Did Millionaires WANT to Be Millionaires?

(Guest post by Jaime Tardy, who loves interviewing millionaires :))

Ever since I was little I wanted to be a millionaire. My Mom told me I should marry someone rich. And since I was young and thought boys were gross, I said, “No Mom, I want to make it myself!”

That started a bit of an obsession with money. I even made six figures in the corporate world at the age of 22. But alas, even with the money I wasn’t very happy.

I ended up giving up my goal of a million for the goal of being happy. I quit my job, and found something I love to do. Once I was truly happy with my work (a few years ago), I added that goal of a million back in. I’m not a millionaire yet, but I’m working on it.

I’ve always been curious if real millionaires had goals to be millionaires when they were younger too? Did they stumble upon a great business idea, or did they plot and plan to make a million?

Here are some examples of the 50+ millionaires I’ve interviewed

MJ Demarco (MillionaireFastlane.com): Yes – MJ wanted to be a millionaire for a cool car.

“One day when I was younger, while heading to an ice cream store, I saw a Lamborghini Countach, and that’s a car that I was just in love with at the time. You know, I had it on my walls for posters, I was always looking at it in magazines, and I saw one of them in front of an ice cream store and immediately thought to myself, ‘Okay well this has got to be an old guy driving this car,’ and the gentleman that came out probably was in his mid-20s and kind of not what I expected.

I mustered up the courage to go up to the guy and ask him, ‘Hey, what do you do for a living?’ He said he was an inventor. And that kind of blew me away as I expected him to be a baseball player or some kind of athlete or someone famous, but he was an inventor. That kind of set me off on a new path of beliefs and thoughts. That’s what started my desire to be an entrepreneur and start looking into that as a way to create wealth, a way to control my financial future.”

MJ did odd jobs and lived with his Mom till he was 26. He was trying to figure out the best, scalable way to become wealthy. He almost bought a limo business, but instead started on the internet. He matched up people at airports with limos companies, and later sold the business for $10 million dollars.

Adrian John Cartwood (7Million7Years.com): Yes – Adrian is a fellow personal finance blogger who’s always wanted to be a millionaire.

“I had this idea that I wanted to be a millionaire by the time I was 21. That didn’t happen so I figured I’d work on a plan to skip my first million and just start working on my second million. That worked quite well for me and that was the result we got: seven million in seven years.”

He has an amazing story of just breaking even in his business and life for a long time. Then he started to think like a business owner instead of just a technician working in the business. Radical things happened for him after that. (Check out the interview if you want the whole story; he also talks a lot about person finance!)

Frank McKinney (FrankMckinney.com): No goal of reaching a million.

“So when I came to south Florida with only that fifty-dollar bill, I just wanted a job. I wanted an opportunity to pursue free enterprise and capitalism. I don’t believe in the welfare mentality. I don’t believe in the entitlement mentality. I was very proud to have that first job digging sand traps on a golf course earning $180 a week, but I always knew, subliminally, subconsciously, that there was a higher professional calling for Frank McKinney than digging ditches on a golf course. But I wasn’t motivated by attaining a million dollars.”

Frank is now a real estate daredevil, and creates $30 million dream homes on spec. But that’s not how he started off. He started a tennis business giving lessons to wealthy people in Florida. That’s how he realized real estate was a great wealth-building tool.

There was something more for Frank McKinney, and it’s amazing what he does to give back. He now runs a charity that builds houses for people in Haiti, plus much more.

Sue Ismeil (Nads.com.au): No goal of reaching a million.

Sue was a mom and a medical records keeper. She didn’t have aspirations of a million dollar company. She just wanted to help her daughter. She found a problem, getting rid of dark hair on her daughter’s arms using all natural ingredients. She solved it with a green goo she called Nad’s (after her daughter Nadine) and she was rewarded handsomely!

“I think the driving force for me back then was just to find a solution for my daughter. There was no other reason other than to solve her problem. Then when I got so excited and everyone loved this formula, the thought of starting a business entered my head and, of course, there are business skills, financial back ups, etc, and I had nothing. All I had was this idea and an enthusiasm that was like a giant ball of fire that just burned every obstacle in its path. That’s how my business started.”

