How Much Would You Sacrifice?

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Most people on this website (and in life) die average. I understand most Wall Street professionals make more money than the average American, but very few, if any, people on this website are going to end up with a +$100,000,000 net worth. You've all lived stable, "cookie cutter" lives (e.g. going to good colleges, studying technical questions, etc), but never "hit it big."

Most ultra-successful people (multi-hundred millionaires and billionaires) all sacrificed a LOT. Some made this sacrifice at the beginning of their lives, and others are paying the price now. For example, the Sharks on Shark Tank threw away their twenties and thirties to start businesses that became worth billions of dollars. Others, like Jeffrey Epstein, Bernie Madoff, and Tom Petters committed fraudulent acts in their careers to "live the high life" for decades, but were all condemned to die in federal prison. So long to their "Golden Years."

What are your opinions on this? Do you find exorbitant wealth to be worth the sacrifice? Would you rather sacrifice your youth or your older years?

Comments (67)

 
Most Helpful
Aug 11, 2020 - 3:08pm

if you find meaning in the size of your net worth, you will never be happy, because someone will always be worth more than you.

until you stop seeking financial rewards for the purposes of "hitting it big" you will never find happiness.

I work with plenty of wealthy people who are miserable, and plenty who are happy. happiness does not correlate with net worth, the way you've arranged your life does.

 
Aug 11, 2020 - 4:12pm

Hear!, Hear!

To "make it big" in life you need a purpose that carries you yonder. Money is certainly a useful mean, but not an end by itself. Thinking that it is an end will leave you empty by definition. So rearranging goals, values and means helps gain visibility to start the journey to the top...and actually enjoying the journey, as the top is only the destination.

Unfortunately, society in general limits critical thinking and numb with consumerism.

Now, if you want to hear that having money helps, yes, most of the cases. As a supporting asset is helpful. But making it big entails, imho a lot more.

 
Aug 12, 2020 - 12:00pm

In my opinion, you need two things to keep you going in a career....

  1. When the money is bad in your career, you have to love your job to keep going.

  2. When you're getting completely crushed with work and start to hate it, the money needs to be good to keep going.

If you've been doing this for a while, you will hit times when the money is bad, and you will hit times when it's no longer fun anymore either. To see your way through, you have to BOTH love what you do and like the money. 1 of the 2 is not enough in finance.

 
Aug 11, 2020 - 9:37pm

This is really cliché advice because it's so true. I'm sure we've all heard of the studies showing anything beyond $x,000 to comfortable cover expenses and rack up savings, money and happiness aren't as tightly correlated.

A really good friend of mine (who I happened to meet on this forum) got me into Naval's podcasts. "Money will solve all your money problems, but not all your problems will be money problems." Is the best way to sum this up.

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
 
Aug 11, 2020 - 3:38pm

Sacrifice is catching a bullet for your country. Getting $100 million is just working hard.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

 
Aug 13, 2020 - 8:38pm

Az72792:

With quite a bit of luck thrown in.

Not with a good sniper.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

 
  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Aug 12, 2020 - 6:17am

You incorrectly assume that sacrificing everything means you'll hit big. The people you talk about are maybe less than 0.5% of those who sacrificed everything, but you just don't know the others because they failed miserably and died average.

 
Aug 12, 2020 - 8:16am

+1 SB. If anything, the ultra rich took entrepreneurial risks, they did not necessarily sacrifice their personal life - some do and some don't.

Think of just about any tech mogul worth millions in their early 20s. Do you think most of those have actually worked harder than an associate at a BB at the same age?? Smarter, more entreprenuerial perhaps. Harder working....probably not?

 
Aug 12, 2020 - 10:46am

I read an interesting report a few months back, maybe I'll try to find it and attach a link, basically stating the young 20something year old tech founder is a bit of a myth. Yeah, Zuck, Dell, Gates, Spiegel and others exist but the overwhelming majority of successful tech founders hit their strides in their 30s or 40s. Just thought that was interesting.

