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10 Common Habits of Billionaire Investors

Author: Jeremy Bowman | May 12, 2021

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Routines that really work

There’s no one kind of a billionaire. There are visionaries like Elon Musk, and steadfast investors like Warren Buffett. Some make their money starting great businesses, while others invest in great businesses.

Though there may be a number of ways to accumulate vast wealth in the world, there are some things that billionaires have in common, and everyday investors can learn a few lessons from their routines and practices. Let’s take a look at 10 of the most common habits of billionaire investors.

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1. They wake up early

There’s no universal habit among billionaires, but the most common one may be waking up early. Billionaires and entrepreneurs both claim that waking up early, even before 6 a.m., helps them prepare for the day, giving them time to exercise, or be undistracted.

Some also believe that dawn is the most spiritually charged time of the day and that waking up early helps keep you in sync with the natural rhythms of the day.

Above all, doing so helps you get a head start on your day, whether that means exercising, meditating, thinking, writing, or reading the news.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, for example, says he wakes up at 5 a.m. and reads the news for an hour and a half to two hours.

ALSO READ: Famous Investors: Who Has the Best Stock Picking Record?

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2. They maintain healthy lifestyles

There’s considerable evidence that exercise and diet have a strong effect on your mental and emotional well-being, so it’s not surprising that most billionaires are committed to a healthy lifestyle.

Many exercise regularly, watch what they eat, and practice habits like meditation to calm their mind and boost concentration.

Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter and Square, is something of a Silicon Valley ascetic. He wakes up at 5 a.m., meditates for two hours a day, and walks the five miles from his home to Twitter’s headquarters to give him time to think. He’s also experimented with a wide range of diets, including a vegan one, and he says he lives this way to help manage the stress from being CEO of two high-profile companies.

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3. They get a good night’s sleep

You might think that most billionaires are burning the midnight oil, but in reality most sleep for seven or eight or hours a night. That’s because they need to be well rested in order to think clearly and make the best decisions they can. At the level of CEO or a top investor, the task at hand is ultimately thinking creatively and making good decisions, not work in the traditional sense.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has said getting eight hours of sleep is an important part of his daily routine, as getting enough sleep is key for his ability to make high-level decisions.

The Amazon chief told Thrive Global, “Eight hours of sleep makes a big difference for me, and I try hard to make that a priority. For me, that’s the needed amount to feel energized and excited.”

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4. They're voracious readers

Most billionaires read a lot. Reading is one of the best ways to learn new things, and a reading habit may reflect the curious minds that many billionaires have.

Many billionaires say that reading books is crucial, as they give them new ideas, challenge their current thinking, and help inspire creativity and inspiration.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates reads about 50 books a year, or one a week, and told Time magazine, “Every book teaches me something new or helps me see things differently," Gates says. "Reading fuels a sense of curiosity about the world, which I think helped drive me forward in my career."

ALSO READ: Successful Investors Share 3 Investments That Won't Keep You Awake at Night

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5. They're not motivated by money

This one may sound counterintuitive, but most billionaires aren’t motivated by money. Rather, they’re motivated by testing out their ideas and succeeding. Making gobs of money is a by-product of that success. Bezos has said he believes CEOs are either mercenaries or missionaries. Mercenaries are motivated by money, while missionaries are passionate about the product or service they’re providing. Ironically, Bezos concluded, it’s usually the missionaries that make more money.

Though Bezos is the richest person in the world now, in the tech boom era when Amazon was already worth billions, he was still driving a Honda to work.

Similarly, Virgin founder Richard Branson told CNBC he wasn’t motivated by money, adding, “What I love doing is creating things I can be proud of, and if you create things that you can be proud of, the byproduct of that can be that you become a millionaire or you become a billionaire, because people like what you’ve created.”

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We hear it over and over from investors, “I wish I had bought Amazon or Netflix when they were first recommended by the Motley Fool. I’d be sitting on a gold mine!” And it’s true. And while Amazon and Netflix have had a good run, we think these 5 other stocks are screaming buys. And you can buy them now for less than $49 a share! Simply click here to learn how to get your copy of “5 Growth Stocks Under $49” for FREE for a limited time only.

