What do Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Taylor Swift all have in common?

These 3 individuals all make incredible, astronomical, seemingly impossible amounts of money. Why?

Grant G. Leonard
4 min readJul 16, 2016

They create tremendous value in our world and thus are given the manmade construct representing value: money.

Mr. Gates, the world’s richest (most valuable) person, is worth $75 Billion (with a capital B) because #Microsoft. Bill revolutionized computer software thus enabling society to access technology like never before. Human activity, both personal and professional, was forever changed by the innovations of that sweater-clad character gazing at you below.

Photo Cred: The Guardian

Mr. Zuckerberg, the world’s sixth richest (most valuable) person, is worth $49 Billion (also with a capital B) because #Facebook. Bill revolutionized the way people access technology, Mark revolutionized the way they can leverage it. Facebook provides a historic level of communication, where it’s near 2 billion monthly active users can virtually put their lives on the Internet. One of my favorite features of ‘the Facebook’ is the disaster response tool, where folks in disastrous situations (i.e. Paris attacks, Brussels attacks, Orlando shooting) can check-in “safe” to notify their social network that they’re okay. Unreal.

Photo Cred: Forbes

Now Ms. Swift, the youngest of America’s richest self-made women, is arguably the world’s most popular music star (sorry Biebs) and has a net worth of a cool $250 Million at age 26 — a far cry from Bill and Mark, but I am sure she is not complaining. Taylor has generated a global fan base that rallies not only behind her music, but her personality, lifestyle, wisdom, and advocacy. She has given people near and far something to bond over; she’s the unifying agent to a worldwide community, and that in itself is extremely valuable.

Photo Cred: Billboard

People write books about these 3 influencers, and will continue to do so because of the immense value they have created in our world. Future generations will read about them and aspire to be like them. Bill, Zucks, and TSwift are some of the most valuable human beings we’ve ever known, and that is why they have enough money to invest in Martian real estate.

It’s one thing to aspire to be like these 3 valuable folks, but let’s be real, attaining their level of wealth is, simply put, hard AF (most millennials will know that acronym). Nevertheless, it is fruitful to prioritize value creation knowing that money follows value. Unfortunately, many people misinterpret this concept, thinking that it’s the other way around. This is why so many people work jobs they hate with people they don’t like in places they don’t enjoy. The misconception of value vs. money influences people to pursue money first, maybe at their 9-to-5 that they don’t even want to think about outside of the office, so that when they leave work they can have this money to do the things in life that they really want to do. More or less, they’re missing a major block of their day not creating any value for themselves or for the people around them — they are merely existing. Mankind only prospers if we grow. Evolution is impossible without effort. Investing time, energy, and focus in things (including other people) that do not create value depreciates a person’s wealth more than they may understand at that moment. Gary Vaynerchuk is excellent at spelling this out. Do you think Gary Vee sits around on his couch every night watching TV? Do you think hating life during the working hours of the day is productive? Is it constructive to spend time with others that make no positive impact on your progression as an individual? No matter who you are — a serial entrepreneur, an investor, an intern, a student, a volunteer, a friend, a sibling, a teammate, you name it — the focus of your existence should be on creating value through your actions, your habits, your motives, your relationships, and your beliefs.

You could say this is “enterprise thinking,” focusing all thought and activity to the big picture. Bill Gates’ big picture is using his influence to end poverty. Mark Zuckerberg’s big picture is integrating artificial intelligence to make life more effective and efficient. Taylor Swift’s big picture is advocating for proper royalty compensation to musicians and artists. This goes beyond some supervisor at work that you don’t like. It goes beyond some person that said rude things to you. It goes beyond the dent in your car or the crack in your phone. None of that matters. What really makes a difference is working each day to make yourself better, and to make those around you better. Strive to create value in all that you do. Who knows? Maybe you’ll revolutionize human activity through technology, or augment the way the world communicates, or unify a global community through music. Clearly, there’s money in that.

Grant G. Leonard is the Founder of The Grant Leonard Group, a social media marketing firm based in Arlington, VA.