- Know Thyself : Knowing Yourself is the beginning of all Wisdom.
- Find the purpose of Your Life.
- Learn and Grow Your skills. Learning is a lifelong process.
- Learn something from everyone You meet.
- Aim to create Value, not Money.
- Be among the 1% who realize that 1% really dose not matter.
Since almost all of these answers are business/finance related, I thought it might be interesting to hear from someone who did it via the arts, admittedly a very small sub-group of 1%-ers. I am a Hollywood screenwriter.
There was very little money after my parents’ divorce, and I did not go to college. Nor was there anyone paying attention at the time I graduated high school — my mother’s prevalent relationship was, by that time, with alcohol. I had to get out.
But still, there is something to the theory that one must be born to the right parents. My parents, flawed though they were, were bright, charming, sophisticated, funny, attractive and loving. The house was filled with books and records. We went to the movies, we cooked, we sang and played instruments. We discussed novels and politics and history and great comedy routines. My mother was both pretty and funny, which gave me the message (I am female) that it wasn’t unfeminine to make people laugh. I later was able to make a fat living doing just that.
I did it completely on my own — moved to L.A. without knowing a living soul and, pre-internet, had to check scripts out of a film school library to learn the proper form. But I had an awful lot rolling around in my head from being raised by such fun people. Even without financial support, our home had been rich in nutrients, and I had been, as an only child, enjoyed and encouraged, made to believe I’d be able to “do something.” I had self esteem.
As for the dirty details? Net worth: about 30 million. Multiple residences, free spending, generous gifts to good causes. Nothing thrills me more than being able to eat in any restaurant I want! I’ve educated myself about investing, and have followed a rather conservative 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 approach with stock, real estate and cash. But I’ve picked good real estate, investing only in New York, San Francisco and L.A. We also have a slush fund for investing in companies we believe in. Tesla was one. Woo-hoo!
I am probably closer to the J.K. Rowling model that most, though I was never on Welfare. I did have a brief brush with food stamps when I was a self supporting 19 year old. But I soon developed a Scarlett O’Hara determination to “never be hungry again.”
What I would say to people who want to do what I do? This: can you tell a story?
If you start telling one and stop in the middle, and your friend says, “And then what happens?” good for you. You’ve hooked ’em. You have a shot.
All I’m saying is, there are more ways to skin this 1% cat than an Ivy degree and a startup. Perhaps your eccentricities can be turned into a unique advantage. You might have a voice, a voice that no one else has. It sounds delusional, but some people do make it as artists, writers, musicians.
Why not you?
I am not in the 1%, but in the 3%. I expect to make it to the 2% in a year or two, but expect to be retired before I make the 1%. I am of the working stiff variety, not a business owner and with no plans of doing so except maybe as a side gig in retirement.
0. Be realistic. From where I started, I fully expected to make it to the top 10%. The rest is partly luck, partly due to variables that are out of anyone’s control (born into upper middle class family, great education, a culture of expecting success, with the accompanying feeling of entitlement). You can have quite a comfortable life in the top 10% if most parts of the country (maybe not in the Bay area or NYC, but that is a choice you make).
1. Figure out where you are at . Then figure out how to get to the next level. For example, if you are in the 50th percentile ($52K/year), figure out how you will get to the top 40% ($60K/year). It might be a new job, maybe requiring more education, more preparation for a new position, etc… It will not happen by itself with 2-3% annual raises, you always have to reach beyond where you are now, even if you feel you may be under-qualified.
1a. Work hard, only if you are at a job and at a company where outperforming your peers will result in higher pay. An engineer who can do the work of 3 engineers will at the right company be adequately recognized and compensated for the extra value you bring. The same is not the case for the mail room clerk.
2. Live like you make 50% of what you make, once you start making more significant income. Easier said than done at lower income levels, but if you make $180K/year, it is not hard imagining living on $90K/year, and saving the rest of the after tax amount. On lower income levels, save something, anything. When I was making less $40K a year,may years ago, I had a habit of taking a $20 out of my wallet every day and putting in a cash stash. That turned into the down payment for my first home.
3. Do something with that money you save, to earn additional income. Buy rental properties, or learn to invest in the stock market, buy a business (don’t buy a job, buy a business where you can be absentee) or something similar. For example, I work with engineers who have rental properties, and worked in the past with an an engineer who owned washaterias. I personally sell options on commodity futures for income, but that is rather unusual. Treat the new income as capital to reinvest, not as income to spend. This is the income that will give you a comfortable retirement (in addition to SS and 401K savings) and allow you to retire in your 50’s, if you so desire.
4. Live somewhere where being in the 13% ($130K/year) can give you a nice 3000 sq. ft house with a pool in a nice middle class neighborhood with good schools.
5. Avoid debt. I have 1 pro-forma credit card (to rent cars, pay for hotel rooms), I have not used a credit card in at least 10 years (to the detriment of my credit score, but I am not seeking credit). Do not finance anything, unless it is for 15 or 30 years, or the interest rate is less than 3% (or the prevailing inflation rate). Everything else, pay cash. If you cannot afford to pay cash, or you can afford it but the thought of reducing your savings hurts, that should tell you something.
Nothing magical (to me), but I realize that I grew up in an environment where I watched family and neighbors practice much the same.
Because it is just a wish.You have to be more concetrate to your goal, because only then your mind will know what you really want
Surprisingly easily. All you need to do is
Figure Everything Out.
That’s the only thing you need to do to be a part of the top 1%.
No matter what sphere you would like to operate within, get everything right. In order to become part of 1%, you simply need to know everything about what you do. You need to know every single detail and be ready to answer every question and accept every challenge.
No doubt it is easier said than done. It takes time and effort: everything worth doing is going to be neither easy nor fast. Nonetheless, the result is worth the struggle.
In fact, there are three major ingredients that you can help you become a part of the 1%:
Focus. Persistence. Consistency.
They can be found in each and every story of success. These are traits of the highly successful cohort who you aspire to become a part of.
Focus. You cannot achieve anything meaningful if you constantly switch between the tasks trying to do everything and be everywhere at the very same moment. Before starting the journey towards your aspirations, make it crystal clear what you want to achieve. Clarity does matter. Otherwise, you risk moving to towards different goals bypassing the most desired destinations.
Persistence. Even if you think you are ready to face major difficulties and make big sacrifice, in reality, you are not. Sadly, it is impossible to get ready for such things. They will occur and they will make you feel broken, down and tired. However, they are meant to test your willingness to succeed. Therefore do not let failure break you. Let it be a source of motivation for further massive wins.
Consistency. Cultivate the strict discipline. Only discipline and consistency can lead you to the massive wins. Do the things that matter. Do the things that add value. Day by day. Step by step. Try to become better each day and make it your habit. However, do not make huge pauses. Otherwise, you will struggle to get back on track then. Keep moving.