What does it feel like to be a billionaire?
Simple question - what does it feel like to be a billionaire? From the looks of Bill Gates, it clearly makes you want to get a terrible haircut. From Mark Zuckerbag's attitude, it's a terrible burden and makes you into a terrible human being. But what's it like from their perspective? These billionaires (and those who work closely with them) give their opinions below on what it feels like to actually have billions of pounds in their account...
Ziad K Abdelnour, Wall Street Investor & Financier, Pres.& CEO Blackhawk Partners - "They have a lot in common with homeless people"
Given the nature of my business, I am often asked by friends how does it feel like to deal with billionaires on a daily basis and what really makes them tick. Understanding after all the billionaires psyche is key in unlocking potential not seen anywhere else.
Well for a start…let me tell you that the main thing I realised after starting dealing with billionaires a decade ago is that billionaires tend to be really good at understanding systems of value creation and placing themselves into those systems more effectively than anyone out there.
Billionaires tend in fact to view the world as a tangibly fungible place. They see the world and want to move the puzzle pieces entirely around. They look for the faults in the ecosystem and identify massive holes and what could be added to fully capture that value. Then they spend about 10 years maniacally attacking the gap, organizing people, recruiting and generally creating a “cult”. They create a bible so to speak of values and ideas that bundle together in such an appealing way to attract the smartest people around (aka the future millionaires).
The billionaires I know don’t look forward to the weekend. They don’t drink. They work from 5am to midnight everyday including weekends. They don’t socialize with friends and they often mix friends and work. It’s all one big chain that supports their vision of the future and tying up the value. This is a different internal programming than most people have out there.
What do you do if you live in Trent, Michigan today? The auto plants around you are closing. It’s tough to be a billionaire potential person in that environment, but 100 years ago in 1912 it was actually possible. Ask the Ford family about this. So overall, location, timing, industry and proximity can be a major factor that comes into play. Tech is what’s happening now, but other industries happened before. 1950s Texas oil well drilling, 1910s autos Michigan, 2010s Silicon Valley. There is much to discuss, but the mindset pieces are the key and are universal.
So what to make of it all?
Well, I see billionaires having 3 types of focus
1) Inner/self: a keen sense of where you want to go, and self discipline to get there.
2) Empathy and the ability to inspire others.
3) Awareness of where the greater world is going, and what can be done to shape it.
The young millionaires I know seem to spend a lot of time working on 1 and 2, talking about emotional self discipline & company culture.
The billionaires & ultra high net worth power players have on the other hand mastered all 3, particularly the 3rd. They are the “unreasonable” ones who adapt the world to their vision. They are absolutely fearless. Perfectly willing to move mountains, change cultures, lobby regulation to achieve their vision and kick real ass..
Come to think more of it, billionaires would seem to have more in common with a homeless man on the street than a millionaire in the sense that they are completely unconventional and independent thinkers. They are outcasts from regular society and most probably will always be.
A millionaire might have more sense about her-himself and scale back to preserve wealth and “quit while they are ahead” sort of speak.
The billionaire mindset defies logic and decisions are made against all outside reason. They really don’t give a rat’s ass about the money and frankly have a clean detachment to it, therefore with that clarity of thought mixed with pursuing their passion, make most of the money.
One common theme that I see all the time in my billionaire friends and that’s the theme of failure before success. Self-made billionaires NEVER give up if they fail. They just go on and on and on until they stop failing and become a success.
Now that you know the basics of the billionaires psyche, go use those priceless tips to make a killing and never turn back.
What do the super rich buy that no-one else can?
Anonymous friend to billionaires talks about what they can buy that no-one else can...
I count many people with ultra high net wealth among my close friends and I have spent more time than even I can believe with 8 different billionaires. This is not just meet-and-greet time. This is small group and even one-to-one time. I dated the daughter of one billionaire several decades ago. So I have gotten a peek into this life.
