In Defense of Ruthlessness

Entrepreneurs create new realities. We dream new worlds, define boundaries, and then try to convince other people to live within them. We seduce our customers into believing in the benefits of our company’s world.

Everyone Is Attempting to Seduce You

No matter what aspect of your life, there is someone trying to get you to fill a role that is convenient for them. Entrepreneurs and business owners in general must be aware of what roles they fill for other people. They are in effect, systems designers, who are constantly watching and creating seductive new worlds.

As a result they must protect their time, capital, and focus at all times.

Accept Reality and Results, Not Their Models of Reality

Understand, running a business is about setting up a scientific method about what works.

We don’t have time to theorize about the morality or immorality of our actions. We just pursue profits first, because that’s what the game we play is about.

Business is a Power Game

We’ve been plagued with war for all of human history. Since the atomic bomb, we have been both blessed and cursed by mutually assured destruction. This means that we can’t fight big wars anymore, because everyone will die.

Instead, we now fight for redistribution of power through businesses. Business is the new proxy war. That is a good thing.

Play According the Dynamics of Power

It would be nice to be able to do business on a handshake alone. But that ignores the real dynamics of business. People do what they think they can get away with.

When I first began freelancing, I was ignorant to the dynamics of power. I worked with people based on handshakes. And I got screwed.

Later I learned, you must play according to the dynamics of the game. I began asking for major payment up front (skin in the game), maintained control of servers (last-resort power), and insisted on signed contracts (intimidation). This increased my bargaining power, and virtually guaranteed I got paid.

You Must Acquire and Defend Your Position Ruthlessly

This is what Nietzsche meant by his campaign against morality. There are different sets of morality appropriate for different situations. If the game of business is a proxy for the acquisition of power, play with the right set of rules.

Play with the rules that put your business’ existence first.

Join the Battle for Capital

This is an exciting time to live. We can compete globally for a piece of the capital pie, without killing one another. And everyone’s got incredibly equal access to information, making humanity’s innovation and creativity more impressive than ever before in history.

Divorce Destroys Capital

How do you go from a $3 million net worth and $120k/yr income to bankruptcy in under five years?


Capital Acquisition is Half the Battle

In 1995, my father owned half a rapidly growing landscaping company doing around  $3 million in sales a year. They had just bought and built a new office/headquarters, and were growing at around 10% a year.

That year, my parents decided to get divorced.

The Other Half is Capital Retention

My father immediately hired an attorney to represent himself in court. The attorney required a retention fee of $5,000 cash in order to take him on. That week, my mother got an inkling of my dad’s net worth, and decided she needed the best attorney possible.

A relative gave my mom the $50,000 retention fee necessary for the top local attorney.

Lawyers Exist to Litigate

In Florida, husbands can be held liable for their spouse’s attorney fees. In my dad’s case, he was.

Immediately, he lost $55,000 of his net worth, but more importantly, $55,000 of his liquid net worth.

They Profit by Destroying Deals

Early on, my father and mother decided it would be best to do a 50/50 split of assets. However, the attorneys would be rendered useless, so they launched personal attacks to stir the pot and increase fees.

Whenever a deal seemed close, a new personal attack would arise. But on the horizon loomed a bigger problem. Liquidity.

Creating a Need to Liquidate Assets ASAP

Child support payments are one of two possible debts that can land you in jail. (The other is taxes.)

Desperation for liquidity means one thing: you are at the mercy of whoever can provide it, and at whatever discount necessary.

Leaving You in a Horrible Position to Make Deals

My dad’s partner offered to buy his half of the business. What started off as a million dollar buyout ended up being manipulated and talked down to around $250k, because of a desperate need for capital.

You Must Have a Prenuptial Agreement

Even if it’s only to keep your net worth from going to lawyers who will use it against you, to make you hate the person you loved. Decide ahead of time not to waste resources, capital, and worry arguing through the wealth destroying proxy of lawyers.