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Ten Questions For Harold Hamm

November 24, 2010

Oklahoman billionaire, son of sharecroppers, shares some of the secrets to his success.

Harold Hamm

Net Worth: $5.8 billion

Age: 64

Youngest of 13 children Hamm, the son of sharecroppers, grew up in a one-bedroom Oklahoma house. Today he still lives in Oklahoma, but now is one of the state’s richest residents, overseeing oil & gas exploration and production company Continental Resources and helping to cure diabetes through Harold Hamm Oklahoma Diabetes Center. He spoke with Forbes about some secrets to his success.

1) What personality trait was the key to your success?

Persistence, especially in my continuing desire to learn and to educate myself.

2) What financial advice do you have for someone who is newly rich?

As a long-time investor, I would suggest they begin investing slowly and carefully.

3) How do you choose a money manager / investment advisor?

Choose money managers with a long track record of performance in both strong and weak markets. They must be trustworthy.

4) Talk about the most offbeat advice you followed.

I liked Ford products and their management philosophies and bought into it. It tripled value in 12 months.

5) What do you think are the biggest obstacles to job creation in America?

Uncertainty and the threat of higher taxes.

6) Who is your hero, why?

Sam Walton. He was a common man born in Kingfisher, Okla., just 30 miles south of Enid and became the wealthiest man in America. He was a great visionary with persistence.

7) What are the unforeseen downsides to success?

The more successful you become, the less autonomy you have. Time management becomes critical. Responsibility expands.

8) What book should every entrepreneur read?

Jim Collins' Good to Great.

9) You have $100,000-where do you put it?

In the business you know best ... reinvest it in yourself.

10) Name one experience every entrepreneur-to-be must have.

Narrowly averting financial ruin. I once drilled 17 dry holes in a row before being successful.