Author Steve Siebold claims getting rich after 50 is easier, not harder.
Everyone dreams of getting rich and if you’re in your 50s or older and getting by in your career and don’t have a lot saved for retirement, becoming a millionaire over the next five years doesn’t have to be a fantasy. All it takes is a change of mindset about money and an undying self-belief, so says Steve Siebold, author of the book How Rich People Think. The 49-year-old Siebold, a self-made millionaire who consults for corporate sales teams and gives speeches all over the country, has interviewed more than 1,200 wealthy people in the span of three decades.
“Within three, four or five years, if they were focused on something and creating good value proposition, then they could make money far faster than any time during our lifetime,” Siebold says. “It’s easier to get rich at 50, even 60 or 70 than it is to get rich at 30. I don’t think there’s any question of that in my mind. Older people have the life experience that a kid just doesn’t have. Maybe [younger people] know more about technology, but we lived longer and know the ups and downs of life. In creating a fortune or financial independence, there’s going to be ups and downs. Older people have a great, great advantage. We have an advantage to get wealthier way faster. And it’s so ripe for the taking.”
Siebold says most people have a lottery mentality and have been brainwashed to believe the only chance to get rich is by picking winning numbers or playing slot machines. The rich, however, have trained themselves to expect big things to happen and earn more money. They’re bold, aggressive and fearless in their pursuit of wealth, he says.
The average American needs to stop looking at money from a fear and scarcity point of view, and start seeing money through the eyes of freedom, possibility, opportunity and abundance, Siebold says.
A Chicago native, Siebold, a one-time tennis pro and mental toughness and critical thinking instructor, says he started interviewing millionaires in 1984 because he wanted to be financially independent. He’s been interviewing them since then and a friend suggested he should write a book about what he learned from them.
“What the wealthy have taught me over the years is to look at your beliefs around money, success, prosperity and rich people. Ask yourself: ‘Is that helping me develop more wealth and build my net worth or holding me back?’ I think 95 percent of the population in even the richest country in the world has negative beliefs about money. After a year or two of interviews, I realized why I was broke. I thought just like the average person about money. They said you’d never have any money until you change the way you think about money. I did, and it started working for me,” Siebold says.
What does money mean to me? Siebold says the rich asked him that all the time.
At first, he says it’s a necessary evil and you got to have it. It’s no fun getting it, but you got to have it.
“They said that’s not the way you think,” Siebold says. “What you have to think is money means freedom and money means choices and opportunity. It means you can live an unrestricted existence if that’s what you want to do. You can do anything you want anywhere in the world with whomever you want and for how long you want. You don’t have to be beholden to anyone else unless you choose to. It’s freedom. If you start thinking about money in that way, it makes sense. That was a big one for me and then you start programming yourself long enough that you start to believe it.”
According to Siebold he gets e-mails on a daily basis from people saying money doesn’t grow on trees, money is scarce, money is tight and money is the root of all evil. It’s like we’re living on two different planets with all of the people that think one way have all the money and the people that don’t, don’t have much of anything, he says.
“No wonder everyone is broke because they think so negatively about money,” Siebold says. “Why would we ever try to acquire something we have such disdain for? Look at your beliefs and look at the beliefs of the wealthy and how they think about money. They see it as a game. They’re just playing a game, and they’re having fun. They’re moving things and they’re creating value for society and they’re getting richer all the time. It’s more about thinking about money in terms of abundance and opportunity and freedom and all the good things such as good health. It can save your life if you have enough of it. You can pay for treatment for whatever you have.”
Siebold says society is brainwashed by “broke people” and institutions. What does the church tell you about the chances of a rich man getting in heaven?
Those who teach us don’t have any money and most of our parents don’t have money or know anything about it, he says. Belief translates into behavior, Siebold says. If you think money is a negative and that if you’re a rich person, you somehow don’t care about people, you’re greedy, you’re a bad person and you’re not spiritual, why would you want to behave in ways to create that?
All of these negative limiting beliefs are passed on to us. What are our chances or learning about money unless we come up in a rich family or a family that understands money, which is probably two or three percent of the population, he asks.
“Turn on the TV and everything is negative about money now,” Siebold says. “You see there’s a class war going on with the rich with the so-called 1 percenters—now the rich are all bad. I know more wealthy people than anyone I know in the country. I interview only the self-made and not the ones who inherited wealth. These people work hard every day. They’re honest people. They’re good people. I think lots of kids are brought up today to look down on the rich as if they received their money in some ill-gotten way or some illegal way. It’s not true. There are cases, but no more than any other class.”
Siebold says he got that negativity from his friends who questioned why a kid who graduated from South Alabama University and didn’t go to Harvard or another elite school and didn’t come from money would be able to strike it rich.
