The recent New York Times article titled In Silicon Valley, Millionaires Who Donít Feel Rich evoked a lot of interesting responses on-line. Unfortunately, I didn't have the time to comment when I first read it, but it's been sitting in the back of my mind ever since then.
In one way this article really confirms some of the things that bug me about Silicon Valley. There's an awful amount (or an unhealthy amount, if you prefer) of both greed and financial insecurity around here. You don't have to live here very long before you start to notice it. And before too long, you might find yourself being pulled in yourself. I know that it happened to me on a few occasions.
I've had to actively work to make sure I don't fall into those traps. It can be really hard when you're surrounded (sometimes quite literally) by people who have millions of dollars at their disposal. And the funny thing is that the insecurity is almost always completely unjustified. The types of talented people who are drawn here really don't have a lot of trouble finding a job that'll pay the bills--and then some.
I take some solace in the fact that a fair number of the millionaires I know seem to be no happier than I am with all that money. Worse yet, they continue to work for reasons that mystify me. Many don't seem particularly happy with their jobs. And that's the saddest part of all in my mind.
Sometimes I think it's a lack of creativity or ambition. But I honestly don't know.
You see, I've given this some thought over the years. If, like some of the folks in the article, I had $5 million dollars sitting around, you sure as hell wouldn't catch me sitting in a cubicle. A wisely invested $3 - $5 million can provide more than enough to live on quite comfortably (assuming you've eliminated debt) while still growing the investment too.
There's a really big world out there and a lot of interesting things to do, people to meet, ideas to try out, and relaxing to be had. We all know that life is short. I'd take that to heart and act like time was a scarce resource--because it is!
I'd get outside more often. I'd fly. I might teach others to fly. I'd read more books. Get a telescope. Go for long walks and/or hikes in amazing places. I'd travel a bit more. I'd move a bit out of the Bay Area, where the focus on the next shiny thing and making millions of dollars simply doesn't exist.
Basically, I'd relax and really enjoy life. I wouldn't stress out over making another few million dollars or trying to be the next Big Thing.
Sure, I know that there are some people who can only ever be happy when they're working 12 hours a day to build the next big thing. I guess what I'm saying is that I'm definitely not one of them. My life's todo list has far more things on it that I'd like to get around to.
Now... anyone got a few million dollars that I can hold on to for the next 40 years? :-)
Posted by jzawodn at August 09, 2007 11:49 AM