What quietly screams ‘wealthy'? Not the ‘I’ve landed my first major tender’ kind of wealthy. We are talking about what is commonly referred to as ‘old money...The Old Muthaiga kind of money.
Chances are that you’ve probably come across over-the-top displays of wealth. Someone driving around in a Maybach or a blacked-out G-Wagon while flashing his Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 570 watch and Ray-Ban sunglasses.
Is that enough to classify that particular individual as wealthy?
Some psychologists actually argue that showing off trends is a quality of the underprivileged or newly rich who have much to prove to themselves and society. They use it to gain respect, boost their self-esteem, and establish their status. They must have value and it must be acknowledged by the rest of the world because they finally succeeded financially.
This ties in with the popular belief that really wealthy people rarely go out of their way to show off. It has been said that most of them actually prefer flying under the radar.
The famous tycoons from Murang’a are perfectly okay with driving around in an old school Datsun on most days of the week.
So, how do you spot these elite groups of individuals, and what, if any, do these subtle things about their mannerisms tell us about them and their money mindset?
Remember when Mark Zuckerberg came to Kenya? He was the richest man on the planet at the time.
He was photographed doing his rounds in Nairobi donning a plain grey t-shirt, plain blue jeans and a pair of grey sneakers, and a black hoody. None of these pieces of clothing had any visible designer logos.
This is someone whose personal net worth of $57.4 billion is enough to run some country's economies.
What stood out was his clothes looked clean, finely pressed, and seemed to fit him perfectly. Not super tight, not super baggy, just a perfect fit.
Go through photos of the world’s wealthiest individuals and you’ll find that this is a common trend. They prefer simple and perfect fits as opposed to formula one racing driver suits with logos screaming at you.
Former Apple CEO, the late Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett, all wear very simple clothes.
If it’s a man’s suit, you won’t spot those little tags on the left sleeve with some fancy Italian name. However, you can just tell that their suits are hand-stitched by specific tailors to fit them perfectly.
Wear clothes for comfort as opposed to ‘for show’. Comfort is paramount for the wealthy. They tend to prefer practicality and completely ignore everything else.
It is important to note that wealthy individuals could probably afford to buy your favourite clothing brand, the difference is they’ll buy the entire company as opposed to a shiny t-shirt. And that would be an investment.
They have probably learned that ‘flashy’ attracts all the fakes, and the snakes come out. It’s hard to tell who’s really there for your best interest.
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When you are in the company of a wealthy individual who is trying to fly under the radar, start up a conversation geared towards making money or some investment opportunity somewhere and watch them squirm.
He/she can’t help but get switched on and jump in with a lot of thought-provoking questions, insights, and suggestions.
It is almost second nature for them to just come alive when money is the topic of conversation. They’re endlessly curious about new ideas and information.
They know that although knowledge is power, without any kind of value action, knowledge is useless. Phrases like ROI (Return On Investment) flick on their brain switches and they can’t rest until they have exhausted that particular topic.
This ties in with what Steve Siebold wrote in his book ‘How Rich People Think’. Rich people believe money is earned through thinking, while the average person believes money is earned through time and labour.
While most believe that the only way to earn more money is to work more hours, this elite class of wealthy individuals takes a non-linear approach. They know that creative thinking is the highest-paid skill in the world, and that is why they can’t help but lean in when someone starts an interesting conversation about money.
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Have you ever met someone who gets up at 5 a.m., goes through some cardio work-out with monk-like discipline while catching up on the latest business headlines, has breakfast around 8 a.m., and then tees off at some lavish and manicured golf course in the mid-morning hours?
It seems absurd just how much time they have to enjoy the finer things in life to a point where many ask when they actually get work done.
However, it is important to distinguish between having time and creating time. It is also important to note that golfing at these posh places also serves as a networking opportunity where they get to rub shoulders with other industry leaders.
They are literally obsessed with their time and how they spend it. This could explain why most, if not all, wealthy individuals have nurtured a zero-tolerance policy for lateness.
Take the late business mogul, Chris Kirubi, as an example. He was forced to work odd jobs to fend for his siblings as a teenager – following the untimely demise of both parents.
In his interviews, he explained how short his days were during his formative years. First as a salesman for Shell, an oil and gas company, and later on as a real estate ‘broker’ – which entailed him buying run-down properties (through loans), renovating them and then re-selling with a substantial markup.
During this period, he focused on a singular goal which was to never face poverty and all that comes with it ever again. He was forced to grow up pretty fast as his siblings depended on him.
His drive was described as ‘insane’ by those close to him.
