the money diagram

The Money Diagram

One of the perks of traveling is that you get to meet other people. I know it sounds funny, but, as Sheldon will put it: “it’s funny, cause it’s true”. For the last 4 days I’ve been traveling around Spain (in Mallorca, precisely), and, after settling in, I finally got the chance to get a little social.

So, the other day I reconnected with a friend who lives in Mallorca, and with whom I share a long history of entrepreneurial endeavors (at times, we were even competitors, but that was a very long time ago). As we sat and sipped our fabulous double espresso (a big relief for me, after 3 days of borderline horrible coffee) the discussion segued into money, people with a lot of money (kind of the “signature” of Palma de Mallorca) and people with not so much money.

And that’s the point where we both came to the conclusion that there isn’t any direct link between the amount of money somebody has, and his level of niceness. In other words, there are plenty of rich people who are really good persons. As there are also plenty of poor people who are absolute assholes.

One thing led to another and, in a couple of minutes, we formalized the entire situation in a nice diagram. What follows is a short explanation of this diagram.

The Axis

The vertical axis is about how much money somebody has. It’s basically a scale between filthy rich and dead poor. The horizontal axis is about how nice somebody can be. At its lowest, we see absolute jerks, and at its highest we see really nice persons.

Crossing off these axis we’ll give us 4 distinct quadrants:

  • rich and nice
  • poor and nice
  • poor and jerk
  • rich and jerk

Let’s take them from the end to the beginning.

The Rich And Jerk

This is the most common perception of rich people. In my experience, though, it’s not the most common situation with rich people. In the sense that this is not the overwhelming majority. But it tends to be more visible, because, well, it’s easier to blame, than to work. Especially when those you are blaming, are really jerks.

There is a certain portion of rich people which is always bragging, enforcing its social status, using money for wrong reasons and so on and so forth. These are the guys showing off their yachts, their jets and their mansions, for lack of anything else to show off.

This perception subconsciously stops many people to even start thinking about getting rich: “am I really going to become a monkey with a jet?”. The truth is that if you’re already a monkey, money won’t change that. It will just embellish your cage.

The Poor And Jerk

This is another very visible part of the poor people, because it is very vocal. Being jerks helps that big time, because jerks tend to take a lot of pride in their idiotic righteousness. Poverty is just giving them one more reason to bitch about.

They are the most aggressive observers and arbiters of the quadrant above. They are obsessed with the rich and the jerk, partly because they sharing the “being jerk” approach, partly because they are yearning to get there. They have the intuition that money will greatly amplify them in any direction.

The poor and jerk are always asking for “equality”, while secretly longing to take the place they are criminalizing so loudly. Communism is probably the clearer proof for that: no matter how much equality you enforce, jerks will always find a way to unbalance it, for the love of money.

The Poor And Nice

These are what we usually call the “spiritual” people. Monks, hippies, wanderers, or just poor people with a big heart. They renounced money (willingly or forcibly) in order to experience different parts of life. In this process, they kept being nice. They’re not making a big fuss about being poor.

The nice part in these people makes money a negligible quantity. They usually live very fulfilling lives and can get around with very little. Still, the amplitude of their experiences is limited. They can’t reach to places or things that only money can provide. Yet, somehow, they are at peace with this limited experience.

The only downside of these people is that, sometimes, they become too attached to their poverty, eliminating a priori any involvement with money. Almost like money will be an unnecessary quantity in this type of existence. Which, of course, it’s not true. Life on Earth is not Nirvana, and it will never be.

The Rich And Nice

These are the outliers. People so nice that they’ll make a monk look fussy, and yet having so much money that they often forget how much they really have. The main trait of these people is modesty. Hence, you won’t get to see them too much, unless you search for them specifically.

This is also the best quadrant to be in, of all the four we described so far. Surprisingly, it’s the most difficult to get into. Spirituality is often valued more than being rich, so even those who will do well with large amounts of money, feel reluctant to try the rich lifestyle, by fear of being “wrong”.

There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with having money. Like I wrote above, money will just amplify who you are. So if you’re a nice person, don’t be afraid money will change that. Money will change some numbers in some ledgers. The only thing that can change you, is you.

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