Shared Values of Self-Made Millionaires

Human Values

There’s an interesting article posted recently on LinkedIn Pulse. Jeff Haden put this in his post headline, making it almost instantly viral:

“8 of 10 Self-Made Millionaires Were Not ‘A’ Students. Instead, They Share 1 Trait.”

The trait, of course, is their willingness to learn.

While I agree with Jeff Hadden, that is not news. Similar observations were made before.

According to Tom Corley’s study of “Rich Habits”:

“85% of millionaires read two or more books a month that help them grow.”

Indeed, Elon Musk, one of today’s most admirable business leaders is known for having taught himself – literally! – rocket science by reading books. Moreover, according to his brother, Elon used to read two books per day when he was a kid.

And arguably it was Confucius who was the first to document this:

“Men of superior mind, busy themselves first in getting to the root of things; and when they have succeeded in this, the right course is open to them.”

While I agree with Jeff Haden, I do have some news to share: the key to success is not this trait – or any trait for that matter. Traits are habitual patterns of behavior, thought, and emotion. They do not determine what you are (or whether you are a good student or not) because traits themselves are determined by your basic values. You can deliberately change your behavior, and thus change your visible traits, but it may take many years before your values change, if ever.

Likewise, you may force yourself to read two books a day and attract a lot of cheers (and sneers) from your colleagues, but that will not make you Elon Musk.

It is surprising that the basic Human Values theory, created by a quiet genius Dr. Shalom Schwartz,  remains largely unknown to the general public and by all means is considered less “sexy” than numerous MBTI, the Big Five, DISC, 16PF, etc., etc. tests – all the way back in history to astrology and phrenology.

If in doubt, read the book by the incredible Annie Murphy Paul “The Cult of Personality”.

Research shows that good students, i.e. those who would normally get better grades, are usually high on Tradition and Conformance values, while outstanding business leaders are high on Self-Direction and Stimulation values. These values happen to be on the opposite sides of the values map. With all values being, well, values, i.e. being positive by definition, that does not mean that someone is a better person; the dominant values, or rather your values’ scale, determine in which fields this person has a better chance for success.

When values profiles of several individuals are compared, their congruence is a good indicator of their teamwork efficiency. Depending on the tasks, different individual values may be more conducive to success, but the overall team success is more probable if the team members’ values are congruent. Proximate locations on the values map is the first indicator – although there’s more about values congruence than could be explained in this short introduction.

One of my classmates was an “A” student, straight A’s, 100.00%, while he never looked like a geek or an antisocial alien. Once, invited to a radio show because of this, he was taken aback by the expected question, but his answer surprised the radio host: “I do not know. I have always had straight A’s.” That is, having straight A’s was a tradition for my friend, the proper way to behave. Granted, he was a bright student, but his values were not fueled by the desire to get to the root of things. I would not call that a trait either. And while still being a very nice guy, he has never made more than an average salary. BTW, money is not a driver for him either.

Stories about academic failures of famous college dropouts are exactly the opposite, and they seem to be a norm: Travis Kalanick, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg …. – self-made millionaires happen to have very different drivers. The really successful entrepreneurs are motivated by the need to develop and find something new and exciting on a daily basis.

My most incredible discovery while researching on this topic: Elon Musk’s values profile makes it obvious why Tesla is NOT and WILL NEVER BE LEAN.

Because people high on Openness to Change will not substitute common sense with a standardized policy – which Lean methodology is in essence. It just does not happen to the stars in this part of the celestial sphere. Most likely, Musk will get to the root of it – read Deming’s seminal texts, rehash the Toyota Production System basic – and eventually break away from the pack even further, surprising the rest of us with a disruptive initiative in employee engagement, which Deming’s original breakthrough was in essence.

The super successful guys are not motivated by the need to be known as a high achiever or a person with power. The power-hungry usually “reside” in the 6 to 9 o’clock area of the map;  can make a career in management – but will hardly rich the level of the extremely self-driven individuals of Steve Job’s caliber, although they are quite capable of becoming a source of inspiration for some leadership scholars, an achievement as well.

Ironically, another research demonstrated that it is the career managers from the 6-to-9 o’clock Self-Enhancement area who are mostly buying the “green cars.” However, the Self-Transcendence values are exactly opposite to their real values, and buying an electric car is nothing but a statement and a correct “career move” for them. And it is a power sign: electric cars are not an affordable option for those who have really dedicated themselves to fight the climate change. At least not until Elon Musk launches an affordable model.

