#123 The Unasked Question: What Do The non-Millionaires Do

There are a zillion books, blog posts, articles, and podcasts on the topic of how to be successful.

And most of them claim their advice is backed by data. Here’s an example from Entrepreneur magazine. The article says…

“That’s why the most successful people in the world spend their free time learning.
It’s not exactly breaking news. During his five-year study of more than 200 self-made millionaires, Thomas Corley found that they don’t watch TV. Instead, an impressive 86 percent claimed they read -- but not just for fun. What’s more, 63 percent indicated they listened to audiobooks during their morning commute.”

Great news! If you want to be a millionaire all you need is a library card and an audiobook subscription.

Or maybe not.


We can't know if the advice from this study is valuable until we know the answer to this question.

Did the researchers also study non self-made millionaires?

Because if there are a whole bunch of non-millionaires out there also reading books and listening to audiobooks - then we have a CAUSATION problem. Meaning the reading and listening didn't CAUSE the millionaires success. It's just something that lots of people, rich and less rich, tend to do. Which means we should ignore the study.


I'm hitting this topic again (see links to past articles on this topic at the bottom of this post) because we're being bombarded by this kind of garbage.

Every success system has amazing brain science behind it.
Every supplier has a study that proves they’re the best.
Every diet has amazing research backing it up.

car salesArtboard 1@300x.png

And to make things even more confusing, most of the claims are directly contradicted by competitors equally amazing research claims. And the people who publish this garbage are laughing all the way to the bank. They could care less whether the research is valid. All they care about is getting your eyeballs on their site so they can bombard you with advertising.

So consumer beware. Any time someone claims to have rock solid proof that “winners do this”, make sure to ask them whether they took the time to check whether “non-winners” also did the same stuff. If they can’t answer that question, then it's time to hit the mute button on their audiobook.

Past Posts That Covered This Topic...
#19 Half Truths: Be On The Lookout For Sketchy Research

#57 Fake News In Your Presentation: Be Careful Who and What You Quote

#57A Fake News Supplement: Too Many Studies Can't Be Replicated

#99 Sketchy Claims: What The Heck Is P-Hacking


#121 Difficult Decisions Are Easy: Unpleasant Decisions Are Hard

A difficult decision is one where you don’t know the right answer.

Is now the right time to invest in new technology?
Should you hire Karen or Trudy?
Which market should you enter next - Columbus or Indianapolis?

You can’t know the answers to these difficult questions in advance, so you make an educated guess and hit go. Easy enough.


Now for the hard stuff. Those times when you know exactly what you have to do, but repeatedly fail to do it. When you chicken out because you know there are going to be unpleasant consequences.

Many decisions could fit this unpleasant description, but the most destructive one I see over and over and over is failing to remove a non-performing management team member.

You know it has to be done. The other management team members know it has to be done. Every employee in the building knows it has to be done. The kid who mows your lawn knows it has to be done.

But day after day you find excuses to put it off. And day after day the problem gets worse.


Grab your org chart and stare at the lines that connect you to your team. Imagine those lines are actually thick pulsing blood vessels. Life-giving tubes that should be carrying nutrients from you to each of your direct reports and from them to their direct reports.

rounded bloodArtboard 1.png

And notice that the flow between you and Mr. Not-Getting-It-Done is not good. Nutrients aren’t flowing smoothly through him to his direct reports. Which means your lack of action is starving everyone in that branch of the organization - fine people that you fought hard to hire and that did nothing to deserve this starvation.

And if you zoom out you’ll notice that even the folks in the healthier parts of your organization look a little pale. Which shouldn’t be a surprise because you know that an organism is only as strong as it’s weakest part.

And now that you see your org chart in this painful new light, you can’t unsee it. Which means now is the time to confront your unpleasant decisions in a transparent and caring manner.

And yes, today will suck. The next few weeks or months might even suck, but long term the place will suck way less because you took action.

Unpleasant decision are only hard because you make them that way.

If you want to go a little deeper on this topic I touched on it back in post #33 - Wrong Stories Wrap Up: I Screw Up My Life Believing Things That Aren’t True. There I talked about how my hesitance to jump on an unpleasant decision allowed an infection to spread and eventually cost someone else their job. Shame on me.