Be Rich, Not Famous: The Joy Of Being A Nobody

Striving for status and fame is an anathema to the Financial Samurai way. Instead of trying to get famous, it's much better to just be rich and stealth. When you are rich and not famous, you are more free to do as you please. But things weren't always this way.

When I first started Financial Samurai in 2009, I was proud of finally creating something. For too long, I had just followed orders at work.

Yet, I couldn't tell anybody about my hobby because I was still employed. I was afraid if my employer found out, they'd tell me to shut it down or at the very least, dock my bonus for being unfocused.

After all, the site was started in the middle of the financial crisis and they were always looking for reasons to cut costs. Instead of trying to be internet famous, I stayed stealth.

When I finally engineered my layoff three years later in 2012, I still felt it was unwise to tell anybody about my site even though I was internally beaming with pride about the site's growth. I felt like a new parent who wanted to annoy the crap out of all his friends by cooing about every milestone their child hit.

But because I had five years of deferred compensation on the line, even if there was just a 1% chance my old employer would withhold payment, I didn't want to risk losing years of living expenses. And so, I kept my mouth largely shut until I had a decision to make on 4/21/2017, when my last severance-related after-tax payment hit my bank account.

Final severance pay after tax

The Desire For Fame Is Misguided

In a way, the five-year time period when I was collecting my deferred compensation was like a mental jail. Like Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption reaching for the stars as rain spatters his face, full emancipation only came years after leaving Corporate America.

With nothing holding me back in 2017, it would seem like finally, I could brag to everyone that I had created a website large enough to support a family in San Francisco. With some publicity would come more growth, more revenue, more fame, and higher elite status! I could say yes to a bunch of big media interviews on TV and make my parents proud.

But alas, I did none of that. Instead, I felt it was much better to keep a low profile. Due to my low profile, I haven't been able to supercharge this site's growth potential or line my bank account.

But that's OK because I'd rather have my privacy. After all, when you have enough passive income to pay for your desired living expenses, what more do you need?

For those of you who are thirsty for attention, let me share some thoughts about being a nobody for so long and why it may be in your best interest to do the same. 

Be Rich And The Joy Of Being A Nobody

Here are the five reasons why it's better to be rich and not famous. The goal is to be a rich nobody, rather than a poor somebody.

1) You focus on what truly matters.

Whenever you create something you're proud of, there's a natural tendency to want to tell everybody about your success. Look at me. I am so great! The more you share, the more addicted you become to the attention and the less you focus on the work that made you proud in the first place.

There are people who are trapped in a cyclone of self-validation, e.g., constantly posting selfies of a new look on Twitter, showing off a new car on Facebook, or writing about yet another fabulous vacation on Instagram. Think about it. If your self-esteem is strong, why do you need to tell anybody about anything you do?

We all need some sort of attention or validation. I get it. But moderation is the word. Don't let such need to be recognized get out of control.

Not being able to publicly disclose I ran Financial Samurai for eight years made me focus on the only thing that mattered to its growth: writing regular content. I couldn't leverage my network of entrepreneurs and financially savvy folks. Nor could I leverage my Asian heritage or my fabulous good looks to get on TV (ok, not really).

The only way I could grow was to compete on quality of content. Could I tell an interesting enough story that kept people engaged? Could I write a post so polarizing that it would turn off a bunch of readers, but attract a bunch more because they saw the reality in what I was saying?

These were the challenges that I focused on every single week for years. And due to the focus, this site grew.

2) You become more impervious to insults. 

After you've been called a loser, an idiot, arrogant, out of touch, shameful, a d*ckhead, a ch*nk, and many other epithets, your mind turns bulletproof. After all, when you're already a nobody, nothing can be any lower.

And because I'm a nobody, even the smallest words of kindness are meaningful. Today, I get more joy from a nice response to my private newsletter than I would if I was a public personality being lauded with praise all the time. I also developed the ability to ignore or instantly forget anybody who shows hate. It's like having the super power of selective amnesia.

Developing a thick skin can really help the relationships that matter most to you. For example, let's say your husband or wife comes home from work extremely grumpy one day. If you've been able to develop a thick skin, you'll more easily brush off his or her boorishness as a temporary phase.

What's also interesting is that while insults no longer hurt as much, they still very much act as motivators to keep on going. I often use negative feedback to create new posts, thereby buttressing the survival of Financial Samurai, which in turn allows my family to continue living free.

3) You can live your life in peace.

Being too famous is a curse. Yet, for some reason, kids seem to have an insatiable desire for worldwide attention. What the hell happened? Is it due to social media or bad parenting or both?

When you're famous, many people want something from you, mostly your time. And given time is more valuable than money, being known robs you of your most precious asset. Thank goodness I'm not famous. 

However, FS has grown large enough to where I get emails every single day asking for help without the person ever attempting to build a relationship first. If this scale of inquiry frequency were to transfer into the real world, I probably wouldn't enjoy leaving the house.

For example, one day my friend blew me up while we were soaking in a hot tub after tennis at a club. He asked me, “How is Financial Samurai doing?” in front of five other fellow soakers. One of them perked up and began asking me at least 10 questions ranging from whether she should buy property to whether she should go back to grad school. She had been a reader of Financial Samurai for three years.

Of course I had to be nice and answer her questions. I'm always honored to meet a long-time reader. But after 2+ hours of exercise, all I wanted to do was soak in the hot tub, drink a beer, and relax.

Now imagine if you were actually famous, and didn't just have some small-time website. You would never be able to do anything in public in peace. Every single move you make would be questioned. Your words will be twisted to fit an agenda. You'd never be able to be yourself.

4) There are no expectations of you.

When you're a nobody, nobody expects you to do anything or do anything special. Therefore, you can regularly surpass expectations.

As a 5.0 rated tennis player, I'm supposed to readily beat 4.5 rated tennis players. If I do, nobody cares. But if I lose, as I've done before, it's a disaster. I'd much rather be a 4.0 tennis player and beat up on 4.5s and 5.0s instead. This is why there are so many sandbaggers in any competitive activity.

Think about all the celebrities out there who are expected to always look good in public. What a drag! Most of the time, normal people just want to put on some comfortable clothes after washing their faces, and go for a leisurely walk without anybody taking their picture.

What about if you are a Harvard alumni? You are expected to do great things because you were so great in high school. But the sad reality is, a significant majority of Harvard alumni end up doing the same thing everybody else does in society. What a let down.

It's no fun having the weight of the world on your shoulders. Life is so much better when you can surprise on the upside and be judged based only on what you do.

5) You allow your children to be their own people. 

I feel sorry for the children of celebrities who find themselves in the limelight because of parental transgressions. Children shouldn't have to suffer due to the sins of their parents. Nor should children be forced to feel the pressure of matching their parent's success. Inspired, yes.

If you're always posting pictures of your kids who aren't old enough to consent to public exposure, consider slowing down. You're exposing them to public scrutiny which they haven't asked for. Please don't exploit your children to further your ego or business interests.

Protect them until they are old enough to make rational decisions for themselves. Let them tell their own story.

