By definition, most of us are not in the top 1 percent of the 1 percent. Still, there's a lot of news about people who are. Last fall, NPR's Hidden Brain reached out to people who manage billionaires' money to understand what it's like to be rich. Last week, the New York Times ran a piece about the "Richest of the Rich."
As a non-billionaire, you might be asking, "So what? Why should I care what it's like to be a billionaire?" Turns out, thinking like a billionaire--even if you don't have as many 0's in your bank account--might actually make you more innovative and effective at work. In a recent interview, psychologist Brad Koontz outlines how billionaires' mindsets make them more effective.
Five aspects are ones that all of us, regardless of our net worth, should adopt at work everyday:
1. Believe anything is possible
Ultra-high-net-worth individuals differ from even the mass affluent in the way they approach constraints. Billionaires believe that rules don't apply to them. While this may sound like it comes from a place of privilege, it is also a powerful tool for innovative thinking.
When it seems like something is impossible, refuse to believe that it is. Instead of taking "no" for an answer, push yourself and your teams to explore ways in which you can attain a seemingly unattainable goal. For example, if it hadn't pushed past the barrier of exclusive music rights, Apple would have failed in building the iTunes store.
2. Play to win
Part of what drives billionaires is their competitiveness--they want to win. According to Dr. Klontz, this competitive streak exists in all of us, as a remnant from our tribal ancestors. Evolutionarily, being a leader also meant having access to the most resources to survive.
In addition to monitoring external competition, focus on setting and surpassing your company's internal goals. Sometimes, innovation isn't about disrupting other solutions out in the world, but disrupting your own to make it even better. When Amazon released the Kindle, for example, it disrupted its physical book-selling business, but with a more innovative solution selling eBooks.
3. Find joy in the journey
Money isn't what keeps billionaires going. Instead, it's the joy they find in their pursuits. While money is an outcome, this innate happiness in what they do keeps them inspired and effective.
Work inherently comes with stressors. If your happiness is tied to "being done," you will never be happy. Instead, find moments of joy in your process, whether it's team rituals, personal growth moments, or inspirational outings. At Zappos, a company known for its fun culture, a core value is to "create fun and a little wierdness."
4. Drive with meaning and purpose
Through observations of inherited and self-made billionaires, psychologists have found that self-earned billionaires have an innate sense of meaning and purpose. They are driven by an internal desire to create an impact with their work.
When you go to work day in and day out, it's easy (and important) to get down into the weeds. Still, be sure to frequently remind yourself and your team about the bigger picture--why your company and work exists in the world. When he first started Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg didn't believe he was just creating a company. Instead, he says, "it was built to accomplish a social mission--to make the world more open and connected."
5. Ask for help
Maybe unsurprisingly, being a billionaire is not easy, and it certainly isn't a one-man job. In order to manage their assets and make decisions about their lives, billionaires rely on advisors and experts. They are less shy than non-billionaires to ask for help.
There is nothing weak or embarrassing about asking for help. If nothing else, getting someone else's opinion gives you a second perspective to pressure test your own. When working on Toy Story at Pixar, director John Lasseter constantly leaned on a personal board of advisors to provide feedback and push his creativity. Today, this notion of a non-authority board of advisors forms what the company calls a Braintrust, providing help on projects.
Though we can only wish to tap into billionaires' bank accounts, we can tap into their brains to understand how they think. And if applied correctly, this has far more value to our lives.