efore we get into how important it is for you to think and operate according to the 10X Rule, let me share a little
of my own story. For every project in which I have ever been involved, I underestimated the time, energy, money, and effort necessary to bring my project to the point of success. Any client I targeted or new sector of business into which I ventured has always taken 10 times more mail, calls, e-mails, and contacts than I had originally predicted. Even getting my wife to date and eventually marry me took 10 times more effort and energy than I had calculated (but it was worth every bit!).
Regardless of how superior your product, service, or proposition is, I assure you that there will be something you don’t anticipate or correctly plan. Economic changes, legal matters, competition, resistance to converting, too new of a product banks freezing up, market uncertainty, technology changes, people problems . . . more people problems, elec- tions, war, strikes—these are just a few of the potential “unex- pected events.” I don’t say this to scare you but instead to
prepare you for where the biggest opportunities exist. 10X thinking and actions are vital; they are the only things that will get you through these events. Money alone cannot do it; it can help, but it can’t do the job for you. If you march into any battle without the proper troops, supplies, ammunition, and staying power, you will return home defeated. It’s as sim- ple as that. It’s not enough to occupy a territory. You have to be able to keep it.
I started my ﬁrst business when I was 29 years old. Most people won’t go into business for themselves because they aren’t willing to take the ﬁnancial haircut necessary. I had pre- pared for this—or so I thought—and assumed that it would take me three months to get to the income level of the job I previously had. Well, it took me almost three years to get my business to provide me with the same income of the previ- ous job. That was 12 times longer than I had expected. And I almost quit after three months—not because of the money but because of the amount of resistance and disappointment I experienced.
I had a very speciﬁc list of reasons why my company wasn’t going to work. I had compiled it in an attempt to talk myself out of continuing. I was beyond disappointed; I was distraught and all but destroyed. I literally went to a friend and said, “I can’t do this anymore—I’m done.” I made up reason after reason why it wasn’t working out—the clientele didn’t have the money, the economy sucked, the timing was wrong, I was too young, my clients didn’t get it, people didn’t want to change, I sucked, they sucked—and on and on.
I eventually realized—after spending so much time try- ing to ﬁgure out why things weren’t working out—that it was completely possible that I was missing the answer entirely.
I never considered that I had merely incorrectly estimated what it would take to move a new product into the marketplace at the very beginning of the process. I had presented a new idea, for sure, but it wasn’t one that anyone had asked for. I had limited funds, so I wasn’t able to hire people and couldn’t afford
to advertise—which was unfortunate because no one knew me or my company. I didn’t know what I was doing and was cold calling other organizations. If this was going to work, it would depend on my ability to increase my efforts—not my excuses.
Once I quit calculating all the wrong reasons, I committed to making this work by increasing my efforts 10 times. And as soon as I did that, everything started to change—immediately. I went back into the marketplace with the right estimation of effort and started seeing results. Instead of making two to three sales calls a day, I started doing 20 to 30. When I ramped up my full commitment and aligned the correct levels of thought and action, the market started responding to me. It was still hard, and I was disappointed from time to time. But I was get- ting four times the results by making 10 times the effort.
When you have underestimated the time, energy, and effort necessary to do something, you will have “quit” in your mind, voice, posture, face, and presentation. You won’t develop the persistence necessary to get your mission accomplished. However, when you correctly estimate the effort necessary, you will assume the appropriate posture. The marketplace will sense by your actions that you are a force to be reckoned with and are not going away—and it will begin to respond accordingly.
I have consulted with thousands of individuals and companies over the past 20 years—and I have never seen one of them correctly estimate effort and think. Whether it was building a house, raising money, ﬁghting a legal battle, getting a job, selling a new product, learning a new position, getting promoted, making a movie, or ﬁnding the right part- ner in life, it always took more than what people calculated. I have yet to meet anyone who claims that any of these things was easy. Achieving these goals may seem easy to those who are on the outside looking in, but those who know ﬁrsthand what it took would never make such a statement.
When you miscalculate the efforts you need to make something happen, you become visibly disappointed and dis- couraged. This causes you to incorrectly identify the problem
and sooner or later assume that the target is unattainable and ultimately throw in the towel. Most people’s—including managers’—ﬁrst response is to reduce the target rather than increase their activity. I have watched sales managers in orga- nizations do this for years with sales teams. They give a quota or agree on a target at the beginning of the quarter and then midway through ﬁnd they are unable to reach the target, so they hold a meeting and reduce the target to some more attainable ﬁgure in order for the team to stay motivated and have a chance of winning.
This major mistake should never even cross your mind as an option. It sends the wrong message to the organization— that targets are unimportant and the only way to win is to move the ﬁnish line. A great manager will push a person to do more at the risk of coming up short, not target less. This idea of changing targets to make everyone feel good will lead to a further weakening of morale, hope, expectations, and skills, and everyone will start assigning reasons—better known as excuses—as to why the team is unable to attain its targets. Never reduce a target. Instead, increase actions. When you start rethinking your targets, making up excuses, and letting your- self off the hook, you are giving up on your dreams! These actions should be an indication that you’re getting off track— that you should begin thinking in terms of correcting your initial estimation of effort.
