Do Rich People Try Harder? It Seems That Way

I originally wrote this post on July 12, 2009, during the worst of the Global Financial Crisis. I had just started this site in my living room because I was worried I was going to lose all my money and get let go. So I started pontificating, “Do rich people try harder?” “Why do some people succeed and some people fail?” I needed motivation to keep on going.

After 10 years working in the hyper competitive world of finance, I realized one constant. Type A personalities dominate. Type Z personalities fade. The one constant observation is that the most successful people all work harder than the rest.

Do Rich People Try Harder?

Take Bob for example. He's probably worth at least $10 million bucks at age 50, but he still gets into work at 7am (vs. the norm of 8am) and is the last to leave at 8:30pm! Nancy, is the mother of two kids and she comes in at 7am everyday as well and almost always stays till 6:30pm. Is it a coincidence that both are the two most senior and successful people in the office? I say no.

Contrast Bob and Nancy with Tim. Tim was a 24 year old who could never come in on time (8:15am), and would always try and leave by 5pm on the dot. He had no heart, and he felt entitled to reap the rewards without putting in the hard work.

Does each generation always feel that the next generation is somewhat lazy? It seems that way. I think it's because the older generation feels that if the younger generation does not treat them like them like the older generation treated their seniors, then it's a slap in their faces.

Tim wasn't satisfied making six figures the first year and a half out of school, and was let go.

Lucky Is A Big Variable Too

When asking do rich people try harder, we must also recognize other variables. Sure, some people are more efficient, lucky, and are naturally gifted at their jobs. However, in the long run, there's one variable you can control in your career, and that's how hard you work.

Remember that nerd in High School who just studied every night and got straight A's? Well, it's not a coincidence that he went to some top school afterwards and is a doctor at age 30 ready to make multiple six figures a year until forever.

Give me a hard worker and a team player over a lazy star any day! Readers, would you agree?

Best And Easiest Advice For Career Advancement

1) Get in first, and leave last for at least the first year of employment.

There is NOTHING a manager hates more than a staff which comes in after him/her. Seriously, the manager will start thinking rightly or wrongly how lazy you are, and how so many other candidates would die to have your job.

He'll reminisce about when s/he was younger and would always come in first and leave last, a tremendous amount of bitterness will build up before s/he blows you up in your review and ultimately puts you on the Reduction in Force (RIF) list.

If you are going to come in after your manager, you better also leave after your manager. Needless to say, don't come in last and leave first! Don't be lazy!

2) Identify who are the rising stars at your firm and latch on.

The rising stars are apparent. The star is the one who gets a long with everybody senior or junior. The superstar could be the youngest VP promotion in the office. The star is going places, and you want that star to pull you along. Just look within the senior management of your organization.

You will notice that many of them started in the same departments together and have known each other for years. They take care of each other b/c they have trust in one another. They promote each other all along the way. You need to get into that circle.

3) Don't ever whine and don't be a prick.

The second most annoying thing a manager or co-worker hates is a whiner. When all one does is complain, it just starts to sound like “blah blah blah blah blah blah, i am the greatest and deserve more.” And after a while, your manager will just think to herself, “if you don't like it here, then cya later!”

Whining is for losers. Just suck it up, accept your perceived misgivings, and find solutions to move forward. Good managers are actually more aware than you think. They know when there is injustice at times and they hope their employees won't complain. When that employee doesn't complain and sucks it up, the manager is going to make it up to you one way or another.

4) Manage up!

Managing up is complicated. The Harvard Business Review has a great case study on this. Managing up is an art, that must be carefully painted. The goal is to simply gain your managers trust, provide your manager with information on productive work you are doing, and mostly to make your manager look good!

If you can make your manager look good to his or her bosses, then you will look good. Treat your manager as your client, and always look to him/her for guidance. If you confide in your manager, you will gain his/her trust. NEVER go around your manager to his boss. That is another sure way to get put on the RIF list.

5) Create your support web.

Finally, sometimes being tight with your manager is not enough. Many organizations are consensus driven when it comes to promotions and pay raises.

Do Rich People Try Harder? It Seems That Way

I do strongly believe that 50% of your effort should be to sell yourself internally, and 50% is to sell yourself well to your clients. You can be the star sales person, but if you have no backing internally cya later! Conversely, you can be loved by everyone, but eventually when the downturn hits, you will be at risk if you suck at your job.

