The Millionaire Next Door

A Career In The Dirt

In what types of careers do we find the balance sheet affluent, the millionaires next door? Many take an unconventional approach. Below is one of my favorite stories about careers, adapted from Millionaire Women Next Door.

Marion was trained to be sensitive to opposing viewpoints and countertrends. Being different in thought and deed was something to be proud of, not condemned. Her folks convinced her that she had the ability and aptitude to excel at any task, at any vocation she set her sights on, and that there was no such thing as women’s versus men’s work, and high-status and therefore desirable versus low-status and therefore undesirable work. Career choice should be based on the satisfaction, the pride, the self-esteem, and the freedom it could provide. So it is with Marion. While in excess of 115 million households in this country hate dirt, she embraces it. She conditions dirt, sells dirt, buys dirt, stores dirt, grades dirt, and has an affection for dirt.  Marion reads trade journals about dirt, dirt-moving equipment, and those who buy and sell dirt. In essence, she is extremely dirt-sensitive! She specializes in “higher-end dirt.” High grade top soil and planting soil is a major part of her business. Even in dirt circles a social hierarchy exists!
Many of Marion’s clients are country clubs. She is not a country club member, however, and views golf clubs differently than do most people. To her such organizations are merely a source of revenue, never a way to display status. Nor are her significant economic achievements defined by her $240,000 home, $23,000 5-year old Ford Explorer, $300 watch, or even her $200 suit.

Today, Marion is well above the norm in regard to her net worth ($6 million “in cash” alone with no debt), satisfaction with life, and contributions made to noble causes. Her two major goals are to fund her grandchildren’s educations and increase her donations to noble causes.

Perceptive people, like Marion, see value in such things as dirt, scrap metal, rags, or junked motor vehicles. These are economic opportunities that most of us ignore. Most who do see value in such areas were raised by parents who encouraged them to think differently, to follow their own drummer, never the crowd. 

Marion is a strong, confident woman possessing high self-esteem. And why not?  She is her own person. She could easily provide for herself and her family economically for fifty years without working one more day. This is a badge of honor that can’t be found in stores. Marion detailed in her own words what her parents taught her, as well as some of her own beliefs about money, success, and material wealth:

“Success should not be measured by …how large the house, how expensive the car….  I detest flaunted wealth. Success [should be measured] by what a person does in regard to business practices, ethics, environment, and human kindness….  Money should be the pleasant outcome of one’s endeavors, not the main goal….Be kind, be honest, stay focused and unafraid to go after your dream….The main lesson in becoming financially successful [is]…never spend more than you make [and]…always save and invest.”

4 thoughts on “A Career In The Dirt”

  1. I aspire to be a ‘Marion’ though it seems easier said than done what with the pressure to fit in and impress. It’s nuts the way we live, trying to compete and be something we dont fully comprehend. Someone needs to knock some sense into us and save us from our own folly. This book seems like a good place to start and i’m going out right now to buy me a copy!


  2. Thank you for this story of true success. I am in the process of changing my own outlook of success and also my childrens view of true wealth. It’s not just thinking outside of the box, but changing its shape no matter what anyone else may think. Marion is an inspiration to us all.

  3. Dear Pauline,
    I like the way Dave Ramsey put it in regards to fitting in and impressing: “If your broke friends are making fun of you, you doing something right”.

  4. One of the big reasons why so many people don’t follow their dreams is because they waste too much time following the “in-crowd,” and doing what everyone else is doing… just because everyone else is doing it. I myself was guilty of that in my youth, but thank God I grew up and snapped out of it! The Millionaire Next Door – as well as all of Dr. Stanley’s books on millionaires – highlights how financially and professionally successful people marched to a beat of their own drummer, and decided NOT to follow the crowd. That, in large part, explains their success.

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