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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Special College Graduation Edition: Want To Be Rich? It's Easy. Watch The Rich People and Do What They Do

Back in the 80s, when having money and being happy was okay and nobody hated you for enjoying your life, there was a guy on TV who had a get-rich quick program that pretty much consisted of buying real estate. The best part of his show was his tag line: "Wanna be rich? Watch the rich people and do what they do! It's easy!"

Well, now we live in dark and depressing days. Being successful is frowned upon unless you're a rapper or government employee. Being rich is evil and people who enjoy their lives do so at the expense of others. The younger you are the sadder this political climate is. But its all smoke and mirrors. Don't buy into the political hype. Remember, the first job of a politician is to make you think you need him so you will give him a job.

I'm urging you recent college graduates to get over it. And when you get over it, take advantage of the vacuum left by the mopers of the world and go out make some money. Of course, my secret plan is to have you earn more money not so you can support dopey government programs, but so you will cherish the freedom and initiative it took you to earn your money. I'm a libertarian, we depend on your happiness and welfare so you'll leave us alone.

I am not a billionaire, so I wouldn't listen to me about getting rich, but I will say this: In the blink of an eye you people will be running the country. Don't screw up like my generation is in the process of doing.

Here's a list of current billionaires, how they made their money, and a short piece of advice from each:

Steve Jobs: Apple. Net worth (at the time of his death): $31.6 billion. "'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been “no” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."

Michael Bloomberg: Bloomberg, LP. Net worth: $22 billion. "My first job out of school was on Wall Street and I stayed there for 15 years. It was a terrific ride: Fun times, and lots of praise from my bosses. Everybody loved me–right up until the day they fired me! But I remained optimistic–because happiness for me has always been going out and trying to beat the odds. So the next day after I got fired, literally the next day, I started a new company."

Jeff Bezos: Amazon.com. Net worth: $18.4 billion. "When you are 80 years old, and in a quiet moment of reflection narrating for only yourself the most personal version of your life story, the telling that will be most compact and meaningful will be the series of choices you have made. In the end, we are our choices. Build yourself a great story."

Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook. Net worth: $17.5 billion. "If you actually do something you love it’s a lot easier and takes on a lot more purpose."

Larry Page: Google. Net worth: $16.7 billion. "I think it is often easier to make progress on mega-ambitious dreams. I know that sounds completely nuts. But, since no one else is crazy enough to do it, you have little competition. There are so few people this crazy that I feel like I know them all by first name. They all travel as if they are pack dogs and stick to each other like glue. The best people want to work the big challenges."

Michael Dell: Dell Computers. Net worth: $15.9 billion. "Never be the smartest person in a room. And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people…or find a different room. In professional circles it’s called networking."

Carl Icahn: Hedge Fund Manager: Net worth: $14 billion. "When you go out there, you can be one of two types of guys. You can be a guy that thinks for himself, and I think the world and our corporations are now waiting for that. There are CEOs that really do think for themselves, that are innovative, that go against the trend… You should try to stand against the trend, even though it might cost you your job, cost your promotion. But in the end, think for yourself, be innovative. If you have ideas, go slam the table, don’t worry about it, because that’s what this company needs."

Steve Ballmer: Microsoft. Net worth: $13.9 billion. "Passion is the ability to get excited about something. Irrepressibility and tenacity is about the ability to stay with it. If you take a look at all of the companies that have been started in our business, most of them fail. If you take even a look at the companies that have succeeded, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, you name it, all of these companies went through times of hardship. You get some success. You run into some walls. You try a formula for a new idea, a new innovation, it doesn’t work. And it’s how tenacious you are, how irrepressible, how ultimately optimistic and tenacious you are about it that will determine your success."

Eric Schmidt; Google. Net worth: $6.2 billion. "Don’t bother to have a plan at all. All that stuff about plan, throw that out.  It seems to me that it’s all about opportunity and make your own luck. You study the most successful people, and they work hard and they take advantage of opportunities that come that they don’t know are going to happen to them."

Eli Broad: Real Estate Developer. Net worth: $5.8 billion. "No one ever made a million bucks by being cautious or timid or reasonable. I was 22 years old and recently married when I had the crazy idea that I should give up my career as a CPA and become a homebuilder. I didn’t know anything about building houses. Sometimes the craziest ideas are the ones that yield the greatest payoffs. I took the risk in 1953 of building houses without basements – something that hadn’t been done in the Midwest — because the monthly mortgage payment would be less than what most people were paying for rent."

Without the freedom to fail, and with a government that holds our hands from the cradle to the grave, this advice is useless and the ability to succeed is attenuated.

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