Get All Access for $5/mo

What Really Affects Your Ability to Make Money These are the factors that are most influential when it comes to a person's earning potential.

By Ken Sundheim

This story originally appeared on Personal Branding Blog

Each quarter, our recruiting firm receives upwards of 33,000 resumes from all levels of sales and marketing job seekers from all over the U.S. Nearly every income bracket, education level and age is consistently represented.

Over the course of the past decade, I've spent time analyzing why some individuals can sustain on-going monetary success.

For instance, why is Sally making 35% more than Bob even though Bob is just as good as employee? With the right management, Bob could outperform Sally…several times over.

What about the CEO of Bob and Sally's company, Mary who makes over a million a year with stock options that could drive and sustain wealth?

Related: The Mentality of a Successful Career

In order for job seekers to gain a more firm grasp of the subject, I've had our recruitmentteam take a further look into what really affects earning potential.

Factors That Are Less Influential On One's Earning Potential

Contrary to popular belief, the following variables had less to do with one's ability to procure wealth than originally thought.

1. Ambition. People who make more money want to be more successful than those who do not earn. As a matter of fact, some of the less monetarily successful people whom I meet have great intentions and ambition, but they lack in crucial areas which we'll discuss.

So, in this case, Mary may or may not have wanted to be CEO more, but that's not what propelled her to another level when compared with her employees, Bob and Sally.

2. Intelligence. People who make more money are more intelligent than those who earn less throughout their career. If you factor out the huge outliers such as that 23 year old tech genius who created the next big app that Facebook buys, natural born IQ is a big equalizer, not of a differentiator.

3. Education. People who make higher incomes had a better education in college or are successful because of their network. While network is a factor is one's ability to succeed, it does not work like most think it does. You can't network your way to the top.

Rather, when you are successful, optimistic and productive, you naturally attract those similar in nature. Thus, a network comes in handy after a certain level of success is achieved and confidence is gained. It does not work the other way around.

One can attempt to manipulate their way there, but it's very difficult (not to mention morally bankrupt) because smart, successful people are not easily manipulated so this route almost never works in the beginning and nearly 100% fails in the end.

4. Management. An oppressive or supportive boss. If you are the type that allows others to determine your ability to achieve and earn, from the onset you are not on the right path.

5. Profession. While some jobs naturally pay more than others, people who gravitate towards a specific career for the money often find themselves earning at the bottom percentage in that vertical.

For instance, young people who want to go into banking for the payoff never find themselves obtaining true wealth. In order to make money, a person must be productive; in order to be productive, one must be happy as optimism has a direct impact on a person's will power to achieve.

Related: 5 Ways Millionaires Approach Their Careers

The Key Differentiators

1. Attitude. While it may not appear so on the surface, in most instances, CEO Mary will possess a "let's go get "em" mentality where manager Sally rarely can conjure up that enthusiasm alone and Bob tends to see reasons why things are not possible. This prompts the quitting response.

Thus, Mary is worth money to the company because her endurance and ambition are strong enough to get Sally to sign on who, in turn can relay the tasks that need to be achieved by Bob in order for the plan to come to fruition.

In a meeting, the three may be analyzing the same business prospect, but often their views are different from one another's.

For those who wish to make more money, it's imperative to understand that your habits must change before your mind can have the ability to. New Years Resolutions often fail because people try to manipulate their habits with their conscious mind first.

2. Coping Mechanisms. Everybody is confronted with peril in their lives. Hurdles are all relative, too. What seems like a major setback and reason for quitting by Bob is seen entirely different in Mary's eyes.

Really efficient executives meet hardship with hard work. Middle managers can often handle the stress, but tight deadlines and situations frequently erode manager Sally's ability to perform at 100%. At this point, Bob is more in-tune to his after work nap and the Italian delivery he is getting later in the evening.

Discipline and resiliency are two immense differentiators. Though, they can arguably be correlated with coping mechanisms (and are for this piece).

3. Physical Health. While this is not always true, there is a correlation between earnings potential and physical conditioning. Companies tend to favor applicants who are fit because they are often the ones that come into the meeting energized, engaged and focused.

Additionally, the less experienced hiring managers tend to weigh looks much more heavily than they ought to. Therefore, the gym rats will get a smoother start to their career.

It can be argued that it is more one's heart (gained will power) than it is their head that helps them earn. Here's the good news. If you have the concentration ability, intrigue and intelligence to make it to the end of this article, you have the foundation and propensity for wealth.

Related: 15 Behaviors and Traits of Great Leaders

Ken Sundheim is the CEO of KAS Placement Sales and Marketing Recruiters, a sales and marketing recruiting firm specializing in staffing business development and marketing professionals around the U.S. Ken has been published in Forbes, Chicago Tribune, AOL, Business Insider,,, Huffington Post and many others. He has also appeared on MTV, Fox Business News and spoken at some of the country's leading business schools on HR, job search and recruitment.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Starting a Business

How to Find the Right Programmers: A Brief Guideline for Startup Founders

For startup founders under a plethora of challenges like timing, investors and changing market demand, it is extremely hard to hire programmers who can deliver.


Four Takeaways for the Franchise Industry From My Time at the Republican National Convention

Matt Haller, President and CEO of the IFA, says the stakes are high for franchisors and franchisees in the upcoming presidential election.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Growing a Business

The Top 5 AI Tools That Can Revolutionize Your Workflow and Boost Productivity

Discover the top 5 AI tools for marketing and content creation that every marketer needs to know.

Business News

How to Build a Successful Startup, According to an Investor Who Made Early Bets on Twitter, Lyft, and Twitch

He's found a few patterns after nearly two decades of investing in startups.

Science & Technology

No More ChatGPT? Here's Why Small Language Models Are Stealing the AI Spotlight

Entrepreneurs can leverage this growing tech to create innovative, efficient and targeted AI solutions.