Let's get one thing out of the way. There are gradations of rich. I see four major breaking points:
Worth $10mm-$30mm liquid (exclusive of value of primary residence).
At this level, your needs are met. You can live very comfortably at a 4-star/5-star level. You can book a $2000 suite for a special occasion. You can fly first class internationally (sometimes). You have a very nice house, you can afford any healthcare you need, no emergency financial situation can destroy your life. But you are not "rich" in the way that money doesn't matter. You still have to be prudent and careful with most decisions unless you are on the upper end of this scale, where you truly are becoming insulated from personal financial stress. (Business stress exists at all levels). The banking world still doesn't classify you as 'ultra high net worth'
Net worth of $30mm-$100mm
At this point, you start playing with the big boys. You can fly private (though you normally charter a flight or own a jet fractionally through Net Jets or the like), You stay at 5 star hotels, you have multiple residences, you vacation in prime time (you rent a ski-in, ski-out villa in Aspen for Christmas week or go to Monaco for the grand Prix, or Canne for the Film Festival--for what its worth, rent on these places can run $5k-20k+ per NIGHT.), you run or have a ontrolling interest in a big company, you socialize with Conressmen, Senators and community leaders, and you are an extremely well respected member in any community outside the world's great cities. (In Beverly Hills, you are a minor player at $80 million. Unless you really throw your weight around and pay out the nose, you might not get a table at the city's hottest restaurant). You can buy any car you want. You have personal assistants and are starting to have 'people' that others have to talk to to get to you. You can travel ANYWHERE in any style. You can buy pretty much anything that normal people think of as 'rich people stuff' [/panel]
I know its a wide range, but life doesn't change much when you go from being worth $200mm-$900mm. At this point, you have a private jet, multiple residences with staff, elite cars at each residence, ownership or significant control over a business/entity that most of the public has heard of, if its your thing, you can socialize with movie stars/politicians/rock stars/corporate elite/aristocracy. You might not get invite to every party, but you can go pretty much everywhere you want. You definitely have 'people' and staff. The world is full of 'yes men'. Your ability to buy things becomes an art. One of your vacation home may be a 5 bedroom villa on acreage in Cabo, but that's not impressive. You own a private island? Starting to be cool, but it depends on the island. You just had dinner with Senator X and Governor Y at your home? Cool. But your billionaire friend just had dinner with the President. You have a new Ferrari? Your friend thinks their handling sucks and has a classic, only-five-exist-in-the-world-type of car. Did I mention women? Because at this level, they are all over the place. Every event, most parties. The polo club. Ultra-hot, world class, smart women. Power and money are an aphrodisiac and you have it in spades. Anything thing you want from women at this point you will find a willing and beautiful partner. You might not emotionally connect, but damn, she's hot. One thing that gets rare at this level? friends and family that love you for who you are. They exist, but it is pretty damn hard to know which ones they are.
I am going to exclude the $10b+ crowd, because they live a head-of-state life. But at $1b, life changes. You can buy anything. ANYTHING. In broad terms, this is what you can buy:
You now can just ask your staff to contact anyone and you will get a call back. I have seen this first hand and it is mind-blowing the level of access and respect $1 billion+ gets you. In this case, I wanted to speak with a very well-known billionaire businessman (call him billionaire #1 for a project that interested billionaire #2. I mentioned that it would be good to talk to billionaire #1 and B2 told me that he didn't know him. But he called his assistant in. "Get me the xxxgolf club directory. Call B1 at home and tell him I want to talk to him." Within 60 minutes, we had a call back. I was in B1's home talking to him the next day. B2's opinion commanded that kind of respect from a peer. Mind blowing. The same is true with access to almost any Senator/Governor of a billionaires party (because in most cases, he is a significant donor). You meet on an occasional basis with heads-of-state and have real conversations with them. Which leads to...
