Some time ago I listened to Titan on Audible.
Since it’s impossible to remember everything in a book I usually try to think of just one takeaway from each book I read.
In this case my takeaway was the “price” John D. Rockefeller paid for becoming the richest man in the world.
The price he paid for his wealth wasn’t what you might think. Unlike other “great” men like Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein or Benjamin Franklin, Rockefeller was apparently a pretty attentive father, and he actually didn’t spend much time working. So he didn’t sacrifice his personal life in order to get rich or anything like that. Mainly it seems that the price he paid took two forms.
First, his incredible wealth and position in life made it hard for him to form real friendships. He tried hanging out with people but they would always eventually bring up some business scheme they needed funding for or bring up some charitable cause they wanted a donation for.
Second, Rockefeller made his fortune using tactics that were unethical and/or illegal. There’s no way that this escaped notice of his conscience.
Of those two things, the latter is pretty irrelevant to me since I don’t feel any need to resort to unscrupulous means to meet my personal goal of becoming a millionaire. The first item is worth pondering, though. I can easily imagine how the possession of a huge fortune could actually be a liability in the social realm rather than an asset. A “regular” person’s day-to-day challenges are much different from a super rich person, and so it might be hard for the two people to relate. Friends might ask for loans or gifts, and whether you oblige or not, it could create an awkwardness either way.
So this book made me think that if I do achieve my goal of becoming a millionaire, it might be wise for me to hide it.
The other thing I want to mention is that I actually found John D. Rockefeller’s dad, “Big Bill” Rockefeller, to be more interesting in many ways than John D. himself. Big Bill was a “snake oil salesman”, total liar and all-around shitty guy, but likeable at the same time. I would almost consider reading the book worth it just to learn about Big Bill. But that’s not to say that John D. wasn’t interesting himself, because he certainly was, and the book was written in a very gripping way as well.