The Results of the 50?

Looking at all of the millionaires I interviewed, most of them didn’t have a goal to be a millionaire since they were little. (Note: I was totally hoping they did, because I thought that might give me better odds!)

One thing I can see that is a trait of all of them, is the desire to learn and be better. They wanted to be successful in what they chose to do. They had a drive to make themselves better, and their product or service better. They were always open to learning new things.

But there’s one thing that we need to make sure of: that our goal to be wealthy is good for us. The “why” behind the goal to a million needs to be right for you. Here is what Dani Johnson, a multi-millionaire who was broke and homeless when she was young, said:

“If you are motivated and strangled and enslaved by greed, you will never be satisfied with how much you make, ever. I had a part of my life where I was completely controlled by greed and didn’t even know it. No matter how much I made, I never was satisfied.

The millions never made me feel successful and that is eventually why I almost lost my life, because I was working towards something that I didn’t even realize did not satisfy me.

That was because I literally carried a spirit of greed within me. No matter how many things I bought, no matter how many places I traveled to, no matter how many millions I made, I still felt like a failure.”

Do you have a goal to be a millionaire? What drives you to achieve it?

Jaime is a business coach and speaker and has been featured on CNN, MSNMoney, Success Magazine, Fortune.com, Yahoo and more. Each week she interviews millionaires for their stories and advice on how to become a millionaire. Check out the Top 10 Tips from self made millionaires.

(Photo by Mr. Guy F. Wicke)

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  1. Ash (in US) May 24, 2012 at 8:57 AM

    Good article and well-written. Just wanted to throw the compliment out there. :) I’d like to see some other things they had in common from the interviews–was it close to “The Millionaire Next Door”?

  2. Diane May 24, 2012 at 9:24 AM

    I used to have a BF who talked about it all the time – and I thought it was a mis-directed goal. I think a lot of it was competitiveness with him – his dad was extremely wealthy and he was self-employed. Anyhow, I thought it was tiresome that he was so focused on it.

    My goal was to have interesting work, love what I do and have enough money to be secure. I don’t know what ever happened to the BF, but I do know that I am now a millionaire. And my goal is still the same. Money is not something I focus on a lot, but by living within my means and being a saver, it’s been a by-product.

  3. Shawanda @ You Have More Than You Think May 24, 2012 at 9:55 AM

    Yep. I wanna be a millionaire. Although I’d love to pursue my occupational dreams until the day I die, that may not be possible. I need millions of dollars just to retire comfortably in the event I’m no longer able to work.

  4. Well Heeled Blog May 24, 2012 at 9:58 AM

    I want to make enough money and save enough money that I will can be relatively financially independent. I think in today’s world, that means you will need to eventually become a millionaire by the time the retire in order to fulfill those goals. BUT remember that a million dollar in 30 years isn’t anything like a million now or 30 years ago.

  5. Crystal May 24, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    I am driven by money because I need it for my life’s priorities. So yes, I always wanted a lot of money, but I don’t know if I knew I wanted to be a millionaire. I just knew that traveling and hanging out with friends at events around the city would cost money. Now I am making okay money and am concentrating on our dream home and reaching financial independence as early as possible.

  6. Peter May 24, 2012 at 11:09 AM

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a goal of being a millionaire – I’ve always kind of felt like that monetary goals for me were goals without a bigger purpose. It just felt hollow. What happens once you reach 1 million – do you revise the goal to 2 or 3 million?

    To me my goals were for other things, not necessarily monetary things (but certainly things money could help attain). To be able to travel more, to be able to give more to our church and other organizations, and to be able to make a difference. If the money comes as a part of what I’m doing for a living, so be it! :)

  7. Nick May 24, 2012 at 11:20 AM

    I’ve had a goal to be a millionaire as long as I can remember. Not there yet… but looking forward to becoming financially “free” – which will require a bit more than $1 million…

  8. Meg May 24, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    Lamborghini Countach****** Oh god that spelling hurts my eyes. >.< Next to the Diablo & behind the Miura the Countach is one of my favorite Lamborghinis. I don't want to see her great name slaughtered…. :/ (I'm not usually a spelling freak, but this is an exception.)

