A Letter From a Man Whose Mother Is a Bank

I received a letter this morning that began as follows:

Dear Mark – I hope all is well with you and yours. I want to reach out to you because you can help me…

I looked at the signature. A name I didn’t recognize. Perhaps I had forgotten. I asked Gio to look him up in our files. She couldn’t find him.

Notice his rationale for “reaching out to me.” It was because I could help him.

I was intrigued. Either I did know the man and he was making a claim on that relationship, or we had no relationship and he was oblivious to how arrogant his request was.

His letter continued:

I am living at home in a toxic environment trying to launch my internet business. I haven’t worked for months; jobs are hard to land these days. I do not want any handouts, I just want the opportunity to explain my circumstances.

He went on to tell me all about his life… his dreams and his challenges. He explained that his current financial problems were “not his fault” but the fault of his “dysfunctional family.”

And then, in the very next sentence, he mentioned that he had been using his supposedly dysfunctional mother “as a bank for almost nine years.”

I was now reading with the utmost interest.

“My livelihood is on the line,” he said. He had “boxed himself” into a fast-disintegrating financial corner, but he was not going to give up. Where there is hope, he believed, there is hope!

And what was that hope? Words of advice from me? Perhaps a free copy of Automatic Wealth? Or Seven Years to Seven Figures? Or Living Rich?

No.

“To be totally transparent with you,” he said, “Money will take care of the aforementioned problems.”

Aha! So it was as easy as that. All he needed was some quantity of my money. All I had to do was sign a check and send it off… and presto! He would be in fine shape.

Every week, I get letters from people asking for advice. And I answer every one of them. Sometimes with a quick suggestion but usually by suggesting that they read one of my books. But it’s rare that I get a request like this.

I believe that no one has an inherent right to wealth. I believe that we are born into a universe that guarantees us nothing. But I also believe that the acquisition of wealth – enough to sustain oneself – is a fundamental human responsibility.

It requires three things:
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Today’s Word: aegis (noun) – In classical mythology, the aegis (EE-jis) was the shield of Zeus or Athena. We use the word to refer to something that provides protection, support, or sponsorship. Example from Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry by Etienne Leon Lamothe-Langon: “Will she refuse to protect with her aegis the most humble of her adorers?”

Did You Know?: Porcupines float in water.

Worth Quoting: “Trying to get without first giving is as fruitless as trying to reap without having sown.” – Napoleon Hill

What I’m Reading: Little Failure: A Memoir By Gary Shteyngart and Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah. Shteyngart’s memoir about being a child in Russia and then growing up in a Jewish community in Brooklyn is smart, funny, perceptive. Such a contrast to Noah’s memoir about growing up in South Africa as a colored person. Noah’s observations are more profound and inspired, but Shteyngart’s ideas and articulation are more impressive.

Watch This: I’ve introduced you to Steve Ludwin, my friend the venomous snake aficionado. He’s landed a series with the VICE TV network in which he travels around the world interviewing people that have fascinating connections with deadly snakes. This particular episode is about preachers in Western Virginia that “handle” snakes.

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