Life as a “Ultra High Networth” Person
A reddit user asked the question, “What do insanely wealthy people buy, that ordinary people know nothing about?” u/a1988eli gave a detailed answer for individuals worth 10M-30M, 30M-100M, 100M-1B, and 1B+. Specifically, his answer for what billionaires spend money on is the most interesting.
I can answer this one. For some reason, I attract these people into my life. I don’t do anything super extraordinary. I am not famous. But I count many peoplewith ultra high net wealth among my close friends and I have spent more time than even I can believe with 8 different billionaires. This is not just meet-and-greet time. This is small group and even one-to-one time. I dated the daughter of one billionaire several decades ago. So I have gotten a peek into this life.
Let’s get one thing out of the way. There are gradations of rich. I see four major breaking points:
Worth $10mm-$30mm liquid (exclusive of value of primary residence). At this level, your needs are met. You can live very comfortably at a 4-star/5-star level. You can book a $2000 suite for a special occassion. You can fly first class internationally (sometimes). You have a very nice house, you can afford any healthcare you need, no emergency financial situation can destroy your life. But you are not “rich” in the way that money doesn’t matter. You still have to be prudent and careful with most decisions unless you are on the upper end of this scale, where you truly are becoming insulated from personal financial stress. (Business stress exists at all levels). The banking world still doesn’t classify you as ‘ultra high net worth’
Net worth of $30mm-$100mm
At this point, you start playing with the big boys. You can fly private (though you normally charter a flight or own a jet fractionally through Net Jets or the like), You stay at 5 star hotels, you have multiple residences, you vacation in prime time (you rent a ski-in, ski-out villa in Aspen for Christmas week or go to Monaco for the grand Prix, or Canne for the Film Festival–for what its worth, rent on these places can run $5k-20k+ per NIGHT.), you run or have a ontrolling interest in a big company, you socialize with Conressmen, Senators and community leaders, and you are an extremely well respected member in any community outside the world’s great cities. (In Beverly Hills, you are a minor player at $80 million. Unless you really throw your weight around and pay out the nose, you might not get a table at the city’s hottest restaurant). You can buy any car you want. You have personal assistants and are starting to have ‘people’ that others have to talk to to get to you. You can
travel ANYWHERE in any style. You can buy pretty much anything that normal people think of as ‘rich people stuff’
I know its a wide range, but life doesn’t change much when you go from being worth $200mm-$900mm. At this point, you have a private jet, multiple residences with staff, elite cars at each residence, ownership or significant control over a business/entity that most of the public has heard of, if its your thing, you can socialize with movie stars/politicians/rock stars/corporate elite/aristocracy. You might not get invite to every party, but you can go pretty much everywhere you want. You definitely have ‘people’ and staff. The world is full of ‘yes men’. Your ability to buy things becomes an art. One of your vacation home may be a 5 bedroom villa on acreage in Cabo, but that’s not impressive. You own a private island? Starting to be cool, but it depends on the island. You just had dinner with Senator X and Governor Y at your home? Cool. But your billionaire friend just had dinner with the President. You have a new Ferrari? Your friend thinks their handling sucks and has a classic,
only-five-exist-in-the-world-type of car. Did I mention women? Because at this level, they are all over the place. Every event, most parties. The polo club. Ultra-hot, world class, smart women. Power and money are an aphrodisiac and you have it in spades. Anything thing you want from women at this point you will find a willing and beautiful partner. You might not emotionally connect, but damn, she’s hot. One thing that gets rare at this level? friends and family that love you for who you are. They exist, but it is pretty damn hard to know which ones they are.
I am going to exclude the $10b+ crowd, because they live a head-of-state life. But at $1b, life changes. You can buy anything. ANYTHING. In broad terms, this is what you can buy:
Access. You now can just ask your staff to contact anyone and you will get a call back. I have seen this first hand and it is mind-blowing the level of access and respect $1 billion+ gets you. In this case, I wanted to speak with a very well-known billionaire businessman (call him billionaire #1 for a project that interested billionaire #2. I mentioned that it would be good to talk to billionaire #1 and B2 told me that he didn’t know him. But he called his assistant in. “Get me the xxxgolf club directory. Call B1 at home and tell him I want to talk to him.” Within 60 minutes, we had a call back. I was in B1’s home talking to him the next day. B2’s opinion commanded that kind of respect from a peer. Mind blowing. The same is true with access to almost any Senator/Governor of a billionaires party (because in most cases, he is a significant donor). You meet on an occassional basis with heads-of-state and have real conversations with them. Which leads to
Influence. Yes, you can buy influence. As a billionaire, you have manyways to shape public policy and the public debate, and you use them. This is not in any evil way. the ones I know are passionate about ideas and are trying to do what they feel is best (just like you would). But they just had an hour with the Governor privately, or with the Secretary of Health, or the buy ads or lobbyists. The amount of influence you have can be heady.
