The 5 Principles of Self-Made Billionaires

Billionaires have something most of us don’t.

But that’s only because we haven’t learned it yet.

I’ve spent a significant amount of time with billionaires. I’ve studied them extensively, and here’s what I’ve discovered: Billionaires are billionaires because they all follow a set of unique perspectives, or principles, that help them persevere where others find challenges.

I call these 10 principles “The Billionaires’ Success Framework.”

Principle 1: Simplicity of Purpose

Billionaires are billionaires because when they went about building an empire, they were hyper-focused on a specific objective. All their effort and energy was dedicated to pursuing that clearly defined purpose. For example:

  • Henry Ford wanted to democratize the automobile — to make it available to everyone.
  • Bill Gates wanted to put a PC inside every home in America.
  • Steve Jobs wanted to put the power of a computer inside a phone (and make it painfully easy to use).

When we look at the whole of these goals, they seem massive, imposing, and yet they can all be stated in a single, easy-to-understand sentence.

Principle 2: Simplicity of Plan

Billionaires are not known for having highly detailed, highly elaborate plans.

Herb Kelleher, founder of the legendary low-cost people-mover Southwest Airlines, didn’t use complicated numbers or ingenious technical secrets to turn the airline industry on its head. His plan for Southwest followed three tenets:

  • Get the wheels up and get the wheels down.
  • Have fun.
  • Embrace being the “low-cost” airline.

These painfully simple tenets are the foundation of the most profitable airline in the history of the aviation industry. Keeping things simple helps all employees — not just key leaders — focus on the activities that will be most impactful to the success of the company.

Principle 3: Limit What You Tolerate

Billionaires limit what they tolerate — it sounds callous but it’s actually brilliant.

Billionaires don’t cultivate success from their wants; they extract it from the world by limiting what they’ll tolerate.

  • They don’t tolerate incompetent or unhelpful people.
  • They don’t tolerate an absence of results.
  • They don’t tolerate social pressures — they’re willing to embrace the isolation, solitude and suffering it takes to build something truly great.

Billionaires are the 1 percent of people who tolerate what 99 percent of us avoid, and generally avoid what 99 percent of us tolerate. They are constantly optimizing their lives. They are asking themselves on a daily basis, Where’s the operational drag in my life? What can I get rid of today to make tomorrow better?

Billionaires identify and purge without hesitation — that’s why they’re creating the greatest outcomes in the world.

Principle 4: Absolute Reliance on People

Billionaires don’t just occasionally lean on other people; they absolutely rely on them to make it through each day. From personal assistants to the members of the board, billionaires cultivate fantastic professional relationships so they can rely on them when they need it most.

Here’s why: No single individual could create the leverage and momentum necessary to create billions of dollars in value. It’s the billionaire who asks for and offers protection and support, because they know that entrepreneurs accomplish almost nothing alone, and we all move forward faster together.

Principle 5: Absolute Dedication to People

Due, in part, to their reliance on other people, billionaires are also obsessively dedicated to people; this includes customers and investors, but especially employees and their close teams.

This kind of obsession can manifest itself in a variety of ways — some billionaires are obsessed with creating the absolutely perfect product, some are obsessed with spreading success and wealth throughout the world. But it’s all ultimately about people.

  • Bill Gates, feared early in his career for his fierce temper, learned to become a strong and valued mentor for top leaders at Microsoft.
  • Warren Buffett created one of the greatest fortunes and business empires in history, but only after he recognized the need to develop great leaders and keep them close.

And when it comes to the people who create leverage for billionaires, this dedication is absolute and unshakable. The important people in a billionaire’s life — from founding partners to their assistants — are always taken care of and usually asked to stay involved in their lives for a long time.

Want to learn more? Read here

Originally published at on May 25, 2017.

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