Posted on Feb 20, 2018

Get Smarter Summary

Chapters, PDF & Review of Seymour Schulich’s Book

Get Smarter: Life and Business Lessons

Author: Seymour Schulich

Click Here to Get the PDF Summary of This Book & Many More

You will usually create much more wealth by starting a new business than buying an existing one….Scan the list of Forbes billionaires, and you’ll see dozens of people whose fortunes were created not by what they bought but what they built-Bill Gates, Michael Dell, the Walton family (Wal-Mart), the Johnson family (Fidelity mutual funds)-and those are just some of the famous ones.

The Big Idea:
Billionaire oil tycoon Seymour Schulich gives advice to entrepreneurial 20-40-year-olds: success comes by working diligently, being patient and capitalizing on the right opportunity.

You’ll find valuable lessons in Get Smarter.  Here is a sampling of the best ones.

  1. The Decision-Maker: A Tool for a Lifetime
    • Use it to make every major decision in your life.
    • It works well because it strips off the emotion in decision-making and really examines the relative importance of each point.
    • How it works: Make a pros and cons list for a decision, framed by a question (Eg Should I go to Western?). Think of the cons as opportunity costs for taking the next best course of action.
    • Assign a value from 1 to 10 for the positives (10 is very important to you) and a value from 1 to 10 to the negatives (10 is a major drawback).
    • Add up both sides, and if the positives: negatives is a 2:1 ratio or more, do it, whatever “it” is. If not, don’t do it, or at least think more about it.
  2. Know Your Edge: Average people are in the majority, but they’re not in demand.
    • Know not just your specialty/competitive advantage, but also where you can gain the upper hand in a deal of any kind.
    • Know who has the edge in any deal/negotiations of whatever kind of life. Just be aware of the fact so you can make decisions accordingly, and if possible try to gain the upper hand through your own “edge”.
    • Tip: Always try to have your lawyers write up the contract. It’s like having the serve in tennis. It’s a big edge!
  3. Career Lines -Jobs to Seek and Those to Avoid
    • It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up.
    • Your twenties are to enjoy and figure out what you’d like to do, but by 30 you should have a clear direction.
    • You’re more likely to find happiness and superior financial rewards in companies with high-profit margins, since they pay more, have fewer layoffs and are less stressful (that last part I don’t completely agree with)
    • Doctors and lawyers get paid by visit or by the hour. The problem with that is that you’re limited by the number of hours in a day, and you’ll never get rich that way with a 50% marginal tax rate.
  4. Money’s Value Falls 90% every Thirty years
    • Keep a sizable portion of your wealth in inflation-sensitive assets like real estate, commodities, and precious metals. They will hold their value against the ravages of inflation far better than cash, bonds, GICs or other long-term paper savings.
    • If you get the chance to lock in your debt for years at low rates of interest, do it because interest rates and inflation rates are only going to get higher (That’s not true Mr. Schulich, since you didn’t predict the financial crisis, now did you ?)
    • Be skeptical of life insurance. Many insurance policies are simply overpriced savings plans in an insurance package, and inflation will destroy their value. If you’re going to buy life insurance, buy term insurance, and get only as much as you need to protect your family in case something happens to you.
  5. There’s No Such Thing as an Overnight Success
    • Talks about the Starbucks story, and how no one had faith in Howard Schultz’s idea.
    • Every business takes at least 4 to 5 years to build.
    • The average lifespan of a corporation is 20 years. The average lifespan of a multinational corporation is 40-50 years.
    • Nothing lasts forever, and great businesses aren’t created in a few weeks or months.
    • An Italian proverb says, “He that has no patience has nothing at all.”
  6. Rules for Aging (or Living)
    • Nobody is thinking about you, so banish paranoid thoughts from your mind. They are thinking about themselves – just like you.
    • Avoid swine. A swine is a swine is a swine. He will always be a swine, even if he is acting right now in an unswine-like fashion. Stay away from them. (Couldn’t agree more, Mr. Schulich.)
    • After the age of thirty, it is unseemly to blame one’s parents for one’s life. (Ah, really? Oh, I suppose so.)
    • Never bring news of slander to a friend. This goes against conventional wisdom, which says that a true friend is one with the guts to break the bad news to a pal. But the truth is that when a friend hears a slander from an enemy, he or she automatically discounts it as meaningless, whereas when it comes from a friend, his guard is down and he is vulnerable. So don’t do it for two reasons: because it’s not right to subject your friend to it when he’s vulnerable, and because messengers are often beheaded.
    • Never expect gratitude.
    • Self-praise is no honor (something he learned personally from his wife, and that I’ve heard him repeat elsewhere several times).
  7. Patience: A Key to Success in Business and Life
  8. Sex and Love
    Four career-killers – ego, greed, drugs/alcohol, assistants with big breasts

    Women nurture the next generation in a dedicated manner superior to the male warriors who are out hunting

    Love is a hormonal imbalance that usually occurs in our twenties. If we are lucky, we outgrow it. It should evolve into respect and loyalty, which are the real foundations for a long-term relationship

    2 rules for happy marriages – live and let live (don’t try to change people) and don’t argue in front of the kids or other people

  9. Never Envy the Rich Man or Any Person
  10. Track the Cash
    track CASH LEVELS – which means you are getting receivables, not overspending on inventory, and have good cash-flow
  11. Why Financial History is So Important to Study
  12. China
  13. Speeches
  14. What is a Leader?
    Persistence, Discipline, Conviction, Judgment, Sharing Rewards
  15. Partners
  16. Dealing with Bosses or Successful People
  17. Investing in Foreign Countries
  18. The Oil Industry
  19. Business Axioms
    • Never quit a job unless you have another job (appear more valuable when employed)
    • Ask – if wrong, is this decision going to be painful or fatal?
    • Keep away from consultants and advisers
    • Ask partners, employees, family “would you put your own money in this deal?”
    • Always have at least 2 people on your side when negotiating/deal making
    • Never confront/threaten people or institutions with more power than you
    • Never forget to qualify statements with “off the record” when dealing with media
    • In negotiating, try to get another party to name asking price (might be lower than your maximum)
    • Almost everything in life is easier to get into than out of
  20. Deals and Investments
    • Five questions to ask about any deal:
      • UPSIDE – How much can I make?
      • DOWNSIDE – How much can I lose?
      • LIQUIDITY – How do I get my money back?
      • MANAGEMENT RECORD- Who says this deal is any good?
      • ENDORSEMENT- Who else is in the deal?
    • Make sure you can really assess the odds and only invest when the odds are in your favor
    • Go against the grain in terms of popular opinion
    • Negotiating – Often, walking away can give you the best possible price
  21. Setting Incentives – the key to building a company
    • Deferred compensation – you get THISyears bonus in one-year (helps with turnover)
      10-year option vesting plan to encourage owner-like activity (anyone over 5% should be acting this way already!0
    • Profit sharing
    • Communal compensation – 4 people senior staff where everyone draws equal salaries (including bonuses)
  22. Seven Closing Thoughts (direct quotes)

    Those who live in fear often don’t live at all.

    Motherhood is a wonderful thing to behold. A self-absorbed being suddenly cares a lot more about another small human being than she does about herself.

    Business is a means to an end, namely freedom to pursue the ultimate goal of trying to make the world a better place for your having been here for a very short while.

    People only die when they are forgotten.

    Luck favors the brave.

    Don’t complain, don’t explain.

    The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is how to love and be loved in return.


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