The Top Three Myths about Rich People

I have a strange job - I am a consultant who helps women in relationships with successful men figure out how to live with their ambition, influence, and money. After years of doing this, I know something about successful people. Probably the funniest thing I know is that most of my clients are just like you - wondering how "the other half lives." They forget they're one of the other half, probably because the differences aren't nearly as big as society makes them out to be.

Don't get me wrong - they enjoy their success. But what most people think about that other half just isn't so.

Myth Number One: Wealth provides the ultimate freedom.

Okay, sure they travel more and they have the financial means to renovate a yacht and sail it to the Virgin Islands, but the truth is, (I can't believe I'm saying this) good help is hard to find. No, really. Wealthy people often end up troubleshooting the people they hire to manage their stuff, or they just end up managing it themselves. Interestingly, not that many of my clients take advantage of what Robert Frank writes is a booming industry with butlers in his WSJ Wealth Report. They aren't comfortable leading such a conspicuously consumptive lifestyle. So they end up doing their own dishes and washing their own cars.

And sail to the Virgin Islands? If you're retired. But who can stand to retire? A self-made billionaire is known for his (sorry, but it's almost always "his") ascension to the top of the heap because of what he's done in business. If he's not starting another business, he has no identity. if it's not a business, it's a philanthropic foundation. There is no rest.

Myth Number Two: It must be so cool to just walk into a store and buy whatever you want.

Yeah, about the first fifty times. Remember Imelda Marco's shoe collection? When they stopped being shoes and turned into a collection, she should have noticed things were turning a little strange.

Imagine the nicest dress you own. Now imagine opening the door to your closet and having a hundred identical dresses hanging in your closet. Kind of takes the fun out of it, doesn't it?

Myth Number Three: Things are so much easier for wealthy people.

Again, partially true. Someone who doesn't have to worry about paying for their next meal definitely has an easier life than someone who does. And being able to make a phone call and change someone's mind because it's you on the phone and you have money is impressive.

But I am reminded of a cell phone conversation I overheard at a certain private club where a certain publisher/sports team owner was arguing with his teenage grandson, trying to get him to take out the trash before leaving the house. Or the CEO of a multi-national corporation whose wife wouldn't end her affair with the tennis pro no matter how much he cajoled or threatened. Money is only powerful when the leverage is aimed at someone who doesn't have it, too. After that, you're just another schmuck like the rest of us.

I could put a fourth myth here, the one that makes people do a reverse snobbery thing and complain that rich people "think they're so above the rest of us." Actually, that's a defense mechanism that they develop from constantly being confronted by people who want something from them. Most of them would like it a lot if you'd treat them like everyone else.







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