    Anyhow, if I ever become a millionaire, great. If not, I can assure you I'll still have my pretty cars whether I make huge bank or not. Ferraris and Lamborghinis are much more affordable than most think, as long as you plan for maintenance. (Save for girls like the aforementioned Countach, who have gone back up & deservedly so.)

    I'm sure I'll get lots of stink eye looks & disbelief when I buy my first Porsche 911 this or next year, but I don't need to be a millionaire to own a 20+ year old classic 911…. Stink eye looks based on how many I got driving a 2007 911 to an event for the dealership here. Out of my range at the moment, yes, but she was in the $50k range. Hardly expensive for what she is, with 20k miles. The thing is people see Porsche & think they're $100k+ cars forever. They're not.

  9. Jaime @ Eventual Millionaire May 24, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    Diane – Really interesting! I now want to look him up and see where he is at. I bet that would be an interesting case study ;)

    Well Heeled Blog – I know! A million isn’t what it used to be- so I can only imagine what it’ll be like in the future.

  10. SavvyFinancialLatina May 24, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    I want to be a millionaire :) I have always wanted to buy my mom a beautiful victorian house, and help my brother pay for his college. I also want to tacky my grandparents on a cruise.
    I want my husband and I to do fun things like travel. I, also, want to start non profits. I definitely need lots of millions :)

    Plan to work hard to get to the millions.

  11. Jacob @ iHeartBudgets May 24, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    I would like to eventually be a millionaire, but it’s not my motivation. Time is more of a motivation for me. Time to spend with family, time to travel, time to serve at my church. If earning more = more time, then great. But if I can find more time and my net worth never reaches $1,000,000, I’ll be perfectly fine with that! :)

  12. Ron @ Fringe Village May 24, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    Fantastic post. I have listened to 2 interviews so far on Jamie’s site and they were great and very informative.

  13. Ornella May 24, 2012 at 3:25 PM

    I do have a goal of becoming a millionaire. It will happen sooner rather than later. What motivates me and is my burning “why” it’s to help me parents with retirement and my friend’s family. Plus, I love to travel and give back.

  14. Christa May 24, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    I want to be a two-millionaire (one mil for me, one mil for the hubby), but that’s a normal goal nowadays with the projected price of retirement in 40 years. So I suppose a question I could ask is: do I want to be wealthy. And the answer there? No. I would welcome it, of course — who’s gonna turn down money? But I don’t strive to own all the riches in the world. Just to support my family and enjoy life.

  15. Jim May 24, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    As one of the gentleman in the photo, I just want to point out that none of us are millionaires.

  16. Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista May 24, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    Maybe instead of being a “millionaire” they wanted certain things in their life which meant they needed to reach this goal! Having goals are a necessary part of achieving your dreams. So have I dreamt of being a millionaire, you bet but now it’s a 2 millionaire!

  17. Jaime @ Eventual Millionaire May 24, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    Jacob – I understand that! The million is only worth what it can do. I see it just as a number goal, more freedom and the ability to do what I want is important.

    Ron – Glad you liked the interviews! :)

  18. Diane May 24, 2012 at 5:08 PM

    @Meg: I’m there already and my last car (bought this year) – was 10-year-old used Volvo, for under $3K. Never had a car loan in my life. I would no more get an expensive new car ($50K is more than twice what I’ve ever paid for a car) than I would walk naked down the street dressed in nothing but Xmas tree lights. Not saying cars are silly, just saying if you really do want to arrive at decent savings, buying flash cars will not help you get there.

  19. DC May 24, 2012 at 6:41 PM

    I would saying “being a millionaire” is a goal of mine simply because having wealth is a goal of mine. I would say $1 million is a good starting spot, though certainly not THEE end goal. I want to have wealth that opens up time and opportunity, and having $1 million would definitely help me get closer to that goal.

  20. Lance@MoneyLife&More May 24, 2012 at 7:51 PM

    Pretty neat post. I never set the goal of becoming a millionaire but I’ve always liked the idea of becoming wealthy. A million is nice but if you’re planning to retire on it it probably won’t be enough so wealth has been my goal.

