Am I a self-made millionaire?

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Recently I read an article that highlighted some habits that successful entrepreneurs, particularly self-made millionaires and billionaires, share. Consequently, the article got me thinking:

Am I a self-made millionaire?

What I mean, of course, is that do I share the same habits as some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs? After reading the initial article I googled a few others and compiled a list of just a few of the habits that wealthy businessman and women have in common, and compared my own habits to theirs. How do I rank? Am I self-made millionaire in the making? Let’s find out!

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1. READ, READ, READ

Some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, such as Warren Buffett (considered one of the most successful investors in the world), Elon Musk (CEO of Tesla and SpaceX), Bill Gates (Founder of Microsoft) and Oprah Winfrey (ranked the richest African-American in the 20th century) cite reading as one of the key pillars of their success. Warren Buffett continues to spend up to 80% of his day reading, Elon Musk claims he learned to build a rocket ship simply through books, Bill Gates reads up to 50 books a year and Oprah Winfrey started a book discussion club as part of her daytime talk show to highlight the importance of reading regardless of your socio-ecomonic background.

And as for me?

pile of books

Well, unfortunately I don’t read nearly as much as any of the aforementioned entrepreneurs. In fact, I still have quite a way to go if I want to be clocking in 50 books a year. My numbers are bleak.

In 2017, I read two non-academic books. That’s right: Two.

As a child, I was an avid reader and devoured Judy Bloom books as if they were made of chocolate. As a typical millennial, however, my attention span leaves much to be desired. I simply cannot focus my attention long enough to read a book. In addition, as the little devil sitting on my shoulder constantly bombards me with reminders of uncompleted tasks, I have managed to convince myself over the years that I simply don’t have time to read. That, of course, is just a bit fat lie. I have simply neglected it as a priority. Millionaire or not, reading is beneficial for everyone and reading two  books a year is simply not acceptable.

pile of books
Some of the books I’ve read so far in 2018, and others that are on my reading list.

At the beginning of this year I set myself a goal of reading 12 books in 2018. That’s one book per month, which I felt should be a fairly realistic goal. And that would mean a 600% increase from last year. The books could be short or long, fiction or non-fiction and belong to any genre that I found interesting.

As of April 2018, I have read three books:
Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. Freakonomics is a collection of so-called “economic articles with a non-economic twist”. The book discusses many economic and social situations, relationships between cause and effect, as well as different incentives that drive people to make the decisions they do in life. Chapters include titles such as “What do school teachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?” and “Why do drug dealers still live with their moms?“. Freaknomics was originally published in 2005, so this one has been on my reading list for quite a while! It was an interesting read, and although ten years have passed since its publishing, many of the topics discussed in the book remain current.

Red dog by Louis de Bernières. Red dog is a novel that tells the story of a red cloud kelpie named “Red Dog” in Karratha, Western Australia (2002). This book was a quick read and a feel-good story told in Aussie lingo.

–  The Crum by Patrick Greg. The Crum tells the story of Crumlin Road Prison in Belfast, Northern Ireland, its history and role as a prison during the Troubles, all through the eyes of former prison warden Patrick Greg, who joined the Prison Service at Crumlin Road Prison at 22. I bought the book as a souvenir from a trip I made to Belfast and Crumlin Road Prison (now a museum) a few years ago, so it was very interesting to read this book as I could easily image the different hallways and cells the author talks about. This book also sparked further interest in the Troubles so I might pick up another book on the topic in the near future.

Currently I’m reading a book called The amazing story of the man who cycled from India to Europe for love by Per J. Andersson. Yep, that’s quite a title. I actually got this book from one of those “Books for free” baskets, and thought I’d give it a read. It tells the true story of PK, a young man who grew up in a remote village outside of New Delhi and the challenges and hardships he had to overcome as an untouchable in India. Eventually, PK became a street artist and one day met a young European woman who asked him to paint her portrait. And as the blurb says, that was “an encounter that would change both of their lives forever”. I decided to start reading this book kind of on a whim, so we’ll see how the story develops.

pile of books

Habit #1: Getting there.

2. SEIZE THE DAY AND GET UP EARLY

Apple CEO Tim Cook is known to start his day at 3.45 a.m., lawyer, philanthropist and former First Lady Michelle Obama opens her curtains at 4 a.m. and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson’s alarm goes off at 5 a.m. Successful entrepreneurs get up early for different reasons. Some like to get a head start on work emails while others appreciate the morning peace and tranquility for meditating and planning out the day.

So, am I an early riser? Yes and no.

Theoretically, I do  enjoy waking up before the rest of the world. There’s nothing worse than snoozing your alarm ten times and running out the door with toast crumbs stuck to the side of your mouth. It really does set a poor tone for the rest of the day. In practice though, getting up early is quite the challenge for me.

