Growth5 Blog

Friday, April 3, 2009

T. Boone Pickens: The First Billion Is the Hardest

I just finished reading The First Billion Is the Hardest: Reflections on a Life of Comebacks and America's Energy Future by T. Boone Pickens.

Pickens is the billionaire (barely these days) oil tycoon from Texas who is now developing wind farms and is pushing his energy plan.

I read this book for two reasons:

  • I like to learn how other entrepreneurs navigated their path to success; Pickens has had to start over a few times and each journey was an interesting read
  • I wanted to learn more about alternative energy and Pickens' plan to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. He has been ahead of his time in the past, and has been with this initiative as well, our country will soon be forced to catch up.
The book is strewn with "Boone-isms" - sayings that remind me of the ones Pickens' fellow Texan Ross Perot used way back when during his campaigns. Must be a Texas thing. Here are a few that caught my attention:

  • Be willing to make decisions. That's the most important quality in a good leader. Don't fall victim to the "ready-aim-aim-aim-aim" syndrome. You must be willing to fire.
  • I told a friend, 'This is the kind of market that builds character.' He looked at me and said, 'If it gets any worse, you'll have more character than Abe Lincoln.'
  • I find the more generous I am, the more I get in return, and the more I get in return, the more generous I am.
  • A fool with a plan can outsmart a genius with no plan any day.
  • Show up early. Work hard. Stay late. Work eight hours and sleep eight hours and make sure they are not the same eight hours.

The most helpful Boone-ism to me: "Action leads to more action." In economic times like we are experiencing, sometimes it feels like the right thing to do is to take a "wait and see" approach, and be more cautious. As Greg reminded us yesterday, the time for action is now. We need to be more aggressive, more proactive vs. reactive, get out there and go after it. If we're not doing that, what are we doing?

I recommend this book for entrepreneurs. If you want to learn more about alternative energy, read Pickens' plan online, skip the book.


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