Time. Yes, you can buy time. You literally never wait for anything. Travel? you fly private. Show up at the airport, sit down in the plane and the door closes and you take off in 2 minutes, and fly directly to where you are going. The plane waits for you. If you decide you want to leave at anytime, you drive (or take a helicopter to the airport and you leave. The pilots and stewardess are your employees. They do what you tell them to do. Dinner? Your driver drops you off at the front door and waits a few blocks away for however long you need. The best table is waiting for you. The celebrity chef has prepared a meal for you (because you give him so much catering business he wants you VERY happy) and he ensures service is impeccable. Golf? Your club is so exclusive there is always a tee time and no wait. Going to the Superbowl or Grammy’s? You are whisked behind velvet ropes and escorted past any/all lines to the best seats in the house.
Experiences. Dream of it and you can have it. Want to play tennis with Pete Sampras (not him in particular, but that type of star)? Call his people. For a donation of $100k+ to his charity, you could probably play a match with him. Like Blink182? There is a price where they would simply come play at your private party. Love art? Your people could arrange for the curator of the Louvre to show you around and even show you masterpieces that have not been exhibited in years. Love Nascar? How about racing the top driver on a closed track? Love science? Have a dinner with Bill Nye and Neil dGT. Love politics? have Hillary Clinton come speak at a dinner for you and your friends, just pay her speaking fee. Your mind is the only limit to what is available. Because donations/fees get you anyone.
The same is true with stuff. You like pianos? How about owning one Mozart used to compose music on? This is the type of stuff you can do.
IMPACT. Your money can literally change the world and change lives. It is almost too much of a burden to think about. Clean water for a whole village forever? chump change. A dying child need a transplant? Hell…you could just build and fund a hospital and do it for a region.
RESPECT. The respect you get at this level is just over-the-top. You are THE MAN in almost every circle. Governors look up to you. Fortune 500 CEOs look up to you. Presidents and Kings look at you as a peer.
PERSPECTIVE. The wealthiest person I have spent time with makes about $400mm/year. i couldn’t get my mind around that until I did this: OK–let’s compare it with someone who makes $40,000/year. It is 10,000x more. Now let’s look at prices the way he might. A new Lambo–$235,000 becaome $23.50. First class ticket internationally? $10,000 becomes $1. A full time executive level helper? $8,000/month becomes $0.80/month. A $10mm piece of art you love? $1000. Expensive, so you have to plan a bit. A suite at the best hotel in NYC $10,000/night is $1/night. A $50million home in the Hamptons? $5,000. There is literally nothing you can’t buy except.
Love. Sorry to sound so trite, but it is nearly impossible to have a normal emotional relationship at this level. It is hard to sacrifice for another person when you are never asked to sacrifice ANYTHING. Money can solve all problems for someone, so you offer it, because there is so much else to do. Your time is SOOOO valuable that you ration it. And that makes you lose connections with people.
Anyway, that is a really long answer, but I have a very unique perspective because I have seen behind the curtain of the great and mighty OZ. just wanted to share.
Upon arriving in San Francisco on Sunday, I requested an Uber to the hotel I was staying at, which I realized was only two blocks from my former apartment. After settling in at my hotel, I took a walk around the neighborhood; finding my old breakfast spot, barbershop, laundromat, and corner store. I felt warmth in my body and a smile spread across my face as these memories resurfaced.
The Japanese word natsukashii describes a feeling of happiness and gratitude for fond memories in the past. It is similar to nostalgia, but instead of longing for a time or place to come back, one is content with the joy of remembering. Natsukashii describes my time in San Francisco, I’m grateful that I got to live and experience the city at that stage of my life.
The Buyerarchy of Needs
Love this graphic from Sarah Lazarovic. It’s a useful framework before deciding to buy a new piece of clothing.
Five Pointz credits to Wikipedia
Five Pointz was a mural space in Long Island City, New York known as the mecca for graffiti art. The space was home to over 200 artists’ studios and its exterior was famously covered in graffiti.
In 2013, the owner made the controversial decision to demolish the factory and replace it with a residential complex. In 2014, the building was completely demolished and the street art tragically disappeared with it.
