The 5 Career Paths to a Wealthy Life

«Decide exactly what you want and resolve to persist, no matter what happens until you achieve it,» says Entrepreneur Network partner Brian Tracy.

In this video, Tracy discusses the five career routes to take in order to become wealthy.

His first point is to become an entrepreneur. From farming and trucking to real estate and computers, there are a number of industries to build a business in. Like Henry Ford and Bill Gates, start with an idea for a product or service and build it from the ground up.

Another plausible route to take is working your way up in a company. You could become a highly paid executive for a successful company, or an employee with stock options, he explains.

The third way to get rich — although this one takes much experience and schooling — is to become a professional, such as a dentist, doctor, lawyer or architect. People in these fields get advanced degrees and charge high prices for their services.

Getting into sales is another great way to make lots of money. In fact, 5 percent of self-made millionaires are experts in sales for their industries, says Tracy.

The last group Tracy mentions are people who make their money in the stock market, artists, lottery winners and other celebrity-like accomplishments. This group is pretty far-off, but understand that it is only a small sliver of people in the top 1 percent.

To learn more, click play.

Watch more YouTube videos from Brian Tracy on his channel.

Related: How to Overcome Chronic Procrastination

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6 Things to Consider Before Partnering Up

Great businesses are founded on great partnerships. But great businesses can also be destroyed by bad partnerships.

These entrepreneurs—and members of The Oracles—share their hard-won wisdom about what to watch out for before joining forces with a business partner.

Jack Canfield
Image credit: The Oracles

1. Trust your gut and get it on paper.

All of my success has come from successful partnerships: co-authoring the Chicken Soup for the Soul series with Mark Victor Hansen; The Success Principles with Janet Switzer; and managing my companies with Patty Aubery and Russ Kamalski. My top two criteria for partnering are: One, I must like them and trust the person. Two, they have to bring something to the table that I cannot myself provide. Liking them and trusting them are subjective things, but I’ve learned to trust my gut. If anything doesn’t feel right, I don’t proceed.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when partnering is not sufficiently clarifying each other’s roles, boundaries, compensation, and exit strategies and then documenting them on paper. While it’s important to trust each other, it’s also important to ensure you are clearly on the same page before you start. People often have different understandings and interpretations if they are not codified in writing. Jack Canfield, co-creator of the billion-dollar Chicken Soup for the Soul franchise, author of the NYT bestseller The Success Principles, and CEO of The Canfield Training Group

 


Tai Lopez
Image credit: The Oracles

2. Know the partner for at least a year.

Before entering a business partnership, my top criterion is to ideally know someone for at least one year. (Some psychology and scientific studies say that people truly show who they are after one year.)

It’s like dating—you have to date before you get married. A business partnership is a marriage. So you need some short-term “dating projects” in business. Become good at reading people and back it up with references. If projects don’t work out, you move on. It’s like choosing not to see someone after three dates: you haven’t made a long-term commitment and will be OK.

The biggest mistake you can make in partnering is going into it too quickly. Make sure you outline the responsibilities of each partner. Otherwise, you might get stuck doing all the work.

In the operating agreement, write out the partner’s responsibilities, your rights and the exit strategy. Something like, “You’ll work approximately 30 hours doing A, B, C, and five hours doing Z.” The more clear you are, the less likely it is to fail. Tai Lopez, investor and advisor to many multimillion-dollar businesses who has built an eight-figure online empire; connect with Tai on Facebook or Snapchat

 


Roberto Orci
Image credit: The Oracles

3. Use math, but don’t forget the fun.

Partnerships can be wonderful, but also can become your worst nightmare. Use math to decide on the right partners. That’s right, math. If one plus one equals two, that’s not the right partnership for you. One plus one must equal three! A partnership must be more than the sum of its parts; otherwise, you’d just as well outsource different parts of your business.

You should also partner with someone who is better than you at certain things. Many times I’ve seen people’s egos prevent them from building great partnerships. They felt threatened by their partner’s skill and couldn’t get past that to achieve a grander vision. «The Father of Advertising,” David Ogilvy said you should hire people smarter than you.

Finally, you must ensure that you’re going to have fun. After all, you’re entering the long-term commitment of a business marriage. It’s going to become a deep part of your life. There will be lots of ups and downs. You will be tested. But what’s the point if it isn’t going to be fun? Resist the seduction of your partner’s resume or their prestige; if you aren’t having fun, the partnership won’t last. Roberto Orci, Hollywood super producer and screenwriter whose movies and TV shows have grossed more than $5 billion worldwide

 

 


James Swanwick
Image credit: The Oracles

4. X-ray their brain.

The first thing I do is ask a potential partner to take the HEXACO and dark triad personality tests, which are like x-rays into their brain. It’s important to know the personality type that you’re dealing with because a business partnership is like a marriage.

