By Dennis P. Kimbro, Ph.D.
To begin, distribute 2,500 surveys hoping to peel back the mindset and behaviors of a long forgotten and overlooked market segment. Next, coordinate and organize six cross-country focus groups from Washington, D.C., to Las Vegas, Nevada, and points in between.
Once this task has been completed, coordinate and implement more than 60 interviews, phoners and countless conference calls over a never-ending seven year stretch. And what is the end result? What have you uncovered? The most definitive picture of Black America’s most affluent—in short, the DNA to Black wealth—a pragmatic blueprint for lifelong financial security that dispels the myths and rumors regarding the wealth building habits of Black America premier wage earners. For example, did you know the average Black millionaire…
* Is a 52 year old male (nearly 12 percent, and growing, female); born in the Northeast and Midwest; the majority raised in a home where both parents were present; more often than not their mother was a housewife.
* Average net worth: $4 million; average income of pa-rents: $ 10,000 – $ 20,000 per year.
* Married 15 – 20 years; children: two plus.
* College degree: approximately 69 percent; SAT score: greater than 1000 (earlier version); college GPA: male: 2.9; female: 3.4; 52 percent business majors; 20 percent MBA.
* Daily routine: rise 5:30 am; retire by 11:00 pm; exercise: 3.5 hours week; men golf, tennis; women golf, tennis, aerobics, yoga, gardening.
* Cars: four plus (Mercedes or Lexus; General Motors or Ford)
* Church attendance: twice per week; women tithe; men give 10 to 15 percent of their earnings to charity; church size: less than 2,500 members.
* How they made their money? Ninety percent entrepreneurship; thirty percent real estate.
* Smartest money move? “Diversifying my portfolio,” 31 percent; “Buying a home,” 26 percent.
* Investment strategy: stocks, mutual funds; “Earn it, grow it, give it away!”
* Best way to get rich? “Start a business”; 30 percent.
* Savings plan: 10 – 20 percent of income.
* Average credit card debt: $2,500.
* Appraised value of home: $200,000 – $299,000.
* Average debt not including mortgage: Less than $10,000.
* How do you define success: “Ability to effect change and the capacity to enjoy their work.” When asked, “What does money mean to you?” they respond, “Freedom and security.”
* They believe the most important public policy issue facing Black America: Economic development and education.
* The golden rule to Black millionaire ship: Earn six figures ($ 100,000) or more by age 30.
I am often asked what common traits I observed as I studied Black America’s financial elite. Amazingly, the answer is simple and yet, flies in the face of conventional wisdom. Yes, the rich are different. Black millionaires think and act differently. They believe in the greatness of this country, and they want to help write the next chapter of American history in ways that benefit them as well as their fellow man. The Black financial elite want a seat at the table, not because they feel entitled but because they know they have something unique and valuable to offer. Dissatisfied with just getting ahead, these wealth creators not only want to corner the market but to change the game. And, most important, these bold men and women believe in the power of seven laws of wealth—core competencies and best practices, if you will—that they adhere to on a daily basis. Simply Seven Laws of Wealth:
Wealth begins in the mind but ends in the purse. The average Black millionaire reads nearly one book per week—business, self-help or motivational. As I was told by a focus group participant whose net worth exceeded $50 million, “Far worse than not reading books or attending seminars or self-improvement courses is not even realizing that it matters.” Though Chairman and CEO of Epic Records, Antonio Reid, did not attend college, he enrolled in numerous executive management classes at Harvard. And the reason why? “I’ve come to realize that prosperity begins by dedicating yourself to lifelong learning. The moment you cease to grow is the moment you begin to die.”
- Decide that you will not be poor. T. D. Jakes broke down completely the first time he was asked to speak before a congregation. Jakes, who at one time was scoffed, ridiculed, mocked, and told he would never make it in the ministry because he had such a heavy lisp, tells us that no one wins by accident. “I know what it is like to be broke,” he recounts. “I know what it is like to be laughed at and scorned. I know what it’s like to clean toilets while envisioning Sunday sermons.” Jakes’s own journey began in Charleston, West Virginia, where his mother taught school and his father ran a janitorial business. To help make ends meet, Jakes sold vegetables, managed a paper route, and even dropped off beauty products door to door for his mother’s Avon business. He left high school early but later returned to earn a GED. Jakes knew early on that he was called to the ministry. In 1979, he launched the Greater Emanuel Temple of Faith with a congregation of ten. Nearly 20 years later, he raised the bar by moving to Dallas, Texas, where he built the Potter’s House—a 27,000-member, $45 million, 191,000-square-foot mega-church. “My critics weren’t altogether wrong,” he shared with me after a Sunday service. “There is a lisp, but whether I had to stutter, stammer, spit, or choke, I had something to say and I was going to say it!” Before you can become a millionaire, you must learn to think like one. You must decide.
- Believe in thyself when no one else will. Unfortunately, far too many have nots who have read the compelling story of Bob Johnson, Black Entertainment Television’s founder and owner of the National Basketball Association’s Charlotte Bobcat team have gained very little inspiration or direction in terms of advancing their lot. For they view Johnson’s success as luck, chance, or fate. “How lucky can one guy be?” they wonder. But luck, as it has been so often noted, played only a minimal role in his story. A full examination of Johnson’s life reinforces the same lessons taught by the study of the lives of most of the wealthy: A loving mother, an innate drive that knows no defeat, and a definite purpose that never wavers, matched only by unbounded enthusiasm will always ensure the largest measure of financial success.
