So, do you focus on Amassing Wealth or Attracting Wealth?
I used to think these were the same, or at least that you focused on Attracting --> Amass.
Yesterday though, we received an unexpected 7000 healthcare tax bill here in France which really taught me what the difference is between focusing on Amassing vs Attracting Wealth.
Embracing FIRE (Financially Independent, Retire Early), we had worked hard to max our earnings and build our cash reserves (i.e. amass wealth). We felt really good about our accomplishments, having gone from Zero to FIRE in about 5 years. We bought 3 properties and still had a nice bunch of eggs to get us through until social security (having both worked for many years, we already meet the requirements but are nowhere near the minimum age needed to get these funds).
Then this bill hit and it was like some ogre smashing 7000 of our hard-won eggs - the monster! My wife was totally wiped out - "I'm not allowed to work here and it's not like I can reduce our spending by 7000 euros this year ... and eat!". I felt stupid and irresponsible - "How did I miss this tax possibility in ALL the massive amount of research I did?".
As can often happen in these situations, the after-effects from getting a hit like this can actually do much more damage than the hit itself. We were so absorbed in our worry and "loss" that we almost got hit by a car. Talk about going potentially from bad to ... death!
This did wake me up though and I smacked myself a bit (uh, figuratively): "So what if we lose 7000 euros?" We could have easily lost 10x that much if we had been hit by the car or if one of our children had gotten sick ... or ... or ... I ran through so many of the ways that we could have become even poorer than we would be after paying this 7k.
Uh, that wasn't a productive exercise!!!
I imagined my wealth like a bathtub full of water and these mafia-like guys coming with buckets and emptying the whole tub in nothing flat. I was almost in tears at this point!
"How do we hold on to what wealth we've amassed which is how we now have the lives we love???"
And this is when a bit of a light went off.
With a bathtub filled with the water (wealth) we had amassed, we were always losing a bit through evaporation (inflation), not to mention unforeseen spillages (over-spends) and the potential for someone - aware that we had this nice stash - to target and then drain us of what we had amassed.
This made us feel really vulnerable. Like REALLY vulnerable. And, yeah, maybe even a bit greedy - we HAD to hold on to what we had or, well, our Abundant Life (as we see it) would be OVER!
"Maybe we should just say F-it and not pay the damn bill? Or any other bills for that matter! Maybe hide our stash somewhere and keep on the move, always staying one step ahead of anyone looking to get a % of what we owned" Sound familiar, nomads?
It was at this point that the light really went off. By focusing on what I had amassed, I was actually NOT thinking abundantly. I saw a limited resource, which was being sucked away and this instilled not only fear but also a feeling of poverty (even though we've achieved FIRE).
Something was wrong here. And it wasn't the 7k bill. It was ... my thinking.
As I thought about how to protect the water in my tub from further loss, I (way too slowly) looked up and remembered "heh, this water came from somewhere. How did I get it?!"
This is the point where I remembered my previous focus on Attracting Wealth vs Amassing Wealth. Yes, the former helped me achieve the latter ... but it's a crucial distinction to make.
When you focus on amassing, you only have as much as you have.
When you focus on attracting, you have as much as you want/need to have!
Both are about building assets - Amassing Wealth gives you the money, Attracting Wealth gives you the means (to make money when and even where and how you want/need it).
So, 7000 of my precious little eggs were crushed by this big, bad healthcare tax ogre (I actually imagined some grotesque French bureaucrat poking his head out of Notre Dame). Nothing I could do to stop this now. But ... what would it take to replace this loss? Could I earn another 10,000 euros to replace this loss??? (it's France - taxes are nuts here)
I thought about the various ways I could earn 10,000 euros if I wanted/needed. Having spent years focusing on Attracting Wealth (largely through Creating Abundance for others), 10k is not a big number for me. Yes, I know it is for others ... and, yes, there was a time when this was a MASSIVE (almost unthinkable) number for me but, well, focusing on Attracting Wealth is a bit like working out with weights ... that 150 pound bench press which looks impossible when you're young and untrained is something you can do 10x, 20x, or more, once you've had the right training (and NO I'm not selling some training course here - this is NOT some sponsored post trying to get you folks to pay my tax bill!).
I went through some ways in which I could get another 10k ... if needed. I could do a strategy consulting project for one of my previous enterprise clients (these easily are in that range, often much higher, and with limited to no external costs = full profit). I could sell a few $50k research projects for my company and easily make this much in commission. I could start charging for my growth-hacking mentoring program and move from startups to mid-sized firms which could get me this much many times over.
MY ways, of course, are not your ways ... nor are they really important. I'm in a different place age/career/skill-wise than many of you and I'm sure there are folks here who - ahead of me - could pull a few levers and have $100k or more pouring into their tubs. Heck, an Elon Musk can pull a lever in his sleep and wake up to $100 million or more.
The point is that, when we focus on Amassing Wealth, or spend too much time 'counting what we have', we're actually in a negative thinking state - "how much is going out? how much more do we need?" - these keep our focus on 'lack' versus 'abundance'.
