The Millionaire’s Secret Trait That Attracts Crazy Amounts of Success


What’s the secret trick to creating a really successful online business? Investing in the latest how-to information, right? Or maybe it’s a complicated new piece of software? Could it be the liberal use of fake yellow highlighting?

The secret to online success isn’t so different from the secret to offline success. There’s a quality the best entrepreneurs share that gives them a massive competitive advantage. And as usual, being online lets you leverage that secret for even greater success.

The millionaires’ secret trait is:


Despite stereotypes about greedy, ruthless businesspeople, the truth is successful entrepreneurs always find ways to give.

They give away generous samples of their products. They share their time, energy and success with partners. They give back to their communities. They generously support charities. They reward great employees.

They know that generosity is the smartest way to open up the floodgates of success.

Here’s why.

Generosity changes your mindset

Some people swear by the “law of attraction,” and others swear at it. The idea is that if you focus on a particular thing, that thing will magically start to fall out of the sky and land on you. Focus on money and you’ll start attracting money. Focus on garbage and you’ll attract garbage.

The law of attraction does work, but no supernatural forces are required. To find out why, watch this video.

Opportunities for spectacular success have been moonwalking right in front of you for years now. But you weren’t focusing on them. Your attention was riveted by the latest online flame war or celebrity train wreck, or even on the list of reasons you can’t be successful.

It feels like focus can summon good (or bad) things through some kind of magical power, but it isn’t magic at all.

When you cultivate generosity in all its forms, you shift your focus to what the self-help movement calls abundance. You start to see how much great stuff is all around you right now. You start to feel wealthy.

(If you ever find yourself in an anxiety attack over money, give $100 to a charity that helps the desperately poor. It’s an instant fix for cramped ideas about wealth and success.)

Generosity gets you to focus on the fact that there’s actually plenty to go around. Plenty of money, plenty of customers, and plenty of success.

Focus on those things, and poof, opportunities start to “magically” appear. You still have to take action on them, of course. But the path opens right up in front of you.

It seems weird, but it works.

Generosity creates reciprocity

Humans have a deep-seated need to repay generosity.

When you give away exceptional content, most people are hard-wired to want to give you something in return. A great blog can create that feeling, but you’ll trigger it more forcefully when you offer a sample of a paid product.

Ever tried a free sample at the grocery store and then felt like you had to buy the product so you don’t seem like a mooch? That’s reciprocity.

Free samples work just as well online as they do at the grocery store. If you give away a first-rate nibble of your product, not only does the buyer see for herself how good it is, she feels like she owes you.

For digital products, aim to give away a free sample that is demonstrably worth as much as the total asking price of your product. If your sample is clearly worth hundreds of dollars and your customer gets it for free, she’s much more likely to fork out your asking price of $297 for the whole package.

Massively overdelivering is one of the keys to success in digital products. Because they’re so cheap to reproduce, you can afford to be generous with your free samples. Make your generosity remarkable.

Generosity creates buzz

When Michael Stelzner announced that he was taking nominations for the ten best writing blogs of 2008, at first I didn’t think much about it. As in years past, I expected Copyblogger and Men with Pens to take the top positions, and they did.

But I was surprised by a few names that weren’t yet on the nomination list. So I put together a post with links to some of my favorite writing blogs. I also included a request to nominate the writing blog my readers found most valuable, whether it was mine or someone else’s.

My readers jumped into the voting. Some of them voted for me and some for other blogs.

Making that post strengthened my ties to a great community of bloggers. It created good feelings in my readers. It brought attention to a few blogs that belonged on Stelzner’s list but hadn’t been nominated yet. And it let my readers know about some great resources.

As it happens, I ended up getting a spot on the final top-ten list, which was a wonderful bonus. But I got tremendous value from making the post even if I hadn’t made the final cut.

If I had just begged for votes, I would have gotten nothing at all if I hadn’t made the list. By being generous, I made myself a winner no matter what the outcome was.

Because I shaped the post so it was 90% in service to others and 10% in my own interest, the post also got a nice number of re-tweets on Twitter. People love to share news about acts of generosity. Look around and you’ll see that the most talked-about bloggers are also often the most generous.

Even Santa Claus has boundaries

Santa just gives presents to nice children, not naughty ones, right? Now I don’t believe there’s any such thing as an undeserving child, but there are a fair number of adults I could put into that category.

If you’re generous, a few people will take advantage of that generosity. They’ll scrape your free stuff without crediting you, get a refund 20 minutes after they buy (and copy) your paid product, then promptly load it to BitTorrent.

Just like social media and the internet multiply the value of generosity, they also multiply the actions of jerks.

Don’t worry about it.

The benefits you get from generosity will dwarf the few crumbs you’ll lose to selfish people who take unfair advantage. You’ll build 1,000 times more than you lose.

