Over the last 30 or so years, only a handful of people have entered pop culture simply because of their wealth. We know Warren Buffett, although he's more famous for investing than he is for being rich. Bill Gates is famous for being rich in many ways: He's referenced online in various scenarios revolving around the mathematics of his wealth -- people calculate how much money he'd have to find on the street to make it worth his time to pick it up. But Bill Gates is rich because he co-founded Microsoft and his philanthropic efforts ensure he will be remembered forever in a way that someone famous solely for being rich would not. Therefore, there are only a couple of pop culture figures who truly are famous because of their riches: Paris Hilton and Donald Trump.
This article is about the financial lessons of famous individuals, so we're going to ignore Paris Hilton, if only because the first rule would be "be born rich" and rule two would involve sacrificing every part of your humanity for fame. Trump, however, is currently running for president of the United States, and the reason he has become part of the national conversation about the most important office in our country is the notoriety he has earned in the last 30 years for being rich. So, what lessons can we learn from Trump's personal biography that can help the rest of us reach our goals?
Stick to your guns - Whether you plan to vote for him or not, Donald Trump's career has been trending up for nearly three decades. Not every famous person can run a reality show, not every reality show goes on to become incredibly successful, and even fewer can turn their reality show notoriety into a political career.
Trump attracts attention and popularity by speaking in bold declarations, whether that's on TV or during political debates. He sticks to his guns by following a path that only he can see. How many commentators thought he wasn't serious about the presidency? How many still do? You don't have to agree with him to understand that absolute certainty is a kind of charisma, and faith in oneself is an absolute necessity to getting rich. How many great ideas have you had but never followed through on? What about that great business idea you never pursued? That project at work that you couldn't sell to your boss? Even when you're wrong, believing in yourself carries a lot of gusto.
Use someone else's money - Trump, like many of the other famous-for-being-rich celebrities, was born with money. In fact, just about every article about Trump's money discusses the idea that he started with money and still had to file for bankruptcy, as if that were a sign that he'd made a mistake. In this country, we have a complicated system designed to assess risk and defray those risks throughout our system, which rewards risk takers and minimizes the negative outcomes of a mistake. Bankruptcy is sometimes viewed as part of that process, which is why so many European countries have modeled their bankruptcy procedures after ours. We're not suggesting you go bankrupt or put yourself in such a position. Instead, we're suggesting that Trump took a calculated risk using loans and investments to speed up the growth of his real estate business. Understand your risks, and don't be afraid of them. Use loans and investments, not your savings. Loans - when handled responsibly - can help you start a business, increase the value of your home or go back to school. If you wait until you can afford it, you may never get there. Let us know what you want to do, and we'll find the loan that will help you get it done.
Accept your limitations - Donald Trump continued to call for Barack Obama's long form birth certificate long after the rest of the country was satisfied with the president's documentation. When he offends people, he doubles down instead of apologizing. Perhaps nowhere does he teach us the lesson of not accepting limitations better than his hair. Like many men of a certain age, he'd be better off bald than trying to hide his hairline.
First, it might be time for an honest look in the mirror. Second, it's time to identify your strengths and play to those instead of compensating for your weaknesses.
Don't be Donald Trump's hair. If you take nothing else from this article, maybe that should be it. You need an honest friend who can tell you you're not hiding your weakness and help you figure out a better solution, like a trip to the salon.
Whether you need help supporting your million-dollar idea, a loan to build up your investment in your home or an honest friend who can show you where your portfolio is weak, let us know. We've got professionals ready to help.
Please note: Destinations Credit Union does not endorse any political candidate as an organization. The intent of this article is to look at personal financial issues.