that boutique and distinctly digital agencies provide, and the customers who need their services (My role is to bridge that gulf).

Here’s how I get idea: take two statements like these, preferably from trusted sources, reconcile them to each other, then apply them to your business. For instance:

  • Nietzsche: “Art is the highest form of human activity
  • Gary Bencivenga:, “Make your advertising itself valuable

Do those ideas complement one another and apply to your work in a useful way? How can your work be artful, whether or not you or in a so-called creative field?

By the way, what is an artist? I don’t know.. someone who can endow an object with the power to make an impact on the psyche? Here’s an interesting definition:

making money is art, and working is art – and good business is the best art..

“Business art is the step that comes after art. I started as a commercial artist, and I want to finish as a business artist. Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. During the hippie era people put down the idea of business. They’d say “money is bad” and “working is bad”. But making money is art, and working is art – and good business is the best art.”

Andy Warhol