Were billionaires like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Warren Buffet just born lucky — or were they made to succeed? Aside from the size of their bank accounts, billionaires possess a unique series of traits that most people don’t exhibit. Maybe some attributes they were born with, but most of these traits don’t come naturally; they are skills that these billionaires honed and habits that they nurtured on their road to riches.
Here are 21 traits of billionaires that propelled them from ordinary beginnings to extraordinary success. Because these traits aren’t inherent, anyone can work on acquiring these attributes and applying them in their lives to see greater success and wealth. Start developing some of them on your own and you might be well on your way to striking it rich.
1. Grateful — Oprah Winfrey
The former queen of daytime television doesn’t let her $3 billion net worth get to her head. Despite her abundant success, her constant gratitude is truly humbling. Her legions of fans are inspired by her words of wisdom like, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
2. Patient — Warren Buffet
Warren Buffet, the second richest man in American, built his $67 billion net worth by simply taking his time. Not a fan of trendy stocks or knee-jerk reactions to market fluctuations, Buffet has a “set it and forget it” investing philosophy, saying, “It’s pretty easy to get well-to-do slowly. But it’s not easy to get rich quick.”
3. Humble — Bill Gates
Bill Gates and his wife Melinda have devoted the better part of their fortune to improving the lives of the world’s poorest people. But despite his donations that that already total in the tens of billions of dollars, Gates recognizes that others are making contributions that he says are more meaningful than his. “I’m not giving up food, or vacation, or a trip to the movies,” to give charitably, Bill Gates said in a video interview for Reddit. “I essentially sacrifice nothing that I want, and there are people who are out in the field and they are giving more.”
4. Inquisitive — Larry Ellison
Larry Ellison, college dropout and billionaire founder of Oracle Corporation, the second-largest software company in the world, says his inquisitive nature is responsible for his success. “The most important aspect of my personality, as far as determining my success goes, has been my questioning conventional wisdom, doubting experts and questioning authority,” Ellison said. “While that can be painful in your relationships with your parents and teachers, it’s enormously useful in life.”
5. Brave — Michael Bloomberg
In 1982, at the age of 39, Michael Bloomberg was fired from the only full-time job he’d had. He took a big risk and started his own company based on an unproved idea – making financial information available to people right on their desktops. This was before people really had desktops and almost everyone thought he would fail. He says, “Life is too short to spend your time avoiding failure.”
6. Persistent — Mark Zuckerberg
What drove Mark Zuckerberg to success was his relentless and early development of Facebook. The Winklevoss twins, founders of ConnectU, one of the first college-based social networking sites, were completely thrown off when Zuckerberg launched Facebook. Zuckerberg built a superior product, added more colleges and built an empire that threatened even the social media giant of that time, MySpace. Facebook continues to reign and push boundaries in the social media space by collecting sensitive data on users, constantly changing algorithms, and offering paid advertising products, but it’s this kind of persistence that has earned Mark Zuckerberg a net worth of $33 billion, reports Forbes.
7. Tenacious — Sheldon Adelson
Sheldon Adelson, the CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, was listed by Forbes as the sixth-richest person in the U.S. with a fortune of $30 billion. He started his business career at the age of 12, but by his 30s he had already built and lost a fortune twice. Despite his losses, his tenacity never wore thin and since the opening of Sands Macao in China, Adelson’s personal wealth has multiplied by more than 14 times, according to The New Yorker.
8. Innovative — Sergey Brin
Sergey Brin wasn’t after the money when he co-founded Google — he was simply a hacker who wanted to build the best search technology in the world. And that he did. He and his partner Larry Page maxed out their credit cards to buy servers and computer parts and by the late 1990s Google dominated the search engine market. Thanks to the success of Google AdWords, he finally figured out how to get paid from all that traffic and racked up a net worth of $29 billion, reports Forbes, but innovation was always the forefront of his motivation to succeed.
9. Passionate — Donald Trump
Billionaires do not find success on their own; they use their passion to inspire and energize others and drive forward. “Without passion, you don’t have energy; without energy, you have nothing,” said Donald Trump, who has called business his greatest passion. “Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.”
10. Courageous — Jeff Bezos
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says his willingness to fail makes him a successful innovator, which is a brave admission from the founder of one of the world’s most forward-thinking companies. Bezos says, “I cannot overstate how important incremental innovation is. But for the big innovation, you have to be willing to fail.”
