If you’re willing to look stupid for long enough, you’ll eventually become a millionaire.
I’ve recently read a ton of autobiographies of really famous people — celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tina Fey, Steve Martin, Ray Allen, Michelle Obama, Kevin Hart, Bryan Cranston, etc.
Most of them are millionaires; many are decamillionaires (net worth >$10 million).
And all of them had to look stupid for a long time before they finally got it right.
But they eventually got it right. And the only way you’ll start getting things right is by trying, failing, experimenting, failing, and learning.
After reading the seven most popular finance books of all time, I started to recognize some patterns of the rich — they had specific mindsets that most people didn’t.
The problem is, most people are afraid to adopt these mindsets — to risk looking stupid, to separate from the crowd, to live life on their terms. It’s painful, embarrassing, and people might laugh at you. It’s not a nice feeling.
But if you can adopt these five mindsets, you’ll probably end up rich in just a few years. Because if you live like no one else is living today, eventually, you’ll be able to live like no one else.
1. Spend Your Time Buying Assets
The truth is, rich people acquire assets — things that make them money over time — while poor people usually get liabilities, junk that won’t make them any money.
The more junk you buy, the less freedom you’ll have. As Neil Patel once wrote, “It’s absurd that we would prioritize the hottest new device, the cool car, or trendy toy over owning that which makes us feel the most engaged and most alive.”
Rich people don’t play by the same set of rules as everyone else.
Rich people read things, do things, say things, avoid things, and spend their money on things very differently than everyone else. Rich people are usually far more financially literate than their poor counterparts; they understand money, and how to make money work for them.
Rich people buy luxuries from the money their money made them; poor people buy luxuries from the sweat of their brow and hard labor.
If you want to be rich, start spending your money on assets — things that make you money over time.
In the great parable The Richest Man in Babylon, George S. Clason explains that every “gold coin” (or dollar) is like a worker. That worker has the ability to magically produce more workers, if you know how. One worker/dollar could potentially develop hundreds of more “workers” for you.
Basically, every dollar is like a little seed that can grow and sprout more dollars. This is the essence of having “money work for you.” If you want to be rich, you must position your money to have an active role, not a passive one. As my friend Tim Denning wrote, “You will destroy yourself financially if you save.”
Ramit Sethi wisely points out in I Will Teach You To Be Rich: “Because of inflation, you’re actually losing money every day your money is sitting in a bank account.”
If you want to be rich someday, spend your time buying assets, not blowing it on gadgets or stuffing it away in a bank where it’ll quickly lose value.
2. Choose to Embrace Criticism, Not Praise
Most people run from criticism and embrace praise. This is the #1 reason why most people will remain in mediocrity and never achieve true success.
In reality, most people are afraid to fail and get criticized. It’s scary and painful, to be sure. But as #1 New York Times best-selling author Mark Manson once wrote, “We can be truly successful only at things we are willing to fail at.”
Most people hate failure. They run from it.
In their eyes, if they suck at something, it means they suck. Since their self-worth is tied directly to their performance, any failure is proof they aren’t good enough.
But this is exactly why they’ll stay in mediocrity. If they aren’t willing to fail, they aren’t able to learn from their mistakes. If they never learn, they’ll never grow and develop into something more.
If you’re not willing to fail, you guarantee you’ll stay average-at-best.
If you want to grow into an extraordinary version of yourself, you must be willing to fail — a lot.
My favorite quote from the great philosopher Epictetus is this one: “If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.”
Improvement requires failure. Criticism is inherent in any process where truly big goals are on the line.
If you want to be rich someday, stop running from criticism. Start embracing it, realizing it’s not personal, it’s just you evolving into the best version of yourself.
3. Choose To Be Unafraid of Looking Stupid
Most people are living on someone else’s terms — avoiding ridicule and potential embarrassment. In most cases, this mindset comes from early memories or childhood. It’s crazy how much power these little memories have over us; how much power we’ve given to others, just so they wouldn’t laugh at us.
But you don’t have to be afraid anymore. You don’t have to live in fear, living reactively in a way that avoids embarrassment.
Just because you fail doesn’t make you a failure.
Actually, there are some ridiculous benefits to looking stupid.
