I was raised with a lot of privilege. I’m not trying to deny it. But you know what the massive side dish is that comes with privilege? Delusion. You always expect more food to magically appear on your plate, without so much as leaving the table.
One of the most common, yet most dangerous illusions my generation secretly indulges in is the idea of becoming a billionaire.
Go ahead. Feel it. Deep down. It’s there.
As if it was just a matter of when. If you just felt a slight tingle, I have a few questions for you. Questions for future billionaires.
1. What’s your GOOD reason for wanting to make a billion?
I like David Blaine’s idea that success is giving as much as you get.
He says what makes Bill Gates so great is that he’s figured out how to give the money he’s amassed to worthy causes better than most institutions can. Polio’s almost eradicated. Next, he’s going after Guinea worm disease.
If the only place you want to direct the money is into your own pocket, you’ll never think broad enough to reach a billion.
“To make a billion dollars, help a billion people.” — Peter Diamandis
2. What’s your REAL reason for wanting to make a billion?
Now that we’ve got the noble cause out of the way, why do you really need the money? What happiness can a billion buy you that 100 million can’t?
That 10 million can’t? That one million can’t?
It’s just another arbitrary number. What’s not arbitrary is the psychological hole you’re hoping it’ll fill. Where’s the hole?
Are you insecure? Lonely? Do you lack self-worth? Self-love? Who do you want to prove wrong? Yourself? The world?
It’s okay. Just like the idea of becoming a billionaire itself, when you dig deep enough, you’ll realize it’s there. We all have it. But know it’s there.
“There’s always a good reason and there’s always a real reason.” — James Altucher
3. How are you going to make your billion?
Seriously. Do the math. The real, serious math. We’re not talking about revenue here. We’re talking about profit. Profit you can pocket.
What does a billionaires bank account even look like? Is there ever a billion on there? I have no idea. And neither do you.
Only 3% of billionaires made their money from running private companies. Can you take a company from zero to IPO? How big is your total market? Is there even a billion in there?
“If past history was all there was to the game, the richest people would be librarians.” — Warren Buffett
4. Who’s going to make your billion for you?
That’s right. Not with you. For you. You have to be aware that in the end, that’s what’s happening. Everyone you hire along your journey will partly be responsible for making your billion. And you will hire people. You have to.
These people will work with you. But they’ll make money for you. Tell me: Why should they? Tell them. You better have a compelling reason. A good offer.
What are you going to give back? What are you going to do for them?
“Help young people. Help small guys. Because small guys will be big.” — Jack Ma
5. When do you expect your billion?
If the answer is anything less than 20 years from now, you can stop right here. Warren Buffett became a millionaire just before turning 30. He first was a billionaire at 56. That’s 26 years, starting from millionaire status.
Are you a millionaire yet? No? Whoops. That’s just the first part. But even that’s ridiculously hard.
And don’t you dare tell me about Mark Zuckerberg. You’re not Mark Zuckerberg. Mark Zuckerberg isn’t reading this. Neither would you be, if you were already seriously working on your billion.
“I’m here to build something for the long-term. Anything else is a distraction.” — Mark Zuckerberg
6. What are you willing to give up for your billion?
If being a billionaire is your number one goal, think about number two. You will not get number two. Or three. Or four. The bigger the goal, the bigger the sacrifice.
0.0000272% of all humans are billionaires. They gave up not one, but all the things that make the other 99.99% of people what they are — the other 99.99% of the people.
Whatever you think you can also have, next to being a billionaire, you most likely can’t. We’re not talking about giving up watching football here.
Are you willing to be a bad father for your billion? An absent mother? Are you willing to lose your girlfriend? Or all your friends? Would you give up family? Sleep? Food for a week?
Most importantly: Are you willing to give up being understood by every single person you know?
“I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” — J.K. Rowling
Privilege is a sweet syrup. There’s lots to gain from savoring it. Delusion is the bitter taste it leaves in your mouth when you get used to it.
So here’s one last piece of bark to chew on. As of 2017, there are 2,043 billionaires in the world.