Self-made millionaire and business psychologist Dr Jude Miller conducted a three-year study of 200 female millionaires to discover how they achieved a level of wealth most of us can only dream of. Here, she reveals the secrets behind their success.
What characteristics do most millionaires have in common?
Crucially, they have all experienced failure, and built something out of nothing. Some have experienced difficult childhoods, going through an average of two adverse events, be it the death of a family member or physical abuse. Whenever I spoke to a highly successful woman during my research, she would often reveal that she’d grown up in poverty or endured child abuse. My case was typical: I come from a low-income family affected by alcoholism, and lost my younger brother in a car crash. I wanted to work out which qualities made individuals from ordinary yet challenging backgrounds achieve extraordinary success.
What skills and traits are essential?
Their backgrounds taught them resilience, coping skills and compassion at a young age. We measured their personalities in five key areas and they scored higher than average on being conscientious, resilient, agreeable, extrovert and open. This meant they were dependable, detail-oriented and able to follow through quickly on tasks. They were less neurotic than average as well, having developed the ability to leave their personal worries at the door.
We also looked at their levels of engagement at work and they scored higher than average, adopting a more flexible working style and always saying yes to unexpected tasks. They had highly developed interpersonal skills, too, allowing them to understand and positively influence others. However, many had been called argumentative by friends and family, as they didn’t conform to the societal pressure of always being nice.
What can we learn from them?
One of the main things is to accept failure as a part of success. Your choice of partner is also critical. Before getting married, make sure that your spouse is supportive and wants to actively share the household and childcare. Creating a competent network of helpers – from family members to babysitters – is key.
You should also strive to make your schedule as flexible as possible, perhaps by starting your own business or choosing a company with family-friendly policies. Above all, you must be highly organised and learn to say no sometimes, so that you are 100 per cent present, whether that’s at home or at work. Define your own success with a work/life balance that really makes you happy.
The Millionaire Mystique: How Working Women Become Wealthy – And How You Can, Too! (£12.28, Nicholas Brealey Publishing) is out on 27 November.