Barbara Walters on 20/20 (via The Wealth Report) interviews four billionaires, and culls out some wisdom for managing success.

You may recall that this is an area I have some interest in. Back in June, I wrote up something along similar lines: 7 life lessons from the very wealthy.

Back to The Wealth Report: Here is the top 10 list culled from billionaires:

1. Figure out what you’re so passionate about that you’d be happy doing it for 10 years, even if you never made any money from it. That’s what you should be doing.
2. Always be true to yourself.
3. Figure out what your values are and live by them, in business and in life.
4. Rather than focus on work-life separation, focus on work-life integration.
5. Don’t network. Focus on building real relationships and friendships where the relationship itself is its own reward, instead of trying to get something out of the relationship to benefit your business or yourself.
6. Remember to maximize for happiness, not money or status.
7. Get ready for rejection.
8. Success unshared is failure. Give back — share your wealth.
9. (A secret so powerful, we simply cannot tell you)
10. Successful people do all the things unsuccessful people don’t want to do.

Not a bad list . . .

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Source:
Billionaires Share Their Secrets to Success
Robert Frank
The Wealth Report, October 28, 2011  
http://blogs.wsj.com/wealth/2011/10/28/billionaires-share-their-secrets-to-success/

Category: Investing, Philosophy, Psychology

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

43 Responses to “Billionaires’ Top 10 List for Success”

  1. InterestedObserver says:

    Be curious, stay curious, keep learning, and challenge what you think you know.

  2. krice2001 says:

    I appreciate lists like this and these items apparently can be keys to extreme success. I also envision that most people who follow these “rules” will not have fabulous success. Clearly, there are important less tangible factors that the hugely successful have in their favor, from just the right set of personality traits, unending energy, innate senses most of us lack, and of course, some good timing and luck.

  3. bonddad says:

    I would add the importance of writing something — be it for public or private consumption.

  4. Global Eyes says:

    # 11: Don’t fit in, stand out.

  5. Winston Munn says:

    Why is it these lists are so much easier to accomplish if you are already wealthy? I mean, seriously, try telling your spouse that you’ve decided to work unpaid for the next ten years and see how successful you are in receiving divorce papers.

  6. WhyDoYouSayThat says:

    11. Pretend like you want to pay more taxes, but don’t actually give the government more money voluntarily.

  7. RW says:

    9. What folks say and what folks do are rarely the same and the advice they give is rarely consistent with either; being able to tell the difference leads to profits and self-awareness but if you can’t then make sure you work with those who can.

  8. Thx, Barry! :-)
    I would humbly add: Walk (in each moment) with the feelings of success…you will automatically do the next right thing.

  9. arbitrage789 says:

    “Figure out what you’re …passionate about …even if you never made any money from it”.
    _____________________

    Passion alone doesn’t pay the bills, unfortunately.

  10. Anonne says:

    Work-life integration…. what does that mean?

  11. Jojo says:

    Luck plays a big part in many people’s success (choosing the right career is often just good luck)

    But the number one (or 0.5 in this case) rule is:

    0.5 – Be the right person in the right place at the right time!

  12. Vilgrad says:

    The secret to billionaire success is to capture the system and pillage the middle class.

    http://www.theburningplatform.com/?p=25234

  13. davefromcarolina says:

    From your list, Barry:

    7. It helps to be incredibly lucky.

  14. b_thunder says:

    Most people who follow the billionaires’ #1 (!!) advice (as per 20/20) and work for 10 years on what they’re passionate about but don’t earn any money – they end up as “baristas” and waitresses (also broke, without a family, and on their parents’ old couch in the parents’ basement) regardless of how passionate they are, regardless what advanced degree they hold. If you’re not good enough and don’t get all the right “breaks” along the way – you better start building wealth the old-fashioned way (it may not be possible in the era of 0% interest rates, falling asset prices, falling real-terms wages AND falling US dollar) but it’s worth trying. And once you’ve built some wealth – then try your “passion” part-time and on the weekends…. if you still have time and energy left.

    Work for 10 years on what you’re “passionate about” without any success? I have a better idea: Black Jack! Take a chance! With the optimum strategy you chance of winning big is HIGHER than your chance of creating a really big business from scratch. And you’ll have more fun along the way.

    As Buffett often says, the only rule is to be in the right place int he right time.
    What if Buffett was born in China and went to a collective farm rather than Columbia? Or if Steve Jobs was born 15 years earlier or later – i.e. 10 years before building a PC was possible technically, or 10 years after they became as ubiquitous as TVs?

  15. ToNYC says:

    “As Buffett often says, the only rule is to be in the right place in the right time.”

    Lot’s are called; most are wrong numbers.
    What you know to say to the right person at the right time is the magic hour.