On San Francisco
I first lived in San Francisco in the Fall of 2019 for an internship, I’d never been to the Bay Area before that. I rented an apartment in Nob Hill and walked to Market Street every day on my way to work. I fondly reflect on my time in SF eavesdropping on technology-related conversations (though this got old fast), walking the steep hills, and eating mission burritos.
In Fall of 2021, I returned to San Francisco for my first post-pandemic visit and it was a ghost town. I walked along Market Street, one of the main streets in SF that I used to work on, and it was barren. Most storefronts were boarded up or vandalized, and I barely saw anyone walking except the occasional homeless person or city worker. From a distance, I’ve read the news that most shops near Union Square, which I used to live near, closed down. Westfield Mall, which I used to visit often, was vacating the city. It hurt to see a beautiful place like San Francisco in decline.
Today, I’ve returned to San Francisco for a week-long trip. Visiting a city you used to live in is like visiting an old friend: you reminisce on old times, catch up on how things have been, and see how you both have changed. I’ve changed a lot since I last visited SF and I’m curious to see how SF has changed too.
The Pursuit of Less
I’m kept up-to-date on the latest trends thanks to fashion influencers I follow on Instagram and YouTube. They constantly show off their huge collections of outerwear and footwear in their posts and videos, often reviewing the latest seasonal drop from popular brands. The abundance of content and relentless pursuit of new clothing is my biggest issue with the fashion industry.
It’s easy to believe that having style means owning a lot of clothes, but one can look stylish with a small wardrobe. Having style and owning few clothes do not have to be mutually exclusive.
For me, the pursuit of less means owning a modest wardrobe consisting of versatile, high-quality pieces. I’m aware of my style and what I want; when I recognize a gap, I am patient in finding the perfect, sustainable and preferably local piece. The pursuit of less encourages me to make the most of what I own, styling pieces differently and wearing them season after season. I nurture my clothing, caring for them properly, washing only when necessary, storing them correctly, and taking them for repair before replacing them.
Things I’ve Enjoyed Recently (12/1/2023)
Book I’m reading
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. This book alternates between two main characters: Kafka Tamura, a young teenage boy who runs away from home, and Nakata, an old man who lost his memory decades ago and has the ability to talk to cats. This is my second Murakami novel and it hasn’t disappointed so far.
Clothing brand I like
Asket. Asket is a slow fashion brand based in Sweden. They make no-compromise, ethical, and sustainable clothing. While their prices are on the higher end, their quality competes with luxury brands.
Song I’m listening to
In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel. I first heard this song sampled on a track years ago back when I was into breakdancing. After more than a decade, I heard it while working out of a Brooklyn cafe.
Blog post I’m reading
How I Read by Rob Henderson. Writer, Rob Henderson, shares his secrets on how he’s able to read so many books. This post is inspiring me to get back into deep reading.
Music video I’m watching
Now and Then by The Beatles. I wrote a few blog posts when this song was first released. I’ve re-watched it many times since. I especially love the AI generated avatars of George Harrison and John Lennon.
Meditation Makes You More Ambitious
Some people think that meditation makes you lose your edge. If your ambition is fueled by money, status, or power, then meditation will certainly break that illusion, making you less ambitious.
But from my experience, it’s the opposite, meditation has made me more ambitious. It’s allowed me listen to my inner voice. And once I began to listen to myself, and connect with my true nature, it helped clarify my big picture and I’m doing everything I can to make it happen.
How to Improve Your Style: How to Shop
This is part of my How to Improve Your Style for Men series
Now that you found inspiration, taken steps to identify your style, established a capsule wardrobe, and assessed your closet, you can start the fun part, building out your wardrobe.
While shopping may appear simple, there’s an art to it. Over the next few weeks, I’ll cover the following topics:
- How much to spend on clothes
- Shopping without buying
- Brand recommendations depending on your budget
- Assessing garment quality
- How to shop online
- How to thrift
- Getting your clothes tailored
- On fast fashion and shopping consciously
Reading, Projects, and Conversation
You will not learn anything of lasting importance from TV, movies, podcasts…they’re junk food. Successful people converge on 3 ways to learn: lots of reading time, some exercises and projects, and conversations with people who are slightly ahead of them. - Byrne Hobart
I agree that little to nothing of lasting importance is learned from TV, movies or podcasts.
I’d add that from personal experience that I learn not only through reading, creating, and conversation but also through writing. Writing helps me evaluate, analyze, and apply an idea and clarify my thoughts on a topic.
