How to Become Rich.

February 20, 2024

How to Become Rich.

May 29, 2023

“Love and service make us rich.” -Anne Lamott

When I was an ambitious 19-year-old working in my uncle’s competitive, macho commercial real estate brokerage company, I was assigned three books to read that were meant to be gospel: “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” “Think and Grow Rich,” and “The Richest Man in Babylon.” I dutifully devoured these books and even created a thought of the day—an excerpt from one of the three books—that I would read before “suiting up” as a salesman/gladiator and going to work. 

And yet, I saw these men, most of them barely a decade older than me—rich yet miserable. As soon as their annual salaries hit six figures, they yearned for seven. Despite spending so much time with them during the week, they were far from being my role models. Instead, I found my inspiration during the weekends, driving up to San Francisco to serve meals to the less fortunate at Glide Memorial Church. It was there that I made a good friend in Jack, a dude who used to be homeless and was now giving back, reciprocating the support he'd once received from Glide. 

Soon after I met him, Jack wrote an essay, “Poor Dude, Rich Dude,” twenty years before “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” was published. He gave it to me to read as homework before seeing him the following week. There was one sentence in it that I loved: “I intend to become a karmic capitalist.”  My life has been forever altered by that message of reciprocity—what goes around, comes around. Ironically, many years later, Stanford magazine wrote a story about me entitled “The Karmic Capitalism of Chip Conley.”

Remember that wisdom is like electricity. It’s in the air. You just need to know how to conduct and translate it, even when it comes in the most unexpected forms. In my case, Jack (and, later, writer Anne Lamott) helped me to see that there are many ways to become rich. 

-Chip

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