You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
You’ve probably heard that saying before. It’s from motivational speaker Jim Rohn. He used it as a way to encourage people to learn and grow from others’ experiences, habits, attitudes, and so forth. He wanted folks to seek out and spend time with people of high quality.
Unfortunately for most people, this advice can be difficult (if not impossible) to implement.
That’s because we tend to group with like-minded people, which includes hanging out with friends with similar levels of success. Those who are unmotivated often spend time with others who are unmotivated. And those who are motivated by achievement tend to associate with others at a similar level.
When you resolve to improve yourself — to become smarter or fitter or wealthier — it can be tough to find new friends with a similar desire. It can be difficult to change the five people you spend the most time with.
Today, I want to talk about finding a money mentor.
Seeking a Money Mentor
Let’s say you’re a new business owner and you want to hang out with successful business people to learn their secrets. Do they want to hang with you? Probably not.
Even if you knew five successful business owners, it might be tough to get them to share their experience. That’s because — you guessed it — they’re probably hanging out with other successful business people.
Or let’s say you want to learn podcasting. What are the chances you’ll create a mastermind with Tim Ferriss, Joe Rogan, and three other high-flying audio experts? Your odds are slim. Honestly, your odds are zero. These folks are out there being friendly with each other in the stratosphere. They’re not likely to spend their time with a new podcaster who is just starting out.
Or say you want to date a lovely, fit, out-going, friendly, charismatic lady or man but you’re awkward, out of shape, disagreeable, and surly. You aren’t going to connect with a single person (pun intended) like this — much less five of them!
I even see this principle at work in the pickleball world. [J.D.’s note: John is a pickelball fanatic. When I had lunch with him in July, we had to schedule around his multiple pickelball matches that day haha.] New and inexperienced players want to play with much better players so they can get better. But the better players want to play with each other (for the challenge).
Unfortunately it’s the same way with money. And no one knows this better than me.
I was young when I first heard Jim Rohn’s adage about being the average of the people you spend the most time with. At the time, I was interested in growing my wealth. “I need to find some friends who know something about money!” I thought. “I need to find a money mentor — or five.”
I started paying attention to people in my life who fit that description.
- First, I looked to my family but there was no one who made the cut. We were lower middle-class most of my life and generally lived paycheck to paycheck.
- Next, I turned to my friends and saw a group just like me — a bunch of people who were clueless with money.
- Finally, I considered work acquaintances. But again, I couldn’t find anyone I thought I could confide in who was good with money. Most of my co-workers had high salaries, but they didn’t know how to manage the money they earned.
Ultimately, I decided I’d dig deep into my “network” (which was razor thin to begin with). I wanted to make a list of people I knew even slightly who were wealthy and/or good with money.
I still remember everyone on that list to this day. Here it is:
That’s right: No one. My list was blank.
And how was I even supposed to know a wealthy person? I was a fresh-out-of-graduate-school executive who was fresh-out-of-small-town-Iowa a few years earlier. If it was possible to have a negative number of network connections, I was there. If it was possible to be greener than green, that was me.
Five Wealthy Friends
I had to create my own group of five wealthy “friends”. (I put that in quotes for a reason which will become clear in a moment.) Here’s where I found them.
My first wealthy “friends” were money manuals. I started to devour and apply almost any money-related book I could find. My “best friend” happened to be Thomas Stanley, who wrote The Millionaire Next Door. I read his book, applied what he said, and my wealth grew.
I found other friends in books, as well. I read everything I could from every type of author.
Of course, I had to plow through a lot of junk to mine the gold nuggets. Even as a newbie, I could tell what was trash (like “no money down” real estate books). In time, the good stuff stuck with me.
Remember magazines? They were like mini-books you could have mailed to your house each month. (Oh, the good old days. Ha!)
This was in the olden days before the internet, so magazines were my only option for money articles. I subscribed to three money magazines for many years: Money, Kiplinger’s, and Smart Money.
Again, there was lots of junk (e.g., each month there was another “Seven Great Stocks to Own Now” sort of article) but I navigated my way through the crap and kept some good stuff.
Other Money Novices
In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king, right?
Well, believe it or not, my wife and I started coaching people at our church early in our marriage. We didn’t know much, but we knew more than most. We did budget coaching: how to set up a budget, how to track spending, how to balance the budget, etc.
My wife and I actually got pretty good at this. We could take a family with minimal income and wild spending, then steer them to a balanced budget within two or three hours. Of course, there were hard choices for them to get to that point…
We saw some hideous spending practices, and we had multiple discussions with people trying to communicate Needs versus Wants versus Desires. (So many would try to justify Wants and Desires as Needs — like getting your nails done once a week was a Need. Yikes!)
Anyway, these people taught us…but in the opposite way of what we expected. They showed us what not to do with real life examples.
Over time, as our little bits of money knowledge accumulated, I developed a side hustle as a personal-finance writer.
You see the irony in this, right?
I held myself out as an expert — as did the magazines I wrote for. It works the same way with journalists these days. Perception is reality, right?
I did know more than most about money, and the publications I wrote for were more general interest versus hardcore money magazines, so it wasn’t like I was giving advice on complex tax subjects.
Despite my shortcomings, I happened to be a great marketer (which is what I did for a living) and a decent enough writer (my wife was a brutal editor and made my stuff better, though I fought her changes most of the time) to keep myself pretty busy.
