How to become part of the 1% by Cammi Pham

So I came across this on (by the way if you love quirky answers and people’s views on almost anything, you will get addicted to Quora real quick) and it made so much sense I had to share. Link to the original article is here . Its long so settle and enjoy


I am not the 1% yet. My answer might not be perfect, but it will give you some ideas. I grew up with the 1%. I am of royal descent. My great grandfather was very close with the president. His house is in the heart of my city, right next to the United Nations office, a few embassies, and a high-end hotel. I come from a somewhat affluent family in my country. I joke around sometime, “let’s read history and learn about our family.” If I am not wrong, there was a movie about one of my great grandfathers.

My father used to distribute half of the country’s prepaid phone cards with cell phone stores in every city. Later, he became a consultant with high-end clients who are the 0.01% in the country. That should put us in the lower upper class in our country (third world country) and the middle class in the world.

1. Unlearn
You cannot become the 1% if you think like the 99%.

“School is the advertising agency which makes you believe that you need the society as it is.”- Ivan Illich

The fewer questions people ask, the easier it is to control them. The 1% use education and media to control the 99%.

When I was small, my mother told me to listen with two ears. Let things come in one and go out the other. Don’t believe everything you hear. DON’T TRUST ANYONE.
Always ask questions. Even if you agree with something, try to look from the other side. If you disagree with something, do the same. Don’t just listen, think critically.

It is hard. Very hard. You will get the messages for the 99% and have to decode them. You don’t want to believe what the 1% want you to believe.

One summer, my father sent me to follow this talented entrepreneur to learn how to create a market and start a real estate bubble. We spent pretty much every other day chatting about the market and strategies in high-end restaurants. If someone tells you something, you find it out too late. You need to calculate all the moves before everyone else. Don’t let mainstream media and education distract you.

2. Never Stop Learning

When I was a little kid, every new year day, the first thing my mother told me to do was to study. She told me that one day I would use my pen to take over the world. Now you know I am old 🙂 and that I am trying to take over the world with my keyboard. The 1% knows the importance of knowledge. If you know how to use knowledge the right way, it is the most powerful weapon.

a. Read a lot
My parents are extremely frugal. But there was always one thing I could have as many as I wanted … BOOKS.

I remember when I was small, I had all the fairy tales you can find. I went book shopping every week. My father bought my first business book when I was 8. It was a comic about business strategies. By the time I was 10, I got bored with children books and started reading my parents’ history, philosophy, war strategy, and business books. My parents have never had to force my sister and me to read. Everyone around us read a lot, and we just picked up the habit ourselves.

11% of rich people read for entertainment, compared to 79% of poor
85% of rich people read two or more education, career-related, or self-improvement books per month, compared to 15% of poor
94% of rich people read news publications including newspapers and blogs, compared to 11% of poor people
Source: What Rich People Have Next To Their Beds

Poor people read for pleasure. Rich people read for self-improvement. It doesn’t mean fictions are useless. Some of the most important books in Eastern are novels. Dream of the Red Chamber was my first book about power. Three Kingdoms taught me history, philosophy, culture, war strategies, management etc. It doesn’t matter what you read, if you don’t have the right mindset, you won’t learn anything.

Don’t read just for fun. Read to acquire new knowledge. Always ask questions and ask yourself what you can learn from the book.

Don’t just collect knowledge like baseball cards and hide them somewhere in the back of your brain. Find ways to turn them into actions.

Knowledge is useless unless you can figure out how to convert it into action.

b. Observe
Observing others is the best way to learn. Pay attention to the way people think, behave, and treat other. You can learn so much more than you think.

When I visit my father, he takes me to important business meetings with his top clients. One time, I was with a group of people who were planning to build “the next Hong Kong” (their words, not mine). I wasn’t a fan of their strategies. That project never happened.

My father always treats me equally when it comes to business. He would ask me a bunch of question such as:

– What do you think about the project? If you were me, what would be your strategy?
– What do you think about ____ (this person)? How would you use him?
– Do you agree with ___? Why/Why not?
– What would you do differently?

He would treat me like a partner instead of his daughter. Those projects were multi-million dollars projects.

One day I asked my father why he never taught me anything. I couldn’t understand why he taught his employees all the time but not me. My father replied, “What I can teach you, you already know. What you need to learn, you have to observe by yourself. That is why I bring you everywhere.”

That day I learned the most important lesson my father has taught me.

3. Understand your relationship with money

Rich people are not rich because they spend money all the time. They are rich because they spend money wisely and that money ends up working for them.

“Don’t work for money, make money work for you,” my parents have told me all my life. That is why I am working hard to build my own empire, KwinMedia, so that one day it will work for me. If you want to trade time for money, you will never have enough time.