As a father of two young children now, I so dearly want them to find their independence and their own identity. Sure, it would be nice if they both helped their old man continue to keep Financial Samurai going. However, it would be equally awesome for them to pursue their own dreams.

Be Rich, Not Famous

All this desire for fame and prestige is truly a waste of time. Get your 15 minutes of fame to satisfy your curiosity. Maybe get 30 minutes just to be sure. Soak up the thrill. Play the status game for a while. Then let it go.

Unless you're a completely insecure person, you'll realize the attention you seek is really just a band-aid for some deeper problem that needs fixing.

You'll also find that seeing your friends try to be rich and famous with all their social media bragging will get you down too. Try and minimize your usage of social media for your own mental health.

Work on accumulating enough passive income so you never have to listen to anybody again. Accumulate at least 20X your annual expenses in liquid net worth so you can start feeling the joy of financial freedom.

The only things that matter are your friends, your family, and your freedom.

Which would you rather be?

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Various Scenarios For Fame Management

Be rich, it's better that way. However, if you want more fame and publicity, here are some reasons or scenarios why these attributes might be useful.

1) If you want to build a consulting business.

Building a brand is crucial to having a thriving consulting practice. I highly encourage everyone to establish a web presence with their own site. In the beginning, putting yourself out there is a must if you are to sell successfully your skills and services.

Nobody will hire you if they don’t know a little about your background. But once you start gaining traction, consider building a brand around something bigger, not just yourself. If you do, not only will you win back your privacy, it will be easier to also scale your business.

2) If you want to build a blog or online business.

Like building a business around your skills and services, blog readers want to know something about you before they subscribe. Think about why you read a bestselling book. Is it because of how the author looks or how the writing makes you think and feel? 

At the end of the day, it’s the quality of your content that matters. Search engines like Google don’t have a variable in their algorithms that rank articles written by handsome Asian males of Hawaiian and Taiwanese ancestry living in SF.

Search engines are people blind. They focus on how helpful and useful your content is, and so will everybody else. Blogging truly is the best business in the world.

At the same time, the internet is noisier than ever. Gaining some regular media publicity and fame will help your business. So you've got to figure out what the right balance is. Fame online lasts for about three days and then it's on to the next shiny object.

3) If you want to write a book.

If you become a traditionally published author, it's going to be much harder to sell and market your book if you remain anonymous. A lot of selling requires getting on TV, doing video interviews, and doing in-person events.

Therefore, starting in 2H 2022, I became public for three months marketing my book, Buy This, Not That: How To Spend Your Way To Freedom And Wealth. But now that the marketing phase has past, I'm happy being a nobody again.

But the main reason why I wanted to be more public was for my children. There are few Asian Americans in the personal finance and nonfiction finance author space. I also hope my book will create more love for Asian people in America. Therefore, I've decided to be the change I want to see in the world.

4) If you want to help as many people as possible.

Being famous can positively affect people's lives if you choose to use your fame to help other people. You can influence others to spread awareness and take up the cause. In such a scenario, your goal is to become as famous as possible and accept all the downside of fame for the greater good.

Whenever you catch yourself seeking fame, take a step back and ask why. Chances are high you are trying to make up for some type of deficit in your life. Find out what the deficit is and do you best to fix the problem at its source.

Please consider the benefits of being rich, not famous.

Reader Questions And Recommendations

Readers, why do you think people seek so much attention nowadays? Why do people pick fights with others and say stupid things over social media if they still depend on a job to survive? If you want to be famous beyond your circle of people that matter, please explain why. What are some of the positives of being famous over being a nobody?

Listen and subscribe to The Financial Samurai podcast on Apple or Spotify. I interview experts in their respective fields and discuss some of the most interesting topics on this site. Please share, rate, and review!

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Be Rich, Not Famous is a FS original post. Please focus on impressing the people that matter. At the same time, you must have enough status and prestige to not be excluded from opportunities.

About The Author

82 thoughts on “Be Rich, Not Famous: The Joy Of Being A Nobody”

  1. This, I have always argued this exact point to people I know, fame is a hollow concept embroiled in political imagery and a kind of demand on you as a person like you’re some kind of brand. Majority of these fame inclusive club types, are also people with difficult histories “drugs, scandals, crimes, power” they always end up in some difficult positions because of what they said or what they did.

    Just a small look at your modern examples:

    Elon Musk
    Alex Jones
    Johnny Depp
    Will Smith
    Aron Carter
    Mike Tyson
    Kim Basinger

  2. One of the greatest philanthropists England has ever seen died about 20 years ago. He was a billionaire many times over: inherited huge wealth which he greatly increased. He led a somewhat understated existence: often took the tube to work (never recognised by his fellow-commuters), loved gardening on the weekends, wore rumpled old suits, etc. I’ll never forget that he was quoted as saying that he liked living in relative anonymity because, “Money only attracts two things: envy and weirdos.” He enjoyed being insanely affluent without being particularly famous. Ever since reading about him, my goal was to achieve stealth wealth.

    1. Wise man. Maybe weirdos. But definitely envy. It stinks and I wish it didn’t. As someone with an online platform, I’m constantly aware of both the good and bad attractions of talking about and having money.

  3. I am a land owner in Cleveland Oh, about 65 rental units, plus run a few related businesses, and have a very nice net worth. I drive a beater work truck and wear paint spattered clothes to look like a nobody. I don’t want anyone to know my true net worth or appear wealthy

    Stealth wealth!!

  4. Ezra Watson

    Well, once you are famous, you can’t unfamous yourself. That’s important to consider before doing it.

  5. Theguythatdosenotgetit

    For me I never wanted to be rich or famous. I wanted a comfortable life doing things I was passionate about. Though I want to be a little more than a know body. The title fits well with the current state of my life. I knew early on in my adult hood. That I had to find away to make extra income. If I was to ever have a fraction of the dream sold to Americans. So I tried my had at quite a few different ventures. To my knowledge none of them netted me more than a few extra dollars. Some never even got off the ground. So now with a grown up mind state. I’m ready to try again. The internet is vast with many avenues to make a few extra dollars. Sometime I just look and say to myself if this plunged into this or that worked with that. But my coding friend is busy living his best life. Plus I feel like about cast for reasons of my own doing. But it would be nice if just one person. Talked to me and said that’s cool how did you do that. With a smile I would lay out all the pieces. Cuz I have never been greedy and in all my dealing. My wants always were the last on the list. Cuz doing for others makes me feel good. Seeing people grow into the best they can be because of something I said makes me feel proud. It’s just said only one person has ever said thank you. But as a know body honestly this side of life doesn’t feel good. Cuz deep down I like people.

  6. Natalia NNN

    My ex bf is a little famous. In trying to please him or keep a certain level, I started promoting my Instagram. One night at the local club, I was out with my girls. A guy came by and told me he was my follower and a fan on Instagram and how he was happy to meet me in person.
    The girls were giving me weird looks. And the whole situation was just not comfortable. It wasn’t for me.