  21. AdventureRob May 25, 2012 at 3:28 AM

    I’ve always wanted to be a millionaire (who doesn’t?), but I don’t think it’s the best goal to have in life. I can already getting there, and then wondering what to spend it on. A large house that needs more money to keep it maintained probably.

    Following passion and goals is very important, but a lot of self made millionaires did it by chasing their dreams, rather than chasing the dollar.

  22. Financial Independence May 25, 2012 at 4:48 AM

    To become a millionaire you could buy a house in California 20 years ago and just stay in it…

    I think we need to aim higher – what does it take to become billionaire? I mean with the inflation and so on millionaire is an annual salary for somebody..

  23. Jaime @ Eventual Millionaire May 25, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    DC and Lance and Financial Independence- Yes! I just use the term millionaire as pertaining to a person with a million dollar net worth or MORE. A million is NOT what it used to be. I’ve interviewed people with just at a million and they have regular cars and live a “middle class” life. But once you have $5-$10 million dollar net worth – then you can think about the nice cars and extras. Funny that decamillions is the new “millionaire”.

    AdventureRob – Most everyone hasn’t been JUST about the money. Though it doesn’t mean you have to build a business out of your hobby, most of them are passionate about creating things and growing a business.

    Also most of them want to improve as a person and grow- and going after wealth makes you improve your mindset and get rid of some of the junk in your head! :)

  24. J. Money May 26, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    Thanks again for the nice change of pace, Jaime! I, too, never wanted or really thought about being a millionaire growing up, but once I hit about 25 it was all I could think about ;) Now I’m more focused on being “financially free” really – which will probably mean at least a net worth of $1 mil, but I think it’s a nice challenge to kinda work on anyways, esp. if you’re a huge money nerd like me and most others reading these posts here. Oddly enough I’d be happy stopping at $1 Mil and just patting myself on the back too, haha… We’ll see what happens though! :)

    @Well Heeled Blog – That’s always true, but a million dollars is still a million dollars ;)
    @Peter – I just want to see if I can do it (hit a million dollars), and then I’d totally be happy with stopping the “race” there and feeling good about hitting that mark… I don’t think I’d then shoot for $2 mil or $3 mil, etc – but I do think I’d reach it eventually if I kept hustlin’. Like you though, I’m much happier focused on what money can do for you – like with traveling and exploring and just living a more peaceful life w/ friends and family. We’re gonna get there, bro!
    @Meg – Haha, it’s nice and changed now – don’t you worry ;) And I agree with doing stuff NOW rather than waiting till you’re a millionaire or have $XXX in the bank whic could be like 30 years from now. If something’s a priority to you, and you do your diligence with planning and all that stuff, then I say go for it! Nothing wrong with going for what makes you happy in life if you can get away with it :)
    @SavvyFinancialLatina – Those are great goals :) You’re a sweetheart.
    @Ron @ Fringe Village – Glad you like ’em! I’m new to her stuff as well, but very glad we ended up crossing paths :) Interesting stuff.
    @Ornella – And you WILL make it, girl! I’ve got total faith in you :)
    @Jim – HAH!!! That is too funny. Flickr is coming to life here! :)
    @Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista – “Having goals are a necessary part of achieving your dreams.” Agreed. There’s nothing wrong with having goals and following your dreams, even if they’re super crazy or far out there. And luckily hitting a million dollars is do-able for most people as long as you put a good game plan in place :) (AND stay motivated)
    @Diane – I want to see you roaming the streets in only xmas lights!! hahha… that is too awesome. Good one :)

  25. Jerry May 28, 2012 at 4:32 AM

    There’s no insurance for becoming wealthy and I thought it was pretty insightful that most of your interviewees did not set out with that goal. I do believe that you find something that you’re passionate about and it can lead to wealth if you are focused on its success.

  26. J. Money May 28, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    I agree. Not many people I know succeed when they *only* do it for the money. Being motivated by something bigger usually helps you get there faster in the end, where you can then enjoy the millions of dollars :)