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#292 Daniel Ludwig (The Invisible Billionaire)
February 27th, 2023 | E292

What I learned from rereading The Invisible Billionaire: Daniel Ludwig by Jerry Shields. 


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[2:00] Obsessed with privacy, Ludwig pays a major public relations firm fat fees to keep his name out of the papers.

[4:00]  An associate speaks of his unlimited ingenuity in dreaming up new ways of doing things.

[5:00] Ludwig’s most notable characteristic, besides his imagination and pertinacity, is a lifelong penchant for keeping his mouth shut.

[5:00] I'm in this business because I like it. I have no other hobbies.

[6:00] Holding strongly to an opinion, purpose, or course of action, stubbornly or annoyingly persistent.

[8:00] Risk Game: Self Portrait of an Entrepreneur by Francis Greenburger (Founders #243)

[10:00] At his peak, he owned more than 200 companies in 50 countries.

[23:00] War makes the demand for Ludwig's products and services skyrocket.

[25:00] Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire by James Wallace and Jim Erickson. (Founders #290)

[28:00] He did not mellow as he grew richer and older.

[28:00] Some years later, the captain of a Ludwig ship made the extravagant mistake of mailing in a report of several pages held together by a paper clip. He received a sharp rebuke for his prodigality: "We do not pay to send ironmongery by air mail!"

[29:00] Ludwig’s tightfistedness, however, persisted after the Depression, putting him in sharp contrast to such free spenders as Onassis and Niarchos. It also was largely responsible for many of his innovations in the shipbuilding industry.

[29:00] Onassis: An Extravagant Life by Frank Brady. (Founders #211)

[30:00] Ludwig’s ridding his ships of any feature that did not contribute to profits pleased his own obsessive sense of economy and kept him a step ahead of the competition. When someone asked why he didn't put a grand piano aboard his ships, as Stavros Niarchos did, Ludwig snapped, "You can't carry oil in a grand piano."

[31:00] Stay in the game long enough to get lucky.

[32:00] The world is a very malleable place. If you know what you want, and you go for it with maximum energy and drive and passion, the world will often reconfigure itself around you much more quickly and easily than you would think.  The Pmarca Blog Archive Ebook by Marc Andreessen (Founders #50)

[37:00] The yacht was as much a business craft as any of his tankers and probably earned him more money than any of them.

[40:00] Like the Rockefeller organization, Ludwig had mastered the practice of keeping his money by transferring it from one pocket, one company to another, while appearing to spend it.

[42:00] He had learned something by now. Opportunities exist on the frontiers where most men dare not venture, and it is often the case that the farther the frontier, the greater the opportunity.

[43:00] The way to escape competition is to either do something no one else is doing or do it where no one else is doing it.

[43:00] Much of Ludwig's success was due to his willingness to venture where more timid entrepreneurs dared not go.


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