But I agree. The IB Associate, tech founder, and person running the 4 restaurant chains in the local town are all pulling ridiculous hours to earn their cash.

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb
 
Aug 13, 2020 - 7:59am

Definitely not harder working. Quite possibly also not smarter. What they certainly are is luckier. I don't think that starting a tech company (or any company, really) generates any alpha, so to speak, over being a banker or consultant. But much like you've never heard of Jane Smith, the music teacher who never made it big as a pop star, you've also never heard of all of the people who ran a bunch of startups in a row and failed out.

 
Aug 13, 2020 - 8:02pm

NoEquityResearch:

Do you think most of those have actually worked harder than an associate at a BB at the same age?? Smarter, more entreprenuerial perhaps. Harder working....probably not?

Its not about working harder - its about taking a chainsaw to cut a tree when the other guy is using a handsaw.

You innovated/found a better way/mousetrap.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

 
Aug 12, 2020 - 8:01am

It has a lot to do with serendipity and making good choices though. I don't think that ultra wealthy people on average have made an ungodly amount of effort that the average Joe isn't capable of. I do think that they put one hell of an effort in their goals, but many of them were also smart to listen to their gut and choose profitable venues and had a lot of luck meeting the right people at the right time.

 
Aug 12, 2020 - 9:23am

Crab Chiggins:

very few, if any, people on this website are going to end up with a +$100,000,000 net worth.

The odds might not be as low as you think. Most people on this site are fairly young, and inflation adds up over time.

If the CPI changes at the same rate it has for the past 55 years, then $100M in 55 years would be worth about $12M in today's dollars. What are the odds that a 30 year old working in finance in 1965 could wind up with a $12M net worth today, at age 85? It doesn't sound so improbable if you put it that way.

And given the current rate of US government debt accumulation, there's a non-trivial chance that inflation could be significantly higher in the next few decades.

The real question is: whose face will be on the USD $100 trillion dollar bill?

 
Aug 12, 2020 - 10:10am

I think the book Outliers really captures that even billionaires don't work exponentially harder than the average person. They have simply been presented with opportunities that others with the same sacrifices haven't been.

Take Bill Gates, the iconic example of having every conceivable benefit straight out of birth. His parents had political ties and were in the upper income bracket giving him the opportunity to pursue his own company.

Could someone else have sacrificed the same amount of time and energy to found a personal computers company? Sure. Would it have as many benefits with political connections and wstart up capital as Bill Gates'? Absolutely not.

The notion that sacrificing is equated to wealth isn't a fair assumption and it depends greatly on external factors that are outside of the control of the individual.

 
Aug 12, 2020 - 10:25am

Outliers is a fun read, but it's not an entirely reliable guide to success. Bill Gates did in fact work insanely hard for many years- way, way harder than almost any poster on this site has worked. There are plenty of stories about this from people who knew him in his teens and twenties. On top of that, he was an extremely talented programmer.

 
Aug 12, 2020 - 2:08pm

You seem to forget that Bill was the salesman and the debugger. Paul Allen was the main programmer in MS's early days.

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."
 
Aug 12, 2020 - 2:28pm

Mike Milken was known to work notoriously long hours in the 80s - but he loved it.

And then of course he went to jail. But, completely pivoted getting out of jail and probably worked really hard to get on his feet again.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

 
Aug 14, 2020 - 6:08pm

FinnesseGod:

I think the book Outliers really captures that even billionaires don't work exponentially harder than the average person. They have simply been presented with opportunities that others with the same sacrifices haven't been.

Take Bill Gates, the iconic example of having every conceivable benefit straight out of birth. His parents had political ties and were in the upper income bracket giving him the opportunity to pursue his own company.

Could someone else have sacrificed the same amount of time and energy to found a personal computers company? Sure. Would it have as many benefits with political connections and wstart up capital as Bill Gates'? Absolutely not.

The notion that sacrificing is equated to wealth isn't a fair assumption and it depends greatly on external factors that are outside of the control of the individual.

 
Aug 14, 2020 - 6:11pm

FinnesseGod:

Could someone else have sacrificed the same amount of time and energy to found a personal computers company?

