Becoming a billionaire seems like an impossible pipe dream, but as of this year, Forbes reported a population of 1,810 billionaires globally. The journey to billionaire status is a financial Mt. Everest, to be sure, but not impossible.
Here are seven insider success secrets that billionaires like Steve Jobs and Mark Cuban used to get to the top--and that you can use to supercharge your own career and wealth:
Live well below your means.
Being a billionaire doesn't always mean living like a billionaire. On Mark Cuban's blog, the investor and Shark Tank host's biggest tip for becoming outrageously wealthy is to live as modestly as possible.
"Save your money. Save as much money as you possibly can. Every penny you can," Cuban says. "Instead of coffee, drink water. Instead of going to McDonald's, eat mac and cheese. Cut up your credit cards. If you use a credit card, you don't want to be rich. The first step to getting rich requires discipline."
Money is opportunity. The more of it you avoid blowing on frivolous purchases, the more you'll have to invest towards that first billion, or to use for your genius business idea.
Focus on quality above everything.
"Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles." --Steve Jobs
I've seen it time and again: entrepreneurs will rush out a sloppily put together product or service, only to be eventually replaced by a more disciplined competitor. And if you've ever read anything about Steve Jobs, you'll know that his path to billionaire status involved obsessive perfectionism (much to the chagrin of his team).
He attributed those seemingly insane details, like making his NeXT computer a perfect cube, to his success, and you can, too. Even if you're not making the next iPhone, there's a lesson to be learned here: delivering your best and final work might take longer, but it can eventually take you to billionaire status.
Think about sustainability.
Billionaires are always thinking one step ahead of everyone else. Or, in the CEO of Amazon's case, he's always thinking 10 years ahead.
"Think about what are the things you know will be true even 10 years from now." Jeff Bezos, who's worth a whopping $70 billion, says. "Your competitive set will change, the technologies that you have available to you will change, but the customer needs--if you find the right ones--will tend to be stable in time, and then you can build strategies around them."
Whether it's through investing (like Warren Buffett) or building the next Amazon, billionaires don't seek get-rich-quick schemes. They know the value of a long-term plan, and they patiently focus on results that will sustain them for decades.
Constantly seek out people smarter than you.
In today's hyper-competitive business world, one might think that billionaires wouldn't even give each other the time of day. The opposite tends to be true, like with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who said "Don't be threatened by people smarter than you."
Whether it's meeting with a competitor to exchange information, or seeking out a mentor, the path to billionaire status involves constantly seeking out brighter and more talented people, rather than trying to squash them.
Learn how to lead different personalities.
For billionaire and hospitality titan Tilman Fertitta, one of the key secrets to success is being an adaptive people person. It's what helped his company, Landry's Inc., become one of America's most powerful and far reaching restaurant corporations.
"People want to be led, but you've got to know how to lead different people," Fertitta says. "I treat everybody differently depending on how I've evaluated that person. And if you do it that way in business, you're going to be a lot more successful."
Billionaires know that EQ, and the ability to respond to others' emotions, is just as important as IQ. The good news: This is a skill you can develop today.
Be a flexible planner.
Every successful billionaire knows that there is a skill in knowing how to pursue excellence while maintaining flexibility. Staying nimble and open to new opportunities is critical to continuing success.
Eric Schmidt, chairman of Alphabet, finds that being flexible and ready to strike are key elements to succeeding in the entrepreneurial world. "You cannot plan innovation, you cannot plan invention. All you can do is try very hard to be in the right place and be ready."
First business models rarely pan out, but billionaires don't throw up their hands and accept defeat when that happens. They adjust. They adjust thousands of times if they have to, until opportunity strikes.
Being understood is overrated.
To state the obvious, billionaires do not get to where they are by following the beat of someone else's drum. Often times, rejection and being misunderstood are the norm.
As Larry Ellison, the billionaire co-founder of Oracle Corporation, says, "When you innovate, you've got to be prepared for everyone telling you you're nuts."
So don't be discouraged to try something new. Perhaps you'll get called crazy for it (I know I was when I started my own business), or perhaps you'll find your way into an untapped market. You never know until you give your "crazy" idea a try.
Are there any billionaire success secrets that have helped you? I want to hear them--give me a holler on Twitter!