I don't want to be richSun, 30th Jul '06, 1:55 pm::

I just read a surprisingly blunt article by Felix Dennis, a British publishing tycoon, titled "If you want to be rich, first stop being so frightened." He's brutally honest in saying how he became rich and what all he had to do on the way to get there. His shortlist of who wouldn't get rich includes these gems: "If you cannot bear the thought of causing worry to your family, spouse or lover while you plough a lonely, dangerous road rather than taking the safe option of a regular job, you will never get rich. If you have artistic inclinations and fear that the search for wealth will coarsen such talents, you will never get rich. (Because your fear, in this instance, is well justified.)"

I always wanted to hear a really rich guy say everything he said in the article because at the back of my mind, I knew that was exactly what one would have to do. Sure, there are exceptions to every rule, but by and large, money and power aren't attained by the kindness of your heart and the virtue of your soul. I feel vindicated in a way because while I (just like my father) know exactly what I'd have to do to get all the way up there, I can't make myself do it.

Addressing his shortlist, I don't really have much of a fear of failure anymore. I used to but after tons and tons of disasters, failure is just another non-event to me. I rarely care what neighbors think (except when my lawn is ill-kempt). I can work 18 hours a day for a year if I want. I know I'm smart/good/capable enough to be filthy rich. I know getting rich is a game and I can play it if I put my mind to it. However, I'd rather not.

While I have the tenacity and drive to achieve "success," my definition of success is different from most people. I want success in invention and innovation, not in investment and influence. I think once you are above a certain IQ-level, you can pretty much do anything you set your mind to. After all, if you are smart enough to understand particle physics, you can understand the Ricardian Model of Comparative Advantage or Loss Distributions and Survival Models just as well. It's a matter of selecting which field you like; some just pay much more than others.

My favorite example is Investment Banking because I think it has the highest pay/effort ratio among all the typical jobs out there. Typical, because anyone with basic financial resources and a triple digit IQ can get an MBA and become one if they set their mind to it. It's not something like acting or sports that require talent or physical characteristics. It's not operations research or econometrics that requires intense appreciation of mathematics and statistics. If I had wanted to get comfortably rich, with say a salary of $150k-$200k by my late 20's or early 30's, I'd be an investment banker. It's not that complex really. Now writing a script that isolates specifics GUIDs from the registry and generates .Net code for a COM wrapper to extend every single class of an existing DLL written in VB in order to enable access the indexed properties of an object from PHP so that I can migrate and merge the data from two Btrieve 6 databases to a Pervasive 9 database is complex. And pretty much always goes unnoticed because nobody really understand what the hell I just said. But I like it. No, I LOVE it. And I'd rather be doing that than making money - because this makes me happy.

We have a choice in what makes us money. We have no choice in what makes us happy. For me, it's the unwavering desire to spend my 30's researching mundane computational or economic theories. For others, it's getting whatever job pays well enough to support their golfing ambitions or their family. And for others, it's eating pie. Hey, whatever makes you happy.

As for me, I'll have the PhD please. And would like to be comfortably poor as per Felix Dennis' Wealth Guide: £1m-£2m in assets.

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