    Then I remembered, when I was a child, I always wanted to be rich, but NOT famous, I swear, that dream was across my childhood. Fantasy of being in the shadows, yet still free and powerful, without answering to anybody, was my favorite. I am an introvert.
    And here comes this article, as a confirmation.

    Since then, I made my Instagram private, broke up with that boyfriend. Because at the end of the day, he held his fame as some sort of advantage over me, and a leverage. Which was a huge red sign, that he had some internal issues that would be a cornerstone for a very toxic relationship.

    Now I only work on the rich part. I feel more at peace this way.

    1. I made my first million in 2020 (and second and third). And figured the “rags to riches” story would play well on YouTube and help build a brand that can support my future growth. I read Sam’s article and am concerned about the negative consequences. Hmm

  7. Renata Rowland

    Really excellent article, put into words what I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Nowadays everyone things rich = famous or that you have to “be somebody” to be rich… some of the world’s wealthiest people are names no one has ever heard of. Being famous makes you a target for literally everyone in the world to prey upon. You will never have privacy or really be yourself again, potentially even at home. Thank you so much for writing this. It shows that my decision recently to go social media dark and focus on actually building a business is the right decision for me.

  8. Late post but this made me think of the introvert v. extrovert. The extrovert gains energy from social exposure and the introvert gains it from solitude. Both need time in both categories but I bet there are people who love the attention at all times and cant get enough. Some ppl always want to be noticed. Call it a self esteem thing if you want but personalities differ greatly.

      1. In honor of recognizing one of your better yet least commented articles, this is a great piece!

        All too often people are attempting to demonstrate how fantastical their lives are or how wealthy they are. How? Social media. Drawing attention to themselves and their lifestyle.

        It’s worrisome how narcissism has developed in the last few years.

        Fear not, I suspect this phenomena will pass in time. At least I hope it will.

        Moderation is good for the individual and our communities. It makes it easier to cherish the everyday things in life that we take for granted: family, friends, health, ability to put food on the table, running water, a roof and four walls, clothes, and something meaningful to do in your life.

        Anyone impressed by your Instagram account or how many zeros in your bank balance is not a friend of substance.

        Be thankful for what you have.

        Be well, happy holidays!

  9. I completely agree that being rich and not famous is by far the best option. When I look at people in Hollywood with all the money and fame, it is typically followed with problems – a lot of them. I don’t want that for my life.

    Staying humble while your wealthy is the key to keep a level head and to keep your nose clean. While I’m neither rich or famous, I’ve got everything I need and that’s what’s important.

  10. Great post Sam, a lot of comments to got through for sure. I blog about all things financial independence not with the intend of reaching fame but more importantly to share stories. If you think about stories, the ones you tend to remember are the ones that create engagement, inspire, instill curiosity and ultimately influence some behavioral change (hopefully positive). That has been and will continue to be my focus.

  11. I used to believe everything this article says and only needed my freedom and wanted to share my experiences with friends but then my friends got married and slowly we drifted apart. And unfortunately my small family, even though I know they love me, have never supported me in my endeavors. Now I have nobody and wish I took the time already to build a fan base of sorts to garner the support I need to get through life. I am now chasing that dream with a byproduct being fame. Also I’m not rich by any means but made some overall good choices along the way that allows me to have the time freedom I do now for a career change. This is only part of my story. I hope to share the rest once I’m on the other side.

  12. Gentleman's Family Finances

    Who would want to be famous?
    Being unable to walk down a street without being mobbed.
    They also have a habit of going crazy and being weird.
    I’d much rather be comfortable than rich (who needs a yacht anyway – and there’s always someone with a bigger yacht than you anyhow) and I would rather be known well by a few than to be known of by many.

  13. I love this article, Sam. You are really spot on and the survey results confirm it. Being targeted for inquisition for being famous is really tough. Of course you could move overseas and become invisible again. I’ve been abroad for over 12 years now and am used to feeling like a stranger in a strange land- this also applies when I go back to the USA since it has changed so much since I was last there.

    I love how financial instruments don’t know who you are and that dividend paying stocks aren’t aware that you own them (unless you get to a significant ownership threshold of course) yet you are protected by ownership laws to have your rightful claim to their share of the profits. That is really the way to go!


  14. So on-point yet again, Sam. Look at Gerard Butler following his appearance in 300. So many fitness gurus make MILLIONS (even today) selling programs that promise to make you look like Leonidas. Newsflash: the guy who played Leonidas doesn’t even look like Leonidas, and now he has another thing to be anxious about.

    “And because I’m a nobody, even the smallest words of kindness are meaningful.”

    This website has truly helped me, more than anything else, in realizing my full potential and living my best life. After spending some time living in San Clemente, I now fully understand what you mean about making half a million only to live a middle-class lifestyle. I saw it with my own eyes with real estate agents and store managers and investors and the like. I was definitely one of those people who railed on you for being one of “the disconnected rich,” and I’d like to take this time to apologize. Thanks, Sam, for writing this blog and helping me live a better life.

  15. Hey All,

    First and foremost, thank you FS for doing this for all our benefit. I am glad it gets to benefit you as well and keeping it honest about that!

    I am 28 in a few months and have been an absolute idiot with my money to say the least. I have a few grand saved and a few more than that across 2 credit cards + personal loan to lower utilization of CC and increase credit score. I only saved 8% a month (7% after a recent raise). After reading a few articles, I undoubtedly want to increase this. I never really had good financial advise from my parents. Dad just worked hard and got to start a business that made him enough to be content, but I don’t think he has much saved. I still blame no one but myself for not doing this sooner. I feel an empty sadness from my financial situation that I thought working alone could solve. Thank god I found this blog. Better late than never. Time to turn it all around.

    I work at least 40 hours a week but study many hours outside of work since my career is in Information Technology and I need more certificates to make more money, so forgive me for not looking further before asking the following:

    Is there some sort of beginners guide on here to building financial freedom? What types of investments should be my first with the money I make (~$41,600/yr) and currently have saved (~$3,000)? Perhaps I need to save a bit more before investing, but how much!? I googled it for FS, but did not yield a proper result? I could google it in general and find something from someone else, which I will do get multiple perspectives. However, there is something about this site that makes me want to see it from FS’s author perspective first.

    If you haven’t made this guide, I think it would be a great idea.

    Also, do you think I should maximize my monthly saving, or focus on paying off my CC quickly and increasing my savings only half as much as my first proposed option?

  16. I’m also a nobody, I’m about as interesting as a brick wall. I’m not rich yet but definitely in the process. Got a job without much oversight and get paid decent to do basically nothing all day. Also have weak interpersonal skills (even though I try to smile and be polite and do the right thing), and at age 35 have never been in a relationship before. Yikes.

    I know the deck would be stacked against me in a divorce and women never like uninteresting men so I’d risk losing a mate quickly and half of my wealth. Although even then I wouldn’t even know the first thing about attracting women anyway just to get started and see where it could go. Oh well, I guess that’s America. Find the biggest douchebag husband to protect you from the big, scary world and other jerks. Yay for nobodies who fly under the radar!

