For A Better Life, Be The One Percent In Something, ANYTHING

If you want a better life, you should strive to be in the top one percent of something, perhaps anything really. By being in the top one percent of something, it shows that you've achieved mastery. When you achieve mastery, you gain confidence that will help you be successful in many other endeavors.

You know those people who seem to apologize for everything, even just for being? They are this way because they lack self-esteem. For safety, they join a herd. Sadly, they are sometimes cruel to others because they don't love themselves. Be unapologetically fierce about pursuing your dreams!

Find something you enjoy doing and don't give up until you become one of the very best. Spend decades practicing if you have to. Build your X-Factor before you need to. If the direction is correct, sooner or later you will get there.

Top One Percent Money Is Just One Thing

Most of us like money because it's an easy way to keep score. If we make over $500,000 a year and have a net worth of over $12,000,000 by age 60, we're in the top one percent for income and net worth. Hooray!

But money is a pretty meaningless measure after you've got all your needs taken care of. Further, a rich person is no more special than someone who has less.

After a certain point, the more money you have, the more I question your goodness. In San Francisco, there are people worth hundreds of millions and even billions of dollars, yet they continue to hoard more money than they could ever spend in their lifetime while over 100,000 people are homeless.

But this post isn't about how we should tell other people how to spend their money. This post is about trying to be the best in at least one thing to have a better life. The pride you will feel being great at something is priceless.

For A Better Life, Be The One Percent In Something, ANYTHING

Be The One Percent In Something, ANYTHING

In high school, I tried my best to be in the top one percent academically, but failed miserably. I only got a 3.3 / 4.0 GPA freshman year because I goofed off too much.

By the time I got my act together sophomore year, it was too late. I would have had to get a 4.0 GPA for the next three years to average a 3.825 GPA. Instead, I ended up with a ~3.6 GPA, which put me outside of the top 15%, let alone 1%.

It's scary to know your whole life can be determined by how well you do academically as a 14-year-old. That one C grade on your history final exam might be the difference between getting an interview at some prestigious college that may lead to a position at some highly coveted company or being “stuck” cleaning toilets for $250,000+ a year.

Thank goodness our lives aren't always dictated by freshman year! What I realize more now that I'm older is there are many things we can do beyond academics to give ourselves the best chance at living the greatest life possible.

We know that if you are in the top one percent of something, people will naturally gravitate towards you. With a lot more opportunities, you'll have a higher chance of achieving your dreams. Not everybody can be an academic genius, but everybody can be an expert in SOMETHING.

Examples Of Where To Be In The Top One Percent

Here are some examples beyond academics where you could possibly be in the top one percent. Remember, it can take 10 years to master anything, so please be patient.

1) Fitness.

The great thing about fitness is that way more people can become top one percent fit versus becoming top one percent good looking. You know that if you only drink water, eat celery for breakfast, a chicken breast for lunch, carrots for dinner, lift weights two hours a day, and run one hour a day you are going to be ripped!

As a fitness one percenter, you can parlay your physique into a business. You'll likely always be courted and have more opportunities than you deserve.

People will more likely believe anything you say in regards to exercise and health even though you might be hurting inside. Maintain an ideal body weight, especially during a pandemic. All the studies have shown that people who are overweight or obese have a more difficult time combatting the coronavirus.

2) Music, Art, And Writing

Who doesn't love listening to a beautiful voice or listening to a maestro pluck his guitar? Music is what has brought people together since the beginning of time. One reader, Charlie is a concert pianist and was able to create a new version of my lullaby, Cutie Baby overnight! And great art has brought our walls and galleries to life for centuries.

With enough hours of daily practice polishing your skills, you can turn a musical or artistic passion into a rewarding career that delights and impresses audiences of all sizes.

When I started my book-writing journey in early 2020 with Portfolio Penguin, I was just pleased to have gotten a book deal. However, the more time I spent writing Buy This, Not That, the more I decided to make it the best personal finance book ever published.

