Sadly, Dr. Thomas J. Stanley died in a car crash last weekend. For those who may not know, Dr. Stanley was a retired marketing professor at Georgia State University famous for thirty years of researching the rich. I read three of his books, each presenting a unique flavor of his findings.
Dr. Stanley wrote several books about the affluent including his most famous best seller, The Millionaire Next Door. In it, he describes the typical American millionaire. Far from the bling encrusted rappers or haute country clubbers you might imagine, Dr. Stanley found the typical millionaire lives a frugal and inconspicuous life. They live in the same houses and drive the same cars that most people do. The difference is, the wealthy live well below their means, they focus on building wealth instead of displaying it, they typically own their own businesses, and they are good at finding opportunities in the marketplace that no one else sees.
Dr. Stanley’s follow up book, The Millionaire Mind, came in 2000. Instead of your typical millionaire, this book focuses more on multimillionaires and the factors they attribute to their monetary prowess. These fundamentals include a high level of integrity, discipline, good social skills, a supportive spouse, strong leadership abilities, and hard work. Most are self-made millionaires who did not inherit their wealth and luck had very little to with their success.
The final book of his that I had the privilege of reading was Stop Acting Rich…And Start Living Like a Real Millionaire. This time the target is the non-rich. Dr. Stanley looks at why so many of these people spend so much time and money collecting luxury toys. He explains that millionaires live frugally. They don’t seek these treasures, even in times of economic prosperity. He demonstrates that it’s not a high income that makes you happy. Instead, it’s living below your means that leads to the greatest satisfaction in life.
These book are by no means specific blueprints on how to become rich, but instead offer a glimpse into the real life of a millionaire. It’s hard to argue with Dr. Stanley’s findings since they’re based on his own research conducted on actual wealthy people.
Dr. Stanley will be sorely missed. Not only for the books he wrote but for the books he had yet to write.