  17. Perhaps you’re slightly overlooking the obvious: Fame can create the greatest wealth, fast. Though certainly not happiness or responsibility (what one does after wealth acquired).

    Most “famous” types (not talking about b listers) actually hate all the downfalls of being in the public eye– but accept as part of it–what they signed up for.

    I’ve worked for many and know this.

  18. Great post Sam. Focusing on building net worth allows you freedom of a broke person while still letting you have the option of being incredibly generous.

    Being famous or even worse “famous and wealthy” would be a complete hassle. You’d have to worry about people pestering you. Let’s not forget the people looking for a quick dollar by slipping on your sidewalk, getting into a fight, or otherwise claiming some wrong. Rich? I’d have it no other way. Famous? Pass.

  19. An excellent post and I appreciate your story-telling posts to balance the data-driven articles. I recently FIRE’d from the US Government at 57 to the surprise of many who had no idea we had that plan. Low-key, solid work, and compounding are glorious things.

    My final email to a select group of workmates included;
    * Don’t die at your desk
    * This organization succeeds by the masses of the unsung, not the names currently running it.
    * No one working here started this organization–it will probably still be running long after we’re dead.

    I’m hoping more will be motivated to get FIRE’d up and not reach for fame as the answer to Life

  20. In this political and economic environment, it’s safer to keep a low profile and dress as average as one can to go to work and social events. There are just so much backlashes if someone carries a brand name bag to go to work, a huge diamond ring or drives a nice car to work. This actually happens at where I work. People make comments on these driving a BMW X5 or horse rides as a hobby or someone wearing channel shoes. All these petty stuffs are just waste of time and such a turnoff. Beware of these little people.

  21. Kathy Abell

    “… the superpower of selective amnesia …”

    I think I have that superpower too! LOL

  22. Well, money of course is more important. But I do have the urge sometimes to tell somebody how well I am doing to share my joy (or maybe brag I suppose). Always thought it was not fair that people who are good at music or sports get to have it known and admired and congratulated, but if you are smart or good at making money, you must pretend to be average or less and hide all signs of money or people say you are a know it all or snob. Even if you do that, it shows through good marks at school, the fact that you read books, and are able to travel a lot, and you get jealousy and “remarks/digs”. However, I can live with it.

    It is more productive for me to interpret “fame” as respect, having a good reputation, credibility, being known for being decent/honest/helpful (like the bagua if you are familiar with that).

    My work/career/product is low profile/non-glamorous so it is the ultimate in being a nobody. My customers have always rated me 5* and valued my work so that is enough for me.

  23. Couldn’t agree more. Some people are rich because they’ve become celebrities, sports figures, Hollywood types, etc. but I’ve always seen famous part as a tradeoff they made for the money. I can’t imagine having to decide whether or not I need my bodyguard(s) for the evening or not, the same way I have to decide if I’m going to wear shoes with laces or not.

    Has always seemed to me the most terrible thing would be to be famous WITHOUT being rich. You can think of any number of them if you try, but child stars tend to figure prominently in the list.

    On the other hand, in the words of the immortal Robert Heinlein, ‘People who go broke in a big way never miss any meals. It is the poor jerk who is shy a half slug who must tighten his belt.’

    Believe I recall reading where Trump once pointed out a panhandler on a corner as being 87 million dollars richer than he was at the time because his debts outweighed his assets by that much (and his creditors didn’t dare shut him down as it would have meant cementing their losses).

  24. Agree 100%. Stealth wealth is the way to go. By flying under the radar with your wealth, you keep expectations low on housing, automotive and travel expenses. Everyone just thinks you’re a “regular guy” while you have a strong seven figure net worth. That’s the life!

  25. Everything in moderation. There’s famous, there’s well-known, there’s recognized. I agree: lowest pressure for the lowest on the totem pole—it’s a luxury to relish. BUT when your ambition is to make it in a competitive creative field, you’re aim is to break out of the “nobody” category, where everyone starts out. Your livelihood depends on it. Your work needs to be seen to be recognized by both audiences and gatekeepers or else you gain no traction career-wise. If you are well-known, you receive more work and income.

    1. Good point. I will defer to David’s comment above. To be famous by name, but no physical recognition.

      Or perhaps in your case, famous for your unique artwork style.. .where someone can instantly recognize that is your work.

    2. Well yes, but that precisely describes a person who is willing to sell relative anonymity for money (and just because a person is willing to do so doesn’t mean they will be able to do so).

      Artists, athletes, and performers will all talk about the sacrifice and hard work that is their lot, but the celebrated ones, the ones that are, not coincidentally, making the big bucks, will also talk about the price of fame as something apart from all the rest of it.

      I think it was Jennifer Anniston who said something to the effect of: “When some stranger follows you five blocks just to watch you buy a loaf of bread, you know your life has changed forever.”

      There are people that enjoy being celebrities. For most of us it would probably be fun for a week or a month, but the problem being that you can’t just turn it off. I think the folks that do enjoy it long term have some inner need that craves it (to say it nicely).

      My daughter worked a Publix in a resort community while she was in college and one day three of the biggest stars in the NFL at the time came through her checkout but she knew nothing about football. Curious at her lack of reaction, they were perplexed and even a little crestfallen when they realized that she had no idea who they were. Apparently this was very unusual for them.

      On the other hand, if you are one of the world’s greatest painters in some particular style, then you might enjoy considerable prestige and acclaim in the art world, but when you go buy jug wine and pork rinds at Publix, it is unlikely the tabloids will follow you in and start snapping pictures, or that the shoppers on aisle three will all want to stop you for an autograph.

  26. i am up 43% in my stock portfolio this year..yet, no one knows….I am doing better than 99% of hedge fund managers, but I am a nobody.

      1. Alteryx 15.1%
        Nutanix 14.2%
        Twilio 13.9%
        Shopify 11.5%
        Square 10.9%
        Okta 9.2%
        Pivotal 9.1%
        MongoDB 7.4%
        Zscaler 5.8%
        Pure 2.5%

        It’s a very concentrated portfolio. With 14 positions, an “average position” is about 7%, but with just 10 positions, an average position is a 10% position. My top three are still my top three, although Alteryx has moved up slightly. They next three are still the same three, in the same order. Mongo has doubled it’s position size to 7.4% and Zscaler is brand new at 5.8%

        Earlier I wrote that I have stocks in ten remarkable companies, each of which I have high confidence in, and each of which I feel dominates a market, is a disruptor, and has a long runway and a great future. I thought that this month I’ll give you the stocks alphabetically and I’d try you just a capsule of what each company does, and then a capsule of its recent earnings report, to give an idea why I like it.

