Earning millions of dollars while being your own boss sounds like a pipe dream to most, but to Frank Song, it was his life goal from an early age.
It wasn’t easy, but Frank made his dreams a reality. Today, Frank is the sole owner of a 10 million dollar company that he built from the ground up. Before this, he was a Wall Street buyout and growth equity investor at the private venture capital firm Accel-KKR.
We asked Frank what motivated him to build his enterprise without investors, a business model that ironically reflected the opposite of his career on Wall Street. Frank answered that the rationale behind his decision to build his main business without investors was twofold. The first reason stemmed from his love of a challenge.
“As a child I loved trying some new sport, playing a new video game, or buying a toy, and trying all of them on the hardest setting possible, just to see if I could do it. Of course, I would lose often in the beginning, but it was actually a great strategy because it showed me how much I needed to grow and what I needed to learn to get to the top,” explained Frank, before he went into the second reason behind his choice,
“I really wanted to do things my way. I am not a big fan of slow, bureaucratic processes. When I see an opportunity, I want to have the team and resources necessary in order to capture it as quickly as possible. I realized early on the only way I could have the privilege was if I earned that right by building a company by myself.”
When we asked Frank Song, what type of training helped him build such a large company with no investors and no business partners, he answered: poker. Frank claims that, “Poker is actually the most perfect game to train someone to build a bootstrapped business.”
Why? According to Frank, it’s because poker, “teaches you when to invest, when to wait, and punishes you when you make a miscalculation or bad judgement call.”
Frank expanded on how poker helps train your decision-making skills, “It teaches you to use math and statistics as the foundation to making decisions, but it also, similar to real life, shows that although math and statistics is the foundation to making great investments and business decisions, there is always missing information.”
Poker, like investing, requires both logic and instinct to master. As Frank explains, “That is where the human aspect, gut-feel and psychological part comes in to fill in the gaps to increase your probability of success.”
Lastly, Frank says that poker, “teaches you…how important it is to control your emotions. It’s very easy to get bored in poker waiting for a good hand, then being tempted to play a bad hand, just because you’re getting bored.”
The temptation to play for playing’s sake alone is what leads you to throw away money both in the game of poker and investment.
Frank goes on to warn, “Most people feel the need to invest ‘in something’, just because they feel anxiety and are pressured not to keep cash in their bank account. This is wrong,” he explains, “because it’s better for the common person to lose 2% due to inflation, rather than 10%, 20%, or 30% investing in something not so good because they feel like they needed to take action.”
Song claims that this tendency is due to the human condition, “It’s common for humans to feel that unless they’re taking some action or ‘doing something’, that they’re not making progress. In poker, you get punished very quickly for ‘taking some action’ when that action ends up not being a good decision, just like how it is in business and investing.”