The Endangered American Millionaire

| April 16, 2009

When I turned in The Richest Man in Town to my publisher last fall, there were slightly more than 9 million millionaires in the United States. By the time my book debuts on May 4th, there will be just under 7 million. One is forced to question whether this is a good thing or bad thing.

Many people think this economic correction, which has cost wealthy Americans $10 trillion dollars in net worth, has brought the rich their richly deserved comeuppance. And as I have written before in the blog, that attitude is understandable, at least toward those rich who made their fortunes on the backs of others, and those who expected the government to bail them out from the consequences of their recklessness and greed.

Graydon Carter: Cafe Sociologist

| April 13, 2009

Graydon Carter and Spy made fun of nearly every rich person or celebrity, and absolutely every symbol of the ostentation of the era. Donald Trump, famously dubbed a “short-fingered vulgarian,” was their favorite target. They were the gadflies of the New York establishment, and they did it brilliantly. Almost 30 years later, Graydon could almost be a target of his former magazine, were it still in existence.

Have Fun—Write Your Own Obituary

| April 10, 2009

This week I was lunching with my friend, communications wizard and former NBC TV anchor Mary Civiello. She had just finished reading the galleys of my forthcoming book, and she said, “I had so much fun writing my obituary as you suggested in your book. I had a ball.” That was not exactly the response that I had expected, but it did make me happy, I must admit. It proved to me that the concept is not as morbid as one might think when first hearing the idea. As I say in the book, it’s daunting to think about what will be said when the curtain comes down on our last act. But it’s a darn good way to plan the rest of your life. It’s a magnificent, exacting lens through which to look at the big decisions in life, especially in times of change or times of uncertainty—say, when you’ve lost your job, or lost half your hard-earned retirement savings.

Bernie Marcus: “My Life Began When I Was Fired at 49”

| April 9, 2009

Bernie Marcus is, without question, one of the greatest American self-made success stories of all time. The company he founded, Home Depot, has immeasurably changed the landscape of virtually every town America. Marcus’s Home Depot added its trademark orange to the red, white, and blue American Dream of owning your own home and finding pleasure in fixing it up. Today Home Depot has more than 2,200 stores across North America.