Be Weird – Part 2

growing-wealth

Being weird in order to save money is noble enough, but what if we were willing to be weird to gain wealth, to actually go forward deep into the black? Since I have a man crush on Ben Franklin, I read his autobiography. I will tell you (spoiler alert!) that nowhere in it does he win an award for humility. He explicitly attributes his rise from poverty to prominence to his radical attitude toward work. One of the many examples he cites is him working through lunches while his peers were having fun and spending money at the local pub (before all the OSHA rules against mixing alcohol and machinery). That was weird. As a consequence, he owned his own printing press at a very young age, even before his older brother who had a formal apprenticeship and the family blessing.

I’m sure friends and family thought Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Ted Turner, and Ralph Lauren were weird when they dropped out of college for highly speculative ventures. Now these nerds run the world. Sam Walton dropped out of high school. Avoiding education is typically a bad idea. I’m just pointing out that sometimes we have to break the mold to make new things.

Likewise, I have a friend from high school that, unlike convention dictated, went to work instead of college. Many people do that, but the difference is that this guy lived at home and dumped nearly all of his money into the stock market. Before the rest of us left college with thousands of dollars in debt, my friend had a portfolio rumored to be worth six figures (the “Dot Com Boom” didn’t hurt). He could have then paid cash for college and had real trade experience and contacts. I’d like to tell you where he is now, but we lost connection, mostly because he’s weird. 🙂

When my wife was young, her dad was just starting his electrical contracting business so he put any margin back into the business. My wife tells our kids war stories about how she never had soda and never went to restaurants and never drove cars with less than a million miles on them and never slept inside (or some version of that.) But now my father-in-law’s business is largely successful and he can afford to take the whole family places we don’t want to go, like Houston for Christmas. More on that some other time.

John Grisham wrote his first novel on a board between the washer and dryer while he was in law school. Vin Diesel lived in his mother’s attic while trying to be an actor. He couldn’t even stand up in it. Ozzy Osbourne worked construction and plumbing and worked in a car factory and a slaughterhouse in order to make it while his band was struggling. I’m sure that was a little weird for a rocker. As a side note, I think biting animals on stage is also a weird way to build wealth, but, hey, whatever it takes, I guess.

John D. Rockefeller had to work as a bookkeeper to afford an oil rig venture with a friend. Andrew Carnegie worked 72 hour weeks at a cotton mill to buy stock in the railroad and steel industry. Richard Branson sold Christmas trees to support his mail order record business which eventually became Virgin/Atlantic Records. It will look different for each of us. For example, I like to cook my animals before I eat them, so I won’t be doing the Ozzy method, but maybe I’ll write a novel on my own type of board. Maybe you’ll deliver some pizzas to buy equipment for the business start up idea you’ve been ignoring.

If only we can be weird enough.

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