The subject of wealth, how it is made, how it is managed, and how it is passed along has preoccupied man since the advent of time. People dream about wealth. Nations go to war for it. Empires collapse because of it. In the olden or ancient times, war and plunder were the easiest paths to amassing wealth. Think of Genghis Khan as a personification of this long gone and forgotten era. Today wealth is made by mastering critical disciplines, three of which are paramount. Master them and you are on your way to wealth. Neglect them and your wealth will be transient at best or you will revert to penury with time at worst.
Some of the wealthiest people in our planet today, both dead and living, are personifications of these disciplines. According to Forbes Magazine, there are 1,826 billionaires in the world, and the top 500 control over 67% of the wealth. In no particular order, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Carlos Slim, Mark Zuckerberg, Aliko Dangote, Jack Ma, Carl Icahn, and George Soros, all billionaires in their own right, have all mastered these three disciplines. Here are they:
1. They see the big picture
This is sometimes called trend spotting. Very few people on earth master this discipline and the few that do are all super wealthy. Take the case of Aliko Dangote, whose wealth is bigger than those of Richard Branson and Donald Trump combined, nothing more than the mastery of the three discipline has propelled him to the position of the 67th richest person on the planet. He could have ranked higher but for the calamitous fall of oil prices, and the resultant adverse movement in exchange rate against the Naira. Being from one of the poorest countries on earth with per capita income of $3,000, relative to about $54,000 for the US, $63,000 for UAE and $84,000 for Switzerland has not stood between him and this achievement. How did he do it? He mastered seeing the big picture. Noticing Nigeria’s huge population and poverty, he started investing in basic commodities like flour, cement, sugar, and salt and the rest as the saying goes, is history.
The same can be said of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Tony Elumelu, to mention a few. When the micro computer revolution was brewing, Gates and Jobs spent endless hours mastering the emerging industry, including programming and coding. In the case of Gates, he was “so intense”, some of his friends left him. Way back in Nigeria, as the financial services or banking industry was being deregulated, Tony Elumelu moved heavens and earth to get a banking license. To ensure he didn’t miss the window of opportunity, he bought a dead bank, Crystal Bank for Africa, and resurrected it back to life. Today Tony is one of the top 50 richest persons in Africa. Seeing the big picture is one of the biggest disciplines you need to master to alter your destiny. Steve Jobs calls this discipline, connecting the dots. Right now a new industry, IoT (internet of things), which Bill Gates has predicted will be bigger than the computer and internet combined is brewing and 99.99% of people on the planet have not even heard about it. Do you want to be ultra wealthy? Start connecting the dots.
2. They are competitive
When it comes to competitiveness, the ultra wealthy have no rivals. You sometimes here folks saying of the ultra wealthy as being “mean”, because they will negotiate to the last cent. They never leave a cent on the table. That is why Apple would spend millions suing Samsung for copyright infringement, Microsoft would police the entire world to weed out counterfeit software, and Richard Branson would vow never to do business again with the Nigerian government for breaking a contract.
The ultra wealthy employ the best of the best lawyers, accountants and economists to guide and advise them on every move before they take any action. When it comes to competitiveness, among billionaires, Donald Trump has no rival. Bill Zanker, The founder of The Learning Annex, once offered Trump $10,000 to feature on his platform and Trump would not budge until Zanker upped the ante to $100,000 dollars, and as Zanker mentioned in Think Big and Kick Ass, co-authored with Donald Trump, the deal took his business to a whole new level. If you wish to be ultra wealthy you must master competitiveness. Competitiveness is not just about negotiation, it’s the ability to be decisive and engage in mental leaps of imagination to hom in on goals.
3. They are shrewd
This is the final discipline the ultra wealthy master to ensure their wealth endures and passes to the next generation. If you look at the list of the wealthiest individuals, you will meet at least four billionaires from Sam Walton’s clan. Sam Walton was the founder of Wal-Mart, the largest supermarket chain in the world. Forbes named him America’s wealthiest man in 1985. Despite his wealth, he drove a Ford pickup truck and never employed a driver. Also, despite being the world’s richest man, Bill Gates does not own a super yacht. Apple’s Steve Jobs lived in a modest home in Palo Alto in half an acre of land. Despite his wealth, Warren Buffet still goes to work daily even at age 85. Richard Branson hardly wears expensive suits. Their approach all underscores the discipline of being shrewd. Compare these billionaires to NBA starts, boxers, and rock stars and you’ll soon understand why an average boxer retires in penury despite having made millions by age twenty four. Floyd Mayweather whose wealth is estimated at $300 million recently told ESPN he has bought cars estimated at $15 million. That is not all, Josh Towbin of Towbin Motorcars told Martin Rogers of USA Today that his dealership has sold Mayweather “over 100 cars” in a span of 18 years. According to Towbin, Mayweather’s fleet of cars includes 16 Rolls Royces. If you wish your wealth to endure, be shrewd. Being shrewd is not the same as being miserly, it’s about deploying your wealth in the most strategic ways possible to outlast you.
In writing about wealth, authors mix up cause and effect. Authors emphasize the actions that lead to wealth or the characteristics of the wealthy, such as risk taking, being action oriented, and delaying gratification, while neglecting the anchors or inner disciplines that make wealth enduring. I make bold to say risk taking will not only make you broke, it will guaranty your failure. The ultra wealthy avoid risk as the plague. The re-engineer risks, as Jay Abraham advises, to turn the tables in their favour. What about being action oriented? This guarantees nothing. What about if you are taking action heading in the wrong direction? What about delaying gratification, which behaviourial scientists have elevated to the status of a mantra? This too is pure myth. You can deny yourself the good things of life till thy kingdom come and still end up in penury if you fail to master the top three disciplines in combination, the chief of which is seeing the big picture.