The habits of wealthy people like Indra Nooyi, Richard Branson, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg
The rich really are different.
The rich are getting richer: The average annual income of the top 1% in America is now more than $1.1 million. What’s more, this group now takes home 20% of all the income in the U.S., according to a report released in 2016 by the Economic Policy Institute. This has “surpassed historical highs,” the report revealed.
But it’s not just their bank accounts that make them different from the rest of us. The uber affluent also have some surprising habits in common that seemingly have nothing to do with money. Here are four things that rich people do that most of us don’t.
They read often to better themselves
Nearly nine in 10 uber-rich people say they spend at least 30 minutes a day reading to educate or improve themselves, according to research by Thomas C. Corley, who spent five years studying people with an annual income of $160,000 or more and a liquid net worth of $3.2 million or more.
Bill Gates is a perfect example: The Microsoft founder, who reads 50 books a year, has said that while he gets to travel and meet fascinating people frequently, “reading is still the main way that I both learn new things and test my understanding.” Meanwhile, the rest of us read an average of less than 20 minutes a day.
They exercise regularly
The more affluent you are, the more likely it is that you make exercise a part of your daily routine, according to both a Gallup poll and a study published in the in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. And Corley found that fully 76% of uber rich people did aerobic exercise like running or biking every day. (Fewer than half of people making between $36,000 and $89,999 exercise for 30 minutes or more three times a week or more, according to one study.)
Richard Branson is so pro-exercise that he attributes his success to it, writing on his blog, “I seriously doubt that I would have been as successful in my career (and happy in my personal life) if I hadn’t always placed importance on my health and fitness,” he writes. “I start every day with exercise – be it a game of tennis, some cycling, or wind permitting, a kitesurf around Necker Island. Exercise puts me in a great mind frame to get down to business.”
They work a ton
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has admitted to working up to 100 hours a week, and working even in his off time, telling a fan who asked about what he does for fun: “I do watch movies, although less these days … Hang out with kids, see friends, normal stuff. Sometimes go crazy on Twitter,” he said. “But usually it’s work more.” And as Moneyish covered earlier this month, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi says she works somewhere close to 20-hour days on many days.
That’s something other rich people do too: Corley found that roughly three in four of them work 58 hours a week, on average. (The average American works fewer than 40 hours a week.) And research by psychologist Daniel Kahneman found that “being wealthy is often a powerful predictor that people spend less time doing pleasurable things and more time doing compulsory things.”
Mark Zuckerberg was a fencing star in high school, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan played rugby at Brown and Jon Stewart played soccer at William and Mary. And they might be able to attribute part of their fatty bank accounts to what they learned from playing spots.
People who are killing it in their careers — and thus presumably making bank — were more likely to have played sports in high school than those who are floundering along, according to research published in the Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies. Sports likely taught them skills like leadership and self-confidence that translated well into their careers and lives, researchers found.
This may be particularly true for women. Data from Ernst and Young found that 94% of women who are now in C-suite jobs played sports — half of them at the university level. (The median salary for a CEO is more than $750,000, according to Salary.com.)“The evidence is clear: Sports matter,” Laura Gentile, vice president and founder of ESPN, told EY.
This story was originally published in June 2017 and has been updated.
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