Most people aim to be the most successful they can be. It is important to remember that success means something different to everyone and comes in many forms. And yet, it does often appear that, especially in the world’s more ‘cosmopolitan’ cities, a person’s level of perceived success is tied to his or her money-making ability. In the world of celebrity and stardom, money seems to run on tap – we are constantly bombarded with images of lavish clothing, enormous mansions, jewels, cars, you name it. Even the recent hit Wolf Of Wall Street – though it certainly raised concerns over the links between money and morality – celebrates excess in its own right. Indeed, we enjoy witnessing the ease that seems to come along with having wealth, often ignoring its more negative implications. And, overall, regardless of how rich you are, there is merit to understanding how to make a living and to ensure a comfortable life, especially in times of recession and stagnation in the market. It’s no wonder, then, that so many of today’s bestsellers on Amazon and Barnes and Noble are ‘personal finance’ books about budgeting and money management.
As with all worthwhile advances, it takes work to become self-sufficient and to flourish in the modern professional world. Taking the advice of anyone who has worked their way up the totem poll and understands the reality of managing money is far more effective than trying to learn how the world works through movies or TV. The following advice discusses how to be financially successful, but can be applied to anyone’s life goals without the prerequisite of a big budget. The following are five interesting pieces of advice from 5 hugely successful people, deemed “Wealth Wizards” by Forbes, that are both helpful and surprising.
5. Dan Ariely on saving money
Dan Ariely is one of the most important economists on the planet who has no formal training in economics. This American-born Israeli wealth wizard received a degree in psychology and uses these skills to study how people can behave irrationally. This insight yielded his 2008 book “Predictably Irrational.” In this acclaimed bestseller Ariely explains that the key to gaining wealth is “saving and saving early.” This is because, he states, saving is a long-term behavior, and there are almost no behaviors in which we fully take the future into account: for example “smoking, overeating, unprotected sex.” Ariely suggests we seriously audit our spending and keep track of how fulfilled that spending is actually making us. His last piece of advice “the other approach is…if you can’t save money…be really nice to your kids.” Ariely also gave an excellent TED talk which reveals more of his beliefs about investment and human nature:
4. Julian Robertson on hedge funds, baseball, and finding the underdog
Julian Robertson, 80, is the billionaire founder of the hugely successful hedge fund Tiger Management. After closing his Tiger fund in 2000, Robertson now serves an as active philanthropist and participates in many university and organization boards. In August 2010 it was announced that Robertson had joined an altruistic initiative formed by Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffett, in which wealthy participants pledge at least half of their assets to charity.
In his advice to all ambitious people, Robertson contrasts baseball and hedge funds to illustrate his financial beliefs. He explains: “In baseball you can hit 40 home runs on a single-A-league team and never get paid a thing. But in a hedge fund you get paid on your batting average. So you go to the worst league you can find, where there’s the least competition.” This principle has led Robertson throughout his career, and he has found some of his greatest successes through “buying into forgotten markets.” He has also stressed the importance of understanding data; he stated that accounting was the class in school that helped him most in his professional life.
3. Barry Sternlicht on outliers
Barry Sternlicht is a wildly successful real estate mogul who began to build his hotel empire in the 1990s. He earned a liberal arts degree from Brown University and an M.B.A from Harvard. Sternlicht’s Starwood Property Trust REIT bought one of the biggest managers of distressed commercial real estate, LNR Property LLC, for a cool $1 billion in January. His advice is to “study outliers, rather than eliminate them…You can learn everything that there is to know about the industry… from the company that is performing better or worse.”
2. Robert Shiller on the fallacy of the American dream
Robert Shiller is an economist who is currently a Sterling Professor at Yale University and a fellow at the Yale School of Management’s International Center for Finance. He is best known for co-inventing the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, which states that the American dream of building wealth through homeownership is a grave misconception. Shiller advises his students to focus on finance rather than astronomy, sociology or mathematics, subjects he says have “no jobs in them.” He also stresses that to be wealthy is to hold responsibility, and makes all of his students read Andrew Carnegie’s 1889 essay, “The Gospel of Wealth,” which instructs wealthy individuals to distribute their money more evenly through philanthropic acts.
1. Ramit Sethi on how to force yourself to go to the gym
Ramit Sethi is a personal finance guru, blogger and bestselling author of the book “I Will Teach You To Be Rich” (2009). He graduated from Stanford University with a focus in Science, Technology, and Society, and a minor in Psychology. Along with his book, Sethi oversees a number of blogs dedicated to his “get rich” principles. His basic proposition is that money is not about willpower, since willpower is a “depleting resource.” Thus, he thinks, we should set up systems to automate behaviors we want to happen. For example, Sethi found that if he put his gym clothes and shoes next to his bed it encouraged him to work out and his gym attendance increased. Overall he reminds his readers, “if you want to get rich, don’t focus on the minutiae.”