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A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about some of the silly status symbols over the years. It got me thinking about how quickly status symbols change over time.
If you are an 80s baby like me, you may remember the mantra “greed is good”. Robin Leach was showcasing the ultra wealthy through Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Luxury material goods were typically the status symbols of choice. That was the easiest way for the rich to flaunt their tremendous wealth that they had.
They even made television comedies like Silver Spoon, highlighting the absurdity of some rich people who shower their children with superfluous toys and gifts.
The 80s were weird.
Looking back at those shows, I laugh out loud at what they thought was “hot”. Then, just 3 decades later, that stuff seems so unimportant.
This isn’t meant to be political, but the person who I think epitomizes 1980s wealth is Donald Trump. He had the “best” properties, incredible luxuries, and women galore.
On top of that, Trump craved fame and notoriety. He loved being on the cover of the latest tabloid magazine. Any press was good press. Today though, celebrities have much more power through their social media outlets. Most even have social media managers to ensure that their “brands” stay on target so that their fame will increase.
There’s a reason why Kim Kardashian began to freak out when Kanye West was spouting off nonsense. He wasn’t abiding by the script. She was afraid that he might compromise her fame. Her thoughts were probably on her advertising money and likability.
On top of that, Trump was in a position of authority as the CEO of the Trump Organization, where he wielded a heavy hand in his practices. There wasn’t a day that went by that he wasn’t busy working around the world in a power suit, trying to complete the next deal.
Today though, it seems like society is moving in a different direction with status symbols. Some in Silicon Valley laugh at a power suit. To them, if you’re not wearing a hoodie with jeans, a power suit indicates old money.
The person that epitomizes success to me today is Jeff Bezos.
Jeff Bezos has said that his family comes first, and he backs that up. Every morning, he wakes up without an alarm and has breakfast with his family. While many business leaders talk about spending time with family and oftentimes parade their family around as being integral to their lives, many are holed up in their offices, sending their children to boarding schools, never to see them.
While many people can make money in their own industry, very few are so respected that people in other industries seek them for advice. For example, think about the show Shark Tank. Mark Cuban and the other sharks are touted as savvy investors, so people gladly give away portions of their businesses for money and guidance. An ultra status symbol is having people look up to you no matter what the subject matter. Look no further than Kobe Bryant, one of the best basketball players ever, who opened up his own Venture Capital firm.
Jeff Bezos is not only a leader in e-commerce, but he is also an innovator. He wants to impact the way humans live in the future.
His goal is to utilize the earnings that he has made from Amazon to create a civilization in Space in order to protect the Earth in the future.
While in the past, rich people may have tried to influence generations through art or culture, today, we see some who are thinking drastically bigger.
Being “busy” use to be a sign that you were important. However, it seems like today, having the flexibility to do want you want is an ultimate status symbol. I mean, think about it. How many people do you know who can up and go to a Caribbean island for a weekend getaway at the last minute? I don’t know too many.
How many of us in the FIRE movement want to quit our jobs today so that we have the flexibility to choose what we want to do with our time? Who wants to be a slave chasing those dollars?
Have you ever noticed that the ultra rich today all have personal trainers and cooks who prepare the healthiest foods to fuel their sculpted bodies?
The ability to have time to work out, plan meals and take care of ourselves is a luxury that many of us just don’t currently have.
I’m sure in 30 years that the status symbols of the rich will be different. However, hopefully we don’t regress to where we were in the 1980s.