Review: How Ordinary People Became Millionaires

July 21, 2008 by  

A Japanese study on millionaire mind

I found an interesting book titled “How Ordinary People Became Millionaires” written by Ken Honda (in Japanese – I’m bilingual and have access to the whole lot of resources non-Japanese speaking people have not. . .)

What’s really interesting is that the author surveyed not only the millionaires in Japan but also asked the same questions to non-millionaires. The result was startling. Millionaires do think and act differently from the rest of the population.
(Photo by Leefotos)

The millionaire mind is the entrepreneurs’ mind.

The book says four out of five millionaires surveyed made their fortune themselves. Even in old country like Japan, entrepreneurship is the main way to build wealth (51%, including independent specialists such as lawyers and accountants), followed by corporate senior management (24%) and heirs of inheritance (18%). So the millionaire mindset is also the successful entrepreneurs’ mindset.

Here is what I’ve learned about the millionaire mindset vs wannabes mindset. Which do you identify with more? (While the book often makes contrast between the Wannabes and real Millionaires, I did add my own 2c in Wannabes descriptions to supplement. I think I know what it is like to be a Wannabe. . .)

1. Possibilities

Wannabes: Unless I win the lottery, there is no way I can become a millionaire.
Millionaires: It’s very possible to be rich and I work hard every day toward this goal.

2. Work

Wannabes: I chose my job for the pay and working conditions (such as location).
Millionaires: I chose my business because I love doing this, I am good at doing this, and I can make people happy doing this.

Wannabes: I hate what I do. When I get a better job, I’d work harder. (But I have little idea what that is.)
Millionaires: I do my best in whatever I am doing, and this is how I’ve found what I love to do.

Wannabes: I work to get paid. What else?
Millionaires: I work to grow as a person and to contribute to the society.

3. Money

Wannabes: Show me the money.
Millionaires: The money follows me when I deliver value.

Wannabes: Millionaires use money lavishly.
Millionaires: It is critical to use money mindfully. Also, it’s important to get the best life out of things. (One proudly reports he has been driving the same car for 19 years.)

Wannabes: I’m not interested in money. Money doesn’t buy me happiness. (Actually, I think million dollars will make me happy, but I’m not going to admit it.)
Millionaires: Money is energy, and so it’s critical to grow big and strong as a person so that you can manage money, rather than being managed by money. No, money doesn’t automatically buy you happiness.

4. Luck

Wannabes: Luck is everything to get rich. And I have no control over luck.
Millionaires: Luck comes to those who do the honest hard work, and I can find and catch it.

5. Failure

Wannabes: I hate failures. I’m afraid of failures.
Millionaires: We learn through overcoming failures. My success came through learning from failures.

Wannabes: Gosh, I messed up! What am I gonna do? This is the end of the world.
OR, Well, maybe something will work out. . .
Millionaires: This is what happened, and these are the things I can do. Let’s prioritize them. I need to be honest and ask for help . . .

6. People

Wannabes: I have some friends, but I’m pretty much on my own.
Millionaires: I’m grateful for all the people who have guided me and supported me. I have the trust of many people (50+) because I always do my honest best.

Wannabes: What do you have for me? Right now? (Isn’t this how rich people use others?)
Millionaires: I treat everyone with respect. Relationships are for long-term, and it’s important to cultivate deep meaningful relationships. Luck often comes through people, but that is not the purpose of meeting people.

7. Mentor

Wannabes: Mentor? You mean someone who can teach me job skills?
Millionaires: I have mentors. I learn more about life from my mentors.

8. Relationship

Wannabes: I don’t like talking about work at home.
Millionaires: My spouse is my best supporter. We talk about everything. My spouse is the source of my courage and insights. (It doesn’t necessarily mean the spouse is involved in their businesses.)

9. Education

Wannabes: Go to school, get good grades, get a good job.
Millionaires: The best education is the rich life experiences that prepares a person to changing times and to help the person to meet many people. It’s also important to find what you like doing through these experiences.

Wannabes: Education adds credentials to get a good job.
Millionaires: Education is not only about formal education. Any experience that you can learn the desired skills, such as apprenticeship, is good education. (Some reports taking low-paying jobs as a way to learn the trade and to build network.)