Once everything was in place, he now had time to take up the Dj CK title. He was able to finally buy time to pursue things for his own pleasure, but never lost sight of his overall dream.
The super-wealthy lay their foundations from their early days knowing that the time spent toiling away then, would be freed up later on.
They learned from early on that money can buy time and if they focused on setting up sustainable and value-driven businesses for a handful of years with dotted breaks here and there, they’d be able to buy their time back once they struck gold.
The wealthy have mastered the art of optimizing how they use time as a resource. When you have wealth, you value time more than money.
When in a group, their aura is unmistakable. From their body posture to their gestures when weighing on a topic that interests them – Which usually has to do with one of two things, their industries, or their hobbies.
This confidence isn’t based on gas – as is the case with Johny who gets all the girls at the local bar coz they say he oozes confidence and that he has a few good stories. Theirs is based on an infinite well of knowledge and experience garnered over the years.
You tend to have a lot of confidence when dealing with, or addressing scenarios you have been through in the past. Therefore one could argue that experience breeds confidence.
Research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that people in higher social classes tend to think they are more adept at certain tasks – even when they are not than their peers from a lower class. This ‘overconfidence’ is often seen by others as competence, which can help them in situations like business pitches.
Now, a few shady individuals who don’t necessarily belong in the upper echelons of society also know this and have gone on to mix it up with charisma to rake in millions via elaborate con schemes.
Simply put, confidence sells.
Wealthy individuals are in the top tier category when it comes to self-awareness. They know their worth. They know that if someone took it (their wealth) all away, they could rebuild their empire because no one can take away their intelligence, drive, knowledge, and skills.
This in turn builds their confidence and helps them greatly in the business world.
Many people make the error of believing that one must be extremely confident before taking action, and as a result, they postpone starting a business or pursuing significant goals.
But in actuality, confidence is developed. It's a skill that is strengthened by the appropriate daily routines.
As someone once said: If you doubt yourself, you're doing it right.
In an eatery, he/she will be the guy who treats a waiter so politely that most would deem it weird.
They treat maids, servers, or anyone else ‘taking care’ of them with a lot of respect. They are used to it, it isn’t anything special to have someone take care of them.
They’ll ask the driver to let you cut in from the wrong side of the road as you go about overlapping cars in the streets of Nairobi.
A little humility goes a long way.
If you walk into a house for whatever reason – Could be a party, get-together, etc and find that the sofa is in the middle of the living room and not touching the wall, the owner of that house has ‘old money’.
According to experienced interior décor gurus, the couch not touching the wall in this living room means it's closer to the fireplace which creates a cozy conversation area. Intentionally placing furniture can help define how a space is used and function better for one's needs.
Now I could also push my L-shape sofa away from the walls in a one-bedroom apartment in Ruaka, but this would then mean I could literally operate the TV using my feet...Plus I don’t have a fireplace.
Some things cannot be faked and such an arrangement needs space, lots of it. The super-wealthy have living rooms and TV/Movie rooms – not a hybrid of both.
This all boils down to their preference for practicality and comfort.
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They have a knack for bringing out the talents and skills of others. Mention anything and ‘they have a guy’. A trusted individual who can break down whatever you just mentioned in under 5 minutes.
The ‘old money’ individuals surround themselves with experts, decision makers in leading industries, as well as a revolving talent pool.
Manilal Premchand Chandaria OBE CBS EBS – a Kenyan business mogul whose empire spans multiple industries – established the Chandaria Business Innovation and Incubation Centre as a dedicated innovation and incubation hub.
This means he is always a stone's throw away when it comes to any new/innovative tech that could be customized to boost his business. Or, he has direct access to any game-changing innovations.
One could then argue that the super wealthy have come to the realization that investing in others is a win-win scenario for all parties.
They are keenly aware that everyone has value in certain contexts. They are observative of others and notice their contributions and skills.
They then go on to provide platforms, funding, and places for others to grow and evolve.
They know that they will not always be the smartest person in the room on every given issue. This is why they always make it a point to surround themselves with people who are.
They know that it takes a team to build wealth, and they focus much of their effort on finding the right people to leverage their actions and ideas.
“The rich know that money flows from ideas and problem solving, he writes. “The bigger the solution, the bigger the paycheck”. Steve Siebold
The important thing to understand about the wealthy is all about how they think, how they move, and how they interact.
You could win a jackpot in the lottery, but if you don’t have a similar wealth mindset, you are most likely to lose everything in the long run.
So, what are the other signs you know of when it comes to spotting a wealthy individual?