Tuesday, September 04, 2012

21 Ways The Rich Think Differently...

I read this earlier in the week, but had to take some time to think about the implications of this idea.

Now, the author may be on to something here, and I would think that this would suggest much more scientific research be done on the subject. If the road to wealth begins with a different mindset, or perhaps if we discovered that some people are, indeed, hard-wired to eventually become rich, we might have unlocked the secrets of true egalitarianism.

Think of it this way: if we discover that being rich is simply a state of mind, one that anyone with a room-temperature IQ could be trained to adopt for themselves, then many of the ills in society which revolve around poverty and envy could, largely, be eliminated.

If, on the other hand, we discover that genetics and brain chemistry are the keys to wealth, then perhaps all of those blue-nosed blue-blooded doofuses that we've been making fun of for the last 100 years, with their fetishes over "breeding", were on to something all along.

In any case, if the secret to making everyone wealthy were to be as simple as learning a system, acquiring a healthier outlook, or taking a pill that mimics a certain brain chemical, then everyone would be stinking rich -- particularly the people who discovered the secret -- and then wealth would no longer confer much a distinction, since it would be common.

Which would make red blooded communists everywhere happy beyond their wildest dreams, one would think, until we remember that communism was never about egalitarianism and equality, only control over every aspect of the individuals life.

However, I do not believe that was the author's intent. No, I think he had another idea in mind, which is one that, perversely, is commonly to be found in most diversity training classes:

We're all the same...it's just that we think differently -- and better -- than you do.

Typically, the target of that dialectic is the White Heterosexual Male, who is made to feel extraordinarily and irrationally guilty for things he hasn't actually done himself, as an exercise in absolving all of his supposed class enemies -- gays, minorities, women -- of any true responsibility for their own failures. In this case, however, the dialectic is being used to explain away a series of traits that I believe are very much common to many rich folks and spin them as a virtue, in effect, absolving themselves of any sense of projected guilt for being what they are.

Which is stinkin' rich.

To which I say: good for fuckin' you! Why should you apologize because you managed to find a way to earn a shitload of money, while everyone else sits on their assess waiting for it to drop into their laps?

However, the author does go a bit too far, and stretches the imagination just a tad. I'll let you judge where these distortions are made as you read the article, but from my own point of view, most rich people didn't get that way simply because they think about things differently. For a start, unless someone is a bona fide genius (Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and so forth) he/she most likely came into their payday through a combination of hard work and ass kissing. The key to a fortune, I've been told by many a Wall Streeter, is to know who to stroke and who to smoke. The Strokee, very often, is simply someone a money-grubber can use for access -- to information, to an introduction to the "right people", to someone who is willing to mentor or finance you, to uncommon knowledge, or to a politician.

The old saw that "It takes money to make money" is only half-right. while it is true that there's a great deal of difference on a 10% rate of return on an investment of $1,000,000, as opposed to, say, $10,000, it's also true that the ten grand or one mil means absolutely nothing unless you know what to do with it, when to do it, and who can do it.

Money is simply the grease that keeps the wheels moving; the real secret to wealth is access to information and and ability to make use of it in a timely fashion, whether that's by yourself or through others who can do the legwork for you.

Anyways, there are a few traits that the author left out of the article that I believe most rich people share, in spades, that never get enough attention. The one that gets me though, because I've seen it most often, is this one:

An Incredible Parsimony. It has to be seen to be believed. Rich people are perhaps the cheapest fuckers on Planet Earth. Now some might say this isn't true; that rich people give great gobs of cash to charity all the time, but I'm telling you that when they give that money away, it isn't an act of generosity. It's about tax write offs, it's about marketing and public relations, or worse, about keeping score status-wise among the other cheap-ass tightwads with "two comma" money, as they used to say.

Every person I've ever known that I would consider "rich" are the type that calculate to the sixth or seventh decimal their waitresses' tip. They are the people who are the first to demand to be served when something is being given away. They love the words "free" and "exclusive", mostly because "free" is good, and "exclusive" sounds special. They are the first to take advantage of "special offers" that promise more free, "exclusive", or discounted stuff -- particularly big-ticket items -- further down the line, and guard their prerogatives in this regard jealously. These are people who count pennies while they seemingly shit dollars.

I have actually seen a grown man make a scene about not leaving a tip at a table, because the meal was supposed to be "free". I have seen a woman of especially obvious means turn her nose up at a Town Car to drive her around, because with the amount of money she pumped into the firm she should have rated a stretch job. And it's not as if she needed the car: it was a courtesy offered to a customer, but she was insulted by the gesture. Sure enough, they got her a (free) limo.

A certain gentleman of my acquaintance, who was rumored to make about 12 times what I did in those days, was notorious for skipping out on bar tabs after dropping hints all night that he would pick one up. When confronted about it later on, he would ask "did you actually hear me say I would pick up the check?", or "sorry, I thought you said you had it...". needless to say, he was never offered a damned thing by anyone after he pulled that stunt a couple of times.

I'll give you a stunning example from my Wall Street days about how cheap the super rich can be.

Back in the summer of 2000, I think it was, when the Tech Bubble had just burst, the head honchos at  Citigroup had a pow-wow about the great losses they had just suffered (note: Citigroup didn't suffer the losses, their clients did. But, it is axiomatic that once clients get burned, the last thing they do is pick up the phone to call their broker for another round of high-risk-generates-a-shitload-of-commissions-trading with the same guy who told him that AOL was a "rock solid investment"). With commissions down, the firm was looking at a short-term cashflow problem, which required "severe austerity measures".

Try not to laugh at this next part, because upper management did, indeed, deliver it with a straight face, and they were deadly serious. Most of them looked as if someone had just raped them and then kicked their puppies.

To save cash, and to prove that the "sacrifice" that Citi was now demanding of their employees would, indeed, be shared by their corporate overlords, Citi proudly announced that fresh fruit would no longer be served in the Executive Dining room. From now on, the Upper Crust would have to make do with frozen fruit, like the peasants do. In addition, no longer could every executive above the rank of Managing Director expect to find his daily, individually-wrapped, one-pound bag of sugar -- which either went to waste, was stolen by the cleaning staff, or taken home -- set out with his morning coffee service.

Limousines were to be shared, even car-pooled, whenever possible.

And now that Management had made it's symbolic sacrifice in good faith "for the good of the firm", to balance it all out, 8,000 technicians and consultants from my division were to be let go, and the remaining staff were being "asked" -- unofficially, because it was illegal, but then again, cooperation would be remembered come raise and bonus time -- to work a minimum 50 hour work week (the extra 10 hours were to be occupied by employees eagerly seeking ways to save the company money, no less), and forego a daily paid lunch hour.

of course, when you work in IT, a 50-hour work week indicates a slacker (it's not uncommon for people in the IT industry to work 70+_ hours per week, normally), and most of us had forgotten many years previously just what the fuck a lunch hour was.

In other words, the Rich Guys gave up stuff they weren't paying for, anyway, and made is sound as if they were making a genuine gesture, while looking as if someone had just stolen their Tinker Toys.

Anyways,.the article is correct in it's basic assumption: most filthy rich people, especially the self-made sort, are, indeed, "the-glass-is-half-full" thinkers, and a fair shade more clever than the average person. But those talents only get you so far; to reach the upper echelons of richdom, you need to be a complete dick, and unapologetic about it, too.

Which I guess means I'm already half way to being the next Warren Buffet. You can just refer to me as The Sage of Staten Island, from now on.

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