Real Wealth Isn’t About Money

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One of the most delightful entrepreneurs I have ever encountered was a man named Calvin, but all of his friends called him “Cal.” Our local business journal has described him as a “highly successful serial entrepreneur.” It is true, but it is just the tip of the iceberg as to who he is as a human being.


Making Good Decisions

Calvin’s first successful venture was a company that sold glue of all kinds and in all sizes. That’s correct, the sticky stuff, glue! Glue for wood, metal, plastic, and ceramics. The ceramic application led him to take an interest in an industrial ceramic company. It was followed by investing in a jazz music app at the request of his nephew, a jazz drummer, and if that wasn’t enough, a company that makes some tracking devices for lost dogs.

You might say that Calvin goes from low tech to hi-tech and has finally gone to the dogs. He took his earnings and put them into the commercial real estate industry, which made him more successful. By all monetary measures, he is a wealthy man.


We Rise By Lifting Others

Calvin would never be confused with one of those entrepreneurs you might see on the cover of “GQ” wearing a $2,000 suit and sporting a Rolex. Calvin is 5’ 7” with a bushy moustache. He has a bit of a gut. Calvin buys his clothes off the rack (like Warren Buffet). I believe his Chevrolet is now celebrating its 13th year and he and his wife have been living in the same split-level in the same neighborhood for many years.

The good times that Calvin enjoys contradicts his dubious origins and his hard times. He grew up very poor and struggled for years. He and his wife are cancer survivors. She could not have children. His children are adopted. His son was born with spina bifida, no one “wanted him.” His daughter also had what was diagnosed as a learning disability (she is now a physician!). He was once swindled by a “partner.” In short, he has gone through hard times, and he understands sorrow.

He is a trustworthy man and is approachable, not arrogant. Calvin and his wife both like to meditate. His wife took up yoga many years ago. Their “inward journeys” are a direct outcome of the cancer treatments and the acceptance that came of having to deal with the curve balls that life has sometimes thrown them.

Despite the challenges Calvin has faced, and as busy as he his, one of his favorite pastimes is to help other entrepreneurs. Let me give you an example.

Calvin and I used to frequent the same restaurant on Friday mornings when I was not traveling. We’d wave hello, or talk for a moment, then run in different directions. Two, charming ladies owned the restaurant, and they were having difficulties with a new landlord who was making life pretty miserable for them. It was a strange turn of events, for before the restaurant became successful, it was a run-down, abandoned space that had been a greasy machine shop.

I mentioned the challenges the ladies were facing in passing to Calvin as merely an off-handed comment while we were waiting in line to pay our bill. I didn’t give my comments a second thought.

About a week later, I stopped by the restaurant for a cup of coffee on a Monday morning on my out of town, and seated around a table were the two ladies, Calvin, and the landlord. They were locked in a serious conversation, but they were at least smiling.

Calvin volunteered to help them with a renegotiation. The ladies agreed to a more extended lease as the landlord desired, but the landlord also makes several concessions that at first, he was reluctant to do. Calvin helped the two women because he understood their struggle. He knew what it was like to deal with adversity and to go against the odds.


No One Has Ever Become Poor By Giving

I have no idea how much Calvin is worth. His office building and staff would suggest many millions of dollars. Whatever his prosperity, what is more, remarkable to me is that he never takes his abundance for granted. He has a richness of the heart with a deep understanding of the suffering of others.

Our society often confuses “rich people” with those whose hearts are precious. There is quite a difference. Calvin’s great monetary success started with glue, but his vibrant spirit began the day he was given a challenge and gave his heart over to something much bigger and more potent than just himself.

Real wealth is not a matter of bank accounts and assets. It’s not what you have; it’s what you’re left with when all you have is gone. It’s in the values you live and share. It’s what you have in your heart. It’s the good you do in this world. Real wealth isn’t about money!


For more information about Hall of Fame speaker and bestselling author Steve Gilliland and the Gilliland Foundation, please contact steve@stevegilliland.com / 724-540-5019 / www.stevegilliland.com.