Deserving Money? 4 Millionaires Earn and Spend.

Photo Credit: RainerSchuetz
Photo Credit: RainerSchuetz

The 4 Millionaires

Four millionaires are sitting on a park bench.  Its a sunny Thursday morning.  While many others are working the 9 to 5 routine, George, David, Jonathan and Paul are relaxing in the park.

As you look at George, David, Jonathan and Paul nothing much stands out.  4 standard guys in a park.  They don’t flaunt their money.

However, they took four very different routes to get the money.

Paul bought a lottery ticket on a whim about 7 months ago.  The ticket won.  He became an instant millionaire.

Jonathan had a distant relationship with his parents as a child.  He spent his adolescence in boarding schools.  His family would gather on Christmas, but the relationships were not deep.  5 months ago his parents passed away.  When the will was read, Jonathan discovered that he received a million.  Another instant millionaire.

David set up a company 7 years ago.  He has worked hard.  Over the years the company grew in employees, grew in clients and grew in value.  2 years ago a US company contacted David about working more closely together.  This year that US company made an offer to buy-out David’s company.  Another millionaire.

George joined a bank after graduation.  He suffered through the painful early years giving 120 hour weeks, but he learnt how to work the system.  He has moved steadily up through the ranks and this year finally made it into the upper echelons.  His bonus this year: about a million.

Who Deserves?

What do you think about Paul, Jonathan, David and George?  How do you judge their path to wealth?  Is lottery worse than inheritance?  Is banker worse than entrepreneur?

Who, in your opinion, has the most “Right” to their money?

Take Our Poll

4 Millionaires: Part 2

We’re back in the park.  6 years have passed.  Paul, Jonathan, David and George have each aged since our original moment together.

What has happened in these 6 years?

Remember Paul?  Our lottery guy. He has been working with local schools for years.  He had always been involved in education and had some clear views on what sort of educational environment would give children the best start in life.  His million allowed him to create 2 new schools.  They were successful and by year 3 massively oversubscribed by parents.  He raised finance from a range of investors and will open his 7th new school this month.  3,500 kids have a better education because of Paul’s vision and execution.

Remember Jonathan?  Our inheritance guy. He had always wanted to travel.  He never had the money and the time, but his inheritance solved this problem.  He spent 2 years travelling around the world.  He never stays here for very long, always organising his next adventure.  Sometimes mountains, sometimes sea.

Remember David?  Our entrepreneur. After selling his business he tried to set up another company.  Instead of starting small and growing slowly like the first time around, he spent money to accelerate the growth.  Within 2 years he had created a large company, but found that he was running out of cash.  3 years ago the business failed.  David turned to drinking in the evenings to allow him to sleep.  The drinking became worse and worse.  David now lives month to month getting odd jobs from old friends.

Remember George?  Our banker. He is still in banking.  His bonuses have grown and grown.  He is on big money.  He is married and has two children.  The second child was born with downs syndrome.  George was the single biggest charitable donator to his local hospital last year and is on the board of 2 national charities.

Who deserves?

Now, who do you think is most “deserving” of their million?  Has your view changed?  Is it now George the banker with a big impact in charity, is it David the bankrupt entrepreneur, is it Jonathan the care-free traveller or is it Paul, the lottery winner turned education entrepreneur?

What is your view of money?  Is there a right way and a wrong way?  Is there better money or worse money?  Is it how you get it that matters, or how you spend it?  How should your view be?

Personally I see more “deserving” in the entrepreneur’s route to money – I choose David as most “deserving”; but as I write this thought experiment I find myself questioning whether I should not see “deserving” via the way that the money is used, not how it is gained?  Is Paul not more impressive for the impact he used the money to achieve?  Or George who is making a big difference in the treatment of a disease?

What do you find yourself thinking?

Author: Conor Neill

Hi, I’m Conor Neill, an Entrepreneur and Teacher at IESE Business School. I speak about Moving People to Action.

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