If you know who the bad actors are, put them on your naughty list. Blacklist them and move on.

But be careful not to spend too much time thinking about getting even. That pulls your focus away from your own success. If you want satisfaction over the long run, keep your eyes on your own prize.

And anyway, these people will never see the moonwalking success bear in their lifetime. That’s worse punishment than anything you’ll be able to dole out.

Print Friendly

What do you want to learn?

Click to get a free course and resources about:

Reader Comments (77)

  1. says

    There’s a great book all about this same thing called “The Go-Giver.” It’s a business parable by Bob Burg and John David Mann. In it, the authors tell the story of a young go-getter who learns to also be a “go-giver.” It details 5 specific laws of how to give in order to make sure it’s effective giving that will transform the lives of the recipients and the giver.

    I highly recommend it! (

  2. says

    Generosity is a great place to be.

    It’s a huge conintinuum too and anybody can play — from free compliments to service to others, to time, money, resources.

    This post reminded me of your skilled delivery. Beautiful prose and sticky points. Generosity creates reciprosity is a great mantra for success.

  3. says

    I was about to cancel my subscription to this blog (well it was jsut one of many in a winter cleanup). I haven’t had time to read it so no need to have it drop emails in my inbox. Luckily I read this post and recalled why I subscribed in the first place. Absolutely brilliant post!

  4. says

    Excellent post. Perfect example with that video too.
    It’s easy to blame outside circumstances for failures or lack of opportunity, but your focus projects what you will be aparent to you, so yes, you could say every eventuality is potentially right there, but the only ones you will see and therefore the only ones that exist to you are the ones resulting in where your focus is.

    Most of it is subconscious through years of repeating the same thoughts. They are your beliefs in actual fact, but what’s good is that with discipline and application you can change the programming to create your results purposefully rather than have them seemingly happen automatically.
    It is a subject I am fascinated by.

  5. says

    At the time I paid too much attention to the ball, I missed that moonwalking bear. Wow…

    Focus is necessary but when focus on the wrong thing, opportunities may pass by, or.. worst of all… accident may happen.

    Another great article, Sonia. I especially like your mindset in handling those “jerks” that try to rip you off by asking a refund 20 minutes after buying.

  6. says

    Hendry, everybody misses it. (Well ok, maybe not the Dalai Lama.) And doesn’t it feel strange? I had to play it again from the beginning to be sure it wasn’t just a trick.

    Mikael, glad you’re still with us. :)

    Thom, cool title, I will check that out.

  7. says

    Great post! My first visit to your blog will most certainly not be my last! It isn’t only that I agree with what you have said; it is also that you express those ideas so neatly. I love that!

    When anyone wrongs me – not a thing that happens often – I’m always sorry for them because I believe that everything one does returns to one multiplied.

    Do good things and be amazed at just how many good things happen for you but, by the same token, do bad things and take the consequences. Nature has an uncanny way of levelling all…

    It gives me no pleasure to think of how a person who has ripped off some silly piece of my work will end up paying so much more than it was worth.

    Members of my parents’ generation used to say “Service not self – he who serves best profits most” Thanks for expressing that idea in an up-to-date manner.

  8. says

    We need to let go of the value we can provide to others and just help them, although it is counter intuitive to do so without receiving something in the first place.

    But if all people think like this, no one will give.

    So, give first, and you shall receive.


  9. DOC says

    Sonia: Have you read “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell? (I’m reading it now)

    The video seems to be a great example of the left brain crowding out the right brain.

    (i.e. counting passes blocks our seeing the bear).

    I’m paraphrasing, but I think Gladwell says that when we WRITE or describe something, we tend to exit the visual, intuitive part of our brains.

    Can writing sales copy be a RIGHT-brained activity?
    Can you write copy intuitively?

  10. says

    If you surround yourself with people who are skilled at something that your not. Inevitably or probably (depending on your vocabulary) A: you will learn something or B: you will learn something about yourself. “ANY” giving is EFFECTIVE giving and if you give simply to get? It isn’t giving no matter how well it’s packaged or blogged.


  11. says

    I think this is why we keep blogging. We love it, we like to share, but it’s damned tiring at times and there are days when we want to walk away from the computer.

    But we don’t. Why?

    I think because we feel that our giving gives back to us in some way. We’re generous with our time and thoughts, and we feel that in this way, we get back from the people who say thank you, or who tell us that we’ve changed their lives.

    It’s a good feeling. It’s worth it.

  12. says

    Sorry for my bad english :)
    This post is really fantastic and summarizes the essence of success in life. There is no secret apart from love. The genorosity is stronger than any strategy. Giving to others means always receive. Thank you :)

  13. says

    I’ve witnessed and experienced this phenomenon time and time again. Though it feels like magic, “give to receive” is a fundamental success principle that’s as reliable as a sunrise and about as real as it gets.

