The Millionaire Next Door

Tony’s Reflections of a Millionaire Next Door

Who are among the best at serving the needs of the millionaire next door types?  Often they are those who have had experiences with these types of people during their formative years.  Tony Schuman, a successful investment manager, was sensitized early in his life to the significant differences between the low profile millionaire next door and those income statement affluent, aka the pseudo affluent, the aspirationals. 

Tony had a newspaper route when he was 10 years old.  He reports that

the blue collar people always paid on time and tipped. [In contrast for example] one woman, an attorney, would run around her house for twenty minutes or more before she would think of giving me 55 cents for the paper.  Both she and her husband worked but would never tip.

Later Tony became a caddy, as I did.  His early impressions were similar to mine regarding the characters who can be found at golf clubs.  I mentioned in Stop Acting Rich that the blue collar, self-made millionaires whom I caddied for at a public course were sigificantly better tippers than most of the aspirationals whom I caddied for at a private country club.  But those who did tip tipped very well.  According to Tony:

I look back now and realize that I learned more about business working there than all my time in business school.  The self made men all tipped well and continued to encourage me while I was working my way through college.  One member mentor, Mr. R, owned a large general contracting business and had bankrolled more than half of the club’s construction. Because of the cold Connecticut winters, he had to double his work time during the summer months.  He couldn’t play golf on Saturdays with the rest of the members because he was working.  Mr. R would come to the club Saturday afternoon for a beer on the patio. . . wearing his ‘millionaire next door’ uniform of work khakis and steel-toed boots.  One day a new member’s wife had designated herself the club’s doyenne saw Mr. R drinking his beer and smoking a cigar on the patio. . . .  . . . she scream[ed] at him. . . that he, as a mere workman had no right to sit on the patio to drink and smoke.  Her final bombshell. . . ‘who do you think you are; do you think you own this place?’ Mr. R calmly answered back, ‘Almost, lady, almost.’  Naturally she ran screaming [to the manager] who proceeded to inform her that Mr. R actually owned about 75% of the club equity and if she had any more questions, she should talk directly to him. 

One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth. Proverbs 13:7

4 thoughts on “Tony’s Reflections of a Millionaire Next Door”

  1. I like this story. I remember one time my brother who is income statement affluent wanted to give me his used Lexus. But I had to decline because I felt uneasy and simply didn’t want that type of symbol attached to me.

    That’s why I’m going to try to keep the long crack in my windshield on my 2003 Honda Civic there as long as I can.

    I like the following verse in 13:11, “He who gathers money little by little makes it grow.”

  2. When I was forced to take any job, I finally found a part-time temporary gig in an unrelated field. As part of Acura’s marketting program, I drove a new MDX for W Hotel guests for free within the City. It is interesting to note which guests offered to tip and which didn’t. It had me guessing and definitely taught me about business essentials: seasons (holidays were the highest), when the guests did most of the talking, they tipped, not the reverse, i.e. be customer centric., the senator and his entourage did not and the cussing was not impressive. Weekends and evenings (dinners and shows) – high percentage tipped. Most families did but most groups did not. In other words, understand timing. Guests from specific global regions did not (understand cultures, and, if you’re in the position to set prices, adjust accordingly). All in all, I really loved my guests and the diversity.

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