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I read a fascinating article recently by an author who spent five years researching the habits of self-made millionaires, along with those struggling with poverty. You can read the article yourself here, and I hope you do because the number one item that separated the rich from the poor came as a surprise to me and probably will to most of you. It was the habit of reading to learn.

Reading to learn, as opposed to reading for escape. Not that there’s anything wrong with curling up with a murder mystery or some other escapist book. Reading is good for its own sake. But if you want to get wealthy, it’s more important to read about history, biographies of successful people, science, self-improvement, and other topics that give you useful knowledge. For those of you interested in the trades, it’s important to read everything you can about mechanical systems and running a business.

It’s not hopeless to succeed in a trade career if you don’t enjoy reading. You’ll find plenty of successful people in the trades who haven’t read a book since high school. But you’re making it harder for you to achieve wealth if that’s the case. There’s only so much time available to learn on the job by watching others and listening to their instructions. You can greatly supplement that by reading in your spare time.

This author’s research uncovered something else I found very interesting. Most of the self-made millionaires in his study were not great students. Only 21% of them were “A” students, 41% were “B” students and 29% received an average “C” grade. More C students than A students made themselves into millionaires.

The vast majority of A students end up going to college, where they may or may not succeed academically. Don’t feel left behind or inferior if you struggled to get C’s in high school. There are other characteristics that can compensate for mediocre school grades. Read the article to learn what they are.

Learning a trade is one of the best paths available to get rich. We have a shortage of skilled trade workers, and anytime demand exceeds supply, the door is wide open to profit from people being in need of your skills.

Skilled trade workers can expect to earn sizable incomes, but the real pathway to riches is to own your own business. Mechanical skills are not enough to get there. Most plumbers, electricians, HVAC contractors, etc., who run their own business struggle just to make a living. That’s because while they may be good at working with the tools of their trade, they have poor business skills. They don’t know enough about finance, marketing, managing people and all the other skills needed to succeed in any business.

If you read the article, one of the other things you’ll find out is that self-made millionaires learn how to manage their money. They don’t gamble it away, and they spend less than they make. These are good business practices.

So if you want to be a millionaire, do two things: 1. Learn a skilled trade. 2. Read everything you can about running a business.

Oh, and don’t feel sorry for yourself if you grew up in humble circumstances. Many self-made millionaires started out poor. Just keep reading, work hard and do whatever else it takes to drag yourself out of poverty.