3 Habits to Steal From Millionaires for Executive Success

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Have you heard? It’s a new year—and this is how every article will undoubtedly start for a few weeks. Resolutions? Habits? Diet? LFG! 

23 will be better than 22—which already crushed 20 and 21. Even in a down economy and terrifying global recession, when January 1st rolls around, it’s up and to the right, baby!

And that’s why Execs and the City is a top-of-mind publication that you lovingly send to all your executive compadres. 2023 is YOUR year—and today is YOUR day. So tell YOUR friends and shout it from the mountaintops.

Alright, I can’t keep this bullshit up any longer. 

Unfortunately, for pessimists, the year ticking up is only a reminder of our mortality and that we still haven’t saved enough for retirement. Sigh. 

Whether you’re an executive with a superiority complex, crippling insecurity, or feigning impulse control, you’ve come to the right place. I am your people, and I’ll be here to deliver a new article every Thursday morning once again. 

Let’s drop the negativity and start the year on the right track. A positive bend, if you will. 

Today we uncover the 3 millionaire habits of successful executives. I’ve observed these traits from my best of the best clientele—which I have shamelessly stolen to improve my life too. And the start of a new year is an excellent time for a sexy listicle with a BuzzFeed-worthy title. 

Fire it up!

1) Growth Mindset

If you’re in Silicon Valley or have paid any attention to self-help gurus, you’ll snap this concept immediately. The strongest executives I work with don’t just have an insatiable curiosity but move from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.   

I want to take the credit as their coach, personal agent, and hype man—but that’s not reasonably true. Millionaire executives have this mindset long before we start working together. I suspect their propensity for a growth mindset is one of the reasons that we end up working together in the first place.

Sure, they will lose the path from time to time. We’re all human. But they quickly bounce back from failure (or disregard it entirely). Some choose to invest in reading books, others in watching videos or listening to podcasts—but all make a habit of learning. 

Someone captivating said this, and it stuck with me: “As the island of knowledge grows, so do the shores of our ignorance—the boundary between the known and the unknown.”

I recommend scheduling 30-60 minutes a day for learning. Enjoy a cup of coffee and absorb perspectives from other leaders. 

PRO TIP: Consuming is much easier than creating, but value is generated via creation. Don’t get trapped in the ‘mental masturbation’ stage. Those that genuinely make a difference have a bias for action. It’s likely a 1:5 ratio of consuming vs. creating. Remember, you will learn much more by DOING THE THING rather than READING ABOUT THE THING. But more on that later.

Furthermore, millionaire executives move through the four categories of learning effortlessly. It’s because continuous learning is baked into their DNA.

They recognize that they don’t know what they don’t know—and can always be unconsciously incompetent. However, once they get an inkling of what they must learn, they become consciously incompetent and (sometimes) obsess over learning more every day to improve.

As they continue to make mistakes and burn in flames, they gain the experience necessary to become consciously competent. Finally, as they repeat these cycles, they become legendary—the unconsciously competent stage. These folks don’t need to look for jobs or beg for sales—everyone comes knocking.

Final note, if you think education is expensive, you should try the cost of ignorance. And the investment that pays the most dividends is investing in YOU. Now that’s a captivating and paraphrased quote from Warren Buffet. 

2) Divergent Thinking

If I think about the cream-of-the-crop executives, they inherently understand that their career success results from lateral (or divergent) thinking. 

Early to mid-level career professionals can achieve reasonable success with convergent thinking—which occurs when the solution to a problem can be deduced by applying established rules and logical reasoning. This mindset is akin to being a master of the tactical, the tech tools, and the workings of performing within boundaries. 

But divergent thinkers create boundaries—and then break them. They know how to lead a team and establish operational excellence, but also when it’s time to scrap it all and tap into their growth mindset to create something even better. 

Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of folks get stuck in the convergent thinking stage, whether intentionally or not (some folks have no interest in climbing the corporate ladder, and that’s okay!). 

If you’re reading this publication, that’s not likely you—or at least you don’t want it to be you. So what makes an exceptional divergent thinker?

For one, divergent thinkers understand that there are no right answers, especially when leading cutting-edge or innovative technology teams in corporate. 

Divergent thinkers: 

  • Concentrate more on the quality of their judgment and clarity of thought—rather than whether their decisions are perfect. 
  • Create opportunity—rather than wait for someone to make it.
  • Beg for forgiveness—rather than ask for permission.
  • Recognize that it takes multiple brains to think. They know that relationships are more important than money—and don’t try to go it all alone. 
  • Build lifelong habits of meditation, journaling, prayer, or reflection—rather than leading a life on autopilot thinking, just waiting for a stiff breeze to get them to consume the next thing.

PROTIP:  Writing is the most powerful, albeit an often painful, form of thinking. I am not suggesting you start a “Dear Diary” monologue with yourself. Still, the process of putting pen to paper—and the “breathing” (expansive verbose writing, concise, punchy writing, and repetition)—will change your life. 

Side note – I treat Execs and the City as my journal. It’s a collection of learnings, not an SEO-friendly marketing buzz blog. Journaling can come in many shapes and forms to help you think. Micro-journaling may be simple enough to get anyone excited about it.

Final point, divergent thinkers challenge themselves and others with ass-kicking questions. 

For example, watch someone in an interview breakdown by asking: “What do you believe to be true that isn’t?” Or give yourself a mental breakdown by asking, “What is one thing I believe to be true that isn’t?” 

3) Bias For Action

Millionaire executives do the damn work. I’m not talking about destroying yourself with a 120-hour work week—or Elon Musk’s arousal for work ethic. 

Suppose that’s you. More power to you. Some people find performance at that level gratifying. 

Your life doesn’t have to be that way to be successful, fulfilled, and happy—but you must have a bias for action and a sense of urgency for your work. The most successful executives that I know recognize this. 

Executives with a bias for action:

  • Schedule time for heads-down work in their calendar. 
  • Are comfortable with uncertainty and do not let it hold them back.
  • Adapt to changing circumstances and pivot as needed to make progress.
  • Make decisions quickly and take risks, even without all the information they would like or (the myth of) job security.
  • Set Teflon boundaries and protect their time at all costs. 
    • 3 focus hours a day for doing is a reasonable barometer. (This also helps them build the perception about how valuable their time is and how in-demand they are).
  • Recognize that inspiration is perishable and must get after their goals while the getting is good. 

As you consider adding these habits to your lifestyle in 2023, take heed that an object in motion tends to stay in motion. I’m killing it today by quoting Warren Buffet and Isaac Newton in the same article. 

And always remember—it’s not who you are today that holds you back from brilliant success—it’s who you think you’re not that holds you back.

So maybe you’re not a “millionaire executive” today—but it’s not because you’re incapable. Instead, it could be that you have chosen a more fulfilling path for yourself—but still clicked on my click-bait title for millionaires because YOLO. 

Whatever your definition of success is, I am confident that the habits from above can improve your journey forward.

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