    Thanks for sharing your insightful take on the mindset that transforms lives, businesses… and the world.

    The moonwalking bear video is pretty cool, too. 😉

  14. says

    I wonder how many people noticed that there is one lone woman in the video, or that the white team wore white shoes and vise versa for the black team?

  15. says

    Giving to others does give back to self when it is done unselfishly. What better way to bring a smile to your own face then when you can help bring a smile to someone else’s.

    I knew any post about a moonwaking bear has got to be great content. Wander if I’ll ever get to moonwalk with a bear, now that would be paying it forward or backward, depending on how you look at it.

  16. says

    One of the most important points in this post is near the end – “be careful not to spend too much time thinking about getting even. That pulls your focus away from your own success”. This is so true. I have seen too many people worry about what their competitors are doing that they get completely off track. Our energy needs to be concentrated on the future, not the past.

  17. says

    This quote is a good point. People love genuine people.

    “If I had just begged for votes, I would have gotten nothing at all if I hadn’t made the list. By being generous, I made myself a winner no matter what the outcome was.”

  18. says

    It’s post like this that solidify why I come to Copyblogger for tips on writing and how to approach my audience. Keep it up.

  19. says

    I think that’s a good follow-up article advice once someone has achieved a certain level of success. In the beginning you can’t give away when you have nothing to give. you can’t give time, when it needs to be used other ways. Once successful and have more time and money, yes I completely agree. Great buzz, PR, and of course just overall good karma and well being.

  20. says

    Excellent. :-) Smiling at the love. Nothing wrong with spreading abundance. Kind of fishes and loaves digitally. Enough to go around I do believe. You hippie you. 😉

  21. says

    I love the idea that Dan Kennedy talks about in his Wealth Attraction book and product.

    He proposes you set aside a percentage of every dollar that comes to you (gross not net) and divide it between 2 bank accounts.

    The first one being a wealth account which can only be touched for purposes of making more money with.

    And then a giving account. He talks about how he’s consulted with charities before and how he knows there’s ways for them to use certain words to re-frame what a sponsorship dollar is actually doing.

    So, his choice of giving is to over-tip excellent service. I love this idea.

    Dan is totally in sync with Sonia on this topic and highly recommends people find a way to give back in meaningful ways.

    Note Taking Nerd #2

  22. says

    Hi Sonia,

    Thanks for another great post. And in the spirit of giving, I just want to say, that you are an amazing kick ass writer and one of my favorite bloggers!

    Generosity is a subject that is very near and dear to my heart. I too, have had the experience where the more I give and the more generous I am, the more all kinds of things come back to me. Sometimes business and money, sometimes love, but being in that generosity zone just feels good and makes me a much happier person.

    And yes, sometimes I get taken advantage of and that does suck, but being in that hippie flow of mutual reciprocity more than makes up for the occasional and annoying rip offs. And I get the added bonus of feeling sorry for and morally superior to the selfish jerk types!

  23. says

    Great Post!

    Power Networking by Sandy Fisher ( espouses generosity and giving. She remarks on the boomerang effect when help arrives without explicit requests. Like a boomerang the help we give comes back to us, though often in a roundabout way.

    I am starting a concept called “cooperative intelligence” which embraces generosity through leadership, connection and communication. By connecting cooperatively you develop your network by finding ways to help others. Instead of focusing on self-interest, you follow the common good.

  24. says

    My aunt gave me a gem of a book many years ago. Try Giving Yourself Away, which I moved just the other day while dusting off my bedside table, tells the story of how generosity became the author’s hobby. He delighted in making others feel good with small and large acts of no-strings-attached kindness. The helping others way of life and willingness “to carry this message” also embody Step 12, an essential means of keeping your demons at bay. I know – but too often forget – that generosity makes the heart sing. Thank you for yours.

  25. says

    Note Taking Nerd, about once every 6 months when the planets align perfectly, Dan Kennedy and I agree. :) (Actually, I think he’s tremendous, but his version and my version usually look pretty different, at least on the surface.)

    Chris Z, awww, thank you.

    Janice, just :)

  26. says

    I loved this post, it really gets down to one of the biggest principles in life. I just wrote a post over the weekend that echoes the same principle, but this is of a much more focused. Mine was focused on the relationships, no matter how small, you can achieve by assisting others.

  27. says

    Great article! I’ve been studying Law of Attraction and other metaphysical topics. I agree that generosity is key, but as long as it’s authentic. You cannot give just to get something. You must want to give because it feels good and to help others. If you give out of guilt or just to receive something in return, you’ll create a paradox of some sort!

