5 Things I Learned While Working for a Billionaire

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I recently consulted at a startup that was founded and run by someone who sold their last company for $1.3 Billion – in addition to being a prior partner at a top VC firm. This individual was especially interesting because they invalidated all of my stereotypical billionaire assumptions.

Instead of balking at their mega success, I ended up learning valuable behaviors I could apply to future endeavors. Out of respect for this individual, I’m omitting their name and gender.

 

I’ve boiled down the top 5 beliefs and behaviors that I think skyrocketed this individual to their level of success. If you don’t live under a rock, you’ll find some of these principles are attributable to other wealthy/successful people. Even if you’re not aiming at Billion-dollar-goals, internalizing and living these principles can serve you well.

 

Keenly understands how value translates

Have you ever wondered how one product sells at a certain price, yet an identical competitive product sells for far more? This is the magic of value perception. Wealthy people understand how to create the perception of more value with a product or service. Life isn’t fair, but if you know which levers to pull, you can put the odds in your favor, with minimal changed efforts. Billionaires recognize that it’s merely a game of value.

Pro Tip: Try mentioning how much time or money your product saves your customers and be specific. Put a dollar value on it, and invest in tight, clean sexy design. You can simply ask for more money, and your customers will thereby value it more in many cases!

 

Isn’t in a rush

Many people in the startup space (and business in general) are in a rush. A rush to get to market, a rush to sell enough units of X, a rush to avoid their funding running out. It doesn’t need to be this way, and someone with a billionaire mentality won’t appear to be in a rush; they are calm. What’s going on underneath is a sense or belief system of abundance. The abundance mentality means that one believes whatever they need or want will eventually come, plentifully. If you believe that, you’d less likely have a feeling of always being in a rush; stressed; or in a scarcity mentality-state. Furthermore, billionaires believe in the idea of synchronicity, also known as the law of attraction.

What one believes or dreams inside becomes their outside reality. Many books and documentaries point to this, like this one. You don’t need to be in a rush if you plan properly. I will say, on the contrary, that some pressure and a sense of urgency is helpful and shouldn’t be completely avoided. There is, however; a line between a bad rush and a good rush.

Pro Tip: Try meditating and write down your thoughts, ideas and plans and then plan accordingly. Take time to visualize yourself living the results. Stop being frenetic, reactive, defensive and feeling that there’s not enough. The subconscious mind cannot process a negative, so whatever you think about, manifests. 

 

“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” -Henry Ford

 

Tight with money

Ironically you’d think a billionaire spends capriciously. You’ll quickly realize that doing so didn’t get them to that level of wealth in the first place. It’s easy to see what happens when you’re not tight with money, even if you’re rich.

When I would ask for budget for marketing or other ‘nice to have’ things, I would be questioned if there was a true ROI behind my ask, and if there was something we could ‘hack’ or do more efficiently without spending excess money.

Sure, you’ve got to spend money to make money, and at first I was surprised; we had 90% of the VC money in the bank and minimal burn!

Pro Tip: If you really look at what makes most of our country rich, it’s actually being frugal and planning well. Consider skimming This book and this book, which explain that in more depth.

 

Speaks their mind candidly

As you can imagine, someone that has reached this level likely isn’t afraid to speak his or her mind. You might think this type is outspoken or even arrogant. Yes, they were candid and not afraid to have difficult conversations, however it was conveyed in a stern, yet compassionate tone.

 

“Speak softly and carry a big stick” – T. Roosevelt

Pro Tip: Enroll in a local Toastmasters group. Toastmasters will make you more brave in front of tough audiences while teaching you how to give effective, candid feedback to people. It has paid me and thousands of others priceless dividends. 

 

Willing to let go

Finally, one of my favorite qualities of my Billionaire boss (and their mentality) was a lack of micromanagement. While they debated when I asked for budget they didn’t debate when I was trying out different sales strategies. 

I found that working for first-time founders, there tends to be more emotional energy in the interactions as well as micromanagement.

Someone who’s done it before is less attached to the way things are done and more attached to the results, outcome and big picture. 

Pro Tip: if you’re a manager, identify how much mentoring your report needs and act accordingly. If you’re being managed, pay attention to how you feel you’re being held accountable and if you need more or less support. 
What do you think about these billionaire behaviors? Have you worked with a billionaire before, and if so, how did their M.O. compare?