Warren Buffett, Richard Branson and Others Explain What It Takes to Find Big Success

Wealthy businessmen offer their advice on how to become successful

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Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor
President of ZTPR
8 min read
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Everyone’s definition of is different. Throughout my career, I’ve worked with dozens of millionaires and billionaires who achieved their monetary success by working with purpose, as well as practicing commitment and self-restraint. The money was subsequent to striving toward a greater goal, and this is something that most successful people share. 

If you don’t take it from me, take it from Warren Buffett: “You really want to be doing what you love doing. And if you don’t connect strongly to your first job or two, don’t give up before you find it." 

It’s no coincidence that the cities with the most millionaires include Tokyo, New York City, London And Paris; fast-paced playgrounds that motivate and encourage anyone striving toward working harder, better and faster. “The city that doesn’t sleep,” “the big smoke,” “the entrance” are all nicknames for these cities where the strongest not only survive but thrive. 

To thrive, entrepreneurs will summarize Buffet's points into two qualities: perseverance and passion. Colin Wayne, a retired decorated US Army Veteran who runs America's top multi-million dollar home decor  Redline Steel, will also tell you that if you’re looking for success, you need to be ready to color outside the lines. Wayne says, “Outside of being a hard-worker or ambitious in nature, I think the one trait every has to have is their ability to be a “rule-breaker.”

Rule-breaking can come in many forms, including ambition or knowing when to say “no” to opportunities that don’t serve you and “yes” to opportunities that may consume time that would otherwise be spent at leisure with family or friends. When that happens, you can’t let their disdain stop you from continuing to chase what you know you’re capable of. 

Related: 7 Billionaire Entrepreneurs Who Started Off Dirt-Poor

Serial entrepreneur says, “The one thing in life you can control is your effort. If you are willing to put in the effort to start the business and you are willing to deal with the challenges... If you are willing to fight through those via effort and brainpower, anything is possible. There is no reason it can’t be you.”

Additionally, when you know what you’re capable of attaining—even after you’ve attained it— you have to keep working. "The most successful entrepreneurs are driven by legacy over currency. I’m obsessed with my legacy. Every decision I make is predicated on the long term," shares social media star and serial entrepreneur/investor Gary Vaynerchuck.

Typically, achieving your goal or your definition of success empowers you to undertake more. Virgin Group’s founder says, “The benefits of dreaming far outweigh the perceived risks because the value of dreaming isn’t just measured by the outcome, but the inspiration that comes from the journey of achieving the dream.”

It’s also worth noting that what you see as someone’s “overnight success” is usually attributed to weeks, months and years of hard work. The Millionaire Foundry cites that the average millionaire goes bankrupt three and a half times before they eventually succeed. This is where perseverance is once again relevant; working toward great success starts with successful days and successful days start with small habits. 

Related: 61 Books Elon Musk Thinks You Should Read

For businessman and “Shark,” , small habits start with a healthy morning routine. He shares, "I don't check my emails right after I wake up. When you wake up in the morning and look at emails, you’re going to be consumed by everyone else’s emails of people asking you what they need to be done. I also don’t look at Instagram because everyone there is skinnier and sexier and richer than me. So if I wake up in the morning, looking at everyone’s problems from an email, and then also thinking about how everyone is living a great life, then I walk out of the room depressed." To further John’s point, recent studies show that here in America, 67 percent of wealthy people watch less than one hour of television daily, and 63 percent spend less than one hour daily surfing the internet.

As for Teague Egan, CEO of EnergyX, he says the first thing in his morning routine is making his bed. “My favorite book in the whole world is a very short book called “Make Your Bed” by Admiral McRaven. The book talks about the small things that matter as well as character traits that make up a strong-willed, determined, and hopefully successful human being. The first chapter explains the importance of starting your day with a completed task.” 

Many other entrepreneurs share similar sentiments about starting the day with completing a task, particularly one that is self-serving. These include setting goals for the day or week, meditating, reading, or going to the gym. The activities are all active and stimulating because they wake up with drive. Entrepreneur and Elite CEOS e-commerce coach Tanner Chidester who made himself over $21 million recently online, also makes a valid point, explaining, “When running a business there are always things to do and attend to, so I like to get up at 4:30 a.m. every day and get all my personal things done so that when the rest of the world wakes up, I will be available." The fact is, if you think that millionaires don’t make time for themselves, that’s incorrect. Aside from the aforementioned anecdotes, studies conducted by The Foundry and others report that 88 percent of self-made millionaires read at least 30 minutes every day and that 76 percent of millionaires exercise four days a week.

Related: I Spent a Day Living Like Billionaire Warren Buffet. Here's What Happened.

That leads me to time management. If you’re going to be successful, you need to prioritize your time, from the time you spend on developing your own business to the time you spend on yourself to stay sane, recognizing that if you push too hard or take on too much, it will only stunt your success in the long run. "Great entrepreneurs and CEOs don't pretend to have all the answers and know that the best way to guide the organization is having the right people in the right seats,” says Ali Mirza, president of Rose Garden Consulting, one of the top-rated business consulting firms in America. “They don't try to do everything, but hold everyone accountable to the same high standards that they hold themselves and others."

Colin Wayne agrees as well, explaining, “I look at yearly holistic goals from a micro and macro standpoint and ensure that I am clearly communicating to my leadership team managed expectations on three primary things (Priority Level, Deadline, and Clearly Communicated Overview)."

There are many examples of how entrepreneurs assign out work and apply the best use of their time, but again, what works for someone, may not necessarily work for another. Take business magnate Elon Musk. He says he spends the majority of his time on engineering and design. “A lot of people think I must spend a lot of time with media or on business-y things,” he says. “But actually almost all my time, like 80 percent of it, is spent on engineering and design, so it’s developing next-generation product.” 

Having worked with businessmen and businesswomen across all different industries, income levels and from all walks of life, I’ve seen that success is not only defined by a dollar amount, it’s about loving what you do each day so that you can fuel that inner fire. The age-old saying goes, “find something you love doing, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” For Musk, that’s the engineer and design side of his business, which now that he’s developed so successfully, he’s able to pivot his focus toward. 

When you are motivated by what you’re creating or doing, when you’re motivated by your own goals and ambitions, you’ll find true success. And the money? That is a byproduct as long as you’re passionate about whatever type of business you are in as an entrepreneur.

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