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- Rafael Badziag interviewed 21 billionaires for his book, "The Billion Dollar Secret," and found that six shared habits helped lead to their success.
- Billionaires wake up early, keep healthy, read, and contemplate — all elements they incorporate into their morning routine.
- They manage all of this by practicing discipline.
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You can’t build wealth without a strong foundation.
"In the long term, your habits will determine your future," Rafael Badziag, an entrepreneur and expert in the psychology of entrepreneurship, wrote in his book, "The Billion Dollar Secret: 20 Principles of Billionaire Wealth and Success."
Badziag spent five years conducting face-to-face interviews with 21 self-made billionaire entrepreneurs around the world (defined as those with a net worth of at least $1 billion) and conducting research on their lives and companies. He found that they share the same six habits, which created the foundation for their businesses and their financial success.
Here’s a closer look at each of those habits.
1. Billionaires wake up early
Getting up early is the most common habit of successful entrepreneurs, according to Badziag. The billionaires he interviewed got up on average at 5:30 a.m. and told Badziag the habit was crucial to their success. It makes them more productive and energetic, he said.
Consider Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, who wakes up before dawn for a six-mile run, and Virgin Group founder and chairman Richard Branson, who rises around 5:45 a.m.
2. Billionaires keep healthy
Every billionaire Badziag interviewed has a strict exercise regime, no matter their age — even older ones run or go to the gym regularly. Investor Lirio Parisotto told Badziag he hits the treadmill three times a week.
Most include sports in their morning routine and were athletes when they were younger, Badziag said. Sports involvement, he added, has many benefits in business — sports give you vital energy and mental strength, help you think clearly, make you disciplined and persistent, and instill the will to succeed. They also teach you teamwork, how to win and lose, and humility, he said.
The billionaires he talked to also meditate, don’t smoke, and maintain healthy diets.
The same is true of millionaires: Sarah Stanley Fallaw, author of the book " The Next Millionaire Next Door: Enduring Strategies for Building Wealth," in which she surveyed more than 600 millionaires in America, found that they spend more time exercising than the average American.
3. Billionaires read
Along with exercise, reading is the one activity billionaires spend time on regularly, Badziag said. Almost all of the billionaires he spoke to said they read regularly — namely national dailies, biographies, industry magazines, and business books. However, Petter Stordalen, co-owner of Nordic Choice Hotels, told Badziag he prefers detective novels.
Investor Warren Buffett spends 80% of his days reading, and businessman and investor Mark Cuban often reads for three hours a day to learn more about the industries he’s working in.
Regardless of their reading preferences, billionaires choose books they find value in. Badziag recommends developing a systematic approach: Keep a priority list of titles, develop the habit to read at a given time of day, and process the reading by marking passages or keeping notes.
4. Billionaires contemplate
According to Badziag, billionaires take alone time to think, whether it’s through meditations or during activities like sports.
More broadly, contemplation is a habit of many high-net-worth individuals. Thomas C. Corley, the author of "Change Your Habits, Change Your Life," spent five years researching the daily habits of 177 self-made millionaires and found they think more, which is key to their success.
He said they asked questions such as "What can I do to make more money?" "Does my job make me happy?" "Am I exercising enough?" and "What other charities can I get involved in?"
5. Billionaires develop routines and rituals
When employed consistently, routines and rituals create profound results in the long term. This makes habits easier to maintain and more sustainable, creating "a compound effect," wrote Badziag.
A morning routine is the most important routine for long-term success in business, he found. Nearly all of the billionaires he interviewed have a morning routine they follow religiously, which typically involves the four habits above. They also have a standard routine with which they start their day in the office.
6. Billionaires practice discipline
"The billionaires I interviewed are the most disciplined people I have ever met," Badziag wrote. "They put a high standard on themselves and on the people around them."
In business, he said, you can achieve results if you are disciplined enough to apply yourself consistently with what needs to be done. And discipline is a key factor in building wealth, according to Chris Hogan, author of "Everyday Millionaires: How Ordinary People Built Extraordinary Wealth — and How You Can Too."
"But billionaires are by no means superhumans or perfect working automatons," Badziag wrote. "They also sometimes feel lazy like you and me. The only difference is: They are aware of this fact and they don’t let themselves slack. They take up the struggle to overcome their weaknesses."
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