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Keith Cameron Smith
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Spotlight: Keith Cameron Smith

Want to get to the top financially? Take advice from those who are already there.

Financial guru Keith Cameron Smith, author of the best-selling "The Spiritual Millionaire" and himself a self-made millionaire at age 33, invested $100,000 and two years of his life to meet face to face with some of the world's wealthiest people to learn what makes them tick.

Overwhelmed by the life lessons they imparted, Smith holed himself up in a North Carolina cabin and, in one week, distilled their wisdom into a 100-page crib note for successful thinking, "The Top 10 Distinctions Between Millionaires and the Middle Class."

Some of the distinctions are common-sensical (millionaires think long-term, the middle class, short-term; millionaires take risks, the middle class avoids risk). Others are quite illuminating (millionaires ask themselves empowering questions, the middle class ask themselves disempowering questions; millionaires learn and grow, the middle class, not so much).

At a glance
Name: Keith Cameron Smith
Hometown: Ormond Beach, Fla.
Education: Calvary Christian Academy, Ormond Beach, Fla.
Career highlights:
  • Author of the national best-seller, "The Spiritual Millionaire" and "The Top 10 Distinctions Between Millionaires and the Middle Class."
  • Entrepreneur and self-made millionaire at age 33.
  • Hosted "Flames of Truth," a motivational radio program, for five years.
  • Hosts seminars and teaches success principles to individuals, churches and companies across America.

Smith, who became independently wealthy with a string of furniture stores in his hometown of Ormond Beach, Fla., continues to seek opportunities in networking and real estate as he travels the country teaching financial success principles to individuals and companies.

Smith spoke with Bankrate to share his insights into how to think like a millionaire.

q_v2.gifYou were not born wealthy.

a_v2.gif(Laughs) Oh no. I grew up on the lower end of the middle class. My dad never made more than $25,000 a year. He sold auto parts to different garages. He had different routes to a couple of different towns around Florida.

q_v2.gifDid you attend college?

a_v2.gifI went to college for two weeks and said that's not for me. I'm on the list of millionaires that just did it in the real world and didn't go to school. School is phenomenal for some people. Some people absolutely need to go to school as part of their purpose. But some people don't need to go to school. They don't need to get a good job so the government or your corporation can take care of you, because as we know, that formula doesn't work anymore.

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When you go through failures like I have and like other millionaires have, you learn something on an emotional level that you cannot learn when you go to college. When you get intellectual knowledge from a book or a lecture, it's not the same as investing money in something and then seeing all that money disappear. When you learn something on an emotional level, that is what really starts making you stronger.

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