Funny enough there were others and like you said because they didnt have the political ties to establish their company they failed out. Eagle computers was meant to take on apple and microsoft in the 80s but the CEO crashed his ferrari and died leaving those two giants to roam free till this day

 
Aug 12, 2020 - 10:28am

For me personally, money doesn't matter much beyond a certain point. I'm still very type-A with respect to my career, but that's moreso because I enjoy being recognized as being one of the best at what I do. Higher pay is secondary to the feeling of achievement that gives me.

I used to be very money-oriented, but that changed in a flash a few years ago when I randomly became ill and the doctor initially thought it was a terminal illness where I'd probably have 2 years max to live. Thankfully, that wasn't the case and it was something serious but curable, obviously, but those couple of days when that diagnosis hit were valuable for me because it made me realize I couldn't keep ruining my life to appease other people, be it my boss, family, friends, etc.

While there are some people who do seriously value money/fame over everything, I don't think I'm too uniquely different from most in that having great relationships with people and being well-off enough to fund your hobbies, whatever they may be, and take care of your family is all people really care about at the end of the day. Having had that experience, for example, I'm no longer worried about working for the most prestigious company or the highest paying job anymore. I'm actually targeting mid-sized companies now where I can have a more tangible impact and can potentially be a big fish in a small pond versus working at a huge company and being a cog in the wheel with a boss who frankly could replace me in a few weeks if I die.

 
Aug 12, 2020 - 10:40am

"Most people on this website (and in life) die average."

And who are you? You aren't in a position (or will ever be) to know how people's lives are measured, surely not everyone goes by their bank account size.

Array

 
Aug 12, 2020 - 10:48am

You'll probably have to make a lot of sacrifices to achieve a $10mm+ net worth assuming you're not starting from a wealthy background but just because you make a lot of sacrifices does not mean you'll achieve a significant amount of wealth or even that your work won't be completely in vain. Effort does not equal results and the gates and bezos of the world did not get where they are because they were just 1,000,000x harder working than the average Joe.

 
Aug 12, 2020 - 10:54am

Look, unless you're born with a silver spoon you'll have to make some level of sacrifice to get to that top 1% (or top 0.5%). That said, it's not all or nothing.

Find a career / way of making money where you time : wealth accretion ratio is low af. And make sure the 'time' isn't too high once you get to steady-state (early 30s or so). For me, that means steady-state is 50-55hrs per week on avg and then doing a bunch of investing on the side leveraging my experience at the job. Figure out what it is to you, there are many ways / asset classes to accrue wealth

 
Aug 12, 2020 - 11:05am

Not in my view. 80-100 hour weeks got old for me by the time I was 26, so I bailed. I'm making a good enough living working 40 hours a week now and I get to actually enjoy my time while I'm still in the physical prime of my life.

Outrageous wealth that can only be enjoyed once you're old and in shitty shape because you wasted your 20s hunched over a computer isn't how one lives an "above average" life, by my calculation.

 
Aug 12, 2020 - 12:20pm

If you focus on the journey, circumstances will become product of you. In this way, you are more likely to achieve the goal without losing the basic aspects of your life. If you focus only on the result, you will become product of your circumstances. In this way, you may or may not gain the desired result. However, you will definitely lose all basic aspects of life. Throw opportunity cost out of the window and steer your life/career in the direction you want.

 
Aug 12, 2020 - 3:21pm

Money doesn't mean shit to me.

Means to an end. I want a happy life with a happy wife, a couple dogs and a couple kiddos. No fancy cars, but I want some nice square footage.

Money doesn't correlate to being happy. It may enable it, but it may also enable unhappiness. I find happiness in more wholesome things (that money enables me to do), but I don't have this innate attachment to being a money hungry asshole.

Array
 
Aug 13, 2020 - 2:02pm

I wouldn't sacrifice much more than I already have. I never really wanted to work in finance, but certain circumstances and familial obligation pushed me towards it because it was the career that would give me the most returns quickly. What I had to sacrifice to get to the "average" level you mentioned were the dreams of my future and the goals and aspirations I had since I was a kid. That's a pretty big thing to give up, so I don't see myself being able to give up much more than that. It is just not worth it to me.