In the end, Buy This, Not That became a Wall Street Journal Bestseller in 2022 because I worked my ass off writing, editing, and marketing the book. I figured, if I'm going to go through all this trouble to write a book, I might as well get it to the top one percent of nonfiction business books!

In a sea of incumbent authors, I was the only new author to break the list. Further, I'm the only author with black hair. Pretty neat! Only about 0.1% of traditionally publishes books make it on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list or other national bestseller lists.

Buy This Not That Wall Street Journal Bestseller
WSJ Bestseller List

3) Sports

We worship top athletes because they amaze us and give us something to cheer for. There's no more patriotic a feeling than seeing your country compete and win during the Olympic Games.

Who doesn't admire the captain of the football team or want to get to know the star soccer player? Who doesn't want to date the captain of the tennis team? Sports is a part of Americana.

To win, you might strategically want to downplay your skills. If you can convince someone you're not very good, you might get your opponent to let their guard down. This is where you can pounce!

At the same time, don’t feel like you have to pressure your kids into sports at a young age. There is a disconnect as I have met many parents who are not athletes, yet they still do very well in her career.

4) Communication

There are certain people who make you drop everything to listen to what they have to say. They know how to intermingle humor, story telling, quick wit, and charisma to make you feel more strongly than you did before the speaking began.

You can develop your personality by improving your communication skills. Join a Toastmasters group to practice speaking. Spend years writing in a journal to master email communication. The great communicator will go farther than the smartest mind any day.

Great orators who also know how to write catchy emails and listens with empathy go far in life.

5) Kindness And Empathy

Kindness is underrated. To be kind, all you have to do is always put someone else before yourself. Yet, so many of us don't have the patience to give a rat's ass about anybody else but ourselves.

OK, being a one percenter in kindness is hard to measure, but everybody knows someone who they will immediately think of as the kindest person they know. For me, that person is my wife.

See: To Become Naturally Nicer, Get Richer

6) Side-hustling

I've come across so many people who are excellent at what they do beyond their day jobs. For example, a friend of mine sings in a popular SF rock band a couple times a month, another is a top seller on e-bay, several more are top niche bloggers, and another is a well rated music teacher.

Don't let your day job define you, especially if you don't love it. Work on something outside of work that you are truly passionate about. Here are 20 side hustles you can do right now.

7) Perseverance

If you never quit, how can you lose? Perseverance, or grit, as some people call it, is an admirable trait because you see people who are less talented succeed over those who are more talented. Starting anything is easy. Sticking with something for the long haul through all the bumps in the road takes perseverance.

The guy who grinds away from 10pm – 1am and then wakes up by 6am to grind some more before going to work is going to make something happen. The secret to your success is 10-years of unwavering commitment to your craft.

8) Investing

The great thing about investing is that you don't need a degree in investing to become a great investor. You also don't need to be a certain type of person. All that matters is beating your benchmark and your peers.

If you are a top one percent investor, you will not only accumulate wealth faster, you could parlay your acumen into running a massive fund to earn even more money. You'll also never need to work for anybody again.

9) Cooking

We've all got to eat at least one time a day. If you can make amazing food, you will attract anybody and everybody to your home every single time. If you can attract people with your food, you can build amazing relationships. Cultures are built around the joy of food and company.

10) Parenting

There's no more important a job than being a good parent once you have a child. But being a good parent takes a crazy amount of patience, kindness, sacrifice, and encouragement. If your'e not careful, you'll miss your chance at instilling in your son or daughter those things you wish your parents had instilled in you.

Since anybody who is a parent will love their child more than anything else in the world, if you're deemed a great parent, you'll gain much respect from others who are trying to do the same.

There are companies who have a bias for hiring and promoting “family oriented employees” because they are seen as more stable. There are academic institutions who may look more favorably upon parents who both show up for orientation instead of just one.

Although parenting is subjective, one thing that is not subjective is the amount of time you spend with your child with each day. The average amount of time parents spending with their children is low. So, at least, try to beat the average.