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6. They have routines

Routines help automate small decisions and leave more time and mental energy for important decisions. That’s why many billionaires have regular morning routines and set schedules later in the day. Bezos, for example, prefers to have important meetings in the morning before lunch, ideally 10 a.m., as he has the most clarity then. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wears a similar outfit every day because he doesn’t like to waste time on small decisions. Other visionaries, like Steve Jobs, were also known for wearing something of a uniform.

Routines, especially for the morning, help mentally prepare yourself to work and to think, so it’s not surprising that the most successful business leaders have found routines that work for them.

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7. They know how to say no

Knowing how to say no, or knowing what to say yes to and what not to is a valuable asset, especially at a high level. Saying no effectively is important in prioritizing time and your objectives, and it’s essential to recognize the difference between an opportunity and a waste of time.

Buffett has said, “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

Being selective with what you focus on is crucial, and as you become more successful, there will be more opportunities pulling you in a different direction. The ones who become billionaires are able to focus on what matters most.

ALSO READ: 1 Lesson Investors Can Learn From These 2 Warren Buffett Stocks

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8. Billionaires are able to change their minds

Changing your mind isn’t always seen as a virtue, and in investing especially it can be difficult to contradict an earlier statement or bail on a stock you’ve long supported, but the best investors and business leaders are able to change their minds when they encounter new information.

The ability to change one’s mind also indicates a flexibility in thinking to absorb new information that can be a competitive advantage.

Bezos has said that people who are right a lot change their minds, and Jobs was also known for changing his opinion quickly in response to new information.

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9. They know how to focus

Most of the world’s billionaires are billionaires because they excelled at one thing. Buffett and other investors like George Soros became billionaires because of their success at investing.

Founders like Zuckerberg and Bezos achieved this by starting companies that are now some of the most valuable in the world. In other walks of life such as sports or entertainment, the pattern is similar.

Being that successful in a certain field requires a high level of focus and commitment, especially in the beginning. Though it may seem inevitable now that these people became billionaires, focusing on the thing they could do best was a big reason why they achieved such wealth.

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10. They embrace risk

Unless you inherited your money, it’s hard to reach billionaire status without taking some risks, and the entrepreneurs and investors who've made it generally like the thrill of testing new ideas in the marketplace and making bold bets even when there are long odds.

In the early days of Amazon when it was a bookseller, Bezos faced plenty of skeptical people who believed his business would be crushed by Barnes & Noble. You might not think of Buffett, the famed value investor, as a risk-taker, but his Berkshire Hathaway has regularly made multibillion-dollar acquisitions of companies like railroad BNSF or the manufacturer Precision Castparts. Some of those have paid off, while he has acknowledged that others were mistakes.

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We hear it over and over from investors, “I wish I had bought Amazon or Netflix when they were first recommended by the Motley Fool. I’d be sitting on a gold mine!” And it’s true. And while Amazon and Netflix have had a good run, we think these 5 other stocks are screaming buys. And you can buy them now for less than $49 a share! Simply click here to learn how to get your copy of “5 Growth Stocks Under $49” for FREE for a limited time only.

Previous

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You can still live like a billionaire

While you will probably never become a billionaire, many of the life practices above are relatively easy to emulate, and can help you be more successful.

Get enough sleep, and increase your productivity by waking up early. Live a healthy lifestyle and spend judiciously. Don’t be afraid to take risks and be mentally flexible.

Above all, the biggest takeaway from the habits of billionaires is to focus on the process rather than the outcome. None of the people mentioned above set out to become billionaires. Gaining that wealth was simply a by-product of their work and success.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. JPMorgan Chase is an advertising partner of The Ascent, a Motley Fool company. Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Jeremy Bowman owns shares of Amazon and Facebook. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), Facebook, Microsoft, Square, and Twitter. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long January 2022 $1,920 calls on Amazon, long January 2023 $200 calls on Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), short January 2022 $1,940 calls on Amazon, short January 2023 $200 puts on Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), and short June 2021 $240 calls on Berkshire Hathaway (B shares). The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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