Poor Bill Gates exposes league table nonsense

Shock horror..! Bill Gates is no longer the world’s richest individual. Instead, the Mexican telecomms supremo, Carlos Slim, has overtaken Bill to become the richest person on the planet, at least according to Forbes Magazine. He is half a billion dollars richer than Bill and is the first non-American to top the Billionaires List in 18 years. They will be crying into their beers in Wall Street.

Bill Gates missed the top slot in the list of world's richest

Bill Gates missed the top slot in the list of world’s richest
Copyright World Economic Forum swiss-image.ch/Photo by Andy Mettler

Every year when this list is published, people are eager to find out who has the most money. The media clamours for interviews with these stars of making money and Forbes Magazine, naturally enough, is delighted with the ensuing publicity. The richest Briton, the Duke of Westminster, has hardly had a look in this morning; after all he’s merely the 45th richest in the world with a paltry $12bn. And pity poor James Dyson, he’s 937th in the world with a mere $1bn. Gosh, he’s so far behind that Slim chap with his $53.5bn; but at least he’s in good company with J K Rowling, also with $1bn.

Do any of these people care? Perhaps when you have $1bn, what’s another 50? You hardly notice the difference. After all, at today’s interest rates if you put just $1bn in a standard savings account you’d be earning around $130,000 interest each day. Could you live on that?

This league table is – like almost all league tables – nonsense. If Forbes wanted, they could continue working out the list down and down and down, until they find the poorest person in, say, Somalia putting them in 6,807,782,628th place. And the same is true for everything you have ever thought about in terms of your online business. We could construct a list of income via websites – oh, they do that…! And yes, you can find that Google, Amazon, Ebay and so on, all dominate the list.

If you wanted you could construct a leage table of website traffic…oh, they do that as well do they? And you could look admiringly at the billions of hits that Google gets and become downhearted at your paltry hundreds of visitors.

Or, you could have a league table of Twitter followers, or LinkedIn connections…don’t tell me, they do that as well…? So, you’ve got fewer followers than Stephen Fry? Oh my goodness.

Guess what? None of it matters.

Let’s imagine you want to do business with a particular individual at, say, Microsoft. If they follow you on Twitter, or connect with you on LinkedIn and visit your web page, that’s fantastic. The very person you want is engaging with you. Sure, your one hit on your website and your single follower at Twitter would put you at the very bottom of the league tables, but would you care? Nope – because you’d be engaging the very person you want.

And there’s another factor – you’d be happy. You would have achieved what you wanted.

If all you do is focus on things like how much higher in the league tables your competitors and heroes are, you’ll have much less mental energy to devote to connecting with the people that matter. And you will be less happy. There are people down at the level of six billionth in the Forbes list who are happy with their lot in life. Focusing on that, and not on phoney lists, is much more important. If your web business is bringing in the income you are happy with and you are doing business with the people you like then forget all those league tables of web traffic, Twitter followers or the income you generate. None of that matters a jot compared with a happy you and your happy customers.

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