The Best Billionaire Advice I Ever Got On March 9, 2011, Forbes magazine published its annual report ranking the world’s billionaires. If you were on the list, congratulations! But most of us, myself included, were not. In fact, on a planet that has 6.9 billion people on it, only 1,210 individuals can claim 10-digit net worth. Wrapping your mind around one billion of, well, anything is hard! So let me paint the picture for you.
If you were to stack one billion $1 bills, the tower of cash would be 80 miles high! In 2011, Mexican telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helu was named the richest man in the world. Helu’s estimated worth now stands at a staggering $74 billion.
That’s a stack of $1 bills that stretches 5,920 miles high! So how did he and the other 1,209 billionaires do it? What have they don’t that YOU haven’t? I’ve spent the better part of 20 years researching that question. As a young South Korean immigrant, I was blown away—and still am—by America. Ours is the greatest country on planet earth! The freedom, the faith, the opportunity to dream big and make it come true….we are truly blessed to be Americans. 2
When my family arrived in the United States, I had no money, no connections, and my English was less than stellar. Honestly, it’s still not that great (I learned English from my governor of the last eight years, Arnold Schwarzenegger! Cut me some slack!). Today, however, I am humbled to own and serve as the CEO of many companies. And much of the success I’ve been blessed with has been the result of getting to know, work with, and study the habits, instincts, and behaviors of the world’s billionaires. What you’re about to read is some of the best billionaire advice I got along my journey in business. If you want to know how to implement these and many other billionaire strategies and insights, I invite you to grab a copy of my book, Ignite!: The 12 Values that Fuel Billionaire Success May the success you ignite always burn bright!
Billionaire Advice Principle #1 I’ll never forget the first time I met a billionaire. I was young, brash, immature, and thought I was already a business hot shot. I’d made my first million by age 19 and had some early success in the video store and restaurant businesses. But in reality I was clueless. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I was a young chump who thought he had it all figured out. Well, when I realized I would be in a business meeting with a billionaire, I thought to myself, Oh man, this is it! I’m going to impress the socks off this guy! Shoot, he’ll probably make me the president of the company before the meeting is through! Like I said, I was a real cheese ball, a grade A know-it-all. The week before the meeting, I went out and spent more money on a suit than I had ever spent. I bought a flashy tie to go with it and some expensive dress shoes that shined like mirrors.
Oh, see there, I thought. They already know me by name! “Mr. Kim,” the receptionist said, “we’re ready for you to come in.” As I strode into his office with my new shoes sparkling like diamonds, I looked down at the shoes of the billionaire standing in front of me. They looked like…well, like total crap. They were ratty old Nikes that looked about 10 years old. My eyes moved up from his shoes. He had on jeans that were about two generations removed from cool. My eyes kept scanning upward. He had on a plain white button-up shirt and a tweed jacket that was so tattered it looked like it had been gnawed by a family of rats. Today, I’m privileged to call that gentleman a friend and business associate. But back then, by the humility of his dress, he had taught me one of the most enduring billionaire lessons I’ve ever learned:
Billionaires Invest in Things that Matter. I was GQ stylin’, a Korean James Bond—or something. The day of the meeting, I got dressed, checked myself twice in the mirror, and dashed off to meet my billionaire. When I arrived at his office, his receptionist greeted me warmly and called me by my name before I introduced myself.
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People matter. Your entrepreneurial education matters. Businesses that create jobs for people matter. Mentoring matters. Ideas matter. Innovation matters. Research and development matters. Fancy suits, ties, and shoes? …Not so much. 3
Do most billionaires own expensive things? Of course. But for the most part, when you consider how much their home(s) cost, relative to their net worth, they are actually far more frugal than most people would expect.
Is this how all billionaires live? Think again.
Take Warren Buffett, the third richest man in the world. Now, you would expect a man worth $50 billion to live in a mansion, right? A huge palatial estate in the clouds. Actually, Warren lives in the same house he and his wife bought 50 years ago. The original sale price? Are you ready for this? A whopping $31,500. That’s it. Or what about the founder of Ikea furniture, Ingvar Kamprad? Ingvar flies coach, seldom dines at expensive restaurants, and drives an old Volvo. And of course who could forget when, in September 2010, 26-year-old Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg let Orprah Winfrey film his home. I say “his” home but actually Mark didn’t own it—he was renting it. It was a typical house like any you might see in any American suburb. Since the show aired, Mark has moved. But the new house he bought is similarly modest. So what gives? Are billionaires just cheap tightwads?
