Rich People Are Nonconformists and Outliers

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Rich people are not average. To become rich and successful you must do what average people are unwilling or afraid to do. This typically involves taking some financial or career risk and devoting most of your time to ensure that that risk pays off.

In society, we are conditioned into believing that the path to success lies in a college education. But my research says otherwise. It’s not enough to get a college degree. College degrees most definitely do help you find a job but they are now a pre-requisite or commodity, not something that makes you stand out. According to the Census Bureau, between 32%-36% of working adults have a college degree.

Getting a college degree does increase your chances for becoming rich – 39% of the self-made millionaires in my Rich Habits Study didn’t have a college degree. And, according to a 2014 CareerBuilder survey, 51% of all jobs in the U.S. do not even require a college degree.

The true, sure path towards unlimited success and riches can only be found in pursuing a dream or something you are passionate about that you can monetize and then committing yourself to this dream or passion for the rest of your working life. In other words, you stand a better chance getting rich if you start a business. That’s where the real world learning takes place. You learn by doing. Real world learning is far more valuable than classroom learning in a capitalist society. And America is a capitalist society.

Some of the wealthiest most successful people in the world were business owners who did not have a college degree: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Andrew Carnegie (US Steel), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Steve Jobs (Apple), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Larry Ellison (Oracle),  Like Ingvar (Ikea), Leonardo Del Vecchio (Luxottica eyewear), Michael Dell (Dell Computing) and Ferrero Rocher (Ferrero Chocolates) are just a few examples. I could fill up this entire page with millionaires and billionaires who started a business without the benefit of any higher learning.

How did they do it?

They took a risk on themselves and then spent every waking moment devoted to some business that added value to the lives of others. Through self-education, relentless practice and persistence they eventually became experts in their fields. And society rewarded them with enormous riches and success.

Calculated risk, devotion and commitment to their business eventually paid off. For most, the payoff took many, many years. For some, it took much less time. But the common denominator was taking a risk and starting a business.

Most people are conformists. They are unwilling to do what it takes to become rich – take a risk on themselves, start a business and spend the rest of their lives trying to make that business a success. Conformity is the norm and nonconformity makes you an outlier.

100 Days to a New Life

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According to the famous University College London habit study, it can take anywhere from 20 days to 254 days for a habit to form, with the average habit taking approximately 66 days.

A habit is formed when brain cells (neurons) form a long-term synapse. A synapse is a neural pathway that is created in the brain when two or more brain cells repetitively communicate with each other. If that communication continues long enough, a part of the brain called the basil ganglia, reaches its tentacles out (axon filaments) to the synapse, marking it as a habit. Once a synapse is co-opted as a habit by the basil ganglia, that synapse, or neural pathway, never truly dies, even when the activity that created the synapse ceases. They are often brought back to life during periods of stress or emotional duress. This is why habits are so hard to break – the neural pathway becomes permanent once it is marked as a habit.

100 Day Challenge

Consistency transforms behaviors into habits. Adopting good daily habits can only happen if you consistently engage in those habits every day. One strategy to make good habits stick is something called the 100 Day Challenge. Here’s how it works: for 100 days, focus on engaging in one new habit for 100 days in a row. By the end of the 100 days the neural pathway will be strong enough to get the attention of the basal ganglia and will in all likelihood become a permanent habit.

The key is to focus on only one habit during this 100 day period. Here are some new habit ideas:

  • New Exercise Habit: For 100 days run, jog, walk, cycle, lift weights for 20 minutes a day.
  • New Self-Education Habit: For 100 days read for 20 minutes a day, or listen to a podcast, or watch TEDx talks, or study something related to your job or career.
  • New Skill Habit: For 100 days practice some new skill for 20 minutes a day.
  • Healthy Eating Habit: For 100 days reduce how much junk food you eat by 300 calories a day.
  • Change TV Habit: For 100 days reduce how much TV you watch by one hour a day.
  • Change Social Media Habit: For 100 days reduce how much time you spend on social media by one hour a day.
  • No Gossip Habit: For 100 days avoid gossiping about anyone.

After 100 days the synapse or neural pathway will be strong enough for a permanent habit to form. Then, apply the 100 Day Challenge to another individual habit.

Being Naive is a Poor Habit

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There’s a misconception that being naive is a trait – something you are just born with. Not so. The fact is, naiveté is a habit. And a very bad one.

