Three Things The Successful Do Differently

Rich Habits

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#1 Become an Industry Expert

One of the individuals in my study (Tom) started his career in the Pharmaceutical industry working in the equivalent of their mail room. He very much desired to rise up the ladder so he decided to join a Pharmaceutical trade group. He immersed himself in the trade group by signing up for various committees. For years he worked hard on the trade group, on his own time, learning more and more about the industry.

Tom told me that one day the trade group had a big lunch event in which only the top industry executives were invited. The CEO of Tom’s company was at the lunch event.  Another CEO, from another Pharmaceutical company, who was active in the trade group, was sitting at the table next to Tom’s CEO. The competitor CEO told Tom’s CEO how lucky he was to have Tom on his management team. The competitor CEO praised Tom’s hard work ethic and dedication to the trade group.

When Tom’s CEO got back to the office he asked his secretary who this Tom was.

She did some digging around and found out that Tom worked in the mail room. The CEO said “not any more”. Tom was called up to the CEO’s office and was promoted to the management trainee program they had. Tom was in my study because he had risen to the #2 spot at that Pharmaceutical company and got rich in the process.

Andrew Carnegie, a poor Scottish immigrant, was at one time the richest man in the world.  Carnegie worked as a messenger for a local telegraph company. He taught himself, on his own time, how to use the telegraph equipment. One day there was a railroad accident and a one of the railroad managers came running into the telegraph office to relay a message to his higher ups. There were no telegraph operators in the telegraph office, only Carnegie. Although Carnegie was not a telegraph messenger, he told the railroad manager he could relay the message. Carnegie was eventually hired by that railroad company, Pennsylvania Railroad, which kick started his success.

#2 Be a Success Mentor to Others

One of the individuals in my study headed the commodity’s trading desk at a prestigious bank in NYC. He was a devoted mentor to many of those who had worked for him, many of whom had moved on to bigger and better jobs/positions. Shortly after the 2008 crash, he and most of his department were downsized. He called me to tell me the news. I was surprised because he did not seem upset or worried. He told me he wasn’t worried. He was going to take a few weeks off and then make some phone calls. He was very confident that he would find another job somewhere.

About a month later he called me to tell me he was going back to work. He said he had called one of the many employees he had mentored. This former employee was running the commodities trading desk at another bank. He didn’t even have to interview for the job. He was hired over the phone by his former employee, who told him he owed his success to his mentoring.

Jamie Dimon is one of the most successful, respected bankers in the world. Dimon was mentored by the legendary broker/banker Sandy Weill. The Weill-Dimon team was legendary for how intensely they worked together and how many mega-deals they collaborated on. It was a far cry from the typical employer/employee pairing. In 1983, Weill, then at American Express, hired a young, eager Dimon (whose stockbroker father had worked for Weill) when he was just 26 and fresh out of Harvard Business School.

Weill left American Express two years later, and Dimon followed his mentor. The two of them worked side-by-side for many months, studying potential opportunities. Eventually, they found one they liked called Commercial Credit, a struggling lender in Baltimore, The duo took it Commercial Credit public, using it as a base with which to build their empire. What followed was a string of mergers culminating in the1998 merger of Weill’s and Dimon’s companies, with financial powerhouse, Citibank.

Dimon benefited enormously from this much older and very wise mentor, eventually becoming the CEO of JP Morgan, one of the most powerful financial institutions in the world. When you find a career mentor in life, it puts you on the fast track of success.

#3 Take Calculated Risks

Elon Musk is perhaps the best modern day example of someone who was willing to take enormous calculated risk, putting everything he had on the line. At the end of 2008, Musk and SpaceX were running out of money. His Falcon 1 rocket had failed to reach orbit for the third time in early August, 2008. He had gone through most of his $223 million from his PayPal windfall, plus he had gone through most of the hundreds of millions venture capitalists and the government had invested in SpaceX. Everything hinged on that fourth flight in September, 28 2008. If it failed, it was over.

Only it didn’t fail.

The first privately built rocket made orbit. Musk was able to cobble together enough money to get them through the end of 2008. On December 28, 2008 NASA awarded SpaceX with a $1.6 billion contract. Today, Musk is estimated to be worth $10 billion.

Tom Corley is an accountant, financial planner and author of “Rich Kids: How to Raise Our Children to Be Happy and Successful in Life”, Effort-Less Wealth, Change Your Habits Change Your Life, Rich Habits Poor Habits and “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals.”