A researcher who spoke with 45 self-made multi-multimillionaires realized they all had something unexpected in common
Rainer Zitelmann, a self-made millionaire himself, interviewed 45 people in similar situations.
He found that most self-made millionaires and multi-millionaires weren't outstanding students, had been committed athletes, and had past businesses fail.
In short, they profited more from their experience than their education.
You don't talk about money.
This tradition is extremely widespread in Germany, and the taboo has spread to science.
Very little research has been done so far on the extremely private group of the German super-rich.
Rainer Zitelmann from the University of Potsdam has therefore set himself on a rarely researched topic in his dissertation: How does one become a multimillionaire?
He spoke for "psychology of the super-rich" with 45 people who have two or three-digit millions, or even billions, of assets. All are self-made millionaires — that is, they come from the middle class and have not inherited wealth.
Zitelmann has an advantage: He is part of this elite group. Once a historian and lecturer, he entered the real estate industry and became a millionaire himself.
Most multi-millionaires didn't have top grades
In his interviews, he found out that education is not necessarily the only way to success. Although 29 out of 45 respondents had completed a university degree, the majority of millionaires stated that they did not have particularly good grades. "The achievements in school and university were by no means outstanding among most of the respondents," writes Zitelmann.
He has come to the conclusion that educational qualifications are given too much importance in the question of why someone has become rich. In his dissertation, Zitelmann quotes the riches researcher Melanie Böwing-Schmalenbrock as saying: "Access to entrepreneurship is often based on technical and craft skills rather than theoretical knowledge."
So it is not good grades that have helped these people to succeed — it was the experience they had, and above all, the conclusions they drew from it.
They tended to have been athletes and sports fans
One indicator of success is a passion for sports — several respondents stated that they had been ambitious athletes in their youth. In addition, many of today's millionaires earned their own money with their own ideas even in their youth. Many claim to have had an outstanding talent in sales before they built their fortunes.
Sixty percent of the participants came from an entrepreneurial family. In most cases, the father had already owned a medium-sized business. By way of comparison, only 6% of Germany's population is self-employed. The millionaires thus have an entrepreneurial role model in the family in common.
Another thing many self-made multi-millionaires have in common: In the past, they had an idea that failed.
In short, these subjects largely had something traditionally unexpected in common: They've learned life lessons you cannot get in school.