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Career Advice

4 Billionaires Share Their #1 Secret to Success

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

September 20, 2016

For Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Warren Buffett, one thing is an essential part of their daily lives. No, it's not meeting with shareholders, it's reading. That's right. These four billionaires share one common secret of success which is reading. It’s a time to reflect and relax, but it’s also a time to get inspired and educated. In a way, reading is one of the ways they tackle the world, one quiet moment at a time.


You probably own a book with an “Oprah’s Book Club” sticker, even if you had no intention of participating in said book club. Oprah turned a hobby into a core part of her business and simultaneously showed the world how to seamlessly merge work with passion. In one of her What I Know For Sure columns, Oprah describes the impact of books on her life. 

“Books for me have always been a way to escape. I now consider reading a good book a sacred indulgence, time alone to be anyplace I choose. It is my absolute favorite way to spend time. What I know for sure is that reading opens you up. It exposes you and gives you access to anything your mind can hold. What I love most about reading—It gives you the ability to reach higher ground. A world of possibilities awaits you. Keep turning the page.”


[Related: The Secret to CEO Success According to Enterprise's Pamela Nicholson]

Bill Gates

Have you seen his book blog? One quick glance and it’s very apparent that Bill Gates reads a lot. A lot for an average person, and definitely a lot for the kind of schedule he holds. Even after running Microsoft, becoming the richest man in the United States and one of the world’s most notable philanthropists, Gates still returns to a good book for inspiration. Back in May, he wrote this in one of his posts:

“The following five books are simply ones that I loved, made me think in new ways, and kept me up reading long past when I should have gone to sleep. As a result, this is an eclectic list—from an 800-page science fiction novel by a local legend to a 200-page nonfiction book on how Japan can get its economic mojo back. I hope you find at least one book here that inspires you to go off the beaten path when you get some time to yourself this summer.”

[Related: Browse Open jobs at Microsoft Hiring Now!]

Mark Zuckerberg

Last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced his goal to read a new book every other week. Amidst running one of the world’s most powerful websites, Zuckerberg prioritized the simple of act of reading consistently. He explained why in his Facebook post:

“My challenge for 2015 is to read a new book every other week—with an emphasis on learning about different cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies. I've found reading books very intellectually fulfilling. Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today. I'm looking forward to shifting more of my media diet towards reading books.”

[Related: 5 Founder CEOs You Wish You Worked For]

Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett is a major bibliophile. He dedicates a significant portion of his day to reading—rumored up to 80%. When he was once asked his advice on how to become smarter. He pointed at a stack of papers and simply said:

“Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge builds up, like compound interest.”

LEARN MORE: 9 Inspiring TED Talks Every Manager Should Watch