A few weeks ago, I presented to about 100 people on “Billionaires and their Family Offices”.
Someone in the audience asked me:
“How can we become billionaires and what’s special about them?”
I didn’t have a good answer at the time, but after a few days of reflection on having worked with the ultra-rich for the last decade, I came away knowing that the rich think fundamentally differently.
Here’s what makes them special:
1. Believe in change and innovation
Most fortunes across history were built from change.
These days we all confuse technology with change, but if you look at entrepreneurs and billionaires like Henry Ford, Warren Buffett, George Soros, Joseph Safra, Jacob Rothschild and Steve Schwarzmann, they aren’t technology investors, they are change investors.
Each one of them saw, understood and invested in change, and benefited from it.
All of them understood changes in their economies, industries, markets and adapted and innovated. That’s how they made their money. You don’t need to be able to program to be a billionaire today anymore than you needed to do it a decade ago.
Seek change and evolve with it
2. Play for the big bucks
They think much bigger, and act bolder. They are thinking in multiples rather than increments. While us mortals focus on the 20%, they focus on and therefore find solutions to get 10x.
One way they get to play for a multiple is that they think years in advance.
They think about what the world will look like five years from now.
This feel for how things will evolve let’s them be present for change, when it occurs.
One question, I try to ask myself weekly is:
How can I 10x my life ?
Then: what are the skills and people I need to know to 10x my life.
3. Build an Edge
Every single ultra-rich person I have met understands their edge, what they are good at, and then what they aren’t good at, and therefore should pay to get done. They are very effective at this, to the point that they can extract the greatest economies of scale.
They focus their energy on where they have the greatest competitive advantage and then leave the rest for someone else to do.
We can all put this to work in our lives too.
What are the 20% of activities that are responsible for 80% of the positive outcomes?
Once they have found their edge they make sure to exploit it. You’ll see them double and triple down on their most valuable activities, and keep investing in them and ignore everything where they don’t have an edge.
The core part of building an edge is what I have seen all billionaires do — Capex. Not just capex in their business, but capex on themselves. They make sure to continuously invest in themselves to build their edge.
Make sure to find your edge and invest in it, and say “NO” to everything else.
4. Get Help
The billionaires don’t try to do everything on their own.
They pay for results and they hold people accountable. If you can create value for them they are happy to reward you.
They know and work with the best in the industry. This means knowing what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes this means being early — for example one of the families was a very early investor in Yukos, another was an early investor in Jim Simons at Medallion.
They seek and work with high quality people regardless of what they are doing. They are agnostic to the exact innovation or style. They focus on whether it works or doesn’t and whether it will be profitable.
Seek the highest quality people you can find, and then find ways to partner with them
Their best opportunities come from their network. They know they aren’t going to come up with opportunities on their own.
They listen to the experts in their network, ask questions, find more experts and keep digging until they can unearth the best opportunities.
They aren’t satisfied with the first answer they get or the first opportunity they come across.
They know that the best ideas and opportunities need to be discovered.
Invest a few hours in your network and your people weekly, that is the source of your opportunities.
6. Live in the Present
They aren’t trapped in the past and what they did last year or last month. They are pragmatic and practical. They focus on the reality of where they stand now and don’t do things just because they have done them for the last decade or year.
They go where others aren’t.
Henry Ford wasn’t inventing the next horse drawn carriage.
Jeff Bezos wasn’t starting the next hedge fund when he left D.E. Shaw.
They’d ask the question today:
Based on what I know today, what is the best use of my time, and what am I doing now that doesn’t need to be done?
Are You Ready To Take It To The Next Level?
To Sum Up:
Change & Innovation: They focus on and invest in innovation
Play the big game: Don’t think small, think how can you do 10x or 100x
Get an Edge: Find, research and build your edge
Outsource: Don’t do everything on your own, find experts and outsource
Network: Build your network and then use it to find opportunities
Let go of the past: Don’t be tied to what you have done or said in the past, focus on the current opportunity set