Yesterday, I watched Born Rich, a documentary made by Johnson & Johnson heir Jamie Johnson. In case you’re unfamiliar with this 2003 documentary, it is centered around Jamie’s 21st birthday. He is attempting to figure out what it means to be rich, how to overcome the fear and etc. associated with talking about money, avoid the pitfalls of his grandfather and others, and figure out what he wanted to do with his life. I’m sure many of us can relate to trying to figure out where we come from, who we are, and who we want to become around the beginning stages of adulthood. Maybe you began trying to avoid the pitfalls of your parents and relatives a lot sooner than that, as I did, but most of us can identify with Jamie’s struggles, if not with his particular concerns.
There’s one scene in the documentary where Jamie is talking to his father about what he should do with his life. Since he doesn’t have to work, he wants some advice on what he should do. Jamie’s father likes to paint; that’s his thing. But Jamie has no talent or interest in that. His father tells him that maybe he should continue on with film, as he has an interest in it. He also suggests that he may like to collect rare documents and such. “As a career?” Jamie asks, a little incredulously. “Yes,” his father deadpans.
Jamie asks several other heirs and heiresses about what they choose to do–which range from equestrian pursuits to real estate to a “regular” $50,000 a year job, to nothing. One textile heir is particularly snobby in the way some Europeans are towards Americans and our dating small talk(sorry, Europeans; I know how it is to be judged by members of your rank even you don’t like); apparently, being asked what he does rubs him the wrong way and is rude to him (perhaps it would be to me, too, if I did nothing…but this is supposed to be motivational, right? Moving on…)
I don’t know what Jamie decided to do, but what I do know is that I found the answers of his friends and family interesting. It definitely answers the question (in most cases), what would you do if money wasn’t a factor? One is an artist. Ivanka Trump talked about playing with erector sets instead of Barbie dolls and imagining what she would add to the New York skyline, what piece of the sky would be hers. The Bloomberg heir’s passion for all things equestrian shined through her entire interview footage.
Mr. Perfect & I had an interesting conversation about what I would do if it wasn’t “for a living”, if I didn’t have to worry about making money doing it so I could eat. It’s well known that I would be a writer. I would devote all my time to it. I’d probably be on a retreat for a few months out of the year, in some postcard perfect part of the country with temperate weather away from civilization where I could write.
Since I’m not an heir or otherwise independently wealthy, I am not a full-time writer. But what I took away from this documentary is not that I need to be independently wealthy to pursue my dreams freely. I think it’s an awesome advantage to have the financial ability to focus solely on your dreams, but it has its drawbacks. People assume you win or excel at a job or school because of your parents’ money and influence. Perhaps you don’t get the respect you deserve for your hard work.
Passion is passion. I love writing just as much as the Bloomberg heiress likes horses. We both are in the position of pursuing our passions, although she pursues her fulltime and I pursue mine part time. We both have the equal opportunity to be successful at what we do. She may have better equipment or a better bred horse than someone else, but if you aren’t a good rider, you still won’t win. I may not have the fancy laptop, writing software, or industry connections of another writer, but if they don’t have the talent, they won’t be able to sustain a career (or a love for what they do). There’s an opportunity for me to become a full-time paid writer; I just have to prepare myself for it so I can grab it when it comes along.
Whether you are free to pursue them full time or only part-time, don’t give up on your passions. It may not be easier to make money doing what you love, but it’s more rewarding. Once you do make it, you’ll be able to sustain your enjoyment of getting up and doing the job each day. If you can’t do what you love 9-5 now, do it when your time is your own. Do it for free. Hone your craft. Be ready to take advantage of whatever opportunity comes your way. At least, that’s my two cents. Leave yours in the comments section, or email me at 2blu2btru4u[at]gamail[dot]com.
- Upper Class Bash (observer.com)
- The 1%: A group of people who control nearly half the wealth of the US (idreamofeden.wordpress.com)
- When Compensation no Longer Motivate Employees (via Maribeth Oliver’s Blog) (maribetholiver.com)