Home » How to Make a Million Dollars: 5 Abilities You May Need

How to Make a Million Dollars: 5 Abilities You May Need

by Fosburit
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When I was young, I was a person who was very eager for money and very ambitious for success. Like most of you, when I lie in bed at night, I have been wondering what ways I can make more money.

The following are the three examples that had come into my mind:

  1. When students couldn’t find a job during the graduation season, at the same time companies complained about lack of talents, I thought about school-enterprise alliances.
  2. When I went to three companies for interviews in a day, and a lot of time was wasted on the road, I thought about video recruitment software.
  3. When I was troubled about ordering lunch by phone calls every day when I worked in an office building, I thought about ordering meals on the Internet.

I don’t know if you have discovered it, the above three money-making methods I have considered are really based on “needs” and “pain points”, but why I didn’t do it in the end, or failed after doing it?

The reason is simple:

  1. These so-called needs and pain points are all my fantasy, or simply my own personal needs.
  2. Even if these needs are real and can form a large enough market, do I have the ability to meet the needs?

There are many answers to the query “How to earn 1 million dollars”, and the focus has always been on how to find opportunities and how to make 1 million dollars “quickly”, rather than how to cultivate the ability to earn 1 million dollars.

People who are inspired by the ups and downs of making big money stories, are looking for vents, opportunities, resources, and needs every day, regardless of whether they are capable or not when the opportunity really came.

There are already many ways online to earn 1 million, such as:

So here, I mainly want to share with you how to cultivate the ability to make 1 million dollars, instead of telling you the story of how to earn 1 million. 

1. Invest for Future: Turn Poor Thinking to Rich Thinking

What capabilities should be invested in for the future? As far as I know, there are three levels of making money:

#1. The first level is to earn money by hard work, such as going to work on time every day, working overtime, whether as an employee or starting a business, selling your time in exchange for money.

#2. The second level is to make money by ingenuity, such as finding a certain market pain point, designing a certain business model, possessing the reproducible expert experience, writing articles for training, doing consulting, and exchanging materials with brainpower.

#3. The third level is to rely on core resources to make money. For example, when the market is chasing the fidget spinner, you have just mastered the first-hand supply of fidget spinner. Or, if you have 10 million USD, even if you deposit in the bank, you can have 50,000 USD interest (if 0.5% APY) for a year.

According to these three levels, what we may want to invest in is the ability to exchange resources with the society and slowly accumulate our core resources.

Say Goodbye to “Poor Mindset”

When I was young, I went to the all you can eat buffet. In order not to suffer a loss, I held the wall in (hungary) and held the wall out (full). As a result, I broke my stomach because of overeating. This is actually a kind of poor mindset.

The so-called “poor thinking” refers to the thinking that places too much emphasis on a certain kind of scarce resource, especially when this scarce resource is no longer your real scarcity, but just a feeling of “possession” less than “need”.

Poor mindset mainly has the following characteristics:

  1. Don’t know to give up first and receive later, and blindly demand the positive growth of scarce resources.
  2. Based on the “loss aversion” psychology, they will overestimate the value of their resources.
  3. Don’t know how to exchange surplus for scarcity.

Poor thinking Example – Career

Supposed you have reached the bottleneck of development in a small company. The monthly salary is 5,000USD.

You have successfully gotten an offer from a big company. The human resource of this company described a complete career planning for you, but can only give you 4,000USD monthly salary currently.  

Finally, you didn’t go to the new company because you could not accept the wage drop. 

This case is a kind of poor thinking, not scheduling the career for a long orientation, but blindly pursuing a salary increase.

Poor thinking Example – Investment

Supposed you have a deposit of 50,000 USD in hand, and have been thinking about how to increase this 50,000 USD through investment.

You’re intended to buy stocks but afraid of the stock’s price drop. You try to invest in a fund but you said you don’t know the people behind it. A company invites you to become a partner but you said you have not done it before. 

In the end, you choose to put the 50,000 USD in the bank for regular interest. 

