Opening Letter to the
Palm Beach Wealth Builders Club
Hi, Mark Ford here.
Welcome to the Palm Beach Wealth Builders Club!
Of all the ventures I’ve started, I’m most excited about this. Why? Because it represents two of my most persistent ambitions: to understand how wealth is created and to teach anyone who is ready to learn.
I’ve been interested in the idea of acquiring wealth ever since I was a child. I remember having dreams of being driven to my grammar school playground in a stretch limousine. I’d get out wearing a white tuxedo and all of my schoolmates would surround me admiringly.
This was understandable. I was among the poorest kids in a middle-class school. I wore hand-me-down clothes donated to my family by local charities. We lived in a dilapidated house across the street from the municipal gravel pits.
I did have one significant advantage. My parents were highly intelligent and well-educated. They instilled in their children a belief in learning. I applied that belief, among other things, to learning about wealth.
My parents were also teachers, and the teacher bug infested me as it did three of my seven siblings.
Although I had the ambition to become wealthy very early, I did nothing serious about it until I was 32. Yes, I had started all sorts of little businesses before then, but it wasn’t till I took a Dale Carnegie course that taught me goal-setting that I decided to make “becoming rich” my top priority.
In the next 10 years, I became a decamillionaire. In the following 10 years, I multiplied that wealth several times. And so, when I turned 50, knowing I had accumulated more wealth than I needed, I removed wealth building from my life’s priorities and focused on teaching, instead.
I spent the next 10 years (from 50 to 60) writing about entrepreneurship. Under the pen name Michael Masterson, I wrote more than 2,000 essays and seven or eight books on entrepreneurship and wealth building. When I turned 60, I decided I would retire the Michael Masterson brand and write about something else.
My primary interest has been writing fiction, poetry, and books about ideas that interest me. But about 18 months ago, I was persuaded to write about wealth building again by working with Tom Dyson on a new investment publication called The Palm Beach Letter. (Tom and I both live in Palm Beach County in Florida.)
That’s been a terrific experience for me. What I found was that all that I had learned about entrepreneurship was just a fraction of what could be learned about wealth building. So I began to apply what I had learned as an entrepreneur to the general subject of investing. And that’s how I came to be writing for The Palm Beach Letter.
Several months ago, we sent out a survey to our readers, asking them about their personal finances and goals. I was somewhat surprised to learn that a large percentage of PBL readers were either already retired or planned to retire in 10 years or fewer. But what shocked and disturbed me was that many of these folks were not, by any means, financially independent.
What they wanted—to live a comfortable life in “retirement”—was not going to happen for them. They had subscribed to The Palm Beach Letter because they recognized our mission was to help them achieve wealth. But they were still under the illusion that they could do that by buying the right stocks.
I knew enough about wealth building to be certain that this strategy would not be sufficient to achieve their goals. And that made me feel bad. I didn’t want to contribute to their false belief by allowing them to believe that our stock selections, however good, would accomplish their goals. So I decided to do something about it. I had umpteen meetings with Tom and the staff. I told them very candidly that we had a moral obligation to provide this group of our readers with much, much more.
So we began a series of very frank conversations about what it really takes to become financially independent in fewer than 10 years. As it happens, I had plenty of ideas. Because that is exactly what I have been thinking and writing about for 10 years.
So we agreed to combine all of our intellectual capital—my experience-based ideas and the experience-based knowledge of Tom and Paul—and create an entirely new and unique service for investors who need to achieve financial independence in fewer than 10 years.
Once we started moving, the ideas came on fast. In fact, we have so much to tell you, so much to give you, that you may be overwhelmed. But don’t be. The schedule we have set for you is aggressive, but we have no choice. It is you who have told us you want to be wealthy in fewer than 10 years. So we have to get to work immediately and work hard and fast.
We meant to come up with a clever name for the club, but in the process of developing all of the materials, we used the phrase “not yet wealthy.” I like that phrase because it conveys two important ideas:
It acknowledges that you are not yet wealthy. (The inability to admit this, as I’ll explain in future essays to you, is a great problem in achieving wealth.)