I've come up with 10 things that are worthy of being the best at. What are some other things you can think of?

The 1% Category That's Most Helpful

Financial Samurai USTA 5.0 Ranking

With little talent elsewhere, I decided to focus on tennis. Tennis helped me make some friends and get into college as a teenager. After getting bumped up to 5.0 in 2015 and winning my club's tournament in 2016, I've noticed a little bit more love and recognition.

The wonderful thing about sports is that the outcome on the playing field can't be influenced by race, religion, income or politics. When you are on the tennis court, all that matters is keeping a fuzzy yellow ball in play. If I didn't play tennis, I'd focus on another sport.

Thankfully, in 2022, I finally was able to self-rate down to a 4.5. My club's 4.5 team ended up winning the 2022 San Francisco league championship as a result. We were homegrown members. Go underdogs! Meanwhile, the 5.0 team, full of ringer recruits, lost in the finals.

Just the other day, a highly connected VC e-mailed me to hit. Maybe he'll open up his next blockbuster fund with what little I have? Or maybe he'll introduce me to a larger firm in the online media world that might establish a business partnership with Financial Samurai one day. Who knows.

Respect From Other Parents

Whenever I run into a parent of a middle schooler nowadays, they seem a little bit nicer because I'm a tennis coach at a high school they'd like their children to attend.

When you've got to compete beyond money to improve your child's chances of entry (since so many folks have money in SF), it's important to build relationships with people who can vouch for you. There's a real thing called “getting blackballed” where just one thumbs down from anyone ruins your chances or your child's chances of gaining admission.

Everything I do now is geared towards helping my children find opportunity and happiness. My thought process before doing anything was: will this lead to more freedom, wealth, or happiness? Now my thought process before doing anything is: will this have some positive impact on my son's future?

By helping others and being involved in the community thanks to tennis, perhaps others will be more willing to help my little one when the time comes. Having a minimum level of status matters for not getting excluded by society.

Be A One Percenter In Anything

I urge all of you to find something where you can be a one percenter. Go ahead and have absurd dreams!

And if you are a one percenter, don't be greedy with your talents! There are top 0.1 percenters at my club who only hit with each other because they're not interested in hitting with anybody of lesser ability. As a result, they don't maximize their potential.

Be proud of your talent. Don't let the world's most bitter people keep you from leveraging what you have. It doesn't matter what you choose to be good at because the world is big enough and connected enough.

If you get to the top of anything, others will want to help you out if you just give them some of your time. If you work hard at being the top one percent in multiple things, dare I say the world is your dragon roll.

Related posts on the top one percent:

Who Are The Top One Percent Income Earners

Emotional Intelligence: The Key To An Easier Life

The Rise Of Stealth Wealth

Overcoming The Trough Of Sorrow: Defeating That Emptiness Inside

Readers, what is something where you are a one percenter? What is one or two things you're working on to become a one percenter? How has been great at something helped make your life better?

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!

For more nuanced personal finance content, join 70,000+ others and sign up for the free Financial Samurai newsletter. Financial Samurai is one of the largest independently-owned personal finance sites that started in 2009. Everything is written based off firsthand experience. In fact, this site is a top one percent personal finance site. Whoo hoo!

70 thoughts on “For A Better Life, Be The One Percent In Something, ANYTHING”

  1. I’m in the top 1% in fitness. I’m 6-3 at 225 and 12% body fat. Please reconsider your fitness advice for being “ripped”. Eating such a small amount of food as you suggest will actually put the body into starvation mode and cause you to lose muscle. Most people who want to be ripped are actually eating 2500-3200 calories per day and need at least 1g protein per lb body weight.

    The best thing about this being top 1% in fitness also makes you the top 1% best looking, which means you get loads of girls and actually succeed more in your career and get treated better by everyone.

  2. I read your post on one-per-centers with great interest. I have a question related to your table of constant income with various rates of withdrawal over time.

