There may be more to billionaires than meets the eye.
We hear about billionaires every day. Their lives appear to be fascinating and sometimes a lot more interesting than our own. It seems that we are obsessed with these outliers -- especially when it comes to money. But aside from knowing how to make a lot of it, billionaires have another secret.
A recent study shows that billionaires -- particularly the self-made ones -- are more generous than those who simply inherit their wealth. These billionaires give away more than others, and they are four times more likely to sign the giving pledge to give the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.
These billionaires are onto something big with their generous giving, and we can all learn from it, regardless of the size of our own bank accounts. Besides helping others, becoming a generous person can help you connect more deeply with others and live a more meaningful life.
See photos of billionaires who inherited their fortunes:
16 billionaires who inherited their fortunes
The 1 secret that sets billionaires apart from everyone else
16. Laurene Powell Jobs
Net worth: $14.4 billion
The widow of Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, Laurene Powell Jobs inherited his wealth and assets, which included 5.5 million shares of Apple stock and a 7.3% stake in The Walt Disney Co., upon his death. Jobs' stake in Disney — which has nearly tripled in value since her husband's death in 2011 and comprises more than $12 billion of her net worth — makes her the company's largest individual shareholder.
Though she's best recognized through her iconic husband, Jobs has had a career of her own. She worked on Wall Street for Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs before earning her MBA at Stanford in 1991, after which she married her late husband and started organic-foods company Terravera. But she's been primarily preoccupied with philanthropic ventures, with a particular focus on education. In 1997, she founded College Track, an after-school program that helps low-income students prepare for and enroll in college, and in September she committed $50 million to a new project called XQ: The Super School Project, which aims to revamp the high-school curriculum and experience.
Last October, Jobs spoke out against "Steve Jobs," Aaron Sorkin's movie about her late husband that portrays him in a harsh light, calling it "fiction." Jobs had been against the project from the get-go, reportedly calling Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale to ask them to decline roles in the film.
(Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images)
15. Azim Premji
Net worth: $16.5 billion
In 1966, 21-year-old Azim Premji dropped out of Stanford in the wake of his father's death to take the helm of his father's company Western India Vegetable Products — later renamed Wipro. It was under Premji's leadership that the company diversified into toiletries and bath products and, eventually, IT, and the company grew exponentially. Now India's third-largest IT giant, Wipro generated revenues of $7.6 billion in its most recent fiscal year.
Just days into the new year, Premji named Abidali Neemuchwala, a Dallas-based consultancy executive, the new CEO of Wipro, citing him as the best leader to take Wipro into "its next phase of growth." Neemuchwala had been brought on to Wipro as chief operating officer last April after years of working for rival Tata Consultancy Services.
Premji is known for his generosity. He signed the Giving Pledge, committing to donate at least half of his wealth to charity, and in 2015 was named "the most generous Indian" on the Hurun India Philanthropy list for the third year in a row.
(Photo by Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint via Getty Images)
14. Dieter Schwarz
Net worth: $20.9 billion
Dieter Schwarz joined his father's food-wholesaling business in 1973 and opened the company's first discount supermarket shortly thereafter. He took over as CEO when his father died in 1977 and rapidly expanded the business outside Germany, rebranding the company as Schwarz Gruppe.
The parent company umbrellas Lidl, a successful grocery-store chain and the second largest in Germany behind Aldi, and Kaufland, a chain of "hypermarket" stores similar to Walmart. Lidl has nearly 10,000 stores across 26 European countries and is set to break ground on US soil in 2018. Schwarz Gruppe now pulls in $85 billion in annual sales.
The German billionaire lives a quiet life out of the spotlight with his wife and two kids in their hometown of Heilbronn. He's reportedly a generous donor to educational causes.
(Photo by Ashok Saxena, Alamy)
13. Georg Schaeffler
Net worth: $22.2 billion
Georg Schaeffler served in the German military and held a short career in corporate law in the US before jumping aboard his father's company, Schaeffler Group, the nearly $11 billion (in sales) ball bearings and auto-parts maker that Schaeffler now co-owns with his mother.
