Avoid Snake Oil Salesmen: You’re the Key to Your Success

Posted on December 17, 2018

I don’t come by the e-commerce world traditionally. I never had an overt interest in e-commerce, or really even business. I was an English major, and largely avoided the culture of building a business as something that was good for some, but not for me.

Now that I’ve discovered my love for the process, I find myself playing catch up on the culture of e-commerce, and have found that there’s some truly bad advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. There’s no cookie cutter answer to success in entrepreneurship, no matter what the snake oil salesmen tell you, and that’s OK.

A piece by Inc. has been making the rounds on social media of late, offering business advice that’s absurd. Inc. claims to be a source that tells you “Everything you need to know to start and grow your business now.” I’m not so sure about that. In their piece, “5 Morning Rituals to Boost Your Productivity,” Inc. posits that the “most successful people in the world” all have one thing in common: they wake up at 4 a.m. every single day. The problem is, they posit nothing else, leaving a bold claim undefended, and causing people like you to lose sleep unnecessarily.

As the article met its goal of virality, several prominent successful people weighed in:

That’s the crux of the article. It’s meaningless drivel simply created to push virality. It’s outrage marketing at its finest. The article offers nothing but anecdotal evidence to support its claim while putting forth a supporting cast that includes the CEO of Virgin America: a company that no longer exists. If anything can be learned from the article, it’s that outrage marketing is still undefeated. I had never heard of Inc. until this article went viral.

This is all to say: don’t fall for the trap that sites like Inc. place. If you want a blueprint to success, it doesn’t exist. Otherwise, everyone would be a billionaire. The only way to succeed is to hustle, make great connections, and to an extent, get lucky. You can follow similar paths to your heroes, but that doesn’t guarantee success, because success is never a guarantee. Rather than follow the exact path, focus on the traits of people you admire or who you deem to be successes. It’s OK if 4 a.m. isn’t the time for you to rise and shine.

Want to know how diverse schedules can be? Here’s a link that lists the daily schedules of some of the most successful, creative people in history. Notice any pattern? No. Because success is measured by what you do, not how you do it. Don’t waste your time trying to curate your schedule to exactly match Tim Cook’s. Curate your schedule to work for you. That is the path to success: following YOUR blueprint to success. Don’t worry about being the next Bill Gates. Be the first you.