Peter Diamandis’ Laws to Help You Develop a Persistent and Passionate Life
The founder of the XPrize Foundation, Singularity University and CEO of Zero Gravity Corporation shares the laws that can help anyone succeed — Part 1
I came across Peter Diamandis’ profile after reading about him in Tim Ferriss’ Tools of Titans. I had heard of Peter before — he’s the founder of the XPrize and Singularity University and known for his work to get people into space. What I did not know was that Peter had written 28 laws for uncommon and persistent people. I’ll cover the first 10 here, and then the subsequent 18 laws in two other articles.
I want to share what these 10 laws mean to me and how I am incorporating them into my life.
The first 10 laws:
- If anything can go wrong, fix it. To hell with Murphy!
- When given a choice… take both!!
- Multiple projects lead to multiple successes
- Start at the top then work your way up
- Do it by the book... but be the author!
- When forced to compromise, ask for more.
- If you can’t win, change the rules
- If you can’t change the rules, then ignore them.
- Perfection is not optional
- When faced without a challenge, make one.
1. If anything can go wrong, fix it. To hell with Murphy!
Murphy is, of course, referring to Murphy’s Law, which states that anything that can go wrong, will. But Peter, as a serial entrepreneur, doesn’t believe in Murphy’s Law. Things go wrong all the time during entrepreneurship or when you’re tackling the big hairy audacious goals that Peter is facing, and rather than accept that something will go wrong, be proactive and do something about it.
2. When given a choice, take both
This law reminds me of one of Ramit Sethi’s book-buying rules — if you’re debating whether you should buy one book or another, and it’s a close decision, buy both.
Why waste time trying to decide between one or another? Can you really not afford the $30 for another book? Or let me put this another way, if you can get even one great idea from the book, it is worth your time and money.
What does it mean to take both choices in life, though?
- Do I want a brilliant career? Or a balanced family life? (Do both — who is to say you can’t have a good career and be a good parent at home)
- Do I want to live in a busy city? Or live a quiet life in the countryside? (Do both — have an office in the city, but live in the countryside)
What his law means to me is that sometimes, we are faced with binary decisions we think we have to choose one option over another. Ask yourself, do you really have to choose one or another? Or can you do or take both options?
I think about this all the time. Can I have a full-time job and a part-time side hustle? Can I put in long hours at work, and also put in long hours in my life? What would I need to change to do both? That’s what I always think about.
3. Multiple projects lead to multiple successes
It sounds great in theory — work on multiple projects and you will multiply your success. But how do you actually do it? I think Peter, like other great entrepreneurs, uses leverage.
- For the XPrize for example, he raised $10 million, getting the support of NASA, CEOs, rich families and others along the way.
- Certainly, as a CEO, he leverages other people’s time to help him accomplish his big goals.
- Finally, being the founder of the Singularity University, he leverages other people’s expertise.
While everybody has an equal 24 hours every day, there are things you can leverage to multiple the number of projects you work on — whether it’s money time, expertise or your network.
4. Start at the top, and work your way up
Quite a bit different from the typical Cinderella CEO story of starting at the bottom and working your way up. You hear CEOs who started in the mailroom or as a janitor and work their way up.
But you don’t need to start at the bottom anymore. In fact, James Altucher’s Skip the Line is one such book that teaches you the secrets of skipping the 10,000-hour rule popularized by Malcolm Gladwell. Another book is The Third Door by Alex Banayan. Both books talk about the strategies and hacks to shortcut your way to the top.
Don’t limit yourself to starting at the bottom if you are just starting your career. Find ways to accelerate yourself and then work your way up. And it doesn’t just apply to work either, some of the best ways to accelerate any part of your life: find a mentor/teacher, take an online course, read a book, or link it to a burning passion of yours.
One way to speed up your career (I know it has helped mine): write. Write and get your thoughts and expertise out in the world. Don’t worry about whether someone else has written about it. It still surprises me when I write what I think is something that everyone knows, and then people thank me for sharing something new with them.
5. Do it by the book… but be the author
Don’t just follow the rules, be the one to make the rules.
One of the reasons I went the self-publishing route instead of the traditional publishing route is because I wanted to control what I write about, and when to release it. Of course, self-publishing is not without its challenges, but I’ve learned a lot along the way and the option of traditional publishing is still open.
Tucker Max did the same thing. After publishing his book the traditional way, he found he could use the same resources as the publisher (the editor, the illustrator, the publicist), cut out the middle-man (the publisher) and get a bigger chunk of the revenue for his books.
Do you need an MBA to start a business? Or do consulting? Or to get into an investment bank? Do you need to be an expert to write a book? Can you be a CEO right away without putting in the time to work your way up from the bottom?
6. When forced to compromise, ask for more
It seems counterintuitive, but right at the same time? But if you think about it a little more, it makes a lot of sense. Take negotiating a salary as an example. You want to land on $200k. Your employer wants to settle on $180k. You can live with $180k but you ask for additional vacation or perks that don’t cost your employer that much (a company car, etc.). Since you gave up $20k / year for however long you work and that is a lot of money for both you and your employer, you are in a position to ask for more (and your employer is likely to give you what you asked for in exchange for giving up something).
It links to one of the tips that James Altucher has for negotiations: have a bigger list than your opponent. It could be a list of demands. It could be a list of why your startup is going to rocket to the moon. It could be why your book is going to be the next bestseller.
7. If you can’t win, change the rules
Take a look at Warby Parker. They saw there was a discrepancy between what manufacturers sold glasses for and what retailers sold them for. But if they did what retailers did, they would be competing with them directly and their competitor had the market share, dollars, and reputation to stamp out any of their competitors.
Warby Parker instead, built a website and sold it directly to consumers. They didn’t have any retail spaces so they didn’t have any of those expenses to handle. And they allowed customers to buy glasses, typically a product you need to see in person, online.
8. If you can’t change the rules, ignore them
Isn’t this what Uber did? They decided to disrupt the taxi industry and decided they weren’t a car or transportation company, instead, they were a technology company, so the traditional rules of transportation didn’t apply to them.
Laws 5, 7 and 8 are linked, and the takeaway for me (and possibly for you) is to figure out what rules you are ‘constrained’ by. And then ask yourself:
- Can you create new rules for yourself?
- Can you change existing rules so that you can win?
- If you can’t do any of the above, ignore the rules.
9. Perfection is not optional
I have to say, I’ve heard both sides of the story on this one. To me, when I do any work, I aim for as close to perfection as possible. I’m never going to get there, but with that lofty goal in mind, it means I am continually challenging myself and improving to get close to the goal.
I can see that if you’re trying to do work for someone (a customer, your boss, a colleague), perfection (or as close to perfection as possible) should always be your goal. To aim for something less than perfection is a waste of your talent and ability.
Whenever work comes to me, I use all of my experience and expertise to leave it better than I found it. And it applies to not just everyone’s work, but mine as well. Sometimes, I’ll re-use work that I’ve used in the past. I’ll adjust the wording. Or change up the images a little. But in all cases, I think “what can I do to make this 10x better?”
10. When faced without a challenge, make one
The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday is relevant here. Although I believe, the overall philosophy of the book is that when things get tough, that’s exactly the direction you need to go in, I think there’s another way you can look at this that’s linked to Peter’s 10th law.
When you are faced without a challenge, make one — life isn’t about coasting or sitting on your couch and waiting to be found. It’s about adversity and overcoming challenges.
To this day, I think about a quote by Jim Rohn:
“You want to set a goal that is big enough that in the process of achieving it you become someone worth becoming.”
In other words, the goal is not the outcome, it’s the person you become that is valuable.