Every week I take each daughter for a ‘father and daughter breakfast date’. This week, my youngest and I went to our local Pho (noodle soup) restaurant. Whilst we are there, we played a game of picking a random person who drives by on their motorbike (there are a lot of them here in Vietnam) and making up a story about their life. I thought I’d share one of those stories as it had a strong money lesson which my daughter enjoyed hearing about and as we ended up talking about it long after I finished the story.
The Famous But Poor Story
Many years ago, the lady on the bike worked in her own shop which sold all different kinds of nuts. She was married with two young kids. They didn’t have a lot but always had food on the table and a roof over their head.
One day, when working in her shop, she started singing a song. She didn’t realise someone else was there. The person listened to her sing and couldn’t believe how amazing she sounded. He recorded her singing and asked if he could post it on the internet. She was a bit shy but agreed. The next day the video of her singing in the store was seen by millions of people.
Overnight she became famous.
She was flying around the world first-class, got to wear the nicest clothes and, to eat at the best restaurants.
After travelling back from one of her concerts, she wanted to see her kids but they were already tucked up in bed.
The next day she woke up ready to spend time with her family but as soon as she got out of bed there were lots of people in her house as they were there to help her get ready for a TV show she was going to appear on.
This started to happen all the time. She didn’t get to spend much time with her kids or husband.
After a while, she demanded that she had a day off singing or being on TV. That day the whole family went to the beach to have some quality time together. Sadly, that didn’t happen. As soon as she arrived at the beach, people recognised who she was and started gathering round for photos and autographs. Again, she didn’t get much time with her family. She said “Whilst I have fame and money, I don’t have time with my family so I feel poor and unhappy”.
After that day, she decided she didn’t want to be famous any more. She decided that she would only sing during the day when her kids were at school and didn’t do any more TV shows. As a result, she didn’t make as much money so couldn’t afford to travel first-class, wear the fancy clothes or eat at the best restaurants but she didn’t care, she had time with her family and couldn’t be happier.
Why tell this story to your kids?
Lots of people have the dream of being ‘Rich and Famous’ as it looks like a glamorous life on TV and social media. Famous people have nice things and everyone loves them. The truth is that being famous isn’t all that it appears to be on the surface.
I remember watching the documentary ‘The Last Dance’ about the Chicago Bulls basketball team in the 80’s. What really struck me was how sad Michael Jordan appeared. He was the most successful basketball player ever, yet he was a prisoner. He couldn’t leave his hotel room as there were too many people waiting for him and it was a security risk.
This might sound like a sad message to tell your kids … “Famous is bad ''. Clearly there are many happy and famous people. I wanted to tell my daughter this story as it’s another way of teaching her about ‘keeping up with the Jones’’, i.e. don’t compare yourself with what you see on TV or social media as it's not always what it appears.
Clearly, if kids are really talented at something and become famous then I wouldn’t want to discourage them pursuing that. The key point is that they shouldn’t be chasing the ‘fame’.
The other important message from the story was that the lady appreciated that happiness was about spending time with her family. Being grateful for what you already have is a key mindset lesson when talking to your kids about money.
I hope the story in this blog helps you start a conversation with your kids about ‘being famous’.
Why not ask your kids their views about the life of a famous person?
To be great with money doesn’t require you to be famous. Instead, it requires knowing how to look after your money, by following The 3 Rules of Wealth, and not comparing yourself to other people.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. Still time before Christmas to get copies of Grandpa's Fortune Fables for your kids, friends and family. A fun and impactful gift.