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

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!

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About Paul C. Brunson
I'm a husband, father, mentor, and mentee. The host of a weekly syndicated TV show, founder of an award winning matchmaking agency, CEO & Co-Founder of a tech startup, and advisor to several companies. If you couldn't tell from all my jobs, I'm Jamaican. No really, I'm Jamaican :)
639 comments
DB Klozur
DB Klozur

Wonderful post. Paul, I want own my own insurance company. I need help finding an investor.

Angel Regis Felix
Angel Regis Felix

You ONLY got 10 job? ;-) Paul thank you for pinpointing those specific and practical habits that we can all use. I will definitely be forwarding and sharing with my groups and dynamic circles. There are a few that my associates and I are already implenting ie., invest in self, realizing where your strengths lies and build a team that specialize in other areas.

Being brave enough to dive in to seek and indulge in new experiences only enriches your life and opens up a whole new world. That particular attitude has allowed me to do cohosh radio shows, complete voice over classes which led to an actual job for a lead female voice in a project and also a current position in communications for a startup airline soon to launch. Be open to new experiences even though it's not your field of expertise - you will never forget it!

Blessings

Angel Regis-Felix

Monicascales
Monicascales

Thanks for sharing, business owner and I go at it alone most of the time because I've been burned just need to find those people to work with me not against me. Thanks again

Kenneth Roberson
Kenneth Roberson

the habits of a man who is hungry for the world , its never the mistake you make its someones mistake you over look

DJayy Smith
DJayy Smith

This is real talk right here. Great Post Coach.

Tinzley Bradford
Tinzley Bradford

I shared this on my page Paul! I see people all the time who seem to think as they start their businesses, things are just going to take off, people are just going to start spending money on your stuff. Nope honey you have to invest in yourself, your brand, your functions and any and everything to get yourself noticed then things will start to fall into place! Thanks for reminding everyone! :)

Khalia Burgos
Khalia Burgos

Valuable information here brother! This should be a book! Paul Carrick Brunson

Winston Gordon
Winston Gordon

Its a must read. .. great pieces, very inspiring indeed!

Daphkar
Daphkar

Great read.thank you

Thad Moore
Thad Moore

I have learned a lot in the two chapters...looking forward to the others.

DMarie DMarie
DMarie DMarie

Profound, Extremely Valuable Content, Part One and Part Two! Hilarious the part about being Jamaican. Thanks for sharing.

Bomikazi Nkolongwane
Bomikazi Nkolongwane

You are an inspiration Paul. I came across your work when you did the Lovetown USA. I remember thinking how cool, calm and collected you were when giving the singles advice. I like the wisdom you freely give in your blogs. You are incredibly blessed and my wish is for you to grow and achieve greater success than you have currently.

BJ Baker
BJ Baker

Awesome read...when you connect yourself with greatness expect great things to happen.

M S Dee Tanner
M S Dee Tanner

Awesome read! We already do some of these habits and didn't even know we were being effectual! We have to incorporate the rest! Let's get it! I'm ready to G.O.!! Stephanie Pryor

Cheri Davis
Cheri Davis

Great articles! Definitely steps I will implement.

Elle Payne
Elle Payne

Wow. I'd love to work for a billionaire. I'm getting prepared right now. :)

DavidMcQueen
DavidMcQueen

Good article but the only point I take umbrage with is the not completely taking days off. As a father of two I actually love just totally taking days of with my girls and being 100% present with them. Not thinking about work, but just being Daddy at their disposal. For me that is priceless. I hope they will remember that more than any money I make.

Abutima
Abutima

wow, great lessons for life.

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.