According to my research, 27% of self-made millionaires in my study failed at least once. They had to pick themselves up from the financial gutter and start all over again. Some of those 27% fell so low into the financial gutter that they were forced into personal bankruptcy. According to this same research, the root cause of this failure was the Poor Habit of being naive.

In my book, Rich Habits, I refer to this as “ready, fire, aim.”

Those who fail in life in any venture have an inclination to take action before giving the matter their full attention. They fail to seek out the advice of others before jumping in with both feet. Those who are naive do not spend the time investigating or studying their investments. As a result, they become victims of unintended, bad consequences wrought by their lack of diligence in partnering with others or investing their money. They don’t do their homework.

This is school of hard knocks learning and is completely unnecessary. Any investment, any initiative, and every venture you pursue deserves intense, focused study.

Those who eventually succeed, and become self-made millionaires have developed the Rich Habit of seeking feedback from others before they pursue any investment that requires time and money. They study the investment from all sides.

Only after diligent analysis do they take a calculated risk, knowing full well the potential downsides. As a result of their diligent analysis, they prepare themselves for every conceivable outcome, good or bad. When they see their investment going off the rails, they have detailed plans that help them overcome the obstacles and pitfalls that would otherwise undermine their investment.

Don’t be naive. It’s not a trait. It’s a Poor Habit that will always result in loss and failure. Always seek feedback from experts. Seek out advisors and pick their brains before jumping into anything that requires the investment of your time and money. That’s what successful people do.

Lifestyle Creep is a Poor Habit

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“Same house, same wife, same car.” – Bill King, CPA

One of my client’s has been on a roll. Their income began to rise significantly about five years ago. One of the first things they did with all of this extra money was to spend it on a very expensive million dollar home in an upscale neighborhood. But that wasn’t all. They proceeded to spend approximately $150,000 refurbishing their very expensive million dollar home. Now they are stuck with an expensive home, with higher real estate taxes, higher utility bills, and significantly greater maintenance costs.

I had another client who, after a banner year, went out and bought an expensive $100,000 sports car. 

Another client of mine, during his high income years, spent nearly $1 million on things he was eventually forced to sell for pennies on the dollar, when he lost his job, in order for his family to survive.

That’s called lifestyle creep – Increasing your standard of living in order to match your increased income. 

It’s a common Poor Habit among many who suddenly find themselves making more money.

The Rich Habit is to forgo the desire to spend your money today and, instead, sock it away into savings and investments that grow in value and provide financial resources that can be used in the future to maintain your standard of living.

That Rich Habit is called Delayed Gratification – putting off something you want today for something you want tomorrow – financial independence.

Delayed Gratification is a habit that must be forged because Instant Gratification is the genetically pre-engineered habit, thanks to evolution, is hardwired in every human. In the early days of our existence, it was feast or famine. During very rare periods of food abundance ancient humans would take immediate advantage of this unanticipated abundance and gorge themselves. This immediate gratification had a purpose. It enabled them to build up significant stores of fat. During the more commonplace periods of food scarcity, humans were then able to survive by living off those stores of fat accumulated during the periods of food abundance.

This Instant Gratification trait, this desire to gorge ourselves during periods of abundance, is still with us today. However, food abundance has been replaced by financial abundance. During periods of financial abundance, humans are evolutionarily hardwired to gorge themselves financially, by spending their financial abundance immediately on more expensive homes, exotic sports cars, the latest in technology, etc.

The problem is, once you spend your money, it’s gone. When scarcity returns, you are forced to sell your stuff. If the stuff you purchased depreciated in value, you get pennies on the dollar.

One of my oldest and dearest friends explained to me his rule for financial success:

“same house, same wife, same car.”

There’s a lot of wisdom in these words. What they really mean is that no matter what good fortune visits you in life, do not change your standard of living. Don’t supersize your life by buying things you really do not need. Live a modest life and forge the Rich Habit of Delayed Gratification – putting off what you want today so that you can have something to fall back on in the future.

Nothing Grows on Ice

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Most people are not successful because they are frozen by their thinking.

