The principle that defines the life of a billionaire who went broke recently.
You might have come across one of many news articles on how a billionaire gave away $8 billion to now live a retired life on just $2 million of savings. $8 billion is 4000 times $2 million!Chuck Feeney – the ‘hero’ and ‘role model’ of Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, is the icon whose principle to live by and possible routines to create based on that, are a focus in this newsletter.
“I had one idea that never changed in my mind – that you should use your wealth to help people” – Chuck Feeney.
This is the core principle Charles ‘Chuck’ Feeney lives by and has made popular as ‘Giving while Living’. He calls it as living the best part of your legacy as one can actually see the results (if any) from the money given.
Short bio of Chuck Feeney
Born on April 23, 1931 in the city of Elizabeth, New Jersey, the USA during the Great Depression, Chuck joined the US Air Force after finishing school. After that he went to Cornell University for graduation and then to France for further studies. This is where he started his first business – selling tax-free alcohol to sailors. The idea went on to become the largest business globally in this segment, DFS – The Duty Free Shoppers Group, and created billionaires in the founders. You can read more about his entrepreneurial success here and multiple other places. Google Chuck Feeney. No point repeating what others have covered in-depth.
The ‘Why’ of his Principle
Chuck realised that wealth in his pocket, bank or investments was not giving him satisfaction. In fact he worried that his family and children did not have enough incentives to reach out for the opportunities and to live actively, if wealth was easily available. In parallel, his travels around the world became more and more focused on the ‘next big thing’ money could solve or eradicate. And that started giving him a lot of satisfaction. When Chuck gives, he identifies the beneficiary like a business opportunity – based on the time and money required to create impact or results. This becomes like a business problem to solve, and further contributes to his growth as an entrepreneur.
Assume for a moment that you had enough (and by enough, think of the largest amount possible) wealth to make your life and that of your loved ones ‘comfortable’. That’s what we all dream of, no? Once this happens, what would be a driver to grow wealth further? Be on a ‘list’ of wealthiest? Accumulate to die richer? Let’s evaluate a few options Chuck might have had as guiding principles for such an enormous success and growth, and not just stopping at being a millionaire:
- “Grow rich enough to live a comfortable life, pursue hobbies, travel the world”. True till he would have become a millionaire. A lot of us would stop here
- “Become a billionaire and be known among the richest people in America/world”. Inspiring for many, but Chuck didn’t like publicity. In spite of being once the 23rd richest person alive as per Forbes, he remained an unknown public figure. Even when he donated money, he kept his identity secret (so no name on a hospital he would build!)
- “Experience joy while giving money to help people – at scale, and then keep experiencing this joy by seeing the results while I am alive”. Closer to his principle and more powerful for him to live his life by. Converting money into experiences is a more powerful and long lasting source of joy than converting money into objects of possession. We all know that. But when you give to another person’s growth, then that experience remains ongoing till you die!
One can imagine that there is so much to gain when the 3rd option is selected, that it can keep inspiring to grow and succeed more and more.
We, at PurpleCrest, meet so many small business owners and professionals, who after initial success, ask ‘What will I do with more money?’ If there is one thing, just one thing to take away from this edition of the newsletter, it is this – create a cause, a principle that is Big enough to pursue huge (really huge) amounts of success, growth and money. Perhaps, Chuck’s life could be an example of why earn so much – to then change other lives and get joy forever. It might prompt some of us to say that we will do it when we become a billionaire like him, but as one can find from so many articles and his biography, he cultivated this much before becoming so rich. So can we all.
3 Actions to Take: Learn by Doing
- Read his biography ‘The Billionaire Who Wasn’t: How Chuck Feeney Secretly Made and gave away a Fortune’. If you are short of time, then there are many long form articles on Chuck, including this one
- Create a principle that inspires you to accumulate wealth AND feel great about it. As Chuck says, when you have a lot of money, you can deal with big problems. Supporting mindset for success, growth and money is immensely important, but often missing in case of professionals, entrepreneurs and makers. It is also a tough one, due to the past conditioning and the people around. This is where case studies of successful and inspiring individuals like Chuck become useful. Create your ‘Why succeed’ mantra that inspires you. Once you have the mantra or principle ready, you can do one or more of the following (starting with atleast ONE, today):
- Use it as a priming technique every morning. Most billionaires have this habit to adjust their thoughts and emotions to stay motivated
- Put it in your morning and evening journal, if you have one. Then track weekly and monthly progress. If it is a guiding principle, then progress tracking against it can become a powerful tool for personal and professional growth
- Give a problem related to this principle, to your subconscious before going to bed. It will be a much better problem to give before bed.
- Create a small group of like-minded individuals interested in this principle. It will be very rewarding to work on your success and growth, with people who have a common bigger goal in life. You can convert any of your existing masterminds groups for this or create a new one. We have found groups with common values, to be more effective than those based on skills. Think about Chuck. He had so many billionaire friends, not because they wanted to help him accumulate wealth. But because they shared a common cause of Giving. It is a private club of philanthropic rich people who would want to be a member of. Similarly, you could create or be a part of your own club and use it as an opportunity to learn and growth together. Share this newsletter with 2-3 such individuals, select a cause to jointly work on by giving money (amount doesn’t matter – can start with 1-2% of income) and then schedule regular meetings of the club to discuss progress on the cause, apart from other areas of professional growth.
“I believe that people of substantial wealth potentially create problems for future generations unless they themselves accept responsibility to use their wealth during their lifetime to help worthwhile causes.” – Chuck Feeney