Here’s The One Trait that Helped a Poor Kid Become a Billionaire

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Carl Icahn is a 78-year-old businessman and investor with a current estimated net worth of $24.4 billion. As a self-made man who came from humble beginnings in Far Rockaway Queens, New York City, most people would want to know how he did it.

According to Business Insider, the trait that got Icahn into the one percent was tenacity — the quality of being determined and persistent. He apparently displayed tenacity from the very beginning, because in an interview he did for Tony Robbin’s new book “Money: Master The Game,” Icahn said:

“When I was applying to colleges, my teachers told me, ‘Don’t bother with the Ivy League. They don’t take kids from this area. I took the boards anyway and got into all of them. I chose Princeton.”

Although his dad paid for his college tuition, Icahn had no money to pay for his living expenses, so he got a job as a beach boy at a nearby club. At his new job, Icahn discovered poker after joining a couple games with the cabana owners. It was there that Icahn further exhibited his characteristic tenacity. He told Tony Robbins:

“At first I didn’t even know how to play, and they cleaned me out. So I read three books on poker in two weeks, and after that I was 10 times better than any of them. To me, it was a big game, big stakes. Every summer I won about $2,000, which was like $50,000 back in the ’50s.”

Icahn eventually used his poker winnings to help pay his own way through Princeton. Eventually, he found success as a stockbroker on Wall Street and created a company focused on risk arbitrage and options trading. He explained:

 “Very few people had the tenacity I had. I’m a very competitive guy. Passionate or obsessive, whatever you want to call it. And it’s in my nature that whatever I do, I try to be the best.” 

A fitting quote from Will Smith’s character in “The Pursuit of Happyness” that I’m sure Carl Icahn would agree with: 

“Don’t ever let somebody tell you, you can’t do something. Not even me … Alright? You got a dream, you gotta protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you that you can’t do it. You want something? Go get it. Period.”

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