  16. Jojo says:

    Lot’s are called; most are wrong numbers.
    What you know to say to the right person at the right time is the magic hour.
    ———
    Hmm. Sounds like a cousin to:

    “All your base are belong to us” [lol]

  17. woolybear1 says:

    Much of this is right. Modesty aside, I think I am an example. As a musician I followed my passion for many, many years without making much money. But then I started a music related business and have made a lot of money. No, I am not a billionaire, just a lowly millionaire. It is hard for me to believe. I risked a lot and there was certainly luck involved, being in the right place at the right time. But, one has to be prepared to take the plunge. There is a great freedom that comes with money.

  18. Michael Gat says:

    I tend to agree with the points made above:

    1) What if the thing you are passionate about is something that you can and will never make money from? I think the few billionaires surveyed for this probably have the great advantage of loving something that is — at it’s core — capable of making money. Speaking for myself I know I do not: I love traveling alone in the wilderness and enjoying the solitude. Nobody will pay me to do that. The people who wrote this one are clearly passionate about stuff that others will pay for.

    8) This one to me reinforces the above and just confirms the impression I have that the people who wrote it have a very narrow view of the kinds of things people enjoy. Sharing my passion ruins it. It is not something that involves others. Sharing it with them is not possible.

  19. Michael Gat says:

    I tend to agree with the points made above. What if the thing you are passionate about is something that you can and will never make money from? I think the few billionaires surveyed for this probably have the great advantage of loving something that is — at it’s core — capable of making money. I know I do not: I love traveling alone in the wilderness and enjoying the solitude. Nobody will pay me to do that.

    This is an area where us introverts are at a significant disadvantage. Our passions tend to be inwardly focused. For some, there is some tangible product that comes out of it that may be marketable, but for many of us, the passion is in reading a good book, or hiking a trail, or running a better quarter mile, or whatever. Some of us would be happy to do those things indefinitely, but the reality is we’d starve along the way.

  20. CitizenWhy says:

    9. … Avoid taxes, lobby for taxpayer subsidies, move jobs abroad, hire abroad, invest abroad, get tax breaks to invest in the USA but invest abroad, start a non-profit charity to benefit only your kids and the rich kids’ private school they attend, cheat at business but only if you must. Examples of when not to cheat? None.

    Another version of 9.

    9. Inherit a lot of money. Then invest it in a way that goes untaxed. Lobby for taxpayer subsidies, and tax breaks justified by the claim you will invest in the USA and create jobs, then invest your money abroad and move move jobs abroad.

  21. Robespierre says:

    Oh please… You will find millions of people who have done all 10 and die in abject poverty. You can also find billionaires who have done the opposite of those 10 and yet became billionaires. All these 10 commandments handed down by the top %,001 are so condescending and full of cra%**((& that I’m surprise you post them.

  22. theexpertisin says:

    The list above is a great one. Executing it is a great way to live a life. Unfortunately, our “closet” 1%ers such as Donald Trumpka, Michael Moore and Jesse Jackson, need hate and class warfare to get their loot. They appear to be accumulating their stash guilt free.

    These folks deserve much more media scutiny.

  23. mathman says:

    Robespierre i’m with you in that sentiment (it’s complete bs):

    fuggin’ privileged a$$h0^3$ wouldn’t last 2 days in the projects.
    All that “be like me” horses&#*! makes me gag.
    AS effin’ IF that’s the be-all and end-all of life on a marble spinning in space – chasin’ after money and ruining the planet and peoples’ lives in the process – yeah, that’s some success ya got there Skippy.
    Miss the point much, ya friggin’ clowns?
    #13 Pollute to your hearts’ content – there are no consequences . . .
    oh man, i could go on for days this shit is so stale, assbackwards and wide of the mark.
    fuggedabotit
    dumbassess

  24. ToNYC says:

    Once again, many are called, but most are wrong numbers and I should add, they come with charts, scale and time -shifted to imprint their lie.

  25. Mike in Nola says:

    An important rule left out: be born to rich parents. That can make even idiots like Trump, Forbes or Scafe look like they are not bloody idiots.

  26. beaufou says:

    I’m not a billionaire and I don’t aspire to become one.
    I am good at what I do and have earned the respect of my peers, my advice to younger people; I’m only 40; learn how to do things the right way, don’t cut corners and remember that what you know is the fruit of others sharing it, be generous with your knowledge.

  27. victor says:

    Nice list, here are some sour grapes:
    1) I am rich, super rich, much richer than any of our billionaires because I understand the meaning of “Enough”, but they don’t, so too boot they’re enslaved, I’m free.

    2) The 10 points above may be the secrets to “managing success” in terms of money as collated by Barbara Walters. I would rather follow Plato, Confucius, or any of the major religions advice on how to achieve success

    3) Add to the list: make sure you live or do business in or with the free world, preferably a Western style Democracy in spite all the warts we know so well.

    4) Many mention luck here. Yes, it is necessary, Plato called it Necessity of Fate. All stars MUST be aligned just right.

    5) The billionaires Barbara interviewed were alive, right? Therein lies the fatal flaw: cannot assume they have indeed managed $ success until they are dead, “for so many kings ended up as beggars later in their lives” see the wonderful story of Croesus and also his interview with Solon reported by Herodotus.

