The billionaire blueprint: Mastering the habits of the ultra-successful | Inquirer Business

The billionaire blueprint: Mastering the habits of the ultra-successful

/ 02:02 AM February 19, 2024

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Last week, we discussed the billionaire mindset: Thinking like the wealthiest to become your best. This week is about habits: What habits do many of the world’s wealthiest people share and practice regularly to get to the top and stay there?

As the chair of the Tom Oliver Group, I have been fortunate enough to advise or interact with some of the wealthiest business leaders from around the world, and there is a set of habits that most of them cultivate. The world’s wealthiest individuals share a set of routines and practices that have propelled them to the pinnacle of success.


The good news is that these habits can be learned, and they can be taught. My team and I do this regularly when we take on new clients and the business owners ask us to take their business and themselves to the next level. Remember: Great executives are made, not born! Embrace the habits below, and you will boost your success.


Become a learning machine

The first habit is—you guessed it—learning. The best of the best are constant learning machines. Why is this so important? Two reasons: One is the obvious: you become more competent and know more. But there is more to it. Suppose you adopt the attitude that there are a lot of things you do not know, and worry about what you might be missing. In that case, you embrace a fundamental principle of the world’s most outstanding business leaders: keep a healthy sense of paranoia.

This attitude helps you to uncover blind spots, to always be on guard, to hire experts who can see what you are not seeing, and to surround yourself with people who are very different from you and can complement you in the areas where you are weak.

Warren Buffett is known for his voracious reading habit, which keeps him informed and adaptable. This continuous learning enables billionaires to navigate complex markets and pivot their strategies as needed.

This habit does even more than that: the more you learn from all different disciplines, the more you understand the mental models and principles that govern the world. Because the solutions to most complex problems today can only be solved with a multidisciplinary approach, you will be way ahead of your competitors. If you are only wise in narrow disciplines, there will always be walls you cannot see through.

Read, listen, learn

• Commit to lifelong learning. Read widely, attend workshops and seek mentorship. Determine if you are more of a reader or a listener, then read or listen to audiobooks. I get through an average of a book every two weeks by listening to audiobooks at the airport, working out or having any “dead” time.

• Encourage a learning culture in your organization, promoting adaptability and resilience.


Master your value per hour

Billionaires treat time as their most valuable asset. Use this simple but potent tool by Dan Kennedy, a renowned marketing and business consultant. He emphasizes the importance of understanding the value of one’s time, particularly for entrepreneurs and business owners.

One of his critical tools for achieving this understanding is the concept of “value per hour.” This tool is designed to help individuals calculate the monetary value of their time, enabling them to make more informed decisions about how they allocate their hours toward various tasks and activities in their professional and personal lives.

1. Annual income goal: You start by determining your desired annual income. As a business owner, determine the yearly profits you want to make.

2. Available working hours: Estimate the total number of hours you plan to work in a year. This calculation should consider your working days per week and hours per day. Subtract holidays, vacation days and nonworking hours. Take a rough guess.

3. Value per hour calculation: Now divide your annual income goal by the total number of working hours you have in a year. The result is your “value per hour.”

Billionaire Dharmesh Shah, founder of Hubspot, values his hour at $10,000. This is still too low, given his net worth, but it still helps him to prioritize. That is $167 per minute. Ten minutes wasted on tasks that are not worth his time? He just wasted $1,670. It is as simple as that.

This calculation provides a straightforward metric that represents how much each hour of your time should generate in terms of income to meet your annual financial goals. Don’t touch anything below that threshold. This requires rigorous and ruthless self-assessment for whatever task or project you consider getting into.

Most business owners and CEOs spend too much time in meetings and useless tasks far below their value per-hour threshold.

Practical application

• Prioritizing tasks: With a clear understanding of your value per hour, you can prioritize tasks based on their income-generating potential. Activities that do not meet or exceed your hourly value should be delegated or minimized.

• Decision-making: This tool aids in making decisions about taking on new projects, outsourcing specific tasks, or investing in tools and technologies that can save time.

• Delegation: I have known a lot of entrepreneurs, business owners and CEOs who still spend a ridiculous amount of time on tasks or projects that are not worth their time. Knowing your clear value per hour forces you to delegate tasks ruthlessly.

• Negotiation: Knowing your value per hour can also empower you in negotiation settings, ensuring you accept projects and opportunities that align with or exceed the value of your time.

I have never met a single CEO, including Fortune 500 CEOs, who could not improve their time management by focusing more on high-value tasks and projects.

Thrive with resilience and perseverance

Billionaires like Richard Branson have made calculated risks a staple of their success. They are not afraid to fail, knowing resilience is critical to eventually succeeding. The journey to billionaire status is fraught with challenges and setbacks. However, billionaires possess an extraordinary level of resilience and perseverance.

Oprah Winfrey, who overcame numerous personal and professional obstacles, exemplifies this trait. Her resilience has been vital to building a media empire and becoming a significant cultural influencer.

Remember the most important principle: Failure is feedback. Learn from it, analyze it and you will always find a “gem” in every failure that will allow you to reach greater heights. Then forget about it. Don’t let it define you. I remember a business owner of a very successful family business who had made one big mistake, which still impacted his decision-making and self-image years after.

Define yourself by your successes. Forget the rest.

Practical steps

• Learn from failures without letting them deter your overall vision.

• Cultivate a growth mindset, viewing failures and setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow.

• Setbacks are inevitable. Develop strategies to stay motivated and persist toward your goals despite challenges. INQ

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Tom Oliver, a “global management guru” (Bloomberg), is the chair of The Tom Oliver Group, the trusted advisor and counselor to many of the world’s most influential family businesses, medium-sized enterprises, market leaders and global conglomerates. For more information and inquiries: or email [email protected].

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