6 key principles of personal wealth from the world’s billionaires

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If there’s one thing most billionaires (and successful people) seem to agree on, it’s that success comes far more easily when we’re driven to help others more than ourselves. Of course it’s important to take care of ourselves too, but that shouldn’t come at the expense of those around us, or this beautiful planet we inhabit.

Other common values shared by billionaires include accountability, following the passion and taking risks in our journey of personal development. Rather than view personal wealth from a purely self-serving financial perspective, the following billionaires advocate a more grounded philosophy which focuses on the bigger picture.

1. Pay it forward

Charles Koch, Chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, with an estimated net worth of $47.8 billion, asserts, “For business to survive over a long period, it needs to be contributing to society and people’s well-being. Otherwise, who’s going to want it?”

Regardless of whether you own a business, the principle remains the same. If we focus on contributing to society and being a positive force, we will attract success (financial or otherwise) far more easily than if we were just working on lining our own pockets.

2. Simplify your life

We are constantly bombarded by businesses to buy more and consume more. We are conditioned to believe that we need to live a certain way, drive certain cars or dress in certain designer labels. But do we really need to buy into these frivolous standards? Despite his net worth of $73.3 billion, Warren Buffett still lives in the $31,500 house he bought back in 1957.

On the other hand, we have John CaudwellDavid Cheriton and Chuck Feeney — three exemplary billionaires who opt to walk, bike or take public transportation for their daily commute. Helps keep them in shape, and it’s kind on their pocket AND the environment.

Accumulating unnecessary material possessions puts us on a constant financial treadmill rather than an upward savings escalator. So next time you’re tempted to splurge on a new car or the newest iPhone, perhaps you should reflect on your priorities and ask yourself if the purchase is really necessary.  

3. Get in the driver’s seat

Karl Albrecht (deceased) who founded the discount supermarket chain Aldi, worth an estimated $25.9 billion and the richest person in Germany at the time of his death in 2014, had the following insights to share:

“The typical human life seems to be quite unplanned, undirected, unlived, and unsavored. Only those who consciously think about the adventure of living as a matter of making choices among options, which they have found for themselves, ever establish real self-control and live their lives fully.”

The point is simple: everything we do (or don’t do) is the result of a choice. Our choice. While certain things might be out of our control, in reality most of what happens to us is a result of our actions (whether conscious or subconscious). So get in the driver’s seat and start being the architect of your life.

4. Follow your passion

Jim Koch, founder of the Boston Beer Co. says concentrating on his passion rather than money was what transformed him into a billionaire. According to the founding father of America’s craft brewery movement, “I tell everyone, getting rich is life’s biggest booby trap. It comes down to what you would rather be, happy or rich? I say do what’s gonna make you happy.”

In the same vein, Oprah Winfrey advocates that “You become what you believe. You are where you are today in your life based on everything you have believed.” So listen to your gut and follow your passion.

5. Take risks

Eli Broad, founder of KB Homes, worth an estimated $7.1 billion, has the following story to share:

“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.”

So if you have a burning desire to try something you’ve never done before, go for it! You’ll never know if you’re good at something unless you give yourself a chance.

6. Stay open to opportunities

Eric Schmidt, former CEO and current Executive Chairman of Google, is worth an estimated $10 billion. His philosophy of success is rooted in knowing when to seize a great opportunity. Contrary to conventional wisdom, he posits the following:

“Don’t bother to have a plan at all. All that stuff about plans, throw that out. It seems to me that it’s all about opportunity and making 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.”

You never know when the right opportunity might come your way, but you can stay open to possibilities by networking and exchanging ideas with fellow professionals. 




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