The following is an excerpt of a conversation with Sprott USA Chairman Rick Rule published by Tekoa Da Silva, Editor, Bull Market Thinking (Source).
TD: Rick, if I can ask you about the concept of becoming rich to be blunt, based on your experience, what are some of the characteristics that you feel lead to becoming rich as an outcome?
RR: Not focusing on becoming rich is one. Focusing on delivering value. You gain utility by providing utility. Simply put, if you make rich people richer, they will make sure that you get rich. So I think [it’s] doing something that you love that adds value to other people, so that your work isn’t work. It’s something that you can’t help but do.
People look at me and tell me I’m an extraordinarily hard worker. The truth is in a conventional sense, that is with regards to my vocation as an obligation, I’ve never worked a day in my life. I’ve only had fun.
I have expended a hell of a lot of energy having fun and I’ve made stupendous sums of money, but it has to do with the fact that I really like what I’m doing. So it’s very easy to add utility for others because it’s like playing for me.
The second thing is that particularly earlier in your career, you must be thrifty. You can’t be a capitalist if you don’t have capital and if what you want out of money is bass boats or fancy clothes or vacations, you’re doomed to being upper middle class at best.
If what you want with money is to make money, as opposed to spend money, what you learn is that compounding interest is truly the eighth wonder of the world but you can’t enjoy compounding interest if you don’t have any principal.
So to become rich, one must save and one must save absolutely ruthlessly, absolutely ruthlessly. One must save every paycheck. One can’t defer savings. One can defer and must defer spending but you cannot when you’re early in life defer savings.
It’s important to teach your children to save and to save every week. It’s critical if you want your children to be rich. I’m not trying to say that being rich is the be-all, end-all. The third thing, getting from rich to being really, really rich is that you have to take chances. I’ve had the good fortune in my life to know 12, 15, 20 self-made billionaires and what segregates the billionaires, what segregates the people to get that last digit is guts.
You have to take risks. You have to see a situation that you think has outsized possibility of reward and you have to really, really, really swing for the fence. I’m reminded of George Soros who said that he became a billionaire by finding“broadly held public precepts that were wrong and betting against them,” when he had the cash and the courage to stay the trade.
Before he beat the Bank of England on his raid of the British pound, he had a negative margin carry of I don’t know, $40 million, $50 million a month for a long time. It was a lonely expensive trade and his partners were very, very, very critical of him until he made several billion dollars when he won.
Every billionaire I know has been willing to take bets that were contrary to conventional wisdom at the time that were highly risky. Another example would be John Paulson when he was short the housing market.
You remember John Paulson sort of got short US housing in 2006 and he was a lonely human being in the period 2006 to 2008. Every month, he was writing millions of dollars of checks on a margin carry on his bet.
Now, ultimately he made his investors $20 billion but he made his $20 billion by risking his entire fortune, a lot of money from his investors and his entire reputation over a two-year period of time. To get from being rich to being very rich, you have to take big, concentrated bets.
TD: Rick, for people that are looking for other people to invest in, what do you look for in deciding whether or not you should give your capital to someone whether it be the CEO of a company or otherwise?
RR: Passion, curiosity, experience and diligence. Passion meaning that you don’t want somebody working for you who works eight hours a day. You want somebody who thinks about what they’re doing 24 hours a day.
Diligence means somebody who isn’t satisfied having an opinion with regards to the big picture, but in fact has done a deep dive and done due diligence on their specific area of investment expertise.
Money is made in the micro, not on the macro. Determination, you need somebody who can overcome what are going to be inevitable difficulties, somebody who isn’t discouraged but somebody who is really, really, really tenacious.
And curiosity. When you think you know everything about something, you’re set up to lose a lot of money. There are always facts that you don’t know. There are always people who know more than you. The facts always change. You have to keep up with them.
So the good investor’s mind is constantly curious. The good investor is always starting conversations and is shutting up and listening to gather more information about other people. Looking not for information that supports his or her existing paradigm, but rather information that challenges the paradigm and alters the paradigm.
Source: Rick Rule December 2013 Interview | Bull Market Thinking