Ten Life Lessons I’ve Learned In The Pursuit of Getting Rich

In his best-selling financial book, Rich Dad Poor Dad, Robert T. Kiyosaki advises that in order to have a successful, rewarding life and ultimately to create wealth, we must first work to learn, not to earn. In my schizophrenically varied work life, I have followed my curiosity, whims and blind dumb luck through doors of opportunity and stumbled upon lessons I never forgot – some of which may be useful, some which may not. Here are 10 life lessons that I’ve taken away from 10 different occupations:

Food Server

Customers who are rude enough to walk into a restaurant at 8:57pm when the sign on the door says “Open 11am to 9pm” won’t tip well either.

Gas station clerk

There are people in this world – I’ve even watched a local judge do it – who will put their last borrowed dollar into a video poker machine.

Communicable disease investigator

It takes just as much energy to look busy as it does to work. And the anxiety of being busted while on a fake phone call – no one on the other end but Debbie Dial Tone – will take years off your life.

Concert Catering Chef’s Assistant in Milan, Italy

Fame makes people act weird – both the famous and those around them. It looked, from my brief view, like a lonely, paranoid existence; a wobbling hierarchy perched atop brittle, glass steps.

Video Store Clerk

Time off is only good when your friends and family are off too.

Advertising Salesperson

If you wouldn’t sell what you’re selling to your own parents, you shouldn’t sell it to anybody. Just because you can close a deal, doesn’t always mean you should.

Cook/Hostess on a 100-year-old wooden sailboat docked in Mallorca, Spain

Any job is stressful if you don’t like it. A man who worked with me on this boat actually had to go to the mainland for a stress-related illness. In this job, I also learned that some people, el capitan in this case, like to sail naked. (But that’s a story for another post.)

Manual Laborer

There is no such thing as a stupid question. Go ahead and ask because, in manufacturing, though not always in life, it’s best to correct a mistake before it’s made.

Assistant Manager of an apartment community

Beware of people who tell you how honest they are, and if they mention the Lord within the first five minutes of any business transaction, hold on to your wallet. (My dad who owned his own business for 30 years said the worst thing about gettin’ screwed by somebody religious is they expect you to forgive em.)

Inventory Technician

When you begin to hope you wreck your car during the drive to work so you don’t have to go in, it’s time to change jobs.

Will these lessons in themselves make me wealthy? I doubt it. But if I assess the value of my life by the richness of the experiences it contains, then I would say, yeah, I am richer for having learned such things. And boy, what a ride.

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13 Responses to Ten Life Lessons I’ve Learned In The Pursuit of Getting Rich

  1. Love the closing and what truth it is…Richness and value is explained by so much more than the numbers on your brokerage statements

    Will these lessons in themselves make me wealthy? I doubt it. But if I assess the value of my life by the richness of the experiences it contains, then I would say, yeah, I am richer for having learned such things. And boy, what a ride.

  2. Bonnie Hancock says:

    I love the humor with the truth!!

  3. Larry Hamilton says:

    Way to go, Meredith! And to think I knew you when you were shy about being a first time visitor to the SCWW Cola Chap II!!!
    I am writing this from the beautiful campus of Warren Wilson College located in the edge of Swannanoa, NC and about 8 miles due east of Asheville.
    Forge on! Persistence pays – at least that’s what I keep muttering into my grey beard – regards to your Dad.
    Larry Hamilton

  4. Amber Yount says:

    LOL Your list is hilarious and true!! I especially learned the food service thing.

  5. loafer says:

    William S. Burroughs put it best when he said:

    “If you’re ever doing business with a religious sonofabitch, get it in writing! His word isn’t worth shit — not with the good lord telling him how to screw you on the deal.”

  6. Cap'n Billy says:

    If you find the clouds drifting to the right, run to the left.

    I’ve never been happier than when I found one red jelly bean under a turnip.

  7. China Tattler says:

    Doing even crappy jobs is a learning experience where we learn more about ourselves. And that’s what creates true wealth for the individual, not money, but rather self-knowledge and wisdom.

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  10. Al says:

    Experienced #2 myself, truer words never spoken. If you’re bringing up God in the first minute it’s because you have no confidence that you can sell yourself, and probably for good reason. Run!

  11. Dave says:

    I just got through #1 myself. I yearned for an accident to keep me from going in, even for an injury to keep me hospitalized for a couple of days. Well, I quit that job a week ago and I’m happier than I’ve been in years.

  12. Jemme Stewart says:

    What could be better than really getting the lessons that life has for us. I have learned so much in every job that I have ever had. Often not what I wanted to learn, but so valualbe. Thanks for reminding us to take the lessons.

  13. kathy says:

    Dear Meredith,

    I recently ran into a mutual acquaintance who told me that you were no longer in the insurance game. I thought, well, I wonder what good ol’ Meredith is doing these days? I googled ya, and came up with a link to your blog on savingsadvice.com. I read the one you wrote concerning that in your pursuit to get rich, the things you learned at the different jobs you’ve had.

    I think you missed a very important lesson that you could have related in your blog. When you were an advertising salesperson, I taught you how to sell. That set the stage for your insurance job and you will certainly call upon the lessons you learned from me at jobs into the future. Of all the jobs you tell about, I believe that what you learned here is the most valuable and if properly applied, could actually make you rich. It seems since that is the basis of your blog, it would actually help your readers to learn to appreciate the skills they learn at different jobs and give credit where credit is due.

    I didn’t realize that you lost (or never had) faith in our products. It would have been appropriate for you to discuss this with me. It would have been fun to work together to create more benefits for our customers, something I do all the time. I haven’t lost faith in our products and neither have our advertisers. Half of the customers we have are the same customers we had when you worked here 7 years ago.

    Good luck with your new advice-dispensing career!

    Kathy Gardener
    Gardener Publications
    Telephone: 803-798-6960
    Mobile: 803-466-8454
    Fax: 803-798-7063
    [email protected]

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