This case is also a kind of poor thinking.

Poor thinking Example – Life

The parking fee on the side of the road downstairs in my community is 10 USD/night. The toll collector usually goes to work at 6 o’clock a.m. Sometimes, in order to avoid the charge, I get up at 5 o’clock in the morning and drive away. 

As a result, I didn’t have enough energy for the whole day because of not getting enough sleep. 

This case is also a kind of poor thinking. I didn’t realize that time and energy are more important than parking fee, and I don’t know how to use money as a surplus in exchange for my scarce time and energy.

So in general, the poor thinking is the mindset that is afraid of giving, worrying about risks, and unwilling to share, especially those things that are or were their scarce resources, such as money.

Correspondingly, it is the “Rich Thinking”.

What is Rich Thinking?

It is investing in the future. It has a psychological term called “delayed gratification”, which refers to a choice that is willing to give up current interests for more valuable results in the future.

Rich thinking Example – Career

Company A is a small company, which offers you a salary of 5,000 USD, and you can see your ceiling in this company.  Company B offers you a salary of 3,000 USD, but it is one of the top 500 companies in the USA. 

If you give up company A and choose company B, this is a kind of delayed gratification. However, many people are misunderstanding when investing the future.

Rich thinking Example – Connections

For example, I have a friend who has been investing in “Circle” and “Contacts” since in college. He hardly attended class and was keen on participating in various activities, meeting various people, with the saying that “investing contacts is to invest in the future”, and finally almost could not graduate.

I think this is not investment, but speculation.

What is the difference between the two? The book The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham says: Investment is the process of buying at a price below value, while speculation is about predicting the future and trends.

According to my understanding, investment is controllable in terms of returns, costs and risks, while speculation is a gamble as it is uncontrollable.

Can you control things like connections? It depends on how you understand the word “connections”.

Have you ever called the exchanged business cards people “connections”? Have you eaten together with them? This statement is as funny as having an Excel that records the contact information of thousands of customers, and saying that you have thousands of customer resources.

When lacking of money, I believe that investing in the future is to invest in your ability, rather than external resources. Otherwise, even if resources come to you one day, you may be not qualified to catch it.

2. Rely on the Big Tree: the Company Your Works In

When it comes to starting from zero, starting a business comes first to the mind of most people. 


Entrepreneurship is indeed the fastest way to exchange social wealth. Even if a small workshop of several people, or a Soho who is alone, it is common to earn one million USD a year. For example, the income of my boss who was more than 1 million dollars after he started the business two years later.

But the biggest problem is that many people only see the superficial scenery of this small group of people who have succeeded in entrepreneurship but can’t see the bitterness behind them, their unrepeatable path, and the large number of entrepreneurs who failed.

It is impossible for most people to succeed in starting a business. For example, the shops in the mall, the restaurants on the street, how many of them will be left when you look back a year later, especially during the period the Covid-19?

Manager’s Path

Compared with a small boss with an annual income of 1 million, it may take longer to become a manager of a company with an annual salary of 1 million. However, this path has one of the biggest advantages, that is: it can be copied.

Success has its own reasons for success, and the reasons for failure are common. The success of starting a business is sometimes not about what they did right, but about what they did not wrong.

The success of entrepreneurship, 30% depends on hard work, and the rest 70% are doomed. That is to say, it relies on yourself and fate. Success is accidental, and failure is inevitable. 

However, the manager’s route in a company is different from starting a business by yourself, as it can be planned and replicated, as long as you don’t enter the wrong industry, don’t choose the wrong company, or don’t work in the wrong position, and you can go on with firm conviction when you are confused and hesitated.

My Boss Example

Taking my boss as an example, his career path was very clear before graduation:

  • Industry: Household electrical appliance
  • Enterprise: Top 500
  • Position: Overseas sales

There is a high ceiling both in the industry and the enterprise, and there will be no bottleneck within at least ten years. Then all he needs to do is to dig deep in the ability of the job. 

