At Berkshire Hathaway’s 1997 Shareholder meeting, Warren Buffet was asked what the key was to his success. He answered that he won the ovarian lottery.
“You’re going to get one ball drawn out of a barrel that probably contains 5.7 billion balls now, and that’s you,” Buffett says.
“I mean, Charlie — when we were born, the odds were over 30-to-1 against being born in the United States, you know? Just winning that portion of the lottery, enormous plus,” he says.
He adds that he and Munger were both born male and white, which gave them further advantages from the start.
Advertising is like investing in the stock market.
You can waste your money by doing dumb stuff.
You can lose your money to liars, cheaters, and thieves.
Or you can win the lottery by being in the right conditions.
Despite the ovarian lottery, Buffet and Munger made money by using a strategy that passed the test of time.
At 97 years old, Charlie Munger attributes two things to his success: patience and inversion.
Patience is essential to good advertising. An impatient advertiser is like an impatient brain surgeon. Nothing good comes from speeding through the process.
Inversion is a technique identifying the opposite of what you want and then understanding what to do to get the things you don’t want.
For example, if you want a happy marriage in your personal life, the inversion would be divorce.
Here are the things you could do to get divorced.
- Drink a lot of alcohol, preferably with the opposite sex.
- Leave early for work, get home late.
- Find time for your friends, but not your spouse.
- Don’t buy new clothes.
- Never show your spouse you love them.
- Never exercise.
- Don’t worry about eating healthy.
- Get fat.
- Watch porn.
- Talk to your spouse, but never listen.
- Cheat on your spouse.
- When you fight, storm out of the house and go drink at the neighborhood bar.
- Never express your feelings.
These inversions can be used in any aspect of your life, including your business.
Mark Fox teaches a class at Wizard Academy called Davinci and 40 answers. He wrote a book by the same name. Using the concept of TRIZ, he explains there are 40 answers to solve any problem in the universe. One of the answers is “Turn it upside down.” Or, as Munger would say, “Inversion.”
Now, let’s look at your business problem. You want more customers.
If you use the inversion technique, here are things you do to get fewer customers.
- Don’t worry about the needs of the customer. Think about your needs.
- Don’t waste money on advertising. Business is built only on word of mouth and customer service.
- Customers know how to reach you.
- Competitors won’t take your customers.
- Spend money on information-based advertising. Customers only want information in their purchase decision process.
- Your product is never bought emotionally.
- Beliefs are for church, not for business.
- Create a message that gets drowned in the storm of advertising.
- Don’t be different.
- Sound like your competitors.
- Don’t worry about customer service.
- Customers keep coming back if you sell them a good product.
- Don’t worry about employee hiring, retention, or training.
- Employees can easily be replaced.
- You’re comfortable in your business.
- You don’t need growth.
- Don’t look for new opportunities.
- Your product will always be needed/wanted.
- Your industry will never change.
- Don’t spend money on your website, showroom, or trucks.
- Lower spending means the buyer can have cheaper prices.
- Customers die, move away and change their lifestyles. Don’t find new ones.
- Employees die, move away and change their situation. They are easily replaceable.
Knowing what you DON’T WANT is more valuable than knowing what you WANT.
Patience and inversion will help to avoid simple but potentially deathly mistakes in climbing Success Mountain. It’s worked for Munger and Buffet for 60 plus years. No doubt, it can help you too.