10. Vision and Decision-Making

Wannabes: Another hard day. Let’s just watch TV to unwind . . .
Millionaires: I think about what I’ll be doing 10 years from now, and prepare for it today.

Wannabes: I’ll think about it tomorrow.
Millionaires: Practice making many decisions. You need to shoot many times to get good at it. And do it fast. (The author reports the wealthiest group returned the survey answers the quickest.)

Wannabes: I’ll do it if I feel like it.
Millionaires: I have a clear vision for my life and business and make decisions based on the vision.

Wannabes: . . . (analysis paralysis) . . .
Millionaires: I make decisions intuitively.

What is surprising is there is nothing surprising about millionaires’ way of thinking.

Each statement is so common sense. Yet when you read carefully, you notice there is something extraordinary about them. For instance, do you have 50 or more people supporting you? Do you feel you can attract good luck?

Overall, do you see how millionaires take ownership of their lives, think long-term and positive while the wannabes are opportunistic, short-sighted and sound bitter?

Is this really the secret of their success?

Now some of you may be thinking “This is just BS. These millionaires are hiding the secret of their success.” Well, I don’t know any of them, so I have no reason to defend them, but I do think they mean what they say. Why? Because it makes sense.

Go back and read what they say, this time just the millionaires’ parts. Do you see how each aspect of their life work together with other aspects, making the whole a streamlined system of thoughts and actions?

They do the honest hard work and deliver value to their customers, which delights the customers, leading to attract more customers and business opportunities (=luck). When there is a problem, the people around them support them because they know they are trustworthy. They learn from their failures and grow stronger. When they go home, they are the same trustworthy person who love what they do, still talking and thinking about their businesses with passion. They learn from everyone and everything, and this feedback to their business growth . . .

There is no contradiction, no isolated aspect, no waste of energy. The whole system of their thoughts and beliefs is perfectly aligned with the universal truth of love and abundance.

I think this is yet another example of the Law of Attraction at work

It’s hard work, but it’s not just hard work. It’s a lot more than that. I think it’s the whole system of thoughts and action in alignment.

What do you think about these millionaires / entrepreneurs? Do you want to follow their way?

If you like this article, you might enjoy my eBook on spiritual entrepreneurship. Click here for free, immediate download

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Please check About page to learn more about this blog and the author, Akemi Gaines.


39 Responses to “Review: How Ordinary People Became Millionaires”

  1. Ari Koinuma on July 21st, 2008 7:24 pm


    It’s a very fascinating that the culture of success goes beyond cultures of different countries. Japan and US, for example, have wildly different cultures. Yet, this article illuminates that the culture of success is common between the two countries.


    Ari Koinumas last blog post..Low Self-Esteem Is the Root of All Problems (Digest)

  2. Irene | Light Beckons on July 21st, 2008 9:23 pm

    Hi Akemi, I’ve gone through the list and made an honest assessment of my own. Glad to say that I picked the millionaire’s response 7 out of 10 times! Does that mean I’ll become a millionaire soon? Hehe … I sure hope so. I feel besides being able to see things the way millionaires do, it’s also about being about to feel with the same intensity as they do. :) Yup, working on it!

    Irene | Light Beckonss last blog post..10 Things That Make Me Happy

  3. Mags | Woo-Woo Wisdom on July 22nd, 2008 12:04 am

    Akemi, this is an excellent comparison of the two different ways of thinking. It really makes the differences stand out clearly! And your assessment is spot on… the millionaires are definitely far more in alignment in every aspect of their lives.

  4. Tom Volkar / Delightful Work on July 22nd, 2008 4:30 am

    The danger in a list like this is that some folks could take it too literal as a recipe for success. One can’t argue with the general theme of taking responsibility and learning from one’s mistakes. Yet we are all so very different and not all things work for all people. For example being so frugal that you drive the same car for 19 years could serve to cause one to stop the flow of money by holding onto everything too tightly. It obviously worked for that guy but is it good advice for all?

  5. akemi on July 22nd, 2008 8:36 am

    Hi, welcome! You may be the first Japanese reader here :)

    You go girl! Divine Abundance in material form, it is.

