The Thinking Mechanics of a Billionaire


We know a certain amount about the world’s billionaires; their eccentricities, how much money they have, how they made that money, that there are  2,325 of them (at the time of writing) with a combined net worth of $7.29 trillion, according to the  Wealth-X and UBS Census. (This, incidentally, represents nearly one-tenth of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP)). 

But as is always the case, what we don’t know holds more fascination for us than what we do know. How do they think, for example?  Interviews, books, quality newspaper articles and commentary reveal a certain amount. Read on for some of the common themes that emerge on the ‘thinking mechanics’ of this ultra high net worth, ultra exclusive club.

See also: Surprising Facts About the World’s Richest Tech Billionaires

1. They find and obsessively pursue something that fascinates them

According to Justine Musk, former wife of billionaire Elon Musk (net worth: 11.6bn USD; CEO and CTO of SpaceX), obsessiveness with a cause is key. The pursuit of the cause becomes all-consuming: everything, including their ego, must be in service to that cause. Little else matters, not even failure (to them, failure is merely an option among others; it isn’t the same as ‘giving up’, which isn’t an option). Deep fascination is what drives them and compels them. Billionaires, she says, follow their fascinations “until a problem emerges”, a problem that must affect the greatest number of people, and they make it their life’s mission to solve that problem – even if they “die trying”. No matter if it takes years, decades to find “the problem”, they will “explore bodies of knowledge” to “collect the dots” and then join them. They have the conviction that their as yet unarticulated solution will be worth it; will be massively transformative; life-changing even.

Watch this video of Jeff Bezos  (in which he is talking about the genesis of Amazon) for an example of the level of attention billionaires apply to their ‘cause’.

2. They focus on things that will remain the same in the future

Life does throw up some constants, believe it or not, such as: our need for human connection, our desire to get more done with less, for ‘more time’ or cheaper prices. for security; for safety; for significance. In this video clip, Bezos says that for him, the important question is this: “What’s not going to change?” But these billionaires do not rest on their laurels simply because they may have found the answer (their obsessiveness is a guard against doing so, in any case), they keep investing their time, money and energy into what matters in order to keep their ventures growing.

3. They take the path of least regret

Billionaires such as Jeff Bezos live by a frequently referenced, decision-making strategy which he calls the “regret minimization framework” .The gist is this: project yourself to the age of 80 and think about what you will regret doing or not doing at that age. Then do what you know you won’t regret having done.

4. They use their limitations to serve their goals

One of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out.” Jeff Bezos

For billionaires, limitations drive innovation and experimentation. Whereas the rest of us think of our limitations as liabilities, billionaires don’t.  As Justine Musk said, billionaires will “strategize” their way out of whichever tight box they happen to be in.

5. They seek out people who can propel them towards their goal

Billionaires are smart. Smart enough to know that they don’t have a monopoly on knowledge. Any deficit in their knowledge or expertise is addressed by seeking out super-talented manpower with the capability to help them move ahead.

Although this post has referenced Jeff Bezos quite a bit (primarily because of his obvious willingness to share so much of his thinking with the world), it’s clear that his approach to life is shared by other members of the billionaire club. And although reading this post is unlikely to make you a billionaire, the insights you’ll have gained will surely be of value.

What are your takeaways from these strategies? Share them in the comments box below.