How can one become part of the 1%?
I quit my engineering profession even before I begin.
Owed a debt of $30,000 to my parents for using their hard-earned money to send me to Engineering school.
Then took the zero-paying job of building my own business.
Nearly 5 years in from that day, there have been many lessons, successes and a fair share of setbacks too.
But hey; that’s what I signed up for, right?!
Today, I am a six-figure author and my publishing company has released three Amazon top 100 bestsellers and a couple of dozen top 1000 bestsellers.
Although I am not in the 1% yet.
I found out that the one old adage that has been proven true time and time gain is that “You will never get rich working for someone else.”
Learn the advice I got from Sir Richard Branson by downloading this Free Mag Issue
My fascination by the lives of the rich, powerful and famous only started when I was 17. Maybe because I desired to get that new iPhone.
I think at one point or the other, everyone yearns to become one just because we are envious of what they have and experience.
The 1% has always been looked at with the sort of admiration and reverence we would give to mythical creatures of yore.
They have been the subject of many a dinner time conversations and whether it be from a position of envy or admiration, it seems like everyone has something to say about the whole matter.
Being from such an elitist segment of society inherently comes with its fair share of lore and enigma.
In the business world or in life, we call this “Success!” But equally, it can be attributed to selfless leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.
So Is there some unique way of thinking that gives the 1% that edge?
Today I will attempt to shed some light on these individuals.
I’ve researched my fair share of the 1% being an editor of magazine and I have found that being privileged isn’t always the central aspect.
Although luck does play a role, it doesn’t explain the sustainability, longevity and greatness they have attained.
I would like to show you that at the end of the day, they are no more or less human than you and me.
You can certainly take your shot at being the 1% simply by…
Step #1: Learning to Unlearn.
Don’t be trapped by dogma.
Which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.
If our aspirations are to become part of that elite class, then it is evident that we cannot do so if we continue the same way of thinking as the 99%.
The effect of culture and society have on a particular individual is inevitable while at the same time inescapable.
Imagine the compounded effect of the media and social media have on this generation and the one before us.
From the moment we are born, our paths are already set out for us. From kindergarten to elementary school to high school, college and university, there is an already established route that we are predestined to follow.
Imagine if I had set forth after engineering school to look for an engineering job. I would’ve ended up building someone else’s dreams.
It’s extremely difficult to break free from dogma. Even after a year into my solo-entrepreneurial journey, I had my doubts and regrets because I wasn’t making a consistent enough income.
One summer, my dad decided it was finally time to have “the talk” about my future career.
I spent pretty much every other day coaxing them about the rich not working for other people. And that Robert Kiyosaki says that you have to be in the B-quadrant and finally the I-quadrant to make money work for you.
That is the secret of becoming part of the 1%
This extends also to something as personal as our religious affiliations and family life. We are expected to settle down by a specific age and even when to get children.
This of itself is not necessarily a bad thing. As much as freedom is a beautiful idea, the whole concept is tyrannical in that if left to our own devices we would quickly lose structure. The already established system gives us a moral compass to follow and guidelines to operate within the society’s norms.
However, the downside to this is that we end up losing our sense of identity and replacing it instead with what the society wants us to be.
As much as this de-identification effect is felt through all the facets of a society’s culture, I believe the existing education system is the largest culprit.
Don’t get me wrong, education is not only important but critical.
Oxymoronically though, it erodes our critical thinking capabilities.
In order to be able to think like the 1% we have to be able to break from the yolk of what our education system has grilled into us, we have to be able to think outside the box, different from how everyone else has been taught to think.
You can see it from Bill Gates to Elon Musk. In addition to dropping out of school to pursue their dreams, they have also managed to come up with innovative ways to solve problems.
Their unique sense of creativity has enabled them to come up with different solutions to common problems and their entrepreneurship spirit has enabled them to build their industries around these ideas.
For us to be able to attain the same level of inventiveness, we have to re-educate ourselves, that is the only way we can get our creative juices flowing again.
Step #2: Continue learning even after formal education
Once you have been able to break free from the shackles of our formalized education system, don’t stop there, keep learning.
Ever wonder how the 1% has always been able to predict the future?
Well, it isn’t high IQ, nor is it an incredible luck.
Some were even dubbed an oracle, sage or wizard.
Instead of merely predicting the future, these people were ultimately anticipating. >>
When you learn, read and observe a lot, you tend to gain insights that seems obvious to you, but might not be obvious to everyone else.
