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No Shortcuts to Success

Published by: Chris Kittrell Date: May 30, 2010

So you want to be a millionaire?

Recently, I had the opportunity to have lunch with a new college graduate. After pleasantries were exchanged, I was surprised by his first question: “Chris, you work
with many successful people and have seen their paths to success. How does someone become a millionaire as quickly as possible?”

I almost fell out of my chair. Here sat this fresh-faced, unemployed but incredibly ambitious young man eagerly awaiting insight into the shortcuts of becoming a “quick”
millionaire. I could see that this conversation was going to last longer than the 30 minutes we had remaining so I told him I would follow up by phone a few days later.

As I placed that call, I anticipated that the young man would be disappointed and discouraged by my answer, but I knew someone had to be brutally honest as well.
There are no shortcuts to success. Many of the problems our society faces right now have roots in the “get rich quick with minimal effort” mentality that has become the
norm rather than the exception.

I challenged him to look at examples of successful business people in our community and note the paths they each took to get where they are now. Some of the common
truths their stories tell are:

– Work hard. To become wealthy you are going to have to work extremely hard and take some chances, like possibly starting your own business. Regardless of whether
you are self-employed or not, you have to have an income. Simply put, you have to make money.

– Live on less. You can have money or you can have stuff, but seldom do you have both early in life. It does not matter how much money you make if you spend more than you make.

Our culture says, “Fake it until you make it.” But the truth is, debt holds people back.  Do not buy liabilities and make payments forever. Spend less than you make, live a modest lifestyle and do not live up to every raise.

– Save first. If you live below your means, you will have money left over to save. The problem is, most people put savings last as an afterthought. If you are unable to save money you will find that your only wealth is in the form of material things.

– Give back. Many of our clients also are the greatest examples of givers, too. They give publicly and privately to causes that mean something to them and impact their community.
If you do not yet have the means to give financially, then make an impact with your time and talents. It will mean something to you and to those in your community.  This fresh round of college and high school graduates face challenging times along with great opportunities. A quick glance around the Knoxville business community will give them wonderful role models for business and personal achievement, but little in the way of shortcuts to success. Hard work pays off.

Chris Kittrell is co-founder and Senior Financial Advisor with Rather & Kittrell. He can be reached at