Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Traits I've seen
Published on September 10, 2007 By Draginol In Business

At the airport today I was amazed at how many "Get rich!" books there are at the book stores. I don't happen to ascribe to the belief that everyone can get rich.  I think there are a number of basic prerequisites that one has to have in order to become wealthy.

In no particular order, here are characteristics that wealthy people seem to have in common:

  1. They don't just have ideas, they do something about them. This is a big deal. I always hear people coming up with interesting ideas but then finishing with saying "Yea, someone ought to do that."  I've passed on some ideas in the past that I think could make someone much better off financially but when I follow up, they've done nothing.  For example, up at Higgins Lake they have a serious zebra mussel problem. I read on-line that a 400hz frequency generated in the water near them will cause them to not be able to secure nutrients from the water which, after around 40 days kills them.  Someone could build this relatively easily.  Parts would cost around $50 and could be sold to dock owners at lakes for around $200.  Another simple example would be cheap, easy, hand sand sifters for beaches at lakes.  These ideas won't make someone rich. But I'm amazed at how often I'll bump into people who could make these things easily, need the money, and have the time but still won't do them.

    The point being, people come up with ideas but few people actually follow-up on them.
  2. They don't get discouraged.  When doing something that requires effort, setbacks are inevitable. Successful people tend to not be discouraged easily. In fact, for a lot of successful people, being "discouraged" is a foreign concept.  This is important in multiple ways. First, it means they won't grow bored or lose focus on what they are trying to achieve. Secondly, it means that when something blows up on them, they won't give up.
  3. They have delayed gratification.  This is another big one.  People who build a successful enterprise are almost always people with a well developed sense of delayed gratification.  They don't plitter away their capital on things.  In my own example, for the first 10 years of my business, I didn't own a high end car.  I could have.  I remember the owner of a website who sold out during the dot-com. He was 22 and took his $300k buy out and bought himself a Ferrari.  I suspect he's probably working for someone else now.  By contrast, that $300k could have been used as capital to invest in things that would have far greater long term rewards.
  4. They don't blame others. Whenever I meet someone who starts blaming their problems on other people I can't help but think "loser".  If someone takes the attitude that other people
    "have it out for them" the odds are that they're failures.  Successful people tend to blame themselves and combined with item #2, use that to make themselves better.  If you meet someone who uses the word "luck" (either good or bad) a lot you're probably meeting someone who isn't successful.  Whenever someone thinks their destiny is in the hands of other people or luck they're limiting their success.
  5. They have a positive attitude. Successful people tend to believe in themselves and have a "can do" attitude.  This doesn't mean they're bubbly or happy people. What it does mean is that they think that if they put their mind to it, they can do it.  The people I meet who haven't done so well in life tend to be very quick to list off the various obstacles that they face that keep them from succeeding.  A successful person might list challenges they face but is also working out a plan to overcome those challenges.

on Sep 11, 2007
I would add a sixth point:

6. They believe that they themselves must do something about their success.

One year ago I flew from Tel Aviv to Dublin via Frankfurt. At Frankfurt airport I overheard a few Germans on their way to Ireland. From the conversation I overheard I learned the following:

a) The trip to Ireland was their holidays.

They were unemployed.

c) They were unhappy about the recent social welfare reform in Germany according to which people who refuse jobs offered to them will get less money from the state.

d) One of them was fascinated by some new mobile phone and was planning to buy it when he came back to Germany two weeks later.

At the same time I was on my way from Haifa (where I studied Hebrew) to Dublin (where I work for a software company). I didn't have time for holidays and the six weeks I had for studying Hebrew were self-financed and between contracts (i.e. I quit my job to go there and then got it back afterwards, luckily).

Since I am a German citizen I could have been one of the group. The difference was that I worked and studied while they were unemployed and on holidays.

This summer I went to Haifa again to study Hebrew, but kept my job. I didn't fly via Frankfurt again.

on Sep 11, 2007
All very good points.  I am struck by Andrew's story.  I did not realize it was that "kushy" in Germany.  I dont thin kthat is a disincentive for those who are determined to succeed.  They are going to despite the safety net in place.  But as we see, it does give those who have no inclination to succeed an excuse for their behaviour.
on Sep 11, 2007
Those who are determined to succeed are leaving Germany. Already engineers are missing in the country and in great demand. But since the pay is less than elsewhere, people still leave.