The company made a splash in 2008 with its $17 billion hostile takeover attempt of tire and auto-parts maker Continental AG, which went south and left Schaeffler Group saddled with debt that it's managing to this day. It still owns a nearly 50% stake in Continental.
Schaeffler Group has recently invested nearly $550 million in its electric and hybrid car parts business, and it expects to double the number in the next five years.
(Photo by Hannelore Foerster/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
12. Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud
Net worth: $22.5 billion
Country: Saudi Arabia
Industry: Diversified investments
Prince Alwaleed comes from royalty — he is the grandson of Abdul Aziz al Saud, the first ruler of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia — but he also built his fortune with savvy investments in a range of companies across the US and the Middle East. He founded Kingdom Holding Co. in 1980 and has since invested in everything from real estate to entertainment to education, with stakes in companies like Twitter, The Four Seasons, Time Warner, and Motorola.
Recently, Prince Alwaleed also made a play for ride-hailing service Lyft, reportedly grabbing a 2.3% stake by putting up $105 million of a nearly $250 million round of funding the company raised in December.
Prince Alwaleed has an enigmatic relationship with his money. In 2013, he sued Forbes for allegedly underestimating his wealth. But last summer he announced plans to donate his entire fortune to charity anyway.
(Photo by Pool Interagences/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
11. Mukesh Ambani
Net worth: $24.8 billion
Industry: Petrochemicals, oil, and gas
Mukesh Ambani took over as chairman of Reliance Industries when his father, the company's founder, died in 2002. The enormous industrial conglomerate generates $62 billion in annual revenue from its interests in energy, petrochemicals, textiles, natural resources, retail, and, more recently, telecommunications.
Ambani is the richest person in India with a personal fortune of over $24 billion. He owns a 27-story Mumbai mansion that cost $1 billion to build.
And if Ambani's projections for India's economy prove correct, expect that net worth to soar. Four years ago, Ambani predicted that India would grow from a $1.4 trillion economy in 2011 to a $30 trillion economy by 2030 — a bullish estimate considering that India's GDP today stands at $2.2 trillion.
(Photo by Pradeep Gaur/Mint via Getty Images)
10 through 8. Forrest, Jacqueline, and John Franklyn Mars
Net worth: $28.6 billion each
Age: 84, 76, and 80
Siblings Forrest, Jacqueline, and John Franklyn "Frank" Mars inherited a stake in the iconic candymaker Mars Inc. when their father, Forrest Sr., died in 1999. The notoriously private trio co-own but don't actively manage the maker of M&M's and Milky Way bars, which their grandfather started in 1931 as a confectionary business in his kitchen in Tacoma, Washington.
In 2008, Mars Inc. branched out from chocolate to gum, when it acquired the Wrigley Jr. Co. for $23 billion. Since then, it's delved into pet food, buying Iams and two other brands in 2014 from Procter & Gamble for close to $2.9 billion.
Together the three siblings run the Mars Foundation, which gives primarily to educational, environmental, cultural, and health-related causes. In March 2015, Frank Mars was made an honorary knight by Queen Elizabeth II.
(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
7. Bernard Arnault
Net worth: $28.9 billion
Industry: Luxury goods
Bernard Arnault's LVMH houses 70 luxury brands from Louis Vuitton to Hennessy to Dom Perignon, all controlled by family parent company Groupe Arnault. By the 1980s and '90s, Arnault, who started out as a civil engineer, had assumed control of the family business and proceeded to buy high-end fashion house Christian Dior, reviving it from the brink of bankruptcy. Like most LVMH brands today, Dior once again thrives as an industry standard bearer, helping the firm haul in a record $33 billion in revenue in 2014.
This year, the French chairman and CEO is joining US-based private-equity firm Catterton to form an investment firm with a consumer focus. The new firm, to be named L Catterton, is targeting $12 billion in assets under management and will be 40% owned by LVMH and Groupe Arnault.
(Photo by ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images)
2. Charles Koch
Net worth: $46.8 billion
Industry: Diversified investments
Charles Koch is chairman and CEO of multifaceted conglomerate Koch Industries, the second-largest private company in America which their father founded. His younger brother David is the executive vice president. The company employs 100,000 people and generates $115 billion in sales from its diverse company, which makes everything from petrochemicals and Dixie Cups to raw clothing materials.
