Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires

Why the rich keep getting richer.

One man handing a stack of money to another man.
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Richard Branson has said that for people to climb to the top, they have to set seemingly unachievable goals for themselves and rise above them. Is he right?

They all seem to do that. They set these huge goals; they want the yachts, they want the vacation homes. One guy told me he was going to take a $400 million company he and his partners were acquiring and sell it for $4 billion. He said they figured on paper they could sell it for $1 billion, but they wanted to sell it for $4 billion because they wanted to stretch themselves.

Guys like Branson set these outrageous goals and they achieve it, so they do it again. Before they make their first $1 million, they may not believe they can make it. But once they overcome that hurdle, it seems to get easier. They get that one big success, which everyone told them they couldn't do, and then they replicate it. They take these nonlinear leaps of success, where they go from $1 million to $10 million to $30 million, and the catalyst is their belief that it's possible. I don't think it's their competence, because a lot of people are competent, but they're confident in themselves.

At some point, they stopped listening to anyone but themselves. They learned to trust themselves so much because of their success.

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Why is it your belief that more self-made millionaires will emerge in the next five years than in any other time in history?

There all these new problems with the economic crash, all this uncertainty. Corporate America right now is sitting on $2.5 trillion in cash. The whole economy is only $15 trillion. All of this wealth is out there, but a lot of giant corporations are lost. They're dealing with all these new problems: the economic climate, they don't know where to put their money, there's too much government regulation, and they need people to help them figure it out. So there's room for new people to emerge to help solve those problems.

What's the most important lesson the middle class should take away from the rich?

I would say that having money and making money and being wealthy is a positive thing—there's nothing negative about it. They need to ignore all of these messages and this brainwashing that goes on, like people telling them the love of money is the root of all evil. I think the challenge for the average person is to have a positive outlook on being wealthy.