Secondly, I look for people with different, complementary skills to my own but who share the same vision. It’s not enough just to like someone, which is how I used to think. If you’re an extrovert, look for introverts. If you’re the face of the company, maybe you need a nitty-gritty operations person behind the scenes. Likewise, if you’re that operations person, perhaps you need someone more extroverted.

The biggest mistake I ever made in partnering was going into business with three other partners. Too many cooks spoiled the broth, you might say. I thought a range of personalities and opinions would be good, but it created too many conflicts, egos, obstacles, and slowed everything down. The perfect scenario is two to three partners, but four seemed too many. — James Swanwick, CEO of Swanwick Sleep and the 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge

 

 


Chris Plough
Image credit: The Oracles

5. Get on the same page upfront.

I form partnerships that are win-win, long-term, and relationship-based. Our contract simply becomes a way to document our understanding and an insurance policy if leadership changes. To get there, we sit down to share and clarify two things:

One, core values. We check for alignment and allow both sides to develop trust by understanding the other’s key drivers. These can be relied upon when things get difficult and the relationship is stressed.

 

Two, business baggage. We share our business baggage to ensure we’re starting on the right foot. This includes outlining our expectations and commitments for the partnership, so that they’re openly shared and can be met. We also share our fears and desires for the partnership, so that they can be addressed in the planning phase, rather than at a point of conflict.

Together, these allow the creation of healthy, profitable partnerships that withstand the stresses of business. Chris Plough, entrepreneur advisor and serial entrepreneur

 

 


Phil Suslow
Image credit: The Oracles

6. Don’t be afraid to walk away.

Consider a personality test such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. This will develop self-awareness of your working preferences and provide a better understanding of how your partner operates. But, there’s a dichotomy—ideally, you want to balance each other out, but you don’t want to drive each other crazy from being too different. If it resonates with you, maybe look into an astrology compatibility report for yourself and potential partners—it’s simply more due diligence.

Ensure that your end goals are aligned. For example, do you want to operate as a passive lifestyle business or build it to sell for huge multiple figures? How many hours a week do you want to dedicate to the business? What staff do you want to hire? Do you have any other projects or commitments which will conflict with the business or distract your attention too much? Is your family on-board with the business venture?

The biggest mistake I’ve made in any partnership stems from my fear of confrontation; I struggle with difficult conversations. Once, I delayed ending a partnership for too long—even though I knew it wasn’t the right fit. It created a lot of unnecessary inner turmoil and wasted energy, when I could have been building something that was more suited to me. Phil Suslow, owner of Oznium

 

Want to share your insights like those above in a future column? If you’re an experienced entrepreneur, please get in touch here.

Want to suggest a future topic for these entrepreneurs to answer? Email suggestion@theoracles.com and it’s very possible we’ll make your suggestion the focus of a future article!

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What I Learned by Spending $650,000 on My Credit Card Last Month

Here is my recent credit card statement.

Image Credit: Neil Patel

That $659,635.62 charge may seem like a lot (and it is!), but there’s a reason I’m spending that much, which is what I want to explain here: That explanation begins with what American Express calls its Centurion Card but is more popularly known as the “Black Card.”

Over the years, I’ve spent so much with Amex that the company gave me one.

Related: Why The Right Travel Card Is A Must For Entrepreneurs

Now, the Black Card has an aura of exclusivity — it’s something that mostly celebrities and mega-rich people have. Because of its pros and cons, I’ve had one three separate times, weird as that may sound.

American Express Centurion Card

Image Credit: Neil Patel

Neil Patel

Image Credit: Neil Patel

What I learned from having a black card

The Black Card! People think it’s amazing. That’s why I aspired to have one when I was a kid. I wanted to be cool, and I thought a card would make me cool. Celebrities have a Black Card. It’s hyped up on TV. You think you can gain access to amazing places, and live an exotic life. People seem to respect you.

Well, I quickly learned that you attract the wrong kind of attention. True, some people will look at you differently. For example, when I go to the airport and use my card, people often ask me, “What do you do for a living?”

Yet what I learned is that this kind of attention does not make you a better person. For example, in my early 20s, I went to Nordstrom to buy some shoes and got asked out on a date . . . because of my Black Card.

