Fail and fail again

Jessica Simpson holds a Maxim Magazine with he...

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I enjoyed The Mogul’s Maxim from the latest Forbes and the additional online material that didn’t make it to the magazine article.  In it, Jeff Bercovici interviews Felix Dennis, who launched Maxim magazine.  They discuss Dennis’ new book The Narrow Road, which is “a collection of lessons for would-be entrepreneurs”.

Should you start a business?

Felix Dennis: This is a very difficult subject because the vast majority of people should not try this. You’re just going to wreck your life. The percentage of people who actually get rich is very small, and the collateral damage to your life is very high.

JB: But you also say anyone can succeed using your principles.

FD:As long as they’re prepared to fail again and again first. Anyone of reasonable intelligence can succeed and make substantial sums of money if they’re prepared to make the sacrifices. Anyone.

Felix on taxes:

I pay my taxes. I know I’m the last idiot left on the planet who does. I think we’re taxed far too much and taxed in the wrong way. I’m firmly of the belief, after my experiences in Hong Kong, in a 15% flat tax with an $18,000 exemption. If you want the most money, it’s real simple, brother. You just have a flat tax on absolutely everything, and all those guys at Deloitte & Touche–they can start digging ditches.

It would be nice to live in a world where digging ditches was more valuable than tax gymnastics.

It’s always reassuring when I find I agree with someone who has experienced a good measure of success.  The willingness and perseverance to try and fail and try and fail and try again is something I’ve observed in successful people — not just entrepreneurs.  Ask successful actors, writers, professional athletes about their failures.

That lesson isn’t taught well in K-12 education.  Failure doesn’t end your life.  It happens.  It’s common.  You can learn from it. And try again.  Life is trial and error.

I plan to read Dennis’ book.