Michelle Obama, toned-arm goddess that she is, gave me perspective on more than a desperate need to lift when she said about the mega-wealthy: “They are not that smart.”
American meritocracy is BS, and we all know it (I hope), but on some sad level, us 99% tend to think ‘Well, this person’s bank statement looks like a phone number with a personal extension on it, so they MUST know something I don’t.’
Well, no, not necessarily.
What the disastrous decisions WeWork made should tell you is that when you’re extra rich, you get to make extra mistakes.
For all the hand-wringing billionaires pay (or don’t) their subordinates to do for them about losing hundreds of billions to taxes, the fact remains they’ll still be left with more money than could be spent in any one person’s lifetime, plus the interest that just leaving that money in the bank nets them.
Now, wherever you fall politically doesn’t much matter here, this article isn’t meant to change anyone’s mind. What we should all be aware of though is that the cushion the rich getting richer have means something crucial to your business.
It means you cannot afford to look at the likes of WeWork guy and say ‘Well, hey, he was fine, so I’ll be fine!’
If you’re still in the rags portion of a rags to riches story, honey, you 100% will NOT be okay making the mistakes this guy does. And honestly, until you’ve got at least Oprah money, you won’t be.
So here are some pointers for starting entrepreneurs with moneyed faces on their vision boards.
1: Be aware of your starting point.
Are you working out of a garage? Is that garage the one in the guest house of your parents’ fifth home? Then you’re fine. Go forth and do dumb things, just do your best not to hurt anyone working under you who can’t see you’re going full King Lear on your business. Send them an Edible Arrangement garnished with a few hundred thousand dollars when your disaster chickens come home to roost.
Is that garage out of a house your friends rent, and also you rent it, and also you’re sleeping there? Then ‘Neumanning’ and letting the chips fall where they may is not the strategy for you. Every move you make requires cost analysis, time analysis, ‘Check yourself, sis’ (applicable to all genders), and the humanity that comes with knowing anyone you burn is 100% on your level, and can 100% put those flames back on your ass later on.
2: Keep in mind how much bigger a billion is than a million.
Billion, million, they sound the same, they have zeros, so… they’re basically the same thing, right? No, obviously.
A billion is a thousand million. Another way to put this is 1 million seconds is 11 days, 1 billion seconds is 31 years
Does Beyonce Knowles-Carter have more money than you? She’s worth 400 million, so probably. Oprah Winfrey is worth 6.75 Beyonces at 2.7 billion. At 1 billion, Adam Neumann is worth a little over two Beyonces.
If you don’t even have the assets of a half Beyonce, then you’re not playing on the same platinum court as WeWork, my friend. You’re not backed by a wealthy Japanese financier who is backed by a Saudi Arabian prince.
You cannot afford to make the same mistakes. Put a glaring picture of your mom / my mom / Mr. Terry Crews on your business credit card to help you remember that the mural in your rented office is less important than trademark fees, and calm down.
3: Sip up on that Perspective-Ade.
Or, put another way, just read the first two points here again. This isn’t kid’s stuff, and survivorship bias is beyond real. ‘They don’t write stories about the ones who played it safe,’ is a technical truism I hear from people who think they’re Evel Knievel for putting a mini-mini-golf course in a real estate parking lot.
No arguments from this corner on that, but I have an addendum to it… when was the last time you heard about someone taking a giant risk, losing it all, having to go back to retail, and crying every night?
It’s not just an MLM thing, people.
Analyze yourself, you assets, your ass coverage (insurance, colleagues’ goodwill, your pants) – you are not WeWork, so make like Simba, and remember who you are and what you actually have to work with.