The Forrest Gump Guide to Becoming a Gazillionaire

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Who taught Elvis how to dance, received the Congressional Medal of Honor, got Nixon impeached, became the world ping-pong champion, built a national shrimping empire, and fathered Haley Joel Osment?

One man: Forrest Gump.

If I could choose one mentor in business, or in life in general, it would be Gump. I don’t care that he’s not real. The wisdom that he conveys is real, and I think we could all learn something from it.

Let’s listen to what he has to say, and I’ll translate his Gumpisms into advice that, if followed, will make you a much more successful moneymaker:

And cause I was a gazillionaire, and I liked doin it so much, I cut that grass for free.

The whole point of making lots of money is to buy your freedom. If that means cutting grass, then by all means, cut the grass. Many wealthy people chase money for so long that they forget about everything else. It’s a mistake. Never become so obsessed that you lose touch with the little things in life that you enjoy.

I’m not a smart man… but I know what love is.

Smarts aren’t everything. You can have an IQ of 180, but if you don’t know care about other people, you’ll never understand your customers or win the support of your peers. Instead, learn to care. Give customers the products they truly need, support your coworkers, and build a company that not only makes a profit but somehow changes the world for the better.

Stupid is as stupid does.

While you’re at it, change your entire conception of smart. In the end, the people that we call geniuses aren’t the ones with high IQs; they’re the people that make the right decisions over and over again. Similarly, lots of people with high IQs do stupid stuff… like not putting the gun together when the drill sergeant tells them to.

When I got tired, I slept. When I got hungry, I ate. When I had to go… you know… I went.

Only a fool goes without sleep, survives on fast food, and refuses to take breaks. You’ll burn out after a few years, where someone that takes care of themselves stays productive until they’re 90. You can still do great things; just realize you’re not going to do them in one day. Healthy careers last decades, and you’ll need a healthy body to go the distance.

Momma always had a way of explaining things so I could understand them.

Find a mentor. Maybe it’s your Momma, or maybe it’s a blogger that tells it like it is (ah hem). The point is you can’t figure it all out on your own, and you shouldn’t try. Look for people that explain things in just the right way for you to understand them, and then expose yourself to as much of their wisdom as possible.

I gotta save Bubba!

Don’t turn into another corporate coward that leaves people behind when things go bad. The real heroes in business are willing to lose everything for the people around them. Nothing creates more loyalty than selflessness, and it’s more valuable than gold. Besides, if you’re wealthy, you should have some nice, cushy buttocks to protect you against that million-dollar wound.

Jenny taught me how to climb. And I taught her how to dangle.

No one gets rich alone. If someone shows you how to “climb” the ladder of success, then don’t forget about them when they’re “dangling” from it, about fall off. Help them dangle more gracefully, or reciprocate any other chance you get. It’s not about keeping score, exactly, but creating an attitude of generosity in both yourself and others. That’s how you get to the top.

My Momma always said you’ve got to put the past behind you before you can move on.

Sometimes, the smartest thing you can do in life is let go. If your company has been on the verge of bankruptcy for two years with no reasonable hope of recovering, then maybe it’s time to jump ship. Or, just as importantly, you can only ride on past successes for so long before its time to do something new. Either way, don’t let the past distract you from the future you want to create.

I’m sorry I had to fight in the middle of your Black Panther party.

Apologize, even if you’re not wrong. It’s better than getting your ass kicked (or fired).

Now you wouldn’t believe me if I told you, but I could run like the wind blows.

Brag. Shamelessly. Of course, I’m not talking about writing a press release about how you got an A on your term paper, but if you’ve done something genuinely remarkable, then you owe it to people to tell them about it. Do it with a little style, and they’ll love you for it. Forrest spends the entire movie bragging, and people skip their bus to find out what happens next.

My Momma always said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

How could I not include this one?

Instead of worrying about which job you should take, which project you should work on, or which company you should start, just line them all up, choose the one you think you’ll like, and take a bite. You’ll probably enjoy them all, but it’s only by “tasting” the opportunities in life that you’ll truly live.

That’s all I have to say about that.

When you’ve said all you have to say… shut up.

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