Based on everything I’ve read, T. Boone Pickens is a complicated man.
- He pursues wealth and then he gives it away — with great generosity.
- He’s a Republican unafraid to critique members of his own party.
- He’s an oil driller who fights for environmental causes.
- And he has a knack for turning losses into gains. He’s an oil tycoon, investor, author, and philanthropist. So, a complicated guy, right?
Men like T. Boone Pickens were a part of the reason I wanted to write my book Blood Trails about a mystery set in the oil industry’s world. Blood Trails is fiction, inspired by real-life characters who are quirky and astonishingly successful. The oil business is fascinating. We get the flavor of the business in Blood Trails, featuring Michael Flint, Heir Hunter.
Here are 7 lessons on success from oil tycoon and investor T. Boone Pickens:
- Pursue your goals aggressively. Pickens learned about acquisition as a newspaper delivery boy. He started out delivering 28 papers, and expanded his route to 156 papers. He embraced the acquisition business practice later in life after founding a petroleum company. Throughout the 1980’s, Pickens worked aggressively to acquire oil and gas companies.
Be patient. Stick with your convictions even if they aren’t proving to be correct every single day. For example, a few years back, Pickens took a bet that the price of oil was going to rise. When the price of oil started to drop, he maintained his conviction that the price of oil would rise.
“Boone is an educated risk-taker. He takes a position and if it goes against him, he’ll start asking questions. And if he still thinks he’s right, he’ll double up. He bets on himself. When you have conviction, you can withstand risk.”
–Michael Ross, Pickens’ former primary futures trader via The New York Times
And if the conviction doesn’t turn out to be correct? You’ll be helped by the next piece of advice:
Keep track of the facts. Pickens has a huge screen in a conference room of his Dallas, Texas office building. Prices of oil, natural gas, and some stocks display on the screen in real time. Pickens and his team observe, stand by their convictions, and don’t react hastily.
In a New York Times article, the journalist observes a moment in a day at Pickens’ office:
One member of the Pickens team put up some charts showing vehicle miles driven against the price of gasoline. “Does a 10 percent rise in price impact demand?” he said. “So far, the answer has been no.”
A loss is an opportunity to create a gain. Have you read my article about what to do when life gives you lemons? Here is my personal example of what happened in my life. In Pickens’ case, he was betting on the price of oil going up. When the price of oil dropped, he used it as an opportunity to buy. Now that’s smart thinking!
The first billion is the hardest. This is some good news, right? Getting started is the hardest part. I find the same to be true in my work as an author. The First Billion is the Hardest is actually the name of Pickens’ book, published in 2009. The title speaks for itself. In the book, Pickens describes what he learned about the machinations of business as he tackled obstacle after obstacle during his climb to success. As one reviewer put it,
Boone shows that sometimes all it takes is rejecting the ‘usual’ and striking out across virgin territory. In that sense, Boone is a pioneer, and this is a pioneer’s story. — Carl Icahn, Chairman, Icahn & Co., Inc.
Take care of yourself. Boone has been public about his battle with clinical depression. Around the same time that he was diagnosed and treated, he did better financially. His fund went from being under $3 million to up $252 million. Coincidence? I don’t know. But getting healthy certainly didn’t hurt.
Have a Plan B. At the age of 67, Pickens lost his company because he had bet wrong on the price of natural gas. He could have retired, but instead, he started a hedge fund. That’s when his net worth grew to $3 billion.
Interesting men like T. Boone Pickens are the kind of stories that inspire my mysteries and thrillers, including Blood Trails. To read the book, CLICK HERE.
To read my blog about oil magnate John D. Rockefeller, CLICK HERE.