Spain, in general, is not a country for early risers. The city I live in doesn’t really get going until 8-9 a.m. and going out for a morning run at half past six is pretty much a completely ludicrous idea. In addition, I often don’t get home from work until 9.30 p.m. and after having dinner and some down time, my head rarely hits my pillow before 11 p.m.

I’m also not at all a morning person. Even when I get sufficient sleep, I’m groggy and slow. I find it difficult to be productive immediately after waking up. Afternoons and evenings are my peak time. For me, getting up at 4 a.m. feels like getting up in the middle of the night. Currently I get up around 7 a.m., and at least for the time being I’m quite content with that.

Habit #2: Still in the works.

3. A CREATIVE MIND LIVES IN A HEALTHY BODY

On top of working around 100 hours a week, Elon Musk still manages to find time to work out once or twice a week. Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) gets her exercise in right after waking up (at 6 a.m.) in her home gym. Arianna Huffington’s (Co-founder of the Huffington Post) morning routine includes 30 minutes of cardio followed by yoga and streching.

So, how do I compare?

tennis shoes dumbbells

My exercise routine is rather sporadic, to say the least. I go through months of exercising regularly 3-4 times a week and then months when I do nothing. I really do enjoy doing exercise though, especially anything that can be done outside. I’ve noticed that I am very goal-oriented exerciser. I enjoy having clear training plans and setting my achievements a few months out. As I’m also slightly stubborn by nature, I stick to my training plans, rain or shine. So what’s the problem, then?

It seems as though I struggle to set new goals immediately after achieving old ones. So the solution seems simple: Set various short, medium and long-term goals. Don’t wait to complete one program before setting goals for the next one. How about simultaneously signing up for a 5K, 10K and half marathon, adequately spread out throughout the year? Sound like a plan!

dumbells tennis shoes

Habit #3: Needs a bit of fine-tuning.

4. SAVE AND INVEST

Particularly self-made millionaires are often known for being keen investors, investing an average of 20% of their income. Most eager investors agree that it really doesn’t matter how you invest, the key is simply to invest and not hide your euros and dollars in your back pocket or under your mattress. Whether you decide to invest in stocks, bonds, funds, futures, real estate or anything else that tickles your fancy, the only real decision of importance is simply to get started.

So, do I invest like a millionaire?

The short answer: Not right now.

The longer answer: Not right now but I will soon.

notes
Some notes from an investing seminar I attended recently.

Job markets are bleak for millennials, particularly when living in a country with astonishingly high unemployment rates. Finding a steady job is a challenge, retiring is a challenge and having a pension large enough to sustain post-retirement life seems like the largest challenge of all. With the way the world is churning, who knows what society will be like when it’s my time to put my feet up and look back on a lifetime of contributing to the work force. I’d better be prepared.

Hence, the need for a Plan B, which in my case looks like securing long-term passive income mainly through investing. I’ve been doing a lot of research lately (Rule #1 in investing of any kind: Do your research!) and will be shortly taking the plunge and making my first purchases as an investor. How exciting!

Habit #4: Check! (Kinda?)

5. BE PERSISTENT AND PURSUE YOUR GOALS RELENTLESSLY

If there’s one thing that particularly self-made millionaires know, it’s that success rarely comes overnight. Persistence, patience and success often go hand in hand. While writing Harry Potter in 1993, J.K. Rowling’s marriage ended in divorce leaving her spouseless, jobless, penniless and with a dependent child. Even after completing the book, Harry Potter was rejected by every major publisher. But Rowling persisted and went on to sell more than 400 million copies of the Harry Potter series.

Not to mention Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years behind bars…

Failure is, of course, inevitable when chasing success. Mistakes as well as blatant rejection are simply part of the process. The key, however, seems to be not in trying to avoid failure but rather in how one chooses to deal with it.

In his book “The 8 Traits Successful People Have in Common”, author Richard St. John says: “Failure can be heartbreaking, and when it happens you have a choice. You can let it be your school or your funeral.” We should all aim to learn from our mistakes. Sometimes the failure is worth the takeaway itself.

So, do I embrace my failures?

I’m happy to say that I do. It wasn’t always this way but quite ironically the very failures and mishaps I have encountered in my life have taught me to embrace them, to learn from them and make note to not repeat the same failures twice. I try to keep the  mentality that we are all human and strive to make the best decisions we can with the information we have at any given time. You win some and you lose some, but regardless of the outcome we should aim to make note of what we did to reach that result – be it success or failure. If you succeed, do the same thing again. If you fail, try something else.

Habit #5: DONE.

What do you think of these habits? Do you share any of them? Are you a self-made millionaire? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section!

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