We are in the age of Instagram. The age of instant wealth and fame. Waiting is for the dunderheads. The slow learners. The smart guys make and flaunt their money. It’s called celebrity wealth or Sonkoism.
Our youth want to be rich today. No sweat. They are in a rush against time. “What do you have to show for your age? They pose. Look; I’m barely 24 years and already driving and going for those exotic holidays! Do your projections. Where do you see me in 10 years?” Heaven, I guess!
The youth today believe in miraculous wealth. We are parading and celebrating overnight millionaires without a record of work, industry or profession. Those who work hard or are slow to amassing wealth are laughed at. “Stop working hard.” They say. “Work smart. Show me a rich donkey”! They dare.
In these times, the end justifies the means. We are fixated on the product not the process. We judge people by their purchases rather than the depth of their character. Success is more quantitative than qualitative.
Our media too is hungry for role models. They are banging on the doors of hustlers and drug dealers to portray them as young and rich. We have awards for the Top 40 under 40. The message is clear. After 40, the game is over.
Yet this could be very misleading. Wealth is a factor of time. It’s a culture developed over generations. The habits that keep us poor or wealthy are nurtured over a long period. One may acquire riches instantly but it takes time to grow roots to support such riches. Productive wealth is anchored on a known expertise, a particular trade, knowledge or industry. There is nothing like floating wealth. It’s the owner of the fruit tree who owns the fruits. Do not flaunt the fruits. Show me the tree.
This misguided celebrity wealth is the basis of tendrerpreneurship, a sad waste of life. Tendepreneurs never accumulate any useful knowledge or skills in their dealings other than dead money-money not anchored in any productive venture. Such money cannot grow. The only way to sustain such wealth is continuous tenderpreneurship. Finally, when the tap runs dry, the scenario of a fool and his money takes over.
Instant wealth is like having a big tree without deep roots. It’s like those weeds that float on water. It can easily be swept to another shore overnight.
That’s why Sonkoism is a beautiful lie. Being wealthy is like a marathon. You don’t celebrate a win just because you led in the first round. You must keep the pace up till the end. It demands diligence.
The world is littered with those who had a lot of money in their youth by died paupers. Steve Jobs was very successful at Apple in his 20s. At 30, he lost his job and had to start afresh. He struggled a lot during this period when he founded Next computers and Pixar. He would again be recalled to Apple well past his 40s to create phenomenon success that we all know of Apple.
The process of growing wealth the right way comes with fundamental changes in attitude and behavior that will ultimately act as a reservoir for the same wealth. They can withstand turbulence because of their strong roots. That’s the difference between overnight success and grounded growth. At the time of writing this, a neighbor property company that was the icon of youth success is in the news for all the wrong reasons. The tragedy of growth without roots.
Those who have built wealth slowly and painstakingly are distilled through the process. They are not overly exited. They don’t spend foolishly, throw stupid parties and take silly pictures in naked display of misplaced opulence. Like still waters, they run deep. Let’s all aspire to be the still waters.
Evans Majeni is a businessman and a Director at AMM.