How these five titans found greatness

We may want to be rich, but we don’t all think we’ll get there.

The common reasons given for this defeatist mindset include; “I’m not smart enough” or “I don’t deserve to be rich”.

Yet, some of the world’s self-made billionaires and millionaires are not the smartest of people or the most deserving of wealth. So what if you could sit at their feet and learn what turned the tide in their favour?

Fortunately, these days, you don’t need to meet with the Oprah Winfreys and Warren Buffetts of this world to learn from them. You can just pick up their books.

Here are five titles to start you off on learning how the masters of the impossible got to where they are.

Richard Branson
‘Losing My Virginity’ by Richard Branson

Richard Branson is determined to have fun in everything he does. And in this best-selling autobiography, he details how he does it.

The billionaire founder of Virgin Group dropped out of school and ended up creating what would become one of the world’s most influential music labels, a transatlantic airline, and set world records in ballooning and boating.

Since Losing My Virginity was published in 1998, Branson has published a number of other well-received books, including his updated autobiography, Finding My Virginity, which picks up where Losing My Virginity ends.

He also wrote The Virgin Way, where he details his brand beliefs.

Branson offers an honest review of his successes and failures that include underestimating Coke’s influence when he launched Virgin Cola in the 1990s.

Bill Gates
‘Business @ the Speed of Thought’ by Bill Gates

This book is a must-read for business leaders who want to use information flow to gain a competitive edge.

With a net worth of $79 billion (Sh7.9 trillion), the Microsoft founder is among the richest people in the world. Despite the book being published in 1999, the examples Bill Gates provides are still as relevant and insightful today as they were then.

Gates argues that businesses need a digital counterpart to the human nervous system. Businesses with an effective nervous system will have access to the information its leaders need to make good decisions and take action.

Gates poses questions to get business leaders thinking about how to improve their process. These questions include: does your business have the information flow that enables managers to get the data they need to make decisions? Can employees get access to important data on a daily basis? If not, it’s time to build an information system that works.

Oprah Winfrey
‘What I Know for Sure’ by Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey made history with her talk show, launched her own television network and became the US’s first African-American billionaire.

But Oprah is not Oprah without the difficult and often heart-wrenching moments of life that shaped her.

In her book, she shares her experiences and insights on how she overcame hardships during her childhood and adult life. Lonely and sexually abused as a child and teenager, Oprah quickly learned to fend for herself and make her own way.

What I Know For Sure is a collection of her columns in O, The Oprah Magazine.

Each one offers a different life lesson on topics from joy and gratitude to power, and is often based on her personal experiences.

Mark Cuban
‘How to Win at the Sport of Business’ by Mark Cuban

How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It is written by Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Tank investor Mark Cuban. In it, he gives readers a front-row seat on entrepreneurship using the most insightful material from his popular blog, ‘Blog Maverick’.

In the book, Cuban writes about how he went from sleeping on friends’ couches in his 20s to owning his own company and becoming a multi-billionaire.

This concise book offers great gems on building a lucrative business and advice on progressing both personally and in business.

It’s a story of commitment and perseverance. Cuban writes, for instance, that even though he didn’t know much about computers, he beat his competition simply because he spent so much time learning about the software his company sold.

Warren Buffett
‘The Essays of Warren Buffett’ by Warren Buffett

This is another insightful book for entrepreneurs from the 88-year-old chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.

Buffett is considered one of the greatest investors in history. The Essays of Warren Buffet is a collection of wisdom pulled from Buffett’s annual letters to Berkshire Hathaway’s shareholders.

Buffett, who is often called the ‘Oracle of Omaha’ for building his immense wealth through long-term investing, shares a lifetime of advice in this book. Each essay gives insight into his business philosophy.

The book organises his letters by theme into a reader-friendly format while still preserving the integrity of Buffett’s words.

The essays cover everything from ethics in business to advice on long-term stock investments, and details many of Buffett’s tried-and-tested strategies on conducting business.

It also reveals Buffett’s perspective on how to navigate both personal and professional decision-making. While the topics might seem complex, the billionaire’s writing is easy to read, and he often explains concepts through personal anecdotes.

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Richard BransonBill GatesOprah WinfreyMark CubanWarren Buffett