According to a well-known Brown University study on habits by Dr. Pressman, we forge most of our habits, including thinking habits, by the age of nine. Thinking habits include our beliefs, attitudes and prejudices. Since we are primarily under the care of our parents as children, our parents are the font of many of the thinking habits we forge during our childhood. And these thinking habits stay with us into our adulthood. 

It’s impossible to become rich and successful without growth. You need to grow into the individual you need to be in order for success to visit you. When you are frozen by your thinking, growth is impossible. Your mind is closed to new ideas, new thinking and contrary beliefs. In order to grow and succeed, you must be open-minded and embrace new information – you must shake off old thoughts, old beliefs, old attitudes and old prejudices in order to grow as an individuals.

Most don’t. And most are not successful. Don’t be like most people. Be like the self-made millionaires in my study who embraced new thinking, new ideas and new beliefs. Do not allow yourself to be frozen by your thinking. It will prevent you from growing as an individual. Nothing ever grows on ice.

Habits Keep You Healthy or Make You Sick

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If you don’t give much thoughts to your habits, you should. You daily habits can cause or prevent various diseases and illnesses:

  • Mass General Hospital & Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health studied 130,000 patients and found that their daily habits can cause or prevent various types of cancer.
  • Robert Ziltzer, MD & US National Library of Medicine found that daily aerobic exercise flushes bacteria from lungs, excites the immune system to circulate throughout the body and slows the release of stress hormones (cortisol). Cortisol depresses the immune system, inviting disease and illness.
  • Harvard Health found that making optimism a thinking habit reduces blood pressure, decreases the incidence of heart disease and stimulates the production of T cells (immune cells) to ward off disease and illness.

Habits have a purpose. They exist for a reason. Your daily habits can prevent disease and illness and extend your life or they can open you up to all sorts of diseases and illnesses, reducing your life span.

 

Run For Success

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95% of the self-made millionaires in my Rich Habits Study exercised aerobically 30 minutes or more a day.

I found this statistic shocking. I was under the impression that the wealthy did not exercise due to their grueling work habits – no time to exercise due to their work schedules.

As it turns out, I was wrong. Successful people are fanatics when it comes to daily aerobic exercise. There are a number of studies out there that explain why aerobic exercise is critical to success.

Ottawa Hospital & University of Ottawa Study

In this study, Dr. Picketts, senior author of the study and Professor at Ottawa University, found that running improves brain function.

When you run, a nerve growth factor protein known as SNF2H is triggered. This protein increases the myelin sheath that insulates the axons of every brain cell. The thicker the myelin sheath, the stronger and faster the transmission of electrical impulses produced by the axon. Individuals with thicker myelin sheaths think faster, have stronger synapses (brain cell communication) and more intense transmission of electrical impulses down the axon branch.

Running, it turns out, makes your brain work faster and better.

NYU Langone Medical Center

Running, or any aerobic exercise, increases the production of Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF).

BDNF has been described as Miracle Gro for the brain. BDNF not only helps maintain the health of existing brain cells, it increases their size and it acts as fertilizer for the brain, increasing neurogenisis (birth of new brain cells) in the Dentate Gyrus. One hour a day of aerobic exercise also changes the type of fuel the brain uses to power itself.

Every cell uses either glucose or ketones as a source of fuel. Ketones are a type of fuel that comes from fat cells. Ketones, as a source of fuel, produce 20% more energy (ATP) than glucose.

My point in all of this is that if you want to increase your chances for success, you need to regularly exercise aerobically because aerobic exercise improves brain performance.

When you are pursuing a dream or big goals in life, you need to be at the top of your game.

  • You will be faced with many decisions. Having high performing brains allows you to make the best possible decisions.
  • You will have to think your way around many obstacles. Having high performing brains allows you to think your way around those obstacles.
  • You will make many mistakes, particularly in the beginning of the pursuit of a dream or big goal. Having high performing brains allows you to learn more from those mistakes, and helps you anticipate potential mistakes, so you can avoid them in the future.

Lucky Habits

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Successful people are lucky. They are lucky because they do certain little things every day to create the opportunity for luck to occur in their lives. The successful process good luck into their lives every day. How?

They forge specific, good daily habits that create the opportunity for luck to occur. What are those habits?