I was planning on hiking with friends. It had just rained, and I’m OCD about mud. My plan was to buy a new pair of shoes to go hiking in so my old ones wouldn’t get muddy. (I know. Crazy.) I went to pay for the tennis shoes I’d picked out, and used my Black Card at the checkout. When the cashier saw the Black Card, she started flirting.

Related: 3 Strategies to Ensure You Never Sit in the ‘Regular’ Boarding Area Again

She asked me what the shoes were for, started laughing, touching my hand, complimenting me on my style and even offering to clean the shoes if they got muddy!

Then she handed me a slip of paper containing her phone number and said, “Hey, you should give me a call.”

She hadn’t talked to me for more than three minutes, hadn’t gotten to know me, hadn’t even spent time helping me find my tennis shoes. Nor do I think she was making much of a commission from a $79 pair of shoes.

But she saw the card, and asked me on a date.

Now, some entrepreneurs see the card (or know that I have one) and try to ally with me so I can help them get a Black Card of their own! And that doesn’t work with me: I don’t want to work with someone who’s impressed simply because I own a card they see as a sign of wealth.

Another story: I was at a conference, and an attendee asked me, “Hey, how did you get a Black Card? I spend, like, $150,000 a month, and I’d really like to get one, to bust one out whenever I’m hanging out with celebrities, and totally get on to their level. What did you do to get yours?»

I felt his pain. So, I made him an offer:  “Why don’t I give you a Black Card under my account? You pay your portion of the bill, and you can spend your $150,000 a month. Just send me a screenshot of your bill, so I know what kind of expenditures you have.”

Now, if he spent as much as he said he did, I would have benefited from the extra points for having him on the card.

But he wouldn’t give me the screenshot. I’m positive that he didn’t spend $100,000 a year on his credit card, either, let alone $150,000 a month. Who cares about getting on a celebrity’s level, anyway? Just do what makes you happy, and pursue success as best you know how.

In short, a credit card doesn’t build a true reputation for success. People in business — your true peers — don’t care if you have a Black Amex or not. Sure, the card might seem special because of the way our society has hyped it, but it’s just a black and titanium card, nothing more.

And there’s nothing impressive about spending a lot on a credit card. Someone spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a month on a credit card might be barely making that much in his or her business, and so only breaking even.

Credit-card spending doesn’t mean that a business is profitable or a person is rich. Besides, most people waste money on useless expenditures. In my experience, any time someone spends more than $200,000 per month, there is some wastage happening.

For this reason, I create a spreadsheet recording every payment that I make with my American Express credit card.

Image Credit: Neil Patel

Why? I want to know where every dollar goes. By listing out my expenses, I see the wastage, and know how to save money and increase my profitability.

Increasing profitability is what business is about. If your numbers aren’t positive, who cares if you’re a big credit card spender?

Why do I have a Black Card?

If you’re wondering, “Okay, Neil, why do you have a Black Card?” there are two main reasons:

1. The points: I charge a lot to my Black Card. In return, I get points, which I can redeem for airfare. I tend to look at everything as a mathematical formula. For my expenditures, the Black Card nets me the highest returns.

With the Black Card, for every purchase over $5,000, I get 1.5 times the points. Because of this, I’m earning an extra 225,000 points per month. That 225,000 extra points means at least one free international business class ticket, which has a value of $5,000, to be conservative. That’s $60,000 worth of free yearly airfare.

It’s worth paying the yearly fee of $2,500 for the card when I’m getting an additional $5,000 per month, right?

2.  The helpful concierges: Another reason I hang on to my Black Card is the helpfulness of its concierges. For me, the biggest advantage of the card has nothing to do with money or points. It has to do with people.

For example, if I’m looking for a Thanksgiving dinner reservation somewhere, but all the restaurants I call are booked, the concierge can probably secure a reservation for me somewhere. These people can also fine-tune my spending to achieve my goals.

As my own expenditures with Amex increased, I needed more guidance on which Amex cards to spend money on in order to gain the best returns for the points. One concierge said, “I see that you’re spending a lot on advertising. You should consider getting a gold Amex card, because it provides three times the points, for up to $100,000 in advertising.”

I spend way more than $100,000 on advertising each month, so I opened up several new gold cards to take advantage of the «three times the points» deal on the first $100,000. But that action ended up tanking my FICO score! I went from an 807 to 731.

Image Credit: Neil Patel

Still, the advantages outweighed the disadvantages, and now I’m getting three times the points for each advertising dollar I spend on my gold cards.

What’s more, the concierge team members are super friendly. They go above and beyond to accommodate your requests.

Most Black Card perks are either useless or available on the Platinum Card.