Never let money define you. If you do, you will only be worth as much as you have. I never knew how much money my father made at his best. I only know how much my father had at his worst. But according to his former executive, he used to make 50-100K a day (on paper before the market in Asia crashed). I don’t know if this is true or not. But I can tell you he made a good living. If you are plotting a plan to kidnap me, I have to break the bad news … all that money is paper now. If you can get any money out of my father now, I will match the amount. I think he will tell you to keep me, so there’s one person less to feed.

One day during his best years, we walked into a supermarket (the Asian version of Wal-Mart), and my father picked up a pair of jeans. I asked him why would he buy a $5 pair of jeans. He replied it has everything he needs. That is the way my parents live. They could spend a lot of money on something every important like education but they would never spend a few dollars on something we don’t really need.

They always tell me, “Don’t buy what you don’t need, one day you will have to sell what you need.”

4. Focus on solving other people’s problem instead of yours.

Feed the masses, eat with the classes.

Benefit #1
Let’s do the math. If you are the 1%, your problems can only represent 1% of all the problems in the world. By helping others, your chance to become successful is higher.

Benefit #2
One of the biggest lessons I have learned from managing people is….

When people have their own problems, they cannot help me solve mine.

If you are going through a divorce or a loved one is dying in the hospital, do you think you can focus and help me plotting my evil plan to build the next big digital marketing agency? NO.

Instead of yelling at people all day (I have an anger problem), I learned to ask them about their problems and offer help when possible.

I am not nice. I just want people to focus on things that are important to me.

Benefit #3
Making money is hard, keeping money is harder. What if tomorrow you are no longer the 1% and all your 1% friends ignore you? You will need at least one of the 99% to help you.

Be selfish. Invest in people. If one out of a thousand people you have helped return the favor one day, it is a great deal.

My parents don’t share about all the inspirational messages. They don’t sugarcoat anything. They don’t tell me to help people to be the next Gandhi. I am too narcissistic for that. They taught me to help others to create a safety nest when I fail. We are realists.

We are selfish. At least we don’t pretend we are not.

5. Work smart, work hard and stop complaining

My parents taught me to always look up instead of down. If you are happy with what you have, it will be very hard to to move forward. You need something to push you to work smarter and harder.

a. Work smart
Working hard is not enough. There are a lot of poor hard-working people. If you are planning to trade time for money, you will never become rich. You need to figure out how to get the most out of the time you have.

It doesn’t matter what you need to do even if you have to lie, cheat, steal, or kill, figure out the shortcuts and the best ways to do things. If you cannot find ways to optimize the way you do things, you haven’t thought about it enough.

Lie to yourself to get work done.
Cheat on yourself to achieve something bigger.
Steal knowledge.
Kill Bad habits.
(I believe every word is neutral. It all depends on how you look at them.)

b. Work hard
Working smart is not enough. There are a lot of smart people who work smart.

Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.

Some of the most successful people I know work crazy hours. They have more money than they can spend, but they still work a lot. They didn’t get to where they are today because by sitting around and wait for luck.

c. Stop Complaining
If you are the 1%, people don’t feel sorry for your high class problems. Rich people problems are as annoying as poor people problems. Problems are problems for a reason. The 1% often don’t have a privilege to complain all day long like the 99%.

Because of that, they have to learn to zip their mouths and find ways to solve all their problems. That is why why they stay the 1%.

If you complain about life, you are losing time. Complaining doesn’t change a thing. If you don’t like something, change it. If you fail, at least you learn something. If you just complain, you will end up with nothing.

If something doesn’t work out the way you wanted it to, it is your fault because you did nothing to change it.

If I tried to change it and it didn’t work out, I haven’t tried hard enough.

Always blame yourself. It is the best way to make yourself a better person. Always aim for better.

6. Surround yourself with the 1%

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
– Jim Rohn

The 1% like to help people around them (see #5). If you have access to the 1%, you will have more access to higher quality opportunities to find your way to become one.

Also, if you keep hanging out with the 99% they will hold you back. You need to get out of the 99% bubble.

I am not saying you should cut all your connection with the 99%. They are great people, and you need them in your life. HOWEVER, in order to move forward, you need to figure out to surround yourself with the 1%. It will increase your chances for you to become one of them.

6. Be persistent

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race
– Calvin Coolidge

Things doesn’t always work out. It is okay.

Most successful people have failed many times before they found their success. If you want to be part of the 1%, make sure you stick around longer than the 99%.
If you want to be the 1% for the lifestyle, don’t do it. The price you have to pay is way too high. It requires a lot of work. Making money is hard but keeping it is even harder. People will have very high expectations of you. People expect me to be very successful or become the next Jackie O. It is hard living with so much pressure. You will be responsible for so many lives.

Try to be the 10%, and you still can have a decent life with less pressure. You will never be happy with what you have anyway. If you are a millionaire, you are still poor compared to your multi-millionaire friends. If you are a multi-millionaire, you are poor compared to a billionaire. If you are a billionaire, you are still poorer than an even wealthier billionaire. What is enough?

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