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The Xenophile Historian

K. U. P.

(Kimball's Unauthorized Perversion)

Don't Catch the Wave, Get In Front of It!

One of the best ways to achieve financial success is to get ahead of a trend. That means take advantage of something new, before it gets so popular that a lot of people are doing it. If you get ahead of a trend, you will make money; if you get behind a trend, you will spend money.

Bottled water is one example. I remember an episode of the classic TV sitcom "Leave It To Beaver," where Beaver Cleaver went around the neighborhood, selling water from his wagon. Fifty years ago we weren't concerned about what tap water had in it, so the idea of paying for water (except to the utility company) was a joke. Nowadays, though, we'll pay more for a bottle of Dasani or Evian than we will for a Coke or Pepsi, and if Beaver's grandchildren sell water, we probably won't think it is too different from the traditional lemonade stand.

Another example is the cell phone. If you had gotten into the cell phone business in the 1980s or early 1990s, when cordless phones were larger than your hand, and a luxury rather than a necessity, you would probably be making good money now, and I would not expect you to be reading this. Because you did not get involved back then, chances are that you are now paying someone who did.

Of course, a new trend or product has to overcome a lot of inertia to be accepted. For example, can you imagine how hard it must have been to sell the first fax machine? Who would the machine's owner send a fax to? Nowadays fax machines are largely obsolete, thanks to our ability to scan documents/pictures and send them as e-mail attachments, but back in the 1990s no office was complete without one. This is why the list of faulty predictions in Chapter 5 is so funny.

Another example: One day in 2003, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, invited five people to his Harvard dorm room to discuss a business opportunity. Only two people showed up and they got in. Today they are billionaires: Mr. Dustin Moskovitz (worth $6.5 billion) and Mr. Eduardo Saverin (worth $3.4 billion).

Finally, consider the case of Ron Wayne, the third founder of Apple Computers. If you haven't heard of Mr. Wayne, click here to read how he missed out on opportunity when it came to him.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), the German philosopher, once said, "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." He probably wasn't talking about ways to make money, but it is just as relevant with business trends. Most people get onboard in the third stage; the ones who get onboard in the first and second stages are the ones who make a profit.

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