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The Art of Being Unreasonable: Lessons in Unconventional Thinking by Eli Broad

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Chapter 4

Do Your Homework No Matter How Much Time It Takes

When I was a kid, my father would occasionally go to the horse races. Sometimes he took me with him, and I watched him lose a few hard-earned dollars from his five-and-dime.

Neither he nor my mom was very happy when I started hanging around the track as a college student. But I thought I could make the ponies my route to a quick buck.

That part of the plan didn’t work out, of course, but I learned some valuable lessons about shortcuts.

I’ve always had a good head for numbers, and for a while I relied on that to get me by. I would look at the odds and go over the horse’s workout times and recent races. I would roughly balance what I hoped to win against how much risk I was willing to take. (It was usually the same then as it is today: a lot.) Some days I would win, and some days I wouldn’t.

Then I thought, why not put a little more work into this? I started to follow the trainers around, taking notes and asking all kinds of pesky questions. Usually they answered, even if they would eventually shoo me away. My bets got a lot smarter, which meant I made some money.

Soon I gave up horses for stocks. That’s when my effort—my homework—really started to pay off. If you spend all your time looking for shortcuts instead of doing what you have to do, you may never reach your goal. But do your homework and put in the necessary effort, and you’ll reap the rewards.

Don’t Waste Time on Shortcuts—They’re Usually Dead Ends

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