My tweet on WallStreetSilver went insane, and the bot armies or haters came out in force. They are still pouring in now. I’m writing this here because to me, it is very clear a lot of people have ZERO clue how to make a lot of money – or don’t understand how others did it. I want to write a more developed blog here to fully address this, and perhaps inspire others who want to achieve it. I think it is absolutely stunning how ill-informed people are about how people get rich.

First, there are things on here I recognize below that I could do to get richer, faster. I don’t want to do it. Maybe you do, which is why I’m offering you up some options. I am very, very content with my life working 40 hours a week at this stage of my life at 47 with a 13 and 2 year old. This past year, I was able to see my oldest in his track meets, and every day I can see my youngest off to daycare. To me, this is not something I wish to trade. But if I was 25, would I do anything differently? Probably not. I feel that I will be in the millionaire zone someday, but it’s more of a longer term wealth accumulation with some smart and risky decisions along the way.

I would have to say that I grew up in probably the lowest 20% of wealth in the country and am currently probably in the top 5% now. Yes, mathematically, we grew up in the definition of poverty here. I had remembered seeing a sign on the wall at Burger King where I was working at 16 that said if your family made under $19,000, you were technically in poverty. My mom was a stay at home mom for a few years when I was younger and the most my dad ever made in his life as a steelworker was $13,000. I know my mom was also a real estate agent at times, but this is when homes were like 17% and she didn’t sell anything. I am also cognizant of the fact that growing up in the lower 20% here is probably in the top 5% of third world countries, so that is not lost on me.

After I wrote my note yesterday, I thought more about it, and I actually know a lot more people that are millionaires than I wrote about. Those were the more “public” figures, so I’m going to keep the private ones, private. Additionally, there are quite a few people now I know of in their 60s or 70s, if they just sold everything they had, they would be well over $1m.

Here, I’m going to review some of the people in my life that I did not cover in the article yesterday, but then I want to pivot and perhaps bring up some of the more public rags to riches stories and provide findings at the end.

Private people

  1. Wealth accumulation. Look, a million dollars is not what it was when I was 5. Given I’m 47, that’s 42 years of inflation. But a lot of these people had bought houses in really strong areas, maybe bought a second property to speculate on, and with this, the accumulated over a million dollars of net worth in their lives. In the USA, a standard mortgage is 30 years. So if you bought a house for $150,000 then, and perhaps a second parcel of land to speculate/rent/develop, you could have, over the last 40 years, easily accumulated wealth.
  2. 401k contributions. A person my age has been working the same job for 25 years out of college. He chose to live with his parents until like 28 and got married then, but at the age of 22/23, he was stashing the most he possibly could in his 401k. He saw incredible increases up to 2008, then obviously got hit, but all of the markets have gone up 5-15x since 2009, so it stands to reason this person just sacrificed short term gains to longer term accumulation. Now, he had the option to live with his parents – many don’t. But the point was, 25 years of not buying new cars, being smart with loans, and not buying frivolous things allowed him to maximize his 401k contributions.
  3. Sales. I know a woman from childhood that went to college and worked for a bank, but the hours were killing her with small children. She had tremendous sales skills, and found an opportunity to get in to a new start up company and is one of their brand ambassadors giving speeches to large auditoriums all over the world. She had deep networks of people because she was so gregarious her whole life – and essentially sold millions in product, and with this, leads an extremely comfortable life today.
  4. Real estate. A woman who I grew up with, is like a “cousin” to me, got pregnant in her teens and continued on to go to college and get a degree. She met a guy in real estate, and they bought a house, lived in it, and rehabbed it over 2 years. She eventually left her profession, as she had learned how to use other people’s money to buy and flip/rent. At one point, I believe she was near 40 units and got out of a lot of it a few years ago near the top, and was able to travel the country over 1-2 years in an RV with her husband doing business. She has a relatively popular YouTube channel, but I don’t want to out her on this. She uses private lending – where there’s a whole business in how all of that works. I believe she’s cashed up right now and it could be the best time ever to be so. This avenue required a LOT of risk taking, working with your hands, “sweat equity”, and learning a lot of hard lessons. I have some skin in this game, and asked her husband and her to assist me with expertise on how to approach a unit I have. Made a world of difference to me, and some people can just help you a lot with kind words and pointing you in the right direction.

How to get rich, “normally”?

