Can You Keep a Secret?

| November 4, 2009

As you have read in previous posts, RMITs are not believers in long-term planning. America’s big successes got where they are by incremental improvement and strong, careful execution, but they didn’t get there by deciding at the outset how they would hit a $2.5 million profit target or achieve a 72 percent market share. They followed their perfect pitch, always moving forward while remaining flexible enough to adapt to change and to take advantage of opportunities. As Dan Duncan, Houston’s RMIT, told me, “Daily incremental improvement is the surest path to great success and a great fortune.” As I found out as I was researching The Richest Man in Town, however, for all that they cautioned against too much goal-setting, many RMITs have a secret.

The Keys to Success

| October 21, 2009

It’s all too easy for budding entrepreneurs to be seduced by a sexy idea or industry. The prospect of becoming a real estate mogul or Wall Street pasha conjures up visions of money and power that are hard to resist, but as I found out in researching The Richest Man in Town, more often than not it’s not the big, goldplated idea that turns out to be a winner.

Keep Your Eyes Off the Prize

| October 12, 2009

A universal trait of RMITs is the ability to execute, to get across the goal line without dropping the ball. What also sets RMITs apart, however, is the ability to adapt to new circumstances, and even change the goal when necessary. Dan Duncan, the richest man in Houston, told me that he runs his businesses, Enterprise Products Partners and Duncan Energy Partners—not to mention his five-thousand-acre Double D Ranch and his considerable philanthropic contributions—according to one piece of advice his grandmother gave him: “Just get up every day and do the best you can that day.”

Time Shares

| August 18, 2009

Commandment #5, “Wake Up Early—Be Early,” means making the most of the time you’ve got. That means starting your career early, starting your day early—and showing up for your meetings early. Fully 98 percent of the RMITs cited the ability to show up, and show up on time, as integral to their success. I saw this first-hand: Dennis Albaugh, famous within his company for saying, “Nothing is beneath me or beyond me,” was a typical example. When we set a phone appointment for our first interview, he called two minutes early. He respects his time and he respects the time of others. And having wrangled multiple interviews with a hundred RMITs in the course of researching and writing The Richest Man in Town, I can tell you emphatically—I really, really respect that. Perhaps the most important lesson to be taken from the fifth commandment is this: Your time is precious—and so is everybody else’s.