If you want to grow stronger, it's important to stay humble. Humbling yourself every month or every year is a good reminder you've still got so much to learn.
Don't let your success get to you! Luck is a bigger factor for your wealth than you realize. The more humble you can be, the less you'll take any success you have for granted. As a result, you'll end up trying that much harder to get ahead.
Getting Poked By My Friends
“Good thing you're married, otherwise, no woman would ever go out with you!” retorted my friend when I told him I scrubbed my LinkedIn profile of all work experience and simply put that I was an Assistant Varsity Tennis Coach.
“Heck, you're not even the head coach, but only the assistant!” he went on to dig. My friend is a successful entrepreneur who has not yet decided to be free, despite having buku bucks.
I wasn't offended by his comments because we're always jabbing at each other before going to battle on the tennis court. Instead, I laughed and played along.
“Yeah, thank goodness right? It's tough to find a good woman nowadays in San Francisco. Ready for me to kick your ass?”
The Importance Of Staying Humble
So why did I erase my LinkedIn profile? I felt that after 2016's surprise business success, my ego was inflating out of control.
Of course we're all richer after a long bull market, duh! Every time someone asks me what I do, I can't wait to explain my online business. In the past, I would just say I'm a writer or in between jobs to keep a low profile.
Writing about Dunning-Kruger made me realize that I could very well be an overconfident idiot who simply isn't aware he's an overconfident idiot! Whenever overconfidence reigns supreme, bad things tend to happen.
Examples include: buying a vacation property close to the top of the market, taking an outsized investment risk, not recognizing luck as a big factor. If you are humble, you'd think thrice about making decisions that count on future uncertainties.
I know many of you are highly motivated individuals who've experienced tremendous progress over the years as well. It's important to keep things real and never forget where you came from.
Low Status Is Fine
Some people have commented whether I'm worried about being perceived as “not equal” in a parent's eyes given I'm just an assistant varsity tennis coach – as if nothing I've done prior matters.
It's a weird question to ask because I think spending time teaching kids anything is a very honorable endeavor. Perhaps it's their insecurity speaking? Of course I'm proud of my new role.
If you're willing to spend $48,000 a year in tuition on your kid because he is the most precious thing in your life, it's only logical to appreciate the coaches and teachers who are there to help make your kid into an honorable person.
Here's a reader comment that demonstrates the point about being perceived as lower class or status regarding the topic of networking as an assistant varsity tennis coach.
Being A Coach Supposedly Isn't Good Enough
“I agree with the tennis, but unless you leverage your knowledge and show the parents that you have your other skills/knowledge, I think that those connections will be less beneficial to you. You really have to try to join some sort of network or ‘boys club' to really help them.
Those parents will all be friends because of their kids, but if you’re just their coach you don’t necessarily get the same interactions to really become close with them (i.e. kids birthday parties). I developed great relationships with my track, soccer, tennis, xc, etc. coaches but my parents, not so much. My parents like the coaches and respect them highly but they never had the same relationships as with parents of my friends that I hung out with or their coworkers.
So you really need to try and leverage a way to get connected with those families to truly see the benefits of knowing them. To me, your main benefit is getting to teach a sport you love though!“
This comment is insightful because it's a real experience that makes sense. If I want to build relationships with the parents, I need to make the effort because they probably won't. Then again, all relationships take work to develop, so this is nothing new.
I see this comment as an opportunity to make the argument for all parents to build stronger relationships with their kids' teachers and coaches. If someone is spending hours each day teaching your most beloved child new skills, then surely this person is worth getting to know.
Here's my response.
“I’ve thought about being viewed as “the help” to the parents as the assistant tennis coach, and that’s just fine. I don’t want anything from them. I just want to do my best, learn, have fun, and hopefully make a difference in their lives. It’s how I view all my tennis buddies at my club (several parents are members). I just want to play tennis and have fun. But it was because I was just having fun all these years that I was referred to this role.
I’ve always had this underdog mentality because it’s so motivating. It makes me appreciate what I have. It also makes me feel more alive. When the parents see me playing at the same tennis club they belong to that costs $12,000 to join and requires five letters of recommendation, I think they’ll eventually figure out that perhaps I'm teaching because I want to do something good, and not because I need the money. And if not, that's cool.
