The Millionaire Next Door

More than “Wishful Thinking”

Dr. Stanley:

As a reader of both “The Millionaire Next Door” and “The Millionaire Mind,” this story immediately struck a chord with me, and I knew I had to share it with you.

First some background, then the story. 

For about a year, I had the pleasure of personally getting to know a self-made decamillionaire named Gary Knapp. This man is a textbook example of the type of individual you profile. As I worked with him on various projects, he went out of his way to mentor me and share details of his success. This is particularly interesting, as I was only 21 years old at the time and was certainly not a peer. As a result of his mentoring, Gary has become a personal role model and hero for me.

Gary Knapp built his fortune in the broadcast business. He never graduated from college. After serving in the Army, he attended a trade school to learn radio broadcasting and became a low-wage reporter and DJ. He worked his way up, learned the business, and saw an opportunity: A low-power television station in northern Michigan. The region was under-served, and Gary knew that there was the potential for huge growth. 

Of course, TV stations aren’t cheap; Gary’s research and business plan was solid, but he needed funding for the equipment. Every bank, every single one, that he talked to turned him down. It was “too risky.” Instead of giving up, he met with countless businessmen in the local area, laid out his business plan, and secured the funds. The people he borrowed from invested not only in the plan, but in his honesty and reputation, which they had seen firsthand during his past years as a reporter and radio station manager.

Long story short, the station exploded and dominated the market. Gary quickly expanded and built other stations as well. When all was said and done, he retired in 2000, having sold the stations for $12 million.

You can read his background here:

And here:

Now, the story. I could go on and on with similar stories about how he made his millions– my friend Gary is very eager for other[s] to learn and succeed as he did. This was told directly to me while he proudly held up a copy of your book:

Gary Knapp’s wife wanted to go into town to do some errands. So, they jumped into their four-year-old Ford F-150 and headed down to Wal-Mart. While his wife shopped, Gary perused the book section and picked up “The Millionaire Next Door.” He read the back cover, liked it, and stepped to the checkout isle to buy it. The checkout woman, making minimum wage, looked at him with his casual sweatshirt and well-worn baseball hat, and then looked at the “Millionaire” book title. With a sarcastic smirk, she snidely commented to him: “Wishful thinking.”

Yes, “wishful thinking.” Little did the smug checkout clerk know that the man with an F-150 and an old Jeep in the garage, has close to $10 million dollars in the bank as well…. because instead of making snide comments, he took the time to learn how to actually be successful, and did it himself.

9 thoughts on “More than “Wishful Thinking””

  1. Awesome story! It’s amazing how we judge a person by outward appearances. We tend to perceive the amount of a person’s wealth by the way they are dressed, what they drive, where they live, etc. Fortunately, Gary Knapp’s story along with Thomas Stanley’s research make it a great topic of conversation when dealing with clients that are having financial problems because they’ve been trying to keep up with the Jones’…and the Jones’ are broke!

  2. In Asia, the entire Hong Kong is like that. They laugh at poorly dressed people and won’t service people who don’t wear designer clothes. Yet Hong Kong prospers. How do you explain this?

  3. This sounds similar to the story of Sam Walton when he first started Walmart. He went into the bank for a business loan wearing “farmers’ clothes” and was turned down for that loan. I wonder what those bankers are thinking now.

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