04/22/2013 01:05 pm ET Updated Jun 22, 2013

New Report Connecting Intelligence to Wealth Is Nonsense

A new report from Duke University's Jonathan Wai suggests that the world's wealthiest people are more intelligent than the average person. This report is irrelevant because the only way it determined someone's level of intelligence was looking at the college they attended. Formal education will make you a living but self-education will make you a fortune.

The rich respect the power of formal education, but they usually don't associate it with building a financial empire. Many of the world's wealthiest people have little formal education, and in fact many never completed high school or dropped out, and have amassed their wealth through acquisition and subsequent sale of specific knowledge.

Formal education teaches people how to think and perform in the linear world of commerce, but the rich rarely become wealthy trading time for money. The masses are convinced that master's degrees and doctorates are the way to wealth, but the rich use their brainpower and the brainpower of others to hone in on ultra-specific solutions to problems their competitors have given up on. There's absolutely nothing wrong if you want to pursue a master's degree or doctorate degree, but to say that individuals that hold these degrees are more intelligent and therefore more wealthy is completely misleading.

One of the biggest reasons people are wealthy is because of their ability to make complex problems simple. They are able to reduce any problem to an elementary level which allows them to see solutions most academics wouldn't ever consider. The wealthy aren't interested in the means, only the end. Solve the problem, get compensated and repeat the process until your rich. End of story.

There are many extreme differences between the ultra-wealthy and middle class, but to label the wealthy as the most intelligent people in society is way off. Yes there are some very intelligent rich people, but one rarely has anything to do with the other.

Some of the most significant differences:

- Rich people focus on earning. Driven by the fear of loss and uncertainty of the future, the masses focus on how to protect and hoard their money. The wealthy understand the importance of saving and investing, but they direct their mental energy toward accumulating wealth through serving people and solving problems. The focus is more on earning.

- Rich people think about money in nonlinear terms. The masses trade time for money. This creates the belief that making money is a linear process directly connected with time. The wealthy focus on solving problems, and they know there is no limit to ideas so therefore there is no limit to how much money they can earn. Since most people think of making money in a linear fashion, they never invest the necessary effort to create high impact solutions.

- The rich use leverage to create wealth. If hard work was the secret to financial success, every construction worker and cocktail waitress would be rich. The wealthy strategically focus their efforts on the most profitable areas of their business while leveraging their contacts, credibility and resources to maximize the results of every action they take.

- The rich know they are the problem and they are the solution. The middle class lives in a perpetual waiting game for outside forces to come to their aid and grant their every wish. They think the hero is God, the government, their boss, the lottery or even their spouse. The richest people in the world will tell you no one is coming to the rescue.

The bottom line: don't listen to these reports that say only intelligent people who received an IVY league education can get rich. It's nonsense! Everyone has the potential to gain wealth, and it starts with your thinking. If you're rich, keep thinking the way you're thinking. If not, maybe it's time to change the way you think about money.