How to Get Rich: 7 Lessons I Learned Working with MillionairesJun 02, 2021
I was cleaning up the bookcase the other day and came across one of my favorite personal finance books- Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. It was a game changer for me, and I recommend giving it a read if you haven't already. The premise of the book is Robert recaps the lessons he learned from his friend’s father- who is a successful entrepreneur and contrasts this against the advice of his own father, who has a hard time seeing beyond the standards of higher education. It all got me thinking...
What lessons have I learned from the rich?
Over the last 10 years, through work, I’ve been lucky enough to spend many hours having conversations with a lot of rich people, primarily about their life and money. I started pondering about habits, careers, and mindsets that these rich people had in common. After some thought, here are the 7 lessons I can say I’ve personally learned.
- Do more than your day job.
- Get good help.
- Don’t hoard your cash.
- Be generous.
- Invest in yourself & be open minded.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff & stay positive.
Read below for all the details, real life examples, and actionable steps you can take on your path to financial wellness. Wondering about more strategies I learned from the rich? Let's chat!
1. Do more than your day job
This was prevalent in 100% of my millionaire clients. Let me say that again — 100%! Even those who had family money — I worked in the South after all — knew the importance of having more than one income stream. The rule of thumb says to have 7 income streams, but having at least 2 can put you leaps and bounds ahead.
In contrast, many of the not so rich clients I met were so obsessed with their day job- either how much they loved it or hated it- that they didn’t see room to do anything else. I get it, and I’ve definitely been there in my career. It’s easy to do. The truth is, as too many people found out in 2020- ultimately your company’s allegiance is not to you.
It might sound strange, but working on an alternate business or side hustle can benefit both you and your employer by giving you more stability and confidence. In fact, a recent study found that employees who had a ‘side hustle’ or another income stream were more productive, more creative and took more calculated risks. These employees also developed skills that their employers found desirable like communication, financial analysis and complex problem solving.
Although some of my millionaire clients were indeed serial entrepreneurs, many had a regular day job. A few real-world examples:
- A doctor who also created and sold a medical device
- A sales manager who had multiple rental homes
- An artist who leased out a commercial warehouse
The actionable step: If you don’t have more than one stream of income, start brainstorming today. Preferably look at something you like- it’ll help you get the most out of your time spent building up your side-business.
2. Get good help
No one knows everything, and the rich people realize this fast. The first part is actually seeking help from those who know more about something than you do. Don’t view getting help as weak. Often we hire professionals not just for our business- but for our health and wellbeing too. The rich hire reliable professionals to help them work smarter, and spend more time on what’s important. For example, although most of my clients were super smart folks, they came to me because they weren’t banking and finance experts and found value in paying for planning services than spending the time and energy going at it alone.
What do the less-successful do? They try to skimp and save their way to wealth. Again, I can understand. I’ve Youtube-d many a home improvement projects myself. Eek.
The second part of this lesson is to avoid going uber cheap. Now, I’m not saying look for a deal where you can — but value quality over price.
Do you know someone who has a $10 per month gym membership verses someone who spends $200 per month on personal training? How about someone who reads a bunch of self help books versus someone who regularly goes to a counselor? Or someone who did their complex taxes themselves versus someone who has a trusted accountant?
Think about the speed and accuracy of the results. Do you see a difference?
My rich clients had NO problems hiring realtors, interior designers, contractors, lawyers, fitness trainers, medical specialists, or accountants. Instead of wanting the cheapest, they looked for the best talent and recognized that you get what you pay for.
Not having the right team in place can cost you in both time and money.
The actionable step: Be honest with yourself and identify what skills you have and ones you don’t. If you’re great at doing house projects, but can’t make a budget — don’t hire a contractor and hire a money coach. If you know your taxes but get lost at the gym — hire the personal trainer. And when you make the decision to hire the person you need, don’t go low cost unless you’re truly looking for a low- quality result.
3. Don't hoard your cash
Yall, this is maybe my biggest financial pet peeve, but one that I’ve been guilty of in the past too.
I heard a great analogy once that money is like water — a flowing river is healthy and fresh with drinkable water. In contrast a puddle of stagnant water grows mold, smells and attracts bugs.
Rich people get it. They know they have to let go of that cash, invest it, for it to come back around in abundance — and they do exactly this with little to no fear. They work hard and they want their money to work hard too.
This concept might be the biggest difference from my well-to-do clients, who had money, had a nice home, were successful in work and my very wealthy clients- who were beyond millions. I met a lot of people who made money decisions from a place of fear. They held on too tight to sometimes hundreds of thousands in the bank. They were too scared to lose and too scared to realize that their cash was just a depreciating asset (typically 2% each year due to inflation). Their accounts were old and stagnant.
The actionable step: Stack away your emergency fund (anywhere from 3 months- 2 years expenses depending on your situation) in a readily available fund. Then find your money a job! Keep it moving and healthy, and watch your abundance grow as it comes back around to you.
