The Shared Habits Of America’s Billionaires

How do you get to be a billionaire? Well, to borrow the punchline from an old joke, “Practice, practice, practice!”

America’s wealthiest people share many of the same habits, according to Steve Siebold, author of How Rich People Think.  While these habits, both life-long and daily, don’t entirely explain the success of guys like Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett, they do provide some great actionable insight for improving our own professional success and personal satisfaction.

Self-employment – Billionaires typical work for themselves.  They wouldn’t have it any other way.  They need to be their own boss in order to pursue their passionate, often unconventional, vision.  It’s just the way they are wired.

Most of the “brand name” billionaires demonstrated entrepreneurial traits at a young age and spent little or no time on someone else’s payroll.  Richard Branson started a successful magazine at 16.  Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard to start Microsoft, Steve Jobs worked briefly for Atari before becoming Silicon Valley’s youngest start-up entrepreneur.

If, like me, you have a child who expresses an interest in entrepreneurship, encourage them to start their own business now.

Pursuit of passion – Billionaires love their work.  They don’t settle for a job, regardless of how much it pays.  They find and pursue their professional passion with an intensity most of us reserve for finding our soul mate.

Multiple revenue streams – The wealthiest Americans understand the importance of diversification.  They develop multiple revenue streams for their businesses and use their income to invest in ventures in various other industries.

Dedication to routine – Successful people operate on structure and commitment to ritual both in their work and personal lives.  They begin their days in the same way, whether that’s with meditation or exercise, and follow other routines throughout the day.

Up and at ‘em — Several recent studies have equated early rising, defined as three hours before the workday starts, as a common trait among hyper-successful people.  Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, for example, gets a lot of ink for getting up at 5am to meditate and work out.

There are, of course, plenty of successful night owls.  Winston Churchill rarely went to bed before 4am.  What really matters is what you accomplish in whatever hours you are awake.

Live prudently – Billionaires understand that keeping your wealth can be as tricky as earning it.  They tend to live below their means and probably drive harder bargains than you or me.  Yep, that yacht cost $30 million, but that’s down from the asking price of $36.5, and the builder upgraded the interior trim to mahogany.

Give back — Wealthy people typically engage in a great deal of philanthropy, maybe because their ultimate life goal is to impact the world both through their business activity and personal wealth.  Steve Jobs is an interesting exception to this rule.  Despite his life-long pursuit of spiritual enlightenment and desire to “put a dent in the universe,” Apple did very little charitable during his tenure as CEO.

Read – Billionaires are big believers in life-long learning.  Warren Buffett reportedly spends 80% of his day reading.  Mark Zuckerberg tries to read a book every two weeks.

Connect Spiritually – Daily meditation is common among billionaires seeking to remain spiritually grounded in the midst of their demanding lives.  This is great advice even if meditation isn’t your cup of tea.  Prayer, or just a time of quiet reflection can help re-focus and energize you.

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