The New Gold Rush

The New Gold Rush

There is something sad about 250,000 young people wanting to join Goldman Sachs for their career – or at least the start of it. I have a great admiration for Goldman Sachs. I’ve used their advice in my business career and found them excellent. The people I met were decent human beings – a little arrogant, perhaps, but success allows you to do that and to deny it would be churlish. What is sad about a quarter of a million applications to join them?

Goldman Sachs do a useful job of balancing the markets but they are there primarily to make money – for other people and for themselves. When money making become the sole purpose of life, life becomes stressful, rather pointless – except for the adrenaline rush of winning – and a sorry routine of acquiring material possessions at the expense of living.

If this starts to sound like a criticism of Goldman Sachs it is certainly not intended to be. If there is criticism, it is of those who have prepared their young for life. No doubt from the best of motives they have put wealth at the top of the list of things that matter, dashing the prospect of a life of fulfilment, enjoyment, and helping others. I hear the response to that already – “We do help others. We give generously of our massive wealth.”

Unfortunately, “generous” in this context is difficult to define but in any case it ignores the real gift we give people – time. Love is usually thought of as the greatest gift but time is the real manifestation of love. Time must be used, of course, in the best way for the needs of the recipient. It can be play, work, gardening, or just being. The greatest gift I get from my wife is being together, watching movies or theatre or going to concerts and holding hands.

Prices of houses are so high that they are almost out of reach of many people starting out in life. Understandable therefore that the young want to earn, to buy their own home, to educate their children in the best possible way and give them a great start in life. It sounds reasonable and worthy. Alas, it is an illusion. All they will do is bring up their children with wealth as the sole purpose and they will miss most of the real fun of life. Push your children as near to the brink as you can but not over it. They will be stronger for it.

I’ve heard the argument that wealth provides you with opportunities. It is true. But the best opportunities are the ones you must achieve to survive, to build you family, to put that extension on your home. The greatest satisfaction I had in my life was one day when I was farming at 19 years old. I had a particularly difficult field of corn to get in before nightfall. It was not possible, I worked on my sturdy little Fordson tractor until 10.30 at night – in the dark with my headlights on. I brought the harvest home.

I went to my digs exhausted but triumphant. My little achievement had made me happy.

You cannot ask for more.