The Capital-Wealth Cycle. Or how to go from a little to a lot

Do something. Don’t talk about doing something. Or lament how you haven’t done anything yet.

Yesterday, I was reading about how Tucker Max hired a research assistant. He poses a question. “How does someone who has a little bit of talent and a lot of motivation succeed in life?” His answer:

“You need to actually put in the work to develop the skills necessary to be able to do things.

You want to be a writer? Then be prepared to write. A lot.  You want to be a marketer? Learn to tell stories. You want to be a designer? Learn how to use all the tools of design.”

Acta non verba. Deeds not words.

We have role models and people we aspire to be like. We seek to emulate them. We want what they have. But we don’t want to do what they’ve done, make the sacrifices they’ve made, or endure the hardships they’ve conquered.

This is alarming. Especially when you consider that it’s easier than ever to learn from the best and pursue our ambitions. The barriers to doing what we want are historically low. Age and experience doesn’t hinder us. Limited resources are not a limitation. Formal education doesn’t matter. Such archaic barriers to production and creation are almost eradicated.

What has shifted us towards this individual responsibility to choose and pursue our own path?

The rapid development of our abilities to communicate with one another, both locally and globally. The falling cost of audacious behaviour. The shrinking cost of having to reinvent ourselves. The increasing capacity to unyoke ourselves from the stereotypes and preconceived notions handed down to us.

The same qualities we hunger (and pay handsomely) for in the current economy are the very same qualities commonly equated with an entrepreneur; repeated experimentation and combinatory play; mastery of the use, analysis and application of vast amounts of information; the skill to decide what is the best distribution of our energy, time and attention; the ability, not just to sniff an opportunity, but to capture it.

An entrepreneur’s fundamental activity is to sense opportunity, to build, to make, to create. The material with which the entrepreneur, the creative, or any productive person builds?


The factors of production, the elements that combine to produce a good or service are known as capital. In classical economics there are three principle types: land, labour and money.

More recently, economists have agreed on four different types of capital. Financial, represented as money in trade, investments and assets. Natural, including trees, water, land and other ecological systems. Social, or the co-operation, collaboration and relationships between people. And human, which includes knowledge, skills, judgement, intelligence, wisdom and the experience of individuals and collectives. 

Capital is a factor of production, or more simply, anything that is used to create wealth. If we remember the definition of wealth, something people want, we are able to see a distinct and powerful cycle.

1. Creation/accumulation of capital.
2. Capital harnessed to generate wealth.
3. Wealth is used to promote further creation of capital.
4. Repeat 1-3.

This cycle is as close as we can get to a perpetual motion machine in our economy.

Capital is no longer stashed behind fortified institutional walls. Yes, large amounts of financial and natural capital are difficult to acquire. But social capital? Human capital? Anyone can acquire these last two with a little effort and ingenuity.

We can access unprecedented amounts of knowledge. We have incredible capabilities for communication at our fingertips. We can afford to experiment and be more courageous with our education and development. Human and social capital, which we can accumulate without needing anyone’s permission or a stockpile of resources, can be used to create wealth.

Think how easy it is to test the viability of a new company or build a relationship or promote an idea or share your work.

If you’ve got something good, your wealth increases and you can use it to create more capital for yourself. And if you don’t have anything unique to offer? That doesn’t matter. You can help those who do.

Capital creates wealth. Wealth generates more capital. We have the chance to make something out of nothing. 

Tucker closes the answer to the question, how does someone with a little talent and a lot of motivation succeed, with this observation:

“You wouldn’t believe how many people say they want to be something, yet have no desire to develop the skills necessary to do that. Makes no sense. That’s what this process is about: Seeing what you can actually DO.”

It’s what life is about too.

Acta non verba. Deeds not words.