Success Myths

August 31, 2014



I’ve stopped blogging for a while to finish my third book Debtermined.

In my attempt to write a book on personal finance that would be unique (or YOUnique) from other finance books, it took a little toll on me. When I was half way writing the book, I decided to start over and rewrite it three times. Add that to a busy speaking schedule, and publishing other authors’ books, I couldn’t find the time to blog. Well, it’s time to blog again.

After my hiatus, I will start my first blog by talking about success myths – qualities we believe we need to have or things we need to do in order to be successful but are not entirely true.

Success Myth number 1: Pioneers always come on top.


In the book Will and Vision by Gerard Tellins and Peter Golder, the authors examined the relationship between attaining long-term market leadership and being the innovative pioneer in 66 wide-ranging markets, from bubble gum to the Internet. They found out that only 9% of pioneers end up as the final winners.

Gillette didn’t pioneer the safety razor; Star did.

Polaroid didn’t pioneer the instant camera; Dubroni did.

Microsoft didn’t pioneer the personal computer spreadsheet; VisiCorp did.

Amazon didn’t pioneer online book selling and AOL didn’t pioneer online Internet service.

The book also shows that 64% of pioneers failed outright. 

(Source from Great by Choice by Jim Collins)

Does this study say that we shouldn’t try to be a pioneer or be the first to create something new? Absolutely not. It says that being innovative means you also need to have the discipline to carry through. It means that if you want to start something that no one has ever done before, think of the reasons why it has never been done before. Mind you, there are very good reasons. If there weren’t, then someone would have done it already. If you uncover the reasons why no one has attempted to be a pioneer in that endeavor and unearth problems along the way, then think of the solutions to solve the problems first before starting. If the problems are too big and is beyond you, try looking for something else.

John Brown, former CEO of Stryker Corporation, a fortune 500 medical technologies company said, “It’s best to be one fad behind, never first to market, but never last.” This quote is coming from a CEO in an industry where success is characterized by being the first to put out a new, pioneering product in the market.

Being a pioneer seldom equate to success. But don’t worry if you are not the first product or service in your industry. Instead, combine creativity and discipline, look for what’s already working for others, adapt it, improve it, make it better or different, and start building on it. From there, you will create something new from what is already existing.

Just the other day, I was talking to a successful business who started from scratch. We met in his new building worth P30 million. I was impressed because I know this guy since high school. When he told me his story, there wasn’t anything extraordinary about it. He just created something new from what has already been existing, and made it better by developing a system around it. The opportunity was right under everyone’s nose but he was the one who capitalized on it. 

Don’t look for the next best thing. Be the best in looking for the things that are already working and make the best out of it.




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