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I Spent 9 Years Interviewing 55 Millionaires - These Practices Made Them (Comfortably) Wealthy

by | Aug 21, 2023 | Money, Personal Finance

This article isn’t about Instagram millionaires.

They have huge egos and bore me to tears. They think fame and luxury are wealth when, in fact, that’s a version of hell I’d rather stay away from.

You might wonder how I have the time to interview all these millionaires. Well, I haven’t worked a traditional job for some time. Writing and researching money topics is what I do full-time.

I’d have to be an idiot not to recognize some patterns these millionaires share with me.

The goal isn’t for you to become Lambo-rich by learning them. It’s to learn a few nuggets of wisdom that can make you moderately wealthy — that’s a more realistic goal.

Here are the practices that made these millionaires wealthy.

You can get rich quick

Many of these millionaires I’ve spoken with got rich quick.

This goes against society’s playbook. This should be illegal according to social media trolls. Getting rich sounds like clickbait and sensationalism. The difference is these millionaires got rich quick but it wasn’t easy.

They often put an unreasonable amount of time into their career or business. One guy I spoke with tweeted 300 times a day to build his enormous fitness business in under a year.

Most of us wouldn’t do that.

Why? It’s extremely hard. We’d think we wouldn’t have time or that we were wasting our time. Getting wealthy is hard work. You have to play life on hard mode for a while.

To be motivated to do this hard work you need a greater why than simply “I wanna get rich, show me the Lambo bro.”

The motivation often comes from…

An abundance of money reduces thinking time

The one thing these millionaires all had in common is they saw what money could buy them in a different way.

Instead of luxury or status they all saw money as part of a formula that affects time and mental health.

Five years ago I wasted so much of my day thinking about money, trying to save money, or attempting to make money. The time left over for thinking about other stuff, like family, was limited.

Decisions become harder, too, when money is scarce.

When you have to watch the Uber driver closely like a detective chasing a murder victim down an alley, to make sure you can afford the fare, your mind can’t think about anything else.

Or when you’re at the grocery store and only have $50 for the week there’s a lot of optimizing that has to happen. My 9th-grade math teacher once shared that she spent 2 hours a week checking the specials and trying to cram everything into her budget.

All it took was one stray packet of Tim-Tams that weren’t on special, and it’d mess up her entire week. She preached that math could help, but what could have fixed the problem was a different mindset.

Money buys you easier decisions.

Money solves problems great minds can’t

Ryan Holiday once said “If it’s a problem that can be solved by money, you don’t have a problem.”

Many of these millionaires can solve problems by simply throwing money at them. This reality is addictive to them. One thing I’ve never understood is not-for-profit businesses.

A client of mine runs a charity. When I mentioned a way she could make more money, she looked at me as if I was the devil in a red suit.

“We’re not about money, you know.”

I get it. But her charity solves hard problems in Africa. Money is a resource that can solve more of those problems. Money can help buy more human problem-solvers. So to think money is evil or nothing more than silly capitalism makes no sense.

Money helps millionaires do more good in the world.

You can’t talk about millionaires without talking about privilege

This naughty word — privilege — came up in every conversation.

Many people see millionaires as those who are privileged and get a free ride in life. This sparks jealousy and even hate. But these millionaires taught me to reverse my understanding of privilege.

Privilege doesn’t add benefits, instead, it removes obstacles.

This is a bad thing. If you make a lot of money without any obstacles then you learn nothing. The wisdom gained is near-zero. And without that learning you’ll likely gamble any money you did make.

So privilege is something to run from. You want making millions of dollars to be hard so your character evolves in the process.

Don’t be fooled by those who have trust fund jobs

Mr Financial Samurai isn’t someone I interviewed.

But he still taught me a valuable lesson when he said to be careful of those who have trust fund jobs. I’d never heard this term before.

A trust fund job is where mommy and daddy create some fancy role in their company for you. Or a rich partner uses their money to buy you a boutique clothing store that you run to look successful.

The clothing store makes no money on paper, but at dinner parties it makes you look like you have a career.

Trust fund jobs are an epidemic on Instagram. All the selfies of beaches and nice cars are associated with a trust fund job that has no boss and requires less than 2 hours a day of work.

The lesson here for you dear reader is to seek out mentors and people to learn from that don’t have trust fund jobs. Otherwise you’ll be learning $2 strategies from $2 wannabe entrepreneurs.

They don’t “eat the rich” for breakfast

You don’t become a millionaire through hate.

It’s popular to eat the rich. To throw mud at billionaires or scream privilege at every person who’s had more success. It gets you nowhere though.

None of the millionaires I spoke to cared about how rich other people were or being jealous. After all, their goal isn’t to hit a net worth number to impress people. No.

Making money is about the value of their time and proximity to true freedom (however they define it).

Boring businesses make the most money

If you waste enough time on TikTok, you may begin to think you need to start some trendy AI company.

Or that you need to make friends with venture capitalists and raise heaps of money for a tech startup that’ll do business next door to Mark Zuckerberg’s McMansion. Not quite.

Millionaires mostly make their money through boring small businesses and real estate. This is where I get all honest with ya’ll and say I haven’t figured out real estate in my own wealth journey.

But it’s an undeniable key factor.

A fancy idea isn’t required to generate wealth. In many ways you’re better off choosing a boring business in a saturated market (meaning validated) and just serving the customer 1% better than everyone else.

Sexy businesses are often the fastest way to bankruptcy.

They don’t rent out their time

One of the most important traits of this group of people is none of them believe in renting out their time.

They don’t get paid by the hour from a job or sell an hour of their time to a stranger on the internet. Why?

There are a finite number of hours in the day. An income built off how many hours you work has a capped upside. And that ceiling often prevents you from ever hitting millionaire status.

Millionaires find a way to detach themselves from time. That could be through labor leverage, digital leverage, or code leverage — or it could be through passive income streams or productizing their knowledge.

Find a way to stop renting out your time, then double down.

It’s obvious who the true millionaires are when vacation time arrives

Some claim to be millionaires.

The way you find out if they are is to look at their last few vacations. Did they take any? Could they step away on holidays and not have their financial lives blow up?

This reality is what many solopreneurs stuff up. They have a great one-person business but they can never take a holiday.

If they do go away there’s no one to do the work for them. So, they find themselves on laptops wherever they go, chained to the screen by those they serve.

A successful career is one you can escape for 4 weeks without any issues.

There are hidden pockets of the internet most ignore

There’s the public internet and the closed version.

Millionaires spend their time in closed parts of the internet that focus on wealth creation and self-improvement. These private locations are inside of Discord, Slack, WhatsApp, Telegram, etc.

If you hang around in these circles for long enough the path to become a millionaire is obvious.

It’s staring you in the face.

And better yet, those who are in these pockets of the internet will help you grow whatever it is that you do. Self-improvement and wealth creation will always be timeless topics.

Entrepreneur Nicolas Cole reminded me that if you look at the New York Times Bestseller list, 90% of the books will either be about money or self-help. This is no accident and successful people know it.

Final Thought

Wealth creation is a mindset.

It’s a way of viewing the world that unlocks opportunities hiding in plain sight. The goal isn’t to get rich but to become wealthy so your perception of time is forever altered. Use money to buy more time. That’s true wealth.

One final insight these millionaires taught me:

There comes a point where stacking cash is a mental illness. In the headline I said comfortably wealthy which means moderately wealthy.

That is, make enough money to buy back your time then exit the money game. Go do work on what matters and spend more time with family.

This article is for informational purposes only, it should not be considered financial, tax or legal advice. Consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions.

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