Why Average Students Often Make The Best Entrepreneurs


Tom Corley boats - crop

Below are four statistics from my five year study on the daily habits of the self-made millionaires::

  1. 21% of self-made millionaires were “A” students.
  2. 41% of self-made millionaires were “B” students.
  3. 29% of self-made millionaires were “C” students.
  4. 7% of self-made millionaires were below average students.

77% of the self-made millionaires in my study were not exceptional students. In fact, more than a third under-performed academically.

How can this be?

Most people assume that successful people are outstanding students.

Since academic performance and a high IQ are correlated, these statistics are evidence that a high IQ has no bearing on success in life.

In fact, a high IQ is often a disadvantage when it comes to success.

Academic success comes easy to those with a high IQ. But success in real life never comes easy. It is fraught with pitfalls, obstacles, failure and mistakes.

Success requires persistence and mental toughness in overcoming impediments to success. Its pursuit pushes you to the edge emotionally and physically. You must grow a thick skin and become accustomed to struggle, failure and mistakes. Those who are not accustomed to struggle, quit.

Ironically, individuals who struggle academically, become accustomed to struggle. Overcoming pitfalls, mistakes and failures is a daily habit for them. Struggle is their norm. They expect it.

Consequently, they have no fear of failure or mistakes. This is important because success is built upon a mountain of mistakes. The greater your mistakes, the higher your mountain.

What’s interesting about the self-made millionaires in my study is, despite the fact they did not start out with high IQs, they nonetheless grew their intelligence significantly during their lifetimes. They never stopped trying and they never stopped learning.

Until about ten years ago, the notion that your IQ was fixed at birth was accepted science.

But that thinking has changed.

Over the past ten years, neuroscience (the study of the brain), has completely transformed our understanding of how the brain works.

We now know that the brain changes every day. We can rewire our brains (called neuroplasticity).

We now know that the hippocampus gives birth to thousands of new neurons every day (called neurogenesis). Our brains grow new brain cells to be put to use in your pursuit of success.

We now know, thanks to our recent understanding of epigenetics, that certain genes can be turned on to boost IQs.

IQ’s can and do change over one’s lifetime. IQ is not fixed.

Just because you were a “C” student at age 17 with an IQ of 100 doesn’t necessarily mean you will stay that way. You can increase your IQ all during your life, even into your eighties. What drives IQ change, is growth.

Self-made millionaires grow by doing certain things every day that improves their brains and continuously increases their intelligence during their lifetimes.

They read. They develop and improve their skill-sets. They figure out creative solutions to intractable problems. They overcome obstacles. They figure out what to do and what not to do.

All of this, forces them to grow into the person they need to be in order for success to happen.

Let’s touch on some of the IQ-boosting habits of self-made millionaires – habits that not only amp up brain cells, but that also turn on brain-boosting genes:

Daily Learning

Every time you learn something new, you re-wire your brain. New neurons are recruited and begin firing with one another (known as synapses). As new neural pathways are created by learning, your brain actually increases in size; your intelligence grows. 88% of the self-made millionaires in my study, sometime prior to realizing financial success in life, formed the daily habit of engaging in 30 minutes or more of self-education reading. This daily habit allowed them to increase their cognitive abilities during their lives, which contributed to their later success in life.

Daily Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise floods the bloodstream with oxygen. This oxygen eventually makes its way to the brain. Since the brain uses 20% of our oxygen reserves, increased oxygen flow into the brain soaks up more free radicals inside the brain, making it cleaner and healthier. 20 – 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day has been proven to stimulate the growth of axons and axon branches on each neuron. The number of axons and axon branches your brain has is directly related to your intelligence. Aerobic exercise also increases the release of neurotrophins, or Nerve Growth Factor (NFG). NFG stimulates the growth of neurons, helps maintain a healthy coating around every neuron (called myelin sheath) and stimulates synaptic communications between neurons. Increased synaptic communication translates into better memory and speed of recall. So daily aerobic exercise increases your intelligence, each and every time you engage in it.

Eating Healthy Food

The microbiome is bacteria that lives within our large intestine. It is responsible for extracting energy from the calories we consume. It also synthesizes vitamins out of the food we consume.

Having the right microbiome, makes you healthy. Having the wrong microbiome, causes colds, flus, upper respiratory infections, cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and all sorts of other horrific diseases.

Eating healthy, nutritional foods, packed with fiber and good microbiota improves every aspect of your health, including brain health.

Deliberate and Analytical Practice

Deliberate Practice involves consistent, focused practice in specific subsets of your skill set which transforms you from ordinary to excellent. Deliberate Practice requires many hours a day of Targeted Practice. Targeted Practice involves practicing specific sub-elements of each aspect of your skill.

Analytical Practice takes you to the top level, beyond excellent, and into the rarefied category known as Virtuoso status.

The bedrock of Analytical Practice is something called The Feedback Loop. Analytical Practice requires feedback from other experts, sharing an identical skill-set.

This feedback is typically provided by a coach, a mentor, a supervisor, etc.

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

89% of the self-made millionaires in my study slept an average of seven to eight hours each night.

Why is sleep so important to brain function?

Everyone who sleeps goes through four to six sleep cycles a night. Each cycle lasts about 90 minutes. Each of these sleep cycles is composed of five separate levels of sleep: Alpha, theta, delta, rapid eye movement (REM) and then back to theta.

For each individual sleep cycle, the first three sleep levels (alpha, theta and delta) last 65 minutes. REM lasts 20 minutes and the final level of sleep lasts 5 minutes. The number of hours you sleep is less important than the number of complete sleep cycles you have each night.

Five complete sleep cycles a night is considered optimal. Completing less than four sleep cycles a night, however, negatively affects our health.

REM sleep is particularly important as one of it’s important functions appears to be long-term memory storage. During the day, what we’ve learned the day before is temporarily stored in the hippocampus. During REM sleep, the hippocampus transfers important information to different parts of the neocortex, for long-term memory storage.

If we do not complete at least four 90 minute sleep cycles a night, long-term memory storage becomes impaired. Completing at least four sleep cycles the night after learning new information or a new skill locks in the new information or new skill.

If we get less than four complete 90 minute sleep cycles the night after learning anything, it’s as if the learning never occurred. Sleep helps you remember what you’ve learned the previous day. And, when you are pursuing success, having a good memory matters.

My mission is to share my unique research in order to help others realize their dreams and achieve their goals. If you find value in these articles, please share them with your inner circle and encourage them to Subscribe. Thank You!

Be Sociable, Share!
Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley is a bestselling author, speaker, and media contributor for Business Insider, CNBC and a few other national media outlets.

His Rich Habits research has been read, viewed or heard by over 50 million people in 25 countries around the world.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, holds a master’s degree in taxation and is President of Cerefice and Company, a CPA firm in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
Email Tom
| Download Media Kit

Speak Your Mind