Two Secrets Of Success

“I have found that the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.” – Harry S. Truman (television interview, May 27, 1955)

BB, in his daily e-mail advisory Daily Reckoning, recounted the following conversation with his nine-year-old boy. I thought you might like to see it so that you can appreciate why I read Daily Reckoning — and also because the two secrets BB talks about are favorite ETR topics.

“Jules, I’m going to let you in on the secret to success,” I began. (And why not? A father has not only the right, but the duty, to pretend that he knows what he’s talking about.) “Normally, I would wait until you were older … but you may need this now. So here goes …

“There are two principles that almost no one understands … but they are critical to success. First, everything happens at the margin. Take some kid who’s just as smart as you are … and one of you will do very well, while the other one might do not-so-well. What’s the difference? One makes just a little bit more effort.

“Of course, just a little bit more effort doesn’t make any big difference the first day … but that’s where my second principle comes into play — ‘compounded effort over time.’

“You know how compound interest works. You put money in the bank. Depending on the interest rate, it builds up. At first, you barely notice the increase. But after a while, it grows at an incredible pace. Well, effort is the same. At first, the results are barely perceptible. But over time, the guy who puts in just a little more effort … who listens just a little more carefully … who tries to work just a little harder … and just a little longer … and who cares just a little bit more about the way things turn out … after a few years, this guy’s extra efforts compound until he is far ahead of the other guy.”

“Uhh … thanks, Dad …” said Jules.

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]