Vikas Shah, a Professor of Entrepreneurship has interviewed the likes of Sir Richard Branson, Sir James Dyson, and Steve Ballmer and here he reveals their simple secrets. Their secret formula is captured in these ten points and unsurprisingly, passion is a vital ingredient. These people set out to pursue something they love doing and make a change without intending to make crazy money in the first place.
1. Find your passion: The vast majority of people who have made their billions didn’t intend to make that money; they found something they were unbelievably passionate about, and made it their life. It just so happened their timing was perfect, and it became a huge wealth generator – but that passion was the starting point.
2. Be resilient: The overwhelming majority of billionaires I’ve met advise me that you have be resilient. You have to be able to get back up after the knocks, you have to be prepared to fail and to embrace that, and you have to be prepared to operate outside the comfort zone of your normal life.
3. Don’t chase wealth: Without exception, every single billionaire I’ve met has told me that starting a business for them was never about the money – it was about making a big change in the world, whether that’s revolutionising technology, solving a problem, improving lives, or creating something. That was the driver.
4. Look after your health: It’s a common mistake to think that these inpiduals are working 23.5 hours a day. The overwhelming majority of billionaires I know are extremely committed to their health – they sleep well, eat well, take breaks, and make sure they are in peak-performance (otherwise they can’t lead).
This isn’t just a ‘nice perk of being rich,’ but rather something that’s been an important part of their lives from the start.
5. Think about how you can help people: One inspiring characteristic of all the billionaires I’ve met has been a deep sense of philanthropy (which has often been with them from the start of their journeys).
Most have been committed to changing lives in a positive way, and have applied their contacts and skills to helping charities at a community level initially, and then as they grow, in a wider sense through their foundations. More than a few have told me that they feel this is a ‘moral imperative’
6. Think about the long-term: Very few (if any) billionaires think about the short-term; most are constantly thinking about how they can make their business sustainable, often long after they’re gone. It’s about the generation-length time frame, not a quick buck – and that’s a powerful part of how they’ve been successful.
7. It’s about execution: Ideas are important, but just because you’re an ideas person- doesn’t mean you’ll make it. As one billionaire told me, ‘having a great idea is great, but you have to execute it!’
8. Be a people person: Without exception, every single billionaire I’ve met has significantly credited their success to their team. To make this kind of money you need to have a brilliant team, who are motivated and led by your vision, and that you can take on the journey. This means you have to be a people person; you have to have a high emotional intelligence.
9. Be open and find a mentor: Every single billionaire I know has a mentor, a coach or a close friend they can confide in. Nobody knows all the answers and having a space to challenge and be challenged is important.
10. Be yourself: Don’t try and be someone else, don’t try and be some pantomime villain of a boss: be who you are, and leverage that. As Richard Branson told me when I asked him ‘who’ he is: ‘I am the tie-loathing adventurer, philanthropist and troublemaker, who believes in turning ideas into reality.’