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Why do the rich keep working?
Old 01-30-2015, 09:32 PM   #1
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Why do the rich keep working?

Old article, almost 10 years old, but just came across it, has some interesting observations from psychologists about people who work well past FI:

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The son of a modest Texas farmer, Peter wanted a bigger, grander life than his father led, and he worked hard to get it. By age 30, he was running a regional bank and had a wife and two kids.

Over the next two decades, he moved his family 12 times–twice overseas. At 50, he was president of a large financial services firm in New York City. He owned a restored Georgian in a leafy suburb, a ski chalet in Telluride and a small compound in the Caribbean. He traveled for work incessantly, with limousines and Gulfstreams at his beck and call. His board connections led to bids at the most exclusive golf clubs. Peter had become a bona-fide world beater.

Then, one day, his wife of 30 years declared: “I don’t love you anymore. I need a new life.” His kids piled on, saying he’d never “been there” for them. After logging three-quarters of each year on the road, Peter realized he had no real friends to confide in. He got divorced, drank heavily and eventually left his job.

Peter’s net worth had crossed the eight-figure mark years before his life unraveled. He could have hopped off the hamster wheel with plenty of time and riches to spare. And yet he kept running.

“[That behavior] is rampant,” says psychologist Robert Mintz, founder of New Executive Strategies, a management consultancy in Short Hills, N.J. “It’s the kind of thing people don’t talk about–especially men.”

Mintz has gotten a rare glimpse at the underbelly of tireless ambition. In 2000, after 20 years working with hundreds of multimillionaires as a human resources manager for Revlon , Pepsico , Time Warner and Electronic Data Systems , he left corporate life to finish his Ph.D. in psychology.

His dissertation dealt with the messy motivations of workaholic executives. As part of his research, Mintz conducted four-hour interviews with 25 execs, each worth between $5 million and $500 million. Some admitted that they had grown accustomed to the glittery perks of success: toys, praise, glory. But there were darker themes, too.

Some of the men craved the chance to keep proving themselves, perhaps to a doubting authority figure from their past. Others saw work as a getaway from a stale marriage. Still others said they wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if they weren’t working. More time with friends? Many of them had no close friends. Hobbies? You can only play so many rounds of golf. Travel? “They probably want to burn their passports,” says Mintz.
Quote:
“My Wall Street patients seem to be driven by an unquestioned belief in the value of making money regardless of personal cost. Although this looks like greed, it is actually an attempt to feel secure.”

Translation: The need to feel safe and secure swamps any perception of the financial security rich people already have.
Quote:
As an adviser on personal issues of wealth, from philanthropic donations to family relationships, White has seen his share of prisoners–people who have accomplished everything but nevertheless are working very hard and wondering why. The disturbing answer: Work becomes a substitute for greater meaning in their lives.

“I had a guy come to me and say, ‘I’ve got $40 million. Do you think it’s enough?’ ” White recalls. “ He meant, Was it enough to be happy and safe? The correct answer is no. You won’t find [those things] with $4 billion. You’re looking for ‘enough’ in the wrong place.”
Why Do The Rich Keep Working? - Forbes
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Old 01-30-2015, 09:52 PM   #2
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I'm sure even the highest levels have their problems, but as the saying goes, "stuff" rolls downhill. In my office, we have guys in offices making millions still working in their 80s, meanwhile just today we celebrated the retirement of a 53-year old cubicle-dweller. If she had an office the size of my first apartment, she might not be retiring, but she's the one who's my role model, not them.
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Old 01-31-2015, 05:28 AM   #3
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He owned a restored Georgian in a leafy suburb, a ski chalet in Telluride and a small compound in the Caribbean. He traveled for work incessantly, with limousines and Gulfstreams at his beck and call.

There's a certain intoxication in being in situations like this. It is a sweet lifestyle, (been there) full of wonderful 'yes men' and you begin to believe that having someone shine your shoes while you shower is normal. It's quite easy to lose sight of what is important.

My turning point was after a particularly good, two week trip to Asia, thinking: "Gee, I wish I didn't have to go home; I'm doing so much good stuff out here (and the living ain't bad either!)". That's was the day I slapped myself and slowly began figuring out a new journey.

Then again, as we've seen reports on this forum, some people just can't imagine a different life or have anything else they'd rather do besides working.

DW, and so many others were happy to have me RE, but terrified that I'd go mad. Only an uncle said: "you'll be fine...you have so many things that interest you" and he was right.
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Old 01-31-2015, 09:11 AM   #4
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For many I have known I think it's "out of fear".

Fear of loss of power
Fear of not having enough
Fear of being bored
Fear of the loss of social status
Fear of loss of the perks
Fear of fear
etc
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Old 01-31-2015, 09:50 AM   #5
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Fear, either real or imagined (the 'what-ifs'), is a potent motivator.

