On the front page of the April 8-10th edition of USA Today is a picture of General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson [1824-1863]. However, like most stories that feature extraordinary people, the fundamentals of their success are not detailed.
General Jackson, who repeatedly defeated opponents who had vastly superior resources, shared many of the characteristic traits of the modern millionaire next door types. Both were given much responsibility for making money at an early age. When Jackson was 12 years old, he and his younger brother floated “down the Ohio [River] to the Mississippi and spent the summer on a lonely and malarious island cutting wood for passing steamers” (Stonewall Jackson and the American Civil War by GFR Henderson). Those who are most productive in accumulating wealth have a propensity to give generously to noble causes. Jackson tithed 10% of his income to his church, but his generosity was not limited to the “non-profits.” “Jackson saved his cadet’s [West Point] pay to give his sister a silk dress” (Henderson).
Most millionaires whom I have interviewed are readers. They read obscure trade journals which often detail the strategies and success components of the top entrepreneurs in their field. They themselves are often featured in these journals. In addition they tend to read books and periodicals authored by and/or about investment gurus, i.e. Peter Lynch, Warren Buffet, Ben Graham, etc. (see The Millionaire Next Door) They freely give credit for their success both to their mentors and to the people whose works they have read.
Stonewall Jackson was “an untiring reader and read to learn. The wars of Napoleon were his constant study. . . an admirer of his genius; the swiftness, the daring and the energy of his movements appealed to his every instinct” (Henderson). He also memorized and capitalized on more than 80 ancient battle campaigns waged by brilliant military leaders such as Hannibal and Caesar.
Success whether it be in war, business or even in accumulating wealth is a lot easier if you study and follow the “masters”. Fortunes go to those who select their mentors wisely.