The Importance of Empathy

You’re reading this blog. You’ve already bought and read The Old Money Book. You’ve embraced the values, priorities, and habits that are presented in it, and you’re living the Old Money life. And now, a short time later, you either begin or continue to prosper as a result. Maybe you even experience a financial windfall and your circumstances change overnight.

What’s the biggest danger you may face? Not remembering or realizing that not everyone has been as fortunate as you. Psychologists will tell you that after two or three years of making $300,000 a year or more, a person will begin to forget what life is like for those who aren’t has financially successful.

I hear it every day. At a party, where an heiress, oblivious to much of what transpires outside her Rich-Kids-of-Instagram life, casually invites a new acquaintance to go to Barbados with her and several girlfriends for a week.

“I can’t,” replies the young lady, a little shocked and embarrassed.

“Why not? It’ll be fun,” countered the high-net-worth-low-IQ woman.

“Because I have to go to work on Monday.”

The realization that someone in the world actually works was, sadly, a shock to the little princess. Which is embarrassing for her, not for the girl who was actually working for a living.

Not only can you never be condescending to someone else, you have to endeavor to remain empathetic to everyone else. We have to put our judgments of others on hold because we don’t know enough about them to judge them. We have to be patient with others just as our parents (and perhaps our God) remain patient with us.  We can try to, as the old saying goes, walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.

In practical terms, how do we do this? It’s simple.

First, be polite to everybody. Acknowledge everybody. (Okay, when you step on the bus, train, or subway, maybe not everybody.) Smile. Offer your seat to a woman or the elderly. Hold a door open. It’s a little thing. It costs nothing. So what if you’re late for a meeting and somebody asks you why and you say, “I was helping an older gentlemen with his groceries.” Do you think that meeting is going to go well for you? I do.

Second, ask people how they’re doing. They may tell you things about themselves that you never dreamed could be true. Ignore they way they’re dressed, how wealthy or impoverished they appear. They have a unique story that may take you down a notch and make you feel even more grateful for your situation. Or they may be much more than you ever expected, making you feel like an idiot for making a quick assessment based on their appearance.

Third, offer to help. Give to a charity, obviously. But if you can help someone, person to person, do it. Selfishly, you’ll generate beta-endorphins, which make you feel good and promote health. But beyond that, you’ll experience on the most primal level what it is to be human: to share with someone who may be having a challenging moment. It is the only way to experience true wealth.

Empathy is not sympathy. It is understanding on a personal, emotional level. It is the opposite of distance, of disconnect, of social class distinctions, of us-versus-them thinking.

Think about it. Practice it. Maintain it.



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What I Do

Innovative and intuitive content creator and cliche disruptor in the generational wealth and time-tested values preservation space. Curator of the vieilles fortunes culture in the digital and print media formats. Style sherpa for under-represented, non-trending demographic. Whatever.

Give me a break with the overly innocuous, beyond-cutting-edge job descriptions. Say what you do in plain language and do what you say you can do with competence, modesty, and professionalism. Trust me, in today’s world, it will be refreshing to many of us, and you will never be at a loss for work.

As for me, I write about Old Money.



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The Price of Freedom

The well-known adage that “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance,” has a special meaning when you put it in the context of the Old Money culture.

Why? Because if you want to become, and remain, financially independent, you’ve to to watch your expenditures, be mindful of opportunities to increase your income, and keep a keen eye on your investments.

And that’s not all: you’ve to to keep it between the lines, as I like to say, when it comes to your behavior and your values. Drinking and driving is a bad idea because, not only do you put lives at risk, you put your personal freedom and your financial freedom at risk. So you don’t do it. The same thing applies to  unsafe sex. Or reckless gambling. Or substance abuse. Or abuse of any kind. These are things are simply not an option to an OMG.

I’m sitting at a laptop here, not preaching from a pulpit: if you want to wake up in the morning, make your own schedule, be your own boss, and be free, you’ve got to get your ducks in a row and keep them there. You’ve got to be mindful of your habits, your weaknesses, and your goals.

People think OMG’s are boring. They’re not. They’re mindful. They’ve got a great thing going and they want to keep it going. So they’re private. They’re financially conservative. They cherish habits and traditions that have served them (and their ancestors) well over the years. They think long term. They’re circumspect about their choices and how these choices could affect their freedom. And for OMG’s with families, the stakes are even higher. They have their spouses and children to consider.

