To celebrate World Entrepreneurs’ Day, we spoke with Rafael Badziag, Founder at Billionaires for Good and Founder, CEO, and Author at TheBillionDollarSecret.com. Rafael is an expert on billionaires and entrepreneur psychology on a billionaire level. Recently, he travelled across the globe to interview 21 billionaires for his book, The Billion Dollar Secret. Among those billionaires, five had previously been awarded with the World Entrepreneur of the Year title.
Rafael has joined us to share his thoughts on the billionaire mindset and what can be learned from their journey to financial success.
Across the billionaires you have spoken with, what have you found that has kept them driven and motivated in their path to billionaire status?
Motivation is the main difference between the billionaires and millionaires. If you do it for money, to live in luxury, you will lose your motivation as soon as you have reached that level, and you stay a millionaire, or even lose it all, when your business suffers. But if you are motivated by competition, by winning, when the business game itself excites you, then you will keep on growing your company, and only then do you have a chance to reach billions.
I asked Petter Stordalen, known as the Hotel King in Scandinavia, about wealth building
advice. His answer: “Billionaires don’t do it for the money. It’s not the money that drives them, but the fun of the game. It is about never settling, never getting comfortable, never longing for retirement. If you just try to get rich, you’ll never get there. If you find and do
what you love, you might stand a chance. If you are prepared to work very hard
Do you think money can be a motivation? The game, the competition. That’s the thing. And that’s why I say, if you start with a calculator in your hand, you will go nowhere.”
Of course, everyone will be wanting to know how they did it! What are the common themes you have found across each billionaire’s story, particularly those who have done so from scratch?
All billionaires think differently as part of their DNA. They think independently, challenge the status quo, and refuse to accept old truths. Billionaires look for their own truths outside the mainstream. Billionaires never let the opinion of others decide their actions or self-worth.
Every billionaire started with an inspiring vision. Your vision should inspire you and others. If it inspires you, it will then drive you throughout your career and help you endure through difficulties and setbacks. If it inspires others, it will help you win them for your causes and
remove obstacles in your way.
Michał Sołowow, like every billionaire, prefers planning over dreaming: “On the lower level, I don’t have dreams, I have plans. I have plans of various kinds, which relate to the companies, things we do. I have all sorts of plans that are not surprising or above average, which are rather being realised. I mean, they are in the domain of plans.”
Most billionaires, like Jack Cowin, plan daily: “I have a day timer, a calendar which dictates where you are, what you’re doing for the year, and then you kind of reflect back. I do daily planning as to what I’m going to do today, and on top of that, probably three or four bigger goals of things that I want to do.”
For entrepreneurs just getting started, what kind of mindset should they adopt?
As you get to know billionaires, beyond what you would normally read about such people in Forbes or Fortune magazine, you discover that they are basically just the same as you and me, but what sets them apart is that they have mastered the art of self-belief, and they came to realise that the only limitations any of us have are the ones we place upon ourselves. As you read their stories and come to understand their billionaire mindsets, you’ll see that when these psychological limitations are removed, the potential to achieve anything you desire is truly limitless.
Achieving billionaire status will undoubtedly come with challenges. What kind of roadblocks are met and how have those who have been successful handled them?
To achieve big things you often have to take a leap of faith. You should try to do things far beyond your comfort zone. Billionaires take on outrageous challenges or even try to go for the seemingly impossible. Billionaires generally consider themselves limitless, sometimes even fearless. They never stop risking.
It’s easy to say “Be Bold,” but how do you develop courage?
1. You need to accept that you may fail. You actually must fail and fail many times before you become a success.
2. Realise that you are a tiny, unimportant speck of dust and your life is very limited. So why worry?
3. Realise that risk in business comes from your ignorance. It’s the fear of the unknown. Your experience will help you get rid of it.
4. The more risks you take, the better you can handle it. Stay foolish!
5. Have some sort of a safety net. Have your back protected and something to fall back on. It will help you to spread your wings, worry less, and be bold.
What impact has digital growth had on entrepreneurs?
This might be best answered by billionaire Kim Beom-Su: “The future is something that the history of humanity has never lived before. You need to be prepared to move on from your previous world and space to a new world in the future. You must prepare to move on because just settling in the present could become a very dangerous decision.
There were transitional, revolution periods before, but with the emergence of the fourth industrial revolution, an unpredictable and uncertain future is fast approaching, and we need to get people ready to adapt, find jobs, survive it in a safe manner, but I think we are weak at that, so I’m looking for a way to help people do that.
The digital and virtual world is becoming more and more important, and in reality, it’s becoming more important and more influential than a minister. In addition to that, another completely different world, the world of artificial intelligence and robotics, is opening up, and we need to seriously think about this, more deeply and more diversely.
There’s going to be a whole new future and a whole new world that we are not prepared for, and I believe that there’s not enough serious and important discussions going on, on how to prepare for that future, and I see a lot of people are very unprepared.
Someone who is able to securely and adventurously go with this world will adapt well, but those who can’t will experience an even bigger gap; whether it be gap in income or gap in living standards, it has the possibility to become extreme. These people have never seen this world, learned about this world, heard about this world…perhaps they’ve heard about it…but if they don’t adapt to it, they will face existential challenges.”
From all that you have learned from your meetings with such high earners, what would you advise to an entrepreneur who would like to achieve similar success?
The Billion Dollar Secret explains what distinguishes the billionaire thought process from everyone else’s and answers these questions: Why do some successful people who become millionaires remain at this level, whereas others become billionaires and change the world? What makes the latter achieve so much more?
A common denominator for all the billionaires is that they are passionate about business itself. They consider it to be great fun. If there is something like a natural-born businessman, it is Peter Hargreaves: “I love it. Do you know, I have no other great passion outside this business. I do a bit of fishing, I do a bit of golf—I’m crap at golf. I keep fit, I go to the gym. I love travel. But I’m passionate about the business. Completely passionate about it. It’s my life’s work. Of course, you’re more passionate because it’s so damn successful.”
Is there a method to find out what you want to do in business? Chip Wilson says, yes. It’s called the Hedgehog Principle. “You draw three overlapping circles. In the first one, you put all the things you are passionate about. In the second one, all the things you are or can be very good at, if possible the best in the world. And in the third one, all the things that can be profitable. In the intersection of these three circles, you will find the things that in your case are viable for a sustainable business venture. Choose one as the one you want to do and go for it!”
About the author
Rafael Badziag is a German-based global entrepreneur, top TED speaker, best-selling author and angel investor. He is a valued expert in the psychology of entrepreneurship, specialising in self-made billionaires and was featured on NBC, ABC, BBC, CBS, and FOX networks, as well as in USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and other media in several countries. Rafael is the author of The Billion Dollar Secret, distilling the mindset of 21 self-made billionaires into 20 mental principles for entrepreneurs.