This is part of the storyCNET’s coverage of smart money decisions for today’s changing world.
When billionaires startlast summer the internet was ready with anecdotes.
“Well, I made a sourdough croissant this morning, but you can’t hear me bragging …” one of the accounts tweeted.
“It’s great for billionaires to fly into space, but maybe they could also pay taxes,” said another, who garnered about 50,000 likes on Twitter.
The common theme of many online comments – jokes about the shape of the Blue Origin rocket – was the sharp contrast between the literal rise of ordinary people watching at home and so many rich people that they could escape. the physical boundaries of the planet.
This is another contour in the relationship that people sometimes worry about wealth. A survey conducted by Personal Capital, a digital wealth management company, in 2022 showed that 74% of people do not believe that a person with high net worth will reach their goal. A YouGov survey of how much money it takes to be rich or poor in 2018 showed that 56% of people think that earning $ 100,000 a year means you’re rich. The same Private Equity survey brought that figure to about $ 400,000.
But if destiny is still something that many aspire to, what is the result of living in a world where some people have reached an almost incomprehensible level of wealth? Jeff Bezos, the founder of Blue Origin and Amazon (according to this article), is the second richest man in the world with a net worth of more than $ 167 billion. This means that in the United States, it takes two weeks to earn a modest average household income. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, topped the list with more than $ 259 billion in revenue.$ 44 billion.
Meanwhile, according to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of Americans who look down on billionaires – Bezos, Musk and others – rose from 23% to 29% between 2020 and 2021. This is taking place against the backdrop of the wider public debate about the growing inequality between 1% and everyone.
Neither Musk nor Bezos responded to a request for comment.
Wealth remains a complex issue. People have different reasons for persecuting or rejecting him. For some, success and wealth are one and the same, while for others it may be a means to an end, but not the main criterion for achieving it.
Luke Thompson, a consultant who spends time at Powerscourt, a UK-based strategic communications agency, said: “Their wealth is excessive in its form and I don’t think it’s a panacea for some people.” reputation management, working with ultra high net worth individuals. “I think people want to be richer, but I don’t think they want that level of wealth.”
It turns out that the richest people in the world can not overshadow the definition of financial success of society, as you think.
The goal is wealth
John Caudwell does not need said to make more money.
According to Forbes, his fortune is about $ 3.1 billion. The British billionaire founded Phones 4u, the UK’s largest mobile phone retailer, and sold his business in 2006. He has been involved in philanthropy since the 1990s, including the founding of the Caudwell Children charity in 2000, and in 2013 pledged to help them. He took away most of his wealth by signing the covenant of giving. Founded by The Giving Pledge, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates, it is now a charity that brings together people like MacKenzie Scott, Mark Zuckerberg, Reid Hoffman, Marc Benioff and Elon Musk.
Thus, when he looks at the astronomical riches, he sees no call or accusation of his own success.
“I don’t think any normal person would ever want that,” he said in an interview. “I couldn’t want to do that either.”
Part of the reason is that it’s rare to come up with the right idea at the right time on Amazon. After all, advances in corporate business only lead you to this day. But at the same time, Caudwell sees a senselessness in amassing wealth for the sake of amassing wealth.
“Rich people – really everyone – you measure to a certain extent, you prove yourself with the wealth you create,” he says, “I’m sure there is. [an] element of competitiveness. … I think there are better, more satisfying goals in life than creating huge wealth. “
Wealth with a real purpose is something that Myah Irick, senior vice president of Irick Group-Merrill Private Wealth Management, talks to his clients on a regular basis.
“Wealth is a tool to achieve a number of goals,” he said via email. However, there are a number of questions not only about whether someone wants to buy a second home or start a business, but also about what they want their inheritance to be and how they want to influence their families and communities. Some customers come to him for specific purposes, while others do not.
In any case, he is affected by the presence of super rich people.
“In our consumer culture, we are instilled to collect. If the team should make us happy, then those who can consume everything and everything are considered the happiest,” he said. “Of course it’s not true, but this worldview is sustainable. If happiness is based on consumption, it will always feel inaccessible.”
Joshua Fields Millburn learned this lesson for himself at the age of twenty. Millburn is the author, speaker, and half of the duo of the Netflix documentary Minimalists, which explores the idea that property doesn’t bring happiness to life. He grew up poor in Dayton, Ohio. As a child, he thought that his family’s problems were due to a lack of money. So after graduating from high school, he got a job and decided to climb the corporate ladder.
Finally, he was earning $ 200,000 a year, which is a long way off in Ohio.
“I had a big suburban house with more toilets than people,” he says, “I had 12 Brooks Brothers suits.” Why do people need 12 suits? “
As he told the story, he was both in great debt and very unhappy.
“I think more people are trying to be vague, successful people because they haven’t figured out enough. They just know they need more than anything they have now because they’re dissatisfied right now.”
In modern mythology, some of the rich people there began to act as entrepreneurs.
About 3 million students in the United States take Junior Achievement classes each year. Founded in 1919, the nonprofit trains local business leaders in front of children and teaches them topics such as financial literacy and entrepreneurship. For some children, Junior Achievement may be their first exposure to the idea of starting a business. But it is not a matter of teaching children to be entrepreneurs in order to become rich.
“The idea is to go [into business] because you see the problem, ”says Ed Grocholski, Junior Achievement’s Chief Marketing Officer. ”.
Grocholsky says that super-rich people have always created a certain level of awareness in children’s perceptions. Fifteen years ago, they could have talked about Oprah Winfrey or Steve Jobs. Today, he says, people like Bezos and Musk have a higher visibility due to social media and influencing culture.
A study by Junior Achievement found that more students are expecting to get rich at a younger age, even if they don’t yet have plans on how to do it.
At the university level, Sean Branagan started the Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at the SI Newhouse School of Public Communications at the University of Syracuse. He says he went home with his students and the definition of success is ready to comment. Being able to pay your bills and learn the practicalities of life while doing something meaningful is a framework of mind that has nothing to do with a large financial situation.
While it’s hard to pinpoint the reason, Branagan says he’s seen a change in the last five years, and fewer students are interested in becoming another hooded tycoon.
“They want to do something that makes more sense, that is closer to society, that is in favor of something bigger.” [rather] ‘Oh, yes, our marketing is that we help poor kids, but it’s just a marketing spin. On the contrary, it has been installed. ”
One of his former students is Kelsey Davis, founder of CLLCTVE, a company that combines creativity with brands. Davis was included in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in 2021. Since he was still at the beginning of his career as an entrepreneur, I asked him what the ultra-rich factor was in his plan – especially since more than a few people started out as entrepreneurs – and he measured himself and said they weren’t really sticks.
“Success seems to achieve everything you want,” he said. “I always want to be in a position where I can create freely. As you get older, the degree of what that means, the resources needed to create these ideas freely … can change.” But he says self-sufficiency supports his goals.
You can’t take it with you
These days, when Caudwell thinks about increasing his wealth, he thinks about it in terms of having more to leave behind his charity than his children. In 2019, it increased its Giving Pledge commitment to 70%. When you look at some of the other billionaires on the Forbes list, you’re wondering exactly what they’re all about.
“Why doesn’t every rich person do the same thing?” he says. “Yes [do they] Do you want all this wealth in the long run?