“I told my friends years ago I wanted to be rich,” Siebold says. “They said money isn’t going to make you happy. Why do you want to be rich? Rich people are greedy. Rich people are narcissists. If I didn’t have anyone coming in and teaching me differently, I probably would be like most people and repeat the same things and I wouldn’t take action to pursue wealth. I would struggle with money my entire life.”
Some might say isn’t that greedy and isn’t that self-absorbed, and don’t you want to help the world, Siebold says. Yes it is, but you have to want to help yourself first, he says. When you’re flying on an airplane and they’re telling you the instructions “in case of an emergency, the oxygen mask will drop down.” You’re told to put yours on first before helping someone else for a reason, he says.
“You help yourself first and then you can go out and help anybody you want,” Siebold says. “You can save the whales. There are a lot of charities that need help, but first you have to be economically free. Look at all these broke people out there trying to save the world, and they can’t even help themselves. I know it sounds harsh, but it’s an economic reality. I started saying that to other people and I started to lose friends. Some of those people still don’t talk to me.”
Siebold says he’s failed with businesses over the years, and he’s learned more from those failures than he has from his successes. It makes you analyze what you did wrong, he says. Worrying about failure holds people back from taking a chance and being successful. We shouldn’t be our own worst enemies, he says. The rich brainwash themselves with that positive belief so they’re not as afraid to take the chances and risk, he says.
“I think what holds people back is more a lack of belief,” Siebold says. “It’s the fear that I won’t recover. What if I start a business and I fail? I’ve done that and a lot of people have done that. You start over. You find a way to make it work. One of the things I saw from wealthy people from the beginning is that they had this unwavering belief that no matter what they did or if they failed, they would find a way to recover. Most said that’s a belief they had to build in themselves. They had to tell themselves that if I lose everything, I’m not going to die. I’m going to make it. I will make it all back and more, and that’s what they do. They talk themselves into it. They’re not born with this. They talk themselves into it when the rest of us are talking ourselves out of it.”
Getting rich is not a complex process. You don’t even have to be a genius.
“There’s nothing mystical or magical about getting rich in a free-market economy,” Siebold says. “It’s about creating a value proposition, and the bigger value you create for your customer, company or individual, the richer you get. No one is pulling a rabbit out of a hat. You create value if you mow one lawn. You create more wealth if you mow 100 lawns. Looking at it as complex prevents people from acting and becoming wealthy.”
With the country emerging from the Great Recession, Siebold contends the streets are “paved with gold.”
Millionaires are paying more for personal services than they ever have. If you can solve a problem that people and companies are willing to pay for, you can make an endless amount of money, Siebold says. He says it’s a perfect time for many people to start lawn care services, maid services, handyman businesses, pool cleaning companies, grocery shopping services.
Companies are sitting on trillions of dollars that they will spend if it creates value. People older than 50, maybe they’re retired or still working in the corporate world, have a lot of experience and expertise that they can sell to companies as a consultant. You can become a millionaire later in life even if you have little now, he says.
“I don’t think it’s too late at all if you’re over 50,” Siebold says. “I know I expect to earn 10 or 20 times the money in the next five years than I earned in the last five or the five before simply because there’s so much opportunity out there in the marketplace. You have a society that’s hoarding cash especially corporate America and they’re very confused about how to proceed. There’s a lot of fear mindset of not knowing how stable the economy is. The wealthy are getting wealthier, and they’re buying personal services like they’re going out of style. There are all kinds of services that people can start to sell to the wealthy. That’s where the money is.”
Siebold says most of the 1,200 people he’s interviewed are business owners and entrepreneurs who built up a business. Self-made millionaires make up two thirds of the total. He says he stopped interviewing those who inherited wealth because they didn’t have the mindset of how to create it like the others, he says.
“The biggest thing are their beliefs,” Siebold says of those who are self-made. “You have to create a value proposition and the bigger one you create in the free market, the more money you make, and the richer you get. I said that’s taught in every business school in the country so why aren’t more people rich? Why aren’t my college professors rich? They said that they don’t think like most rich people. If you don’t think right, you don’t act on the value proposition.”
Over the years, Siebold has interviewed, billionaire Rich DeVos, co-founder of Amway and owner of the NBA’s Orlando Magic. He’s also interviewed billionaire entrepreneur Sam Wyly. Most, however, weren’t famous and don’t like any publicity, he says.
“You don’t have to be a genius. Most of these millionaires that I’ve interviewed are normal people like you, me and everybody else. They’re not Rhodes Scholars. They’re average people who changed their mindset and went to work,” Siebold says. “Most are not living in giant mansions. They’re living quietly. They’re our neighbors, but they have millions of dollars in the bank. They never worry about money and never have to worry about it again.”