Let's establish that I grew up poor and on welfare. Well Momma was on welfare. She always worked 2-3 jobs too. She cleaned office buildings, she was a bartender at the Elks Club and she at one time worked, I am not exactly sure doing what, at a hospital. She worked hard, that I know. I tell people from the age of about nine, I was raised on quarters. That was her tip money and she rolled them in quarter rolls. She would save those quarter rolls and she handed them over sometimes unwrapped to buy things: groceries, thrift store clothes, meat, shoes, school supplies, bus fare, gas. One quarter roll equaled 40 coins or $10. I remember that. I remember too my wayward brother stealing from these wraps, we all did at some time or another, just to get a little something innocuously extra for ourselves. I have always respected the quarter to this very day. I love quarters. My mother worked extremely hard for rolled quarters.
One Christmas the only things under the Christmas tree were assorted Christmas fruit someone gave Momma and two unwrapped skateboards. One for the girls to share and one for the boys to share. The only thing I could think of that morning staring under that tree was Wow! Momma did a great job with the tree this year. Everything else was a complete blur of childhood sadness.
My parents achieved GED educations, most everyone in my immediate family did. I was a breakout, and chased book smarts. Now, let's be clear, they got PHDs in street smarts, no doubt about that. But those stories I will save for another time.
With my college education from Howard University, I leveraged a Harvard Business education to follow. With these two scripts added to my DNA, my life would change profoundly. On my fortieth birthday, one of my closest friends asked me at my roasting among 20 other friends, "How does it feel to be a millionaire?" This was a question I was not prepared to answer. It isn't even a question I had ever been asked before. So I fumbled it. I sort of went for a two point punt rather than go all in on my response. I think I was caught off guard and maybe even a bit embarrassed by the question.
I do know that if asked today, I would have a surprisingly different response. My thinking about money and wealth might surprise you, but I hope it also helps you by seeing a profoundly transparent perspective. END OF PART ONE
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