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3 traits that make people rich

Housel breaks down the three traits that can make people rich. And the first, he admits, may sound like a cop-out.

1. Luck

Some of us are lucky, some of us aren’t. This isn’t to say people with extreme wealth aren’t smart or hardworking, Housel said, but luck — and being born at the right time in the right place — plays a significant role.

“Are we going to pretend that if Steve Jobs was born in Cameroon in 1650 he would have been as successful? Of course not.” Success, rather, is when “luck and an incredible amount of scale meet at the same time.”

There are a lot of people in the world “who are just as creative as Steve Jobs, just as driven as Bill Gates, just as motivated as Mark Zuckerberg,” Housel said. “But if they don’t meet some incredible stroke of luck in their life, they’re going to have a middling level of success.”

2. Endurance

One reason people stay broke or struggle financially is “short-termism.” In other words, they just don’t stick it out long enough to reap the benefits of their hard work.

Housel pointed to MrBeast (aka. Stephen Jimmy Donaldson, a YouTube personality), who doled out the same advice to aspiring YouTube stars: go make 100 videos and then they could talk. And, “99 of those people will give up before they make 100 videos,” Housel said.

The antidote to short-termism is endurance. “It comes down to whether you have the endurance — if not stubbornness — to keep it going in any business endeavor,” he added.

That goes for investing, as well. If you’re an investor, you’re paid to put up with uncertainty, since most people will “cry uncle sooner than they thought.”

3. A high tolerance for pain

Those who are successful not only have the endurance to wait out tough times, they also have the ability to withstand “pain,” which could mean different things to different people.

When former president Barack Obama met the Navy SEALs who took down Osama bin Laden, he “was stunned at how ordinary they looked,” Housel said. Half of them looked like they could have been high-school principals, he added, but “their tolerance for pain was off the charts.”

A high tolerance for pain doesn’t mean you have to be able to do 100 push-ups with perfect form in two minutes like a Navy SEAL. For Housel, as a writer, withstanding pain meant being able to handle the possibility of failure and coming up against criticism.

“People are going to tell you every day… how dumb you are, how bad of a writer you are, and you’ve just got to bite your lip and endure it.”

Read more: Here's how much the average 60-year-old American holds in retirement savings — how does your nest egg compare?

How to stay rich

Housel’s personal financial success is a culmination of these three traits: a mix of endurance, a high tolerance for pain, sprinkled with a dose of luck.

Before writing an internationally best-selling book, he wrote more than 3,500 blog posts over the course of 17 years, and “of those 3,500 I think 3,000 of them sucked,” he said.

While the aforementioned traits can help you get accumulate wealth, it also takes a certain type of personality to stay rich. We’ve heard of athletes going bankrupt shortly after retirement or lottery winners losing all their money within a few years.

“If Bill Gates or Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg… inherited a billion dollars at age 18, it would have not slowed them down at all — they were so ambitious, irrespective of money,” Housel said. “But if I [had] inherited a billion dollars at 18, I’d be a disaster.”

Most people need to be motivated “by the fear of not making it.”

But they also need to stay rich by learning how to maintain and grow their money. After all, as Housel added, “getting rich and staying rich are two completely different skills.”

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About the Author

Vawn Himmelsbach

Vawn Himmelsbach

Freelance Contributor

Vawn Himmelsbach is an experienced freelance writer and editor since 2001. She has contributed to various publications, such as The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Post, CBC, Moneywise, Zoomer, Wheels, CAA Magazine, Explore Magazine, Canadian Traveller, Travelweek, WestJet Magazine, Ottawa Life, Flare, and Consumer Reports. In addition to these, Vawn is a senior contributing editor of BOLD Magazine, a custom content writer, and copy editor. Moreover, she has previously worked as a freelance page designer for Metro News and is a co-founder of Chic Savvy Travels, a travel website for women.

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