How Rich People Talk to Eachother
I’ve halfway done with the recent Tiger Woods biography and so far it’s an easy read that tells a similar story to other successful people: intensity, dedication, singular greatness at 1 very valuable thing to the “detriment” of almost everything else.
I wanted to highlight a section as a glimpse into the world of real wealth and status.
Let me set the stage.
Before Tiger went pro he played as an amateur, meaning he couldn’t make any money from golf. This posed a problem for his parents who had to pay tens of thousands of dollars in training and travel but didn’t have the money.
So what do you do if you’re going to be rich & famous but need some money now?
You can’t do an explicit endorsement yet but you can sell your status in other ways: like letting people golf with you.
And instead of paying Tiger directly the money could go to his dad Earl, who would also make a speech before any round of golf with Tiger.
After the plans are made the only part left is the invitation. How exactly do you ask “Tiger’s going to be rich but isn’t yet and needs money to train, so will you pay money now in exchange for an implicit increase in your status and possible future relationship-based benefits?”
It’d be something like the below letter sent to a former CEO of IBM:
(My comments in bold)
On the morning of June 19, 1995, Tiger Woods will conduct a golf clinic for minority youngsters (Couch it in a good cause), and others, at Brooklawn Country Club. The General Electric Foundation (Having a relationships with Jack Welch is helpful) has graciously consented to underwrite the clinic, which is being co-sponsored by People’s Bank and Hall Neighborhood House in Bridgeport. (Social proof: this is a respectable event)
Following the clinic, Hall Neighborhood House has invited Earl Woods to address a group of fifty to sixty persons at the Country Club of Fairfield.(If Earl’s the one getting paid he has to do something) Earl Woods will share some of his experiences in fathering and raising his son at lunch scheduled at 12 noon at the Country Club of Fairfield.
After lunch and the talk by Mr. Woods, eleven (11) (putting numbers in parenthesis like a legal document makes this sound fancier and more legit to old rich people) foursomes are invited to play a round of golf at Fairfield and attend a short reception following the round.
You are cordially invited to participate in the lunch, golf and the reception. Also, while it is not necessary, if you care to contribute to the honorarium to be given Earl Woods for his talk, you may do so by sending a restricted grant to Hall Neighborhood House. (1: The entire point of this event is to raise money, but the ask is almost an afterthought buried in the middle of a paragraph at the end of the invitation. 2: “White it is not necessary” it’s code for “we’re being polite but obviously you gotta pay up to hang with Tiger)
I sincerely hope that your schedule will permit you to be present at the Country Club of Fairfield to hear Earl Woods and to play a round of golf. Both Earl Woods and Tiger will join us for golf and the reception. Please indicate on the enclosed postcard your acceptance not later than May 15, 1995.
John F. Merchant
— You can get the biography here on Amazon
If you liked this essay....
Then consider signing up for my newsletter, How It Actually Works.
It contains the best material I find anywhere – this means books, articles, podcasts, research, videos, Twitter threads... the most interesting stuff that will give you something to say.
1,000s of people read it every week and they're never published anywhere else. Once they're sent they're gone forever.