Committing to New York City
My welcome to New York City moment came on my first day in NYC. I first moved here in the Summer of ’22 renting a family’s Bushwick apartment while they were on vacation. That first evening, my Puerto Rican neighbours were throwing a block party blasting reggaeton until 4am. I couldn’t sleep at all. I didn’t mind it though, that first day was special and I wanted to savor it.
From when I first landed here, I knew that NYC was special, but after living here for more than a year, I understand what makes NYC special. New York City is the internet but in real life. It’s vast, it’s diverse, and it can be distracting at times, but whatever you are looking for you can find it in NYC.
Many people talk about New York as a phase, but not me, I want to live here long term, maybe even my entire life. I love everything about this city: the food, the energy, the diversity, and the people. Inevitably the New York City I fell in love with will change. But to commit something means to accept it for who it is and who it’ll be.
How I Find Time for Creative Work While Working a Full Time Job
During the day, I work as a Product Manager for a construction technology startup. On nights and weekends, I write and I organize a writing community. My full-time job can be demanding but I’ll always find time for my creative work.
It’s common for creative people to feel they lack time and energy for their work after a day job. Many creatives in the past have proven it’s possible to still pursue their art while having a job - Einstein worked on the theory of relativity while employed as a patent clerk, Dana Gioia worked as the VP of Marketing for a large food manufacturing company while being a nationally recognized poet, and Ted Chiang wrote Story of Your Life which became adapted into the movie Arrival while working as a technical writer at Microsoft. There are many more examples of prominent creatives working on their craft with a full-time job, it almost seems like it’s more of the norm rather than the exception.
For myself, my job and my creative life are complementary. My job provides stability and finances while my writing offers a creative outlet and meaning. If my life was just my job, it would be dull and unfulfilling. On the other hand, if I only made art, I would be financially insecure and may need to compromise my creative integrity in order to monetize my work. I view my work as a patron to my creative life, and I can use the money provided by my job to take more risks with my art and save up for when I want to take the leap or invest in my craft.
Making time to pursue creative work is a matter of prioritizing it. If a friend claims they don’t have time, that indicates to me that it’s not important enough for them. No one says they don’t have time to eat dinner; if something is a priority, we make time for it. Balancing the two means making sacrifices and having self-control. You’ll need strong time management skills to stop addictions like doomscrolling on social media or watching Netflix. It means you’ll also need to be selective when you go out instead of saying yes to everything.
Setting Boundaries with Work
During my work hours from 9-6, I’m completely focused on my job. Fortunately, my team is mostly on the West Coast, so I have my mornings free from 9-12. I use this time to accomplish most of my work and condense meetings into the afternoon. Working after hours is a last resort since it takes away from my creative work.
Knowing my priorities and saying no when I have too much work are important for making sure I don’t exceed my boundaries. During my weekly 1:1s with my manager, I’ll discuss how a new task fits into my priorities and whether it’s okay to remove something from the bottom of the list. When I receive an invitation to a meeting that I do not have much to contribute to, I ask the host about the purpose, the agenda, and whether I’m actually necessary or not.
After 6 pm, I’m done with work. I don’t think about it anymore and I won’t respond to Slack messages or Emails until the next day.
Deep Rest and Deep Play
During the day, I’ll focus on my job and immediately afterward I’ll take time to rest. Resting is just as important as working, but it should be a restorative and regenerative type of rest. Scrolling on Instagram or watching YouTube videos does not provide this kind of rest for me, but going for a walk, to the gym, or reading does.
Working on a creative project should energize you and bring a sense of purpose. Don’t start a project because you think it’s what you want to do; make sure it truly inspires you. Otherwise, you’ll only exhaust yourself.
Making Time on Nights and Weekends
Monday to Friday after 7:30 pm is my creative time. Even if I’m tired from work, I find that I’m able to get into a productive “flow” shortly after starting. It’s like running; it can take a few minutes to reach that “runner’s high” but there’s always more energy to be tapped.
On the weekends, I dedicate my mornings to my creative projects. I head to my favorite coffee shop and write from 9 to 12. Maybe even spending more time that day depending on the project.
To add to this tweet, the richest inheritance our parents can give is showing us what love and understanding looks like.
Against Black Friday
It’s the job of the retailers to convince you that you need to buy this sweater and you need to buy it now because it’s 50% off and will sell out soon. It’s their job to create FOMO, and persuade you that you won’t be happy unless you purchase more.
I’m here to tell you that you have everything you need. Don’t let them scam you into being unhappy.
