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Archive for July, 2009

#46 - Receiving Awards

#46 - Receiving Awards

Receiving Awards
Price: Showing Up

Rich people love recognition as long as there is a gala to honor them and aesthetically pleasing hardware to legitimize and advertise their achievements. With tens of millions of awards available, finding a niche to fit their talent is easy for the wealthy. Publicly, they will downplay their achievement and then proceed to display a smattering of awards on the shelves of their office, their library, their study and any other room where it will incite conversation. In the event that you see an award, do not hesitate to congratulate them and ask what Herculean feat they accomplished to deserve it. Do not act surprised when their accomplishment seems inconsequential, in fact you’ll endear yourself by asking them to tell you more.

Are all awards simply pandering to the egos of the rich? Of course not! There are plenty of people that deserve glowing praise for their contribution to the world. Some awards, like the Nobel Prize with a monetary grant of over a million dollars, actually have the effect of making their recipients wealthier but these are few and far between. Most likely an award recipient has made a sizeable donation or investment in order to be recognized. As an example, Henry Kravis of KKR – the legendary Private Equity firm in NYC – was recognized by the American India Foundation for his “corporate commitment and philanthropic leadership”, ambiguous yet impressive. Not to take anything away from Mr. Kravis or AIF for honoring him, but the man is worth $5.5 billion and past recipients have included the Co-President of Warburg, Chairman of Bharti Enterprises and the Head of Global Markets at Deutsche Bank. Not a lot of kids from the streets are taking home hardware from the Annual Spring Gala.

Why do awards matter? That’s a great question and you should fill in your thoughts below because I’ve got nothing! The AIF gala is $500 a person and Kravis’ name will sell every table. It would be gauche to give a sales award or recognize him for “outstanding symbiotic contribution”, so the creative geniuses get to work engraving a crystal trophy with an enigmatic award name. It flatters the recipient and acts as a continual pat on the back for being amazing. If you haven’t received an award, do yourself a favor. Take a look at your boss’ bookshelf, find an award, render your most sincere “very impressive” and you’ll be talking about their favorite topic. The award for most promising career progression goes to…congratulations, it’s you!

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#45 - Trendy Diets

#45 - Trendy Diets

Trendy Diets
Price: Self Control

Alright, to be fair nobody loves diets but at some point everyone fantasizes about losing weight. For most people this is something they admit to, usually over beer and a large pizza, but never do anything about. The rich don’t have that luxury. To fit in with rich people, women must always be wafer thin and appear to be hiding an eating disorder to be accepted by the ladies at the club. It’s why you rarely see large rich women, except in Texas where everything is bigger; second marriages have a way of selecting out this trait too.

The result of this obsessive compulsive behavior to fit into a size 0, a size 2 or, god forbid, a size 4 means trying every new diet to keep the effects of natural age from catching up and parking on their hips. Obviously surgery is an option but rich people like the camaraderie that develops from eating the same foods and comparing results. For rich women it is like the Olympics with the biggest loser winning the proverbial gold medal without the ill effects of carb loading. For this reason, lunch at an upscale restaurant is like combining a Weight Watcher’s group with the “it’s a small world” ride at Disney World. You can pass from table to table taking in the sights and sounds of the latest craze in different social circles.

You will find a smattering of healthy and not-so-healthy representations of what’s hot in nutrition circles. Inevitably you will stumble upon women drinking gin martinis and eating bacon on Atkins, a balanced plate on The Zone, Raw Food advocates, the Mediterranean diet, lean meats and an absence of grains with South Beach and most recently touted by Oprah, tables of women drinking Acai Berry smoothies. While each of these appears to help for a time, this lifestyle is reminiscent of the Wheel of Pain. In a few weeks it will be time to throw their allegiances behind the next fad diet and talk excitedly about the tremendous results. Being the first to uncover the latest diet is a feather in their cap because at the end of the day nobody wants to embarrass themselves by ordering cabbage soup at Daniel on the Upper East Side. You simply must try the paupiette of sea bass or at least admire it while eating a single asparagus spear.

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#44 - Pretending To Empathize

#44 - Pretending To Empathize

Pretending To Empathize
Price: Loss of Self Awareness

Rich people love to empathize with anyone in earshot. The fact is they have no experience with everyday problems but will pretend to care because it is the proper thing to do. A rich person’s idea of empathy is taking your problem and relating it to a situation they were once in. The difficulty is, if you aren’t rich, there is no common ground between you and your wealthy counterpart. The result, you are forced to endure a patronizing comparison of situations while nodding your head appreciatively.