    In most retirement recommendations withdrawals are similar percentages, like 4%-6% at ages 60 to 80, but they are interpreted as portions of the liquid investments, not of the net worth like in your case. I have 40% of my net worth in the two items of real estate and 60% liquid. Your recommendation to count out of total net worth, seems attractive, but a bit more optimistic than the typical one. Would you please comment?

    Thank you.

  3. Joey Graziano

    Thanks for the post! This advice is astute! College or even high school diplomas weren’t common in the part of the country where I grew up. At 12 years old, I learned the value of being the 1% when the desire to buy a Sony PlayStation pushed me to start mowing yards for my local neighbors. After I purchased my electronic toy, I quickly learned how this country rewards someone who works their butt off and owes up to their word ie good customer service.

    I quickly learned that if I embrace and am competent at the tough jobs, I will prosper. To this day as an IT professional, I have thrived taking on the tough jobs with a good attitude and excellent customer service. I do my best to exceed expectations through manners and going above and beyond to serve. So far so good.

    From the book Coolidge, by Amity Shlaes;
    “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination are omnipotent.”

  4. PrairieFIRE

    Interesting post, and I’ve been contemplating my own special skills. I am more of a generalist, but I seem to have two hidden intangible talents that most people cannot really notice until they watch me work my magic:
    1. Connecting People with the Right People: I am well networked in my field, my city and my profession. I love helping others and I have connected many people who would otherwise not meet to create great business partnerships, friendships and organizations.
    2. Peacekeeper: I am also well known as the peace keeper of my friend groups and workmates. Everyone comes to me for advice and a calm place to find refuge from the craziness around them.

    Not sure that I am the 1% in the world in this are, but even so, I do not exactly fit with the above categories you provided. Personally I love this part of who I am, but financially, not sure how I can leverage this to create my own side hustle or increase my net worth. I am always open to suggestions.


  5. Congratulations on your tennis rating and becoming a tennis coach. I still enjoy playing at 58. I’m old school and still use the one-handed backhand. In my opinion the one-handed backhand is the most beautiful shot when done properly. So I know it is not taught anymore at the junior level. However, it gives me great pleasure to see Federer, Wawrinka, Thiem, as well as some younger players incorporating the shot into their game. I hate to see it die. What is your take?

    1. I love the one hander. Way more versatile given you can slice and drop shop much more easily. It’s not going to die. You’ve got Sharapolov, Dimitrov, and a bunch of other folks using a one-hander.

  6. Definitely agree with parenting!! Since my 18 month old was born, all I think about is how much I want to guide him through all the hurdles he’s going to face. Avoid the mistakes I made, try to be the best he can be at whatever hobby, career, or interest he’s into, and enjoy life.
    Me and my wife just started in parenting journey and want to achieve be a one percent parent.

  7. Phil @ PhilanthroCapitalist

    “You’ll likely always be courted and have more opportunities than you deserve. People will more likely believe anything you say in regards to exercise and health even though you might be hurting inside.”

    So true. I’ve been bodybuilding for eight years now and I can say that people will only listen to your advice if you look like you lift. If you’re wearing a sweater and they can’t see the veins in your arms or your traps sticking out, they don’t care. The same thing’s true with personal finance.

    If you want to write nowadays, you have to BE SOMEBODY first.


    1. Hi Phil – I was literally about to copy the same portion of text on the fitness paragraph, but I saw your comment when scrolling down to add my own.

      Hi Sam –

      Perhaps a bit of humor and truth in the statement (really more of the latter). Reviewing the other initial 9 examples, the fitness example seemed to carry more weight (no pun intended).

      I find it also difficult to hit the top 1% – even 15% – of a lot of areas. And that’s alright. Consistency is where it counts, as this will eventually lead to behavior change (vs. just knowledge).