Getting put on the RIF List is as simple as one senior manager asking his junior manager “Hey Junior Manager, who do you think should be on the list?” “Well Bigger Boss, Trina has been a pain in my ass for the past 6 months.” “Ok, Junior Manager, put her on the list”.

In downturns, like in 2008-2009 and 2020+, those who have the smallest support network get fired first, even if they are solid performers. It's human nature to keep your friends. And when things get really bad, the bottom tier with great support will then follow due to the inevitable need to drive profits.

Don't Leave Wealth Up To Chance

At the end of the day, if you can do nothing else, just buy a money alarm clock and execute option #1 flawlessly! The best quote of all is simply “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”

11 years later, on July 12, 2020, I realize that it takes A LOT of effort to be successful. Luck is definitely involved. However, there is no denying that consistency, grit, and effort are huge parts of the equation.

The world is uncertain now. I've got two young children to raise. Neither my wife or I have day jobs. Mentally, I feel we are starting over, despite a larger safety net.

Once again, I must try harder in order to get ahead. I need to do so for my kids. I don't want to look back with regret having not tried my best.

What Rich People Do To Get Richer

1) They track their finances.

Rich people track their finances like a hawk. One way is to sign up for Personal Capital, the web’s #1 free wealth management tool to get a better handle on your finances.

In addition to better money oversight, run your investments through their award-winning Investment Checkup tool. I will show you exactly how much you are paying in fees. I was paying $1,700 a year in fees I had no idea I was paying.

After you link all your accounts, use their Retirement Planning calculator. It pulls your real data to give you as pure an estimation of your financial future as possible using Monte Carlo simulation algorithms. Definitely run your numbers to see how you’re doing. 

2) They invest strategically.

Rich people also invest their savings strategically. There is a huge multi-generational demographic trend towards lower cost areas of the country due to the pandemic and the rise of working form home. Invest in that trend.

Check out Fundrise and their eREITs. eREITs give investors a way to diversify their real estate exposure with lower volatility compared to stocks. Income is completely passive and there is much less concentration risk.

Check out CrowdStreet, a platform that focuses on individual commercial real estate opportunities in 18-hour cities.

Both platforms are free to sign up and explore.  

What do you think? Do rich people try harder than average people?

Related Post: 

Are There Really People Who Work Less Than 40 Hours A Week And Complain?

How To Retire Early And Never Have To Work Again

Free Wealth Management Tool


Financial Samurai – “Slicing Through Money's Mysteries”

16 thoughts on “Do Rich People Try Harder? It Seems That Way”

  1. But in the short run, it pays to kiss butt. Younger folks do not get that respect is different across authority levels than between equals. It is formal, and it is mostly one-way.

  2. This post reminded me why I need to be financially free. My last consulting work was at a Wall Street firm and they were all about “face time” – people staying late for show or getting in early for appearances only.

    What a waste of time & effort.

    Performance counts in the long run.

  3. Successful people do work harder, whether they come into the office before their boss or not. And more importantly, their attitude is geared toward being active problem solvers, rather than being dependent on others or feeling victimized by circumstances.
    Successful people act as if they have the ability to make positive changes, and get better results than folks who complain about how lousy things are or expect others to appreciate them for nothing in particular.

    I think that by and large, you’ll make more money by starting your own business, provided you’ve designed your business so that you have low costs, high margins, and can create systems to scale your business. That way, with your systems in place, you can pursue other profitable opportunities.

    It’s definitely hard work, but it will pay off.

    I know, since I’ve done it. I created my consulting business over 4 years ago, and through hard work, have grown it so that it’s been the sole income for my family of 4 for nearly 3 years. I blog about how to start and run a successful consulting business (, along with tools, tips, tricks, and techniques for automating your business and keeping costs to a minimum.

  4. Great article! Nothing worse than lazy colleagues. Particularly when you have to keep asking and reminding them to finish up their work so that you can get started on yours. Or the ones that work very productively when someone (managers/bosses etc) is watching but then reverts back to doing nothing when they’re not being watched. Not sure that I agree with point#1, if you can work hard and smart + productively, there shouldn’t be any reason why you need to stretch your hours like that.

  5. There is a huge difference between coming in on time and coming in before your boss. I have a funny story to tell. It is about a boss I once had when still in the corporate world. He told us this story one day over sushi. It seems that when he got his first top job he was told by someone that indeed, to be noticed favorably, he would need to arrive at work before his boss. The first day he arrived 10 minutes before starting but his boss was already there. Next he tried half an hour, still no luck. It ended up that he would arrive just before 6.30 in the morning, greet his boss at 6.30, and then retire to his office which had a door and no glass. He would then spend the next hour or more snoozing away!