This also means that we can greatly reduce uncertainties in the professional manager route because many uncertain risks are covered by the company’s capabilities. 

Just as parents are the real starting line for children, enterprises are also the starting line for most talents. This is the power of relying on the big tree, so why bother to “start from scratch”?

For ordinary people, choosing a good company and then working hard will be much more practical than tossing back and forth to find the so-called “wind”. Although it is slow, it is stable and may suitable for 99% of people.

3. Ability to Seize Opportunities and Turn Ideas into Reality

“Pigs can fly in the tuyere”, a large group of avid entrepreneurial fans has fallen into the frenzy of looking for the tuyere all day long.

From wigs to wedding dresses, to balance bikes, and to drones, from e-commerce to O2O, to sharing economy, and to artificial intelligence, one of the most frequently talked topics is: What business can we do to make money now?

High-speed Rails, Cars, and Bicycles Examples

Everyone hopes to enter a rapidly developing field, and then quickly leave others behind. According to the degree of “tuyere”, we can simply compare different industries to high-speed rails, cars and bicycles.

There is no doubt that in the high-speed rail, you are the fastest and can reach your destination faster than others, but at the same time, you may just follow the flow and have no control over anything. If there is no high-speed rail available for the next station of the journey, you may have to walk.

If you ride a bicycle, of course, you can control yourself, whether you are crossing the streets or running in the city, but the biggest problem is that it is really too slow, and it is so slow that it will eventually require others to call for “cultural heritage protection”. 

It’s like a friend who opened a printing factory talked about hiring people. He said that young people nowadays don’t want to do printing job. 

You may like cars as can control freely, but the speed is not too slow, anyway, as long as the direction is right, you know that one day you can reach the destination. 

But this truth is not easy for many people to practice it in this impetuous society, even if they know it.

Voices around You

Imagine that there are voices of “someone makes a fortune”, “someone raises ten million in series c financing”, and “someone earns an annual salary of one million after three years of work” around you, can you still stand up to your temper? 

You will doubt whether your choice is correct; you will worry about whether you are really long term orientation or just wasting time; you will wonder whether you can make more money by changing the current industry or company.

I understand it very well, because I have also been impetuous. Is it important to have tuyere, opportunities, or great ideas?

My point is that it is not important, or at least, not that important.

My Example

When I started my business, I found that the so-called opportunities are really too many.

  • Today, a friend came over and invited me to invest in a project.
  • Tomorrow, I discovered that there is a demand in the market that no one can meet the needs so far.
  • The day after tomorrow, I found a new product that I really like at the exhibition. 

The question is: Do I have the ability or resources to seize these opportunities? There are many things I want to do, and how many things can I do?

Personally, I think that the ability to grasp the opportunities or turn ideas into reality is the most important thing.

As talked above, blindly trying to catch the wind is speculation, and building a moat of personal ability is an investment.

4. Build Personal Moats: Transferable Skills

What do you think determines the level of income? Is it the boss who pays or the capable employees?

In fact, neither. The salary is not determined by the boss, nor by the employees, but by the relationship between supply and demand. 

How much your business needs you, how much the market needs you, how high your moat, and how irreplaceable you are, how high your salary will be.

What is a moat? 

It is the core competitiveness. According to Philip Kotler‘s “Marketing Management“, the core competitiveness must have the following three characteristics:

  1. It can make a significant contribution to the perceived value of customers.
  2. It is difficult for competitors to imitate and plagiarize.
  3. It can be used to copy to other fields.

This also means that when we are investing in the future and accumulating capability, the key is to judge whether the ability I have accumulated has obvious value to society? Is it easy to be replaced? Can it be copied?

For example:

  • A 40 years old toll collector doesn’t know anything but charge.
  • The daily work of a salesperson is either searching for customers or quotes only according to inquiries.

Everyone can do such repeatable and low vaule jobs. If you were in these positions, you may flee right away, because even if you became the world’s number one toll collector? One day if the position of toll collector is gone. What can you do with the title of the world’s number one? Times have been changing. The position that once made everyone eager for it, maybe will be gone in a few years.

