How to Create Wealth: Leverage Your Strengths as an Entrepreneur

Dear friend,

An entrepreneurial idea: in order to most effectively create new wealth (new sources of value for humanity), it is best to leverage and focus on your pre-existing strengths, rather than trying to build upon your shortcomings or weaknesses.

Archimedes lever

“Give me but one firm spot on which to stand, and I will move the earth.” – Archimedes

Archimedes of Syracuse, was a serial mathematician, engineer, and inventor of ancient Greece (~200 BC). He made lots of discoveries and inventions, for example the principle of displacement of the volume of objects in water, and innovative pulley systems to be used in war to overturn ships (as well as many other interesting inventions).

Demonstration how one man can overturn a ship, given the right spot to stand, and with the right pulleys.
Demonstration how one man can overturn a ship, given the right spot to stand, and with the right pulleys.

Out of all his ideas, the concept that fascinated me the most was his concept of the lever — that a single man can create massive force (as long as he knows where to stand/what to focus on).


You can change the world

In practical terms, the concept of Archimedes lever is this:

Know what your strength is in life, and focus on that.

For example, if you wanted to overturn the earth with a lever, you just need to stand at the right “fulcrum” spot.


Focus on your asymmetrical strengths

In modern life, we are told that we need to be ‘well-balanced’ and to improve on our weaknesses/shortcomings. I disagree. I am rather in favor of focusing on our asymmetrical strengths — improving on what we are already really really good at, or really really talented at, instead of wasting our time, resources, and energy on what we are weak in.

For example, let’s say your strength is writing but you are horrible at public speaking. If you wanted to create more value, it is better for you to focus on further improving your writing, rather than working on your (poor) public speaking skills.

Or if you’re a photographer and you’re really good at black and white photography (and horrible at color photography), it is better for you to focus on your own personal “archimedes lever” of your pre-existing strength in black and white photography, instead of wasting your limited resources on improving your non-existent color photography skills.


Why focus on your strengths?

Why focus on your strengths? Why not try to become a “well-balanced” person who is good at a lot of stuff?

My theory:

Our lives are short, we only have a certain number of hours in the day, and a certain amount of energy in our lives. It is better to create 10x massive value in what we are already good at (and keep getting better at it), rather than being mediocre in aspects we are weak in (which will not create new sources of value).

For example, my personal strengths include writing, blogging, teaching, and public speaking. I am very bad at planning and logistics. Thus if I wanted to best leverage my strengths and create new sources of value, it makes the most sense for me to spend all of my time, energy, and focus on doing what I’m good at, instead of wasting time what I’m bad at.

On Building a Strong Team

A practical suggestion: to best leverage your strengths, have others help you where you’re weak, in order for you to better focus on your strengths.

For example, I am eternally grateful to my manager Neil who helps me with workshops, business, planning, and logistics —because it allows me to focus on coming up with ideas and sharing them on this blog (my strength). Similarly, I am so grateful for Cindy for also helping me with building up HAPTIC INDUSTRIES — leveraging her strengths of creating products, packaging, and delivery. Also my sister Annette for creating illustrations for HAPTIC DIGITAL.

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Thus when you’re building a team, find teammates or people who are really good at doing what you’re very bad at doing. This will create a team of A-players who can all exploit their strengths, to create the most value as a collective, rather than having a team of all C-players who are average in what they do. In DIABLO or video game/RPG terms, better to have a team consisting of a Knight (high hit points, and strength), an Archer (distance attack, high damage per second-rate), and a Wizard (healing properties, support character) instead of three characters who are all ordinary soldiers or footmen with average stats.


We are born to collaborate

The only reason why humans have been able to prosper so much as a species is our ability to collaborate, help one another, and for us to specialize on our particular strengths. It is better for the farmer to focus on growing corn and feeding society, instead of him (also) trying to make shoes for society. Let the shoemaker focus on making the shoes.


T Technique of Success

However I also want to share the concept that you should focus on specializing what you’re really good at, but also allowing yourself to explore other fields, to build wide-ranging erudition and knowledge across many different fields of knowledge. They call this the “T technique/model”— deep specialization and knowledge in one field, but basic knowledge in many fields which allow you to “cross pollinate” ideas and concepts to create new ideas and innovations.


Memento Mori Entrepreneurship

Remember friend, your life is short—how are you going to best leverage your skills, talents, and strengths in your life to create new sources of value and wealth for the rest of society?

As an assignment, write down a list of your strengths, talents, and skills and ask yourself:

How can I cut out more distractions from my life, and keep focusing on what I’m really good at?

Then in terms of monetization, ask yourself:

How can I charge money to provide this service or product to others, which will improve their lives and make them happier as a result?

BE BOLD,
ERIC

Photography Entrepreneurship 101 Workshop- San Francisco

Learn more how you can leverage your strengths as a photography entrepreneur at my upcoming Photography Entrepreneurship 101 Workshop: Monetize Your Passion, Build a Loyal Following, Stand Out (San Francisco, September 22-23, 2018).


Photography Entrepreneurship 101

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ERIC KIM x HENRI NECK STRAP

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By ERIC KIM

Artist-Philosopher