The Self-made Billionaire Effect
How Extreme Producers Create Massive Value
Imagine what Atari might have achieved if Steve Jobs had stayed there to develop the first massmarket personal computer. Or what Steve Case might have done for PepsiCo if he hadn’t left for a gaming start-up that eventually became AOL. What if Salomon Brothers had kept Michael Bloomberg, or Bear Stearns had exploited the inventive ideas of Stephen Ross?
Scores of top-tier entrepreneurs worked for established corporations before they struck out on their own and became self-made billionaires. People like Mark Cuban, John Paul DeJoria, Sara Blakely, and T. Boone Pickens all built businesses—in some cases, multiple businesses—that are among today’s most iconic brands. This fact raises two profound questions: Why couldn’t their former employers hang on to to these extraordinarily talented people? And why are most big companies unable to create as much new value as the world’s roughly 800 self-made billionaires?
John Sviokla and Mitch Cohen decided to look more closely at self-made billionaires because creating $1 billion or more in value is an incredible feat. Drawing on extensive research and interviews, the authors concluded that many of the myths perpetuated about billionaires are simply not true. These billionaires aren’t necessarily smarter, harder working, or luckier than their peers. They aren’t all prodigies, crossing the billionaire finish line in their twenties. Nor, most of the time, do they create something brand-new: More than 80 percent of the billionaires in the research sample earned their billions in highly competitive industries.
The key difference is what the authors call the “Producer” mind-set, in contrast with the far more pervasive “Performer” mind-set. Performers strive to excel in well-defined areas, and are important. But Producers are critical to any company looking to create massive value because they redefine what’s possible, rather than simply meeting preexisting goals and standards. Combining sound judgment with imaginative vision, Producers think up entirely new products, services, strategies, and business models.
Big companies tend to reward Performers and discourage the unconventional ways of Producers. But it’s the latter who integrate multiple ideas, perspectives, and actions, and who trust their insights enough to make game-changing bets.
This book breaks down the five critical habits of mind of massive value-creators, so you can learn how to identify, encourage, and retain such individuals—and maybe even become one yourself. The Self-made Billionaire Effect will forever change the way you think about talent and business value.
Praise For The Self-made Billionaire Effect: How Extreme Producers Create Massive Value…
“The first billion is the hardest. I know from experience. If you are interested in giving it a shot, The Self-made Billionaire Effect is a good starting point. Great research. Great stories. Great opportunity.”
—T. BOONE PICKENS, Chairman, BP Capital Management
“A fabulous profile of value creation that all organizations need to ponder as they build talent for the future.”
—THOMAS COLLIGAN, former Vice Dean and Director, Aresty Institute of Executive Education, The Wharton School
“Fresh, provocative and insightful, The Self-made Billionaire Effect will challenge your thinking about how entrepreneurs succeed in creating mega-hit businesses. This is a racy read, where storytelling and personalities carry some important lessons to be considered and applied even for those working in stable and slower-growth businesses.”
—DONALD J. GOGEL, Chairman and CEO, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, Inc.
“This well-researched, fun-to-read book provides top management with a set of insights vital for finding and keeping the talent needed to design and deliver breakthrough value.”
—LINDA A. HILL, Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and coauthor of Collective Genius
“John Sviokla and Mitch Cohen have mined a rich vein—self–made billionaires—in an attempt to find common patterns. What I particularly admire is their nuanced insights: these men and women are not solitary, risk seeking, creative, overnight successes. They work in teams; they manage risks and rewards; they are as good at execution as they are at ideation; and they have been on roller coasters, not rocket ships. Their wisdom is invaluable for entrepreneurs and managers. I recommend it highly.”
—WILLIAM A. SAHLMAN, Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School and coauthor of New Business Ventures and the Entrepreneur
“Massive success does require luck. But it also requires unusual ways of approaching problems. This is one of the most thoughtful books I’ve seen on what the outliers do to make it more likely their attempts will change the world.”
—ASTRO TELLER, Captain of Moonshots, Google[x]
Portfolio, 9781591847632, 256pp.
Publication Date: December 30, 2014
About the Author
MITCH COHEN is vice chairman at PwC. During his thirty-three years at the firm, including more than twenty years as a partner, Cohen has held a variety of leadership roles and has served numerous Fortune 500 clients.