Tony Hsieh is an anomaly among the mega-rich. The Zappos CEO is a Harvard graduate, has owned various successful companies, and has been worth hundreds of millions since the year 2000. Despite all his wealth, he lives among other techies and entrepreneurs in a trailer park in Las Vegas.
The people within the trailer park have formed a community which includes a fire pit, communal laundromats, movie screen, pantry, and more. People are constantly coming and going, working alone or alongside other community members on some new innovative project.
It’s all part of Hsieh’s $350-million investment Downtown Project. The project is intended to help revitalize Las Vegas, making it more than just a city where you go to blow money at the casinos. Hsieh believes downtown Las Vegas can eventually be a metropolis filled with a variety of businesses and industries. And he’ll spare no expense in making this dream a reality.
Friend and colleague Erik Moore says that money is “just a way for Tony to get to his endgame.” While Hsieh clearly does not have to work another day in his entire life, he remains focused on using his talents to make his contribution to the world.
Although those of us who work paycheck to paycheck, sometimes struggling to pay our bills, can barely picture what it’d be like to live as someone like Hsieh for a day, we could all learn a few things from him.
Money and possessions aren’t everything
Hsieh could have any material possession on this planet and still have money left over to live comfortably for the rest of his life. But, to an entrepreneur with so many ideas up his sleeve, being “comfortable” isn’t comforting at all.
Hsieh is a machine that seems to never stop thinking of new ideas and business ventures. It’s not because he wants to continue making money (although it’s surely a welcome byproduct), but because he knows the real gifts he has in life are his natural talents and drive to do more. If he just kicked back for the rest of his life, not only would he be bored almost immediately, but he would also be wasting the potential he has to make his mark on the world. If this project takes off, he’ll be remembered long after he’s left the Earth. If he just sat in a mansion surrounded by his money, it would all be meaningless the second he passes away.
Keep striving for what you really want in life
The old saying goes: “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” While this might be oversimplifying things and making it seem that people like Hsieh aren’t actually doing work, there is some truth to the sentiment.
Hsieh is the type of person that is so fired up by his ideas that he can’t oversleep. He doesn’t want to spend his days sitting around watching TV. He has a passion for entrepreneurship and he can’t feel satisfied until the ideas in his head become reality. Think of that the next time you come up with an idea but blow it off because you’re too tired or you had a tough day at work. If Hsieh let fatigue or stress overtake him, there’s no way he’d be worth more than $840 million today.
Always give back
Like his friend said, Hsieh’s money is simply a means to an end. So many of us think that money is the end we work our whole lives for — those are the ones who are destined to chase it until they die.
In his induction speech, Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin admitted he didn’t even love to play football. He used his God-given talents as a means to give back to his community in a variety of ways that simply would not have been possible if he wasn’t a multimillionaire. Like Hsieh, he didn’t stop working once he made his fortune. Now, he runs a charity that provides assistance to single mothers, children, and the disabled.
Hsieh has no monetary need to be the forerunner for Project Downtown. He’s doing it because he wants to see the city of Las Vegas thrive. Those with passion and drive always look for ways that they can keep pushing themselves further and give back to the world.
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