    Thank you. I enjoyed making this list. I myself am not quite in the millionaire’s way yet, but clear intention is the first step. Like, I feel I’m getting more and more support by writing this blog.

    My advice is to see the big picture. An old car may mean frugality and belief in lack or the love of the car, and all things that exist and their lives. When I see the old VW Beatle (you know, not the one that are sold in the last several years, the old Bug) with new shiny paint, I feel the pride and love of the owner who drives it.
    So you are right, a reader can take this the way he or she can. Some choose to stay in the rut. But I don’t think I should refrain from writing a post like this because there are also readers who understand and value what I have to say.

  6. Tom Volkar / Delightful Work on July 22nd, 2008 8:51 am

    Akemi absolutely I don’t thing anyone’s opinion ought to stop you from writing any post that you want to. Really I did look at all the collective advice as a big picture view and that’s why I made the comment I did.

    I’m sure you aren’t implying that someone is in a rut simply because they may not see things as you do. I for one, welcome points of disagreement on my posts. I get tired of somewhat insincere comments where everyone says that every post is great.

    But even pointing out points of disagreement doesn’t mean one doesn’t see some value in reading a post. Right?

  7. akemi on July 22nd, 2008 10:55 am

    Of course I welcome all comments. I hardly ever delete comments unless it is an obvious spam or harassment. You are fine.
    Comments, including my own responses, represent who the writer is.

    BTW I don’t get tired of positive comments — I know they really mean it and send me good wishes :)

  8. Andrea Hess|Intuition In Business on July 22nd, 2008 12:49 pm

    Ooooh …. I was particularly excited to see No. 10 – millionaires make decisions intuitively!!! Yes!!!


  9. Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach on July 22nd, 2008 2:35 pm

    Here’s my favorite part of your post:

    “Wannabes: I hate failures. I’m afraid of failures.
    Millionaires: We learn through overcoming failures. My success came through learning from failures.”

    Excellent article, will stumble.

    Enjoy, Barbara

  10. akemi on July 22nd, 2008 4:09 pm

    I know. Isn’t it great that business people are becoming more and more open to embrace intuition! Our business, then, are sure to thrive!!

    Thank you. It’s important to realize these millionaires didn’t make it overnight — many went broke before and came back stronger.

  11. Flora Morris Brown, Ph.D. on July 22nd, 2008 4:34 pm

    Millionaires very clearly start off with positive attitudes and a strong belief in aligning themselves with like-minded, supportive people. Most important is their respect for themselves and others and their intent to do good in this world.

    Those who can’t grasp that it all begins within are doomed to watch others zoom by enjoying lives that negative thinkers believe they themselves don’t deserve.

    Flora Morris Brown, Ph.D.s last blog post..Laughter is Still the Best Medicine

  12. Cath Lawson on July 22nd, 2008 5:20 pm

    Hi Akemi – I love these type of comparisons. Thank you for sharing it. I would have answered pretty much the same to all of those. And I think most millionaires would answer the same. I do know the odd millionaire who is negative but I think they have probably limited their potential by being that way.

    As Barbara pointed out – a massive difference is that many of those wannabes are afraid to do what they see as failing.

  13. akemi on July 22nd, 2008 8:08 pm

    It’s interesting to read their mindset, isn’t it? And it’s not quite what wannabes would assume . . .

    Thank YOU. I know you’ve been writing posts in the same line of thoughts.
    This comparison is made by a survey — and no survey is clean cut 100% black and white way. Surely there are millionaires who don’t think this way and still make it, and people who think the millionaire way and haven’t made it there yet. I personally think it is quite a challenge to consistently think the millionaire way, though.

  14. kirsten on July 23rd, 2008 10:31 am

    I’ve seen #3 in action, especially among people who have been accumulating wealth over a period of years or even generations. By not spending money on expensive trends, you can invest it in yourself/your business/your children. The big picture is more important.

    Also, the willingness to bounce back from failure/loss, even if it takes a while, is very, very important. Too easy to get stuck in the feeling of loss, which leads to more lack, a vicious circle.

    And as a side note…many entreprenuers and DIY’ers have the most fun during the building years of their business, which indicates another quality: it’s passion, not accumulation of wealth for its own sake, that’s the driving force.

