11/30/2012 10:03 PM ET|
Secrets of self-made millionaires
An author who interviewed rich people offers insights on how they made their money and how they think about wealth.
Do you dream of becoming rich but aren't sure how to make your millions -- or better yet, billions? Then who better to ask than the rich themselves about how they made their way to the top.
Steve Siebold did just that. He's spent nearly 30 years interviewing the world's wealthiest people.
Siebold, the author of "How Rich People Think," (find it on Bing) spoke with U.S. News about what the rich have in common, how self-made millionaires attained their wealth and why now is the best time to strike it rich. Excerpts:
Q: What sparked your fascination with the rich?
A: I was a broke college student in 1984, and I wanted to be rich. But I didn't feel like I was getting the information I needed from my college business classes. In a lot of the classes, the business professors seemed to put down the rich, and that didn't make sense to me. So I started looking for outside sources until I found a millionaire to interview.
Q: Was he difficult to find?
A: Yes, because I didn't know any millionaires and I was just a kid. I was probably 19 years old. And I found the rich don't really like to flaunt their wealth. Most of the rich, in my experience, aren't like Donald Trump -- they're the polar opposite. They want to be left alone, because as soon as people know they've got a lot of money, people come after them and the media goes after them. They want to be quiet and unexposed.
The deal they made with me was I wouldn't give their names out unless they gave me permission, and very few of them gave me permission.
Q: Have you found any commonalities among the people you've interviewed?
A: Their personality styles vary: Some are introverts, some are extroverts. But their belief systems around money are the same. That was the one thread that really helped me throughout the process: They all have a really positive relationship with money. They think about money in terms of freedom, as opposed to the negative relationship a lot of people have with money.
Q: The net worth of the richest Americans grew by 13% in the past year to $1.7 trillion. Does that surprise you?
A: No, not at all. If you look at the global equity markets over the last few years, they're up 18%. As where the average Americans have their money wrapped up in their home equity and low-interest vehicles, like 401k's, the rich have their money in the global equity markets. They've got the money to invest, and it's a good place to be right now. They're also in a nice position because they can afford to lose.
Q: Did self-made millionaires simply work harder than the rest of us to get where they are?
A: Most people think the rich got lucky. People think their money wasn't earned by hard work and strategic, calculated thinking, which is not the truth for most people. There are crooks in every income category, but in my experience, there's no more on the rich side than the poor side.
But it's interesting how the self-made rich are a really hated group. They're discriminated against, even in the wealthiest country of the world. I think it's really sad. I think we should celebrate these people. There's a tendency to demonize them, which I think is just crazy.
Q: Is there any way that contempt some people have for the rich can change?
A: I hope so. It's so easy to take a shot at people who are rich. I hope that, over time, we can change our beliefs in this country, because if we don't lead the way in changing people's beliefs about capitalism and wealth, I think we're really in trouble.
Q: Do rich people feel that resentment to the point where they only want to associate with other rich people?
A: Absolutely. I call it "cocooning." But they don't like to talk about money when they get together. They genuinely like to associate with one another. But many people think it's because the rich think they're better than other people, and it's not -- it's because they're discriminated against. I think they just want to be with similar people who won't discriminate against them. They're a minority that people target, which is why they tend to hide out and stick together.
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Q: Richard Branson has said that for people to climb to the top, they have to set seemingly unachievable goals for themselves and rise above them. Is he right?
A: They all seem to do that. They set these huge goals; they want the yachts, they want the vacation homes. One guy told me he was going to take a $400 million company he and his partners were acquiring and sell it for $4 billion. He said they figured on paper they could sell it for $1 billion, but they wanted to sell it for $4 billion because they wanted to stretch themselves.
Guys like Branson set these outrageous goals and they achieve it, so they do it again. Before they make their first $1 million, they may not believe they can make it. But once they overcome that hurdle, it seems to get easier. They get that one big success, which everyone told them they couldn't do, and then they replicate it. They take these nonlinear leaps of success, where they go from $1 million to $10 million to $30 million, and the catalyst is their belief that it's possible. I don't think it's their competence, because a lot of people are competent, but they're confident in themselves.
At some point, they stopped listening to anyone but themselves. They learned to trust themselves so much because of their success.
Q: Why is it your belief that more self-made millionaires will emerge in the next five years than in any other time in history?
A: There all these new problems with the economic crash, all this uncertainty. Corporate America right now is sitting on $2.5 trillion in cash. The whole economy is only $15 trillion. All of this wealth is out there, but a lot of giant corporations are lost. They're dealing with all these new problems: the economic climate, they don't know where to put their money, there's too much government regulation, and they need people to help them figure it out. So there's room for new people to emerge to help solve those problems.