      In the fitness area, I found a bit of both knowledge and motivation at Orange Theory Fitness (OTF), which led to more consistent returns:

      It won’t make me in the top 1% but perhaps closer to the top 15%. More importantly, it makes me feel better which positively impacts other areas of life (personal, investing, work, etc.).

      Thanks for the post.

  8. I am glad you made a point to emphasize parenting. I really don’t believe there is anything more important than that. Sometimes life tries to steer us away from what is truly important. Other times it is our own faults by chasing superficial goals. I am finding myself transitioning towards living for my son and not myself, or at least as much as I used to. We owe them that much.

  9. I really admire anyone who’s top 1% in anything. That takes a lot of work and talent. Unfortunately, I’m a bit lazy and I would be happy to be in the top 10% of anything. I guess I’m not very ambitious.

    1. If you tie a really admirable purpose to the 1% goal, it will help. For example, you’ve been focusing on making more money with your blog this year. If you tie the purpose to making more money to allow your wife to retire by Jan 1, 2018, I think you will ZOOM TO THE TOP!

      For tennis, I can tie the purpose of networking to build a greater audience to help others get out of poor financial situations. It’s very motivating. Or, I can say I want to keep up tennis so I can stay in shape to live longer in order to see my son get married one day. Motivating!

  10. Great post. How about a follow-up on the work needed to get to the top 1%? Deliberate practice, building grit, etc. I think part of the issue with some of these is the inability to measure and rank. How do you know who’s a top 1% parent, or who has a top 1% perseverance? Tough to know, and tough to stand out, sometimes.

    1. Ah, but a top 1%er would write the follow-up work his/herself instead of ask someone else to do it for them.

      For tennis, less than 1% of tennis players who are part of the USTA are ranked 5.0, so that’s easy to measure. For a top 1% parent, that’s subjective. You’ll have to see how your child comes out!

  11. Love the part about not being greedy with talents. It’s similar to the beginning about ultra-rich hoarding. At the end of the day, how is being 1% of anything really going to make you happy when you don’t use those talents to help others as well. Thought provoking post though, thanks! :-)

  12. One of my younger brother’s speaks more than 5 languages fluently (fluent enough to fool someone from that respective country), which apparently less than 1% of the world’s population can do.

    I’m bilingual (along with 43% of the world’s population), but working on getting fluent in a third (which only 13% can do). It could take decades before I get to his level!

    1. Great goal! Didn’t know 43% of the world’s population was bilingual. I’m at two, and was at 3 in college but my Spanish has faded badly.

      10 years to become fluent is a no brainer!

  13. Sam, I love your point about not being greedy with your talents (like the 0.1%’ers at your tennis club who won’t play with anyone “below” them). One of the things I love about the blogging community is how most of us help those “below”. If you’re small, you help the smallest. If you’re mid, you help the small. If your big, you help the mid. If you’re HUGE (1%!), you help the big. It works, and it’s unique. Thanks for being a 1% in our community!

    1. Everything is relative right? It amazes me that they just stick to their small clique. If you’re not a professional tennis player, then you’re no different from the rest of us who make money by not playing tennis. But with top 0.1% skill… wow, you could get to know ANYBODY who plays tennis and build a terrific network.

      A lot of the folks at my club in the top 0.1% of ability are younger or not as established in their careers as others. They could do wonders for their life if they just gave more of their time.

  14. “Don’t let the world’s most bitter people keep you from leveraging what you have”.

    Great line Sam. Haters are gonna hate and it never ceases to amaze me how people try to bring others down. I agree that as a parent everything changes.

    I often ask myself what can I do to make sure life is better for him? Surprisingly money is often the last bit of the answer. This may be because I am fortunate enough to have a 1% salary (but not net worth yet), so I don’t really stress about money. However, in my internal discussions I often see the benefit of earning less to be with him more. It is a no brainer. Funny how priorities change as these kids come into the world.

    Keep hitting those balls!

  15. I think I’m within the top 1 percent of networth within the black community. Also 1 percent of employees in my field are black. For me now it’s about going beyond that.

