Three Things Self-Made Billionaires Can Teach Us! | The Zebra Blog

Three Things Self-Made Billionaires Can Teach Us!

Did you see the Barbara Walters special recently – the one where she interviewed self-made billionaires?

It was a fascinating episode!  Ms. Walters spoke with four individuals, asking them what experiences and lessons they had learned in their lives that had led to financial riches.  All four truly had created their own wealth – none had received money through an inheritance, or through some lucky circumstance such as a lottery.  They were truly “self-made” people.

Two of the individuals interviewed were able to create financial success by bringing unique products to the marketplace.  The other two individuals built wealth through perseverance.

Not only did these four individuals created enormous wealth for themselves, one of the four was formerly homeless!

John Paul DeJoria, the “Paul” in the “Paul Mitchell” hair care line, has a current estimated wealth of $4 billion.

When asked the question, “How did you make this happen?” DeJoria said that he was prepared to do things the average person wouldn’t do to become successful.


Sometimes the road to success requires hacking your own path through the jungle – a jungle filled with giant anacondas, tsetse flies, and large man-eating predators. 

That’s a jungle no one wants to plunge into.  And really, who wouldn’t rather drive their Jeep on a nicely paved road?

After years of coaching real estate agents, I know for a fact that very few real estate agents are truly working up to their full potential.  That doesn’t mean agents won’t work hard … but they often don’t work hard at the things which are hardest in their business.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone!  It’s tough to tackle activities, ideas, and actions which put us outside our comfort zone.

Think about lead generation.   This is an area where most agents default to whatever sounds easiest, whatever is right in front of them, or whatever their broker says is the “standard” thing to do.  That might be floor time … or open houses.

What if, instead, you were willing to do things other agents weren’t willing to do?   What do you think your business might look like if you set aside your fear and unwillingness … and tried doing the things in this industry that others aren’t doing – or aren’t doing well?  What if you called expired listings?  Did geographical farming? Worked with absentee owners?  Helped investors?  Taught first-time home buyers?  Specialized in relocations?  Mined the MLS for shortages?  Each and every one of these methods of lead generation can yield amazing results … and most of them probably made you groan when you read them!

Back to the Barbara Walters program …

All four of the individuals Barbara interviewed said their “aha” moment was when things were darkest for them personally, or in troubled economic times.  Those are the times at which you can make your mark and truly build success for yourself.  Part of that comes because you may have reached bottom.   Rock bottom is a very tough place to be, and it may take being there to propel you to success.

John Paul DeJoria found himself at the bottom, in a very, very dark place.  Determined to pull himself out, he began selling encyclopedias door to door.  Can you think of anything more challenging?  Granted, this was back in the day before the internet was available, and encyclopedias were actually part of the learning landscape, but really – who wants to knock on 50 doors, and be rejected 50 times?  John Paul was willing to do that!  And yes, he might have knocked on 50 doors and heard “no” 50 times … but on the 51st time he heard “yes”.  And one “yes” is sometimes all you need to start create momentum and begin building the success you’re seeking.

Don’t discount even your small successes.  First, a success will boost your “mojo”.  Nothing feels as good as a “win”. It elevates your spirits, gives you hope, and recognizes your efforts.

More importantly, even the smallest of success is a roadmap for future success.

When talking to agents it’s clear to me that agents are not learning from their moments of success.  I want you to look back on those moments, however fleeting they may seem to you.   What was it that created the success?  Was it a thought, an action, a mindset … or a combination of all three?

If we spent even a tenth of the time analyzing our successes as we do wallowing in our failures, we would have 100 times the success!  Too often, we’re focused on the negativity of the non-results.

Here are the three things I want you to take away from the self-made billionaire segment.

  1. Take action.  Your situation will not improve if you don’t take action to improve it.  We don’t live in the magical world of Harry Potter; you must be willing to work for results.
  2. Be willing to do the hard work that others won’t do.
  3. Learn more from your successes than you do from your failures.  Focus on the positive of what worked; learn from what didn’t.  Adapt!
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8 Responses to “Three Things Self-Made Billionaires Can Teach Us!”

  1. Elly Cyr says:

    Thank you for a very timely blog post! It has given me the nudge I needed right at this moment to do the difficult but rewarding things to jump start my business, including contacting the expired listings I have been meaning to contact!

  2. Ron Smith says:

    Hours of seminars and hundreds of self-help books have been condensed into three simple steps to success. Use them as the three parts to an outline and create action plans. Well done Denise.

    • Denise Lones says:

      Wow! Thanks for the high praise Ron. Success in this business really can be distilled into small, manageable steps … but as I said in the article, sometimes those steps are ones that no one wants to take!

  3. Doug Bullis says:

    This is a GREAT article! Good meat and potatoes!!!

  4. Evan Johnson says:

    Excellent, Denise. Thank you

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