Check my recent crowdsourcing of Elon Musk’s profile:  the guy is an outlier, not just “high” on Stimulation and Self-Direction values (which happens to in the 10 o’clock area of the map that my CLCTVR 2.0 tool generates.
values map

A couple of readers asked me to check if their values profiles were congruent with Elon’s – see their stars on the map. Their expected congruence with Elon is not that high – but should that come as a surprise? Elon is an outlier. Perhaps Steve Jobs’s star would have been close to his while it was alight…

Sounds interesting? Read more about Elon Musk’s “profile crowdsourcing” here.

What other celebrity profile could we “crowdsource” – and perhaps compare to Elon’s? Leave your suggestion in the comments below.

Finally, if you want to assess your team’s potential, contact me here or on LinkedIn.

Elon Musk Q7

Elon Musk Q7

A few months ago, I answered this question on Quora: “How can Elon Musk put in 80-100 hours a week and still have a social life or time for exercise, etc.?” My answer collected an incredible number of views and upvotes – a good indicator that this is (A) a hot topic and (B) my answer makes sense to many.

The answer I have for you today may be even more interesting. In part, this is your answer!

Here’s the scoop. (TL,DR version: go to Elon Musk Q7 questionnaire).

Personal efficiency, effectiveness, success – have been my favorite subjects and areas of research for quite some time. A few years ago, when I launched the Collectiver site and online tool, the objective was to find out why some teams are more efficient than others. According to my research and observations as a performance expert, the best-performing teams have significant internal alignment. That alignment I measure by the basic values’ congruence of the team members. Continue reading “Elon Musk Q7”

How can Elon Musk put in 80-100 hours a week and still have a life?

(Originally answered on Quora)

Most probably you want to share your surprise that Elon Musk, who reportedly stayed overnight at Tesla site on many occasions, still looks and behaves like a normal sociable person, gives interviews and is altogether in good health and good spirits, right?

This is because he is fortunate enough to have a solution to the ageless dilemma of “work-life” balance.

For most people, this problem exists, and exactly in this form – work vs. life – implying that the negative portion of your existence, called ‘work’, is balanced out by the positive ‘life’. When the balance is in place, then the negative impact that work leaves on your personality and health is cured by the positive emotions you get from what happens after work. Or that is how the unfortunate majority sees it.

 There’s not much of an overlap between the Life and Work, and as this overlap is not considered healthy, we are advised by holistic gurus that we must disconnect, shut off etc. and not mix the two. Hence, there’s not enough room to have both, we either displace one at the expense of the other, or meticulously separate them, having not enough of either as a result. The rest is a multitude of ‘chores’, neutral in their nature; we just take them for granted, neither good nor bad. Continue reading “How can Elon Musk put in 80-100 hours a week and still have a life?”

What are the identifiers of a bad project?

bad project

To answer this question (asked on Quora), we need to define the meaning of “bad” in “bad project.”  As an old project management bit of wisdom goes, there are three main reasons why projects fail (and thus may be identified as “bad projects”):

  1. Requirements
  2. Requirements
  3. Requirements

Continue reading “What are the identifiers of a bad project?”

Brian Fetherstonhaugh: “The Long View”

Required Reading

Over the weekend, I have read a very interesting book – “The Long View” by Brian Fetherstonhaugh.

Brian Fetherstonhaugh is the Chairman & CEO of OgilvyOne, but the book is not about marketing. It is a thoughtful but clear feedback on his personal career experiences, supported by “business cases” from the careers of other successful individuals. Continue reading “Brian Fetherstonhaugh: “The Long View””

Make Every Minute of Your Life Count Towards Your Goal

My Goal

If you want to be efficient, you must work towards your goal – always.

Even if you are chatting with a colleague about last weekend’s BBQ, you should have a goal.

Perhaps your goal is to have a short break before you get back to work. But you must be consciously aware of this intermediate goal and make sure that it is leading you towards your Goal. Of course, you may need to stop and think what your main Goal is.

One of my teachers, when he was doing his advanced degree, had the tagline “PhD in 3 years!” inscribed literally everywhere around him. He even had it as his screensaver text popping up on the monitor after a few minutes of inactivity. It helped.

This poster will help you make your day – your week – your life – more efficient.

Download poster as pdf.

What Makes Life Worthwhile? Good People Made Better

What Makes Life Worthwhile

Once in a while you get news that makes your life worthwhile.

Last week a colleague sent me a text with the phone number of a former client: “He wants to speak with you.”

I called the new mobile number right away and learned that Vlad has been promoted to the top position at an oil production (E&P) company. For a professional, this is an incredible achievement!

Continue reading “What Makes Life Worthwhile? Good People Made Better”

Easy Reading: Wisdom Quote by Mark Twain

By “easy reading” I mean really easy, i.e. big letters, just one sentence (above), and no links or other distractions.