Attributes Of Billionaires

If you are following my blog postings or any of my content on YouTube or on my blog, you know that I have an addiction to analyze stuff that works. I do not have any scientific formula to this, or at least I am not consciously aware of any such formula. The things I analyze are mega successful companies, individuals, web businesses or anything that I have a keen interest in.

As you have already read the title of this blog, this blog post is my analysis on self-made billionaires. The majority of my findings come from my personal observations, but in this case a significant portion of the facts come from an audio-book I recently re-listened to called The Outsider’s Edge: The Making of Self-Made Billionaires.

Markets Self-Made Billionaires Like

Interestingly enough self-made billionaires are made in all sorts of markets. From computing to investing, from sports to education, from airline to talkshow host, from retailing to film production, you will find self-made billionaires. No matter what market you find them in, they all follow one rule, that is to not follow conventional wisdom (if they find it unhelpful). When Facebook goes public, I am sure Warren Buffet will not invest in it since he does not understand tech companies fully. Conventional wisdom would encourage one to invest in it correct?

Conventional wisdom also suggested Steve Jobs stay away from raging a war against pirated music. Still Jobs launched iTunes, which is now the leader in online music. Twelve publishing houses also rejected Harry Potter’s manuscript, but as we all know Joanne Rowling, author of the “Harry Potter” novels, is a billionaire.

Hidden Emotional Challenges

Interesting facts:

  • Bill Gates had a domineering mother.
  • Larry Ellison and Steve Jobs were adopted and illegitimate. Steve Jobs even hired a private investigator to find his real parents.
  • Warren Buffett had a mother who reacted unpredictably.
  • Oprah Winfrey was born to a teenage mother who traveled north while Winfrey lived with her grandmother for the first six years of her life.
  • Carl Icahn is a son of dominating parents.

Yes, you noticed it right, a few of the billionaires had emotional instability when it came to their relationship with their mothers. This topic did not have a lot of details, but it was a pattern that I noticed while listening to the audiobook.

The above bullets are only the stuff that was noticed. Potentially there could be more and more billionaires that had challenging relationships with their parents. Warren would spend minimum time at home and more time with his dad at work because he could not predict how his mother would react any hour of the day. Larry Ellison’s adoptive father was insulting, and this fueled Larry to over perform in other areas. Generally billionaires find business as their mode of performance when they did not find satisfaction in other parts of their lives. In many cases this was their relationship with their parents.

People Skills

Most billionaires are generally poor managers. Bill Gates has set a culture of shouting at his employees. Steve Jobs had a similar disrespectful reaction with his employees before he was fired from Apple in 1985. Carl Icahn made his fortune mostly by intimidating corporate leaders, forcing them to buying Icahn’s equity-shares at ridiculously high values just to make him go away.

Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs, Carl Icahn, John Sperling, and Bernie Ecclestone were known to be social misfits while growing up. Their exceptional intelligence often made them standout. Some intentionally dummed down with the intent to fit in. Many billionaires seem uninterested in team sports. Maybe that’s just a side-effect of being antisocial.

There is always an exception:

Richard Branson has above average people skills and he has used them wisely to build his fortunes. Not to forget Oprah, who has built her fortune on the back of her amazing skill of connecting with people.


Another universal quality of a billionaire, besides their unacceptance of conventional wisdom, is that they are single focused workaholics. I do not mean workaholic in a negative sense, but in a sense that they will not give up easily.

IKEA originated from a mail order business that Ingvar Kamprad founded. When the mail order market industry was at its decline and the cost of mail was becoming unaffordable for the consumers, IKEA started a new concept of shipping unassembled furniture. Many competitors started to hate IKEA’s success and threatened and forced suppliers to stop supplies to IKEA. Many suppliers did stop their supplies.

Google and Microsoft, like many other corporations, have many lawsuits against them. Oprah was raped at age nine, Buffett sufferred a 77% drop in earning during Q3 2008 and many of his deals seem to be in a loss. Mega losses/challenges come hand-in-hand with mega successes.

Opportunities & Leverage

Steve Ballmer, now the CEO of Microsoft, has a net worth of 14 billion. Ballmer started working with the company as a manager in 1980, and was the first business manager Gates hired. Lucky for him, he was offered shares of Microsoft (approx 8% then).

Some early programmers of Facebook were offered shares of the company that equate to millions of dollars today. Indeed those programmers, Steve Ballmer and many other such people are smart. But I know most of you would agree that there are smarter people around with far less net worth, just because they did not embark on the opportunity to leverage their skill with a massive successful entity.

There is a right time for everything, or maybe for most things. If you tried to compete (starting today) in the smart-phone, operating system, database software, or film production industries, you would only need a miracle to succeed. But Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, David Geffen (founder of DreamWorks SKG), Steven Spielberg, John Sperling (founder of University of Phoenix – popular for online education for the working class) and Ingvar Kamprad (founder of IKEA) started the right business at the right time.

There are always exceptions:

Richard Branson launched Virgin Atlantic in an unfavourable period in the airline industry and still made it profitable while others were suffering. Warren Buffet (among the top three richest people) made his fortunes from investing in select companies, while watching his share values grow. If Warren starts today, he will still do very well because of his exceptional ability to read and analyze financial statements.


Am I suggesting that if you embark on the right opportunity that you will become a billionaire?
Am I saying that if you have an unstable relationship with your mother that you are on a divine path to riches?

Heck No.

Billionaires come in all shapes and sizes. If I were to summarize the entire post in two words. I would say: Hate Conventional Wisdom and Perseverance. Sorry, that was four words, but there were two points. I honestly believe I had to write those 1000+ words to convey to you these two points. Tell me if I have done a good job conveying the message in the comments below.