No. Billionaires understand that assets are best invested in things that matter. You put your money where you will get the greatest return. More than that, 10-figure earners understand that flashy materialism is often just a code for insecurity, not confidence. Now don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing inherently bad about wanting or owning nice things. We all have hobbies, and if you work hard you should be able to play hard. But if you’re not willing to invest in the tools that will grow your mind, grow your leadership, give you the skills you need to serve others and ignite success, then you will likely never eclipse 7-figure status, let alone 10-figures. So there it is, your first piece of billionaire advice: spend your cash on things that endure. It’s made me a mint.
Billionaire Advice Principle #2 Not too long ago a driven young man asked me for advice about how he could ignite financial success in his life. Specifically, he wanted to know how he could become a young millionaire. I’ll tell you the same thing I told him:
You Will Never Become a Millionaire or Billionaire Working for Someone Else Now I know there are hedge fund managers and Wall Street investors who technically work for someone else and eclipse 7 or 8 figures. And I know there are professional athletes who have an “employer” and make big bucks. But most of us can’t do a 360-degree slam dunk, fire a 60-yard pass, or throw a 100 mph fastball. My point is that to really generate massive wealth, you must become an entrepreneur who OWNS something. Why? Because it’s extremely difficult to reach millionaire earnings as an employee. The majority of people work in jobs where salaries are relatively fixed with built in “ceilings” above which a worker will never make. Employers do this to minimize costs and maximize profits. That’s why the employer, not the employee, is the one most likely to go home a millionaire or billionaire.
You MUST become an entrepreneur who OWNS something! If you are an employee, you’ll likely never make over 7-figures a year. The sooner in your career that you understand and passionately embrace this fundamental fact of wealth creation, the greater the chances you will master the value of calculated risk-taking that leads to mega-wealth. I was fortunate to have stumbled into business ownership when I was young and wanted to open a video store. But it wasn’t out of some genius insight. I just didn’t want some boss yelling at me all the time and telling me what to do. I wanted the freedom to fly as high as my wings would carry me. I wanted to define success on my terms, not someone else’s. Ultimately, for me, that meant going into the franchise restaurant industry with my food brands, such as Baja Fresh, La Salsa, Sweet Factory and others. I chose restaurants because people need to eat! But whatever you end up doing, promise me this: you will make it your goal to OWN your own business. That’s the path that leads to big time riches.
What I just wrote sounds really simple and basic, but it’s not. You need to marinate your mind on this principle over and over. Let me say it again:
Billionaire Advice Principle #3 No concept will challenge your thinking about success like the one I’m about to share with you. In fact, few things will prepare you for billionaire success faster than this one.
Giving teaches you how to develop a vision for the future. Giving teaches you how to identify overlooked needs and details.
Are you ready? Here it is:
Giving is the “gasoline” that ignites success. “But wait a minute, David,” you say. “I don’t have anything yet! I’m not a billionaire. I’m not even a millionaire. How in the world can I give to others when I have nothing to give? Giving can wait until I’m rich. Then I’ll be the most generous philanthropist the world has ever known.” I understand where you’re coming from. I used to think this way, too. But it’s exactly backwards. Worse, it’s just flat wrong. Nothing—and I mean nothing—will build your capacity for leadership and character like your capacity to give generously. Why? Because every core value of leadership is tied to your capacity to give. Put simply, learning how to serve others, particularly when your budget is tight, conditions you to think like a billionaire businessperson.
Giving teaches you how to delay gratification to reach a higher goal. Giving teaches you how to display the kind of selfless leadership that people love to follow. Giving teaches you how to prioritize and achieve your goals. Giving teaches you how to focus on going above and beyond the call of duty to serve others to the best of your abilities. Now let your eyes scan that list again, only this time think about what customers want. Customers desire visionaries. They desire attention to detail. They want a person who puts higher goals above personal ease or comfort. They want selfless leadership that is so charismatic and magnetic that they would never dream of going elsewhere to receive the same kind of service or experience. Customers want someone who stops at nothing to give them their very best. Do you see the point? Giving trains you to become a great business leader, because successful businesses serve their customers by putting them first.
