How to Be Rich and Successful Without Being Greedy and Insensitive

“A wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart.” – Jonathan Swift

It was 1982. I had just been hired as editorial director for a fledgling newsletter-publishing company in South Florida. Because I had to give the occasional speech, I enrolled myself in the Dale Carnegie public-speaking program. But I ended up in Carnegie’s basic success course instead.

One week, the assignment was to “pick your ultimate priority.” I narrowed my priorities down to 10. Then four. But I couldn’t pick just one. It felt as if I was “giving up” the other three. Finally, on the way to class that week, I decided, “Why not make ‘making money’ my No. 1 goal?”

There are more important things than money, but making money seemed like the goal that was furthest away. (I knew nothing about making money. I had come from a family of teachers. I didn’t even care much about money or the things money can buy.) I figured, first I’ll make the money and then I’ll do everything else.

It worked. Big time. But — as I said above — it had unexpected side effects.

Thinking back on my life, I realize that I could have made all the money I wanted without suffering those side effects. If you are at the beginning of your wealth-accumulating journey, these observations and suggestions may be helpful.

Here is the greatest thing about making “making a lot of money” my No. 1 goal: It made all subsequent decisions much easier for me.

Prior to establishing wealth as my priority, I’d often be confused about which of our products were the best ones and how others could be improved. There were 68 different ways of evaluating quality, and I found each of those ways compelling.

As a result, I was often doubtful and/or inconsistent in my decisions. But now that I knew what I wanted, there was no longer such confusion. I’d listen to a question or problem and ask myself, “What solution would give me the best return in terms of money?”

Suddenly, complicated problems were simple to resolve and difficult questions were easily answered. I went from being an editor who was very ambivalent about marketing and argumentative about quality to a businessman who had an “amazingly good” instinct about what would sell and what wouldn’t.

Within 18 months of my making this transformation, our business went from a negative worth of more than a million dollars to a million dollars in the black. And then it got better! Two years later, my partner/boss gave me a plaque that read “MMF: Marketing Genius.”

That’s what’s good about making wealthbuilding your priority.

The mistake I made was in how I went about dealing with my new priority. Lacking the experience I have now, I made two big mistakes:

1. I was too short-term-oriented.

2. I ignored my instincts about quality.

What that amounted to was this: I sometimes promoted products that weren’t as good as they could have been. Since I knew I could sell the heck out of them, and since I believed that selling the heck out of them was the only thing that mattered, I’d allow inferior products to reach the marketplace.

I didn’t do this all the time. It was probably the exception rather than the rule. But whenever I did it, I regretted it. And that’s the point of today’s message.

If you want to make wealthbuilding your No. 1 goal, go for it. But make sure you go after that wealth with a long-range view of making profits and a serious commitment to creating good products.

If you do it that way, it will be a little tougher at first. You will have to spend more money improving the product and you’ll have to wait a little longer for it to be produced. But in the long run you’ll make more money and will be happier, because your customers will stay with you and reward you with their continued buying.

I was talking to DF today about her business career. I was recommending that she consider a job offer that would double her income and put her on a rapid road to wealth. “I am tempted to take the offer,” she told me, “but I don’t want to make money the center of my life.”

Had she said this to me many years ago, I would have told her to get real and act like an adult. Now, I realize that her instinct is right. She should never make the pursuit of money her primary business objective. She should be in a business that she wants to be in. She should sell products she’s proud of selling. She should find some way to make her business interests coincide with her personal ethics and dreams.

“Yes, make the good you will do your primary goal,” I said to DF, “but pay attention to the money as well, because it’s the best and simplest way to measure the financial health of your business.”

You should be in business to provide people with something of value. If you conduct your business correctly and offer people a good deal — and if the product you sell is something people really want — you’ll make plenty of money.

Russ Whitney puts it this way in his book “Millionaire Real Estate Mentor”: “Money is a result, not a cause. If you get into business solely for the money, chances are you will never be great at what you’re doing. That’s why so many people fail at network-marketing businesses — they’re attracted by the promise of big profits, but then they realize they have to sell soap or vitamins or lotions or whatever, and don’t want to do that. Get into a business that you like, learn it thoroughly, and do it right. The money will come automatically.”

I’ve heard the same thing said by professional athletes. The guys who do it right — who have long, successful careers and enjoy what they are doing — play because they love to play. People like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods don’t work as hard as they do for the money. They do it because they want to be the best. (See Message #382, “The Secret Shared by Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan”) And in being the best, they earn amazing amounts of money. The money is the result, not the cause.

Money isn’t the root of all evil, but the love of it is.

Don’t love money. Love the idea of your business. Love the good that it does. Love the fact that in some way your products meet the needs or wants of your customers. See money for what it is — a neutral indicator of how good you are at doing what you do. If the value you provide is worth the money you get for it, the money will come. The better the value you give, the more money you will get.