Dayman?
 
Aug 14, 2020 - 11:10am

Planning to start a family in the next couple years. Everything we do is to give our families a better life. However, in pursuit of this, I have noticed many individuals end up sacrificing their time with the family. Its a catch 22, earn more to take care of your family, but by doing so, you'll end up losing them anyways. Or earn a moderate amount and actually be around for your kids. Net worth has the word "worth" in it. Your not "worth" anything if you don't have someone to share it with.

Array

 
Aug 14, 2020 - 12:18pm

As with most things in life, this is a balancing act. A VP once told me "when you have kids, there's a greater "pull" where you don't want to be in the office till 10PM every night (you want to be at home watching Frozen with your daughter for the millionth time); BUT, you also want to give them a good quality of life and things you never had, so there's another force keeping you right where you are...on the floor, glued to your desk". It's insightful from someone who's been there, and this particular VP (in my opinion) "gets it".

I think as one starts aging into their late 20s and early 30s, you start to realize/accept you're never going to be the billionaire you hoped you would be when taking FIN301 and reading Barbarians at the Gate in college (generalization, but you get what I mean). There are just way too many people that actually want that more than you. You start to realize what you really want is some form of fiscal stability and financial freedom that will enable you to be "happy" - of course, money doesn't buy happiness or provide a sense of self-worth, but it does give a certain level of freedom and peace of mind.

So, long-winded way of saying I think most professionals on this site will grapple with the existential "am i working to live, or living to work?" dilemma. And as you get older/grow up and start incurring real life obligations, you do your best to deliver client/investor/whoever results, but at the end of the day you just want to go the fuck home and pop open a bottle of wine with your wife and watch your kids/dog run around in the backyard...unless you're a legitimate sociopath, of which there are many in finance, and to whom I say "dude, calm the fuck down".

Array
 
  • Intern in IB-M&A
Aug 14, 2020 - 2:41pm

Deeper'N'Cheaper:

I think as one starts aging into their late 20s and early 30s, you start to realize/accept you're never going to be the billionaire you hoped you would be when taking FIN301 and reading Barbarians at the Gate in college (generalization, but you get what I mean). There are just way too many people that actually want that more than you. You start to realize what you really want is some form of fiscal stability and financial freedom that will enable you to be "happy" - of course, money doesn't buy happiness or provide a sense of self-worth, but it does give a certain level of freedom and peace of mind.

So, long-winded way of saying I think most professionals on this site will grapple with the existential "am i working to live, or living to work?" dilemma.

Don't know if it's just me and all the people around me, but I feel like people are coming to this realization younger and younger where the existential dilemma is even happening after just a SA before one even starts their FT career. But agreed, quality post

 
Aug 15, 2020 - 4:01pm

Deeper'N'Cheaper:

I think as one starts aging into their late 20s and early 30s, you start to realize/accept you're never going to be the billionaire you hoped you would be

I knew I had to leave corporate in my 20s to become a billionaire in my 30s. Did it happen? Nope. But, I opened myself up to the opportunity for unlimited equity upside and learned some valuable business lessons.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

 
  • Developer in RE - Comm
Aug 19, 2020 - 11:27pm

I grew up in a super wealthy area and know a number of 30 year olds I went to high school with now leading private equity firms (family office), real estate developers (family company), and venture capital fund (family financed). They'll probably be worth that much eventually, and without much sacrifice at all. Very cushy jobs.

So for the most successful people I know, it's because they were from some of the wealthiest and best connected families. The richest actually have relatively normal jobs but billionaire parents, so they're rich af beyond the entry level of wealth where they're not even motivated to bust their ass leading a company.

 

The moral of the story is to be born rich. Trying to get there kind of sucks if you don't enjoy the journey, and it takes a lifetime.

 
Aug 21, 2020 - 5:23am
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