The Hustler’s Playbook: On Wealth, Envy, and Creating Value

Right now it’s popular to talk down wealth and the wealthy. But there is a deep, dark psychology at work here. It’s as old as time, and it’s called envy. Envy is feeding the wrong wolf.

It Doesn’t Make You Green

Envy and jealousy are different (although both are unhealthy). When you are jealous, you wish you had something that someone else possesses. Envy is far worse. Envy is wishing that the other person didn’t have it.

Jealousy may cause you take action to have what the other person has. Taking action on envy means taking something away from someone. For a short time you may be happy someone loses something, but it won’t help you improve your own position.

This post isn’t political. It’s philosophical. I’m not making a statement about the 1%, crony capitalism, or how some benefited from the financial crisis of the last decade (yeah, that was five years ago already). That said, I don’t believe trading paper and balance sheets creates any real value, but that’s just me.

Envy is the reason people criticize the wealthy, most of whom aren’t in financial services. Taking money from the wealthy has never made anyone wealthy, except the despots who grabbed the reigns of power in places like Cuba, China, some parts of the Middle East, and the old Soviet Union.

If You Want to Be Green

Money won’t necessarily make you happy. But it won’t necessarily make you unhappy either. It’s a bit of an amplifier. It’s okay to want more, and here is how you get it.

If you want to grow your own wealth, direct your energy into creating value for other people. Creating value for other people is the only honest, legitimate way to increase your own wealth.

The greater the value you create, the more you are worth, and the more you will grow your own income. The more people that benefit from what you do, the more valuable you become.

It might be popular to talk down wealth and wealth creation right now, but if you really want to make the biggest contribution of which you are capable, it doesn’t hurt to have some money. Money allows you to scale up and create greater value, and it allows you to help more people. And if you create value, you are entitled to keep some of the value you create.

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