Perhaps I’ll even write a parent a letter of recommendation for her family to join my club one day. And perhaps the parents who currently have other kids in middle school and elementary school may find it beneficial knowing someone who works at the very high school they’d love their kids to attend. With the world so small, what parent would be so foolish to look down on me?
The consistent theme is to just be a good person. Sooner or later, something positive will happen when you least expect it.”
You Just Never Know Who You'll Meet
I just got back from a kick-off team party at a parent's house where all the player's parents also attended. All the parents were friendly. If I hadn't introduced myself yet, they made sure to introduce themselves to me.
Here are some of their profiles:
- Group CFO of a large semiconductor company
- Law partner
- Mobile apps entrepreneur
- Prominent city attorney
- Venture capitalist
- CEO of a pharma company
- Partner at a large mutual fund company
Do I gain anything from knowing them? Not at the moment, since all I care about is being a good tennis coach. We mostly talked about teaching philosophy, what they do for a living, and college plans.
But perhaps one day, they might remember me as someone who did good by their kids if I ever need some legal advice, want to jump back in the finance industry, create a mobile app, or get out of a legal pickle.
You just never know so stay humble.
Build Your Network And Make Friends
It's best not to make enemies with anybody, especially one that has an online platform. Once you cross a blogger, you're screwed because the pen is far mightier than the sword today.
Only if you're financially independent may you consider getting into it with a blogger. Even then, I wouldn't. The Stealth Wealth movement is real. It's hard to fully comprehend who has money and power these days.
Not only is it a good idea to be respectful to the men and women who drive you, serve your food, mow your lawn, build your house, entertain you online, and teach your kids life skills, you should proactively get to know their backgrounds as well. Ask them about their family, understand their hopes, find out what makes them laugh.
I swear, if you take the time to listen, they'll go above and beyond to take care of you. Listening takes humility. Be a humble listener.
Examples Of Where Being Inconsiderate Hurts
1) A prospective renter didn't get back to my follow-up e-mail after I gave him and his wife a private showing (instead of just having them come to the scheduled open house). A year and a half later, his subordinate at a lending company reached out to meet me for coffee to try and convince me to write about their product.
The prospective renter tagged along and didn't realize it was my house he visited until the end. Because he never responded to my follow-up e-mail after I took an hour of my time to meet him and his wife, I wasn't feeling it. No new business ever came to pass.
2) When I interviewed with an insurance startup, a misogynist founder blurted out, “I hate women!” after I proposed the idea of working with a female fitness blogger to help promote health consciousness for their brand. The entire meeting was completely unprofessional with one co-founder interrupting my presentation every minute and the CEO speaking on his phone during my presentation. Not only will I never support this company, I may go on the offensive one day.
3) A blogger in my personal finance blog network stole my ad campaign business back in 2009. She decided it wasn't good enough for her to earn money as a participant. As a result, she decided to copy everything I was doing, including my contacts I privately shared with the network to create her own ad campaign business.
In retrospect, her greed and duplicity was the best thing that could have ever happened to me online because Google changed their algorithms shortly after and punished her site and those who didn't stay loyal. I was forced to figure out a safer way to make money online through business partnerships that have since grown beyond my wildest dreams. Those who stayed true have benefitted tremendously from many referral opportunities over the years.
No matter who you come across, try not to be an asshole. Just like controlling spending is harder to do the more you make, controlling your ego is harder to do the more successful you become.
If you are one who constantly likes to brag about your success, try and go through a profile scrubbing. Not only will humbling yourself help keep your ego in check, it'll also force you to improve your skills that got you there in the first place.
Don't rest on your laurels!
Wealth Building Recommendation
Sign up for Personal Capital, the web’s #1 free wealth management tool to get a better handle on your finances. You can use Personal Capital to help monitor illegal use of your credit cards and other accounts with their tracking software. In addition to better money oversight, run your investments through their award-winning Investment Checkup tool to see 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 that 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. I’ve been using Personal Capital since 2012 and have seen my net worth skyrocket during this time thanks to better money management.
Pick up a copy of Buy This, Not That, my instant Wall Street Journal bestseller. The book helps you make more optimal investment decisions so you can live a better, more fulfilling life.
For more nuanced personal finance content, join 55,000+ others and sign up for the free Financial Samurai newsletter and posts via e-mail. Financial Samurai is one of the largest independently-owned personal finance sites that started in 2009.
Stay humble my friends!