Similar to our first ‘do,’ diversification has to do with what asset classes you hold as investments. So, don't keep ALL your money in real-estate, large cap stocks, bonds, or gold. Rich people recognize that all things won’t appreciate at the same time, and if they’ve been rich for awhile, they’ve lived through the demise of an asset class and recognize the need to hedge their investments — I mean, 2008 anyone?
The less experienced will see one good thing and put all their eggs in the basket.
The actionable step: Look at the long term. Just because an asset is outperforming today, doesn't mean it’ll out perform forever. Do what you can to learn about at least 3 different types of investments and start there.
5. Be generous
OK, I’ll be honest here. Not 100% of my clients were generous, there’s always some goobers out there. But most were the giving sort. And not just ‘throw some money at it’ generous — but generous with their time and energy. I had rich clients talk about their work with the local children’s hospital, developing programs that benefited the poor in different developing countries, and actually spending time doing work with non-profits in the area.
I get it, it’s easy for these folks to be generous, right? They HAVE money, which most likely gives them more TIME. Don’t be fooled. We all have the capacity for generosity. Maybe you only have 30 minutes or $5 to left to give — give it. I firmly believe what you give comes back to you 10 fold. Plus, it feels great- which can help boost your confidence to practice all these other lessons!
The actionable step: If you’re not used to giving, start small and say yes. The next time a kid comes knocking on your door for a donation for their sports team or the grocery store clerk asks for a food bank donation — say yes. Give $1, maybe $5 if you can. If you're ready for the next step, carve out some time to volunteer. Pick an organization that means a lot to you and start with just a half hour. See how it feels. If you really want to up your giving game- create an automatic payment to send to your favorite charity.
6. Invest in yourself & have an open mind
I remember a millionaire client I had who was an emergency room doctor. He also ended up being a business partner in group that purchased about 10 urgent care facilities, and during the transition, went back to school to get an MBA. He knew he had to expand his skill set if he was going to be successful in this next part of his career.
Now, I’m not saying that you have to go back to school to be successful, but don’t discount investing in learning something new or developing a new skill set. This can help develop your ability to create more income streams. The rich see the value in investing in themselves.
In addition, stay open minded. Read articles with opinions you both agree and disagree with. Many clients I worked with disagreed with my points of view — it’s OK! I loved talking out their opinions. It’s great to be open to another person’s point of view and it can help you see more opportunity in the world around you.
So, what do others do? They discount themselves. Investing in yourself first requires you to have enough self esteem and confidence to know you’re worth it. I’ve struggled with this myself, thinking ‘who am I to spend this money or time on me?’ or ‘is this really worth it?’ With this mindset, it’s easy to get set in your ways and close the door to any amazing opportunities that could be coming your way!
The actionable step: Don’t let a bad attitude or negative influences of others hold you back. If you're not ready to spend a lot of money investing in yourself, start small. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Read about something you don’t know. You can get books from the library OR buy low cost used books.
- Shadow or meet with someone who knows more than you. Many employers have mentorship programs, take advantage!
- Join a free or low-cost club or organization. This could be anything from public speaking, volunteering or gardening, what’s something you’ve been dying to learn more about?
- Take an online course. There are literally tons of low-cost course options on every topic under the sun.
7. Don’t sweat the small stuff & stay positive
Bad things. They happen. Emergencies come up, accidents happen and we make mistakes. The rich understand this is all part of life and it’s OK. I can’t tell you how many times I’d have millionaire clients come in with some sizable losses- $100,000 from having to pay out more than expected on a business deal, a construction project, an accident or a child’s education. The most common response to these inconveniences? Something along the lines of ‘Ah well, this situation stinks but it could be worse. I’ll make up the money somehow.’
I mean, sometimes I would be in awe — I would freak out if $100,000 left my account! My rich clients generally had a great attitude — even when something serious occured like an illness or death in their family — they knew it would pass and stayed positive and grateful for what they had. They also always realized their own ability to make money.
Money is abundant, everyone can have everything.
The attitude you hold is bound to come back to you. So, be mindful of how you react to that next parking ticket, convenience fee, or stock market dip. Reactions like blaming others, self pity, or having a ‘me against the world’ mentality only limit your abilities to build wealth.
The actionable step: Start paying attention to your attitude. Are you projecting attitudes of the rich? Doing any of the below for 30 days will get you started on that mindset shift:
- Start a gratitude list or journal. Write down at least 3 things everyday you're grateful for (no repeats!). Keep in a journal or on your phone and look back after 30 days.
- Set a reminder for 3 times a day to check in with your emotions and attitude. Examine how you’re feeling and see if you can challenge yourself to make a shift. For example, at 3pm your angry that your boss assigned you another project. Instead of being angry — see if you can shift to be grateful that you have a job and that your boss trusts you to do great work.
- Help out a friend in need this month. Getting out of our comfort zone to help out someone who needs it is a great way to gain perspective on our own problems and life trials.
All these lessons are things I’m still working towards today. I hope you're able to incorporate a few of these into your own life this year. I think it’s important to note that none of these lessons involved making a specific income or saving a certain percentage — instead, what these folks really had in common was their mindset.
For me, I find this comforting. I don’t have to have the highest paying job in the world, but I do have to develop discipline and trust in the world around me.