An Unexpected Examined Life

There's an interesting article in the NY Times entitled "After Succeeding, Young Tycoons Try, Try Again". 

What happens when you become very rich very young?

"All of a sudden, you have the luxury — or the curse — of being able to ponder the meaning of life," Mr. Hong said. "You ask yourself, ‘Why am I not happier given how lucky I’ve been?’"

A quote from one of the young guys profiled, who after making a killing on starting Paypal, went on to start another company:

Yet what Mr. Levchin calls "my particular brand of obsession" comes with a cost. He wishes he gave more to charity, but he can never seem to find the time. "It’s pathetic how much I give compared to other people I know worth considerably less," he said. And his desire to earn even more means he pays little attention to the wealth he already has in the bank.

Levchin might have a guilty conscience, but were I in his shoes, would not.  The reason he is rich is that he has created value for other people, value in their lives.  That's a lot more than you can say about most charity.  My advice to Levchin:  keep making new companies.  You'll benefit humanity a whole lot more than writing checks to charity.

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Maybe Levchin could learn from his former associate at Paypal Peter Thiel ;)

Thiel is currently managing a very succesful Global Macro Hedge Fund, he is involved as a partner in a VC firm... he gives money to charity... for research on AI singularity and anti-aging.

Did I mention he's ancap ? 

I read that article, and

I read that article, and thought "Wow, this guy is messed-up." Although maybe that's a bad reaction - I've definitely seen people who got rich young be rootless and unhappy. On the other hand, I've also seen them retire and be happy. Levchin's itch means he'll always have purpose, so he avoids one substantial cost of getting rich young, but if it means he keeps driving himself that hard, it means he avoids one substantial benefit (being able to take it easy).
Of course while I question whether Levchin's tastes will make him happy, they are certainly of great benefit to the rest of us.

Applause for all who ponder

No matter rich or poor, I do applaud all who ponder: what is the meaning of life? The how and why one arrives at that question is valuable but not the focus. For me, what's more important is to know the answer and then use it as a compass for my life.

As to that man's feelings of guilt, well, I like to view the world's population as one big baseball team, everyone playing a role to have a winning season. Some people employ others, some write checks to charity, while others volunteer their time. As they say, it's all good. But maybe if that man stopped giving interviews he'd have more time to write a check to charity :-)

I invite all to share their meaning of life answers. "Contact" me at Thank you!