If you want to know the "trade secrets" from billionaires around the globe, simply listen or--should you ever get the chance--ask. Many are happy to share the lessons they've learned, the risks they took, and the mistakes they made. Actually digesting that information can help you better angle yourself for success.

1. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft

Don't be afraid of growth. Gates says, "You know, at Microsoft in 1975, even when we wrote down 'A computer on every desk and in every home,' we didn't realize, oh, we'll have to be a big company. Every time, I thought, 'Oh, God, can we double in size?'" Obviously, Gates got over his fear of growing a company, but the bigger lesson here is that being a mega corporation was never his goal. He had a passion project, a vision for a better future, and the means (and smarts) to see it through.

2. Steve Jobs, founder of Apple

"Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful, that's what matters to me." This is one of Jobs's most famous quotes, and perhaps the best piece of advice he ever gave. Like Gates, Jobs was committed to changing the world (and his world) for the better. Never losing sight of that vision, regardless of the riches, is crucial.

3. Sylvester Stallone, actor, writer, and director

"I am not the richest, smartest, or most talented person in the world, but I succeed because I keep going and going and going." Judging from Stallone's starting point, nobody would guess he was destined for fame and success. He'd starred in only one "film" before writing, directing, and starring in Rocky (and that predecessor was a low-budget porno), yet Rocky is one of the few films to never have received a single negative review. Stallone continues his success today, and still says sheer dedication is what made it happen for him.

4. Aliko Dangote, business magnate

"If you don't have ambition, you shouldn't be alive." These might seem like harsh words at first blush, but Dangote considers ambition the "inner stuff" that makes up a person and what separates our species from all others. Ambition was the driving force behind his success and what he seeks out in partners and employees.

5. Reginald Mengi, chair of IPP Group

"I grew up in poverty, but I always saw it as a challenge. The good thing is that you can surmount a challenge if you are willing to pay the price. The price is hard work." Sometimes the simplest explanation is the most difficult to wrap your head around. Mengi didn't have any opportunities handed to him, but devoted himself to hard work and seeking them out or making his own.

6. Carlos Slim Helú, business mogul

"Competition makes you better, always, always makes you better, even if the competitor wins." Mexico's richest man was always "rich" with advice and the lessons he learned the hard way. However, embracing healthy competition instead of tearing down fellow entrepreneurs was always how Slim did business, even if it wasn't orthodox in the environment where he thrived.

7. Robert Kiyosaki, investor

"It's not how much money you make, but how much money you keep, how hard it works for you, and how many generations you keep it for." If you can't keep the money you earn and make it work for you and your heirs, it's like gambling with chips you can't cash in.

Published on: Sep 10, 2014