When you look at some of the “exclusive” benefits, they aren’t that useful. I’ve heard that Black Card holders can close down a mall store to shop privately. Seriously, how conceited do you have to be, to do that? (I’m skeptical that an Amex would even do that for you. The company doesn’t make that claim, either.)

Another perk is access to exclusive events, such as the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Sure, an Amex concierge might be able to make some calls and help you out. But you can do a quick Google search yourself to find out what to do to gain access. It’s much more convenient, quicker, and cheaper.

One of the famous perks of the Black Card is access to airport lounges. Because I’m constantly traveling, I spend a lot of time there. But I don’t need the Black Card; those popular Black Card perks are already available on the Amex Platinum Card. It’s not as popular or sexy as the Black Card, but its benefits are just about equal.

The lessons I’ve learned from the Black Card

  1. You don’t want the kind of attention that a Black Card brings.
  2. You should control your spending, cut waste, and focus on profitability. Having high business expenses is meaningless.
  3. You should never let society’s expectations or material stuff control who you are, and the decisions you make in life.

When I was younger, I would grab for material possessions. I wanted it to seem like I was a cool person, or that I had achieved success.

Related: 10 Travel Hacks Every Business Traveler Should Know

I eventually learned that these things are useless, however. Stuff shouldn’t dictate what I do or the decisions that I make.

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How I Got Out of a Funk (and Saved My Business)

This story appears in the January 2017 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When I was 19 years old, I delivered bread to grocery stores. But I dreamed of entrepreneurship — writing, speaking, coaching and traveling the world while building a location-independent business — and worked up the nerve to walk away from my steady paycheck. I took a few online courses, hired some coaches and teachers, and educated myself on the worlds of digital marketing and branding.

Related: 6 Habits That Turn Dreams Into Reality

Over the next 17 years, I built my consulting and lifestyle business, Chaotic Organization, and authored multiple books on the topic of entrepreneurship. I learned countless lessons that helped me overcome difficult circumstances, self-limiting beliefs and times when it felt easier to quit. I wish I’d remembered these lessons at the beginning of 2016, my 18th year in business. Because that’s when I needed them the most. I went through a nasty breakup at the beginning of that year. I thought I could focus on my business, but the truth is, my personal life sidelined me. It started slowly at first — I missed some deadlines for clients; I canceled some strategy sessions. Then it got worse. 

Depression, anger, frustration and a lack of motivation took over, and I stopped communicating with friends and business colleagues. I was living in Medellín, Colombia, for a long-term consulting contract and didn’t have access to family or friends, who were in Milwaukee. I shut myself off from the world and spent most days binge-watching Breaking Bad on Netflix.

My business suffered, my professional relationships collapsed and I was told that my attitude was repelling people. I lost hope. After three months of this, my best friend, Chaka, was worried enough that he flew to Colombia to check on me. The very first thing he said was that I was destined for great things, but I was ruining all the progress I had made. I realized he was right — and it became the spark I needed. I started taking some very deliberate steps after he left, working to get back on track and even grow my business.

Related: 6 Ways to Pull Yourself Out of an Entrepreneurial Slump

First things first: exercise. I gained 60 pounds in my slump, and the weight gain was defeating, and affected my energy level. After my friend pointed this out (ouch!), I stopped all the junk food and started making healthy choices. I forced myself to wake up at 5 a.m. to exercise six days a week, which gave me time to think, process my thoughts and feelings and plan my day.

After the first month, I lost 20 pounds, and my energy level was through the roof. I was accomplishing more and more each day, and my income grew along with my business opportunities. After my workouts, I spent an hour meditating, which helped me gain control of my emotions. In my old life, pre-funk, I worked nonstop. By slowing down and focusing, I felt I could see things more clearly. 

Meditation allowed me to listen to myself and others, which helped me close deals and improve relationships with clients. I also started keeping a journal, which complemented my new meditation habit. I’d get brutally honest about my life and business. I wrote things I was afraid to tell other people — and the truth did set me free. Getting that morning routine in order did wonders for my focus, and I’d spend the beginning of my workday on activities that would produce income: call old clients, follow up with potential new clients that had reached out through social media and send proposals to local business owners. It wasn’t long before my income doubled.

Related: Keeping a Daily Journal Can Give You Tremendous Power

It’s now been six months — and counting — since I recovered from the personal pain that was holding me back. It hasn’t been an overnight process, but getting honest about my problems and working diligently to solve them has taught me that I can overcome any difficult situation that life throws at me, and that I can always heal and grow — in both life and business.

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