The financial writing became a side hustle. We did this for a few years, using all the money we earned to pay off our mortgage. (In those days, the rates were 8% or so, which made paying off your mortgage much more of a no brainer than today.)
While I wrote, I also researched and started to develop my own philosophy of managing money. My money knowledge and financial habits grew and developed.
After several years, we had our home paid off. This led to a 20+ year run of no debt. So I guess we were better off than most.
Many years later, blogging became a thing. I started writing on the web in 2005.
This took my writing and money skills to a whole new level. Now people could comment on what I posted. They could (and did) ask me pointed questions about what I wrote.
This forced me to whittle down what I believed and what I didn’t. If I got off track even a bit, my readers let me know it.
This also set the stage for my current site, ESI Money. After so many years of refining my message, I was able to focus my writing on what really mattered and throw away much of the rest.
Of course, these days there are a gazillion blogs and many financial sites, and I read several of them. That’s how many people get their financial information. Unfortunately, a large portion of these are written by people with limited financial knowledge and experience.
Nowadays, anyone looking to grow in financial wisdom can hit the web as well as partake in any of the methods I employed. There’s a wealth of information out there if you have the time to sort the wheat from the chaff.
But doing so is still a far cry from having five actual friends who are experienced with money — people you can talk to, ask questions of, get responses from, etc. Reading about money isn’t the same as having a real-life money mentor.
Besides, people crave person-to-person mentorship in their lives. I know this because they tell me. I hear about it day in and day out.
Connecting with Millionaires
Several years ago, I started interviewing millionaires.
I didn’t do it because I wondered what they did to make themselves wealthy. By this time, I understood the keys to wealth.
Instead, I wanted to hear these millionaires tell their stories in their own words. And I wanted to share a new story at my website every week. My hope was that these wealthy men and women would re-iterate that the keys to wealth boil down to a few basic principles. And they did!
To this date, I’ve published 202 interviews with millionaires at my website.
After I sold Get Rich Slowly (and before I bought it back), I wanted to create what I called “The Millionaire Project”. My idea was simple. I would travel the country to film interviews with wealthy people. I’d ask them how they made their money — and how they managed to keep it.
I never followed through on my project, obviously. So, I was excited when I learned that John had begun his own series of millionaire interviews. It’s not exactly what I had envisioned, but it’s close. (And honestly? In some ways, it’s better.)
Shortly after I started publishing these stories, the requests began coming in.
People wanted to connect with millionaires (me and others) for feedback on money issues. They had questions. They wanted advice. In essence, people were seeking to add a millionaire money mentor to the group of friends they spent time with.
Here are some typical comments I received:
- “Can you give me your thoughts on this?”
- “Can I get more specifics on how you invest in real estate/dividend stocks/etc.?”
- “How can I find someone to review my financial situation? I don’t know anyone good with money. Will you do it?”
- “Hi Millionaire 192, I loved reading your story. It’s inspiring and where I would love to end up eventually with my real estate investments. Would you be willing to talk over the phone about your real estate strategy? I’m happy to pay for your time.”
- “I have read, and re-read your story and am very inspired. I wish I was friends with you so we could talk finances on a regular basis. lol.”
At the same time, millionaires were sending me notes wanting to “connect down”. Some of these folks were eager to “pay it forward”. They were willing to be one of the five wealthy friends that people need.
That’s when I knew I had to connect the two groups.
The Millionaire Money Mentors
After months of thought and planning, I created the Millionaire Money Mentors program.
People kept telling me they had NO ONE in their lives that they could talk to regarding finances. Now they do. 😉
The Millionaire Money Mentors program is exactly what it sounds like: a way to connect with (and ask questions of) millionaires — and other members of this program. It’s an online community dedicated to wealth building.
Members currently have the ability to connect with over 60 millionaires. These money mentors are willing to share their experiences in how to earn more, save more, invest better, and save time doing the right (and avoiding the wrong) money moves.
I hope that you already have a group of wealthy people you can meet with to share your plans and ask for feedback. Even one such money mentor would be amazing!
But if you don’t have any wealthy friends, perhaps the Millionaire Money Mentors program is worth a try.
There are several additional benefits to membership in addition to the millionaire-to-member connection. There are expert Ask Me Anything sessions every other week (Sarah Fallaw — Thomas Stanley’s daughter — and Wes Moss are just two of our upcoming guests), a Millionaire Book Club, and more! (Not to mention we have a long list of potential future add-ons).
If you think you’re interested, I invite you to try it. There’s a 7-day money back guarantee so there’s really nothing to lose. Plus, membership is affordable (GRS readers have a special price for the next few days) and includes bonuses worth more than the annual cost. I tried to make joining as much of a no-brainer as possible from a value proposition standpoint.
And FYI, it’s not just me who loves the site. Here are some comments after our first full week of being open:
- “The value of the site is amazing! I have learned so much. I only wish I had more time to read everything!”
- “I believe the price of admission to this site is already undervalued! The value of the content more than covers the cost and then factor in the ability to ask questions.”
- “Super excited for every one of these (AMA discussions). Thanks and great work putting together this list of incredible people. Well worth the price of admission.”
I hope you stop by and give us a try. But if not, I do suggest you find and connect with a money mentor in Real Life. I took the long and winding road to find my five money “friends” — and even that tough journey was very much worth the effort for me.