The Three Secrets of Self-Made Billionaire Investors

Warren Buffett was born in 1930 and became a child of the Great Depression. Today he’s worth in excess of $75 billion.

George Soros was born the same year, and became a child of the Great Depression, the Holocaust and WWII. According to Forbes, he’s worth nearly $10 billion.

Carl Icahn was born in 1936. He was once so broke he had to sell his car to feed himself. Forbes says he’s worth around $20 billion today.

All started with nothing. All wound up billionaires. All did it by investing.

At first glance, they don’t seem to have much in common… Buffett buys stocks and whole companies and says his favorite holding period for investments is “forever.” Soros became a billionaire by making huge leveraged trades in stocks and currencies. Icahn buys controlling stakes in public companies and badgers management to sell assets, buy back shares and do anything to realize hidden value.

But they do have some traits in common, a few core investing ideas that helped make them billionaires. Like every great secret of life, this one is hiding in plain sight.

Here's what they do differently.