What you can learn from the behaviors of 7 billionaires–in their own words.
According to Forbes there are about 1826 billionaires on the plant. Of those 290 joined the club in 2015. That’s an increase of about 19%. At that rate the number of billionaires would double every four years, which means that in about 90-94 years, depending on population growth, everyone on the planet would be a billionaire. Absurd? Well, yes, of course! But the math works only because I’m making three very bad assumptions: that the number of billionaires continues to increase at an all time high historic rate–very unlikely; that a billion dollars in 2110 will be worth a billion dollars today–even more unlikely; and the most absurd assumption, that everyone has the ability to be a billionaire–definitely not!
So, while I can’t promise a formula for getting you into the billionaire’s club, what I can tell you is that there are a set of amazingly consistent behaviors and beliefs among billionaires that set them apart.
While I’ve only had the opportunity to know or work with six billionaires, I have noticed a distinct set of seven behaviors among these individuals that illustrate in vivid terms how they look at the world differently than most people do. And what’s most impressive is that their behaviors and their beliefs walk in lockstep. Not true for most people whose behaviors undermine their beliefs.
See how close do your behaviors come to each of these seven.
Oh, and by the way, just so that we’re straight; these behaviors don’t guarantee a billion dollar valuation, but they are just as important to building success at any scale.
“The stock market is a device for transferring money from the impatient to the patient.” – Warren Buffet
The Oracle of Omaha may be one of the best-known billionaires, but every billionaire I’ve met seems to have the same uncanny aptitude for being patient and staying the course. You can easily chalk it up to the fact that when you already have billions you can afford to be patient, but I knew some of these folks well before they were millionaires, much less billionaires, and they may have become more patient with time but their belief in waiting out market cycles and sticking to their vision is unwavering.
They’re Impervious to Rejection
“Be prepared for the rejection. No matter how bad it is don’t let it overcome you and influence you–keep on going towards what you want to do-no matter what… You need to be as enthusiastic about door number one-hundred as door number one.” – John Paul DeJoria, Founder John Paul Mitchell
DeJoria was homeless and actually lived in a car before taking to the streets to sell his first product, shampoo. The billionaires I’ve met are nearly impervious to rejection. It’s an ability to perform the equivalent of radar lock on their vision of the future. They seem to thrive on rejection as an indicator that they are going in the right direction. It’s a necessary behavior if you are going to overcome all of the incredibly rational reasons why you can’t succeed. Selling shampoo out of your car, really?
They Dream Big
If your dreams don’t scare you they are too small. – Richard Branson
Billionaires dare to dream big. Their goal is to change the world not to build wealth. Many people translate this into arrogance. Perhaps it looks that way from a distance. But I can tell you that up close it is a firm and unbending conviction in wanting to, as Steve Jobs once said, put a definitive dent in the universe.
They Don’t Make Excuses
“The world wants things done, not excuses. One thing done well is worth a million good excuses.” – H. Ross Perot
When I sold my company to Ross Perot it quickly became evident that there was a clear attitude at Perot Systems of, “Do whatever it takes; and never, ever make excuses for why it can’t be done.” Unreasonable? Absolutely, but when Ross was at EDS and two of his employees ended up being imprisoned in Iran he didn’t make excuses for why he couldn’t do anything about it. Instead he took on the nearly impossible task of rescuing them, including a personal trip to Iran that could easily have cost him his own freedom. The rescue succeeded; no excuses needed.
They Do Not Have Regrets
“I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying.” — Jeff Bezos
If you’ve followed any of my writing you know how I feel about having regrets; there is no place for them, they serve no purpose other than to chew up time and energy that is better applied to the future. Learn your lessons and move on to apply what you’ve learned. If you’re still dwelling on the past you just haven’t learned your lesson yet.
They Don’t Stand Still
“The biggest risk is not taking any risk … In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”–Mark Zuckerberg
This is one of my favorites. While it’s attributed here (and often) to Zuckerberg, I heard it first from Peter Drucker. In his book Innovation and Entrepreneurship he makes a solid case for how the only risk in business is the risk of standing still, even though the greatest perceived risk is innovating. We don’t want to believe we’re standing still, and yet that’s the way most of us behave.
They Build The Future
“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then give it to them. By the time you build it, they’ll want something new.”–Steve Jobs
This last one is to me the single most important attitude of success at any level. Jobs created the future over an over; first in computers, then in animation, then in music, then in mobile devices. Accept that the future is just a continuation of the past and you’ve accepted that innovation is simply not possible. You’ve locked the door to disruption and left the keys under the doormat where you think nobody else will find them. Yeah, that’s not such a good idea.
So, how did you do? Ready to start counting those billions? Let me give you a head start; rather than focus on the billions focus on aligning your beliefs with these seven behaviors and even if the billions don’t come the gratification of success will.
Besides, you could always bank on being around in one hundred years when we’ll all be part of the club!