        Alteryx was a new position for me last December. It started this year at $25.27 and finished June at $38.18, up 58% for the year to date. I sort of understand what it does, which is to lease a software platform which allows techie’s and non-techies alike, to analyze and use the torrent of data coming in easier and more quickly. Here are the March quarter results

        Revenue was up 50% (but growth slowed from 61% a year ago)
        The dollar-based revenue retention rate was 132%. This was the 6th consecutive quarter that it was above 130%.
        Adj gross margin was 90%, up from 84% a year ago.
        Adj operating loss of $1.3 million, improved from a loss of $3.6 million.
        Adj operating margin was minus 3.0%, improved from minus 12.5% !!!
        Adj net loss was $0.6 million, improved from a loss of $3.7 million.
        Adj net income per share was a loss of 1 cent, up from a loss of 6 cents.
        Cash was $206 million, up $8 million sequentially.
        Op cash flow for the quarter was positive $12 million, up from $5 million a year ago.
        They had 3,673 customers, up 43% yoy. Added 281 net new customers in the quarter, up from 237 a year ago.
        New customers included some well-known companies such as 3M, Intel, Merck, Waste Management, Barclays Bank, Under Armour. And they emphasize that they are seeing larger “lands”.

        Alteryx seems to be doing what it does very well.

        MongoDB I started a small position a month ago, for the third time this year, at an average price of $43.48. They are trying to disrupt and replace a 40 year old database paradigm with something more flexible and adaptable to the modern cloud and big data environment. They are growing very fast but haven’t really started shrinking losses yet. Here are April quarterly results:

        • Total revenue was $48 million, up 49%
        • Subscription revenue was $45 million, up 53%
        • Adj gross profit was $35 million
        • Adj gross margin was 72.6%
        • Adj loss from ops was $22 million, worsening from $15 million
        • Adj net loss was also $22 million, worsening from $15 million.
        • Adj net loss per share was 43 cents.
        • Cash was $272 million
        • Op cash flow loss was $8.0 million and $0.4 million in capital expenditures, leading to
        • Free cash flow loss of $8.4 million, compared to a loss of $12.4 million a year ago.
        With $272 million plus a cash raise they just did, they are obviously not going to run out of cash at $8 million a quarter. Their goal is to keep growing as fast as they can, and accumulate customers and recurring income, and disrupt their market. Sounds good to me.

        Nutanix was a new position last September. I entered at about $21.70 with a fairly good sized position. It closed Friday at 51.57, so it’s up 140% in nine months. Sure, stock picking doesn’t work. We’ll all return to the mean some day. Statistics prove it! Hah!

        Nutanix’s area is “hyper-converged infrastructure” in data storage. I don’t have a clue what that means, but Gartner rated Nutanix first on completeness of vision, and first on the ability to execute. It is doing away with the pass-through zero-margin hardware that it was selling, and pivoting to be a pure software company (also moving towards a SaaS model). This makes their revenue growth look deceptively slow because the hardware sales are no longer being counted, and because of subscription revenue being counted only month by month, even if all paid in advance. (Pretty odd to talk about revenue growth of 41% looking deceptively slow, isn’t it?). Nutanix apparently just won a $45 million contract with the Air Force, its biggest contract ever.

        Nutanix has a Net Promoter Score of 90 !!!!!! (For those who aren’t familiar with it, NO ONE gets a Net Promoter Score of 90 !!! It means just about all your customers absolutely love you.)

        Here’s what their April quarter looked like:

        • Revenue: up 41%, but this is with the elimination of the pass-through hardware revenue that they are no longer counting. If you compare apples to apples, revenue was up 65.5%. That’s extraordinary revenue growth!
        • And for a little consensual validation, Bert called this a blow-out quarter and came to the same 66% real revenue growth figure that I did. And he’s value oriented and conservative.
        • Software and support billings up 67%
        • Adj Gross Profit up 57%
        • Adj gross margin of 68.4%, up from 61.2% !
        • Adj Net Loss of $34.6 million, improved from a loss of $45.7 a year ago.
        • That’s a loss of 12% of revenue, down from a loss of 22% a year ago, as well as the dollar loss decreasing.
        • Adj net loss per share of 21 cents, improved from a loss of 32 cents.
        • Cash was $924 million
        • Deferred Revenue: $540 million, up 62% !
        • Positive Operating Cash Flow of $13 million, improved from a loss of $16 million
        • Free Cash Flow: A loss of $1 million, improved from a loss of $29.2 million !!!

        Just read that over again and you’ll see why I don’t have to know what hyperconverged infra-structure is to know that Nutanix is a disruptive category leader. Start with this enormous growth (billings up 67%, gross margins up 7%, deferred revenue up 62%, operating cash flow of positive $13 million, improved from a loss of $16 million, etc), add on Gartner rating them #1 in two categories, and tack on that unbelievable Net Promoter Score showing that their customers are beyond satisfied. That’s enough for me.

        Okta was another new position in January, a small cyber-security firm. They IPO’ed in April, 2017. What they do is called Identity and Access Management, or IAM. They are a SaaS company, and are still racking up big losses in net income and even in cash flow. Their TTM revenue is $294 million, which is up 62% from $181 million a year ago. Here are some of the data from the April quarter results. It’s hard to even imagine a better quarterly report than this one:

        • Revenue up 60%
        • Calculated Billings also up 60%
        • Operating cash flow margin up 23 percentage points (!) yoy; It was positive $4.0 million, or 4.8% of revenue, up from a loss of $9.7 million, or 18.5% of revenue.
        • Free cash flow margin up 24 percentage points (!) yoy. It was a loss of 2% of revenue, up from a loss of 26%. In dollars it was minus $1.6 million, up from minus $13.3 million.
        • Subscription revenue was up 59%, and was 92% of total revenue.
        • Adj op loss was $11 million, improved from a loss of $19 million
        Adj op margin was up more than 22% to a loss of 13% of revenue from a loss of 35% of revenue the year before.
        • Adj net loss was $9.4 million, improved from $18.8 million.
        • Adj net loss per share was 9 cents, improved from a loss of 21 cents
        • Cash was $547 million.
        Total customers grew by a strong 40% to over 4,700.
        Customers with over $100,000 of Annual Recurring Revenue grew even faster at 52%, to 747.

        • Dollar-based net retention rate continued at a healthy 121%
        • Subscription gross margin was 80.7%, up 2.4% yoy,
        • Prof services gross margin was minus 1.6%, up from minus 44.3% last year.
        • Total gross margin showed continued improvement and was 74%, up 5%.
        • Gross profit was up 72%.

        Guidance was so cautious it was silly. When asked about it they said, “We feel like this is a very prudent guidance, but we are very bullish on the business.”

        If you remember I took this position back in January at $29.95 and I kept adding all the way up to $43.00. It closed Friday at 50.37, up 68%.

        Pivotal was a new position this May, having IPO’ed in April. Steppenwulf brought it to the board and he eplains what it does better than I ever could:

        Pivotal is a cloud solution for me and other application and enterprise architects. It is like a machine that automatically builds a cloud application for me. I give it the design, and the latest version of the code. I tell it to build it on AWS, or Azure, or Google, or on my own machines. 10 minutes later – it is done, tested, verified, and running. I don’t even need to tell it – it checks my systems, and knows when I’m ready for a build, knows where I want it, and builds it for me. It speeds up my productivity immensely, and let’s me avoid any sort of vendor lock-in – and I no longer even need to know how to spell “server”… This is another technology that has already won, now it is just a matter of enterprises expanding it to all their IT, as they move to the cloud, maximize the productivity of their developers, automate their processes, and avoid vendor lock-in.