Smart people read, the 1% gobble up books.
a. Buffett spends 80% of his day reading
“Read 500 pages every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.” —Warren Buffett
The 84 year-old Charlie Munger, reveals to a crowd of aspiring law students the secrets to their success:
“I constantly see people rise in life who are not the smartest, sometimes not even the most diligent, but they are learning machines. They go to bed every night a little wiser than they were when they got up and boy does that help, particularly when you have a long run ahead of you.”
- 11% of rich people read for entertainment, compared to 79% of poor
- 85% of rich people read two or more education, career-related, or self-improvement books per month, compared to 15% of poor
- 94% of rich people read news publications including newspapers and blogs, compared to 11% of poor people
Focus on reading to acquire and reinforce new knowledge.
Ask constructive questions or better yet, bounce ideas off your partner.
I noticed that when I share and discuss new ideas with my wife, the ideas start to become more refined (impurities or unwanted elements having been removed by processing).
The 99% read for pleasure and they get their daily dose from either the Facebook news feed or the politics section in their newspaper.
The 1% read for self-development.
By the way, Buffett and Munger aren’t the only ones from the elusive 1% club who reads their way to the top.
- Elon musk self-learned on how to build rockets at an early age.
- Bill gates, reads 50 books a year and he would rather invest $30 million on Da Vinci’s rare notebooks, than spend more than $10 on his wrist watch.
- Mark zuckerberg is challenging the world to read a book every two weeks
- Tony robbins in this book talks about the 3 most influential books he ever read and how they gave his life direction and allowing him to stay ahead of trends.
So what are your reading goals?
b. Be the last to Speak
You have been told your whole life to listen.
Simon sinek the author of Start with Why, would argue that you should learn to be the last to speak instead.
Resist the urge to speak first.
Listen and observe.
The skill is to hold your opinions to yourself.
It sounds easy, but it’s not.
Knowledge can only be acquired if you learn to listen more than you talk.
…this simple habit can put you in the right path towards the 1%.
This brings me to my next point:
Step #3: Surround yourself with the 1%
You are the average of the five people who you spend most of your time with.
~ Jim Rohn
The whole purpose of establishing a network with the 1% is to gain access to the information, knowledge and skills that they have acquired.
In this book, Tony Robbins mentioned that most of our time is spent with the 99% who have contributed to our low ideals and standards.
We have become so tolerant of the poor lifestyle choices and ideals because of who we choose to surround ourselves with.
We talk to negative friends and family.
We continue to play, compare and compete with somebody weaker than us.
Just like when you play games, the only time you have to raise the standards is when you’re competing with somebody who is better than you.
Although you may argue that we should all maintain a work/life balance.
The fact is, there cannot be “balance” given the big goals you want to accomplish. Becoming part of the 1% requires that kind of sacrifice.
The idea of work/life balance has little application for high-achievers like Elon Musk.
Reid Hoffman, founder of linkedin refers to this as the dark net. It’s the information that the 1% aren’t likely to reveal in public because of the sensitivity or controversies it might bring to them.
It is the information that you would not be able to get from a Google search as it is based on the individual’s experience, it might also be personal to the individual.
Surrounding yourself with the 1% network enables you to have access to this dark net’.
Hoffman explains the power of the ‘dark net’:
“Ten extremely informed individuals who are happy to share what they know with you when you engage them can tell you a lot more than a thousand people you only know in the most superficial way.”
Step #4: Find your competitive advantage
The source of your advantage is something that defines who you are or what your business does.
Positioning yourself based on your distinctive advantage is the easiest way of beating out the rest of the competition and standing out from the crowd.
Once you have established yourself with that core competency, you can now provide unique value drawing on special areas of your talent and strengths.
Remember the 1% don’t get to be where they are simply by portraying the same old qualities as the masses.
Step #5: The Munger methodology of inversion
Charlie Munger, a billionaire investor and one of Warren Buffett’s long standing business partners says that when we have a problem we should scrutinize it, instead of focusing too much on the end goal we should look at the in-between, see what could go wrong instead, make a list of all the possible ways that we could fail.
A study of over 100 academic research backs up his approach.
“Invert, always invert: Turn a situation or problem upside down. Look at it backward. What happens if all our plans go wrong? Where don’t we want to go, and how do you get there? Instead of looking for success, make a list of how to fail instead — through sloth, envy, resentment, self-pity, entitlement, all the mental habits of self-defeat. Avoid these qualities and you will succeed. Tell me where I’m going to die so I don’t go there.”
Navigating the path with this business map, will allow you to identify where you can go wrong instead of just looking for success, success, success.
Bottom line, Munger’s approach is what the 1% does. It is rare for the 99% to look at this approach and take action based on where things can go wrong.
Warren Buffet shares his same methodology by using checklists to avoid repeating stupid mistakes.
