Success in 5 hours

The world's millionaires and leaders have a formula dating back to Benjamin Franklin's time that allows them to grow their economic empires. They spend an hour a day learning something new, whether by reading, listening to a podcast, or simply by meditating. For instance, Elon Musk — founder of Space X — learned everything he knows about rockets reading books, and Jack Dorsey claims he has made his best business decisions by meditating.

22 June 2022

“Learn as if you were going to live forever,” Mahatma Ghandi wisely advised. Ghandi’s words echo down through time and seem to have been heard by the influential figures of today. Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and Space X, Bill Gates, the man behind Microsoft, Jack Ma the creator of Aliexpress, and Jack Dorsey, founding partner of Twitter, among others, have all made learning a core element of their lives. And while Ghandi’s allusion to learning possibly was referring more to spiritual wealth, this same habit could have an effect on material wealth. It is not a matter of spending all day learning, but rather focusing on it rigorously and for only a limited time each day. This is how the so-called 5-hour club came into being

What is this select group all about? The concept was coined by Michael Simmons, an entrepreneur and founder of the https://michaeldsimmons.medium.com/ blog. The idea is to set aside at least one hour a day, i.e. five hours a week, to engage in activities designed for learning new things. “This can mean reading, reflecting or experiencing; it’s totally up to you,” writes Simmons. In general, one of the most popular activities for this club is reading. For example, “Obama credited books with helping him survive his presidency,” according to Clarín newspaper. The same Argentine paper also reports that millionaires such as Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, and Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, read between one and three hours a day. Elon Musk, the founder of the Space X company, for his part, has allegedly learned everything he knows about rockets by reading, as recounted in Ashlee Vance’s biography of Elon Musk, Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future. Reading has also been a key skill for Bill Gates, who reads about 50 books a year and writes a blog where he lists the books he has most enjoyed over the last six months. In fact, in an interview with The New York Times he said that reading “is one of the main ways I learn.” But there are others like Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey who maintains that meditation has led him to wisdom and enabled him to make the best business decisions.

The Benjamin Franklin factor. The methodology behind the 5-hour rule is inspired by Benjamin Franklin, a polymath and one of the founding fathers of the United States. The story goes that he left school at the age of 10 to apprentice for his father and earn money to support his 14 siblings. “Despite this brief period of formal education, Franklin excelled as a statesman, prolific author, inventor and successful businessman,” notes El Economista. How did he do it? He decided to be responsible for his own education by rising early and spending an hour reading, writing and reflecting on his goals each morning.

What Simmons discovered from his research is that by setting aside an hour every day for these activities, “Franklin got fewer things done each day, but in the long run it was incredibly beneficial,” he told La Nación newspaper.

Millionaire habits. Learning something new every day, or focusing a certain amount of time on attractive projects, provides both personal and corporate benefits. This is the idea behind Google’s 20% rule, whereby employees can dedicate that much of their work time to experimenting in different areas of interest to them. Then, once a month, generally on Fridays, they present the results of their explorations to their bosses. This system has led Google to a whole range of products that go beyond their original search engine. It is thanks to this 20% that Google Maps, Google Translate, Google Trends and other innovations were born. The ground rule was that Google would give employees that free time but then had priority to learn about and buy the project from its employees.

Numerous other studies also support the efficiency of these kinds of habits that have been adopted by millionaires and leaders alike. Thomas Corley, the author of Rich Habits, spent five years analyzing the routines of more than 200 millionaires worldwide and discovered that, in general, they do not watch television. On the other hand, 86% of respondents said that they did spend time reading, and not just for fun. Of the respondents surveyed, 63% also indicated that they listened to audiobooks on their way to the office.