It was clear in the bot army and hate comments that most people have virtually no clue how others get “rich”. I think there’s a lot of stereotypes out there that you can only BE rich if you were born into it. Nonsense. I’m on this path in 10-15 years if all goes well, but obviously, most don’t want to wait until they are 60. They want it faster. Now. Many throw up their hands and say “luck”. I had even have people point to studies that tried to blame luck on everyone getting rich. I can admit, I grew up in a poorer part of Pennsylvania. One parent had no college, another parent had 2 years of college. As a young child, the parent who had 2 years of college went back and finished. THAT may have been ultimately the biggest thing to influence my life. So I have to admit that where I was born was perhaps far better off than a war torn country. Someone even said my “whiteness” is to blame for my attitude on this. I was just raised that the sky is the limit, and I cannot speak to how others outside of my home were raised. I’m going to leave the race baiting out of this discussion.

So let’s look at how you can get rich?

  1. Born into it. This is obvious. Many indeed are born into this. I sure as hell was not.
  2. Lottery. Yes, you can win the lottery with odds of like one in 200 million and win it. Many of these people end up losing everything over time. So they won it by lottery, but had no skills to keep it.
  3. Accumulation over time. It is possible that you live within your means, save, and over 40-50 years you can cash out with millions. The person above I mentioned took a risk to put a LOT of his money into his 401k, and with this, did very well. Others might just put 3% in then go buy a new car and bitch they have no money. This guy I know drives a 25 year old car.
  4. Sole proprietorships – imagine opening a deli or pizza place. In this country, EVERYWHERE are “mom and pop shops”. Everywhere. From accountants, to lawyers, to bagel shops, to nail salons. These people pour everything they have into this business, and reap the benefits of this. This is the opportunity most pass up, because it is highly risky with a 90% failure rate within 5 years. You can start a lawn mowing business with borrowing someone’s mower. You can start a candle making business for $200. You can start a handyman business with only the skills you have.
  5. Doctor/lawyer/banking – the problem with this path is you typically need a lot of money to get the high end graduate degrees. Perhaps you can get scholarships to pay for undergraduate – a lot of what I did – but no one is paying $200,000 for your law school, $300,000 for your med school, or $200,000 for your Wharton business school. These guys who somehow are approved for loans and didn’t have mommy to pay for it spend a massive chunk of their paychecks paying back their loans for 10-20 years.
  6. Luck. An overwhelming amount of responses I saw all thought you needed to be lucky to get rich. I think it’s more of the next one. But, you can probably tell by this list in totality, that “luck” is probably a combination of a lot of these.
  7. Taking risks. In the case of Chad Hurley I mentioned yesterday, as well as Glenn Hetrick – both of these guys after college took a risk to move out to California. They needed to go to where things were happening to capitalize. You may say both of these guys were lucky, but both of them took massive risks in moving. In the third case, my buddy Matt took a chance to move to Connecticut from Baltimore.
  8. Location. This might go a little with luck and risks above, but you have to be in the right location to make opportunities happen. One of my friends made a low budget movie that sold in Blockbuster, but he refused to move out to California. Love the guy, but everyone knows film makers are now pretty much in California, NY, Vancouver, and even Atlanta now. Chad moved to Silicon Valley and got working as a plebe for PayPal. Glenn was a makeup artist who moved to CA and worked for someone else’s shop for a lot of years. You have to be in the right location, depending on your skill set. If you live in a podunk town 2-3 hours from a major city, you need to move near a major city to be near opportunity.
  9. Hard work. People may say “I work hard”, but have no idea what that actually means. I’ve put in the 70-80 hours in server rooms, sending deployments out at 2AM to hundreds of machines, been on call 24x7x365 for the last 6 years or so. Many of the “successful” people throw themselves into their craft. They don’t look at the clock. They solve the problem at hand to get better, because they are driven by the work. This is what might be lost on this generation. You cannot teach someone to be inquisitive.
  10. Networking. I’m a rather shy person, in person. I live mostly through the pen, but in person I have so many things flying through my head at once, it sometimes is very difficult to have conversations with others in short bursts of communication. In my life, many who have been very successful were very outgoing and could meet new people easily. They built networks of people. For example, if I have a problem with my hot water heater, I might be out $3,000. However, someone like my father in law might know 5 guys he could call that he did work for over the years who might “help him out”. These people who can build networks build their own safety nets, and can get a lot of work done for less costs than you and I might get it done for. Additionally, if they are looking for new work or leads, they can cast out a net to these networks to bounce back quickly.