  28. Roshawn says

    Great post! :)

    However, I still don’t get the video. I counted the number of times the ball was passed, but I missed the moonwalking bear. Am I stupid for not seeing it? :(

  29. Roshawn says

    Never mind. I just saw the bear doing his thing. Dang it. And I was so focused on the people in white. :(

  30. says

    Giving is always a good thing but will it lead to becoming a millionaire? If it does then I should be one already since I am always giving stuff away…

    Maybe it just takes a while….

  31. says

    I’ve noticed that your posts are, by blog standards, long. Monumentally long. I want to tell you that I appreciate that.

    I presently have three blogs in various states of disrepair and I’m working on a fourth. When #4 hits the pavement, it will have its own URL, my friends will not be told what it is, it will be totally candid, it will already have a fair amount of content and the stories will ALL be long. The names will not be changed “to protect the innocent”, merely to avert lawsuits. I will then drop two of the others and focus on just the two that I think I have a lasting interest in.

    I am not a ‘sound bite’ person and I don’t think that it is a good trend to pitch to. A deeper life is not a sound bite, it is an entire symphony in which one gets to play guest conductor to an orchestra that rarely, if ever, looks up.

  32. says

    Jeez, I’m glad I’ve found your blog. I was looking for some advice on Landing Pages but this blog is gold mine.
    Thanks a lot, guys and Happy Holiday!

  33. says

    @Roshawn, don’t worry, that’s what everyone does.

    @ET, well, it’s true that there are some other steps involved. Stick around, we’ve got more for ya.

    @Bill, speaking for myself at any rate, I try not to be brief for the sake of being brief. Celebrity gossip can be well covered in a paragraph, but copywriting advice usually takes a little more room. :) The main thing is to let the purpose drive the form, IMO.

    @wujo601 Glad to have you!

  34. says

    I agree completely with what is being said because about 6 months ago I switched my focus from me making money to just sharing my products and business opportunity with as many people as possible by giving away samples and advice to help people advance their own businesses and my business has grown ten fold and people are coming to me without me having to chase prospects.

    The Universe really does give back to you when you put things out there…

    Robert Garcia

  35. says

    @Sonia Learn Buddhism. It teaches all of the above and more. What you’ve stated here is a fraction of what happens when you give. The fact is your intention on giving matters. If you give 10mn while expecting a large profit, you’ll never earn. If you generously give at least one cent, because you want to help, you’ll earn a million.

  36. Ali Finelli says

    Just clicked back to this from the latest 3rd Tribe Newsletter. T3/Copyblogger content is the gift that keeps on giving. Amazing, thoughtful post! Great video, to boot. Giving freely definitely gets you into the “flow”.

  37. says

    K Flyer … that lesson was delivered in the parable of “the widows mite” in the Bible. The principle is universal … unfettered giving is a very satisfying thing to do. Will it always make you a millionaire? Probably not. But did Mother Theresa ever lack for an airplane ticket when she wanted one? She didn’t =have= millions, she =controlled= millions which, from a tax standpoint, is even better. How about the Pope Mobile? Who pays the insurance on it? Who rides in it?

    And too, out of all the men who died in 34 c.e., whose name do you recall? This homeless man had one suit to his name, left no children behind and was executed as an enemy of the state. There are still those who strongly argue that he never existed at all. In fact, their numbers seem to be increasing.

    Hint: He washed the feet of others to demonstrate the reality behind the ideals of humility and service to others. He gave his life to save ours, knowing full well that most people would reject that gift. That’s called selfless giving.

  38. says

    Great article! Generosity has a way of making your heart happy. :-) I have always trusted in the fact that I am blessed to be a blessing to others.

    This post can be summed up in 5 words – “You Reap What You Sow”. The harvest that you’ll reap tomorrow depends solely on the seeds that you sow today.

    I wrote a post a few weeks ago for successful entrepreneurs that you might find interesting:

  39. says

    Love that video!

    Glad you mentioned boundaries. Tire-kickers or those with deep needs and empty pockets will steal away too much of your time given the opportunity.

    Best to give Efficient Gifts – things that don’t suck up much of your precious time. Like an e-book or Special Report. Those gifts can also help pre-educate and pre-warm a prospect.

    Joe :)

  40. says

    What an amazing article! Thanks Sonia.

    Thanks too to Tom Scott for recommending the “Go-Giver” – I am going to check it out as it seems like a must-read on this topic of generosity.

    Thanks Sonia for using that video to illustrate the point. I had to look again and again…and when I was looking at it for the third time, I saw the moon walking bear! Online success – or any business success – is right there in front of you, but because you’re focused on scarcity, you can’t see it.

    Yes, generosity is the key to success. Because most people start their online businesses with “ I am desperate to make money” mind set, they miss this essential key – generosity.

    The more you give, the more you get, it’s that simple.

Comments are open for seven days. This article's comments are now closed.