- To thy own self be true; find your unique gifts. Or, as one focus group respondent shared, “Never do anything for the sake of money. If you find a vocation that you really love and adds value, take my word for it, money will find you.” A life filled with compassion and generosity. A life that is glorious and cannot be taken for granted. At their core, today’s Black financial elite view themselves less as wealthy or successful and more as individuals who have worked hard to pursue their passion. In my focus groups, they spoke at length about the importance of loving their work, about establishing meaningful goals and enjoying what they do. It shouldn’t be necessary to ask people if they enjoy their work. Their faces should answer the question without words.
- How may I serve thee? Millionaires not only openly engage in the sales process, they embrace the activity. Although some may detest being labeled a “salesperson,” those profiled in this study are proud of the term. Why? Because the selling process is the most effective and efficient way to increase your earnings and to reach your financial goals. In short: Sales equals income. The Black financial elite are thoroughly prepared, completely engaged sales professionals tough enough to deal with any rejection, resilient enough to overcome any objection, and caring enough to help customers and clients achieve their goals.
- Thou shalt own thy own business. Be your own boss—the sooner, the better. Black
millionaires never depend on one income source; instead they create a number of revenue
streams. “The two most powerful words in business,” advised Cathy Hughes, founder of Radio
One and one of Black America’s six Black millionaires, are own it!”
- Make thy money grow. Get your spending under control; managing your finances is your responsibility. Every individual is needy who spends more than he or she has: no man is needy who spends less. Junior Bridgeman, owner of Bridgeman Foods, has long since passed the $500 million sales mark, and his advice for future wealth creators? “If you are careless with your nickels and dimes, fortune will never come by your hand. However easy it may be to make money, it is far more difficult to keep it.
As Johnson Publication founder, John H. Johnson shared in our moment together, he quickly pointed out that until you are free economically, true independence will always be an afterthought. Today, the average Black American can live where he wants, eat what he wants, sleep where he wants, and send his children to the finest schools he so desires. But for far too many this form of freedom is difficult to attain. Why? Because, financially, he can’t. “Unless you are free economically and financially,” Johnson admonished, “you will never be free personally.” For so many, the Wealth Choice may not be the best choice, but the only choice.
DENNIS P. KIMBRO, Ph.D.
Few individuals impact the day-to-day management of organizations and institutions as Dennis Kimbro. A tireless educator, best-selling author, and Business school professor, Dr. Kimbro is universally characterized as an authority on leadership, wealth, and success. As one of today’s top business speakers, he has documented and shared his principles and insight on peak performance with thousands of followers around the globe. As a lecturer and researcher in the field of management, entrepreneurship and human potential, Dr. Kimbro encourages his readers to look within to extract the keys that underlie all accomplishment. He received his B.A. degree from the University of Oklahoma, and a M.A. and doctorate from Northwestern University where he studied wealth and poverty among underdeveloped countries. With his course work behind him, Dr. Kimbro combed the country interviewing scores of America’s most notable achievers. Eventually his inquisition led to the question: How can impoverished Black Americans pull themselves out of their poverty and reach their full potential?
To broaden and enhance the scope of the project, Dr. Kimbro studied the methodology of Napoleon Hill, author of the phenomenal best seller Think and Grow Rich. Using Think and Grow Rich as a reference, Dr. Kimbro decided to do what Hill had done in the 1930’s. He developed a survey to use among peak performing Black Americans. Two years later, he learned from the foundation bearing Hill’s name that, Hill himself, had drafted a book in 1970 that explored the identical question. Moreover, Hill had written nearly one hundred pages on the subject, which turned out to be his last. After a personal meeting with W. Clement Stone, president of the Napoleon Hill Foundation, Dr. Kimbro was commissioned to update and complete Hill’s original manuscript. Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice, the results of Dr. Kimbro and Hill’s efforts, distills the secrets of success contained in the lives of peak performing men and women, and reveals how readers can use utilize these keys to make their dreams come true.
Dennis is married and the father of three daughters, Kelli, Kimberli, and MacKenzie. His honors include various awards bestowed by the business community as well as the Dale Carnegie Personal Achievement award. Currently, Dr. Kimbro teaches on the faculty at the Clark Atlanta University School of Business Administration. In 1996, he served as one of eight national judges for the prestigious Ernst & Young USA Today Entrepreneur of the Year held in Palm Springs, California. As a certified Napoleon Hill Science of Success trainer and leadership coach, Dr. Kimbro’s writings have influenced readers from the streets of Melbourne, Australia, to Johannesburg, South Africa to Seoul, South Korea, to Reykjavik, Iceland; to the boardrooms of General Motors, Walt Disney Corp., Citigroup, Frito-Lay, Eli Lilly, Apple Computer, Exxon Mobil, NIKE, and the Gallup Organization to name a few. He has addressed the Ohio State ‘Buckeye,’ Wisconsin Badger, and the Notre Dame ‘Fighting Irish’ Football Teams, the Kansas City Royals Baseball Team, the St. Louis Rams Football Team, as well as the Denver Nuggets Basketball team. He has appeared on the Today Show, Larry King, CNN, and has been featured in Success!, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and USA Today on numerous occasions sharing the keys to success and achievement. Dr. Kimbro’s highest honor occurred when the Nat’l Black MBA Association presented him with the 2005 H. Naylor Fitzhugh award, emblematic as one of the top professors in the nation. As the author of Daily Motivations for African American Success and the highly acclaimed What Makes the Great Great: Strategies for Extraordinary Achievement,” his fifth book, The Wealth Choice: Success Secrets of Black Millionaires—the long awaited sequel to Think & Grow Rich—A Black Choice, promises to be another best seller.
Think & Grow Rich: A Black Choice ; Daily Motivations; What Makes the Great Great; What Keeps Me Standing; The Wealth Choice: Success Secrets of Black Millionaires