  15. akemi on July 23rd, 2008 7:35 pm

    You bring up a wonderful point. I so agree it’s great fun to build business — despite the turmoil.

  16. Breian Malupa - on July 24th, 2008 1:52 pm

    I personally know a millionaire and we are very close. I’ve known him for over 10years. I couldn’t agree more that he has a totally different mindset compared to hundreds of non-millionaire that I’ve compared him with.
    Different mindsets produces different habits. And it is certain habits (your actions) that will make one a millionaire. Kinda like “Cause and Effect”, certain causes (mindset/habits) will have certain effects (success/mediocre).

  17. akemi on July 24th, 2008 7:03 pm

    Exactly. You are quite lucky to witness this in your friend.

  18. Nivas on July 24th, 2008 9:22 pm

    wonderful akemi,
    i jus came to this site accidently and i am totally totally hooked to this….

    “Millionaires: I have a clear vision for my life and business and make decisions based on the vision.”

    killer lines….

    Nivas K

  19. akemi on July 25th, 2008 8:22 am

    That is a big point. How many of us really have the vision for our life and make decisions based on that? Now the vision can grow as we grow, but we do need it. Otherwise, every decision will be haphazard and ineffective.

  20. Baker on April 29th, 2009 5:03 pm

    I really enjoyed this post. I feel that a person’s wealth is in direct proportion to the value that he/she is giving to others. I also noticed that in your examples it seems the wannabe doesn’t really believe they can achieve success to begin with, so they generally tend to see the world a little differently and their actions match that view. Whereas the millionaire has this vision that leads to thought and action that shape his/her world accordingly. I resonate with the law of attraction being fully implemented in your examples.


  21. akemi on April 29th, 2009 5:46 pm

    Absolutely. Our world view shape our thoughts, actions, and ultimately, our lives.

  22. Ganga on July 18th, 2009 4:19 pm

    “A young boy came running to his mother and stared questioningly into her eyes.
    “Mommy are we poor?”
    She smiled with assurance and clarity.
    “No son, we are rich. One day we will have money”" – Tulshi Sen

    This is a great review, thanks for the insights.

  23. Alexander on July 25th, 2009 1:08 pm

    Great summary. Made a table out of it. Thanks!

  24. griff on August 11th, 2009 9:35 pm

    So, I’m reading this article above, and I’m digesting the information as best as I can (breaking down the different parts into their categories) and it’s hard to know which combination of the actions suggested leads to the final goal of independant wealth on a grand scale. Every day when I wake up in the morning, it strikes me that I am an individual, that I want to do something worth while with life (as I kind of figure that I’m only here once – solid proof of otherwise not withstanding) and try to get on with the day with this vision in mind. Will I become a Millionaire? Maybe one day – at the moment I don’t appear to be anywhere near it – or am I just blind to my own progress and just going through a transition phase – or am I just kidding myself? Either way, the base desire is there, so I can only conclude that it is possible, however remote that possibility is, that one ay I will reach that goal. I only want to do good things if I get there, and make sure I do things which other’s will benefit from – after all, I realise that living and maintaining some quality of life takes a lot of work, and sometimes isn’t easy.

  25. akemi on August 12th, 2009 8:24 am

    HI everyone,
    I hope I presented the millionaire mindset as something you start now, before you have $1M. Don’t wait to do your part — life is now. And it’s the whole mindset, not a combination of some parts, that is essential.

  26. Evan on August 12th, 2009 2:28 pm

    Hi Akemi,

    A nice list – mirrored in the US book The Millionaire Mind by Tom Stanley (who has an unsavoury attitude or two).

    One disagreement – I think millionaires who are entrepreneurs are opportunistic, in a positive sense: they are ready to take opportunities to get them where they want to go.

  27. Trevor on November 18th, 2009 3:15 am

    A very nice interpretation of the millionaire mind. I see my old self on the non millionaire side a lot. I am glad to be on the right side now. Also a great book is the Millionaire Mind.
    .-= Trevor´s last blog ..Today’s Goal: Compliment Each Person I Encounter Today =-.

  28. Adam on December 14th, 2009 1:04 pm

    Great post Akemi.