Giving Teaches. I am perfectly aware that some people may think that giving away time and money as a method of learning how to get rich may seem completely counterintuitive. For others, it might sound downright crazy. But that’s why most billionaires aren’t like most people. It’s also why billionaires are rare. The reason there are so few of them is that they think differently. Billionaires see opportunities and lessons everywhere. The world is their classroom, and generosity is their teacher. One of the best pieces of billionaire advice I ever got was by watching Warren Buffett. Buffett’s tower of $1 bills reaches 4,000 miles into the sky! And what is Warren doing with 85 percent of his fortune? Donating it to charity. Yep, that’s right. He’s giving it away to serve others. Early on in my career I would have thought such a decision was foolish. But then, as I grew spiritually in my walk with God, I began experiencing the joy that comes from getting outside yourself and seeing the bigger picture. I realized that creating businesses was a way of serving others. Creating jobs puts a roof over the heads of your employees. It gives their families a way to send their children to college.
From there, I learned that I love mentorship and teaching. Interestingly, I first learned this when I began teaching franchisees, employees, and staff how they can grow as entrepreneurs and better their lives. After that I was hooked. You see, I never finished college, so I guess I had an unconscious desire to be a professor. Today, I’m passionate about teaching business owners and would-be entrepreneurs the insider secrets of entrepreneurship that I have learned over a lifetime. I also believe it’s important to share the many mistakes I’ve made in the hopes of shaving years off your learning curve. You’ve got something inside you that you can give. So do it. Here’s my hope and challenge to you: I want you to invest in the things that matter. First and foremost I want you to invest in your family and friends. They yield a higher ROI (Return On Investment) than any business venture ever will. But when your chance comes—and it will, likely sooner than you expect—I want you to take immediate action and grab it and not let go. The billionaires I know understand the power that comes with what we call “speed of implementation”—how fast a person puts into motion the exact principles he or she has just learned. 7
Next, I want you to make it your goal to OWN a business. It doesn’t have to be a Microsoft or Groupon, although that’s cool, too. It can be something you do on the side to generate extra income that lets you take more vacations or buy that boat you’ve always wanted or to fund the kids’ college. For example, know how to sew? Why not create custom clothes serving a niche market and sell them online? Love to workout and stay fit? Why not become a personal trainer or health coach and learn how to market and package your expertise to serve others? Have a gift for organization? Why not create your own professional home organization business? Love to cook? Why aren’t you researching restaurant franchises (I hear that Baja Fresh and La Salsa are great!). Love to cook? Why aren’t you researching restaurant franchises? Have a passion for playing piano, violin, or guitar? Why aren’t you learning how to brand, package, and market your skills to share your joy with others and enrich their lives? My point is that you CAN do it. And if you can, you must! Ownership and entrepreneurship are the roads that lead to the peace of mind you desire and the freedom you deserve. When the bullet train of opportunity comes your way, don’t miss it. Jump on board and don’t look back! And finally, my hope for you is that you learn the joy that comes from giving. And I’m not just talking 8
about cutting a check. In fact, I’m not really even talking about donating money at all. I’m talking about giving others the best of you. Giving them your passion, your creativity, your heart. Serving others can be as simple as sharing your knowledge or looking for ways to enrich the lives of others. It’s a joy like none other. When I teach and mentor others it ignites something deep within me and gives me a sense of fulfillment and purpose. I want you to experience the same. Now get out there and kick butt! Oh yeah…and eat lots of burritos, tacos, and sweets! Just sayin.
Grab Your Copy Today billionaires share revolve around the values that govern their words and actions. Ignite! reveals the 12 beliefs and behaviors you must master to achieve explosive success.
Inside you will learn: • Why most billionaires are self-made and NOT from inherited wealth • How to use a simple secret that will improve your daily efficiency dramatically • The 5 secrets of powerful persuasion • A single step that is scientifically proven to boost your income
What does it take to be a billionaire? The answer may surprise you. It’s not a fancy Ivy League education, high-powered personal connections, or a genius IQ. No, as Baja Fresh, Sweet Factory, and La Salsa Ignite Enterprises CEO David Kim reveals, becoming a billionaire hinges on the core values you live and work by in good times and bad.
…and much, much more.
Packed with practical advice written in simple language, Ignite! will explode the myths surrounding massive wealth and set you on a path toward blazing success. Visit: www.DavidKimIgnite.com
Over a lifetime of studying the personal traits of billionaires, David Kim made a startling discovery: more than anything else, the common denominators 9
CEO David Kim is the star of CBS "Undercover Boss" and the owner of numerous restaurants. In this book he offers powerful financial advice...