The Secret to Success? 7 Billionaires Tell You How to Get Rich

Get-rich-quick schemes are just that – schemes. Much as we might wish otherwise, none of us are never going to go from average Joe to the Forbes list of richest people in the world overnight.
So how do the rich get rich? Some are born that way and some get lucky. Others have advantages most of us will never have. But if you ask the world’s self-made billionaires how they achieved success, most will tell you it’s not that they’re necessarily smarter than everyone else. Nor did they rely on a some super-secret formula the rest of us don’t know about. Instead, they often credit their success to a mixture of passion and perseverance, plus a healthy dose of stubbornness.
That advice is all well and good, but it’s a little vague. We wanted to dig a bit deeper and find out what some of the world’s most successful people really think you need to do to get rich. Here are seven incredibly successful people on what they believe you need to do to add those extra zeros to your bank account balance.

1. Save your money

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Mark Cuban | Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is worth $3.3 billion. He built his wealth from the ground up, and now he doesn’t hesitate to dispense advice to those who hope to replicate his success.
One of Cuban’s tips for getting rich? Don’t blow your cash on stupid stuff. Here’s one of the tips he shared in a blog post entitled “How to Get Rich”:

“Save your money. Save as much money as you possibly can. Every penny you can. Instead of coffee, drink water. Instead of going to McDonald’s, eat mac and cheese. Cut up your credit cards. If you use a credit card, you don’t want to be rich. The first step to getting rich, requires discipline. If you really want to be rich, you need to find the discipline, can you?”

2. Go against the grain

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Warren Buffett | Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

The “Oracle of Omaha” is a popular source of investing wisdom, not surprising given that he’s the third-richest man in the world, with a net worth of $80.5 billion. Warren Buffett’s consistent approach to investing has been key to his success. He’s made his fortune by bucking trends and betting on companies that have been overlooked by other investors. Here’s how he summed up his approach in the book Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist:
“I will tell you the secret of getting rich on Wall Street. Close the doors. You try to be greedy when others are fearful and you try to be very fearful when others are greedy.”

3. Don’t be timid

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Eli Broad founded KB Home. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Shrinking violets and wallflowers aren’t good candidates for future billionaire status. If you want to get rich, you need to be bold enough to take chances, even if your ideas seem a little crazy. That risk-taking approach paid off in a big way for Eli Broad, the founder of KB Home, who has a net worth of $7.1 billion.
Back in the mid-1950s, Broad had an idea that he could make money by building houses without basements, which would make them affordable for more people. The fact that he had no experience in construction or real estate didn’t stop him from pursuing his ideas, as he explained in a 2006 commencement address at UCLA’s school of arts and architecture:

“No one ever made a million bucks by being cautious or timid or reasonable. I was 22 years old and recently married when I had the crazy idea that I should give up my career as a CPA and become a homebuilder. I didn’t know anything about building houses. Sometimes the craziest ideas are the ones that yield the greatest payoffs.”

4. Make something yourself

candy bars
The founder of the Mars, Inc. believed in the power of making something yourself. | iStock/Getty Images

Relying on others for your success is a recipe for disaster. At least, that’s the lesson that Forrest Mars, Sr., learned from his time working at Mars, Inc., his father’s candy business. At the time, Mars sourced all its chocolate from its competitor, Hershey’s. After quitting the family business, Mars (who was worth $4 billion at the time of his death in 1999) moved to Europe, got a job in a candy factory, and figured out how to make chocolate himself. Then he invented the Mars bar. He eventually returned to the family business, and it’s now the sixth-largest privately held company in the U.S.
“If you want to get rich, you gotta know how to make a product. And you aren’t going to hire anybody to make a product for you to make you rich,” he was quoted as saying in the book Business Builders in Sweets and Treats. He also made it clear that he wasn’t just a guy who made chocolate bars. “I’m not a candy maker. I’m empire minded,” he explained.

5. Recognize opportunity

eric schmidt
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Great success may sometimes seem like it’s a matter of luck, but really it’s a matter of knowing when to seize a great opportunity, says Eric Schmidt, former CEO and current executive chairman of Google (net worth $13.1 billion). He should know. Schmidt didn’t found Google, but he was smart enough to accept a job offer there in 2001. A big part of success is just trying to be in the right place at the right time, he said in a commencement address at Carnegie Mellon University in 2009.

“Don’t bother to have a plan at all. All that stuff about plan, throw that out. It seems to me that it’s all about opportunity and make your own luck. You study the most successful people, and they work hard and they take advantage of opportunities that come that they don’t know are going to happen to them. You cannot plan innovation, you cannot plan invention. All you can do is try very hard to be in the right place and be ready.”

6. Take care of yourself

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Elon Musk | David McNew/AFP/Getty Images

Justine Musk may not be a billionaire herself, but she has a pretty good idea of what makes them tick. The ex-wife of Tesla founder Elon Musk (net worth: $21 billion) has seen what she calls “extreme success” firsthand, and she knows that getting to that level of wealth isn’t easy. Not only to you need to be “obsessed,” as she explained in a Quora post, but you need to be in peak physical condition:

“It helps to have superhuman energy and stamina. If you are not blessed with godlike genetics, then make it a point to get into the best shape possible. There will be jet lag, mental fatigue, bouts of hard partying, loneliness, pointless meetings, major setbacks, family drama, issues with the Significant Other you rarely see, dark nights of the soul, people who bore and annoy you, little sleep, less sleep than that. Keep your body sharp to keep your mind sharp. It pays off.”

7. Follow your passion

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Jim Koch, the founder of the Boston Beer Co., believes following his passion helped make him rich. | Cindy Ord/Getty Images for NYCWFF

Most billionaires agree that passion is important if you’re trying to achieve great success. Some would say it’s the most important thing — that you should concentrate on your passion and then let success follow from that, rather than focusing on the money first. Jim Koch, who founded the Boston Beer Co., said that’s what helped transform him into a billionaire.
Long before craft beer was a national craze, Koch (the son of a brewer) decided to dedicate himself to brewing quality beer, which was then hard to find in America. His quirky passion paid off handsomely, but getting rich wasn’t the point, as he explained in an interview with Business Insider:

“The most common thing I remind people of is to only pursue something you love, because a small business is going to be very demanding of your time, your energy — it just eats your life. And if you’re doing something you love, then you will accept and even enjoy that. If you’re just doing it to get rich, you’re gonna lose heart. I tell everyone, getting rich is life’s biggest booby trap. It comes down to what would you rather be, happy or rich? I say do what’s gonna make you happy.”

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