        This was another hidden growth story, like Twilio was. Pivotal’s subscription business is growing very rapdily while their legacy service and consulting business has been very slow growing. But the subscription business is now more than half of the total revenue and the legacy, lower margin business will become less and less important. Here are the April quarter results.

        Subscription revenue up 69%, and up 20% sequentially.
        Subscription revenue is now 58% of total revenue, up from 44% a year ago.
        Subscription gross margin was 92%, up 3% from a yr ago
        Total revenue grew 28% year over year.
        Total gross margin for was 64%, up 10% from 54% a year ago
        Subscription customers up to 339; up 20% from a year ago
        Dollar-based net expansion rate of 156%. Has been over 150% for seven quarters!
        Adj net loss was $23 million, improved from a loss of $43 million a year ago.
        Adj net loss per share was 10 cents, improved from a loss of 20 cents a year ago
        Operating cash flow was $4.5 million improved from negative $4.4 million a year ago.
        Free cash flow was $2.6 million, their first positive.
        Cash was $646 million.

        I bought my position at $19.18 in late May, and it closed June at $24.27, up 26.5% in just over a month.

        Pure Storage was another new position that I took in January at $16.72. It’s now at $23.88, up 43%. It’s busy right now replacing spinning disc data storage for enterprises with flash arrays, as I understand it. And once that’s through they will replace first generation flash arrays with NVMeoF-enabled flash storage. And then the next advance, and the next. And meanwhile the demand for data storage will be expanding exponentially. At least that’s the investment thesis. And Pure is the leader in the leader’s quadrant on Gartner. But keep in mind that I am a tech illiterate. I don’t really understand much of all that above, and I am relying on other people’s advice. Here’s the kind of thing I do understand: It’s a little from the Apr quarter results.

        Key quarterly highlights:
        • Revenue: up 40%
        • GAAP operating margin: -24%, improved from -32%%
        • Adj operating margin: -6%, improved from -14%
        Operating cash flow: $18.6 million,
        Free cash flow $8.6 million, up from -$27 million !!!!!!!
        Net Promotor Score of 84 !!!!
        Net Promotor Score of support team is in the 90’s.

        Shopify is next alphabetically. I do understand what Shopify does. It helps merchants set up websites for ecommerce. After four years of compounding 100% revenue growth (you read that right) they “slowed down” in 2017 to grow revenue by just 73%. Here’s a little excerpt of what they reported for their March quarter:

        Total revenue was up 68%.
        Subscription revenue was up 61%
        Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) was up 57%.
        Shopify Plus revenue (big companies) was up 103% in dollars, and made up 22% of MRR, up from 17% a year ago.
        Merchant Solutions revenue was up 75%.
        Gross Merchandise Volume was up 64%
        Gross profit was up 71%
        Adj operating loss was 0.1% of revenue, up from a loss of 3.4% a year ago.

        I bought Shopify in 2016 at about $27. It closed Friday at about $146, so in spite of the short attacks, it’s at about 540% of what I first bought it for about a year and ten months ago, (more than a 5-bagger, for those who count that kind of thing). As I wrote above, Sure, stock picking doesn’t work. We’ll all return to the mean some day. Statistics prove it! … Hah!

        Square is another company where I understand what they do. They started helping merchants to accept credit cards with their cell phones, and then started adding a lot of other services, like lending money to their customers based on their knowledge of the customer’s business, etc. I started my position a year and a quarter ago in March 2017 at an average price of about $17.50, and the price is now 61.64, up 252% since then. Yes, you read that correctly, up 252%, more than tripling.

        Square is growing revenue like mad. For the last five quarters it grew revenue at 39%, 41%, 45%, 47%, and 51%. Revenue growth has been accelerating! And they guided to 49% for next quarter, which they obviously expect to beat. Subscription and Service revenue, the good stuff, was up 95% for the year, and up 98% last quarter, and up 22% sequentially(!) and obviously becoming a larger part of adjusted revenue. Square also has a lot of recurring revenue. It has been adjusted profitable for the past eight quarters (two years), but not a huge amount. And they raised their GAAP net income guidance for this year up to breakeven at the high end (which I assume they plan to beat). They have an 80% self-onboarding rate. They have a net promoter score of 70! Square is amazing! The only fly in the ointment for me is the CEO’s fascination with bitcoin, which I don’t share, but I guess I can’t have everything.

        Twilio is the dominant force in communications (call centers and customer/company interactions. It closed Friday at $56.02, which is up 118% from my original purchases at $25.70 in January. That’s up 107% from January of this year!!! Remember that when they tell you that intelligent stock picking doesn’t work and that whole books have been written to prove it.

        This position was a new small position I took in early January. It’s grown as my conviction has grown, and as the price has risen. It’s a wonderful example of not price anchoring, as I added to my position with rising prices, instead of looking for sell-offs. For an explanation of why I bought in January, see my April month-end summary.

        Base Revenue was up 46%, and 12% sequentially!
        Base Revenue was up 61% excluding Uber
        Dollar-Based Net Expansion Rate of 132%, and up 145% excluding Uber
        Adj loss from operations of $3.9 million, down from a profit from operations of $0.1 million a year ago.
        54,000 Active Customers, up from 40,700 a year ago.
        Unveiled Twilio Flex, the first cloud contact center application platform that’s programmable at every layer of the stack, giving businesses complete control of their contact center experience. They seemed very excited about Flex which is for big call centers of 1000 or more seats.

        The December quarter was the toughest comparison for Uber results, so this drag should lessen in future quarters.
        My take: They turned the corner on growth, Dollar-based Retention Rate, etc. Raised guidance a lot for the full year. This is a great stock to hold

        Zscaler is last alphabetically and the last position I’ve taken (I took it just Monday of this week at $35.84). It’s also a recent IPO. Zscaler is disrupting a 20 year old paradigm of enterprise security with a new cloud based paradigm.

        “Our results reflect the strength of our security cloud platform and the momentum we’re seeing as our customers embrace and accelerate their cloud transformation… We have the opportunity to dramatically change the legacy security market and to significantly reduce the costs of networking and security infrastructure.”

        It’s quite expensive on a valuation basis as analysts and investors seem to feel the same way about it that I do. Here are some tidbits from their April quarter.

        • Revenue Up 49% to $49 million

        • Calculated billings up 73% to $55 million

        • Deferred revenue up 61% to $125 million

        • Raised $205 million in IPO.
        • Adjusted operating loss was $2.9 million, or 6% of revenue, improved from a loss of $5.0 million or 15% of revenue.

        • Adj net loss was $2.6 million, or 5% of revenue, improved from a loss of $5.0 million or 15% of revenue
        • Adj net loss per share was 2 cents, improved from a loss of 5 cents.

        • Op cash flow was $8.1 million, up from $0.2 million
        • Free cash flow was $3.7 million, or 7% of revenue, compared to negative $1.8 million, or 5% of revenue, a year ago.
        • Cash was $288 million.