Rich
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Old 01-31-2015, 09:59 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Car-Guy View Post
For many I have known I think it's "out of fear".

Fear of loss of power
Fear of not having enough
Fear of being bored
Fear of the loss of social status
Fear of loss of the perks
Fear of fear
etc
I think this list hits the nail on the head. Power in particular, look at don Trump, he would be miserable if people did not fear him =) what I miss most about work is the company card and auto, the perks......nothing else
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Old 01-31-2015, 11:06 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by marko View Post
...........There's a certain intoxication in being in situations like this. It is a sweet lifestyle, (been there) full of wonderful 'yes men' and you begin to believe that having someone shine your shoes while you shower is normal. It's quite easy to lose sight of what is important.
.........
I never got to live it first hand, but I observed some people at MegaMotors that turned into real asshats once they were anointed into VP and above positions. They really started to believe their own BS.
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Old 01-31-2015, 11:09 AM   #8
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Meaning they issued a lot of recalls or resisted recalls?
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Old 01-31-2015, 01:50 PM   #9
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On a related topic is a documentary called Born Rich about trust fund kids. Some have trouble finding meaning and purpose in a life where most have to work to earn a living. In a way life is simpler for people who have to work outside the home or have a full time at home job like raising kids or caring for older family members because their purpose in life is more clear cut.
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Old 01-31-2015, 02:54 PM   #10
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I never got to live it first hand, but I observed some people at MegaMotors that turned into real asshats once they were anointed into VP and above positions. They really started to believe their own BS.
Both my Ex BIL's (2 of them at GM Detroit in the 1970s) were like the above (VPs). Their Dad ran GM's plant in Janesville, Wisconsin at one time. When the crap hit the fan and GM was in real trouble, out they went with the bath water. One today is still a shmuck at AT&T and still thinks he is hot stuff. The other got cancer and wants to know where his friends are (that he never had). He contacts lowly me to have someone to talk to. He's back to earth, so to say. The bloom does come off the rose sooner or later for most folks like this.
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Old 01-31-2015, 05:48 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Car-Guy View Post
For many I have known I think it's "out of fear".

Fear of loss of power
Fear of not having enough
Fear of being bored
Fear of the loss of social status
Fear of loss of the perks
Fear of fear
etc
That fits what I've seen. My first wonderful manager/mentor who took a chance on me by giving me a j*b; took me out to lunch the day before my exit. Combined they have a multiple 8 digit NW.

I asked about her retirement, she wasn't sure. Her big concern was about LTC. I really thought that was fear of running out. I know she grew up poor, I think she still has strong fears of being poor.
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Old 01-31-2015, 06:05 PM   #12
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I do know a rich person who keeps dropping hints about retiring when X happens, but X keeps getting postponed (which was predictable) and this person is now over 70. Loves the work, LBYM, I suspect would be bored in retirement. Will probably die in the saddle unless bluff is called when X finally happens.
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Old 01-31-2015, 08:39 PM   #13
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Why do the rich keep working? Why does it matter?
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Old 01-31-2015, 09:05 PM   #14
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Why do the rich keep working? Why does it matter?
Clearly, it matters to them.
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Old 02-01-2015, 12:30 AM   #15
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I think for these guys to rise to the top takes a lot of guts and hard work. After awhile, just work, the courage long gone.

Then it takes courage to turn one's back on that lifestyle, and live another way.
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Old 02-01-2015, 05:35 AM   #16
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OTOH, I once knew a guy who couldn't stand his wife and worked long hours (like until 10-11PM each night and on weekends) just to stay away from home.

He worked until he was 75 and then retired the week after she died.
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Old 02-01-2015, 11:40 AM   #17
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Because either 1)work is what defines them internally, 2) they truly enjoy their labor, 3) they lack the mental ability to identify any other pursuit, or 4) irrational fear of poverty/etc or proving something to some lifelong authority figure such as an asshole father (who may be dead).


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Old 02-01-2015, 12:19 PM   #18
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OTOH, I once knew a guy who couldn't stand his wife and worked long hours (like until 10-11PM each night and on weekends) just to stay away from home.

He worked until he was 75 and then retired the week after she died.
I knew that guy, or one in the same situation. He's 76 now works 80+ hours a week to stay away from home. I'm not sure he could retire. He has SS, a pension from MegaHardwarecorp, then went independent consulting said he made big money, I know he's making a nice 6 figure salary. Drives vehicles from the 80s but still has constant money issues. Don't understand where the money goes.

Another co-w*rker had said this guy's afraid of his wife, he'd accidentally stepped on her dog in the middle of the night and DW will not forgive him. The dog was almost 16, she put thousands into trying to save her beloved pet. Didn't help the poor dog, 16 is a very old dog.
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