In his iconic Ted Talk, Jia Jiang discussed how he created and practiced his very own “rejection therapy” system, intentionally placing himself in situations where he would look foolish to overcome his fear of rejection.
He might ask his favorite fast-food chain for a free “burger refill” (it’s what it sounds like). Or ask a complete stranger to borrow $100. He knocked on someone’s door and asked if he could kick a soccer ball around in their backyard. In his most famous experiment, he asked a Krispy Kreme cashier if she could create a donut resembling the 5 Olympic rings.
What did he learn from practicing looking like an idiot?
Don’t be embarrassed.
If you want to be successful, you have to shed off this immature attitude and fully lean into being and doing whatever you want without fear or what others might think.
Choose to be unafraid of looking stupid.
Be Someone Who Almost Never Follows the Crowd
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. -Mark Twain
If you follow traditional advice, you’ll probably never be rich.
Don’t listen to the majority.
That’s because the majority of people aren’t wealthy. Most people are broke, in debt, and have poor financial behaviors. Most people overspend, don’t save, don’t invest, and don’t develop their financial intelligence.
Why on earth would you ever follow their advice?
One of the reasons that millionaires are economically successful is that they think differently. -Thomas Stanley
Think of the most common financial advice you’ve heard over the years. It probably includes recommendations like:
- Save your money
- Get a good job with a good paycheck
- Diversify your portfolio
- Be frugal
- Don’t take big financial risks
- Your home is your biggest asset
- Pay off your credit card every month
But according to the world’s most influential financial books, this advice is usually bogus.
Traditional advice is actually what prevents people from attaining great wealth. The ideas are usually based on risk-avoidance and fear. They’re too small. Archaic. Outdated.
Wealthy people don’t touch this stuff.
One of the most common characteristics of massively wealthy individuals is that they typically go against the tide of mainstream financial behavior.
Irving Kahn, a 109-year old hugely successful investor once quipped, “I would recommend that private investors tune out the prevailing views they hear on the radio, television and the internet. They are not helpful.”
Warren Buffet agrees. “A good investor has the opposite temperament to that prevailing in the market.”
While everyone is panicking, the wealthy are taking advantage. Ramit Sethi once said, “Fear is no excuse to do nothing with your money. When others are scared, there are bargains to be found.”
Truly wealthy people ignore traditional advice.
In fact, wealthy people’s behavior is commonly considered risky, impulsive, or even dangerous by the majority. Yet, they’re the ones with the fortune, not us.
In short: if you want to build massive wealth, don’t listen to traditional advice.
“I will tell you how to become rich. Close the doors. Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful.” -Warren Buffet
5. Stop Being a Consumer of Social Media, Become a Creator
Russel Brunson, the co-founder of ClickFunnels (valued at $360 million), is one of the most prolific internet marketers in the world. He recently described his relationship with social media:
I only use my social apps for two purposes: to produce and publish content, and to spy on my [dream customers]. I don’t use them to be ‘social,’ because that’s the fastest way to ruin your life…you should never look at yourself as a ‘consumer’ of social media, but a ‘producer’ of it.
Most people consume social media — a lot of it. It’s the first thing people do when they wake up, the last thing they do before they fall asleep, and one of the most common responses to boredom.
But as long as you’re primarily consuming social apps, you’re falling into the same trap most unsuccessful and broke people fall into. Studies suggest scrolling through social media almost never has a positive effect; it’s almost always negative, leaving you discouraged and jealous and frustrated.
In Hollywood, there are two types of people: those in front of the camera (actors) and those behind (everyone else). If you’re in front of the camera, you’re usually putting on a show, acting like someone or something else.
Those behind the camera aren’t acting, they’re focused and present and fully themselves.
It’s time to step behind the camera.
Stop consuming junk, start creating art. Help people by spreading a message that solves problems and makes people want to follow you. If you do that long enough, you’re going to make a lot of money.
One of the most liberating moments of my life was when I realized I could adopt any mindset I wanted. I could be anything, do anything if I just found the right mindset.
After reading hundreds of books on success, finance, and personal growth, I started to see some patterns, some common mindsets all these successful people had that eventually made them millions.
James Allen once wrote, “As a man thinketh, so he is.” What you think is what you become — use these five mindsets to become the most successful version of yourself.