The 10X Rule assumes the target is never the problem. Any target attacked witft tfte rigftt actions in tfte rigftt amounts witft persistence is attainable. Even if I want to visit another planet, I must assume that the right actions taken in the right amounts over whatever time necessary will allow me to accomplish this. When people inadequately measure the actions necessary, they inevitably start to rationalize. Mankind seems to have this built- in, automatic calculator whose only purpose is to explain away failure. The problem is that the ﬁrst and most often used cal- culations always seem to target something otfter than activity level. This calculator tends to be more emotional than logical;
it judges the project, clientele, economy, and individual to be deﬁcient as a means of justifying why things are not working out. This is probably due to all the false content that has been loaded into the calculations by the media, educational system, and our upbringings—excuses like, “the market isn’t ready,” “the economy is bad,” “this isn’t wanted,” “I’m not cut out for this,” “our targets were unrealistic,” and on and on. But more often than not, it’s simply that you just haven’t correctly assessed the amount of action necessary. Regardless of the timing, the economy, the product, or how big your venture is, the right acts done to the right degree over time will make you successful.
I can assure you from experience—after 30 years of building companies and bringing new products and ideas to market—that there will be something you will never foresee, regardless of how detailed your business plan is. I don’t care if your product cost nothing to make and it’s 100 times superior to its closest competitor; you will still have to apply 10 times more effort just to push through all the noise in order to get people to even know about it. Assume that every project you attempt will take more time, money, energy, effort, and people than you can imagine. Multiply every expectation you have by 10, and you will probably be safe. And if it doesn’t take 10 times more than anticipated, great. It is better to be pleasantly surprised than greatly disappointed.
If you want to save time in getting your idea or product to market, then you must make sure you do 10 times more of everything in order to be in more places with more people over shorter durations. For example, if you planned on it taking one person to pitch your idea, then plan on it taking 10 people in order to possibly be able to reduce the time it takes. But remember—10 times more people will take 10 times more money, and someone will have to manage those people.
10X parameters allow for a variety of unplanned variables that can strike at any point during a project: employee prob- lems, lawsuits, economic swings, national or global events, com- petition, illness, and so forth. Add to this list any marketplace
resistance to your projects, people being set in their ways, shifts in technology, and, well, you have a whole slew of additional potential events.
For some reason, people who develop an idea about something they want to bring to the market tend to embrace a sense of optimism that frequently causes them to grossly misjudge what it will take to complete their project. While enthusiasm for any project is clearly important, you cannot forget one important fact: Your potential customers are not as enthusiastic about this project—because they don’t even know about it yet. The potential market is likely just start- ing to wrap its head around the notion. Then, too, there is the possibility of apathy—that there will be no interest whatsoever.
I’m not telling you to be pessimistic; just be prepared. Tackle your project with the 10X Rule—like your life depends on it. Manage every action as though you have a camera on you every step of the way. Pretend you’re being recorded as a model by which your children and grandchildren will learn how to succeed in life. Attack everything with the ferocious- ness of a champion athlete who is getting his last opportunity to claim his pages in the history books. And always remem- ber to follow through completely: That is the great common denominator of all winners. They see every action through to completion. Make no excuses, and adopt a “take-no-prisoners” attitude. Approach every situation with an “in-it-to-win-it- whatever-it-takes” mind-set. Sound too aggressive? Sorry, but that is the outlook required to win nowadays.
I know you’ve probably heard this before, but success does not merely “happen.” It is the result of relentless, proper actions taken over time. Only those who operate with the appropriate view and corresponding actions will have success. Luck clearly has something to do with it, but anyone who is “getting lucky” will tell you that their “luck” is directly pro- portional to what they’ve done. The more actions you take, the better your chances are of getting “lucky.”
What Is Success?
know I’ve already used the term success several times, but let’s clarify what it actually is. It probably means something different to you than it does to me. The deﬁnition really depends on where a person is in life or what has his or her attention. Success in early childhood might mean receiving an allowance for the ﬁrst time or getting to stay up past one’s bedtime. But that would no longer be of interest just a few years later, when success in the teen years might mean get- ting one’s own bedroom, cell phone, or a later curfew. Success in your early 20s might mean furnishing your ﬁrst apartment and getting your ﬁrst promotion. Later on, it might be mar- riage, kids, more promotions, travel, more money. As you age and conditions change, the ways in which you deﬁne success will transform yet again. When you’re much older, you’re likely to ﬁnd success in good health, family, grandchildren, your legacy, and how you will be remembered. Where you are in life, the conditions you’re facing, and the situations, events, and people on which your attention is most focused will
inﬂuence your deﬁnition of success. Success can be found in any number of realms—ﬁnancial, spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, philanthropic, communal, or familial. However, wherever you ﬁnd it, the most crucial things to know about success—in order to have it and keep it— are the following:
1. Success is important.
2. Success is your duty.
3. There is no shortage of success.
I will discuss the ﬁrst point in this chapter, and the other two in subsequent chapters.