  11. Entrepreneurship. This is something I never took a class on. In HS, it was offered, but I took legal classes instead, as I had dreamed of working in the FBI. But this class might have been THE one to get away. This teaches you essentially how to start a business with nothing. You learn what kind of company to start – sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability, etc. You may learn how to build share structures, get venture capital money. Perhaps you make a great cheesesteak – taking classes like this could potentially help you get investors to buy a food truck. IF you apply a lot of the items above, perhaps you then have 30 food trucks. In my local area is a food truck called “Bricker’s French Fries”. I thought it was one truck. I accidentally one day drove into a lot where they had like 30 of them. This person MADE their own luck. But it started with a skill.
  12. Sales. Most have no idea what sales is. My earliest recollection of sales was someone forcing me in cub scouts to sell shit out of a suit case. You then have to shame your family to buy something, that they could not afford. It was a terrible experience. Why? Because the people I was selling to were hostages. These were not free market participants. I’d also get haggled at kiosks in the mall of people trying to sell me phones. What you learn in marketing in B school has to do with finding target audiences, and people who WANT your product. This changed a lot for me, and I now really respect the hell out of sales. Cold calling people is a lot of hustle, but if you had lists of people who have bought candles at boutique stores before, and you were selling high end candles – this is now a list of prospective buyers. If you understand marketing and sales, you can accelerate up this ladder very quickly.
  13. Skills. Skills are supply and demand, and tend to, over the long term, even out. But if you are the first to a new technology, you can make a fortune. I got into SCCM early, and I got into cybersecurity early. Because of being in those industries for 15 years, I run teams that do this. However, most technology over time – with higher salaries, attracts more and more people, and then salaries decrease. IF you are looking at something like tech, you always have to train for the upcoming skills in demand, not the ones already matured. But this can be bagel making skills. Perhaps you really make a good pizza at Ted’s Pizza and someone wants to partner with you on opening your own shop. If you are top at your skills, you can potentially then run your own company – or partner with someone – to make more money on your in demand skills.
  14. Inventing. I actually went through this process in 1998. Long story short, I had an idea, not a working invention. My working idea needed a satellite in orbit. Unfortunately, CyberCD (the precursor to satellite radio) and Cyber DVD (the precursor to streaming netflix) never took off. This was 1998-1999, and I’m happy my HS friend Chad capitalized on sharing video using NT/Windows servers for streaming. That Dyson guy who uses the word suction every sentence failed 3,000 times with prototypes before he succeeded. I know a guy who has a patent – has to do with lasers and a gold ball from his time at Johns Hopkins. Every time they use this, he gets a royalty payment. My grandfather invented a hydraulic press for Norman Rockwell in the 1960s and they gave him $1500, which was big money then.
  15. Better business model. Many like to point out that Gates invented windows and had a silver spoon in his mouth. What they don’t know is that he bought Windows, but invented the software licensing model for usage. He found a better way of doing business. Think of the model T, and how the assembly line changed American production forever. Henry Ford invented a way of doing business, better.
  16. Working more than one job. This one is not going to sit well with others, but if you want to get ahead, you can put in your 40 hours a week and then work evenings. I did this every year between years of college. For the first two, it was volunteering for every overtime shift possible as a security guard. I’d routinely work 84 hour weeks. At 20, this is doable. At 47 with a wife and kids, no. Between my junior and senior year, I was working 40 hours a week in the computer lab during the day, then going to a local pizza shop to deliver pizzas. Sundays were 10-12 hour days there. I would not recommend this for long periods of time, but anyone today who puts in 40 can deliver food in the evening. Babysit on weekends. Side hustles galore. This might be done at 22-23 to pay for a down payment on your first home, or save up to buy a used car cash.
  17. SPECIAL skills. These are the people who are 1 in a million. JK Rowling writes and makes hundreds of millions of dollars. Shaq took basketball skills into mega millions. The Kardashians started with a sex tape and found ways to get extremely rich off of being famous, they just needed to keep being famous to do so. Magic Johnson made money with basketball, but then he had a model to branch into other things. Ryan Reynolds makes millions as an actor, but is part owner of a vodka company. Jim Carrey hustled night clubs, but at 16 I heard he was homeless being a janitor living out of a van with his parents. Think about the rap career of Eminem to where he is now.
  18. Burning desire to succeed. Many of those I listed above came from nothing, and with this, failure was not an option. Sorry if I stole Eminem’s line there. But many of these people were in positions that forced them to be the best they could be. In 2009 when my oldest was born, that drove me to go back to school to get my MS in cybersecurity and later finish my MBA. Books I have written that I need to edit the hell out of are to help them one day try and learn a lot of the lessons I never knew at their age to apply them to their lives. When I was 27 or so, I was unemployed for 15 months and down to eating cans of peas and ramen for dinner for a month. When I finally got a job, an hour away, I was there at 7AM – waking up at 4:30 AM. I was working long days and not getting home a lot until 6 or 7 at night. I was very close to being somewhat homeless – and with this, when I did get the opportunity, I was grateful for it and maximized everything I could with it.
