The research about the top performers in business (the billionaires) is sparse due to their rarity and inaccessibility. Keep in mind: only 1 in 5 million people in the world is a billionaire. As the first person in history, Rafael Badziag managed to gather 21 self-made billionaires for a book project. He spent over half a decade conducting in-depth face-to-face interviews with some of world’s best entrepreneurs, researching their minds, hearts and souls to answer the question what in their personalities made them so extremely successful in business.

The following excerpt from his book “The Billion Dollar Secret” reveals a surprising difference between millionaires and billionaires. And it’s not the money!

Hunger, despair, and desire are the three strongest emotions that fuel motivation. Your desire to achieve your goals creates a high level of energy in you.

So how badly do you want it? How ambitious are you? Do you have the desire to build an empire?

Ron Sim, the Singaporean billionaire I interviewed, sees life very simply:

We say it in the Chinese way: “You do, you die. You dont do, you also die,” right? Youve got one bloody life. Do your best and die. So if thats the case, then you should challenge yourself and maximize yourself. Leave a legacy as much as you can. Theres a sense of achievement. What do I live for? Sorry, I dont live for God. Im living for glory, the sense of achievement and what you can achieve before your run-out date comes. You create something and leave something behind.

This hunger for success doesn’t seem to get satiated.

So what’s the difference between a millionaire and a billionaire?

Jack Cowin, the Australian billionaire with shares in over 3,000 Hungry Jack’s and Domino’s Pizza restaurants, told me: “A millionaire is thinking: ‘I had a very good idea, I’m successful, I built this business, I’m happy, and I’m prepared to accept the status quo of what the Good Lord has given me.’ The billionaire is thinking, ‘How high is high? Where’s the limit? What is possible?’”

Billionaires don’t ask the question “Why?”, they ask “Why not?”.

“Why?” is just trying to understand; “Why not?” is “Let’s try and achieve it.”

For Ron Sim, the difference boils down to: “How big is your heart? How big is the dream? That’s the key difference. How big your heart is determines how big is your vision.” And this, as we know, determines how big will be your results.

So, one of the main differences between the mindset of a millionaire and a billionaire is how ambitious they are and how much they want to achieve in their lives. They rise to higher and higher levels as long as their hunger isn’t satiated.

But there is a danger lurking behind the corner that stops most millionaires on their way up. And its name is complacency. Don’t get complacent! It will make you lazy! Complacency kills businesses.

Lirio Parisotto, the Brazilian billionaire industrialist, learned it early in his career. The two most respected people in his village were the priest and the doctor. He associated these two professions from early age on with success and wealth, and it became his dream to pursue one of these careers. After being excluded from the seminary for misbehavior, he now wanted to become a doctor.

When preparing for the entry exam for the medical school, he tried his abilities in a public competition for a job at Banco de Brazil. It still is the biggest bank in Brazil today, an institution, and it was a dream of everybody to work for this great company. “At that time, the salary was the best in the market. And also, you have the lifetime job. You cannot be fired. The bank has a full pension fund, so you have the retirement guarantee.” The competition at the exam was fierce because everybody tried his luck.

Lirio was one of the winners to get a job. He was sent to work in a branch in a small town in the south of Brazil. “I wanted to study. But they send me to a place where there was no university.” He asked: “But don’t you have other cities with university?” “No, we have just this one.”

So Lirio took the job in hopes he would be transferred later on. He was just an “auxiliary of an auxiliary.” It was the first level of the career ladder, “but the salary was already three, maybe even five times as much as in my previous job. And you had a lifetime guarantee because if you don’t rob the bank, if you do nothing wrong, you will stay in the bank.”

But after two weeks there, Lirio realized it was a dead end. “I realized out of the 23 employees of this little branch, all 23 asked to move from this place, including the guard. It dawned upon me that if I stay here I’ll die here.”

He quit. He didn’t receive any money. He took his car and went back home to prepare for the medical school’s competitive entry exam. People in his home town, including his parents, couldn’t believe what he did. “You are crazy” was the common comment.

This was probably the most difficult decision of my life, because if you get such a good offer of salary and security, 99.9% of people accept.

I asked Lirio what made him take this decision.

I thought it was not enough for me. But remember, I abandoned this job not because I received a better offer or I had a business to take care of. No, I lost this job for nothing. I became unemployed. It was just confidence in myself. This was a big risk because it was possible that everything would go wrong. I exchanged a secure job, good salary for a goal. I needed to do more than that. I thought I needed to work more to have more. Of course, doctor was better. [laughs] At that time.

And then Lirio gave me this gold nugget: “I think if you want to achieve something in business, the worst thing is a good salary. Because you don’t become rich with that, but also you have the guarantee. Most people give everything away for the safety. Safety meaning: to have a lifetime job. This is a dream of 99.9% of people.”

So don’t trade your future for safety, it’s a bad trade. Lirio didn’t do it and you shouldn’t either.

This is an excerpt from the book “The Billion Dollar Secret” by Rafael Badziag, published by Panoma Press. The book is available on Amazon, from bookstores and online:

You can get a free chapter here: