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.
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.
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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.
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What do you think? Do rich people try harder than average people?
Financial Samurai – “Slicing Through Money's Mysteries”