Can money really buy you happiness? We all wonder this in some capacity but this week we have a special episode featuring David Meltzer. Listen to his unique journey as he learned what actually gave him great joy. Do not miss this episode.
Tell us your story.
It’s about a relationship with money, an illuminating one at that. I grew up poor, I feel sorry for someone who didn’t. I had a single mom who is an extraordinary mom, she raised 6 kids, worked 2 jobs in Ohio. She had a few rules: wake up at 5 am – it kept us out of trouble. We could be whatever we wanted to be just after graduate school. Her biggest super power was, she was a black belt, 3 Degree in Jewish Guilt.
I wanted to be rich for 1 reason, to buy my mom a house and a car. My mom raised me to give so I could get, the more you give the more you would get. I really thought that was the philosophy that would take me, I was 5 years old and I wanted to make 1 million dollars. I lived a great life, the only time I wasn’t happy was when I saw my mom financially stressed. I was such a happy kid, I said to myself, “Money is going to buy me happiness, it’s going to buy me love.”
My dad left when I was 5, he was my super power. I would be in the car telling my mom, “Why can’t you be more like dad.” My dad was wealthy, he had a wife that was closer to my age than his, he drove a convertible Cadillac. My mom never said a word, meanwhile my dad was a deadbeat dad, didn’t pay child support. That relationship of my life with money continued. Everything I did affirmed money was going to buy me happiness and love.
I went through and graduated law school and got a job offer to be an oil and gas litigator. I picked the law school that I went to because I reversed engineered what job paid the most out of law school and I found out it was oil and gas litigator. I only went to law school because I was going to be a dr to make money but my older brother told me Dr’s had to be in hospitals. I know that sounds silly, but I thought I was going to be a sports doctor at first. I didn’t get what being a doctor was right.
If you’re going to write something down from this interview write, be more interested than interesting. I was not. I was more typical than atypical. Meaning, I have teenagers and they are not more interested than interesting, they don’t know what they don’t know. Graduated law school all about the money. Stoked because I have a 6 figure job offer to be a litigator, but I got another job offer to sell legal research online. It’s 1992, they don’t even know it’s the internet yet. I would wheel a computer on a luggage cart.
I asked my mom, “What job should I take?” Without blinking she says, “You gotta sell. You gotta be a real lawyer because the internet is a fad.” 2nd Lesson, just because somebody loves you doesn’t mean they give you good advice. Further more don’t vote for what other people want for you. You’re going to end up getting it and resenting them for it.
9 months out of law school millionaire, bought my mom a house and car. Now it validated money buys love and happiness because I was convinced I was now my moms favorite out of 6 kids. I bought her a house and a car. Everything I did ironically was about giving so i could receive. It wasn’t really giving, it was trading. I bought my mom a house so i could be the favorite kid. I date this girl cause she has rich parents. Everything was always a trade and I thought I was philanthropic. People told me everything I wanted to hear. I continued that in my career.
New houses and cars. Then I went to Silicon Valley, not only could I sell but i could raise money, which is a super power. Raising hundreds of millions of dollars, by the time I’m 30 I am now the CEO of the worlds first smart phone. It was a windows device. I was a multi millionaire I owned homes, gulf courses, ski mountains, boats, cars, everything I wanted. I even married my dream girl who hated me because in the 6th grade my buddy asked him to go steady. I told her why are your friends prettier than you. In my mind it was simple. Make a lot of money, people will love you and you will be happy.
Literally everything I did in my life fit into the thing until I got three lessons. These lessons are important. When I was 30 my father who I hadn’t talked to much in 20 years. He forgot my birthday and when i asked him about it he said, “I didn’t forget your birthday, I don’t believe in birthdays.” This crushed me. I realized he was a liar, a cheater, a manipulator. My hero was a zero 20 years later he sends me this beautiful jacket for my 30th birthday. I put it on, it fits perfectly. I start to cry my wife asks why am I crying. I said, “it fits me, my dad finally get’s it.” It was my dream to have a relationship with my father. I then open up the jacket and I am crushed. He had torn out all the lining and pockets. I call him immediately pissed off.
“Why are you punishing me?” “It’s not for wearing it’s to remind you you’re just like me.” I said, “I’m nothing like you, you’re a liar a cheater a manipulator, I hate you I’m nothing like you.” He said, “David, money does not buy you happiness. Don’t make the same mistakes I did, this jacket is for you to be buried in.”
Ironically, I thought he wasn’t the one that hadn’t understood what was going on. 6 years later, 2006, I go golfing, I am running Leigh Steinburg, I am living the life. Multi millions of dollars. There was not one thing in my life that I didn’t dream of that I didn’t have. I went golfing with my best friend I said, “Rob, why don’t you hang out with me, we can go to the super bowl together, I work so hard come and enjoy it with me.” He said, “Dave, I don’t like who you hang out with and I don’t like what you guys do.” “You can lie to me David, but don’t lie to yourself.” 2nd person that told me the truth. He told me the truth because I knew I surrounded myself with the wrong people and ideas. I knew how empty I was going to bed every night in that mansion. I was buying things that I didn’t need. I was buying them for people to impress that I didn’t even like.
2 weeks later I went to the Grammy awards, lied to my wife, she wanted me to stay home with the girls. Partied with Lil Jon, came home high. There she was waiting for me, the day that changed my life. 5:30 in the morning. She looked at me and said, “I’m not happy.” I was taken aback, “What do you mean you’re not happy?” “David, you need to take stock in who you are and who you want to become. Not only am I leaving you but you’re going to be dead.” I told her to eff off and went to bed, woke up even more upset. I was more offended, more resentful. Money buys happiness and love. I am going to take all my money, take her happiness and am going to take all her love. Thinking about what lawyer to call. I looked over and my gift my dad gave me was hanging in the closet. I looked at that jacket and remember going, “Holy shit, I am just like my dad.” That jacket saved my life. That was the day I started to outline who i am. I started living with gratitude, forgiveness, accountability and inspiration. I started outlining all these things that changed my life.
2 years later, I lost all my money. Everything gone. I was fine with it. Just like today, I am more prepared for 2020 than I was 2008. That wasn’t the scary time. The scary time was 2 years before when I had no values, living in a lost world. What shifted for me is very simple, money doesn’t buy happiness or love. Believe it or not, I know people will tell you the more you give the more you get, it’s different. It’s the more you get the more you give. I changed my focus not on a trade but on faith. My faith is on the fact I am going to manifest everything I am going to desire for a purpose, for others. That’s a big difference.
You talk a lot about getting out of your own way, tell me about that.
I consider practicing adding fear. Fear is an ego based emotion. They cause a corrosion to this sense of power that we are always connected to. If you knew what walked inside of you, you would know you are the only one in your own way. I created a process of practicing ending fear of stop drop and roll. When you’re in your own way wasting that time an energy, you have to stop because your mind body and should are on fire, you gotta stop. It takes a ferocious man or women to stop when you are angry. Then drop, as a Buddha breathe into center and roll in the trajectory you want. To do that will change your life.