Friday, August 15, 2008


I just finished reading a book by Robert Frank called Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich. It's a pretty entertaining look at how the other half lives. The title Richistan comes from the fact that all of the new wealth and the accompanying lifestyle is like these people are living in a whole different country. In fact with their combined incomes they are wealthier than most countries. "By 2004, the richest 1 percent of Americans were earning $1.35 trillion a year - greater than the total national incomes of France, Italy or Canada."

The book tells the story of several of the new money crowd including Tim Blixseth. He's worth something like $1.2 billion but literally started with nothing. So where did his inspiration come from?

Tim got his first lesson in success from his high school shop teacher.

The guys name was Wally Eichler. Everyone called him Rough Cut Wally, because he was one of those real tough, no-nonsense guys. On the first day of class, Rough Cut Wally said to us, 'I don't give a damn if you learn a single thing in this class. But just remember that you can do anything you want in this country if you want to. You can succeed or fail, but it's up to you. You're entirely responsible.'

Blixseth took the advice to heart and made a perfectly crafted tin box that he still keeps in his dressing room to remind him of Wally.

Maybe it pays to listen to the old shop teacher when he's handing out advice.

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