Q: What's the most important lesson the middle class should take away from the rich?
A: I would say that having money and making money and being wealthy is a positive thing -- there's nothing negative about it. They need to ignore all of these messages and this brainwashing that goes on, like people telling them the love of money is the root of all evil. I think the challenge for the average person is to have a positive outlook on being wealthy.
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I've known for a long time that nothing they teach in college economics courses has anything to do with the real world. If economics professors knew what the were talking about they'd all be billionaires.
This article certainly didn't give out much for details, but if you really want to learn how to be rich, read 'Think and Grow Rich' by Napoleon Hill, and 'Total Recall' by Arnold Schwarzenegger, his new autobiography.
There are no real secrets to getting rich - set a goal, and focus all your efforts on reaching it. Find the people you need to help you get there, and ignore the naysayers.
I think Thomas Jefferson said it best in 1801
" A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government"
Too bad we don't have that in contemporary society, we would all be rich.
Well, the title was clearly just to lure us into reading the article. I have no more clue how to get rich now than before I read this article. What I did glean from the article was that the wealthy are in a really nice position right now to get wealthier, and are already taking advantage of that, and getting wealthier. Good for them! That's wise. The suggestion to invest our life savings isn't really an available option to the rest of us because we aren't already wealthy, so the article didn't really help us. As for demonization of the rich, conservatives are lip-locked on them while democrats are reacting to that. The entire era of Bush and Reagan tax cuts was because America favors the wealthy, moreso than any other developed country. The wealthy should try living in Europe for a while. Oh wait, they instead choose America. I wonder why?
Both sides idolized Steve Jobs until Apple's Chinese factories filled with kids was discovered, and both sides really admired Bill Gates until the first anti-trust suit, but his philanthropy has put him back into being admired. Same with Oprah, and any other celebrity. I think most of the other wealthy are just primarily unknown. The Koch brothers and Waltons aren't exactly loved, but between their EPA violations, their out-sourcing, their hiring of illegals, and their pouring their wealth into pundits like Ruch Limbaugh to always defend them from taxes, the reasons they aren't universally admired aren't exactly a mystery, but they are still admired by many, so perhaps the reason why they aren't universally admired is still a mystery to the Tea Party. Trump isn't helping the cause of the wealthy right now, so there will be some backlash, but mostly at him. Also, I hate to break it to Siebold, but the comment that he suspects there are no more wealthy crooks than poor ones is not exactly the high praise he seems to think it is. The poor should be more driven to steal by necessity than the wealthy or middle income groups. Further, the wealthy have several legal options available to them for increasing their wealth that the poor don't have (such as out-sourcing for cheap labor) that kind-of amounts to stealing from the American people because it removes wealth, especially jobs, from our country for the sake of increasing their own personal wealth. I doubt Seibold is counting the hiring of illegal aliens as "stealing" because the wealthy don't serve prison time for it, they simply get a fine. And yes, the bankers who got rich off the Wall Street derivative scheme that crashed the economy aren't loved. Again, no mystery there. Too many stories in the press of dishonesty by the wealthy have put their popularity at an all time low, but I'm afraid that's the same consequence blacks face for too many crimes by members of their race. I don't expect the press to start ignoring crimes by the wealthy, blacking them out and avoid bringing them to our attention, for the sake of keeping any crimes by the wealthy hush hush merely so they always remain popular. What would people say about the press if they did that?
The only way to make lots of money is to create a service or product that many people want...that is the only secret.
There is no other shortcut.
soooooooooo......................what are the secrets?
what a useless article!
As soon as 3 of my former clients/bosses pay the rest of the money on the contracts they owe me, maybe I'll stop considering them cheating, thieving liars.
The rich are "discriminated against"? Yes I've seen those "No Rich Allowed" signs at diners. I certainly wouldn't want to hang out with someone that has too much money. What would my friends think?
What a steaming load of manure! I can't believe I read the whole article looking for the "secrets. I want those 5 minutes of my life back MSN!
However, the only possibly worthwhile element was the reference to having a positive relationship with money, though that's quite a trick to pull off in that even someone with property, insurance, and a decent job can lose one or all three in a trice.
In addition, the author too quickly lapsed into hand-wringing about the supposed demonizing of the rich. However, in the United States, it's the poor who are demonized, not the rich, and wealth is generally admired, especially when self-made. When wealth is paired with cruelty, greed, and/or vulgarity, then it is disparaged.
All in all, a wasted article.
There are as many ways to get rich, as there are to go broke. Think about it... Every time you lose money, it's going somewhere, to someone. NO MATTER WHAT YOU ARE DOING!!! The gubberment is a collective expert at this :)
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