  19. Second generation wealth – what I’m specifically talking about here might be your parents came to the US, worked 18 hour days at a local store so they could pay for your med school. Children who grow up in this environment see how hard their parents work, and maybe as young as 7 or 8 are helping out with the family business. These children do have a leg up from those in poverty, but they are hard coded with a strong work ethic from a young age. This helps them have the discipline for late nights of studying to get through med school. Getting into school and finishing school are two separate things.
  20. The hustler. One of my friends above with the gold invention at any given time has 7 to 8 jobs. I joke with him about it, but he’s a former marine that I admire the hell out of. He only needs 4-5 hours of sleep a night, and with this, he might be working a lot of consulting gigs at high dollar rates from 6AM to midnight. He has several rentals, a tree cutting business, a data processing business, and just continues to out hustle anyone I’ve ever seen. His house is absolutely mammoth, and he is completely self-made. Yup, he’s part of the club. He was also early in on tech and travelled all over the country for high hourly rates to implement that technology 25 years ago. This is one of those guys you could zero out his bank accounts tomorrow and within a few years would rebound, because he knows how to outwork everyone – and prioritize how to make money. I remember when I was like 10 or so, my grandfather used to offer me or my brother $3 to mow the lawn. I’d volunteer, and my brother didn’t want to be out in the heat. My grandmother would then slip him $3 because he was upset I’d get paid. It’s one of my earliest memories of capitalism and socialism. Around that same time, I’d go to my local Y and to be a pin setter in bowling, I’d make $.35 a game. That was enough for me to buy a Mountain Dew from the vending machine.
  21. The promoter. This can perhaps go with sales, hustle, etc. But if you have the ability to recognize talent, and monetize that for someone else, your services are worth something to them. Think about Don King in boxing. Was he a boxer? Is Scott Boras a pro athlete? Does anyone know if Simon Cowell can sing? If you have the ability to make things happen for other people and make everyone money, you get a cut of the pie. Simon Cowell is worth $600m and I don’t think he can sing Jingle Bells in tune.
  22. The early adopter. Max Keiser annoys the shit out of me, but he got in silver early before $50 and he was the apparently rotating money out of silver to bitcoin at $1. Even with bitcoin down 70% in a year, that still potentially a 17,000x on a lot of those tokens. When you are getting into things early, you might throw a lot into something you believe, but you also need to be able to take profits along with it. For argument’s sake, imagine Max taking $1m and putting it into silver and silver stocks and walking away with $5m. He then buys 1m bitcoin at $1. At $2, he sells half. For every double, he sells half. Assume that is 15 times he halved 1m bitcoin. Think of the hundreds of millions he banked, and the thousands he has left. The problem with many early adopters is that they do not know how and went to take profits.
  23. The speculator. This is somewhat similar to the above, but let’s think about junior miners and raw land. In both of these cases, you are buying into something with the idea that a certain level of development will take place with the business or property, external to you, and with this, other people will flood in. The above was technology adaptation, and this is more or less property/business speculation that a thing will have more worth to other people down the road. You can hear stories of silver juniors in the 1960s making a 165x. Land you may have bought in the early 1970s for $1000 might be part of a proposed development and they are offering you millions now. There is usually a time element to these, with risk. You could probably combine the last two, but I like them separate.
  24. The visionary. This is a Musk/Jobs category. These guys are able to sell others on a vision and get people to work 90 hours a week for them to make it happen. The guys doing this get cheap labor they need to make it to market, but the people doing the work have top level access to these visionaries and can leverage these connections down the road. Musk did not invent Tesla, he bought it. What he DID do was create a model which we learn in business school with types of production. You have 5 main types of production – perhaps the first is custom, like a race car. Maybe the 3rd in line is batch production, where you are doing batches of pills at a pharm company. Maybe the last is high level mass production. He realized the amount of capital to make a car company with mass production cannot start there, unless you had billions. So he started first with custom high end roadster, then moved it to more batch-like production of newer models, then began the mass production with the model 3. He bought Twitter to potentially help free speech. He has the Boring Company. Tesla batteries. Tesla roofing/solar city. Let’s not forget about Neuralink. But guess what – this guy works 100 hours a week and never sees his kids. He doesn’t even currently own a house. To be that person, you have to LIVE that person. Not many have the stomach for this, which is how we was able to take a few million and turn it into hundreds of billions.
