Nearly six-in-ten (58 percent) high net worth investors attribute their wealth to being in the right place at the right time.
"I'm a greater believer in luck,” Thomas Jefferson once said, “and I find the harder I work the more I have of it” It was hard work that grew Helzberg Diamonds, founded in 1915 by Morris Helzberg, into a chain of more than 230 stores. But it was luck when, in 1994, Barnett Helzberg, Jr., Morris’ son and then the company’s Chairman of the Board, crossed paths with Warren Buffett. He boldly introduced himself and, long story short, a year later he sold the company to the billionaire investor.
Which brings up another observation courtesy of Roman philosopher Seneca, who said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
This is one of the takeaways of Malcolm Gladwell’s 2008 bestselling book, Outliers, which explored and examined factors that contributed to some of the world’s most impactful success stories. Hard work is one constant throughout, as illustrated by Gladwell’s “10,000-Hour Rule,” which posits that the key to success in anything is a matter of practicing for around 10,000-hours. The members of the Beatles, when they were just a fledgling outfit playing in Hamburg, Germany, easily reached this benchmark playing night after night, before returning to England, poised for Beatlemania to break out.
Likewise, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates enjoyed unique and early access to a computer, courtesy of his high school’s computer club, a rarity at the time. “I had better exposure to software development at a young age than I think anyone did in that period of time, and all because of an incredibly lucky series of events,” Gates tells Gladwell.
Psychologist Richard Wiseman, in a study published in 2003, observed that, “Lucky people generate their own good fortune…. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities (and), make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition.”
One thing about wealth, it enhances opportunities (and an appreciation) for both luck and being in the right place at the right time, according to wealth level studies conducted by Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner. Nearly six-in-ten (58 percent) high net worth investors with a net worth between $5 million and $24.9 million (not including primary residence) attribute their wealth to being in the right place at the right time, while 55 percent credit luck.
In comparison, 40 percent of Millionaires with a net worth up to $4.9 million attribute their wealth to being in the right place at the right time with 36 percent giving a nod to luck. Among non-Millionaire investors with a net worth of at least $100,000, 30 percent attribute their wealth to being in the right place at the right time as well as to luck.
Among the high net worth investors surveyed by Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner, the eldest (over the age of 65) are the most likely to attribute their wealth to being in the right place at the right time and to luck (61 percent and 59 percent, respectively). Among Millionaires, these attitudes are shared near equally between seniors and the youngest respondents under 45.
Among non-Millionaires, it is the youngest investors under the age of 45 are substantially more likely than their older counterparts to credit their wealth to being in the right place at the right time and to luck (38 percent and 41 percent, respectively).
Across all wealth levels, being in the right place and luck are viewed as more tenuous wealth creation factors. The vast majority of Affluent Americans credit hard work, education, smart investing and frugality as the primary factors in their financial success. Risk, too, is seen as another significant factor among wealthier investors; among non-Millionaires not as much.
As all these factors indicate, there is no easy way, no short cut to becoming a Millionaire. Even lottery winners will have the considerable challenge of managing their newfound wealth in a responsible manner. So, in the immortal words of Clint Eastwood’s Harry Callahan, if you are looking to become a millionaire, you have to ask yourself one question: “Do you feel lucky?”
Well, do ya?
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.