I've interviewed 1,300 self-made millionaires: Here's how they think about money


When it comes to generating wealth, some people say it's luck, or being in the right place at the right time. Others will tell you it comes down to work ethic. Some believe it's about intelligence. 

But the truth is, most of the time it comes down to the way you think about money

Over three decades, I have interviewed 1,300 millionaires and from those conversations I have learned how the self-made wealthy really look at money, and how those perspectives set them up for success. 

1. They have an action mentality

As you build wealth, it is important to have faith in your abilities and skills. The self-made wealthy have empowering beliefs about money that lead to effective, daily action that serves as the foundation of their financial success. They know the only way to build wealth is to act, by generating new ideas that solve big problems.

A great example of this is developing an idea that you are unable to finance on your own. If you don't have the resources you need at your disposal, you may feel like you should cut your losses and move on. But when you have the conviction of your vision and can bring people on board to collaborate with you, you can hit it big. 

Think of the hit ABC TV show "Shark Tank." Successful business leaders like Mark Cuban and Barbara Corcoran choose to invest in up-and-coming ventures because their founders sell them on the long-term value and impact, and they know exactly how to execute their goals and grow substantially over time. Once you can do that, you're ahead of the game. 

Steve Siebold is the author of "How Money Works."
Courtesy Steve Siebold

2. They set high financial expectations

People often get what they expect. We're sold on the notion to settle and be grateful for what we have. But never be ashamed of your innate desire for more. In fact, let it fuel you to get everything you want out of life, including money. Raise your expectations significantly. 

Let's say, for example, you earn $50,000 per year. Tell yourself that this year, you expect to earn $100,000. Will you magically make $100,000? No, of course not. But what will happen is you'll be in the right frame of mind to focus on achieving that goal and earning more.

When you keep your eye on that $100,000 milestone, your entrepreneurial spirit will kick in, and you will begin looking for new ways to bring value to the marketplace and solve problems that are more and more profitable. And as you do this, think about how you can use your existing skill set to do just that. 

Never be ashamed of your innate desire for more. In fact, let it fuel you to get everything you want out of life, including money. Raise your expectations significantly. 
Steve Siebold
Author of 'How Money Works'

3. They see money as abundant

Making money isn't mysterious, and the self-made wealthy understand this. They know that money flows from ideas. They know the more value they create, the wealthier they will become. They believe that getting rich in a free market economy is simply a matter of trading solutions for money. The bigger the solution, the bigger the paycheck.

People who became self-made millionaires in the wake of the Great Recession were living in the same world as everyone else. They were able to identify opportunity during a moment of chaos, though. They didn't feel limited by their circumstances.

Especially during periods of uncertainty, it's easy to operate from a scarcity mindset. With a recession and an unpredictable stock market, it can seem like Americans are beset by a whole host of unsolvable problems. 

But instead of spending your valuable time on anxiety and a negative perception of your finances, start making a list of the things you would do if you were a millionaire. Though it may not seem like it right now, now is the perfect time for you to direct your energy toward building your fortune, whatever that looks like to you. 

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4. They are masters of their mental energy 

When it comes to finances, emotions can run high and cloud our judgement. The self-made wealthy understand that emotion can be a great motivator, especially when you need to take action to accomplish a goal. But when it comes to decisions around earning, investing, and saving money, they stick with the facts on the ground. 

The self-made rich know how to focus their mental energy where it can most benefit them in the long term. When you think about your money, are you more focused on small savings or building an empire? 

Let me put it another way: What do you dream about? What do you want to see really happen in your life that money could help accomplish? How close are you to making these things happen?

Even though things are uncertain, take this time to be really honest about the answers to these questions. You owe it to yourself to devote your mental energy to the things that will create that value in your life. 

Steve Siebold is co-author of the book "How Money Works: Stop Being a Sucker," and a self-made millionaire who has interviewed more than 1,300 of the world's wealthiest people over the last 36 years. https://howmoneyworks.com/

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