  16. Andrew @ Cubicle Life Crisis

    Love the bit about perseverance. That’s the most important thing you listed, in my opinion. To accomplish anything significant, and to be the top 1% in anything, will invariably require significant perseverance.

    I am a “refuse-to-quit” kind of individual. When I set my mind on something, I will succeed no matter what (although it might not always be pretty :)). Sometimes this requires pushing yourself mentally or physically harder than you imagined. That’s what really builds your character and makes you tough though.

    Once you master the ability to persevere, it makes succeeding at things easier and easier as time goes on.

  17. I love this framework! I am working on becoming the 1% in something. After discussing my skill-building with my supremely intelligent girlfriend, I let her know exactly where I’d like it to take me. She thinks I need 30 years to do it. I think she’s right. It’ll take becoming the 1% in the skill and really becoming incredibly likable in the business and political world. Thankfully, if I don’t quite make it where I’d like it to head, I will still have done some really interesting things that help folks.

  18. The bigger question is in what group. I’ve found I tend to perform on the top end of the group I’m in, but that point is significantly different based on the grouping. One of the benefits of hanging with the FI bloggers is the hope that I’ll raise my game based on the same principle.

  19. I am probably in the top 1% of knowing random, useless information, but not the type that can win anything on Jeopardy! Sometimes those random facts come in handy so I thank my OCD/ADD brain at those rare moments.

    Great post. Nothing against getting rich, but be sure you have a plan once you make it there. If being wealthy enough to retire early AND have a super cushioned nest egg is your goal, be sure having some spare time for volunteering (after taking care of your family, of course) should be part of the equation.

      1. TheDoctor_is_IN

        She should definitely go on one of those quiz Shows. A number of years ago I auditioned for, and subsequently was selected to appear on a couple of them. It was the easiest money I ever made and a heck of a lot of fun.

  20. Grant @ LifePrepCouple

    When you say 1% do you mean top 1% of the entire population or just people that are part of that group? For instance, I would say I’m top 1% at wakeboarding, snowboarding, skateboarding, and weightlifting. The main reason is >99% of people don’t do any of those activities. If you say of people who actually snowboard I would be about middle of the pack.

    Even on income. I think if you look at it globally you are top 1% if you earn over $34K per year.

    Eiter way I would love to be a top .01% dad. Not sure how to measure it but I’m certainly always looking to improve.

    1. Just the people that make the effort. Because being born in North America takes no effort, just luck.

      Gotta love wake-boarding! I used to go to love going to an amusement park and getting on the wakeboard that takes you around in circles. Just snowboard now.

  21. Brad -

    I love this!

    Whatever it is you plan to do, plan to be the best at it!

    Far too many people settle for mediocre and limit themselves on future potential. It’s a shame.

  22. Albert @ Mr. Smart Money

    Do you think it’s better to be in the top 1% of just one thing, or top 10% of many things?

    I feel like I have a bad tendency of being a “jack of all trades” and a master of none. I feel like after reading this post, as well as ‘the one thing’ by Gary Keller, I might need to try and hone down the things I do and laser focus on just one or two things…

    Thanks for the thought provoking read. :)

    1. I think it is more beneficial to be in the top 1% of at least one thing. Because there are many more people in the top 10% of many things or anything, it’s much harder to differentiate yourself and garner all the spoils.

      I’d say, work on being in the top 10% of many things that interest you, and then identify one thing to really get great at.

      Hopefully more people can realize they don’t have to be in the top 1% of popular things such as money or sports to have an easier life.

  23. I preach to my students and athletes all the time that you need to be great at one thing in life to be successful. I was 1% in basketball and I still get to coach kids everyday and spread my knowledge with them. I’m still working on my teaching history, but with time I’ll be 1% there too. Great post!

  24. I never quite found my calling. I have for the most part just been getting by on “survival economics”. I have a small business where I actually scrub toilets for a living but I DON’T make (not even close to) $250k plus a year. I really enoyed your post and I see so much truth in it. Thanks.

