I spent this weekend learning about the billionaire 5-Hour Energy founder Manoj Bhargava.

He's ultra-pragmatic, cares little about "vision," and is basically the antithesis of a Silicon Valley entrepreneur.

Here's his story and a few choice lessons I dug up: 👇
First, the backstory:

Manoj was a brilliant math student who immigrated to the U.S. as a teenager.

He ended up at Princeton, but he quickly realized that most of his classmates were just there to get a better job once they left.

He had other plans.
He wanted to learn how to live, so he dropped out of school to become a monk.

For the next decade, he split his time between monasteries in India and odd jobs in the U.S.

The monk lifestyle had a lasting impact on him:

It helped him to see reality in a fundamental way.
This ended up being helpful years later when he was an entrepreneur.

He wanted to launch a new drink that helped people feel focused and energized (something he struggled with working long hours).

As he considered the opportunity, he saw things differently than most people.
First, if the purpose of an energy drink was to overcome exhaustion then why were most of them so big?

If somebody was tired, why would you assume that they're also thirsty?

A 16 oz energy drink seemed as bizarre to him as a 16 oz. Tylenol.
Secondly, the refrigerators in most stores were packed.

If he sold a normal drink, he'd have to compete with Coke and Pepsi for fridge space.

If he could make something small that lived on the counter, he'd be "competing against keychains and batteries."
Alas, the first energy shot was born.

But what to name it?

Manoj thought about it for 10 seconds and landed on "5-Hour Energy."

His reasoning was simple: people had to make a buy decision in a split-second, so the product's value should be dead obvious.
After a few false starts, 5-Hour Energy caught on.

Manoj methodically grew the business, defeating countless competitors who entered later.

5-Hour Energy still holds a 90% share of the energy shot market.

Here are 5 lessons from Manoj on what he learned growing the business:

Entrepreneurs should not be risk-takers.

"If I have somebody in my company who wants to take risks, I tell them to go work somewhere else.

Our jobs as entrepreneurs is to minimize risk, to manage risk, to give it to somebody else. If you want to take risks, go to Vegas."

Using common sense is the best strategy.

When people ask how 5-Hour Energy became so successful, he says:

"We weren't that smart. The only thing we did was we just didn't do dumb stuff. And that really differentiated us from pretty much all corporations."

Experts are overrated.

Manoj has some choice words for “experts" ;)

Long-term goals are overrated.

"I get up in the morning and I work hard. That's all. I don't have a goal.

My job as I see it is to do the best today. Don't make any excuses, just work hard today. That's all."

Leadership is not complicated.

"If you steal pencils from the office, everybody else will. That's all there is to me in leadership."

"Courses on leadership are like courses in ethics. If you have to be taught ethics, you're not gonna get it."
And, screw it. One more lesson:

Learn by doing and learn from doers.

"If you're going to learn plumbing, go learn from a plumber that's actually seen a pipe and fixed a leak, not just written about pipes, and lectured on pipes, and researched pipes."
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