If you were going to build an empire, how would you do it?
I've been thinking on this lately. I want to choose the imperial path first, last, and always. Every decision I make ought to be to the end of building. We can get into the "why" of it and philosophy another time, but I think pretty much the meaning of life is to expand, the mid-term goal of humanity ought to be to spread outside of Planet Earth and diversity our habitats a little bit, and I'd like to participate in doing that.
That's a really long discussion though, so we'll save that for another time. Yesterday I was in a really nice cafe and I was thinking, "You know, I want to always be choosing the empire-building way. When choosing between options, when prioritizing, when picking activities, when picking projects - I want to choose expansion and empire."
I thought about that and I don't have any really good heuristics for what's conducive to expansion and what isn't. So today I went to a cool little Vietnamese restaurant where the owner is friendly, got some coffee and tea and bread, and started brainstorming a little bit.
I think the following are the building blocks of an empire -
The Imperial Path
Family – Friends – Counsel – Network
If conflict started today, who would be on my side?
People knowing of me.
Accomplish & Credential:
Credentials – Elevator pitch – Prestige – Relations – Memberships with Factions
Written works – Events – Art – Science – Accomplishments – Governance – History-changing
Portfolio – Blurbs/testimonials – Reviews – Soundbites
Skills – Habits – Routine – Regular environment – Knowledge – Intek
Diet – Sleep – Time spent (quality) – Emotion/mood – Beliefs – Goals
Purpose – Loyalties – Muscles/body composition – Biochemistry
Rituals and customs – Celebrations – Things like Marshall Salute
Cash – Cashflow – Paper assets (stocks, bonds, etc)
Grants of rights and privileges (passport, limited liability, etc)
Tools – computers, clothing, software, other technology
Real estate for use (rented or owned)
Real estate for investment (rental or business)
Processes – spreadsheets, workflows, etc.
Ownership stakes – Royalties – Digital assets
Commercial – Nonprofit – Governance – Security – Cultural
Guild – Private club – Other private organizations – Religious/spiritual
Banks – Universities – Investment groups – Small groups (regular dinner party, card games, etc)
Any of these sections could be broken down into significantly greater detail. You could probably write an entire book on the vast majority of elements here. Hell, there's got to be dozens of valuable "Skills," each one of which could have its own comprehensive book on it.
This is really a "barest elements" sort of analysis. It leaves out some of my core philosophies. For instance, "Out-compete by out-serving" isn't written explicitly, but would fall under Habits, Routine, Beliefs, Loyalties, etc, etc.
It strikes me that the "Self" category is the most important, because with the right mix of skills, habits, spending your time wisely, etc. - then you can build the rest of everything else.
There's a lot of feedback loops in here. The more you develop yourself, the more you're going to accomplish and get credentialed, which is going to make it easier to meet and connect with good people, which is going to help you develop yourself and do more, which is going to get you access to resources, and so on.
At the highest levels, it seems like you need good relationships (or at least, not bad relationships) with important organizations. If you're an American doctor and doing medical research, you're really going to be hurting if the FDA or AMA dislikes you. It'd be good if they liked you and wanted to work with you, but it's at least necessary that they don't dislike you to the point of wanting to shut you down even if you're doing good work.
Prioritizing from the above list becomes a bit easier. I might flesh it out a little more, but I got a lot of clarity from making the list. Your thoughts and additions in the comments?
About three years ago, I read the excellent book Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. At that time, I made a list of the top 5-10 people in my life that I was to and had similar goals with. I sent out emails to them every once a month with what I was working on.
Eventually, I fell off from this habit. Not sure why - I'd had gotten good advice, stayed in touch with people I like, and it was a positive experience. I started re-thinking building my counsel a little over a year ago.
The challenge is, I've got a diverse set of goals and ideas. I write, I do business, I travel, I create art, I adventure, I'm looking to establish a strong family, and so on. I have friends who are writers or artists that aren't interested in business. I've got friends in business that pretty much always stick to their one city. I know guys who are pretty simple, work a normal job, don't make any art or do any entrepreneurship, but have very strong and good families. I know very successful businessmen who travel and adventure, but aren't interested in having kids.
So I was thinking - how do I balance this all on my counsel?
And eventually, the idea hits me. I need multiple, relevant counsels.
I've flirted with the idea... "I never knew it would be this hard. Maybe that other business is easier. I'll be more successful there."
Flirted, but never really considered.
Quote from: The Education of Millionaires: Everything You Won't Learn in College About How to Be Successful