Rethinking Success: Beyond Clichés to Authentic Business Wisdom


حسين يونس

Today, I was watching an interview with a successful businessman from the Middle East. One of the questions posed by the host was to summarize his path to success in a few words. After stuttering for a few seconds, he responded with the following: “Waking up early at 5:30 am and prioritizing your health will pave the way to becoming a successful businessman.”

Really? Is that the cornerstone of success in business? Waking up early and hitting the gym? What about elements like ‘Networking’, ‘Connections’, ‘Strategic Planning’, ‘Innovative Ideas’, ‘Acquired Skills’, ‘Strategic Placement’, and ‘Opportune Timing’? What about individuals who have achieved success, yet are night owls or struggle with, health and weight issues?

When I come across such seemingly trivial notions, I can’t help but wonder how a wealthy and accomplished businessman could distill the complexities of success into such simple experiences. Is it standard for an individual overseeing a multibillion-dollar company to conclude that the key to business success lies in early bedtimes, early rising, and gym workouts?

I don’t possess any definitive answers or comments. Nevertheless, encounters like this and the prevalence of similarly subpar business training and books—filled with insensible content—illuminate the importance of discerning the true sources of wisdom. Nowadays, we are inundated with an overwhelming amount of senseless information and fabricated experiences. Believing in these fairy tale-like stories about the ‘5-Second Rule’ or the ‘5 AM Club’ could potentially lead to frustration, as the benefits reaped from these materials and ideas might be meager at best.

Genuine success in both business and life, I believe, stems from learning from those who have genuinely experienced it. I recall an interview with ‘Chuck Feeney’, a prosperous American businessman, who made his fortune from the concept of “duty-free shopping”, offering high-end concessions to travelers and free of import taxes. He candidly shared, “I didn’t shy away from exploring unconventional or even borderline-illegal concepts that enabled me to earn money and attain success. However, I also knew how to navigate the system and legitimize my approach, thereby supporting my business and minimizing extraneous expenses such as taxes and the like.”

What resonated with me was Feeney’s authenticity. This narrative illustrates that true success in life doesn’t necessarily hinge on breaking the rules; rather, it’s about mastering the art of playing within them. Moreover, it entails exerting influence to mold regulations that align with your interests and those of your business—something we commonly refer to as ‘Politics’ or ‘Political Acumen’. And his, indeed, is the veritable essence of genuine success.

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