  25. Thanks for this post! It’s true that there are so many things we can specialize and be the 1% in, including many that don’t cost a thing like kindness. Encouraging out of the box thinking and striving to improve who we are in ways other than wealth makes us better people. :) and can actually lead to more wealth in the process

  26. I like this topic and it’s similar to your question recently if people are willing to contribute to charities when billionaires suggest it even if they don’t contribute themselves. We shouldn’t tell people how to spend their money, but at some point it just becomes hoarding that isn’t helpful to society. I also liked the line, “Who doesn’t want to date the captain of the tennis team?” Pretty funny stuff!

  27. Great advice Sam. There are some valuable insights in here – particularly like your personal tennis examples. Thanks for sharing.

  28. “…being a one percenter in kindness is hard to measure, but everybody knows someone who they will immediately think of as the kindest person they know. For me, that person is my wife.”

    FS, you are very wealthy, indeed!

    1. Blessed, indeed. I have a reminder that goes off at 7am each day to tell my wife “thank you,” because sometimes I forget to appreciate her kindness. The reminder helps curb the day to day frustrations I have in life and not take things out on her.

  29. Working Optional

    As usual, the post was engaging and I want to read on for longer. Interesting how becoming 1% at something makes one more popular with the crowd that wants something from you. Such is life…

    I think I may be in the 1% of:
    – Indians who decided to give up a cushy job and be self-employed. Now one can add PF blogging to the mix
    – Introverts who has an awesome wife. She makes friends very easily, causing our family to have more friends too :)

    I’d like to be in the 1% of being a good dad. This is a tough one with work/life balance. Also trying to figure out how to push the kids enough so they take pick the careers that pay enough (pref a little more), while not trying to be the one that pushes them towards becoming an engineer/doctor etc. Passion is good, but all types don’t pay bills.

  30. This is a really thought provoking post, Sam. Thanks for encouraging not just financial over-achievement, but physical well being and doing good for others. I can tell you’re putting lots of thought into raising your son the right way, but the best part about a post like this is that we can all benefit from it. I need to focus on the physical fitness and kindness aspects the most. During law school, I would say I was in the top 1% in terms of physical fitness, but I’ve let that slide now that I have so many obligations. I also think most people would say I was a kind person, but the grind of daily work and stress of constantly fighting with people in litigation has taken a definite toll. Time to re-focus and kick some bad attitudes!

    1. Thanks. I hear you on physical fitness! Nothing like a helpless dependent to motivate you to get back in shape to increase your chance of living longer.

      It’s been a lifelong struggle to stay on the “ideal weight chart.” I’m supposed to be about 155lbs at 5’10”. Haven’t been there since freshman year in college 22 years ago! lol.

      1. Yeah, I’m a little over on that chart as well :). Although not by a whole lot if I use the large frame column at 6’4″. I mainly miss the energy of being in better shape, as well as the confidence it gave me day-to-day. When you’re in good physical shape, you just feel like you can accomplish anything–any business, personal, or financial goal just seems easier to reach. Well, no time like the present to get there!

  31. “After a certain point, the more money you have, the more I question your goodness.” That’s an odd comment. Wealthy individuals like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, etc., have done FAR more good for FAR more people on planet earth than 99% of the world population. Their inventions and innovations alone have bettered billions of lives. Even if they hoarded all of their cash in a giant gold vault, and didn’t give one cent to charity afterwards…the “goodness” they’ve contributed to society is already set in stone.

    1. That’s a good point about the value they have already provided to society. But there are plenty more who inherited their wealth or buillt something that was totally useless. Or what about the hedge fund managers who made money trading? I think the very wealthy could do more instead of hoarding so much wealth.

      How about you regarding the topic of this post?

      1. Who is John Galt?

        Talk about missing the point of your piece. Those men he listed are all 1% in giving and production, a great thing, but it also makes me think of Andrew Carnegie.

