The Myth Of The Self-Made Millionaire

Most millionaires claim that they are self-made in that they earned their fortune alone. But no person is an island. Every millionaire owes their fortune to the help they received from others. In this world we are so interdependent that no one achieves anything without help from another. Obama was right, we received more help than we can possibly imagine. Our wealth and success are not only a measure of our talents and luck, but also a measure of how much help we had. We are tall because we stand on the shoulders of giants.

It is a myth to claim that any businessperson became rich and successful solely by their own hard work. They received an enormous help simply by the luck of their birth. By being born in Western Europe or America they already were ahead of 80% of the world’s population. If Bill Gates had been born in Somalia do you really think he would still be one of the richest people in the world? Most of the richest CEO’s are white men. If Warren Buffet was born a Black or Hispanic women, the odds of him becoming a billionaire would be dramatically smaller. If some people truly were self-made then they would just as easily overcome these obstacles to become wealthy.

No matter how naturally gifted you are, you would be nowhere without an education. Have you ever heard of a successful company built by someone who was illiterate? I could pick any person in the country and show they would be earning a fraction of their current income if they hadn’t been taught to read. Education is one of the main determinants of a person’s income and how wealthy you later become is hugely dependent on whether you were lucky enough to go to a good school. Where would you be had you gone to a rundown school or had a terrible teacher?

Even if you set up your own business you are not self-made. Think of all the hard work you employees put in. Do they not deserve a share of the credit? If you are self-made and achieved everything yourself, surely you would be no worse off if none of workers decided not to come to work? A business is built on the skills and work of its employees. Without them a business could no more succeed than a fish could survive without water. What about your customers? You wouldn’t have any money if no one bought from your business.

Let’s not forget the government. I know this will provoke howls from conservatives, but let’s be honest and give credit where credit is due. How could anyone buy from your business if there were no road for them to travel on? What about the most essential of all the governments functions, protection? How could you run a business in anarchy (ever wonder why there are no successful businesses in Somalia?) What wealth would you accumulate if there was a constant risk of robbery or death? Are the freedoms Americans enjoy not secured by the military? How long would you last to enjoy your wealth without government healthcare and vaccinations? How could your business prosper without a healthy workforce?

Are you not dependent on the farmer for your food, the tailor for your clothes, the builder for your house, the electrician, the plumber, the carpenter, the manufacturer of the innumerable goods upon which you rely? Only the man who lives in a cave and gathers his food from trees could claim to be self-made. He would be the most independent man alive and also the poorest.

7 thoughts on “The Myth Of The Self-Made Millionaire”

  1. Yes, indeed. I get so annoyed at how the Repubs have twisted those words. They are like the kid brother who just discovered he can copy everything you say, and he keeps doing it just to annoy the hell out of you.

  2. Excellent discussion. Also don’t forget if you were not a product of public education at the university level or in K-12, possibly your employees are as well as many of your customers who can afford to buy your product.

  3. Have you ever heard of a company built by someone illiterate? Actually yes. Andreas Panayiotou is an illiterate “self made” millionaire worth an estimated 400 million and Shirley Yanez author and CEO of Venus Cow is too. So while you do make some interesting points “Self Made” means to me, you got something off the ground and to the point you can actually pay employees to help you which when you are growing a business from scratch and trying to feed yourself too is no mean feat and why most businesses fail in the first three years regardless of your education or where in the world you are from.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: