This is a guest post by Richard Madison, Marketing Executive for the Brighton School of Business and Management which is based in the UK and offers business and entrepreneurial courses to a range of students. He regularly writes about business, management, leadership and workplace insights.
According to Forbes there are 1,810 billionaires in the world in 2016.
These billionaires hold a combined net worth of $4.48 trillion dollars. What is interesting is the fact that there were more billionaires than ever before in 2015 when there was a record number which stood at 1,826. And 2016 is the first year since 2010 that the average net worth of a billionaire has actually dropped. It now stands at $3.6 billion dollars which is $300 million dollars less that what it was in 2015.
While many of the world’s wealthiest self-made billionaires will be familiar names such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Zara founder Amancio Ortega and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet, the youngest on the list are only becoming familiar to the world in the past few years and their stars are still on the rise.
The Youngest Self-Made Male and Female Billionaires
The world’s youngest self-made billionaire is Evan Spiegel, who was born in 1990 and will turn 26 years of age in June of this year. He is one of the co-founders of Snapchat, the mobile photo and video messaging app which only launched in 2011 but already has well over 100 million daily users and is rapidly rising. He is estimated to have a personal net worth of $2.1 billion dollars based on a 13% shareholding in Snapchat which has an approximate value of $16 billion dollars.
The world’s youngest self-made female billionaire is Elizabeth Holmes, who was born in 1984 and turned 32 in February of this year. She is the sole founder of Theranos, a billion dollar bio-technology organization with a revolutionary approach to blood testing which launched in 2003 with a goal to make clinical testing cheaper and faster. She is estimated to have a personal net worth of $3.6 billion dollars based on a 50% ownership stake in Theranos which is valued between $7 billion and $9 billion dollars.
Both of these young billionaires attended Stanford University and both subsequently dropped out before graduating.
Outside of their business success and both of them being founders of large scale influential organizations that is where their similarities come to an end in both their professional and personal lives.
Holmes studied chemical engineering where she filed her first patent for an advanced drug delivery patch while still in Stanford. In her freshman year she became a President’s Scholar which came with a $3,000 stipend to go towards a research project. She also spent a summer working in the Genome Institute labs in Singapore working on ground-breaking SARS research.
Spiegel, on the other hand, studied product design and was part of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity where he met his future co-founder of Snapchat, Bobby Murphy. He was known to aggressively network while attending Stanford to meet influential people. This led to a meeting with Scott Cook, co-founder of tech company Intuit where Spiegel took up a job while he was still a student.
For those facing financial hardships, getting rich seems the only way out to tide over shortage of money. For the bourgeoisie – the working class – getting rich conjures up visions of stuff they want to buy for luxury or higher social status. Millionaires also wish to get rich: they want to become billionaires and enter Forbes List of the world’s wealthiest people.
Unless you inherit a fortune or get lucky at lottery or sweepstakes, getting rich can be quite tough.
Yet, there are countless rags-to-riches stories around the world. Enterprises such as Amazon, KFC, Facebook or SpaceX have become runaway successes within a short span. The reason: their founders have several things in common, which is rare among other people.
Here we look at various traits that the world’s richest and most successful entrepreneurs have in common.
The Common Traits of The World’s Richest People
1. Serving People.
“If your only goal is to become rich, you will never achieve it,” said John D. Rockefeller, who laid the foundation stone for America’s giant petroleum industry and his own enterprise, Standard Oil. The same adage holds good today.
Facebook, for example, was launched by Mark Zuckerberg and his roommate, Eduardo Saverin to allow Harvard University students to share profiles and pictures
There are countless such examples of ordinary people striking rich. However, they share one thing in common: serving people. The main objective of launching these enterprises was to make life easier or enjoyable for people rather than earning money.
2. Reading Books.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates, celebrity TV show host Oprah Winfrey, SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Berkshire-Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet and several other extremely rich people of the world have one more thing in common: they are avid readers.
Bill Gates reads at least 50 books every year – an average of nearly four and a half books per month.
Elon Musk owes his success at SpaceX, the project to open space tourism to his love for books and the knowledge he gained from them about rocketry. Oprah Winfrey attributes her success to dozens of books, including some 70 top titles she read on her way to success while Warren Buffet spends about 80 percent of his day reading books.
3. Long-Term Financial Strategies.
A report by CNBC states, all wealthy people depend upon long-term financial strategies rather than short-term gains. They utilized their earnings and savings to invest in safe stocks that would assure gains in the long run rather than indulging in risky trading that can offer high returns.
Such financial planning and decisions ensured they do not lose money. Further, they invested money in their enterprises without the hope of immediate returns.
These wealthy people first focused on building a brand, offering value for people to identify with the brand. And later, popularize the brand through word-of-mouth publicity, which is more effective than traditional advertising.
4. Never Say Die.
Yet another common character trait shared by the world’s richest people is, they are not quitters.
Like every other human on Earth, these wealthy folks also witnessed ups and downs in life. Some of these were so overwhelming most ordinary people would have called it quits and gone in search of easier ventures.
Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Bleckharczyk, founders of Airbnb, the world’s largest hotels and accommodations aggregator were plagued with financial problems.
Heavily encumbered with debts, bankruptcy was staring at these entrepreneurs in the very eye. Yet, they did not budge. They innovated their service that made Airbnb the world leader in its field today.
Another excellent example is Colonel Harland Sanders, whose recipe for fried chicken was rejected as many as 1,009 times before it was accepted. Col. Sanders is the founder of global chain Kentucky Fried Chicken or KFC.
5. Accepting Criticism.
Most people flee from criticism of any sort. Rather than learning from negative comments arising out of their behavior or work, they take umbrage rather quickly. Yet, they do not bother to amend their behavior or work pattern.
All wealthy people, however, are different. They are willing to be criticized for introducing new ideas or thoughts.
Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, rightly says that those who will try and do something new must be willing to draw criticism.
Steve Jobs, founder, Apple, Inc. puts it in even stronger words: “If you want to make everyone happy, do not become a leader; sell ice cream instead.”
The success of Amazon and Apple proves their founders were right when it came to accepting criticism.
6. Out of The Box Thinking.
Thinking outside of the ‘box’ or a typical mindset is often impossible for most people. Understandably, because everyone draws their mindset from factors and circumstances they are raised and educated in.
This mindset eventually becomes a formidable fetter for anyone wanting to become an entrepreneur. Generally, most people follow the flock and take professions they falsely believe as best suited for their skills. Others try to follow footsteps of their parents.
The wealthiest people in the world never followed flock or took lucrative professions of their parents.
Mark Zuckerberg’s father was a dentist and mom – a psychiatrist. Bill Gates’ dad was a banker father while his mother was a lawyer.
Despite coming from wealthy families, they chose to follow their passion rather than confine their thinking to the proverbial boxed mindset. Col. Sanders had lost his parents at a young age of six years and had to shoulder responsibilities of his siblings.
Other Examples of What The Wealthiest People Have in Common
As we can see, these qualities or personality traits are common to the world’s richest people. It sets them apart from others. Most of them launched small enterprises with the sole purpose of bettering the lives of people. Their products or services gained popularity because money was never their consideration. Widespread use of their technology, products, and services eventually led them to become wealthy.
These traits are not typical to the US or the western world, as one may mistakenly come to believe. A glance at some richest people in India and elsewhere also reveals, they share the same characteristics with their American counterparts. This amply proves that richest people around the world share something in common, regardless of where they live and flourish.
Another common trait that all rich people share in common is philanthropy.
Since childhood, they believe in giving back to the society and helping the underprivileged. They practiced charity when they were not so rich and continue to donate money for the betterment of the society even after becoming billionaires.
These richest people on the planet never waited to become wealthy. Instead, they were philanthropists since childhood – a trait most other people pathetically lack or try to foist upon themselves to gain popularity.
It is not easy to become wealthy. Or everyone would become a millionaire. People who do make it to the top have a different way of thinking combined with an undying zest for learning new things and educating themselves.
They do not consider conventional learning at universities as the end of their education. Instead, they try and acquire new skills every day and find ways and means to become better humans rather than focusing on fattening their purses.
The world’s wealthiest people also share one common trait: they are not people pleasers, despite their generosity and willingness to serve the society. Because they know, trying to please everyone will get them nowhere and could mean possible failure.