Aziz signing out.

About Aziz Ali

Aziz is an internationally acclaimed marketing whizkid and most commonly called a genius by his fan-base. Always working in the trenches, Aziz knows how to optimize marketing systems to produce exponential results as he did for several billion dollar companies and popular Internet Marketing Gurus.

Aziz is currently giving away two [2] tools & nine [9] strategies that has helped all of his clients find customers online EASILY!

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  • It’s interesting how you went straight to discussing about billionaires and not even millionaires. But I do agree with you that staying away from conventional wisdom does help the mind to think out the box and to leap beyond boundaries that were once inhibitive.

    That said, it takes lots of courage for the new entrepreneur to do what the others aren’t doing because there’s a huge risk factor involved in failing. Yet, there are risks and there are calculated risks so perhaps it does pay off for going against the stream when the opportunity is right.

  • I think you must go through something in life to be able to get the guts to think outside the box. They have that it factor that most of us don’t.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • Aziz-

    I completely agree with the concept of this article. If I followed conventional wisdom with my stock trading, I would have lost all my capital by now. Instead, I tossed all the myths aside, studied thousands of stock charts and now, regularly far surpass the S&P average with my trading.

    As for perseverance, it is absolutely key. That’s why there has to be passion for the career one chooses. I am so passionate about what I do that I return to it with vigor every day. Now, I also want to share that passion with others. I’m not a billionaire – far from it – but I’m sure enjoying the journey. I guess that’s the “booby prize” for now – a life I enjoy. 🙂

    Perseverance + a vision = monetary goal. 🙂

    Oh yeah, AND my Mom abandoned me at age 11 after years of physical and emotional abuse. Woo hoo!

  • After reading this article It seems I have all chances to become billionare, I guess you understand why…lol

    • Me too. I guess I will see you in the billionaires circle. Haha. I think it would be impossible to become a billionaire if you have a girl friend though. You have to be 100% focused on your work! Relationships have to wait.

  • Interesting – I never would have thought that these entrepreneurs would have had such rocky childhoods, but it does make sense that they would want to try that much harder to be all that they can be! Great stories.


  • Great article, Aziz!

    My take-aways:

    1) Neighbor’s grass is always greener. We look at these tremendously successful people in awe, not realizing that their lives are not perfect either.

    2) We tend to use other people’s success as an excuse not to utilize our full potential. We think of the people you mention as exceptions who have some particular gifts that we do not possess. We say “I cannot do it because I do not have the talent, the resources, the whatever.” Seeing that the self-made billionaires are basically ordinary people with problems and flaws like anybody else should encourage us to unlock our potential and become our personal best.

    Thanks for the motivation!

  • hi Aziz-
    interesting facts. (so few female billionaires)
    Seems all have sacrifice in common & early childhood rejection. This can build fortitude of character, sad but true.

  • Great article!

    It reminded me of the story of Sylvester Stallone if you have never heard his story listen to this it is very inspiring THE ROCKY STORY BY ANTHONY ROBBINS

    Succesfull people never give up

  • Emotional backgrounds can really be the key to success. Why? Because as a child you are faced with tough times being with parents who are either separated, nagger, etc. These tough times makes one want to have better and peaceful life which can only be achieved through success.

  • All multi-millionaires and above have an insatiable ability to want to have control. They despise working for others and want/need to have as much security as possible in their lives.

    Basically they are controlled by the reptilian brain.

  • True facts. Since they aren’t having that kind of a relationship with their parents, they might have felt kind of suppressed feeling. Maybe out of that they became successful.

  • I agree with perseverance. Without it you won’t get anywhere.

  • Wonderful post aziz, i think parents can have lots of influence on child’s personality and intelligence. Bill Gates is an inspiring man. 🙂

  • I do not know what to say either some people are lucky or they got all what they wanted on time. But all in all the parent have a major role to play in the lives of their children to ensure that they fulfill their dreams.

  • Mothers do have crucial roles to how their child grows up to be. Take Hitler and Stalin for example, they had mothers that are excessively doting and appreciative to them that consequently lead to their certainty of their self worth to the extent that they became somewhat narcissistic. But it’s true, I agree that due to these self made billionaires’ emotional instability, they become focused to something else which made them extremely successful with such focused on skill but deficient on the other side of them which is the people skill.

  • I think because they have grown up with a lot of negativity they have developed thick skin and can handle it better. As whenever you start a business or new project there is going to be many people who give you negative feedback and if you take criticism badly then this could stop you taking your business any further.

  • It does seem like these self made billionaires standout from the pack so to speak. I have always heard that about them not following conventional wisdom. If the herd goes one way most of them dont follow the crowd. Its no wonder they are successful.

    And yeah Richard Branson is definitely very outgoing, I’ve seen him at many Formula 1 races, heck he even sponsored a race team with his Virgin brand!


  • FYI, if a person is adopted, the adoptive parents are the “real” parents.
    The correct word to have used was “biological” or “birth” parents.

  • I don’t know why people use Bill Gates as a reference. His father was a multimillionaire or billionaire. He had the perfect environment to learn how to make money. Also according to a 60 or 20/20 news cast there was another partner that did a lot of work that never got the credit and money because he got cheated.
    I understand the article and I like what your saying but you have bad references. A lot of these people are liars and only told half truths about their backgrounds.

    I also feel the majority of these people got into circles of people that kept helping advance etc. I think some of them made it on their own half of the way but the majority had more help then they admit.

  • What I took away from this post “your past misfortune is your future force of perseverance”. We can all learn from the hand we have been dealt.

  • I agree with you Aziz.I think there are very few people who have the courage to go against conventional wisdom and in business these are the people we know as billionaires.

  • Great post. thanks for the share mate 🙂

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