More than ever, we need to consume consciously. This means owning less and consuming less. This means taking care of your items and repairing them instead of replacing them. Consuming consciously is a mindset shift where we take pride in the garments we already own instead of buying into the culture of mindless consumption. Garments aren’t disposable and every purchase we make has consequences to the environment and the people that create it.
What’s Black Friday?
A coworker asked me what exactly is Black Friday? I didn’t know so I decided to do some research.
Black Friday occurs the day after Thanksgiving and has historically been one of the most important shopping days of the year as this marks the start of the holiday season. The narrative created by retailers and merchants was that they traditionally operated at a loss for most of the year but Black Friday is when they begin to profit. In accounting, negative amounts were written in red ink while positive amounts were shown in black ink. Thus, Black Friday is when businesses move from the “red” and begin to turn a profit.
How to Improve Your Style: Assessing Your Wardrobe
This is part of the How to Improve Your Style for Men series
Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle. - Marie Kondo
Before changing up my style this summer, I had maybe 20 pieces in my closet that I wore regularly. Out of those 20 pieces, I only truly enjoyed wearing half of them. When I cleaned out my wardrobe, I ended up donating or throwing out over 80% of my wardrobe.
Decluttering my wardrobe was a therapeutic and symbolic exercise. Practically speaking, letting go of old, worn-out pieces decluttered my closet, made it easier to decide what to wear in the morning, and helped me figure out the gaps that existed in my wardrobe. But on a symbolic level, cleaning out my closet meant letting go of the past. There were many pieces I’ve had since high school. Some were over 10 years old. Other pieces were gifts that I felt obliged to keep even though I didn’t wear them.
How to assess your wardrobe
Spend an afternoon or evening analyzing your clothes.
Sort your clothes into two piles: clothes worn in the past month and those not worn.
The clothes you wore in the past month you’ll keep.
For the clothes you haven’t worn, sort them again:
- One pile is for pieces that you like but don’t fit you
- The second pile is for pieces that are worn out or you don’t enjoy wearing anymore
For items that don’t fit, take them to a tailor; sell, donate, or throw out the rest.
Branding means adding your personality to every interaction of your product, business, or community. Every interaction either strengthens or diminishes your brand.
Branding goes beyond name, logo, and social media presence. For example, when a community hosts an event, the brand is built on the details: guest lists, event descriptions, pre-event messaging, dress code, marketing strategy, venue selection, and the beverages and snacks you decide to serve.
Three Ways to Support Sustainable Fashion
Credits to @lingerie_addict
The fashion industry is one of the most destructive and unethical industries in the world, much of this harm is driven by fast fashion. Yet, I was raised in a generation were fast fashion is the norm.
Much of my learnings and unlearnings around fashion this Summer centered around changing my perception on fast fashion and embracing slow fashion instead. The tweet above is a reminder that we can all participate in sustainable fashion.
Prove Yourself Wrong
I thought I wasn’t a marketing guy.
I thought I wasn’t a branding guy.
I thought I wasn’t built for this.
But when you truly care about something, you’ll bypass all self-doubt and limiting beliefs and you’ll do whatever it takes.
That’s the magic of doing hard things. You prove to others that you can do it. But more importantly, you prove it to yourself.
Make Something Special
After a month of planning, last night we hosted the Wholesome Writing Party. I usually feel a mix of anxiety and excitement on the day of an event but yesterday was different, I strangely felt calm. We spent much of our waking hours for weeks preparing for this day and we were ready.
An hour and a half prior to the event we began set up. We laid out the tea and mocktails at the bar, sectioned off a cozy, carpeted area with a couch, organized a few tables with word-based board games, hung up writing excerpts, dimmed the lighting, and played some upbeat music. The space came to life.
It was then 8 pm, it was now showtime and guests started to trickle in. It was endearing seeing new, regular, and old OTWC members all in one space. Out of the nearly 100 people who attended, I knew more than half the people. It means a lot when friends come to support you at an event that you worked hard for.
The vibes of the event were everything we hoped for. Guests were vibing, we cleared out our supply of drinks and snacks, and guests enjoyed the different activities that we laid out.
We made the intentional decision to not serve alcohol and instead served tea, mocktails, and liquid death. We were worried that maybe it wouldn’t be as lit without alcohol but that wasn’t the case at all. We successfully organized a Friday evening party without alcohol that was probably more lit than any other party happening that evening in the city.
As the end of the event approached, many of the guests said how much fun they had, how proud they were of us in growing the OTWC, and they were excited for what was next. The post-event high was an amazing feeling. We dreamed big. We put in the work. And we made it happen.
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