Million Dollar Decisions

Why People Succeed

What makes people and businesses successful?

When you look for an answer, it doesn’t take long to stumble on these cliches

  • Hard Work

  • Consistency

  • Culture

From resentful people, you get darker answers

  • Taking advantage of others

  • Paying employees unfairly

  • Ruthlessly taking down the competition

  • Luck

  • Inheriting from Daddy

They’re all wrong. But you only figure that out once you dig deeper and deeper until finally you’re at the bedrock.

John D. Rockefeller for example, did work hard, but he retired at 35. So over the course of his life, he didn’t work nearly as hard as others and wasn’t consistent considering he stopped working very early.

The same is true for Andrew Carnegie of Carnegie Steel.

Although Warren Buffett never retired, when asked what’s in his work day he transparently says it’s very relaxed and mostly comprised of reading.

The truth is being successful comes down to making incredible decisions.

If you made the one decision to put everything you had and everything everyone you knew had into Apple or Berkshire Hathaway stock in the 1980s, and never took it out, you would be wealthy absolutely regardless of how hard you worked.

Of course, that decision is easy to see now, but it is obviously true.

Making these million-dollar decisions is absolutely crucial to succeeding in business. No amount of hard work will overcome terrible decision-making.

How do you make million-dollar decisions?

Here’s a basic framework.

Extremely Clear Values

When a business puts out its ‘company values’ they are misusing the word. They talk about transparency and work ethic etc…

Those are principles. Modes of operation.

Values on the other hand are things worth striving for. They are things you find valuable. They are goals that are independent of circumstance because you would value them regardless of where you currently are.

You’re goals fit inside of your value structure. Without being clear on your values, your goals are completely arbitrary.

Do you value money? (The answer is yes)

Do you value respect from your peers?

How about the freedom to be spontaneous?

Providing security to the people you love?



Sexual Access?

Having short answers like that is a good start, but then you have to define them clearly and personally.

Peace for you might mean you spend every morning on a golf course playing 18 before you do any work.

For another, it might mean moving your family out of a war zone.

Assessing your values might be fluffy at first. But if it stays fluffy that means you haven’t made it specific and personal enough. It should be tangible.

Only then, can you actually make goals that matter.

Making great predictions

When I work with clients or talk with peers, one of the most common errors I see is people making decisions without even trying to think about what will happen once they do.

You may not be able to predict what the ultimate result of something might be, but you can certainly make predictions to get you halfway there.

For example, if you want to grow your business through content marketing, I predict you are going to spend a lot of time creating content for a return that’s at the very least months away and really more like a year or so away.

If you want to go the ads route I predict you’re going to spend a decent budget for low returns until you’ve spent a lot of time and money learning, optimizing, and improving.

If you are going to cold call I predict you’ll make a lot of phone calls.

If those seem like obvious predictions, that’s the point. Yet, this is what it means to think through something.

When you have an idea about a potential solution to a problem, ask yourself: “What are all the things that might happen if I approach something this way.”

The answers will be longer, more specific, and more detailed when you practice this for yourself. This is by far the easiest way to stop yourself from making a lot of bad decisions.

Once you have the first answer to that question, ask yourself, “And then what will happen?”

You can do that over and over again until you either realize this will or won’t get you to the things that you value.

This is also a great way to create a plan.

Conscious Experimenting

Predictions are great, but they need to be tested.

After you’ve assessed or created your values, and predicted the outcome of your options, what you are actually left with is your constraints.

In other words, you should have a very good idea of what is off the table for you. And that’s important. The truth about business is that there are too many options to pursue, not too few. For that reason, it is more important to take things out of the equation than to bring more things in.

With what’s left, you need to run experiments. They should be practiced meticulously just like a scientist would. With a hypothesis, a clear measurement method, a repeatable experiment, and then a conclusion.

The most difficult part of this process is actually the measurement method. It’s also the most important.

You’re goal, is to return the largest amounts of the things that you value. When it comes to money, the measurement is in dollars. With your other values measuring can be more difficult, but no less important.

The purpose of experimenting is to find your best option, not all your options. If you were to think of all the different marketing tactics to invest in, it won’t take you long to come up with a list of many.

But if you then take your marketing budget (whether time or money) and then spread it across all your options, you are deliberately damaging your returns. One marketing option is going to outperform all the others.

If you diversify instead of focus, you’re taking a budget (this could be read as a constraint) that could produce a high return and push it to a low-return activity.

You want to avoid this at all costs, it will only make life harder.

Every experiment should be valued on how much closer it gets you to the things that you value.


Decisions, not work ethic, are what create real results.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

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