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20 Successful Habits I Learned Working For Two Billionaires (Part 1)

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I have spent decades “being educated” –  in college, graduate school, numerous professional certifications, and now a PhD program. All of that schooling and training helped shape the person I am today, but at no point in my life  has there been a more profound education than my time working for Enver Yucel and Oprah Winfrey.

20 successful habits I learned from Oprah Winfrey and Enver Yucel

Enver and Oprah are two extraordinary people. And on top of that, they’re both billionaires. On the surface, they appear to be totally different people. They are in different industries, have different family structures, practice different religions, and speak different languages. However, once you get past their written biographies and dig deeper, you will notice they possess many of the same successful habits.

I had the opportunity to work with both Oprah and Enver for 6 years collectively and those were, hands down, the best professional experiences of my life. I worked my ass off for them and in doing so absorbed everything I could.

It’s my honor to share with you what I learned from them. Here is Part 1 of the 20 successful habits I learned working for two billionaires:

1) Invest in Yourself

This is a very simple concept, but something you would think someone who has “made it” would stop doing. Not at all for these two. I saw them both spend a significant amount of time dedicating their resources to self-development  (whether it be a new language, exercise, social media classes, etc). The moment you stop investing in yourself is the moment you have written off future dividends in life.

 

2) Be Curious…About Everything

What the average person sees as mundane or overly complicated is not viewed the same way with a billionaire mindset. I once had a 30 minute conversation with Enver about the height of the curbs in Washington DC versus Istanbul, Turkey.  Billionaires are incredibly curious; what the rest of the world thinks is a problem and complains about — that’s what these people go and work on.

 

3) Surround Yourself With “Better” People

I hope this is why they kept me around :-). Seriously, I never knew my bosses to keep anyone less-than-stellar in their inner circle. There were many times I thought to myself, “Damn, they have dream-teams built around them.” Jim Rohn had it right, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”

 

4) Never Eat Alone

The last time I had dinner with Enver, as well as the last time I ate dinner with Oprah, there were easily 15 people at our tables, respectively. Coincidence? While most of us derive our key information from blogs or the newspaper, power players get their information from the source (other power players), directly. However, just because you can’t call up the Obamas and break bread with them doesn’t mean eating with others in your circle doesn’t carry value. In one of my favorite reads of the last few years called Never Eat Alone
author Keith Ferrazzi breaks down how you can identify “information brokers” to dine with you.  I’ve seen first hand how enormous the benefits are of this strategy.

 

5) Take Responsibility For Your Losses

I was working for Oprah during the time she was taking heat from the media about poor network ratings. I was also working for Enver during the closing of one of his prized divisions. What I witnessed them both do in response was powerful. Opposed to covering the losses up with fancy PR tactics, both stepped to the stage and said in essence “I own it and I’m going to fix it” and dropped the mic. Guess what?  They sure did fix things (It’s widely noted Oprah’s network is realizing ratings gold and Enver’s assets have probably doubled since the division closing).

 

6) Understand The Power Of “Leverage”

This is something that was quite a shock to me. From afar, a billionaire appears to be someone who is a master at everything. But, in truth, they’re specialists in one or a few areas and average or subpar at everything else. So, how do they get so much done? Leverage! They do what they do best and get others to do the rest . Here’s a great article on leverage. Keep in mind I see this done with wealthy people and their money all of the time – they use OPM (other people’s money) for most or all of their projects.

 

7) Take No Days Off (Completely)

I recall going on vacation with Enver several times, yachting up and down the southwestern coast of Turkey (also known as the blue voyage). Sounds ballerific, right? No doubt we had a great time, but mixed in with all that swimming and backgammon was discussion of business, discussion of strategy, planning and plotting. The best way I can describe this habit is thinking about your business or your idea like your literal baby. No matter your distance, you don’t stop thinking of him/her (and after just having a second son, I can attest to this).

 

8) Focus On Experiences vs. Material Possessions

When you have money, your toys are big. However, the vast majority of money I saw spent on their “leisure” was on actual experiences versus the typical car, jewelry, and clothes we’re familiar with seeing in music videos and gossip blogs. I recall one time at dinner with Oprah, I spotted a table of about 20 girls off to the side. I later found out Ms. Winfrey was treating some of her graduating girls from her school in South Africa to dinner in NYC. Experiences create memories, and memories are priceless.

