How does one make billions of dollars?

A neighbor asked me the other day how he could become independently wealthy. Heck, if I knew that I would become independently weathly myself.

Independently wealthy means one earns it on their own from the very first dollar. An old phrase said that if you built a better mousetrap, the world would beat a path to your door. That is still true, just substitute a product for a mousetrap.

That brings to mind the just realized HBO documentary, The Inventor. This riveting film is about the start, growth and, finally, the fall of Theranos, a blood testing company. Elizabeth Holmes founded the company in Silicon Valley when she was 19 years old. The idea behind the company was inspiring: using one drop of blood to test for any number of diseases. Holmes and her engineers invented the machine that would give results in a matter of minutes.

Theranos and its machine would revolutionize health care and allow people to take control of their own care. As they say, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. It was too good to be true and now Holmes and her business partner are under indictment for fraud and the company, once valued at $9 billion, is no longer.

That is how Elizabeth Holmes made more than a billion dollars. It is still uncertain if Holmes started out to perpetrate a fraud.

Aside from skirting the law and physics (watch the film), there are still ways for people to make billions of dollars besides inheriting it. It takes hard work to become a billionaire but it also takes passion. Steve Jobs believed the iPhone would work, many dismissed the idea until they all came around when the phone became reality and changed the world.

Success is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. Jobs, Gates, Dell and many others worked night and day, day and night to achieve the level of success they eventually attained. All successful people are passionate about what they are working on; they believe with every fiber in being that they are right and their idea will change the world.

Some people dream of winning the lottery. A recent, anonymous, winner walked away with a $800 million check. There was no perspiration that came with that money, there was no work invovled in it rather than handing over a few bucks for lottery ticket. That person’s wealth is no less viable than an inventor who strived for years.

The odds of winning $800 million in a lottery are quite astronomical, as are the odds of inventing a better mousetrap. Regardless of the odds, someone with an idea they are sure will sell millions of units or change the world for the better should shoulder on, bear the sruggle, bear the sweat, the naysayers and listen to the inner voice that says “You can do it.”

How can my neighbor become independently wealthy? Unless he has a million dollar idea or invents something that will change the world, he will have to do what we all do: do the best we can now for ourselves and our families and accept the fact that we will never have a billion dollars or two.

(Lyndon Zaitz is publisher of the Keizertimes.)