Ever wondered why wealth rarely lasts in families?

Elon musk is 128 billion dollars behind this man.

The US government changed the rules to stop his spread. He was an octopus, and his tentacles were thousands of miles of pipeline supplying oil across the United States. The government had to step in and break up his company – Standard Oil – because it was becoming too powerful.

You don’t get 418 billion dollars, adjusted for inflation, without an almost inhuman drive. John D Rockefeller’s story is even more impressive than his wealth. Every financial decision was a move on his chessboard. With the skill of a grandmaster and temperament of a monk, he never lost.

Where is the Rockefeller fortune now? 500 billion, 600 billion, a trillion? The answer is a paltry 10 billion. Yep, just enough to put the kids through school, pay the mortgage and maybe splurge on a boat.

Truth be told, the family still has a good portion of wealth three to four generations on. Despite this, wealth usually creates wealth, and the family would have access to all the best advisors. It’s like your grandma leaving you one thousand dollars, and by the time it gets to your children, there are only 40 dollars left.

Here’s what you don’t know about Rockefeller. He grew up poor and with a keen eye for bookkeeping. He knew the value of money and how to take care of it.


One of the best meals I ever tasted was airport chicken and chips. My family and I had just returned from our budget Bali holiday. The kind of budget where fine dining was the local A&W restaurant. Before eating that chicken and chips, I hadn’t eaten in almost a day, and that’s what made it the best I’ve ever had.

It was poverty that made Rockefeller hungry for wealth. A hunger that wasn’t around for his children, their children, and the children after that.

Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men, and weak men create hard times.

G. Michael Hopf
image 1
Standing, left to right: Abby, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and John D. Rockefeller 3rd.
Seated, left to right: Laurance, John D. Rockefeller holding David, Winthrop,
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, and Nelson, ca. 1916.

Courtesy of Rockefeller Archives

Published in Life, Learning, life lessons, Psychology, Stories
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