Step #5: Evangelism
Set out to Speak loudly about what you’re passionate in…
This idea is perfectly embodied by magnates such as Bill Gates, Elon Musk and even Mark Zuckerberg.
“Macintosh democratized computers; Google democratized information; and eBay democratized commerce.
Microsoft set out to make computers more accessible and available to the common man. Through the creation of windows (which you are probably reading this article on), he was able to make a frightening new technology understandable to almost everyone.
Same goes with Facebook. It brought the world closer, making it more open and connected than ever before.
Elon Musk wants to do the same by democratizing AI by coming up with transcending innovations that ensures the continuity of humanity on earth and even beyond it.
What they have in common is that they built their entire industries around serving the 99%.
Step #6: Focus on delayed gratification
Don’t just hop onto the next big trend
A prime example of this would be Jeff Bezos.
He started very slowly in the beginning, in fact Amazon only turned a profit after 9 years being founded.
He was able to focus on one simple idea that is the pass on the savings to their customers.
His strategy worked and today Amazon is the most valuable retailer in the world.
He became the best by continually investing in improving one core competency. And that has made all the difference.
The 99% would have jumped from one strategy to another trying to keep their investors happy.
Bezos pursued his strategy with a laser like focus.
Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, he improved on an idea that is already working, albeit the slow progress.
To become the 1% you don’t have to necessarily have ideas that are out of this world.
Sometimes all you need is to work on it, or stay on the problem longer than the 99%.
Step #7: Putting all your eggs in one basket
In any viable investment, it is always a prudent idea to diversify your portfolio, as most financial experts would agree on.
However that is not always the case for the 1%.
Instead of spreading all your focus into all these different projects in the beginning, you should pause for a moment, take a step back to re-evaluate and go after the one project that you truly believe in.
This risk taking strategy is how the 1% got to where they are today.
They either make it big or die trying.
To give another example Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos in a speaking engagement at the Stanford Business School said that admitting to having a backup plan is equal to admitting that your plan might not succeed.
She advocates for picking one idea, venture or business enterprise and going all out on it.
Having a backup plan or a safety net subconsciously sets you up for failure.
On the other hand knowing that this is your one and only shot forces you to give it your all.
When you say it’s either this or death, i’m not going to try to do anything else, i’m going to die trying to do this, i was born to do it.— Morgan Freeman
Take Risks, Embrace the Challenges that comes with it.
Ships are not designed to stay in harbours. They may be tucked in safe there, but ultimately that’s not what they’re built for.
When Steve Jobs was introducing the first iPhone, it was a milestone for apple, not only because they had decided to do something different from the rest of the competitors, but also because they were venturing into unknown territories and consequently taking a huge risk.
He inadvertently set up the company’s philosophy on the platform that day.
It is something that he has maintained throughout its history- pushing the envelope of modern Smartphone technology and being the herald of new innovations in the tech sector.
Gambles doesn’t always pay off, but the 1% embraces the fact that failure is not fatal.
The 1% are never afraid of losing.
Step #8: Visualize your dreams
“Like many people, I sometimes think to myself: what if this is all a dream? I feel like one day I might wake up and be 20 years old again, with my whole life ahead of me. That thought doesn’t scare me, though, it excites me. I’d quite like to go back and plot my life all over again, and have even more big dreams,” writes Richard Branson in a blog post.
It may sound silly but before you set out on any venture, you must be able to visualize your dreams.
In a world without dreams, we would all be planting the same seeds of progress.
There will be no one leading the charge for the moon.
There will be no one even attempting to strive to put a human colony on Mars.
Dreaming is your single greatest gift that you can never lose. It propels us forward.
Visualizing your dreams may require you to sketch it out, literally, write it out extensively, hung it on a frame in your office. It should be something that immediately strikes at you and excites your heart.
If that means etching it out on a plaque and hanging it on your office wall then so be it.
Step #9: Taking Massive Disciplined Action
After you have your dreams clearly defined in your mind then the next step is obviously mapping a route to achieve it.
It is easy to make plans and however decent that they may be, the real problem arises when we try to actualize them.
The one percent doesn’t need any motivation to push them.
It is purely habitual by nature.
If they needed motivation at every end of the week, they wouldn’t be where they are today.
The 99% seems to always give up somewhere in between.
One of the ways the 1% uses to get around this hurdle is by making small goals in between that ultimately lead to the larger goal.
At the end of the day, you learn more on the journey than at any other point along the process.
This functions to make the goal appear more achievable in the long run and helps maintain your drive and stamina.
It also becomes exponentially easier to measure your rate of growth.