  25. Wealth Cycles – this essentially has been my plan recently. But anyone who just owns stocks, or just owns real estate, or just owns bitcoin, or just owns precious metals is missing out. I have really looked deep into this and I was in zero stocks the last year. I look at relative value to other things, and when things are highly valued, try and sell that to get into cash to buy things that were undervalued. Back in 2019, when I saw problems with the repo market, I was literally selling anything not nailed down to buy silver. For example, an old bike, a recumbent bike – those two things had gotten me a tube of eagles then. Around me, yard sales are very popular. My wife hates them, but I remember as a kid we could go to these things Sat morning and I’d use the $5-10 I got mowing the lawn for my grandfather and parents for a massive toy haul. The point here is that everything has relative value, to other things, in the context of ever-increasing inflation. Buying gold or silver now is smarter than buying stocks. 18-36 months from now, it might be smart to sell a lot of that gold and silver and buy stocks. Or rentals.
  26. Being frugal – one of the people I mention above is also relatively frugal. When he throws a party, it’s all out, but this is the kind of guy who would haggle with me for $.10 on a phone bill in college. He’s not paying you a dime more for your car than he has to, and is a nightmare for dealerships. The idea is that you THRIVE on creating surpluses from what you bring in to what you spend. Today, most kids are raised about being flashy. Expensive cars or shoes. But if you can create sustained surpluses over long periods of time, and stash this money away into something that makes you money, passively, maybe 30-40 years later you can amass a small fortune. Many think because you are not a doctor or a lawyer, that you would live in abject poverty. No. For many early years, I had a roommate. I could afford to live alone, but extra money coming in helped reduce my out of pocket costs.
  27. Moving. Some of this is covered above with location, but my in-laws are on Long Island, and when I go up there, it’s depressing. There’s such limited housing and work opportunities that most people are living with their parents forever. It’s not really a choice due to depressed wages against limited supply of housing and rent. Guess what? If you can move from a situation like that, you can move to a place where perhaps your cost of living is half of what it is, but your wages might go down 25%. Meaning, you instantly have more money in your pocket. However, this is home for a lot of people, and they either choose not to leave, or have no support structure somewhere else and are fearful of leaving. To people who live in overvalued markets like Toronto, move the hell away. If you love the city, come back 3-5 years later if it becomes more affordable. So many people don’t realize the opportunity they have with moving that could help them out. If you can create a nice surplus then, you can use a lot more of the items above. I moved to where I am at 27 to be around college friends, and it was much, much cheaper living than where I was. I had sold my house for 50% more than I paid for it only 2 years later, and now live in an area which is among the cheaper to live in the country – my trade off is long travel commutes.
  28. Entertainment. You can potentially cover this in the special skills above, but this is a vast category. How many Hollywood stars waited tables for years before getting their big break? How many shows on Broadway could you do as a backup before getting a lead? How many garage bands went broke before Pearl Jam broke out? How many people went broke trying to produce movies? In good times, a lot of money flows into this. Think also of professional athletes entertaining you. This can even be your local minor league team, a guy playing a guitar for 20 people in a cafe. Talent doesn’t always get you to the promised land, but this is also something where you can make extraordinary money if you have the talents.
  29. Numbers. One of the guys I talked about I had heard stories that paid his way through college betting on horses. We had a ton of fun with fantasy football and March Madness brackets, but this guy was really good it seemed with numbers with probability. Owns a lot of race horses now, but going back 30 years, this guy could walk into a situation and place bets based on his uncanny ability to understand probability. People who are “numbers guys” tend to run a lot of the backend of businesses. This might also help the pro bettors out there you see on TV. These guys didn’t get there because they wore sunglasses. They understood risk and reward and were able to maximize their skills with this. These guys also might have been day traders or worked within hedge funds to make other people rich, getting a nice commission in the process. People like rich people it seems, but they LOVE people that can get them rich. FinTwit is filled with a lot of hucksters and fraudsters intermixed with a lot of REALLY strong people who are well-meaning. The problem is, FinTwit is mostly low IQ, where it’s herd mentality of trying to find the latest Oracle to blindly follow and place bets on his magic words. But all of this is extremely complex, and you have no idea what these guys are doing by the minute to manage funds. You might read “shorting oil” but a week later the guy posts, “I got stopped out” and you missed it and lost your ass and blame him for losing your kid’s college money.
  30. DIY person. My one buddy listed here does everything himself. He taught himself a lot. These people have skills of being able to fix just about everything, and throughout 40 years of earning, not only can prevent paying others to do work for them, but can utilize these skills making side money helping others, fixing up properties themselves as a landlord, or if times get tough they can even work construction or create their own contracting company. One person I know created an HVAC company and sold out of it after 20+ years and did extremely well on his way to retiring to Florida.