This doesn’t mean you live in fear. Quite the opposite. You live with passion: about your work, about your relationships, about your future, about your evolution as a person, and about what you can give back to the world as you prosper.

So be vigilant. It’s a small price to pay.


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Member of the Tribe – Part 10

Member of the Tribe 10

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Future OMG’s Get Down

Future OMGs Rock and Roll

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What Moderates My Advice

There’s a tremendous amount of advice given on the internet. It may be the most common commodity in digital form, truth by told. Self-proclaimed experts pop up around every corner with dubious credentials, sure-fire suggestions, and breathless testimonials from satisfied customers whose lives they have forever changed.

These sages of wisdom, well-intentioned as I’m sure they are, often gleam their philosophies and guidelines from personal experience and technical expertise. They were once in poverty and now they’re rich, so they can show you how to be rich, too. They’re certified by a reputable (or not so reputable) institution of higher learning, so they’re qualified to solve your problem.

That’s great. But here’s the wrinkle with giving advice: not everybody’s in the same boat as the advisor. Not everybody has even remotely the same resources, experiences, or perspective to understand or access even the most enlightened advice communicated in the most simple terms.

For that reason, I try to moderate the advice I give on this blog and in The Old Money Book. Everyone may not be able to take the actions I detail in the How Old Money Does It section of the book.  They may not have the money or time to refurbish a piece of old furniture or buy new clothes in the manner I suggest.

The Core Values I present may be more accessible, as this section involves simply becoming aware of what you hold dear, what you prioritize, and what you adopt as habits. Everyone has values, and everyone can choose to change theirs, if only in small measures, over time, if so desired.

So I endeavor to avoid dogmatic rhetoric in the book and on this blog. Yes, I’m passionate about financial independence and education, but I don’t think there’s just one way to acquire them. I’ve detailed philosophies, techniques, and strategies that have worked for me and my family over time. They’ve also worked for generations of other people, all over the world, with predictable results.

Still, don’t take my advice: consider it. Weigh it in your personal life, which I can not possibly know anything about. Apply it on a case-by-case basis as you see fit, or ignore it all.

For in the words of the great French philosopher Michel de Montaigne, “The only thing I know for certain is that I know nothing. And I’m not even sure about that.”




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Symptoms of Being Old Money

In The Old Money Book, I detail the values, priorities and habits of America’s Upper Class, families who’ve had privilege and wealth for usually three generations or more.

But anyone can adopt these values and live a richer life in the process. You’ll learn to appreciate experiences over material possessions; financial independence over outward displays of conspicuous consumption; accomplishments over accolades; relationships over networking.

In the process, you may also develop certain symptoms that will tell you, regardless of your family history or personal net worth, that you are now, officially and irrevocably, Old Money.

In no particular order, they include but are not limited to, the following:

1. Shock and awe at the amount of money other people pay for poorly made and soon-to-be-out-of-style clothing. This also applies to tattoos, electronic gadgets, trendy alcoholic mixed drinks, and video games.

2. Silence and evasion when someone tells you how much money they have, or inquires as to how much money you have. “How about those Red Sox!” you find yourself almost shouting, desperately trying to change the subject.

3. Denial and reluctance when others tell you that it’s time to replace an article of clothing, a car, or piece of furniture that has positively, beyond the shadow of a doubt, been worn to death and is absolutely beyond repair. “But…but it’s only a small hole in the sole of my Topsiders…”

4. Comfort in the familiar when you finally admit that you have to replace said item. You immediately seek out the identical item and are furious that now, two or three decades later, it now costs more, is not as well made, or is no longer available at all. Why do I own 9 blue oxford cloth button down shirts that look virtually identical? I don’t know, but I do.

5. Amusement at small things deemed to be so important by the media and so-called ‘social influencers’, whatever those are.  You know what’s important in life, and you’re just waiting for other people to see through the distractions and illusions and come to the same realizations.

6. The importance of time when you realize that the money you’d spend doing something isn’t as important as the time you’d spend. You can get the money back, but you can’t get the time back.

7. Patience. When you focus on something, work hard at it or for it, and let the results happen in an organic way, many things will come to you, like a butterfly lighting on your shoulder. When people see this happen, they will tend to forget your hard work and patience and simply call you “lucky.”

8. Candor. You realize that the truth isn’t going to kill anyone, and it may be the one thing they really need to hear. This earns you the reputation of being the relative that you don’t ask a question of if you don’t really want the answer. This is a great designation because it really cuts down on the small talk and nonsense.

I’m sure you all have symptoms of your own. Feel free to share.



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