Breaking down your goals into smaller more achievable goals is the easiest way to learn and apply for most people. However, this does not necessarily mean that it is the only way to go about it.
Elon Musk for example uses a decision tree structure to make important decisions as to the direction his companies take.
Step #10: Diligence is a virtue
Work hard but Work smart as well.
There are millions of hardworking derelicts in the world.
None of them are able to figure out how to get the most out of their time.
The 99% trade their time for money but the 1% work hard on making sure that their money is doing all the work for them.
Easier said than done, I know that is why I wrote an epic blog post on how to work as hard as Elon Musk.
It goes without saying that none of this matters a tad bit if you are not going to pour your sweat and tears into building your own dreams.
Skill and talent will only get you part of the way through, the rest of the way requires your hard work to push you through.
In a lot of ways, this is one thing that differentiates the 1% from the rest, the willingness to go that extra mile when most of us would have already given up.
You may not be the smartest or the most talented, not all of the 1% are, but the one thing that you do have control over is how hard you can work.
Step #11: Stop Complaining!
Recall your last conversation with a friend or a family member.
Ever encounter someone complaining about the economy, the weather or life itself?
Most of us probably know someone like this.
One who finds every reason to express dissatisfaction at just about anything.
I’ll be honest with you. I used to complain a lot as well.
Traffic’s too slow, weather’s too cold, streets are crowded, politicians are crooked, world is so violent and unforgiving.
The 1% don’t have that privilege of complaining all day long like the 99%.
Problems are problems, every one of us encounter the same thing.
No one gets a free ride.
You never tend to ask what problems they encounter. You never get to hear them whine about it.
That’s why they keep their mouths shut and continue working on solving their problems.
They understand that complaining doesn’t change a thing.
Be aware of your thoughts at all times. Resist the urge to complain.
Step #12: Be Persistent
Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race
– Calvin Coolidge
There is a reason why it’s such an exclusive club.
Things don’t always work out as planned. That is why if you are able to stick around longer than everyone else, you can also be part of the 1%.
Every Billionaire, Icon & world-class performers has their roots set out at the 99%…
Jay-Z was already in the rap scene, but was 'relatively anonymous.'
Martha Stewart was a stockbroker for the firm of Monness, Williams, and Sidel, the original Oppenheimer & Co.
Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook was cash positive for the first time and hit 300 million users.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz hadn't even started out in the coffee business; he was a Xerox salesman.
Tim Allen (Home Improvement) was arrested and served the next two years in Federal prison (for smuggling Cocaine).
Richard Branson had already started the Virgin Records record label.
Tina Fey was a child-care registrar at the Y.M.C.A before joining famed improv troupe Second City.
JK Rowling came up with the idea for the Harry Potter series on a train.
Ralph Lauren was a sales assistant at Brooks Brothers
Lloyd Blankfein was an unhappy lawyer.
Mark Cuban was a bartender in Dallas and got FIRED.
Arianna Huffington was traveling to music festivals around the world for the BBC with her boyfriend at the time.
Dan Akroyd was a mail sorter for Canada's national postal service.
Jennifer Aniston was both a telemarketer and waitress before hitting it big.
Alec Baldwin was once a bouncer.
Lucille Ball was reportedly fired from an ice cream shop for not remembering to add bananas to banana splits.
Warren Beatty reportedly worked as a rat catcher before hitting it big.
Halle Berry worked at Higbee's Department store in the children's department.
Marlon Brando became a ditch digger after being expelled from military school.
Charles Bronson worked in a coal mine before becoming famous.
Sandra Bullock worked as a bartender.
Before his big break, country singer Kenny Chesney worked as a valet attendant, telemarketer and mail sorter.
Chubby Checker plucked chickens at a poultry market named Henry Colt's.
Before Nirvana, the late Kurt Cobain worked as a janitor for Lemons Janitorial Service.
Diddy was an intern at Uptown Records where he did grunt work like washing cars & fetching coffee.
Bill Cosby shined shoes and sold produce when he was young.
Simon Cowell started out as a mailroom clerk for EMI Music Publishing where his father worked.
Michael Dell washed dishes at a Chinese restaurant for $2.30 per hour.
Before his debut role as Glen Lantz in A Nightmare On Elm Street
Johnny Depp worked as an over-the-phone pen salesman.
Danny DeVito was a formally trained hair stylist before his break on Taxi.
Michael Douglas once worked as a gas station attendant.
Tom Hanks once worked as a hotel bellman and carried bags for a number of celebs.
Where you are TODAY… Whether you’re young or old, rich or poor… Is IRRELEVANT.
Who you want to become is all that matters, and today is the opportunity to write the first page of your journey towards becoming part of the exclusive 1% club.