11. Curious — George Soros
Billionaire investor George Soros is often compared to Warren Buffet, but they are wildly different in many respects. Soros is more emotionally tied to his business and allows his natural curiosity to influence his decisions. Soros has a love of philosophy and views investing as a means for testing his theories. He is also constantly on the lookout for flaws in his theories and is open to ideas from others. This kind of curiosity made him the 26th richest person in the world with a net worth of $24 billion, according to Forbes.
12. Competitive — Carl Icahn
Carl Ichan, a billionaire investor, exhibited his competitive nature early on in life. “When I was applying to colleges, my teachers told me, ‘Don’t bother with the Ivy League, they don’t take kids from this area,’” said Icahn. “I took the boards anyway and got into all of them. I chose Princeton.” Ignoring the naysayers and beating the odds helped him build a net worth estimated at $25 billion by Forbes.
13. Detail-oriented — Steve Ballmer
According to one former Microsoft co-worker, Steve Ballmer “is a master of precision questioning to analyze and get to the root issues of any problem whether it is business or technology related.” This kind of detail-oriented critical thinking and problem solving helped Ballmer break down flawed conclusions and build one of the greatest software companies in the world.
14. Determined – Phil Knight
Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike, started with a niche product and then brought it mainstream by being one of the first entrepreneurs to source a product from Asia, reports Inc. With an initial investment of just $1,000, Knight sold his shoes from the back of a station wagon to local runners and eventually grew the company into a worldwide leader with $27.8 billion in revenue in 2014.
15. Confident — Michael Dell
Michael Dell is just one of many rags-to-riches entrepreneurs to come out of the early 1990s computer and dot-com boom. Dell was actually enrolled as a pre-med student at the University of Texas in 1983, but computers were his true passion. He started selling computers from his dorm room and eventually dropped out to start Dell Computer Corporation. Dell become the youngest-ever CEO of a Fortune 500 company in 1992, and he still sits front and center at the company. He says, “You don’t have to be a genius or a visionary or even a college graduate to be successful. You just need a framework and a dream.”
16. Visionary — Charlie Ergen
Charlie Ergen, the former President and CEO of Dish Network and EchoStar Communications Corporation, is a pioneer in satellite broadcasting. Ergen, his wife and Ergen’s business partner started EchoSphere in 1980, when satellite television was anything but mainstream. They started selling satellite dishes out of the back of a truck and by 1993 the company was incorporated and was netting millions each year. DISH followed a few years later and after many successful acquisitions, Ergen now has an estimated net worth of $19.3 billion, according to Forbes.
17. Intuitive – Larry Page
Larry Page didn’t know if there were any practical applications to his work when he co-founded Google, he just knew he was onto something. It’s a good thing he listened to his gut because Google is now the top search engine on the planet and today Larry Page has a net worth of $29 billion, according to Forbes.
18. Strategic — Charles and David Koch
Love them or hate them, the Koch family has made some very prudent and strategic moves that have allowed them to build a combined net worth of $89 billion, reports Forbes. They are strategic in every decision they make, including hiring. “A lot of companies — and we’ve been guilty of this in the past — want to hire the smartest person, the most talented person,” Charles Koch said. “Well, the worst thing we can do, as we found, is hire a very talented person with poor values. If we are going to hire somebody with poor values, we want somebody who’s not very smart, because he or she will do less damage.”
19. Creative — Jan Koum
The WhatsApp owner is a self-made billionaire with a net worth of $7.1 billion, reports Forbes. He dropped out of San Jose State University to start a new, innovative app that disrupted the mobile messaging industry. WhatsApp has over 500 million active monthly users and was sold to Facebook last February for $19 billion.
20. Fearless — Richard Branson
Richard Branson didn’t become a billionaire by playing it safe. The founder of the Virgin Group, which is made up of over 400 companies, believes you’ve got to get out of your comfort zone and take risks if you want to achieve greatness. He says, “You don’t learn to walk by following the rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.”
21. Charming — Mark Cuban
You’ve got to be a people person if you want to build an empire. Mark Cuban, one of the world’s richest people with a net worth estimated by Forbes to be $2.7 billion, knows the importance of winning hearts and minds. “People hate dealing with people who are jerks,” Cuban said. “It’s always easier to be nice than to be a jerk. Don’t be a jerk.” You got it, Mark.