Remember that 1980’s movie, Wall Street, with Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen?
The tagline for the movie was, “Every dream has a price.” Michael Douglas played Gordon Gekko, a high-powered uber-broker and investor who was ruthless, greedy, and would do whatever it took to make a buck. He lies, cheats, breaks the law, and uses anyone to become richer.
Unfortunately, Gordon Gekko is a light-weight compared to some of the executives that appear in today’s headlines. Every time I turn on the TV or open a newspaper, there’s another report of corporate accounting fraud and CEOs who are being investigated for cooking the books, deceiving investors, and lying to employees. It makes me sick to my stomach.
Take a guy like Dennis Kozlowski, the ex-CEO of Tyco International.
He was arrested and charged for allegedly stealing $600 million from his own company. According to reports, he plundered corporate accounts, skimmed company profits, and threw a $1 million birthday party for his wife that featured, among other things, an ice sculpture of Michelangelo’s David, which poured vodka from its penis. Greed may be good, but I don’t think even Gordon Gekko would condone this behavior.
Do you have to lie, cheat, and take advantage of people to become successful?
Isn’t that how the world works now? If Gordon Gekko or Dennis Kozlowski is your idea of what it takes to become financially successful, you will resist and undermine your success at every turn.
The good news is that you don’t have to be a slimy crook to get ahead.
There will always be those willing to exploit others and break the law for their own gain, but there is an alternative. There are many more examples of good, honest, and caring people becoming financially successful, but their stories don’t make the headlines. In fact, I believe you can become more successful by being honest and helping, not manipulating, others. My friend, Tim Sanders, feels the same way. He wrote a New York Times bestselling book about it called, Love is the Killer App. Buy it, read it, and believe it.
It’s true, money and power can be like a drug.
Once addicted, your behavior and focus can radically change. Was Dennis Kozlowski always a bad person looking to cheat hard-working people out of their money? Probably not. Once he started down that slippery slope, things got more and more out of control.
Chances are you don’t even want to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company and will never be in the position to steal hundreds of millions of dollars from a company, so what’s the point? People who are financially unsuccessful raise this objection all the time. They use it as a crutch—an excuse. Whether they believe it or not, it is holding them back from success.
What’s the solution?
So many of these limiting beliefs come back to the dream life you envisioned. As long as you stay on course and remain true to the person you want to be, you will never turn into a Gordon Gekko or a Dennis Kozlowski.
Although there are plenty of “rich people are bad people” examples today, a lot more rich people are good people. Don’t let a few headlines influence your perception. You can be financially successful and an honest, caring person at the same time.
The proceeding blog post is an excerpt from The Six-Day Financial Makeover: Transform Your Financial Life in Less Than a Week!, available now on Amazon.
About the Independent Financial Advisor
Robert Pagliarini, PhD, CFP®, EA has helped clients across the United States manage, grow, and preserve their wealth for the past 25 years. His goal is to provide comprehensive financial, investment, and tax advice in a way that was honest and ethical. In addition, he is a CFP® Board Ambassador, one of only 50 in the country, and a real fiduciary. In his spare time, he writes personal finance books, finance articles for Forbes and develops email and video financial courses to help educate others. With decades of experience as a financial advisor, the media often calls on him for his expertise. Contact Robert today to learn more about his financial planning services.