I spent 5 years interviewing 233 millionaires—here's the No. 1 career move that made them rich (2024)

I spent five yearsstudying and interviewing 233 millionaires to learn about their habits and the way they think.

Work was a big topic: 51% were entrepreneurs, 28% had traditional 9-to-5 jobs, and 18% were senior-level executives at large companies.

But they all had one thing in common: They quit their mid- to late-career jobs, saying they felt it was the only way they could truly succeed and build wealth. Some left to start their own businesses, while others found lateral roles that offered more growth opportunities and a higher salary.

Here are the most common red flags that made them decide to quit:

They were being underutilized.

The millionaires in my study often felt like they were always doing "zombie work" — boring, repetitive tasks that didn't showcase their strengths and talents.

One person worked for a container shipping company. He felt underutilized and ultimately quit his job to join forces with another industry peer.

Together, they launched a new U.S. branch of an international container shipping company. Today, they are executives at the multibillion-dollar company.

They had toxic bosses.

Managers who are demanding, selfish, arrogant or have little interest in your opinions won't help you reach your earning potential.

One millionaire said he was so fed up with his manager, who would only criticize his work instead of giving constructive feedback. He got tired of it and left to start his own home construction company, taking with him a number of key employees who felt the same way.

Their company grew into a successful home builder, making the founders very wealthy.

They dreaded their office culture.

An undermining culture of malicious gossip can make anyone feel a sense of anxiety going into work every day. This was the case for one of the individuals in my study, who was a manager at an accounting firm.

He ultimately left due to the toxic environment. After months of job interviewing, he landed an offer at a competitor firm, where he rose up the ladder and became a partner.

They weren't paid enough (or getting raises).

A sure sign that it was time to start looking for another opportunity, the participants told me, was when their salaries could barely keep up with the bills.

They couldn't afford they vacations they wanted or save up enough money to buy a house.

One person who worked for a large car dealership decided to strike out on his own. Thanks to investments from his family and friends, he launched his own dealership and franchised it, which allowed him to build significant wealth.

They had a draining commute.

One self-made millionaire in my study had a lengthy commute from her home in New Jersey to New York City. It was wearing on her, so she decided to look for something closer to home.

She took another job at a New Jersey-based company in the pharmaceutical industry, and it paid off. Sheclimbed to a senior position and retired early thanks to a very generous stock compensation package.

Before you hit your breaking point, consider having a conversation about a hybrid remote option, or moving into a position where there is little travel required.

Their industry was unsteady.

One IT professional left his struggling manufacturing company to join a new business offering discount online brokerage services.

At the time, it was a relatively new industry. But the risk was worth it: As the company prospered, so did he. This a good reminder that your skills may be more transferable than you think.

Don't be afraid to get on the ground floor of something that excites you.

Tom Corley is an accountant, financial planner, and author of "Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals" and "Rich Kids: How to Raise Our Children to Be Happy and Successful in Life." He holds a master's degree in taxation. Follow Tom on Twitter @richhabits.

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I spent 5 years interviewing 233 millionaires—here's the No. 1 career move that made them rich (1)


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I spent 5 years interviewing 233 millionaires—here's the No. 1 career move that made them rich (2024)


What career has created the most millionaires? ›

In broader terms, the finance and investment profession has the most millionaires.

What are the top 3 careers among millionaires Ramsey? ›

Dave Ramsey on X: "Top 5 Careers of Millionaires: 1. Engineer 2. Accountant (CPA) 3. Teacher 4.

What are the 10 things millionaires don't do? ›

The 10 things that millionaires typically avoid spending their money on include credit card debt, lottery tickets, expensive cars, impulse purchases, late fees, designer clothes, groceries and household items, luxury housing, entertainment and leisure, and low-interest savings accounts.

How to be a millionaire in 5 years? ›

Here are seven proven steps to get you wealthy in five years:
  1. Build your financial literacy skills. ...
  2. Take control of your finances. ...
  3. Get in the wealthy mindset. ...
  4. Create a budget and live within your means. ...
  5. Step 5: Save to invest. ...
  6. Create multiple income sources. ...
  7. Surround yourself with other wealthy people.
Mar 21, 2024

What job makes you the most rich? ›

Jobs that make a lot of money can help you have more financial security. The careers that make the most money tend to be in medicine and technology as well as management positions.

What degree do most millionaires have? ›

Top 7 degrees that make the most millionaires
  • Engineering.
  • Economics/Finance.
  • Politics.
  • Mathematics.
  • Computer Science.
  • Law.
  • MBA.
Apr 4, 2024

What skill makes the most millionaires? ›

12 MUST HAVE Skills of Every Millionaire
  • Product and Service Innovation. ...
  • Organizing. ...
  • Goal-Setting and Planning. ...
  • Money Management. ...
  • Philanthropy. ...
  • Networking. Building relationships is instrumental in the world of business. ...
  • Leadership. Every millionaire is a leader. ...
  • Time Management.

What is a millionaire's best friend? ›

It may sound like an intimidating term, but it really isn't once you know what it means. Here's a little secret: compound interest is a millionaire's best friend. It's really free money.

What do 90% of millionaires do? ›

Ninety percent of all millionaires become so through owning real estate.

What does a millionaire do all day? ›

How do millionaires spend their day? Millionaires spend their time on the things they know will bring them more income and wealth. That could be nurturing a solid friendship, investing in education, or delegating busy work to spend time on the most revenue-generating tasks.

How do the rich go broke? ›

Poor budget choices and failure to follow basic financial principles can send even the richest people with a high net worth into debt.

How much money do I need to invest to make $1000 a month? ›

A stock portfolio focused on dividends can generate $1,000 per month or more in perpetual passive income, Mircea Iosif wrote on Medium. “For example, at a 4% dividend yield, you would need a portfolio worth $300,000.

What's the fastest way to become a millionaire? ›

If you want to become a millionaire, resist the urge to give in to lifestyle inflation. Instead of spending more—just because you can—save and invest more. Imagine the pleasure in watching your financial account balances grow. And you'll reach your financial milestones faster.

How do millionaires live off interest? ›

Once you have $1 million in assets, you can look seriously at living entirely off the returns of a portfolio. After all, the S&P 500 alone averages 10% returns per year. Setting aside taxes and down-year investment portfolio management, a $1 million index fund could provide $100,000 annually.

What creates 90% of millionaires? ›

Real estate investment has long been a cornerstone of financial success, with approximately 90% of millionaires attributing their wealth in part to real estate holdings.

What industry produces the most millionaires? ›

Financial Services

The financial service industry has created the most number of millionaires since modern times, according to the Wealth Report. In the business of money, people make a lot of money. Behind the most successful ventures in the world are people and organizations skilled in deploying and growing money.

What is the richest career in the world? ›

Details on the Top 5 Highest Paying Jobs in the World
  1. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Topping the list, being a CEO gets you the highest paying job in the world, no matter where you work. ...
  2. Anesthesiologist. ...
  3. General Surgeons. ...
  4. Psychiatrist. ...
  5. Data Scientists.

What jobs pay $1million a year? ›

To make $1 million per year, you'll need to be one of the best in the world as a:
  • Entrepreneur.
  • Entertainer.
  • Law Firm Partner.
  • Pro Athlete.
  • Hedge Fund Manager.
  • Real Estate Agent.
  • Software Developer.
  • E-commerce Business Owner.
Apr 10, 2024


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