With my post, I wasn’t trying to be glib about 3rd world countries. Not at all. The internet can be a savage place, and it seems almost all of the responses were seeking red meat of billionaires to be thrown out of a plane, as if that will make their lives better. If I wouldn’t know better, it seemed like some sort of bot army. I don’t have the exposure a lot of big accounts do, but this was a very interesting and shallow response to my post.

They seemed to take it literally with the $5 in the pocket, instead of understanding what really goes into how many of these people become multimillionaires. Sure, if you are born into it above, you won’t last 5 minutes. But many of the types up above translate to any country. Many people come here BECAUSE of the ability to exercise the opportunity with many above. Third world country may have been stretching it, but everyone missed the point. I was commenting on a guy who lost his $2m fortune and was trying to give support that he can find another path to get back there. He may have been a good speculator and then took a lot of risks. Perhaps that skillset can do it again?

In business school, you learn a lot about tons of companies. One thing that is missing from a lot of it that I found was how to use other peoples’ money or venture capital. I believe that is an art form, but I never had a class on it. I also don’t have the network today to do that, but you can see how having a network of wealthy friends can help.

With respect to the third world country. IF you looked at what I wrote above, you might perhaps deduce the billionaire would find a place with a lot of people that had money and influence. If you look at the list above, you could see how a lot of people in those categories could find success there. It might start with making friends and networking – simple Dale Carnegie techniques. These friends might lend you things, give you a hot meal, let you borrow things. I didn’t say this billionaire was air dropped into a desert. Perhaps he/she can offer to do local services like cleaning, cooking, waiting tables the first week or two – but most of these guys are probably trying to get in the vicinity of those with wealth. They might approach them and tell them about a business idea. Work through intermediaries. You are thinking like someone who never has a chance, and that is a choice to make. That’s not how these people are hard wired. You drop a writer into that area and they might be able to get a job at a local paper to pay the bills for a few months and submit a manuscript to a local publisher. A brilliant guy with a guitar might pack a house and get a record deal within weeks. A guy like Musk might be able to convince a town to support him in building a factory and use their capital to do it. The way these people can use influence, what smarts they have, and talent isn’t what you and I can fathom. You are strictly thinking about a hedge fund guy working for someone else. No. I want the Hedge Fund CEO which could make local warlords into billionaires with legal money and legitimize them in months. You have to see that some people have a utility that you might possess, but feel for whatever reason you cannot do it.

That might be your limiting factor. You are filled with excuses. You were told your whole life you can’t do something. I’m not saying you can be a millionaire, but I know plenty of them at this stage of my life and because of this, I don’t feel I cannot be in that club. I just had to shift away from the idea of only the 9 to 5 to make it.

Lots of case studies we’d see in school. Too many to count. I started my MBA 21 years ago now, so I can’t recall a lot of them. Let’s do a few, quickly and add in others just to make my point.

Anita Roddick

James Dyson

Frank Woolworth

Sol Boscov – my great grandfather worked for him early on

Warren Buffett


Ross Perot



Don King

Wynton Marsalis – I’m a trumpet guy, he’s one of my heroes

Jeff Bezos

I can tell you that I could spend days writing another hundred to two hundred on this list. You have been programmed to believe that need to idolize these people, and what they did is not attainable for you. I’ll never be a billionaire, but I never focused much on more than punching my 9 to 5 until just a few years ago. I think there are a lot of paths for people above to get rich, IF that’s your goal in life. My goal is to be comfortable, and if some of my investments pay off, I will be more comfortable.

But what I’m finding with the responses is profoundly sad. None of you have any idea how most people who you know as famous millionaires got started. You can see above that there’s a lot of LEGAL ways people got rich – and you can see how a lot of famous rich people today started off with a lot of adversity. Perhaps the adversity or situation drove them to another level? At one point if you are the Dyson guy do you give up? Some people are driven, and you cannot replicate that.