    I’m going to print this out. And I stumbled it. I always wondered whether other cultures were into entrepreneurship/personal development as much as the US. Thanks for sharing this cross-cultural experience.

  29. akemi on December 14th, 2009 3:50 pm

    Good luck, and thank you for your kind words. Yes, I try to utilize my bilingual ability to the full.

  30. Brenda (betaphi) on December 20th, 2009 12:01 pm

    Hi Akemi
    Well done as usual. My son has had unusual entrepreneurial success at an early age (22). It seems to me number 7, Mentors, may have helped him the most. From 19-21 his friends and associates were mostly successful, older men with families who welcomed the company, even in their homes, of a smart, enthusiastic young person. I thought of sending him this article, but I know already he would reject two of its parts — the law of attraction and universal ‘truths’ relating to love and abundance. He’s just not very abstract in his thinking like you and I are. Looking back at the list, though, these are very concrete steps.

  31. akemi on December 20th, 2009 7:07 pm


    Very cool. I’m happy for your son. These days, age hardly matters to succeed.

  32. Michael on October 20th, 2010 5:05 pm

    Interesting posting. I have seen something like this many times as authors all over the world try to tell us ‘wannabes’ that we are not like the rich, we dont think and act like the rich, and that is why we are not millionaires. I really dont think it is that simple, and articles that say that it is simply a difference in mindset actually make the wannabees feel worse as they look at them and say “Well I really want to be rich, I have wonderful visions of helping the planet, etc, etc, while also helping myself, but I dont think like the rich, I dont have 50 people that support me, in fact I probably have less than 5″ and then they feel REALLY bad…yet again like a failure: “Gosh, it is my thinking again, here we go again”….what purpose does this serve?
    Well that is just the surface: Somewhere in those millionaires past, they clearly were not restricted from being and thinking the way that they do, so of course they dont have the wannabees position at all. Its as foreign to them as the millionaires thinking and acting is to the wannabe. A wannabe, on the other hand. almost assuredly grew up with parents that were certainly not rich or millionaires, and therefore had no such automatic training around them from day 1; essential things like “money is good to have and fun to have” etc. Instead, the wannabes got caught up in the negative thinking of their parents and their immediate environment, and were led to believe all those negative things that people end up believing about money: “Root of all evil’, “Work Hard to get it” etc etc etc….
    No, I am not saying that any and all millionaires grew up with money, not at all, I am saying that they grew up with most likely many fewer barriers to it than the wannabes, for some reason. So the wannabe recognizes this and says” There goes my dysfunctional childhood again, wrecking my chances at ever being successful because of how it impacted my thinking for life”…

    The millionaire almost assuredly either did not grow up with such conditioning, so even if he or she did not have millionaire parents, they were so determined to break free form the poverty of their parents (etc) that they aggressively found ways to change their thinking …and yet what does this sort of determination take? In my mind, it means that there can no be any past lives sabotaging them (for example-since many people, as us Akashic records readers and followers know, have gotten ‘stuck’ in this life due to something or events that happened in a past life!!) nor any deep seated negative beliefs that are almost impossible to get rid of, nor a self-dislike or self-image that is negative.
    SO if I were to point out what I think the real difference is, it turns out to be SELF-ESTEEM. Not even necessarily self-love, but at least enough of a self realization and care that they KNOW they want to break out of poverty mentality and not stay there. And yes many of the worlds best millionaires get there by service to others…but if that were the only way to be a millionaire, then most of us ‘wannabes’ who are in service to others daily would already be there.
    So: All readers: where does this self love come from? I know for a fact that I grew up with a very poor self esteem that I am barely getting over at age 44. Is this my fault? NO. It is, however, my responsibility, but I have only barely begun to learn this is true in the past 2-4 years; before that I had no idea how valuable self-love was if one is to be successful in life. And you cant go buy it on the shelf at Costco-so where do you get it?

