Billionaires around the world have a lot of advice to give to young, ambitious workers. Luckily for us, they're also very willing to share that advice. Here's a collection of some of the best that they've offered, from some of the most successful, and most wealthy, people in the world.
One of the most common pieces of advice given by the wealthiest people in the world should also be one of the most obvious: start early. Carlos Slim Helú founded the business conglomerate Grupo Carso in 1990 and was the richest person in the world from 2010 to 2013. With a net worth of about $50 billion, he's a guy worth listening to. In a letter from 1994 that he sent to students, he wrote, "Work well done is not only a responsibility to yourselves and society; it is also an emotional need." Besides acknowledging the basic advantage of starting early, which he did by buying shares of a Mexican bank when he was twelve, he frequently talks about success in spiritual terms. "Success," he wrote, "is the harmony between the soul and your emotions."
Living with Discipline
Another seemingly obvious piece of advice but one that's incredibly difficult to follow is to discipline yourself. Especially in the early stages of wealth building, the keys are to spend less and save more. As much as possible. More than you think is possible. Mark Cuban, billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA team, wrote, "Save your money. Save as much money as you possibly can. Every penny you can. Instead of coffee, drink water. Instead of going to McDonald's, eat mac and cheese." Strict budgeting and unpleasant money-saving lifestyle choices are the difference between a money-conscious spender and a person passionate for success. Cuban also said, "Cut up your credit cards. If you use a credit card, you don't want to be rich."
Ouch. That's harsh, but even long-time billionaires maintain the need for financial discipline. Warren Buffett, for example, still lives in the same Omaha, Nebraska house he bought in 1957.
No-brainer, yes, but sometimes it helps to hear it from someone for whom it's actually worked spectacularly, rather than that high school teacher or college advisor. Elon Musk is one billionaire who, we can safely say, is genuinely interested in saving the world (in addition to building huge personal wealth). In a commencement speech in 2014, he said, "If someone else is working 50 hours and you're working 100, you'll get twice as much done." Not only does this prove unequivocally that he is good at math, but it puts simply the most obvious advice for success. Working harder will get you farther. Opportunities are an important part of many billionaires' success stories, but working hard is the soil from which their money trees grow.
Author Justine Musk gives us another, less talked about angle on the hard work principle: take care of yourself. She wrote, "It helps to have superhuman energy and stamina. …Make it a point to get into the best shape possible. There will be jet lag, mental fatigue, bouts of hard partying, loneliness, pointless meetings, major setbacks, family drama, issues with the Significant Other you rarely see, dark nights of the soul, people who bore and annoy you, little sleep, less sleep than that. Keep your body sharp to keep your mind sharp."
Passion and Creativity
These are aspects of business and financial success that are more difficult to pin down and, consequently, more interesting to explore. The adage goes something like, "Do what you love and you'll never work a day." Doing what you love is certainly important for achieving the drive and perseverance necessary for grand success, but no one's being truthful who says there's no "work" involved.
Jim Koch, founder of the Boston Beer Company (brewer of Samuel Adams Boston Lager), was the son of a brewer and one of the leaders of the craft beer craze. He loves what he does but holds no romantic ideas about never working a day. He said, "Pursue something you love, because a small business is going to be very demanding of your time, your energy — it just eats your life. And if you're doing something you love, then you will accept and even enjoy that." It eats your life—that's a graphic image. But his advice is more realistic: you'll enjoy the insane commitment and you'll accept the immense work involved because you love the process and you'll love the result. He continues, "If you're just doing it to get rich, you're gonna lose heart. I tell everyone, getting rich is life's biggest booby trap." The takeaway: "Do what makes you happy."
J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, knows the value of this and its connection to creativity. "Imagination is not only . . . the fount of all invention and innovation," she said in a 2008 commencement address at Harvard University. "In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared." The once-billionaire author has demonstrated the enormous potential value of imagination in its purest form: fiction. But its value extends to entrepreneurship and wealth building, as well.
After the executives at Apple fired Steve Jobs in 1985, Jobs began his own version of an imaginative venture. In 1986, he funded the departure of The Graphics Group from Lucasfilm and became the majority shareholder of the graphics company that would become Pixar. He helped found what is now a global leader in animation, bought by Disney for $7.4 billion in 2006. Jobs is even credited as an executive producer of Pixar's first film, Toy Story. And Apple, Inc. is no stranger to invoking imagination in its products and in its ads.
Start early. Work hard. Discipline yourself. Follow dreams. Do what you love. Exploit opportunities. Take risks. Be creative.
Without a for Dummies book on getting rich—well, there sort of is—the best we can do is listen to those who have already done it, understand their advice, and use it to forge our own paths up the treacherous climb to success.
Whether you are looking for a new job or trying to grow in your current one, getting a certification can be a great way to improve your skills.
Anyone can put that they are proficient in a computer program on their resume but having a certificate can help you stand out amongst the competition and give credence to the strength of your skills.
But what's the best way to invest in yourself without breaking the bank? Some certification programs can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars. We are going to walk through six of the best certifications you can get for $100 or less.
Who is it best for: Those who work with analyzing and presenting data.
Cost: $100 for Tableau Desktop Specialist; additional certifications are available for a larger fee.
More companies than ever see themselves as data companies. Being able to understand data and use it to guide decisions at your company is often critical to taking on a leadership role. Not to mention, being able to present the data in a clean, attractive, and compelling way can help get buy-in from others in your organization or clients. That's why Tableau is a great tool to have in your toolbox.
Tableau allows you to create interactive visual analytics dashboards. In layman's terms, you can take data; create graphs, maps, or charts; and then allow end-users to interact with these graphics to better understand the information. It's a fantastic tool allowing non-technical users to gain insights for data-driven decision-making.
Tableau Desktop Specialist certification starts at $100 and has no expiration date. There are many videos on Tableau's site to prepare for your exam as well as Tableau Starter Kits allowing you to play around and learn the different capabilities of the program. Tableau offers a 14-day free trial as well as free license for one year for students.
Additional certifications after Desktop Specialist are Desktop Associate and Desktop Professional. Those working with a Tableau server may also be interested in a separate certification as a Server Associate or Server Professional.
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When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.
A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.
One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.
The Federal Reserve
The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.
This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.
The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.
Whether you're leaving a job involuntarily, departing for something new, or just want to prepare for the unknown, it is smart to understand all your options regarding your 401k.