Lesson from Cornelius Vanderbilt

I’m currently reading the biography of Cornelius Vanderbilt. Its a pretty long book and I’m only about 20% of the way through but I am thoroughly enjoying it so far.

Essentially what has happened so far is that he starts out very young as a sailor transporting people around New York and the surrounding areas. He started out very young and was very skilled at a young age. As he grew he began buying shares or other boats outright that would transport passengers around.

At one point in time he hooks up with somebody with pretty deep pockets and essentially becomes the COO of his organization. That guy financed the purchase of several steam boats (the hot technology at the time). Eventually, Vanderbilt went out on his own with a polished resume and a deep network of people that he  had encountered while running this other guy’s operation.

Once he struck out on this own he began buying steam boats and other assets constantly investing in more assets that would provide him streams of income. While he certainly did some things that didn’t seem all that great, the big picture of it is:

Take the gap between income and expenses and continually invest it into income producing assets.

Take a second to reread that. People today do this all the time. Its hard work and it takes a while but once you get that flywheel going nothing can stop it. As I try to think about how this applies to my life I can’t but get excited about the future. I still don’t know my plans for the future. I think its a combination of focusing on my career while focusing on building up equity investments.

While I’ve gone back and forth dozens of times my current plan is to focus on my career. I have the potential to make significant sums even at a young age. I will then plow “the gap” back into equity investments. Down the road I will diversify into other assets, like real estate. However, in the next several years I believe the best use of my time is to grow my income.

I love reading the stories of successful people. Nearly all of them take the same path. Work hard. Invest in assets. Repeat this every day for decades. At the end, they always have significant sums of wealth.

Its so easy to say and lots of people know it will work but no one does it. Its not the hard work part. Its not even the “invest in assets” part. The part that trips everyone up is the “repeat this every day for decades” part. Not me. While I’m early in my journey I love nothing more than the process of pushing myself to become better every day.







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