So you want to go around touting yourself as a self-made millionaire, or whatever sobriquet you’d like to adorn yourself with? Great! It’s all the rage these days! Here’s a checklist of things you must do beforehand. Once these are complete, self-aggrandize to your heart’s content!
- Check with your parents, guardians, friends, family members, teachers, mentors, and advice-givers who looked out for you during your formative years. Ask them for permission to omit their role in your upbringing from your narrative.
- Arrange a meeting with the first person who hired you at the job that provided your entree into your current role. Make sure that no one else was even being considered for the job, so you can make sure that the person hiring didn’t help you out by deciding to give you a shot.
- Have lunch with any mentor you had during your professional life. Tell them that you are planning on promoting yourself by purposely not mentioning the advice and networking they provided to you. Ensure that they are okay with this, and try to get that in writing, if you can. Also, make sure you pay for said lunch, along with reimbursing them for any lunches they had previously paid for during your relationship.
- Reach out to anyone that provided funding or financing for whatever venture has made you all the money you’re bragging about. This includes people at VC firms, angel investors, the banker who provided your initial or ongoing line of credit, the financial infrastructure that allowed money to flow into your ventre, etc. Obtain their consent to completely downplay their role in your prosperity.
- Talk to any state or local governments that provided tax incentives for your business venture or for customers of yours, maintained any roads, bridges, or waterways you used for transportation, issued the title to the land you bought, and provided a police force to secure your physical space. Make sure they agree that they had absolutely no role in your success (an agreement you may want to get notarized, of course).
- Have a brief meeting with your first big client or customer. Let them know that they had absolutely no part in the decision to give you their business, and that you personally are taking all the credit for the partnership. If they are cool with that, you’re on your way.
- Gather any employees or business partners you have or have had throughout your rocket into wealth and power. Politely inform them that if it’s okay with them, you’re going to take all the credit for the success you’ve experienced and the money you’ve made. Ensure they’re all on board, and perhaps get HR to put it in some meeting minutes.
Once you have all those steps checked off, you’re good to go. Feel free to write an article in Fast Company about how you made your millions (or billions, you go-getter!) and picked yourself up by your bootstraps. As a bonus, you can then also chastise all those who don’t do the same. Heck, you might even be able to build a platform out of that to run for political office. And remember, just like when you first struck out on your own, the sky’s the limit!
Alternatively, you might want to just admit that nobody does it by themselves (even Tom Hanks’ character in Castaway had Wilson!). We all had help in getting where we are — whether we acknowledge it or not. In fact, what separates the good people from the ignorant pricks is the realization and outward acknowledgment of two things:
(a) everyone had some help getting where they are today, and
(b) that help should be acknowledged and, to the extent possible, provided to others who need it.
The concept of the “self-made” anything is a farce. Everyone has had help, and everyone should be respectful enough of those who helped them to acknowledge that. Acting as if you are the sole person responsible for your success overlooks countless people who have had a part in your getting where you are today — both those you know, and those you don’t. When you fail to recognize and appreciate just how interdependent your success is with others, you show yourself to be ignorant and inconsiderate. It’s a bad look.
Still, if you have the brass to try to claim you’re “self-made”, the checklist above is still applicable, granted you can get through it. Best of luck!