When we focus on Attracting Wealth, or imagining all the ways we can earn more, we are in a positive thinking state. This leaves us much more resilient to the 'wealth hits' which we all face as we work towards FIRE (or have achieved FIRE). Unforeseen 10k cost (whatever your currency)? No problem. Just like a tub with a leaky plug, you just open up the tap ... and pour more in.
Since a lot of folks are likely thinking "Yeah, maybe easy for you!", I will share my secret for Attracting Wealth (and NO, there is no 'buy my book' BS forthcoming!).
It's simply Creating Abundance ... for others.
With ALL of the mentees and businesses I work with, the focus is always on 1) identifying your niche - these are the people who you want to help and will passionately serve, even self-sacrifice for so they get their needs met and 2) aligning what you offer to meet the needs of these people. Honestly, business is really this simple. THIS is the key to my Growth Hacking success (in every company I've worked in as well as for every client I've served).
Help others get ahead. Help them become more abundant. Don't focus on what you do. Don't push your products. Just figure out what THEY need to get ahead. Align what you do/sell to THEIR goals. Honestly, it really is that easy ... once you've identified the WHO (very specifically) and you understand them well enough.
So, how does Creating Abundance for others help you Attract Wealth? Yeah, this is where a bit of faith needs to come in since it's not automatic, nor is it necessarily instantaneous.
It's a bit like planting apple seeds, tending the ground to make sure the Apple is getting its needs met, doing whatever you can to encourage the Apple's growth, even NOT picking any fruit for the first few years so that this can drop down and go back into the ground to re-nourish the Apple tree.
Being a bit more concrete, let me give you a client example. For one of the clients I've had now for 6 year (and who, yes, I love), we did the first few projects ... at a loss. They had underpriced on their end and were stuck for a provider to get them out of the mess. We discounted our pricing by 50% (note: this is important ... do NOT under-price yourself ... EVER ... but do be willing to extend even a big discount IF it's a great potential relationship with good upside).
Even though we lost money on the first few projects, we built a solid base of trust for a longer-term relationship. Yes, they "owed" us for these first few losses ... but we never "asked". This too is important. It's giving as much as you can (to good people) but not, ever, trying to 'balance the scales'. With good people, you don't need to do this.
Good people (and good clients) will naturally work more with you if you are helping them succeed more. This is kinda "duh" but I'm amazed at how few people incorporate this as a core part of their business strategy - help your clients succeed more!
As they gain the fruits of their successes, so will they commit a larger share of their work to you. As they become more successful, they grow ... and you gain from this growth. In this one particular example, we went from having a few money-losing $25k projects ... to having a client relationship which is now worth some $2.5 million (a year!) AND it's growing ... because we are helping our client further grow their business.
Another example of why Creating Abundance for others helps to Attract Wealth are two of the startups I'm mentoring. I've been providing my guidance for free (heh, these are pre/early-stage startups so why would I try to get money out of them?!). My focus is fully on THEIR business growth and success. I'm passionate about them as individuals and about their businesses (even though one is focused on ground beef which is not something I eat). What I'm not doing is figuring out how I get "my part" out of this. Honestly, there's no need. These are good people. Good people naturally want to be fair. Yeah, it's perhaps risky to be this "naive" with all your clients but I've found that it's ok to have "faith" in good people.
What blew me away recently is BOTH of these startups tried to push me to accept an equity stake ... with no investment. Yeah, many people may be thinking "but they're startups with nothing" ... but Whole Foods was a startup, Amazon was a startup ... think of a successful startup and how wealthy would you be if you were "given" a 5%+ stake in any of these?
I do hope that these startups will achieve the amazing potential they have and I will continue to work passionately to support them, regardless of whether I have equity or not (at present, me taking equity doesn't help either of them so my answer is 'no'). What this shows though is another example of what I laid out above - when you focus on Creating Abundance for others ... even if it takes that seed a long time to produce enough fruits ... it's a powerful way to Attract Wealth.
You then have the choice of when, how much (and perhaps where, in the case of nomads looking to optimize their tax situation) you "choose" to Amass Wealth.
Thanks to those who read through this rather long story. Sorry if you're looking for some hook or for something to buy. I really don't have the need. I have enough wealth at present and, more importantly, I have the means to attract more when needed.
For those on the path of FIRE, I wish you continued gains and hope that this story helps you to focus your energies and use the power of creating abundance for others to fuel your own FIRE.
For those who may be struggling on this nomadic path (as many of us have), I hope you'll shift your focus to helping others (versus worrying about your own lack). When I've hit rock bottom (too often to count), moving my focus to helping others is the quickest way for me to get out of my bad place and, often, has led me to opportunities to get far more than I ever thought possible. As such, I consider it perhaps the most powerful of my growth hacks ... and it just makes me feel good
Wishing you all joyous travels and much abundance on the path ahead! Richard