10 Lessons You Can Learn From the 10 Richest People in the World

BERLIN, GERMANY - JANUARY 29:  Microsoft founder Bill Gates speaks with German Development Minister Dirk Niebel (not pictured) to the media after talks at the Development Ministry on January 29, 2013 in Berlin, Germany.
Sean Gallup / Getty Images

If you take a look at the Forbes 400, which is a list of the richest people in the world, you’ll find that 70% of them self-made. It stands to reason that if the majority of the wealthiest people on the planet made their fortune through their own efforts, they know a thing or two about how to make lots of money.

For example, Jeff Bezos, the third-richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of $139.5 billion, is self-made and comes from a middle-class or upper-middle-class background. Sergey Brin, the eighth-richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of $97.8 billion, comes from a largely working-class background and rose from little to nothing.

A rise to extreme wealth through one’s own efforts is no easy feat. Here are 10 lessons you can learn from the 10 richest people in the world.

1. Don’t Obsess About Making Money

Currently the richest person in the world with a net worth of $211 billion, Bernard Arnault believes that if you do your job successfully, the money will follow. Arnault oversees the empire that includes brands such as Louis Vuitton, Sephora and Tiffany & Co.

‘Money is just a consequence,” he said. “I always say to my team: ‘Don’t worry too much about profitability. If you do your job well, the profitability will come.'”

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2.  Buy Stock in Companies You Believe in

When it comes to buying stock, all kinds of advice is available, such as buying stock from companies people love to hate to score a bargain. Elon Musk, who has a net worth of roughly $180 billion, takes an opposing position that’s known as value investing.

“Buy stock in several companies that make products and services that you believe in,” he tweeted. The idea behind value investing is that the stock trades for significantly less than its intrinsic value but has the potential to deliver attractive earnings over the long term.

3. Hold On to Your Money

Bezos, owner of the world’s largest online retailer Amazon, has some interesting advice that applies to the U.S. economy, which is teetering on the brink of a recession.

“If you’re an individual considering purchasing a big-screen TV, you might want to wait, hold onto your money, and see what transpires,” Bezos recommends. “The same is true with a new automobile, refrigerator or whatever else. Just remove some risk from the equation.”

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4. Don’t Panic When the Stock Market Declines

Even though you might feel like you should quickly sell a stock that’s performing poorly to avoid losing even more money, downturns don’t usually last. Plus, over the long term, staying invested can help you come out ahead.

CTO and founder of Oracle, Larry Ellison, who is the fourth-richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of $123 billion, said, “You can’t worry about it; you can’t panic when you look at the stock market’s decline, or you get frozen like a deer in the headlights. All you can do is all you can do.”

5. Invest in Your Education

It’s no secret that the more education you have, the higher your earning potential is. Bill Gates, with an estimated net worth of $112.9 billion, agrees.

When asked on Reddit, “What is your best personal financial advice for people earning less than $100,000 a year?” the founder of Microsoft answered, “Invest in your education.”

6. Make Saving a Priority

Warren Buffett, the sixth-richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of $111.6 billion, said, “Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving.”

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To make headway toward your financial goals, you have to make saving a priority and even pay yourself first, which means contributing to your savings before you pay bills or spend it otherwise. A good way to do this is to set up automatic transfers from your paycheck to your savings or retirement accounts.

7. Financial Success Doesn’t Happen Overnight

Unfortunately, unless you win the lottery or inherit a fortune, your path to wealth will be a marathon rather than a sprint. The key is to be patient, put in the work and be pleasantly surprised when the rewards start rolling in. 

Larry Page, co-founder and board member of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, didn’t let impatience interrupt his journey to riches. Page is the seventh-richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of $102.9 billion. He said, “If we were motivated by money, we would have sold the company a long time ago and ended up on a beach.”

8. Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness

If you think earning a lot of money will make you happy, don’t hold your breath. One of the richest people in the world says otherwise.

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Brin, co-founder and board member of Alphabet and the eighth-richest billionaire with a net worth of $97.8 billion, said, “You always hear the phrase, ‘money doesn’t buy you happiness.’ But I always, in the back of my mind, figured a lot of money will buy you a little bit of happiness. But it’s not really true.”

9. Optimism Breeds Success

If you have a negative attitude and poor expectations, you can’t expect to one day have the world by the tail. However, being optimistic and positive can help pave the way to financial success. 

Steve Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft with an estimated net worth of $97.2 billion, knows this lesson firsthand. “Our people, our shareholders, me, Bill Gates, we expect to change the world in every way, to succeed wildly at everything we touch, to have the broadest impact of any company in the world,” he said.

10. Investing Creates More Wealth

Using your money to make more money is a smart move, and the stock market has historically been a great way for people to create wealth over the long term.

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Carlos Slim Helu, who has an estimated net worth of $95.2 billion and partially controls Latin America’s biggest telecom firm, said, “Wealth should be created by investing to create more wealth. Income is the fruit of wealth. If you do not do that, you will not have more income.”

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