Is It Better To Copy Or Be Original?

Martin S. Fridson did an extensive study of the world’s billionaires and created a list of qualities that distinguished billionaires from everyone else.

In his book “How To Be A Billionaire: Proven Strategies From The Titans of Wealth,” Fridson found that one quality all billionaires share is that billionaires copy.

People like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Sam Walton did not have to create an entirely new concept in order to become billionaires. All they had to do was copy and learn from somebody else.

Bill Gates didn’t come up with the first software to run on a computer. Bill Gates took other people’s good ideas about computer operating systems and turned that into an immensely profitable business.

Mark Zuckerberg didn’t create the first social network. Zuckerberg learned from MySpace.

Similarly, Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, did not invent discount merchandising. By the time Walton got into the game in 1962, discounting was already a $2 billion a year industry.

Sam Walton proudly proclaimed that he invented almost nothing. “Most everything I’ve done I’ve copied from someone else,” he said.

The key to Walton’s success, by his own admission, was his extreme devotion to copying other successful discounters. It was Walton’s ability to copy the best industry practices that allowed him to build the largest independently owned variety store chain in the United States.

Like Walton, Zuckerberg, and Gates, your ability to copy, to take what you like from others, will be the biggest determinant of your success in life.

It’s okay to copy something, put a twist on it and make it your own. Like the great artist Pablo Picasso once said, “Good artists copy, but great artists steal.”

Nothing starts from absolute zero. Remember what George Balanchine, the father of American ballet, once said, “I do not create. God creates. I assemble, and I will steal from anywhere to do it.”


21 thoughts on “Is It Better To Copy Or Be Original?

  1. I strongly believe that learning from.others and using their ideas to build something on the same line is a great thing to do. There is no harm in adapting to something which helps in our betterment

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I understand what you’re saying and I agree with you. Obviously you shouldn’t copy someone 100% to the point where you’re not being authentic to who you are, but we should all strive to learn from others and to take the best ideas from them like you said and put our own personal twist on them:)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Vincent, I think we all copy even though may want to be original, because we are reading and absorbing information all the time – we are indirectly copying something. I think the skill is taking the idea and expanding it and making it huge like Gates, Walton etc. Was/IS Apple an original company? As an ex-programmer my line always use to be – “why re-invent the wheel”. You have the back bones and now you just make it shine.

    I think I would always like to be original – but I don’t think anyone can be an original as we are always influenced by something or another , directly or indirectly. As Roberta said – inspired by something.

    Even writing this comment – I have frog in throat thinking – but I want to be an original… eek.

    Vincent, you must have read and may be even blogged about the 4-1-1 Rule by Joe Pullizzi. ~What are your thoughts on this , I came across it by accident. I generally come across most things by accident. What I understand is that is quite geared to twitter? I think if we applied the rule to blogging – it would, well I think it would get me all out of sorts , well it would be too much, or you dedicate regularly one blog post to others once every few weeks. Anyway, your expert opinion would be nice to hear, or direct me to the blog post that you may have already written on the subject.

    Glad you are blogging mid week, I miss your blogs and our conversations.
    Speak soon

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you, there’s nothing to add to that, spot on:)

      4-1-1 rule? that sounds very interesting! I haven’t heard of it, I would love if you wrote a blog post on it and related it to blogging?

      I’m trying to get back to my 6 posts a week schedule. being prolific is extremely important to blogging so need to get back to a schedule.

      I miss your posts too and our conversations:)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Vincent, Glad to have you back. Okay I will investigate 4-1-1 and write it up.
        I think with my experiment in May for two weeks or less of 3 posts a week. OMG ! I think you have to be prolific in Commenting on others post as well blogging. But, I have noticed some only post once a week and doing well. I think as you get bigger you can post less, as you get bigger you can NOT realistically comment on that you follow – it is impossible. I am following loads of people and realised I am not getting emails of their new post. I figured out how to get their email. Now you can imagine email explosion!! OMG * 1000

        Balance is hard in blogging. There are bloggers who will read almost all your post (again all bloggers have the same issues of volumes), because they like what you write and a friendship has been born. There are some – well, or may be they aren’t receiving email updates like I wasn’t.

        All I know is in the long run, especially when we grow big in followers and following in – commenting prolifically is not possible. And hiring a social media manager – well that personal touch is lost . Should I ever get to that cross road I am sure I would have figured something out.

        Good to see you in the neighborhood – twice this week. yeah.. Always enjoyable


      2. 4-1-1 Joe Pullizzi – Joe run Content Marketing Institute and has a twitter account. The 4-1-1 rule applies to twitter mainly. But some have seen it success in twitter and have applied it to other social media platforms and blog.

        Rule states. For every one self serving tweet you should, re-tweet one relevant piece (i.e. in line with your niche) and you should share 4 pieces of relevant content from others.

        So in 2012 –
        This article was posted on this rule, and it was then applied to all social media platforms .

        I think in terms of blogging – I think “Jacqueline of A cooking pot and twistedtales ” does it really well – with her featured post that she does weekly?

        I don’t think I can write a blog post on the 4-1-1 rule. But I guess it is applicable. – Well I am not sure to be honest. If I look at Jacquelines – I think it works really well in terms of sharing 4+ in her featured post – she is creating a community spirit,

        Anyway – here is what I understand of the rule and it sounds like a marketing thing.

        I am a bit double minded about it. On twitter and instagram it is easy. Blogging – well I am not sure. I only want to blog once a day and only 6 times a week. I am still settling in. But , I think it has merit and could be an effective producer of followers /leads?

        Anyway, you are the expert. Have a read, would love your thoughts.

        I don’t want to write blog – feel unqualified to write a blog on it. no experience of it.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting post. I’ve recently found a book in a library that was about how to steal things and ideas and remain original. It said that nothing’s new in this world. Someday, someone had already said what you wanted to say. Unless you make some kind of discovery people have no idea about :)) But nothing’s new, so borrow ideas and personalize them. You’ll have the idea and you’ll be original. That’s the point 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. exactly! I always use the example of Amazon and Walmart. Bezos, who is the CEO of Amazon built Amazon on the exact same principles as Walmart. he copied Walmart, but amazon is still a completely original company.

      I love your comment, very spot on to what I was trying to say:))

      Liked by 1 person

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