        These are a bunch of great companies. But that’s just my opinion, and I can’t say often enough that I’m not a techie and I don’t really understand what most of them actually do at all ! I just know what great results look like. And I listen to smart people about the prospects of these companies.

  27. Well certain types of fame -such as being a famous author who only has name recognition and not physical recognition – that could be cool as it would carry the benefits of fame with out the burdens. But I did vote money yes fame no.

    1. Great point. Famous in name, but not in physical recognition is spot on. Like when you check into a hotel or at the plane terminal or whatever and they see the name they recognize and treat you better as a result. Yes, that would be really nice, and then proceed to walk around hundreds of people with nobody knowing who you are.

  28. Poll would be more useful as a “rank your preference” list.
    For me
    #1 rich and not famous.
    But certainly if fame was the only means to riches I’d chose rich and famous over any other option.
    For most, likely fame is a means to an end and they pay the price with the consequences of fame.
    For a few, fame is the goal. I’ve heard said that a certain billionaire bought a sports team because when he introduced himself as “CEO of X” the majority of people had no idea who he was. When he said “I’m the owner of the _____” he immediately got recognition.
    Different strokes for different folks but based on the content of your blog the poll results were sort of know, it’s a self selecting crowd.
    I’d be interested in seeing a ranking option however, would be difficult to format I suppose.

      1. Really? I just find that hard to believe. I think fame without wealth would be the worst….but the advantages of financial independence aren’t worth the costs of fame?
        The way I look at it I gave up a large chunk of my youth to hard work and long hours for financial independence. Would I give up Anonymity for the same? Yes.
        That’s why a ranking would be helpful!

  29. I appreciated the part about exceeding expectations. At work right now, I have a person complaining to my bosses that the support I am providing to my teams is incorrect because it is based on my research, rather than going to her consultant friends to ask a out out-there risks. My management usually sides with me, but they still are more doubtful than they previously were. I get upset they don’t think more highly of me. But after reading this, I see it as an opportunity to exceed expectations.

    Unrelated point. I appreciate the dscussion I’ve had with you about my old house in FL, and from a few days ago, on ARM on my current house. But how does one build a relationship with you through communion the blog (to your point about people emailing you for advice)?

  30. Martial arts Mama

    I absolutely love this post! After working my butt off through college (yes, from Harvard) and grad school to attain fame and fortune, I have found my greatest happiness being an anonymous stay-at-home mom.
    Although we are not famous, my husband and I have amassed a fairly sizable fortune through aggressive offense (his income) and defense (my investing and aggressive saving). Since we are not flashy, we can quietly enjoy the fruits of our labor. I do sometimes have to endure rude comments from people lamenting that I am wasting my education since I am not on a killer career path anymore, but I just smile knowing that I would not trade my life with anyone. I live in accordance with my values, which means raising my kids, contributing to the community, and pursuing enjoyable activities like my martial arts training!

    1. Hey! Thanks for not being offended by my Harvard alumni example. So what was your secret or defining attribute that got you in? :)

      “I have found my greatest happiness being an anonymous stay-at-home mom.” – This is wonderful. And I have to agree that being a stay at home dad has brought me more joy and wonderment than any time during adulthood.

      1. martial arts mama

        Hi! I believe I got accepted from getting solid grades throughout high school, being a varsity soccer player, and most importantly from getting numerous awards for my work in Latin. It’s funny because everyone discouraged me from studying this ‘dead language’ at my private high school. But I loved it and excelled at it, finishing the entire curriculum and doing an independent study in the classics. I remind myself to let my kids pursue their true interests because you never know where it leads.

        Thanks again for the work on your blog. I really relate to your articles and philosophy!

  31. MrFireby2023

    I completed your poll and not surprising; I answered like the majority…Rich not famous). The only question in my mind and each individual’s mind; the meaning of “rich” (I mean materially and/or monetarily)?
    I have 25x my expenses and I don’t even feel close to “rich.” In fact, I’m still works by full time and will continue to until 2022 (@ the earliest).
    You’ve written on this subject but figures are based on averages. I don’t feel I fall into any average or benchmark.
    How don’t there feel? What amount (not necessarily a dollar figure, more what % of your expenses) makes you feel rich? I guess I’d feel rich at 100x my annual expenses. People need to realize that 20x your expenses is bare minimum to retire. I feel 30x is more realistic and I’ll be there within next 18 months. It might be wishful thinking but I’d like to reach 40x by the time I ready to call it quits in 4 years. Through compounding and in the absence of a recession I could attain this goal and many others here will reach their goals.

    1. The 20x to 40x expenses depends of what your expenses are. If your expenses are high and flexible 20x can be fine. If pressure mounts as asset returns are too low you can skip business class flights to Europe and fly economy with little issue.

      If you live off $30k a year you can’t adjust that down as easy. (Though you could fill in the revenue side pretty easy if you are healthy)

  32. Wealth over fame all the way!

    The point of being rich is that you can afford to do things you like and avoid doing things you dislike.

    But if you have fame, like you’ve mentioned in the post, you’re once again having to do things you dislike (signing autographs, answering questions, and generally being under public scrutiny all the time) with few upsides as far as I can see, so what is the point?

  33. 100% agree with this article. When Dave Ramsey show wanted to send a film crew to my house to be interviewed for his show, I was reluctant for the privacy reasons. I finally agreed as long as they didn’t show or say my last name, which they didn’t. People who already knew me on a real level recognized me but I didn’t get bombarded with strangers asking for money or advice.

    In his prime, Michael Jordan said he couldn’t take his family out to dinner or even go to an amusement part with his kids due to his fame.

    Fame is way overrated. Wealth is not!

    1. Pretty cool about your Dave Ramsey spot. Hours of filming for minutes of airtime. How do you feel now that some time has past after the segment aired?

      Your story is better than most because it talks about a loss and some tips everyday folks can help get ahead versus just bragging about how wealthy you are.

      That said, beware of jealous colleagues, friends, relatives, etc who may now want to undermine you give your public net worth disclosure.

  34. In a way, I feel like the schooling systems and social media are linked. In school you are constantly being “seen”. I remember when I was at that age, I just wanted the next day to already be here so that I could return to school and be with my friends and classmates. One could argue that when we graduate, social media is the tool to continue the feeling that we are being seen.

  35. This sounds very much like the antifragile approach Nassim Taleb preaches. You are convex to all types of stressors.

    I am very much the same in practice – although admittedly it would be interesting to have some optionality to turn the famous dynamics on and off at whim…if such a thing existed.

  36. I think you covered this in an earlier article with a single word (or rather two): Stealth wealth. That’s truly the way to go.

    1. Still remember the article. One of the first I read here and made me stay for more. I chose not rich and not famous either. I have no use for fame. I worked for 10 years as a radio DJ at a local station. Meeting people who listed to my shows was pretty nice when I was 20. Now I’m almost 40, I could care less about recognition.

      I have no use for wealth. Time is the biggest wealth we can possess and I want as much as possible to spend with my family. Every second I get to spend with my daughter is a million bucks for me, she is the love of my life and I cherish every moment we get to spend.

