In 2015, I decided to reach out to wealthy people to understand how they got there. From having lunch with Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad to spending an hour with Kevin Green, the United Kingdom’s largest residential property owner, I managed to meet and interact with 12 multi-millionaires.
For the purposes of my study, I picked people who didn’t start up rich. All of them started as average people and none of them inherited their money.
Here are the five things they all had in common:
1. They didn’t want jobs
They were not lawyers or doctors. Most of them didn’t even have a University degree. None of them had a job and most importantly, none of them would have got rich with a job. There is a funny joke that I heard four times which is that having a job means being “just over broke.”
Bob Proctor once said: ”There are only two ways to make money. One is people at work and the other is money at work.”
When you have a job, you get paid for selling your time and therefore you are using option one, which is yourself at work. It’s long, it’s tiring and it’s hard, especially if you don’t like your job… And your boss. And since there are only so many hours in a day, your earning potential will always be capped to your hourly rate and the number of hours you can work in a day.
Part of working smarter is about understanding how to leverage your time and your money to do more with less. It is about shifting from a consumer mindset, to an investor mindset. Steve Forbes defined being rich as “making one million dollars of passive income every year.” And as you have guessed it by now, passive income is built outside of your job.
“You become financially free when your passive income exceeds your expenses.” – T. Harv Eker
2. They were entrepreneurs/investors
They didn’t need jobs because they had created systems that were working for them. In other words, they were entrepreneurs who created multiple businesses. They had all decided to become creators and provide something of value to the world. At the same time, they unleashed option number two which is money at work.
That is to say that they were investors having their money working for them and growing while they were sleeping. Being an entrepreneur and being an investor go hand in hand because an entrepreneur creates value while an investor knows how to recognize value. And while business is a tough game, sometimes an idea is all it takes.
Think about someone like J.K Rowling who was on welfare before she wrote Harry Potter. Your knowledge and your creativity can be the key to your wealth. And while everyone is not meant to be an entrepreneur, we can all come up with creative ways to earn more and learn how to become investors.
3. They constantly over delivered
Something that really stuck with me to this day is that I always expected getting to interact with these people would be interesting, but it has been far beyond my expectation every single time. Free unexpected gifts? Check. Personal contacts given post interview for further questions? Check.
An initial 10-minute interview turned into a 45-minute interview? Check, check, check. You expect them to be good and they are better. You expect them to give and they give even more. The extent to which they over deliver is mind-boggling. It’s a very different concept of business that I discovered. Very different than the general stereotype out there that you have to rip people off to succeed. Thinking about it, I came to believe that these people got there because of their philosophy.
4. They were self aware
Out of the twelve people I interviewed, very different industries were represented. However, what was striking was that every single one of them seemed to have created the most suited position for themselves. Interestingly, they didn’t mind admitting to their own shortcomings because they were deeply self-aware individuals.
When I naively asked Robert Kiyosaki what it took to be a great teacher, he replied with his infamous cut-throat-Kiyosaki-style of delivery that it was a stupid question. Then he went on to say that he would have loved to become a professional Rugby player but that he was too slow for it. He didn’t conclude anything but I guess it was his way of saying that you have to be self-aware.
Before Kevin Green became the first residential property owner in the U.K, he got a scholarship and traveled the world to interview overachievers like Bill Gates and the man who would later become his mentor, Richard Branson. His major finding was that self-awareness is the master key to success.
Likewise, when Tai Lopez asked me what I would do if I had $5 billion in my account today, he proceeded with asking me if I was any good at this. These people discovered what they were good at and went all in.
“Self-awareness allows people to recognize what things they do best so they can then go hard on those aspects of their life. It also helps you accept your weaknesses.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
5. They had a sense of purpose
They also got there because they had strong reasons. They’ve had pain in their lives, which made them decide that they wanted to be rich. It was interesting to note that none of the twelve people I met seemed to have gotten there as a result of luck.
They made a decision, which often came as a result of a traumatic life experience. This pain is what makes them driven and passionate individuals. Because of that, their wealth has a meaning. It’s transcending, almost spiritual. It’s about leaving their mark on the world.
Out of the four wealth building books, Kevin Green recommended me, two of them didn’t have anything to do with money but were rather philosophical books. Finally, Robert Kiyosaki told me: “You don’t belong to yourself, you belong to the universe. So stop being selfish and do something for the world.”
Anyone can learn the mechanics of business and investing but finding your true purpose is tougher a challenge. What problem do you want to solve? How do you want to contribute to the world? What makes your soul sing? These are the first questions you need to ask yourself. Once you find your purpose the doors of wealth and happiness will be opened to you.
What have you learned from successful people that you have spent some time with? Leave your thoughts below!