Outspoken in the world of conservative politics, the Koch brothers, who have a combined net worth of $94.2 billion, wield a heavy influence over the upcoming 2016 US presidential race. The two at one point favored Republican candidate and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, but have since said that they won't support any of the current candidates in the primary. But they, along with their vast donor network, plan on pitching in some $750 million during the 2016 election cycle.
Recently surfaced documents revealed that Charles Koch's plans to reshape American politics date back 40 years, when he began strategizing and developing a libertarian movement.
(Bo Rader/Wichita Eagle/MCT via Getty Images)
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No matter how much material wealth you have to share with others, you can still be generous with your time and effort and relationships. Being generous will help you:
These billionaires clearly want their lives to matter and they want to make their mark on the world in a positive way. They are intent on leaving something behind that will outlive themselves and last for generations. They know that people will always remember what you did for them, rather than what you accomplished for your own gain.
Show the way
Instead of keeping their wealth all to themselves, they feel compelled to make the world a better place. They know that serving others is a noble pursuit and well-worth whatever it costs to make a difference. In doing so, they serve as an example to all of us -- you can serve others and make an impact, whoever and wherever you are in the world.
They may have amazing business acumen, but they also feel a responsibility to pay it forward to others. They know that no person is truly self-made, and they remind themselves that other people helped them along the way. A consistent emphasis on helping others can help take your focus away from yourself and on the needs of others.
These philanthropists understand there is a big difference between being a taker and a giver. While being a taker may bring temporary satisfaction and happiness, becoming a giver will lead to a deeper sense of purpose and a life that makes a real impact on the world. They also understand this paradox: The more you give of yourself, the freer you will feel.
You may not be in a position to give away vast sums of money like these fortunate billionaires. Not many people are. But everyone can be a little more giving in their time, their hard work, and their relationships.
You can learn from their example and become a generous person -- and live a life that has a sense of purpose. And then you will feel rich indeed.
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Billionaire Elizabeth Holmes, founder and chief executive officer of Theranos Inc., speaks to the media as she arrives at a state dinner hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama and U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama in honor of Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 28, 2015. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe goes before the U.S. Congress on Wednesday to present Japan as a stalwart ally that's willing to play a bigger military role in Asia, a message likely to be embraced in Washington and greeted with suspicion in Seoul and Beijing. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Nathan Blecharczyk, co-founder and chief technology officer of Airbnb Inc., speaks during the 2015 Bloomberg Technology Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Monday, June 15, 2015. The conference gathers global business leaders, tech influencers, top investors and entrepreneurs to shine a spotlight on how coders and coding are transforming business and fueling disruption across all industries. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Brian Chesky, chief executive officer of Airbnb Inc., speaks during an interview at a media event in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Monday, July 27, 2015. Airbnb is hoping to spread its unique brand of hospitality throughout Africa. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Airbnb online accommodation provider co-founder and Chief Product Officer, Joe Gebbia announces to the media their partnership with the Brazilian Olympic Committee for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the headquarters of the Brazilian Olympic Committee in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on March 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO / YASUYOSHI CHIBA (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 26: Tatiana Casiraghi attends the Christian Dior show as part of Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2015 on January 26, 2015 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 22: Snapchat co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel speaks during the iHeartMedia Soundfront at iHeartMedia Headquarters on April 22, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for iHeartMedia)
Bobby Murphy, chief technology officer and co-founder of Snapchat Inc., speaks during a Google Inc. Cloud event in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, March 25, 2014. Google Inc. cut prices on some Internet-based services for businesses by 30 percent or more, stepping up a challenge to Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. in cloud computing. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Snapchat co-founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy attends the Time 100 Gala celebrating the Time 100 issue of the Most Influential People In The World at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 29, 2014 in New York. AFP PHOTO / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Adrian Cheng, executive director of Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd., attends the companys annual results news conference in Hong Kong, China, on Tuesday, June 18, 2013. Chow Tai Fook, the worlds largest listed jewelry chain, reported a 13 percent decline in profit on higher costs and weaker consumer spending. Photographer: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg via Getty Images