CAREER ADVICE FOR MY KIDS:
Why I’m Not Rich and You Won’t Be Either If the Only Thing You Do Is Listen to Me
My advice for what to do in these times of economic volatility? I have no idea.
If you’re looking to claw your way up the corporate ladder, succeed beyond your wildest dreams, and amass an enormous fortune, you’re reading the wrong part of this magazine.
That stuff doesn’t come from humor columnists. I am a humor columnist. If wealth came from humor columns I’d be too rich to be writing them anymore. I have no idea where power, success, and a big pile of money come from.
Probably from somewhere awful, such as hard work, or from somewhere impossible, such as being much smarter than I am – like the other American Consequences writers are.
You should go read them.
Meanwhile, I’m having a lot of fun watching people frantically try to make – or keep from losing – money. I love economics the way I love the NFL. A great thing about professional football is seeing the guys who stuffed me into my high school locker break each other’s legs. A great thing about economics is how it’s like live crabs in boiling water. If one of them almost makes it out of the pot, the others will pull him back down.
And I say this, not as some kind of anti-capitalist commie nut, but as a firm believer in the free market and a great fan of economic liberty. I root for the Dow Jones like I root for the New England Patriots. But if the guys who hoovered my investment portfolio in the 2008 financial crisis go to bankruptcy court or jail, that’s a lot of fun.
If wealth came from humor columns I’d be too rich to be writing them anymore..
Economics is a blood sport that I really enjoy – as a spectator. Of course, like everyone else, I am, at some level, a participant. But I got myself off the field and into a luxury skybox by marrying a woman who was a business major and is much smarter than I am. I leave everything to her. I have no idea what’s in my investment portfolio now, and I haven’t called a play since 2008. It might be 1000 shares of Berkshire Hathaway. It might be a crypto-currency that Jim Cramer pulled out of his butt on “Mad Money” – Buttcoin.
I don’t know, and I don’t want to know. I just want to have fun.
Or I did just want to have fun until my kids became adolescents and I began to feel that it was incumbent upon me to give them some fatherly advice about how to claw their way up corporate ladders, succeed beyond their wildest dreams, and amass enormous fortunes (with which to take care of me in a luxurious fashion in my old age).
“Ask your mother,” I said.
Their mother said, “Work hard and be much smarter than your father.”
I told them that the best way to do well in life is to find a job that combines what you love to do with what you’re good at doing with what people will pay you for.
(My kids were discouraged by the first part of this advice.)
So I tried again. I told them that the best way to do well in life is to find a job that combines what you love to do with what you’re good at doing with what people will pay you for. “Take me for example,” I said.
My kids said, “You?”
I said, “Well, children, you’re not starved to death and naked. Although you…” (I said to my eldest daughter) “…should wear a sweater over that Forever 21 top. Anyway, I have made a living.”
I told them, “Think of What You Love to Do and What You’re Good at Doing and What People Will Pay You For as three circles. Technically, a Venn diagram. Try to find a place where those three circles intersect, then go there.”
I drew the “Me” diagram on my cocktail napkin…
“But, Dad,” said my kids, “The National Lampoon was, like, forty years ago.”
“Right!” I said, “And I’m still riding its coattails. But I can give you more up-to-date examples.”
I mixed another cocktail and got a new napkin…
My wife looked over my shoulder at my doodles and said, “Don’t forget, dear, you’re supposed to address the NAP-WTF Conference in New York on Monday.”
“The ‘National Association of People Who Think They’re Funny,’” I explained to the kids.
“You’ll have to leave by nine o’clock,” said my wife. “I’ve called an Uber.”
“Uber?” I said. “Some twerp with a nose ring who plays in a K-Pop cover band on weekends driving his mother’s Honda Civic. That’ll never catch on. Can’t you get me a Yellow Cab?”
“They’re out of business,” said my wife.
Then she turned to our children.
If you really want to get rich, she said, listen to your father. Listen especially carefully when he says, ‘That’ll never catch on.’
“If you really want to get rich,” she said, “listen to your father. Listen especially carefully when he says, ‘That’ll never catch on.’
“For example, your father said, ‘A phone that connects to the Internet? What for? I’ve got a computer at home. That’ll never catch on.’
“He said, ‘A face-book? Why would anyone want a book full of faces? That’ll never catch on.’
“And he said, ‘What the heck is this bird noise, this peeping or cheeping or chirping or twittering I keep hearing about? That’ll never catch on.’
“Just listen to your father. And whenever he says, ‘That’ll never catch on,’ invest every penny you’ve got.”