    Does this make sense? Polls/article like this frustrate me because they seem to almost chastise the wannabe for not being like the millionaire, when they clearly would be a lot closer to that status if they had had the same thinking from childhood.Or clear psychic pathways from past lives, etc. I t could go a lot further with this…. In other words, for most wannabes, just knowing how the millionaire thinks leaves us with “How the heck do I get there from here” and they know that it cant happen just overnight-hardly ever-so then their lack of good self esteem, assuming they truly do want to be a millionaire for the right reasons, gets in their way, and they know it, and it creates more negativity…
    Does this make sense? I know for me I am stuck not because I Choose it, at least not up until this point of awareness where I know I can choose differently, but that it came form many conditions of my life up until now. Does this make me a victim of those choices-well, no, unless I Choose that. But it has taken a lot of work (that I am assuming the millionaires rarely if ever had to go through, really) to get here-and I have a long way to go to unravel the negative thinking and poor self esteem that I inherited from my past. Or do I!?

  33. Josh on January 16th, 2011 7:02 am

    Hey Akemi,
    I just realized the time stamp on all of this, but I wanted to say one thing, I definitely agree with alot of what was said。
    Nivas :    “Millionaires: I have a clear vision for my life and business and make decisions based on the vision.”

    I read that and I thought about how I am doing my life now, I am in Japan right now, but I am all over the world. By no means am I a millionaire but I do believe that I will be beyond that one day too.

    Barbra: “Wannabes: I hate failures. I’m afraid of failures.
    Millionaires: We learn through overcoming failures. My success came through learning from failures.”

    I agree with this also but there are many people who learn from their mistakes I dont think that millionaires fear of failure is any less than a “wannabee“. oh and that age gap I agree doesnt matter.
    If I were to say anything I would say that we all make our own life and we all have power over it. I would also think that most of the time it is opportunity, that is how people got into these positions. I decided to learn about 7 languages that way no matter where I am in the world I wont miss any opportunities.

    well I think it is pretty cool how I found your blog also, sort of stumbled on it, but it was a great read. Im not to sure what the last post was all about though..

    I grew up single family home not alot of money, and I travel all around asia now, still not a millionaire but there are ways to have money without actually HAVING money, and if you understand that, then you are on your way the way that I am.

    Never stop building and never stop pushing, learn from your past but always keep your eye on the future, and your present will stay around the area you want it.

    anyway its midnight over here and I am going to a love hotel. have a great night.

  34. Kevin on March 2nd, 2011 8:16 pm

    Good blog, good sharing.

    You are providing value in what you do here!


    Stop Animal Abuse

  35. Tom on March 3rd, 2011 4:32 pm

    A very good list and i would say that it is all true, having been self employed for 30yrs and having a few company,s fail i got up again and tried again, recent years have seen me go from builder to property developer (lucky i got out at the right time) and finaly into gold which i had always played with, a lot of hard work and im now in control of a 2yr old company with a 1 million plus turnover and through investments ie not selling all i buy ive made my million and working towards my second million, im 46 a gay male with NO qualifications, i still look for reduced items at the supermarket and sale items i have 5 properties including the 1 i live in which was bought when i was 18 after selling my 1st business, With whats going on in the world i would advise anyone to buy gold or silver, silver is the cheaperst but it will grow in value a lot quicker than in a bank last year it rose by 76%. I f you fail try and try again and keep dreaming one day it might come true with hard work . xx p.s its at $35 now by the year end it could be $50

  36. Milionarii sunt ca noi. Milionarii sunt diferiti fata de noi. on March 31st, 2011 10:17 pm

    [...] The Highly Effective Habits of Millionaires Review: How Ordinary People Became Millionaires Bani • Educatie financiara • Educatie financiara si bani [...]

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    Sincerely in Christ


  38. Cc: Milionarii sunt ca noi; milionarii sunt diferiti fata de noi | Milionarul Mioritic on April 29th, 2011 9:53 am

    [...] Review: How Ordinary People Became Millionaires AKPC_IDS += "5906,"; Daca ti-a placut acest articol, iti recomand sa te [...]

  39. Jeff on June 17th, 2011 1:39 am

    I really enjoyed your post. I feel that a person’s wealth is in direct proportion to the value that he/she is giving to others. And I also noticed that in your examples it seems the wannabe doesn’t really believe they can achieve success to begin with, so they generally tend to see the world a little differently and their actions match that view. Whereas the millionaire has this vision that leads to thought and action that shape his/her world accordingly. I resonate with the law of attraction being fully implemented in your examples. Great post!