Why To Make More Money

Make lots of money. Give it away.

I know, I know–everything else you read on social media is called “HOW To Make More Money”.

But if you’re like me, nobody ever told you why you should.

If you’re like me, you were brought up to seek security: a long-term career with a dental plan, a pension at the end, and a predictable income for life. Maybe a couple of promotions, maybe enough money to buy a jet-ski in my late 40s.

If you’re like me, you were told stories where the villains were rich and the rich were villains. You saw the Disney heroes – scrappy, honest and broke – overcome the evil hoarder who was swimming in money. You heard this story in school, in church and on Saturday morning cartoons.

If you’re like me, you were trained to be happy with your lot; to give a little to those less fortunate; and to never, ever talk about money. In fact, the only time money was ever discussed was when someone needed it because they’d wasted it on booze or lottery tickets or worse.

Here’s the reality, though: somebody has to make money.

The government doesn’t make enough money to support everyone.

The bureaucrats don’t add money to our economy; they just soak it up.

The banks make money…by doing the stuff with your money that you should be doing yourself.

It’s up to the entrepreneurs to create the money that feeds everyone else.

That means we must make more money than you need for ourselves.

We must make enough money to take care of our family…and the families of our staff.

We must make enough money to pay the taxes that support our healthcare system, educational institutions, and various bureaucracies. Many (not all) of those do good work. But none create the money to sustain themselves. That’s up to us.

We need to make enough to have a bit left over, after covering our costs and paying our taxes, because some people need our help NOW. Some people, like kids in foster care, can’t wait for the Third Subcommittee on Mental Health and Wellness in Displaced Children to release their report on declining fitness rates in blah blah blah. Summer’s coming, and they need a bike. If we make money, we can buy it for them. Or pay for their hockey program or their eye surgery.

About a year ago, my team noticed that I wasn’t really pushing hard to grow anymore. This showed up in lots of places – I didn’t want to take meetings, didn’t want to travel, didn’t even really want to write new stuff. The problem is that I was “fine” – I was earning more than I needed, had lots of free time – why keep grinding so hard?

My CFO asked why I wasn’t trying to grow the business. I said, “I don’t care if we grow the company to 1000 clients or 10M in revenue. None of those goals motivate me.”

He said, “What was the best thing you did last year? What made you most excited or happy?”

I said, “I bought 50 bikes for kids in foster care. And we donated X to another cause, and Y amount to this thing…” (I had a few examples that totalled around 100k.)

He said, “What would you do if you could give away a million dollars every year?”

I said, “Oh, there’s lots I’d do. But that’s a crazy amount of money.”

He said, “Not really. You just need 20M in assets paying you around 5% return. That’s a million. You can just give it away!”

So we started working on a plan to do it. And as the plan took shape, I got more and more excited.

Now I repeat “Make lots of money, give it away” over and over, because that’s my motivation.

Some people are really good at donating their time to serve others. Some people are good at coaching fitness–and just good enough at making money to survive. I’m good at making money, because that’s the skill I’ve cultivated for the last 20 years.

This is why free markets eradicate poverty, create the opportunity for democracy and have better healthcare–because self-martyrdom or living on the streets of Calcutta aren’t the only way to serve humanity. Another great way to serve is to make lots of money and give it to those who don’t know how. Another is creating opportunities for your team to do the same. And that cascading effect is how we raise the quality of life for everyone.

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