    On the other hand I had another boss who maintained that if his employees had to constantly put in overtime it was for one of two reasons:
    1. the company was expecting too much from their employees, or,
    2. the employee was incompetent

    Having given up the corporate world I now work longer hours then I did when employed, but you can’t beat the commute and the dress code is much easier on the wallet :-)

    .-= Valentina´s last blog ..No. 2 Sucks! =-.

    1. Valentina – Great story! Hey, at least your boss was trying and showed his work ethic! Look at him now, he’s a boss! :)

      It’s true about incompetence, sometimes. But I bet it’s usually b/c the boss him/herself wants to go home, and is annoyed when some of his/her employees just stay back just because!

      I wish to have your commute and dress code one day!


  6. This whole business of “coming in early/staying back late” is a relic of the timecard days of the 60’s.

    If your main criteria for measuring “productivity” or “dedication” is the number of hours clocked, then I would really be worried about the future of your organisation.

    It’s entirely possible for someone to come in early, and still be unproductive all day. I know some staff who come in early and stay back late, mainly to avoid traffic jams. They still miss deadlines and produce sloppy work!

    Generally, if a company is a stickler about “clock-in time”, then its employees will tend to be sticklers about “quitting time”.

    1. Hi Lee – Productivity is one thing, but if new employees are coming in late and leaving early, they are on a sure path of failure. The employee can be the most productive employee at the firm, but it won’t matter if she can’t show a little respect and face time to the senior colleagues.

      It is what it is, and unless you have the world’s easiest job, there is ALWAYS more to learn on the job. Thanks for commenting.

  7. steve in w ma

    ” If the manager was coming in before his managers when he first started, then rightly or wrongly, that is what the manager will expect of his/her employees. Again, since there’s only one shot at life, why not just try coming in a little earlier and making a net positive impression?”

    It doesn’t matter what the manager’s early work habits were, everyone on the planet is impressed when someone is there on time (read early–to be there ready to perform on time means you have to arrive early, as opposed to arriving “on time”) and, by example, it can even inspire other people to be timely and do a better job.

    1. Hi Steve -Thanks for sharing your opinion. People who are in on time or a little early do spread their strong work ethic to the rest of the team. It’s contagious.


  8. There was a 24 year old kid right out of school who made over $100,000 his first year. He was so angry he didnt come to work for 3 days. We fired his arse.

  9. Lazy people are always the ones without passion, who ultimately get fired. This recession has weeded out the lazy.

    But, you weren't necessarily lazy if you did get fired.

  10. Good point Anon 10:43pm. It's ok not to come in before the manager, so long as you are coming in before your stated start time. That is a net neutral scenario for the employee. The manager will still want the employee to show more initiative than just doing what's asked. In fact, I would try to find out what the manager did when he first started. If the manager was coming in before his managers when he first started, then rightly or wrongly, that is what the manager will expect of his/her employees. Again, since there's only one shot at life, why not just try coming in a little earlier and making a net positive impression?

  11. What time do you come in as a manager? I wouldn't be coming in 10 minutes earlier than you if you are in 8:30am (for a 9am start).

  12. Anon, thnx for sharing. I like the parenting analogy, and owning up to one's own mistakes. Better to beat yourself up first, before someone else does!

    Best, Laser

  13. As a manager, I couldn't agree more on the part about new hires coming in before me – or at least on time for goodness sake. I had to write up (ie threaten) one of my staff that if she didn't start coming in on time she would be fired (not worded as bluntly as that of course but this was after countless meetings with her about her problem). Why is is so hard for some people to realize getting to work on time is PART of doing their job?! Even if it's only 10 minutes before me it saves me the stress of wondering "where is she…is she going to come in today…are our clients going to get their reports on time?"

    Another thing I'd add to the career enhancement is taking responsibility for your mistakes. Nothing drives me crazier than when one of my staff tries to put the blame on someone else or comes up with a lame excuse for an error they made. Own up to mistakes, apologize, and learn how to avoid making the same mistake again! We all screw up sometimes and being honest about it will get you much farther in the end than trying to cover things up.

    Sometimes being a manager feels like parenting and it's the troublesome "kids" that never last long in a company. They're the first ones to get booted out and have to hop from job to job.

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