      After 10 years of being a full time freelancer, being able to manage my time has been the best perk. Husband is also self-employed and the hours we can spend doing stuff as a family are worth more than an IPO :D

    2. Stealth Wealth is slightly different. It’s to not let anybody know you are wealthier beyond the average. And yes, for those who regularly proclaim how wealthy they are in public likely also suffer from the same self-esteem issues as those who seek constant attention.

      There are different problems that come about if you are famous versus if you are wealthy.

  37. I never thought of it like that but now I’m a little regretful that I did put a face to the name! The most effective argument is the kids one. Celebrities don’t often have a choice if cameras are everywhere but there’s one beauty blogger who posts her son constantly and joking about plastic surgery on him, naturally there was backlash but I can’t begin to imagine growing up with a mother like that.

    I can’t believe you were called all those “epithets” – absolutely horrible and disgusting.

  38. Simple Money Man

    A lot of the petty behavior generally goes away as we age. We have a family and other things to consider and so we don’t have time for all of that. And then there are people who have always been attention-seekers and they will really not change much when they age anyway. We all probably know 1 or 2 of them. :-)

    It seems like the readership here and in the PF space overall likes to keep pretty low-key which is good.

  39. Paper Tiger

    “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 14:11

    “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2

  40. This is so true. I find it so interesting the people in my circle that jump to every single opportunity to explain the next big project they have or the new luxury car they are looking to buy.
    In reality all you do is sound obnoxious and no one around you actually cares. However, when you can sit back and just listen to all the chatter, it makes life more enjoyable. I find a lot of motivation and peace when I hear all of the people around me brag about their newest investment and explain that they have the world figured out.
    Stealth wealth is the only way to go.
    Not only that, but what is better than running a profitable website in secret while still collecting a healthy salary and benefits from your employer?

    1. It is a great feeling to have a creative release from work that also makes money for sure. You realize wow…. so many folks just ship it in, and we you did too, when there is so much time after and before work to do something cool.

  41. I prefer money than fame too. The benefit of being famous doesn’t sound attractive to me. It’s probably of my personality. I don’t follow trends and fame doesn’t mean anything to me. It’s different for everyone.

  42. GirlOnAMission

    I totally agree. Though my husband and I are by no means rich (or famous), we make choices to hopefully be able to retire early. To our families, since we do not come from wealth, we would be seen as rich. So we keep our finances and successes to ourselves and they do not expect anything from us. We have a close family member who chose to leave their job and travel and now has zero funds and works retail jobs to make ends meet. I know if they saw our bank accounts they would rely on us and though we will always make sure this person is comfortable and safe, we don’t want them to see us for handouts.
    P.S. I think the selfie posting is a mental disorder.

  43. Interested poll results so far. I’m in the Rich not famous category but I’d have expected a higher percentage to want fame. I wonder how the results may have been different if the poll was placed somewhere away from an article on the disadvantages of being famous.

    1. I thought the same thing. I voted for money AND fame, but only if I got to choose the source of fame. No interest in being a Kardashian but would be pretty cool to be known as someone who invented a great product or an author or academic whose work many respected.

  44. Being famous seems like it would have some advantages too. I recently read something about famous people not often having to spend money on things, because they get a lot of freebies. Plus, you can always retreat to your gated home or private island getaway!

  45. Love this post, as it really gets to the core of what I also believe (only much more well-said than I could). This post would pair well with your stealth wealth articles. Thank you, Sam!

  46. Count me in for the money and out for the fame please.

    I’ve always wondered why you never go public Sam – most other established bloggers have their faces plastered everywhere.

    1. I’m slow. The first time I was on Sam’s blog, I had too much naivety… clicking everywhere to find a photo of what he looked like haha.

      Too used to beauty blogs where it’s definitely plastered everywhere.

  47. Sam, one of your GREAT posts. You are fantastic with data-driven pieces but you also excel at writing simple, from the heart narratives that reference NO charts, graphs, metrics or stats.

    As long time reader and admirer of what you have made for yourself and your family, and the impact it has had on a large international community, long live the stealthy Samurai and his work.

  48. No fame here, my job would be negatively impacted by fame. So would my ability to negotiate. In other words fame would limit my ability to become rich in addition to the personal cost.

  49. This sentence alone could change lives “…the attention you seek is really just a band-aid for some deeper problem that needs fixing”
    That was me in high school with athletics, always seeking others praise to feel good or like I was worth something, it changed me at the core of my being when I realized I didn’t need that to have joy and be content in life.

    Thanks for the insights Sam!

    1. Hi John – I think most all of us felt the need to receive praise in high school. But as we get older, we become more secure with who we are. I just hope that more people find that balance sooner, rather than later.

      It is very obvious that an adult who is constantly seeking attention has some serious issues that need dealing with. Sometimes, it’s a cry for help, which we should be aware of.

      1. I actually think few people (even as adults) ever transcend the need for regular affirmation. It’s probably hard-wired into us to some degree. (“If the pack thinks I’m a loser, I’m going to starve,” is the sub-conscious impulse….)

        It’s a matter of degree how much this stuff impacts you, and — of course — being rich brings its own substitute status that compensates for a lot ;). I’d rather have 15K in MSFT (that grows over time) than a super fancy wedding ring. But, hey, that’s just me!

        Bottom line: rather than transcending the need for affirmation, I think we should be strategic about it and manage this impulse.

  50. Chuck Sarahan II

    You are spot on. Exposure makes you a target. Being publically known for money or fame makes you a prime target for a lawsuit.

  51. When I lived in a small village in rural Japan a long time ago, I was famous (!) but not rich. Everyone knew me as the American teacher and I got lots of attention. Kids even peered in my windows at home! I really valued blending in with others after three years of attention.

  52. Hey Sam. This post definitely spoke to the heart.

    Just starting a blog myself I chose to remain anonymous even though I seriously cut my opportunity for a larger captive audience in doing so.

    I wanted to remain anonymous because like in your past I continue to work and did not want it to interfere with relations with my colleagues.

    I did not want to advertise that I am trying for FIRE as a physician while a lot of my colleagues are stuck in the paycheck to paycheck mentality.

    It is hard for sure because a part of me is very proud of what I have accomplished (given I had no clue how to start a blog or design it and it seems to have gained a nice following so early on) but I choose to remain unknown as a nobody as you put it.

    Hopefully my content can attract a larger following as your website has. It is basically writing good content and eventually word will spread.

    Thanks for validating my approach.

    1. This is a great observation you’ve made: “I did not want to advertise that I am trying for FIRE as a physician while a lot of my colleagues are stuck in the paycheck to paycheck mentality.”

      They may grow resentful (of you) and try to sabotage you. I’ve seen this firsthand. Some may say your decision to remain anonymous comes from a place of fear, but it is actually a wise decision you’ve made. Congrats! Going to check out your blog soon.

  53. Accidental FIRE

    I’ll always be a nobody and proud of it. I couldn’t imagine being a celebrity and not being able to go out in public without everyone pointing at you. That’s a prison I wouldn’t wish on anyone

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