    Yeh, Yeh, Yeh: ‘been rich, been poor and rich is better.

  28. martin66 says:

    Oh please. (hah I see someone else had the same exact first response) While these are very nice aphorisms, this reads like an infomercial “You too can be a billionaire, if you follow our secret formula.” These four disingenuous folks are looking in the rear view mirror and creating a narrative that maximizes the value of their own part in their own successes. Self aggrandizing and in a way quite patronizing.

  29. DiggidyDan says:

    Barry, as much as I enjoy your site, this list is bullshit tripe. It’s easy to get rich if you are born into privelege, don’t fuck up, and are able to exploit a few generations of hardworking desperate suckers you are screwing on both ends of the equation.

  30. LifeOnMars says:

    There are actually 20 items on the list:

    http://abcnews.go.com/Business/20-2020-billionaires-20-keys-success/story?id=14821206

    and #9 is actually #7: Think about what your definition of success really is. Is it externally driven or internally driven?

    (For The Wealth Report, success might be defined as learning how to count to ten.)

  31. huxrules says:

    @Michal Gat- sounds like you would make a good land surveyor.

    I think the “do what you are passonate” thing is about is this: Do what you like and eventually you will find a way to make money.

  32. Scott Teresi says:

    This list contains excellent advice for finding happiness and fulfillment. Discovering who you are and following your innate passion is difficult but can lead to a rewarding life without regrets.

    However, this list has “survivorship bias.” As commenters have mentioned, it’s by no means sufficient to become a billionaire. It’s written by people who left out one missing rule, because it’s so deeply ingrained that they don’t realize they had to learn it too. The first rule should probably be: key areas of your passion MUST overlap with what is rewarded within the hierarchy of our capitalist system.

    I would suggest the #1 piece of advice is to have a desire to play the game built into the system: learn the skills, learn the rules, and learn what rules to bend. You have to have a strong desire to lead and persuade people, build a network, sell your ideas, live and breathe your ideas, see the system as a set of challenges to be overcome at all costs, see it as a challenge to win. The more you win, the more power you have, the more resources you have, the more people and money and ideas you can orchestrate, the more influence you have, and the more choices you have.

    Growing up in a family and network who are steeped in this mindset isn’t completely necessary, but it makes it much easier and more instinctual. Everyone else… we are either open to the mission but lack the tools, or else we are intimidated by the challenge, entirely uninspired by it, or indoctrinated to believe seeking power and wealth is beneath us. (I don’t know which path is justified… morality might possibly intersect with them all.)

    The American dream is actually real. It’s just that it’s not what most people think it is. You have to become a person who is inspired by the challenge of aggressively optimizing the choices available within our system.

  33. oracle3 says:

    Watch what poor people do, then don’t do that……

  34. freejack says:

    “9. (A secret so powerful, we simply cannot tell you)”

    Is that the one about maximizing government subsidies through campaign donations & lobbying and influencing the public discourse through media ownership & Think Tank sock-puppetry?

  35. gman says:

    1. Choose your parents well.
    2. Identify a situation where you can SOCIALIZE THE DOWNSIDE and PRIVATIZE THE UPSIDE.

  36. ella says:

    I must have missed it but where on the list is contributing to politicians, issue ads, and cozing up to regulators? Just wondering?

  37. Irwin Fletcher says:

    Tom Landry, the great football coach once said (while pointing to his players on the practice field)

    “My job is to make those guys do all the things they don’t want to do, so they can become all they ever wanted to be”.

  38. Joe Friday says:

    Mike in Nola,

    An important rule left out: be born to rich parents.

    Indeed. Likely number ONE on the list.

    More than 70% of the people on the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest individuals started life born into the top 2% of households.

  39. ToNYC says:

    I think the “do what you are passionate” thing is about is this: Do what you like and eventually you will find a way to make money.

    If you don’t make money, and you try by showing up, you have the satisfaction of knowing that you lived without settling for another man’s script.

    “The first rule should probably be: key areas of your passion MUST overlap with what is rewarded within the hierarchy of our capitalist system.”

    The math here substitutes “capitalist rewards” MUSTing as f(money). Money is unnecessary when satisfaction is first presented. There’s a human form factor missing here that blows up 19th Century paradigms based on logical domination.

  40. JerseyCynic says:

    “In the real world, nothing happens at the right place at the right time. It is the job of journalists and historians to correct that.”
    ~Mark Twain

  41. Scott Teresi says:

    ToNYC, not sure I understand what you’re saying. We’re talking about obtaining enormous sums of money, not merely personal satisfaction or a middle class living, but I’m not sure where you’re going with that idea…

  42. cool says:

    Nonsense. Anybody can do these things to the hilt. What we would like to see is ten steps to becoming a billionnaire. Personal feelings of wellbeing are a different matter entirely.

  43. Charles says:

    The French writer Balzac wrote that “Behind every great fortune is a great crime”. Maybe this applies to some of the outwardly-appearing philanthropic billionaires in the world.