Why Working Smarter Beats Working Harder
As Charlie Munger, billionaire and business partner of Warren Buffet, says, “If it wasn’t for the stupidity of most people,” he says he wouldn’t be so rich.
That’s kind of a harsh way to say it. I don’t say it quite that harsh, but you probably get where he’s coming from.
This is somewhat controversial, but I promise you it’s the truth, and I can prove it.
Well, here it goes:
Working hard is uncorrelated with wealth
Now, just a few examples that are so powerful, that the fact that people still try to refute me puzzles me:
The top 10 men in the world made more than the bottom 3.5 billion people combined.
That’s a fact, you can Google it.
10 men are wealthier, make more, have more to their name than 3.5 billion – half of the world!
Now, how hard can 10 men work in one day? Maximum 240 hours, right?
How much can 3.5 billion people work if they only work one hour a day?
3.5 billion hours. Work is uncorrelated with success. It’s sometimes a necessity, just like brushing your teeth is uncorrelated to wealth, even though some wealthy people brush their teeth.
People don’t understand causation and correlation
People see that Bill Gates works many hours, but what about this. I read that in India there’s about (don’t quote me), I think 10 million people that work in the dumpsters that pick out trash, small pieces of plastic, and they make on average $14 a month, and they work from dawn to dusk.
Are they working harder?
Of course they are.
America and the world is full of people working three times as hard.
I personally know people who are single parents holding down 3+ jobs. They’re working harder than I’ve ever worked. And yet they’re barely making it. It’s sad, but it’s reality.
Efficiency is the name of the game
One of my friends, he’s an engineer, PhD, really smart guy. He said,
“People don’t understand. In engineering, you never confuse input and output. You always try to put the least amount of input to get the most output. That’s what technology is.”
When you’re building a car, you never try to figure out how to put the most gas in to go 100 miles; what you try to figure out is how do you just put one gallon in, and the car goes 100 miles?
You guys get where I’m coming from?
You have to be focused on output.
Guys like Warren Buffett, he loves quoting that one quote. It goes something like:
“They say that hard work won’t kill you, but I don’t want to take the chance.”
He says, “I pretty much sit around all day looking for opportunities,” and since 1965 (54 years ago), he’s made 25 good decisions that have made him almost all his money.
On average, every two years, he was able to find these opportunities. What he spends all his day doing is reading and being observant.
I do think you have to be aware, but hard work is 100% uncorrelated with wealth, and it will get you.
Don’t listen to the “hustle 24/7” nonsense you see everywhere
There’s a lot of people out there giving business advice about working hard.
It’s because of the Ant Theory; that basically, it’s a primitive impulse that if you say to people, “You know what? Working hard is going to get you far.”
Why? Because it jives with our primitive mind, because tens of thousands of years ago it was true. There was no technology!
The man who hunted with a spear versus the one who just used his hands won. Technology has been beating everything. What actually is correlated to wealth is using tools before most people are.
You want to look for tools.
30 people versus 100,000 (the 30 won)
To me, social media is just a tool just like a caveman who had his bare hands, versus a caveman who came up with his first spear, or if you study history, you have the Bronze Age and things like that, and during those ages, well, look at the Incas.
Have you ever read the story where Pizarro, or Magellan, one of them, it was what, 30 soldiers that beat 100,000 Native Americans?
They had horses and armor, and they decimated a whole army. It was like 25 men. If business is war, you want to be like that.
Let other people have 100,000 people; don’t burn yourself out.
Are you feeling a little bit burned out?
If you are, that’s a sign you’re doing it wrong.
I wish every time I had had like some shock collar on me, and every time in the past that I was like, “I’m not making the money I want to make, so I’m going to work harder,” it would have just shocked me, you know?
“Hard work without intelligence will create sweat. Not results.”