 

9) Take Enormous Risks

This is another one of those successful habits every entrepreneur can attest to. A matter of fact, Entreprenuer.com created a great infographic outlining commonalities of the world’s billionaires and one of the most prominent was this characteristic: billionaires are not adverse to risk. What intrigues me even more about Enver and Oprah was that even at their high financial status and success level, they still possessed a willingness to risk their most precious asset (their name and legacy) on new and bolder projects. If you’re not taking risks, you’re not making moves!

 

10) Don’t Go At It Alone

Nothing great in life is achieved alone. Especially in business, success isn’t a solo act. This character trait is akin to “surrounding yourself with better people.” It takes teamwork to make the dream work.

What I witnessed from working for Enver and Oprah were characteristics and successful habits that not only apply to business “wins,” but also translate to general life success. I sincerely hope the tips I’ve shared here will inspire you to create (or maintain) great habits for your success. If you’re ready to learn more now and want to get my take on how successful business people build personal brands and an audience, read this! Otherwise, if you want to read Part 2, here it is!

 

How are you putting these successful habits to work? Let’s talk about it!

Posted on: Jan 16, 2014

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594 comments
MarieBurke
MarieBurke

Delighted to see "Invest in Yourself" as the number one successful habit. www.investinyourself.ie

Cecil
Cecil

Great article, good work.

CandaceRutherford
CandaceRutherford

Wonderful advice! I do think that if you are breaking bread with someone, there needs to be a positive purpose (ESPECIALLY IN THE WORKPLACE); and, the purpose should be an agreed focus on progress. If the conversation isn't somehow building you, your peers, or business up, it isn't worth having.

BeBeRobinson
BeBeRobinson

Great article. Definitely changed my perspective on a lot of things. Thanks


five280
five280

I really like this post... some great information and tips provided. I don't eat alone. I try to have dinner with my business partners atleast once a week. 

EveYasmine
EveYasmine

Brilliant article, I found that really interesting.

Jenny Chang
Jenny Chang

I never considered eating with others as a basis for success.  The interchanging of ideas and conversations from dining with others makes sense.  I do some of the points in this article and learned a few more.  Thanks for the lovely article.

Mehanaokala Hind
Mehanaokala Hind

I really enjoyed this article.  It helped outline some really basic principles of success that can be implemented right away.  Mahalo for this and keep sharing your experiences!

ChrisSmithUK
ChrisSmithUK

Loving the 'Tweet this' links, going to have to plagiarise it.

Casey Hutchison
Casey Hutchison

Two of my favorite people. My family use to call me Oprah Winfrey partly because I like to take risks and pave forward. I'll take heed on other tips especially don't go at it alone or eat alone.

BlakeS
BlakeS

Awesome, great links as well! Your awesome man!

EvonAshleyChrisHinds
EvonAshleyChrisHinds

I total understand the power of leverage. Getting paid while I sleep is amazing. Ezshop.zhunrize.com

MzVivacious
MzVivacious

Loved this article.  Totally put things in perspective for me. 

hassahnphenom
hassahnphenom

This was an incredibly uplifting and informative read. Thank you Sir!

Ernest
Ernest

Great read, giving up fast food for 30 days to divert the funds to 3 books you suggested. Salute to you Paul, for my new beginings.

visionmeech
visionmeech

PAUL this article  changed the way i think ....very helpful ..thanks

Glenda
Glenda

I love it. This made may day! March towards the goals!!! Thanks so much for posting Sir.

EvonAshleyChrisHinds
EvonAshleyChrisHinds

That is personal development. Plug into positive things. Like bob proctor on YouTube

JenLeighMoss
JenLeighMoss

@PaulCBrunson Thank YOU! I had dinner with colleagues the other night and thought of your post. I left feeling inspired by them.

davedev
davedev

@EvonAshleyChrisHinds But be careful. Investing in yourself is way more than visualization techniques or motivational talks.


If you are deficient in anything. Search. Accounting is your weak spot? Develop it, at least to a working familiarity.


Find 3 out of 6 conversations you're having melt down into arguments and fights? Pick up some books on influence and communication.


Run a 'scanner' over your life, what negative things people say about you consistently, whatever your friends would consider your worst traits, or examine your own self-talk about yourself -- why am I so nervous when it comes to x or y?


Then make a plan of attack.


From every paycheck, buy at least one book that will develop a specific skill. Read 1 book of non-fiction a week.