While the wealthy mean well, it is tough to relate to trivial concerns like jobs, careers, commuting, down payments, rent, mortgages, flying economy, balancing a family with a fulltime job and a paltry two weeks of vacation a year. Despite these challenges, the rich make every effort to allay your concerns by empathizing with you. Take renting or buying a house as an example. Inadvertently mentioning that you are house shopping can be a painful misstep around the rich. You will be greeted with a sympathetic “don’t even bother, there’s simply nothing decent available in this city”. While they think you are sharing a moment, what they are really saying is they would never consider dwellings in your price range to be fit for human life. It remains a toss-up as to whether they realize a 4.5 million dollar estate isn’t a starter home. Similarly, wealthy new moms will happily commiserate with other mothers by recommending to all attendees of their post-natal yoga class that a night nanny is a must if they ever expect to get any sleep. Great advice and highly recommended if you have the means.

At the end of the day, this is a terrific opportunity to forge a stronger relationship with rich people. Not only do they love to feign empathy, the rich love to offer advice. When faced with a situation where they are clearly out of their depth, take it upon yourself to ask genuine questions about what they would do. Primarily, this means a stream of entertaining suggestions that you could never actually afford to carry out. More importantly, it allows the privileged to share their wealth of experience regardless of how irrelevant that experience is. This makes them feel good about helping and you will have some fantastic stories to share with your friends. Finally, the rich don’t carry change so it is best if you pay for their cappuccino while they dole out their wisdom, it really is the least you can do.

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#43 - Nose Jobs

#43 - Nose Jobs

Rhinoplasty
Price: $8,000

Nose jobs are as common among the rich as coke addictions among strippers; everyone has had one or will get one soon. Rich people love plastic surgery and it is nose jobs that are most common. I know what you are thinking, what about liposuction, stomach stapling, tummy tucks, chemical peels, lip enhancement and breast jobs? All of these are important to rich people and they help reconstructive surgeons pay for lavish mansions, luxury cars and iridescent dress shirts that say I’m a dick with a fat wallet. While these procedures are the bread and butter of any good practice, the nose job plays the central role.

Rhinoplasty is a gateway procedure. Just like marijuana, weed, Mary Jane or grass will inevitably lead to heroine, acid, cocaine and meth addictions, nose jobs tell young girls that anything can be fixed by going under the knife. Once mommy and daddy give the nod to getting that unsightly bump removed from their little princess’ nose, it’s on. The flood gates open and there aren’t enough Dutchmen with fingers to plug the proverbial hole in the dyke. It all seems innocent enough at the time, after all, everyone is doing it and since the botox Mom looks happy all the time…it’s “like she can’t not smile!”

Some doctors will outline the risks and do a psychological assessment of their patient before loosing the anesthetic but they are called unemployed surgeons. Ask too many questions and patients will sashay down the street to a clinic where people in white coats make them feel good about themselves, not probe about “issues”. In fact, nose jobs are so prevalent and accepted that you can’t walk down Rodeo Drive in broad daylight without seeing newly bandaged noses. In as little as two hours, rich people improve their lives immensely and develop a renewed outlook and a sunny disposition for weeks to come. That is, until they notice an eyelid droops, one earlobe is lower and exercise is hard. Please daddy, just one more?!!

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#42 - Being Right

#42 - Being Right

High School Debate Team
Price: Failed Friendships

Rich people love to be right. I don’t mean they like to get the right answer, I mean fighting tooth and nail to prove that the sky is green and the grass is blue. This stubborn, unyielding pugilism comes from years of people submitting to their opinions because the alternative is a ruined evening of incessant droning about something you don’t care about anyway. There are a lot of reasons for this, I know you can add to the list, so sit back and let’s have a look.

For as long as rich people can remember, someone has been coddling them, picking up after them and agreeing to do anything they say is important. Rich kids don’t have babysitters that can refuse an evening with a little monster, they have nannies that desperately need the job to send money home to Mexico or the Philippines. As such, nannies will do anything they are told, even by a four year old. I’m not saying this is right or wrong, only that the situation instills a belief by the child that they were bred to tell adults what is right. Fast-forward to boarding school where entire rooms of children have been raised in the same manner and rather than settle disagreements on the football field or at the bike racks, rich people engage in fiery, albeit pointless discussions about anything and everything that comes to mind. The problem is that they are trained to take either side of an argument which means they aren’t interested in the truth, only in battering each other into submission.

