The poorest man I ever knew was a millionaire.
There’s more to wealth than money in the bank
I’ve met a lot of people over the past few years of doing what I do.
I’ve met folks who didn’t have two pennies to rub together and I’ve met folks who owned Jaguars and Maseratis and whittled away their hours complaining about their insurance premiums.
Some of the poorer folks I’ve met have inspired me. Some of the richer have inspired me too.
I guess when it comes down to it, how much money people have isn’t a guarantee or a measure of how happy they are, or how much they look out for other people.
But I want to talk about one guy in particular.
He made a lot of money. More than I’m ever likely to make in my lifetime. He was a property developer sometimes and a wealth consultant sometimes. He’d find people who were wanting and he’d tell them he had what they were searching for.
Which was true, as long as what they were searching for was overpriced housing investments that weren’t worth a buck because they’d been built on the shonk and they cracked and shifted and fractured year after year.
The houses were worth less than the inflated price they were sold for every day.
And when their value slipped he had the answer – all these people had to do was attend his $5,000 seminar on property management to know how to turn the loss into a profit. He’d get 10–20 people every session.
He was a millionaire, this guy. He reached that milestone younger than a lot of people.
But his customers and his clients who trusted him had paid him more than just money – they’d paid him their dreams. And he’d lose both assets pretty fast.
I want to say that there’s a happy ending to this story. That he got what he deserved. Unfortunately that’s not always how the world works. It’s not often how it works. When I looked him up the other day he was still doing the same thing and probably still making bank.
But if you asked me to tell you the happiest person I’ve known, he wouldn’t be anywhere near that list. I never saw him crack a true blue smile. I never saw him laugh when it wasn’t a put on.
I never saw his kids hug him or his wife miss him. I didn’t meet anyone who actually trusted him, if they really knew him.
In the stakes that matter, this guy didn’t have much. He never built anything – not a relationship that mattered and not a product that he cared about.
I love money. Is it wrong to say that?
But in my list of priorities it’s nowhere near the top.
Some of my happiest memories are from when my partner and I were dirt poor students. When we slept on a mattress on the floor and drank $2 wine and read aloud to each other from our favourite books.
Those memories alone make me feel like a wealthy man.
Because as important as your money and your cash flow are – there’s more than that.
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