Dr. Thomas Stanley (author of the Millionaire Next Door) compares the millionaires he's studied with PhD students he's dealt with in the past. What I found most compelling about this piece were these comments at the end:
Most of the millionaire next door types whom I have interviewed would not qualify for entrance into the typical PhD program. They did not have A averages as undergraduates nor did they score big on standardized tests.
Yet they had a great deal of self discipline which along with integrity are the most important ingredients in becoming economically successful.
I've noted several times how discipline is vital in wealth creation. I list it along with patience and persistence as the three cornerstones to building wealth.
Dr. Stanley adds in integrity, saying the following in a different post:
In the long run, however, economic gain is easier and more psychologically rewarding if one is truthful. Millionaires rated integrity [being honest with all people] as the number one factor out of 30 that explains their economic success. Note that these 733 respondents represented the top 1% of the wealth holders in America. Jon, one of the respondents and a wealthy entrepreneur, attributed much of his success to what his father taught him about integrity: Never lie. Never tell one lie. If you tell one lie, you will have to eventually tell fifteen more to cover up the first lie. In turn, each of these 15 requires 15 more or 225 lies and on and on.
So let's add integrity to our list of qualities needed to become wealthy.
It's interesting to me that many assume that raw intelligence alone (I say "raw" because there is a "street smarts" intelligence that many millionaires may have, but it's difficult to measure) is less of a factor than these key traits. Of course intelligence doesn't hurt, but with discipline, patience, persistence, and integrity, most smart people are highly unlikely to create a good amount of wealth.