If you want to make the big bucks, you’ve got to be willing to put in a little overtime. And while we’re generally all about working smarter (not longer), it’s worth noting that tons of America’s richest business owners earned their billions only after putting their noses to the grindstones and becoming serious workaholics.
But being a workaholic alone doesn’t guarantee major earnings. Here’s a list of 4 famous American workaholics, along with their “secret weapon” for success.
1. Thomas Edison
Major Accomplishments: 1,093 US patents at the time of his death (plus more in several other countries around the globe), often credited with the creation of the first industrial research laboratory. Oh yeah, and that whole “inventing” the lightbulb thing.
Secret Weapon: Never being reluctant to work long hours or work hard.
“I never did anything worth doing entirely by accident…. Almost none of my inventions were derived in that manner. They were achieved by having trained myself to be analytical and to endure and tolerate hard work.”
Edison wasn’t about working smarter, just working harder. And that doesn’t come as much of a surprise to us today, given that one of Edison’s most famous quotes is “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
But most people don’t realize that that’s only half the quote. Just like the New Hampshire state motto of “Live Free or Die”, there’s more to the quote than just the most frequently repeated bits. Here’s the whole Edison quote:
“Genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration. Accordingly, a ‘genius’ is often merely a talented person who has done all of his or her homework.”
(Incidentally, the full quote that “Live Free or Die” was extracted from comes from General John Stark, who once wrote, “Live free or die: Death is not the worst of all evils.”)
Major Accomplishments: Winner of multiple Emmy awards, author, humanitarian, and a net worth of around $2.7 billion.
Secret Weapon: Do what you love, and work doesn’t feel like work.
“What I know is, is that if you do work that you love, and the work fulfills you, the rest will come.”
Oprah works crazy long hours, has a magazine and a TV show and now a whole TV network;. The secret to her success has to be loving what she does, and when she can bring so much good to charities and other good causes, it’s easy to see why she’s happy to work so hard.
3. Donald Trump
Major Accomplishments: Real estate magnate, TV show host, casino owner, and operator of numerous national beauty pageants.
Secret Weapon: Seeing work as a way to get a rush of adrenaline
“Deals are my art form. Other people paint beautifully on canvas or write wonderful poetry. I like making deals, preferably big deals. That’s how I get my kicks.”
Trump’s made his position on workaholics very clear. After a 2007 study found that America was “a nation of workaholics”, Trump told the New York Post that “They don’t want to miss what’s going on. Although vacations are supposed to be about de-stressing, some people admitted it would be more stressful not knowing what was going on at work while they were away. And those are the kind of people I want working for me.”
It’s easy for someone with Trump’s level of success to love working, because he gets a rush from sealing a deal. If work is fun, perhaps even addictive, then it’s no wonder he’s a workaholic.
4. Bill Gates
Major Accomplishments: Making the computer a common household appliance, forming the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and accumulating a net worth of over $50 billion.
Secret Weapon: Not being a control freak, and soliciting ideas from a talented team of employees.
“At Microsoft there are lots of brilliant ideas but the image is that they all come from the top – I’m afraid that’s not quite right.”
A company is only as strong as the sum of its parts, and it’s refreshing to see that Gates is willing to credit Microsoft’s success to his co-workers and employees.
As Gates has said in past interviews, “Bringing together the right information with the right people will dramatically improve a company’s ability to develop and act on strategic business opportunities.”
Working hard is all well and good, but make sure to play hard, too. While the workaholic lifestyle was right for these famous faces, it can put a major strain on your heart and your personal life. And the last thing you want is to be too invested in your work, like P.T. Barnum. As he lay dying, Barnum’s last words were, “How were the receipts today at Madison Square Garden?”
Are you a workaholic? What other famous workaholics do you look up to? Tell us in the comments below!
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