Looking over our list of the top ten richest people in the world, a few similarities jump out. Perhaps by looking at these similarities, we can create some kind of formula for how to get rich in the modern world. The main criterion seems to be that one has to be male - sadly, there is not a woman in the bunch. The other two secret ingredients for wealth are, in no particular order, working for Microsoft and/or being an oil baron. Oh, so that's all! Go out, become a high-ranking executive at Microsoft, buy a bunch of oil wells, and you'll be in the money. Please keep in mind that these numbers, while insanely high, can rise and fall with incredible ease, so these figures are accurate as of February 9, 2000.

1. RICH GUYS 10-8

10. Michael Dell

Age: 34
Nationality: American
Marital Status: Married
Children: 4
Education: U. Texas
Worth: $16.5 Billion

Just barely squeaking in at number ten is the youngest of all of our billionaires, the young pup who founded Dell Computers. Mike dropped out of U. Texas at 19, put up his BMW to get a business loan, and started selling people PCs by mail order. The day his former classmates were graduating, his sales had already hit $70 million a year. Today, of course, he sells $2 million a day, and the company revenues are about $7.8 billion a year. He has passed IBM in annual sales, and is closing in on industry leader Compaq. The bastard.

9. Phillip F. Anschutz

Age: 59
Nationality: American
Marital Status: Married
Children: 3
Education: Kansas
Worth: $16.5 Billion

Phil is the kind of guy whose father was a rich oil billionaire, but decided he didn't like the family business. Phil preferred real estate and railroads, and he still made a bundle. Rather than just being born lucky (although we're sure that didn't hurt), Anschutz is a savvy businessman. He has interests in fiber optics companies such as Qwest Communications International, LA sporting interests, huge cattle ranches in Wyoming, and lots of downtown Denver real estate interests. But let's face it: the biggest chunk was inherited.

8. Amir Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Alsabah

Age: 77
Nationality: Kuwaiti
Worth: $17 Billion

The man's money is in oil, investments, property, and the sweat of his people. And this is just what's left over since we kicked Saddam Hussein out of the neighborhood. Imagine the filthy stinkin' riches that he had prior to the burning of thousands of his oil wells. This is why we recommend Microsoft or oil baron as the best way to becoming a billionaire. You're born, you inherit oil fields, you live the easy life in the Middle East… you just can't beat it.

2. RICH GUYS 7-5

7. Steven Anthony Ballmer

Age: 43
Nationality: American
Marital Status: Married
Children: 2
Education: Stanford and Harvard
Worth: $19.5 Billion

The first of the Microsoft Billionaires on our list, Steve actually lived down the hall from Bill Gates at Harvard, and is now the President and Chief Executive Officer of Mr. Bill's little venture. Many revere/blame him for the supposed monopoly Microsoft Corp. now holds, because of his tenacity and amazing business know-how.

He joined the company in 1980 and has held a number of positions, starting as Bill's personal towel boy, and leading up to VP of Sales and Support before becoming the Prez in '98. Ballmer was appointed CEO of Microsoft on January 13, 2000. Not a bad little gig.

6. Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan

Age: 66
Nationality: Abu Dhabian
Worth: $20 Billion

Sheikh Zayed's home country of Abu Dhabi has grown over the last half century into one of the richest in the United Arab Emirates. Educated by local clerics and later by wandering Bedouin tribesmen in the desert, the Sheikh's defining achievement has been the management of supply and distribution of water. This is an important thing in the desert, so you can imagine he is quite popular there.

All of his money is in oil, investments, vast property, and the sweat of his people. And water. For the love of God, don't forget the water.

5. King Fahd Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud

Age: 77
Nationality: Saudi Arabian
Marital Status: Married
Children: 1
Worth: $28 Billion

Born in Riyadh in 1923, the King has spent his life on one diplomatic mission after another. He has also held such posts as Minister of Education, Minister of the Interior, and, of course, the King. He was present at the signing of the United Nations Charter in 1945, the coronation of Queen Liz the second in 1953, and a meeting with Richard Nixon in the U.S. in 1974 (taped recordings of this meeting still exist to this day, but no one knows where).

He came to power in 1982, and all of his money is in oil, investments, property, and the sweat of his people (sound familiar?). All because of the great defining factor of birth. Yes, birth and dumb luck. Ya gotta love it.