Here not telling that “this job will become obsolete sooner or later, why do you still do it”, but “are the abilities you have accumulated in this job can be transferable?”

Transferable Skills

Just like a USB disk, it can be opened by plugging it into the windows system, and it can also be used by plugging it into Macos system.

For example, the abilities that were accumulated in the sales position can also be used in the purchasing positions, operation positions, and management positions. 

If not, either this ability does not have the value of investing in the future, or you have not yet mastered the underlying logic of this ability.

What is the underlying logic of ability?

Just as computer languages ​​are composed of 0 and 1, every ability that is actually applied to a certain scene can actually be decomposed again.

For example, sales ability can be broken down into:

  • Ability to build trust
  • Ability to know customer real need behind the inquiry
  • Ability to work out solutions
  • Ability to communicate and negotiate

These capabilities can also be used in other fields besides sales scenarios.

Job Application Example

For example, when you apply for a job, if you can quickly know the real needs of personnel of the company and let the interviewer quickly trust you. And then present the matching between yourself and the company’s demand, the success of receiving the offer will increase. 

Is this not the application of the capabilities described above?

The ability to decompose and reorganize, merge and apply to most other fields, this is called the underlying logic of capability.

Only by accomplishing this step can it be said that the establishment of a personal moat has been realized.

5. Build a Strategic View: Change the Future

I saw a friend’s message on Facebook “when everyone goes home after work, I am rushing to the next factory to inspect the goods. Can an assistant really share my work? I don’t think so. I have encountered the quality problem many times. I can’t even trust myself, let alone trust others.”

It sounds reasonable as an unreliable assistant cannot help you much in work.

But this kind of thinking may be wrong. The biggest problem is the lack of a strategic view.

When we talk about investing in cultivating ability for the future, it’s not like putting change into a piggy bank, after putting it in, you don’t need to worry about it.

Many times we need to use time in exchange, whether spending time reading or practicing. But everyone’s time is fixed. When you spend time on A, it must mean giving up B. So whether to choose A or B has a lot to do with your strategy.

The strategy is a process of designing the overall situation of the future, and then reverse what we should accomplish currently.

If the strategy of above friend is to continue to fight alone in the next five years, then OK, he can continue like this; but if he does not want to live such a life of exhaustion every day, he also wants to earn more money, or sitting or even lying down to earn money, then an assistant must be hired, even if the assistant might make him not satisfy at the moment.

As time goes on, the assistant will learn what you teach him and can burden parts of your job, so you can have spare time to do things that are more valuable to your future. Otherwise, you will keep yourself trapped in a whirlpool of low value.

We Can Change the Future

This is the strategic view. today’s “effects” are composed of countless “causes” in the past. History cannot be changed, so we can’t change the present, we can only change the future.

So you may find that no matter how hard you try, you have a feeling of being held in your throat by fate, unable to breathe, and unable to escape.

For example:

  1. No matter how hard you work, you are still poor
  2. No matter how hard you are to find potential customers, many customers still ignore you
  3. No matter how you exercise to lose weight, you are still fat

But if we stretched the time axis to 3, 5, 10 years, what you do today will really have a positive impact in the future.

The strategic view is to help us see the future, then set a goal, and start working towards this goal from today.

To change the future, you will not hesitate to sacrifice today, rather than complaining about your boss, the hard work, no customers, but not doing anything to change anything, blindly fantasize that everything suddenly becomes clear after starting a business.

Final Thought

Becoming a millionaire is the dream of many people. Wish you prepare the following abilities to make your first million.

  1. Invest for Future: Turn Poor Thinking to Rich Thinking
  2. Rely on the Big Tree: the Company Your Works In
  3. Ability to Seize Opportunities and Turn Ideas into Reality
  4. Establish Personal Moats: Transferable Skills
  5. Build a Strategic View: Change the Future

Even if you don’t start a business, or you are just an ordinary person, within 10 years, you are likely to make a million dollars.

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