        Carnegie was one of the most wealthy men to ever live but who also gave away every penny he had during his life with only a (relatively) small amount left to give away when he died. Thousands of libraries and schools around the country got their start because of him. What if all the very wealthy followed his path? The things they could do!

        1. It is at the wealthy people’s discretion what they want to do with their own money — whether they earned it themselves or inherited, as long as it is through legal means. It is in nobody’s business to suggest what/how other people should spend their money or live their life. While having more charitable wealthy people is very nice for a society, the society should NEVER expects or even anticipates that. That’s just plain greed and welfare mentality in disguise.

  32. This is such an original post! I also tried to be among the top academically but also failed miserably. I once got a D in a Geology exam. The funny thing is I took that course thinking I’d get an easy A. I think I ended up with a B- or C. I can’t remember exactly, but it made me question my life purpose, my IQ, and everything in between.

    Now I am not actively trying to be among the top because I know there are always people out there who are smarter, richer, and better-looking than me. In a nutshell, there are always people who are better than me in everything. What I focus now is my goals and my family. I just know that I have to try my best.

    In the future, I will tell my son the same thing. He doesn’t need to be the best. He just needs to know what his goals are and try his best to achieve them. Otherwise, he’d feel like a failure like I did comparing myself to others.

    1. Likewise. I’d love to be 1% in something interesting, but I lack the focus to be truly obsessed about just one thing to achieve 1% status. 10% sure. 5% maybe.

      But 1%? Unlikely.

      I’m happy doing my best in what I enjoy, and doing the best I can for my boys. Despite my family, I’m still in the “will this improve my wealth, freedom, or happiness” mode because I know that in the long run that will best benefit my boys.

    2. I’ve taken those classes too. I took Greek mythology and I bombed it so badly…(like a C+). I did better in Anatomy which I considered as a rougher course.

      That’s a wonderful mentality Ms. FAF and an excellent value to add to being a parent. (I notice I’m getting better parenting tips in passing from personal finance people than anyone else haha!).

    3. Good thoughts. How about the other examples on the list? Surely one of them is worthy of pursuing?

      Sometimes, feeling like a failure is a great thing. Because it becomes a great motivator and it allows you to appreciate more of your treatments once they are made.

      1. Thanks, Sam! I’d love to pursue all of the 10 goals below. But side-hustling speaks to me the most. I just started my blog 5 months ago and would LOVE to grow it into a top niche personal finance blog.

        I actually don’t think about that goal too much since I don’t want to stress myself out. I still have a day job and a family to take care of. I’ve been so focused on blogging these past few months it seems to take up a lot of the time I otherwise would spend with my family. After 30 years of living in this world, I’m starting to learn to adjust my expectations, especially those of myself, to live a better, happier, and healthier life.

        Fear is definitely one of my strongest motivator (probably the strongest). It’s both led me to extreme distress and prompted me to accomplish some of my biggest goals in life. I’m still trying to manage it to the extent that it’s not detrimental to my well-being.

  33. I wish that list went a bit longer! I’m not the 1% in anything yet. Maybe net worth for our age group but the road is long and I doubt we’ll keep that rank for long…then what :O

    I can be the 1% of Chinese Americans that can cook the best Ethiopian food as… Chinese American can ever cook as authentically! I’m seriously wondering if that counts…does it have to be profitable/productive or just bring joy?

    1. Yes, it does! Now I can’t wait to try your Ethiopian food. ^.^

      I can be the 1% of Vietnamese people in America who have a personal finance blog. I haven’t come across any other fellow Vietnamese PF bloggers. That makes me feel so unique lol haha :p j/k

    2. Ten Bucks a Week

      You are a 1% Airbnber, you go businesswoman! Also I think any of us bloggers got further than the 99% who quit.

    3. Mr. Freaky Frugal

      I’m pretty certain I’m in the top 1% of PF blogs for old FIREd guys that live in my zip code. Does that count? :)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *