At a current U.S. box office of close to $90 million “The Social Network,” – the movie about Mark Zuckerberg and the founding of Facebook - continues to offer a wealth of wisdom re how to get rich in the 21st Century. To wit:
Among other entrepreneurial treats, the movie weaves the tale of one Sean Parker., erstwhile founder of Napster, playboy, and benevolent Svengali of a young Zuckerberg.
For approximately a year’s worth of “work” which the movie fairly or unfairly portrays as mostly involving a lot of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, Parker now owns Facebook stock worth over $1 billion.
The movie also serves up Eduardo Saverin, portrayed sympathetically as both Zuckerberg’s college best friend and as Facebook’s bungling first “CFO.” Via these early positions of primacy and via his wealthy Brazilian family’s money being Facebook’s first $20,000 of seed capital, Saverin today is worth more than $1.3 billion.
And oh yes, he is still only 28 years old.
And finally we are given the Winkelvoss twins - blue-blooded scions of old money privilege and wealth and members of Havard’s most exclusive social clubs. The Winkelvoss’ allegedly had the idea that Zuckerberg re-formed into Facebook.
A few years and million dollar lawsuits later, the twin’s net worth is now estimated at north of $100,000,000.
Now, after we indulge ourselves of the natural envy and the exasperation “Golly, why couldn’t that have been ME,” we are left asking – “Didn’t our Fantastic Four just get lucky beyond belief?” And if so, then what?
Well, for the intrepid investors and entrepreneurs among us, here are three thoughts to run with:
1. Go Big or Go Home. Sean Parker, portrayed memorably in the movie by Justin Timberlake, embodies the archetype “Black Swan” life approach. Grandly flamboyant in lifestyle and with an iconoclastic self-definition, he both thinks and dreams very, very big and immediately “gets” the scalability power of the Facebook model. Lesson – sanity is over-rated, the best investors and entrepreneurs are often more than a little crazy.
2. Run with the Right Crowd. Now Saverin and the Winkelvoss twins TRULY had the luck of a lifetime. But they did go to Harvard and they were in tune enough to glob on to the programming genius that was Mark Zuckerberg. It is trite, but success is as much about who you know as what you know.
3. What’s Wrong with a Little Luck? Sure, Parker was prescient and Saverin and the Winkelvoss’ proved themselves smart and well-connected enough to get into Harvard.
But there are literally HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS prescient, smart and well-connected investors and entrepreneurs in this 21st Century of ours. And only a few thousand of them truly get rich, and only a handful still get rich at the level here.
So what to make of it? Well, luck stands alone.
Sometimes entrepreneurs and investors have it, sometimes they don’t.
The best one can do is to just keep spinning the wheel. And to make sure that every time we do that the odds are in our favor.
Now the great thing about our ridiculously prosperous 21st Century is that by taking just a little care, the odds on entrepreneurial “spins” are almost always GREATLY in our favor.
So take a little care.
And spin the wheel.
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