3. RICH GUYS 4-2

4. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah

Age: 53
Nationality: Bruneian
Marital Status: Married
Children: 10
Education: Sandhurst Royal Military Academy
Worth: $30 Billion

The 29th Sultan of Brunei was educated in his early years by tutors and private institutions before winging his way north to Britain. There, he entered Sandhurst Royal Military Academy as an officer cadet. The training seems to have paid off, as he is now Sultan and Ruler of Brunei, as well as Prime Minister, Defense Minister, Finance Minister, Religious Figurehead, and Grand High Poobah. All elected offices. Kidding! This guy can go to the bathroom and still have a cabinet meeting.

All of his money is in, say it with me now, oil, gas, investments, and yes, the ever-popular sweat of his people. Especially that oil thing, which has made so many billionaires in the Middle East. The illustrious Sultan also has two wives and ten kids. So lets see… 6 jobs, 2 wives, 10 kids, 2 turtledoves, 1 dictatorship, and he's an avid polo player. So much accomplished, and a mere 53 years old.

3. Paul Gardner Allen

Age: 46
Nationality: American
Marital Status: Single
Children: 0
Education: WSU dropout
Worth: $30 Billion

Another Microsoft billionaire, Paul Allen is the buddy who dropped out with Bill Gates to build the software company that now holds a monopolistic stranglehold on the world. Paul dropped out of Microsoft some time ago to spend his time privately investing his money and sipping piña coladas, but he still holds a stake in the company. His current baby is Vulcan Ventures, with which he pursues his dream of a "wired world" by buying up cable operators and other technology-related companies.

It's not all boring tech stuff, though. Paul was also smart enough to invest in sports teams like the Portland Trailblazers and Seattle Seahawks. Single guy, 30 billion, owns a couple sports teams, knows Bill Gates personally… poor baby.

2. Warren Edward Buffet

Age: 68
Nationality: American
Marital Status: Married
Children: 3
Education: Columbia
Worth: $36 Billion

A distant second, Warren Buffet also has a quarter century on Mr. Gates, so he's had lots of time to build up his not-too-shabby cache of $36 billion. Frankly, we don't know what he's been doing with his time… apart from heading up investment conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, that is. Warren took over 30 years ago, and the company has averaged a 25% annual rate of return since.

Strangely enough, Buffet's investment style is conservative, leaning more to the long-term buy. Warren owns about 40 percent of the company, and at over $47,000 a share, it will be a while before anyone buys him out. Much better to try to get in at Microsoft, or strike oil, where you don't need money up front.


1. William H. Gates III

Age: 43
Nationality: American
Martial Status: Married
Children: 2
Education: Harvard dropout
Worth: $90 Billion

We should all just face the fact that Bill Gates will one day rule the world. By the time Windows 2015 comes out, all will fear Bill's wrath. But you gotta admit that it doesn't look like it went to his head; the richest human on Earth, and he has the dorkiest haircut money could buy.

The son of a lawyer father and teacher mother, Gates dropped out of preschool to devote all of his time to inventing Microsoft with chum Paul Allen, then just 3 years old. After drooling all over the HVAC tubes, Bill decided to go back to school for a few more years, eventually dropping out of Harvard University to work on Microsoft.

The rest, as they all too frequently say, is history. Microsoft became this huge international corporate behemoth, and is currently fighting off anti-trust investigations and accusations that it holds a monopoly. When Bill rules the world, he's going to come down and fire those federal court judges with extreme prejudice. They'll never work on his planet again!

Gates relinquished his role as President of Microsoft in 1998, and as CEO on January 13, 2000; both posts are now held by Steve Ballmer. However, Bill remains Chairman and "chief software architect" of the company, as well as its largest shareholder. So they still let him come to board meetings.

Mr. Bill once gave $17 Billion to charity, which makes Ted Turner's paltry offering of $1 billion to the UN look like chump change. He's also written a couple of books and is heavily invested in biotechnology and cellular and satellite technology. Investors, call your brokers.

So to get onto our list of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Billionaires, you must: join Microsoft (preferably early on), be an oil baron, drop out of college, get married, have 3.1 kids, inherit lots of money, and bleed your people dry. Tell your friends!