How do people succeed? How is business or individual success achieved? What are the common characteristics?

Well, quite often, those who ultimately achieve a lot begin by falling on their faces.


In failing you learn valuable lessons. You don’t quit just because you initially fail. You keep going.

These are the life lessons offered by some who have had incredible success in the business world.

Not Spooked by Failure and Reads

They keep going, don’t quit in the face in the failure, always keep learning. They are passionate and they get the most out of every day. They are often bibliophiles. That is another way of saying that they are lifetime learners.

These are the habits of highly successful entrepreneurs as detailed in a recent infographic study. It documents their failures as a step on the road to success.

“One of the common themes of most successful entrepreneurs in history is lots of reading, belief in a healthy lifestyle and embracing failure as a precursor of success,” according to MBAnoGMAT. It runs online MBA programs. It has published an infographic that documents the habits of highly successful entrepreneurs.

Sam’s Secrets

Wal-Mart ‘s Sam Walton failed with several stores when he began. Time after time he had to close down stores. But he learned something each time and eventually came up with a successful model, according to his autobiography, “Made in America.”

Walton, who wrote his autobiography while dying of cancer, tells how he started with a single dime store and turned it into a retailing power.

By the way, Walton also told one of his truck drivers to buy the stock when he began offering the stock option plan to employees. He said that, with some luck, he might accrue a few hundred thousand dollars if he consistently bought stock over the years.

The truck driver ended up with around a million dollars, Walton noted. Such are the virtues of consistent saving and investing along with compounding.

These are virtues that consistently advocates along with rejection of mindless consumerism, self-destructive lottery games and as well as endless idiot box viewing.

Starting an Empire after Getting Turfed

John Bogle, one of the creators of the modern mutual fund industry that was able to reach millions of new investors, also had problems. Fired early in his career at Wellington Management in the recession of 1973-74, he quickly bounced back. He wanted to start his own fund company.

Bogle had an idea that was initially derided by Wall Street: the index fund. It would be sold to the average investor without sales charges and with incredibly small expenses. In 1974, he began the then pipsqueak Vanguard Funds with a passively managed fund. Today it is the biggest fund company in the country.

(Editor’s note: In the early 1990s I began consistently buying some of the Vanguard funds over the course of a quarter century. They have improved our lives, yours truly and my wife, the ever-comely Suzanne Hall).

The index fund, this unique investment product, was initially called “un-American,” much to Bogle’s “delight,” according to the book “The Man in the Arena.”

Bogle, who has made a career as a securities industry gadfly, laughed at the critics as Vanguard started helping people achieve financial independence. It happened, in part, because Bogle was passionate.

Are You Excited about what You Do?

“It is critical to be passionate about what you do. Having that love will get you through all of the failures and rejection,” says Rick Neil, one of the authors of the infographic and the CEO of RN Public Relations.

Relentless reading is another theme in the careers of, billionaires Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Warren Buffet. All are avid readers. Gates reads about a book a week, according to MBAnoGMAT.

“Books were my personal pass to freedom,” says talk show host and business mogul Oprah Winfrey, who started a popular book club. She fell in love with the printed word at age 3.

Buffett spends 80 percent of his time reading. When Buffett began his investment career he was “reading 600 to 1,000 pages day,” according to the infographic.

Hit the Courts, Sail and Play

But besides hitting the books, many business successes also play hard, according to the report.

“Richard Branson wakes up at 5 a.m. to kite surf, swim or play tennis. The entrepreneur claims the exercise gives him four extra hours of productivity per day,” the study says.

Branson, the same as entrepreneur Elon Musk, wants to get the most out of every day. So Musk tightly schedules his time. He dedicates Monday and Tuesday to SpaceX. Wednesday and Thursday he works on Tesla. Friday is for both companies.

Showing Up Is Half the Battle

Beyond reading, discipline and exercise, there is another common success characteristic, says one of the most successful people in American business. That is the ability to keep showing up through good and bad times.

“I’m convinced,” said Steve Jobs, “that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful one is perseverance.”

These men and women are always on to something. They always have interesting projects that they are working on.

Life is never dull for these productive people, even their failures can be exciting. That’s because defeat, properly understood, can eventually lead to victory.

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Gregory Bresiger
Gregory Bresiger

Gregory Bresiger is an independent financial journalist from Queens, New York. His articles have appeared in publications such as Financial Planner Magazine and The New York Post. The eBook version of his latest book "MoneySense" is available now for Free Download by clicking HERE

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