Smart risk taking. Just because you gamble or like taking a lot of risk doesn't mean you'll be a billionaire. Yet billionaires have keen instincts for risks that could be rewarding or in their favor. They "tend to have a very optimistic attitude toward risk, focus on risks they understand and find smart ways to reduce them."
As one billionaire told the study authors: "If you want to be successful in a big, big way you have to go where the biggest risks are, because that is where the biggest opportunities are, as well."
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It's not that billionaires ignore downside risk. They just have a more accurate sense of how to "identify value at the risk level of risk," the report said.
Instinct for asymmetrical opportunities. Billionaires tend to have a good gut sense of where they have an advantage (insights, funding, access) and where they can bring special value.
"In these situations, the risks for anybody without advantages will appear high and they are likely to walk away," the report said.
Billionaires see a need that they alone have an ability to fill, and jump in.
Recovery from failure. Whether it's a knack for the "quick pivot"—changing a business idea as market signals change—or brushing off a wrong move, billionaires see each failure as a necessary step toward success.
As one retail billionaire said in the study, "Our current business model is the result of a series of failures and the lessons we learned from them. If we would have stuck to the original business model, we would be bankrupt by now."