Look out once a rich person leaves the isolation of the classroom. A lifetime of mental gymnastics and unimpeded arrogance means that they spend the next decade proving to themselves and those around them that their ideas are superior despite lacking knowledge of the topics at hand; it’s like a kid from chess club arguing with the QB about what sex with cheerleaders is like. Rich people will discuss why they oppose Medicare, despise welfare and question why the poor are allowed to vote with an annoying air of superiority. They likely don’t agree with what they are saying but will staunchly defend it to the death in the event that anyone opposes their view. Ultimately, their self-professed sharp wit and sharper tongue stands in the way of developing lasting relationships as they push anyone with dissenting opinions away and sound like uninformed jackasses to everyone but themselves. Before you start, I know what you are going to say…you respectfully disagree! I figured as much!

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#41 - Extravagant Parties

#41 - Extravagant Parties

Party Of the Year
Price: Limitless

Everyone enjoys a great party and rich people are no different. The distinction is how one hosts a party. If you receive a written and personalized invitation to a party, your host may be rich. If the invitation asks for an RSVP, this is also a good sign. If the letters BYOB are included on the invite, you aren’t going to a party with rich people. Variations on the letter B include beer, booze, beef and bitches. If it is the latter, you might want to skip the party and start looking for new friends.

All this aside, when rich people party they spare no expense and take care of every detail. An entire industry has been launched from the wallets and purses of the rich driven by their need to outdo the party at the forefront of A-list minds. These inspired games of one-upmanship lead to paid celebrity appearances, performances by top musicians, ice sculptures, champagne fountains, limo services, catering by the city’s best chefs and lavish gift bags featuring the latest must-have items. Why restrict yourself to a single party? If you want to celebrate in style, throw a simul-party (apparently we didn’t make up this word). The outrageously wealthy will organize same-day parties in multiple cities, on multiple continents and fly to them on their private jets. Paris Hilton loaded her closest friends into a Gulfstream and circumnavigated the globe on her 21st birthday including stops in New York, Las Vegas, London, Hollywood and Tokyo.

The opulence and extravagance of these fabulous parties begs the question why? Here are a few reasons, feel free to add you own. Everyone knows that rich people allude to their wealth but never reveal their net worth. Parties keep people guessing and spark discussion; the more extravagant, the more you are worth or so the logic goes. Next, rich people love to impress by hosting the perfect evening. Parties showcase their class, culture, thoughtfulness, creativity and the ability to hire the perfect planner. Finally, the rich worry that nobody will show up and the caviar will spoil; a great party is a guarantee that you’ll never run short of sycophants. This isn’t unique to the rich. Admit it, you’ve sat at home waiting for people to arrive, nervously passing time boozing or gulping Jell-o shots until guests start arriving or you have passed out on the floor. The rich are the same, except they pop champagne and snort lines in the pool house. Either way, score an invite to one of these fab soirees and you could be watching the Jonas Brothers at a private party in the Hills. On second thought, pass the Jell-o and a bucket!

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#40 - Second Marriages

#40 - Second Marriages

Second Marriages
Price: Half of Everything

Rich people love second marriages. It isn’t that they like to end the first one, but the fact remains that marriage is the leading cause of divorce. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with the first husband or wife only that they remind each other of what it was like to be without money. The result, once a couple has banked their millions both parties feel it is time to trade up and move on. The woman looks for a man that doesn’t remind her of her ex-husband’s insecurities about success and a man looks for a trophy wife to make him feel younger.

Denial that *ahem* it is about to hit the fan is common. Some men compensate with a new Lamborghini or running groups while women collect Carlos Falchi handbags and Alexander McQueen dresses; both drink more. This is only a temporary solution before the house of marriage crumbles around them. Once either, or both, realizes the end is near they have to move fast. Its time to play “hide the assets” before calling in the sharks and sealing the fate of their ill-conceived union. The race is on to find the best, brightest and most ruthless team of legal eagles to claw and battle for every public asset that they haven’t shuffled to off-shore accounts. Everyone involved realizes there is more than enough money to last many generations, so it isn’t about the houses, the cars or the cash. It is about devaluing their ex and stripping them of their dignity and pride at every legal turn.

After the papers are signed, the second marriage is all about enjoying the life they think was flushed away during the first marriage. This means more travel, less work, more luxurious lifestyles, bigger homes, more soirees and alimony. They build new friendships and join different clubs to start their new life together. Everything is coming up roses. The danger is an addiction to the freshness and newness of nuptial promises and the honeymoon phase. Unfortunately, with all things new, the passion fades and the shine loses its lustre. If the relationship was built on mutual contempt for their exes and a healthy dose of Viagra, the marriage faces an untimely demise and this time you can’t try to keep it together for the kids!

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