I was fortunate enough to become a millionaire right around the same time I could legally drink after starting my brokerage account with just $12,000 in Bar Mitzvah gift money. Now that I've been teaching stock trading for a few years I also have several self-sufficient millionaire students. Long story short, I've been obsessed with success and discovering what makes people successful all my life. Below are the seven secrets of successful people:
Secret #1: Don't do it for the $
I know it sounds strange given that in my profession I'm judged by the money I make or lose and now that I teach my success is determined by my students' profits. But for my top students and me money has always simply been a byproduct of hard work and study -- if we investigate a stock, industry or trend enough, we form a thesis and capitalize on it.
Little different from a doctor diagnosing a patient to defeat the ailment, a lawyer using every trick in the book to win their case or an architect planning obsessively to create the perfect house. There's no difference between these high-paying jobs and a poet, musician or artist crafting together words, lyrics or paints to succeed in their goals. Successful people never dedicate their lives to making as much money as possible.
Secret #2: We're not afraid to be outcasts
No matter your industry you can always play it safe or look to change things and risk becoming an outcast. Considering I'm the leading proponent of penny stock trading while the rest of finance thinks I'm crazy, I prefer to tell the truth above all and will shout it at the top of my lungs every chance I get. There are positives and negatives to this and while my earnings and career trajectory have been hurt by my bluntness, I am thoroughly content with focusing on what I believe in. To be able to be fully honest and not have to be politically correct is one of the things I cherish most about my job.
Secret #3: Work harder than you ever thought possible
Very few people are actually willing to do the work and make the sacrifices to fulfill their dreams. If someone had told me from the beginning how much time and study it would take I doubt I would've even gone through it all. But now that I've tested and pushed myself and put in nearly 100,000 hours into my passion, I would never go back as the journey itself, not just the success, has been a life-changing experience. It's funny how it works, but as I tell my students often, you must cherish the entire journey, even the mistakes along the way as if and when you overcome all obstacles, your success is that much sweeter.
Secret #4: Understand failure is good
Successful people not only accept the inevitably of making mistakes and failing during your journey, we look forward to it! Because while most people fear and try to avoid embarrassment and loss at all costs, I understand these mistakes help me learn what not to do and are not optional but actually required experiences on the path of achieving the most success. Those who never make mistakes are never prepared as they are not experienced or well-rounded enough so when they fail, they fail spectacularly, often never able to recover. As Thomas Jefferson said a little rebellion is good every now and then, so too is consolidation in the stock market and my many small failures help kept my ego in check and made me wiser and more conservative.
Secret #5: Be patient, success is a process
Instant gratification is all the rage in our society -- just look at the exponential growth of social media. But the most successful people I know never achieved it all very quickly; it took years. It's no wonder most trust fund babies, child movie stars and lotto winners end up depressed and addicted to alcohol and chemicals -- they know they didn't put in the time and effort to deserve their good fortune so their values are all messed up. Not to mention their self-confidence. The happiest people are those who struggled and journeyed over time, learning along the way, experiencing the ups and downs that made them into the survivors they are.
Secret #6: Change course when something isn't working
Far too many people are set in their ways and they refuse to ever consider changing or adapting their ideas and plans no matter what. The richest, happiest and most respected people accept the world for what it is -- ever changing and they're willing to change with it to increase the odds to fulfilling their dreams. It's never fun to pivot midcourse, or sometimes even do a full reversal, but being flexible is key to being successful.
Secret #7: Recognize your strengths, outsource your weaknesses
No matter how gifted you are or how hard you've studied and worked at something, everybody has his or her strengths and weaknesses. Nobody is perfect and the wisest recognize their weaknesses quickly in order to strengthen them or replace them by outsourcing in order to focus on your strengths. There is no shame in prioritizing one skill-set over another, in fact, it's often far more efficient and allows you to truly excel and take full advantage of your strengths.