  • Build Powerful Relationships – The successful build relationships with others who can open the right doors for them. They do this via Happy Birthday Calls, Hello Calls, Life Event Calls, Mentoring Others and building Partnerships with other success-minded people.
  • Positive Thinking – The successful are open-minded, optimistic, enthusiastic about everything.
  • Daily Growth – The successful constantly grow their knowledge and perfect their skills. They do this by forging the daily habit of self-education reading and by daily practice.
  • Dream-Setting – The successful are dreamers who take action on their dreams.
  • Pursuit of Goals – The successful take action on their dreams by pursuing goals around those dreams every day.
  • Persistence – The successful never quit on their dreams and the goals behind their dreams. Through persistence, they eventually get lucky. That luck creates an avalanche of success.
  • Take Risks – The successful take risks others shy away from. They put everything on the line in order to realize a dream.
  • Healthy Living – The successful engage in daily exercise that keeps their brains and their bodies healthy. They eat healthy foods that feed their brain and their bodies.

If you want to succeed you must get lucky. But luck is not outside your control. You can create good luck. In order to create the opportunity for good luck to occur, you must forge daily habits that lay the foundation for luck to occur.

Dream Goals Should be Your #1 Priority Every Day

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What’s really important to you?

If you ask the average person that question they very likely will not have a well-thoughtout answer. That’s because 95% of the population is not pursuing a dream.

For those who are pursuing a dream, they know exactly what’s important to them. Their dream has given them a very clear vision. They can see their future.

When you are pursuing a dream, you know what your destination is on your life map. You can see it clearly.

Dreams make it much easier to create goals. These Dream Goals become your construction team. They enable you to build your ideal, future life.

But, in order to get to where you want to be – your ideal future life – you must focus on the most important Dream Goals first thing every day. You must do the most important thing immediately upon waking up.

Why is it important to tackle your Dream Goals first thing upon waking up?

Every day brings uncertainty. There is no way you can predict how your day is going to go. There are simply too many moving parts. Traffic jams could set you back 30 minutes. Unexpected appointments can clog your day. Emergencies can throw a wrench into your schedule.

When you attack the most important things in the morning – your Dream Goals – even if everything goes wrong with your day, you know you are still moving forward on your dreams.

What’s important to you, your Dream Goals, should never be put on the back burner. They need to be the first things you do at the start of every day. This virtually guarantees that you will continue to progress towards your dream life, no matter what life throws at you.

A Thousand Little Moves

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“Wealth is largely the result of habit.” – John Jacob Astor

It’s the little things in life that you do that lay the foundation for long-term success.

The media loves to promote stories of the needles in the haystack – individuals who become overnight successes. But for 99.9% of the successful people out there, success is not event-driven. It’s habit-driven.

Success, for the vast majority, is about doing the little things every day that help build momentum in your life. This momentum keeps you moving forward, growing in knowledge and skill.

When you forge daily habits that are all directed towards some lifelong dream or long-term goal, success is inevitable.

The successful do a thousand little things that make success possible. So, what are some of those thousand little things:

  • Saying NO often – Make a habit of saying NO to things which do not align with your dreams and goals.
  • Saying YES infrequently – Make a habit of saying YES only to those things which are directly tied to your dreams and goals.
  • Learn every day – Make a habit of learning something new every day. Growth comes from acquiring new knowledge and developing new skills.
  • Maintain every day – Make a habit of maintaining your knowledge and perfecting your skills every day.
  • Save money – Make a habit of saving money. Money gives you options. It empowers you. Opportunities can only be taken advantage of when you have the financial resources to take advantage of those opportunities.
  • Focus on the fundamentals – Make a habit of mastering the basics. Learn the fundamentals before you dive into anything. Ignoring the basics is how most lose money and fail in life.
  • Associate with like-minded individuals – Make a habit of surrounding yourself with individuals who feel, think and behave the way the ideal future you would feel, think and behave. Our environment, our social circle, influences how we feel, think and behave. Make sure you have the right people inside your social circle and eliminate from your social circle the wrong people.
  • Devote time to greatness – Make a habit of devoting blocks of time to your dreams and your goals. Isolate time every day to things that will help build a foundation for success and avoid doing things which take time away from those activities. To become truly great at anything you must dedicate time and energy to it.
  • Be patient – Make a habit of being patient. Great things take time to bloom. The best investments take time. Success takes time. Survive until you thrive. Do the things every day that will help move you forward and be patient. Those things will eventually begin paying dividends.