Pair this with an inability of the German establishment to understand the emigrants (one news paper wrote that the reason people emigrate is that Germany's social welfare system is not good enough, despite the fact that most of the emigrants left specifically for countries where the social welfare system is worse) and the German attitude towards foreigners (who do the jobs Germans refuse to do) and minorities and you have your picture.

A safety net needs somebody who holds it in place. Even the German Social Democrats understand that, but the Socialist party are gaining ground as are the Neo-Nazi parties. (Angela Merkel is a good chancellor but she came to power not because a majority voted conservative but because the Social Democrats lost so many votes to the communists that they finally had to support a conservative chancellor.) German Socialists (not Social Democrats) are convinced that the unemployed must be given more money and that the country doesn't need those who leave for greener pastures anyway. (East Germany used to have a wall to prevent people from leaving, of course.)

As for the kushiness, according to Wikipedia ( the unemployed in Germany now receive 350 euros a month (about 500 dollars). Note that this is ON TOP of free health insurance, free rent, and support for electricity and warm water. Unemployed Germans working the system get supplied with some luxuries I cannot even afford yet here in Ireland (like a bath tub instead of just a shower and central heating during the day).

on Sep 11, 2007

I'm going to add one from my personal observations along the same lines, Brad.

One of the key differences between those who are successful (long term) vs. those who are not is that those who are not see success as a result of luck, accident, or fortune. Those who are see it as a result of hard work, planning and discipline.

And this is from the point of view of one who has had to transition from the former mindset to the latter.

on Sep 11, 2007
Ahh. I see Andrew already made my!
on Sep 11, 2007
Unfortunately, I have seen plenty of successful people who don't have these traits, and plenty of unsuccessful people who do have them. There's no sure-fire way to be successful, nor is there a universal set of reasons for why people are successful. When you try to reduce it to universal observations, you end up with tautologies - "All successful people are successful - that's what makes a person successful. Success."
on Sep 11, 2007
People moving away because they aren't getting enough government handouts?

That concept does not make sense. You can't afford to move if you aren't getting any money. If you cut off welfare, people won't move - they won't be able to.
on Sep 11, 2007
Thanks for the well thought comments. Knowing the success you've seen, I'd believe what you have to say. I'm printing this out for my teenage son.
on Sep 12, 2007

Unfortunately, I have seen plenty of successful people who don't have these traits, and plenty of unsuccessful people who do have them. There's no sure-fire way to be successful, nor is there a universal set of reasons for why people are successful. When you try to reduce it to universal observations, you end up with tautologies - "All successful people are successful - that's what makes a person successful. Success."

Exceptions do not make the generalization false.

on Sep 12, 2007
Exceptions do not make the generalization false.

But they do make it useless for anything except abstract philosophical musing.

The way I see it if you consider success to be a matter of money then really the only requirement for success is a deep understanding of money. With that understanding you'll always be able to turn your knowledge towards earning the dinars.

If you consider success to be something more (and something personal) then your five-point libertarian model would probably be more applicable.
on Sep 13, 2007

Cacto: It doesn't matter to me whether someone makes use of the observations I make.  The observations I make don't just work for the collection of material wealth but success in any given endeavor.

I feel sorry for you if you think having a positive attitude (point #5) or not getting discouraged (point #2) as being political (libertarian according to you). 

on Sep 25, 2007
Small story here: Reached the peak of my career at age 45 and opted out because the peak was too early--I handled it but not as I would have liked to. Opted in again at 60 after years of doing my own thing and have, by experience--learnt how to handle stress, created new goals , learnt how to handle people better--now have have a clearer vision. So, the peak has arrived again--as Director of an International School---didn't expect it--it happened, but I'm better equipped.

The point is: It's education, so profits don't count , but good results for our children do, in more ways than one.I see your observations correctly. Some of us never give up and always strive for attainable goals that may not seem attainable to others. Leadership in any form requires initiative, a high sense of responsibility and a burning desire to succeed.