Rich people don’t have a ‘lottery mindset,’ says CEO—Here’re 3 things millionaires do differently

I’ve always been interested in how the world’s wealthiest people handle money because everyone approaches it differently.As a CEO and host of the podcast “We Study Billionaires,” I’ve interviewed 25 billionaires and more than 100 self-made millionaires, including prominent investors like Howard Marks and Cathie Woods.

What have I learned from them? For starters, rich people don’t have a “lottery  or the belief that there’s a shortcut to instant wealth through random luck. Here are three habits they share that anyone can adopt:

1. Rich people don’t act on fear or impulse.
The most financially successful people have a passion for solving puzzles, and they treat the stock market the same way. When I interviewed billionaire Howard Marks, co-founder of Oaktree Capital Management, we talked about how he got through periods of upheaval, like the Great Recession and the early days of the pandemic.

Instead of making decisions based on fear, he said he focused on the data and potential opportunities rather than on the risks or downsides. Using this approach, he made a successful bet on distressed corporate debt during the 2008 financial crisis, which earned Oaktree investors about $6 billion in gains.

If you are faced with uncertainty, Marks recommends taking emotions out of the equation and looking for ways to make the circumstances work for you.

2. Rich people are patient and think long-term.
One of Warren Buffett’s most significant success factors is that he invests in businesses that have the potential to grow in value decades into the future, no matter what their stock prices might be at any given time.

Many billionaires admire Buffett’s approach and how much patience it requires. At a conference, Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky spoke about his memorable lunch with Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett.

During that lunch, Bezos recalled one of his first meetings with Buffett, in which he asked him: “Your investing thesis is so simple. Why doesn’t everyone copy you?” “Because no one wants to get rich slowly,” Buffett replied.

3. Rich people say “no” more than they say “yes.”

I recently talked to David Rubenstein, who is worth a billion dollars and helped start the private equity firm Carlyle Group. He gives money to good causes and is the head of several boards. He has also written three books and hosts “History with David Rubenstein” on PBS.

When I asked him how he gets so much done, he quickly told me all the things he doesn’t do: golf, drinking alcohol, and watching a lot of Netflix. He avoids everything he thinks will waste his time.

Billionaire Jesse Itzler agrees that “no” is a powerful word. Itzler is a co-founder of Marquis Jet, one of the largest private jet card companies in the world. He is also a partner in Zico Coconut Water, the founder of The 100 Mile Group, and an owner of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks.

In a podcast interview, he told me, “Your 20s and 30s are a great time to say ‘yes.'” “You want to make connections, get known, and grow. But if you’re in your late 40s or older, it’s a good time to say “no” and take full control of your time.”

His tip for how to say “”no” in a nice way is to say, “Follow up with something great. Send a treat or get a bill. Just because you decide not to do something, that doesn’t mean you’re out of the game.”

Trey Lockerbie is the CEO and co-founder of the kombucha brand Better Booch and the host of the podcast “We Study Billionaires.”

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