Yes, you can buy influence. As a billionaire, you have many ways to shape public policy and the public debate, and you use them. This is not in any evil way. the ones I know are passionate about ideas and are trying to do what they feel is best (just like you would). But they just had an hour with the Governor privately, or with the Secretary of Health, or the buy ads or lobbyists. The amount of influence you have can be heady.
Dream of it and you can have it. Want to play tennis with Pete Sampras (not him in particular, but that type of star)? Call his people. For a donation of $100k+ to his charity, you could probably play a match with him. Like Blink182? There is a price where they would simply come play at your private party. Love art? Your people could arrange for the curator of the Louvre to show you around and even show you masterpieces that have not been exhibited in years. Love Nascar? How about racing the top driver on a closed track? Love science? Have a dinner with Bill Nye and Neil dGT. Love politics? have Hillary Clinton come speak at a dinner for you and your friends, just pay her speaking fee. Your mind is the only limit to what is available. Because donations/fees get you anyone.
The same is true with stuff. You like pianos? How about owning one Mozart used to compose music on? This is the type of stuff you can do.
Your money can literally change the world and change lives. It is almost too much of a burden to think about. Clean water for a whole village forever? chump change. A dying child need a transplant? Hell...you could just build and fund a hospital and do it for a region.
The respect you get at this level is just over-the-top. You are THE MAN in almost every circle. Governors look up to you. Fortune 500 CEOs look up to you. Presidents and Kings look at you as a peer.
The wealthiest person I have spent time with makes about $400mm/year. i couldn't get my mind around that until I did this: OK--let's compare it with someone who makes $40,000/year. It is 10,000x more. Now let's look at prices the way he might. A new Lambo--$235,000 become $23.50. First class ticket internationally? $10,000 becomes $1. A full time executive level helper? $8,000/month becomes $0.80/month. A $10mm piece of art you love? $1000. Expensive, so you have to plan a bit. A suite at the best hotel in NYC $10,000/night is $1/night. A $50million home in the Hamptons? $5,000. There is literally nothing you can't buy except.
Sorry to sound so trite, but it is nearly impossible to have a normal emotional relationship at this level. It is hard to sacrifice for another person when you are never asked to sacrifice ANYTHING. Money can solve all problems for someone, so you offer it, because there is so much else to do. Your time is SOOOO valuable that you ration it. And that makes you lose connections with people.
Dustin Moskovitz, The Second-Youngest Billionaire In America
Moskovitz, cofounder of Facebook and current CEO of the organization app Asana, has an estimated net worth of $8 billion.
The entrepreneur said he viewed his fortune as a resource to promote the social good rather than as a means to fulfill his interests.
I'm very fond of this quote from Louis C.K. below and generally view the world through this lens:
"I never viewed money as being ‘my money.’ I always saw it as ‘The money.’ It's a resource. If it pools up around me then it needs to be flushed back out into the system.”
In other words, Cari and I are stewards of this capital. It's pooled up around us right now, but it belongs to the world. We are not perfect in applying this attitude, but we try very hard.
All that said, it turns out to be quite difficult to flush such a large sum back into the world in a way you can feel confident about, which is why we started Good Ventures and work so closely with GiveWell. But we're learning more and more every day and accelerating our pace as we do. We intend not to have much left when we die (i.e. we have a "burn down" foundation).
And lastly... billionaire, presidential candidate and terrible human being, Donald Trump
Donald Trump, whose surname literally means "to break wind, audibly" has been very vocal about how great it is to be rich.
“Part of the beauty of me is that I am very rich.” he told crowds of the poor gathered to hear him give a speech.
“I don't do it for the money. I've got enough, much more than I'll ever need. I do it to do it. Deals are my art form.”
"I’m proud of my net worth, I’ve done an amazing job … The total is $8,737,540,000 US. I’m not doing that to brag, because you know what, I don’t have to brag."
"What does it feel like [to be a billionaire]? Kinda like being a millionaire, only with more zeros."
Donald Trump trivia
He also has quite strong(ly racist) opinions about who should count his money...
"Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yarmulkes every day." - in Washington Post.