The phrase also makes an implicit promise: If you follow the club’s recommendations, you can and will achieve the wealth you need to lead a financially independent life.
In creating this club, we gave ourselves a considerable challenge. It is easy to give stock recommendations to investors. It is much more difficult to help them become wealthy. But that is the job we have taken on at The Palm Beach Letter. And I promise you—no matter how many other investment newsletters try to pick up on this promise in the future (and they will)—you will not be able to get the kind of experience-based advice you will get from us.
I know this because I know everybody in this industry. I know how rich they are (most aren’t rich at all), and I know how they got the wealth they acquired (mostly by recommending exciting stocks that sometimes paid off and often didn’t). So I can say this confidently: In joining the Palm Beach Wealth Builders Club, you have made a very good decision.
It is not going to be easy. And it is not going to be fast. But it can be done. And if you give us your trust and follow our recommendations, you will achieve financial independence within 10 years.
To accomplish this, I am going to teach you everything I have learned about acquiring wealth. That includes all that I learned from developing dozens of multimillion-dollar businesses and also everything that I have learned about investing.
I will also give you access to every person and organization I know that are helpful in achieving this goal. In every channel of wealth building, there are people and businesses that have particular expertise. People and businesses I’ve come to admire. These will all be made available to you.
Every journey begins with a single step. And your first step, as a new club member, is to read everything I am sending you this week. I want to begin strongly, by challenging your assumptions about what wealth is and why you are not yet wealthy.
Some of what you will read will not please you. You may find it obvious or condescending or even insulting. I can only say that I am not being condescending or insulting. All of the most important things that I have learned have been, in retrospect, obvious. But what is obvious after you have gained wealth may seem condescending or insulting when you have not.
Your reading assignment for this week is mostly about change. It is based on the assumption that you are responsible for being unwealthy. Not the government, not the banks, not the brokers—you.
I am not for a minute suggesting that the powers that be haven’t done everything they can to deprive you of your right to wealth. They certainly have. But while you have been victimized by their treacheries, others and I—individuals no smarter or better connected than you—have managed to attain wealth.
So that is something you have go through in the next week. And as I said, it may not be easy. In fact, it may be the single biggest challenge you have ever faced in your search for wealth.
If you are already turned off by what I’m saying, I hope you will have the courage to face the truth about your situation and get beyond it. If you can’t do that, ask for a refund right now. Everything that follows will have no value to you.
There are reasons why some unwealthy people acquire wealth while others don’t. In fact, I believe that there are five or six primary reasons, all of which are key aspects of our club’s program.
Next week, I am going to send you a small book that was an Amazon best-seller last year. Tom has agreed to buy it from the publisher and send it to you as a free bonus, because I told him I believed that this book was an important part of the process. Read this book as soon as it arrives in your mailbox. It will name the reasons that most wealth seekers fail. And it will give you solutions. At the end of the book, it will ask you to make a commitment. The commitment (the pledge) is for you and nobody else. By signing it, you will have marked a watershed in your life. I will say no more about that now.
But even before you get the book, I’ll be sending you a series of essays about why I believe you have to make a commitment to change. I’m sending these because I don’t want you to lose any momentum. I hope they enlighten and inspire you.
At the end of the week, I’m going to send you another book, an e-book. It contains several important essays that you may have already read. These are the key essays that explain the core strategies for developing wealth. We’ve edited them into a book because I recently reread them, and I don’t mind telling you that in rereading them, I was myself inspired.
But that’s next week. This week you should read the essays about change and my book.
I know this is a lot to do. But please find the time to do it.
One of my favorite aphorisms is a Zen saying: “The master will appear when the student is ready.” Most people take this to mean that when you are ready to learn something important, some new wise person will appear in your life. This is not how it actually happens in real life. What happens is that the teacher has usually been around, trying to teach you for some time. He keeps saying things that you discount or ignore. And then one day you wake up and realize he was right all along. “So that’s what he meant!” you say.
I have been teaching you for some time. I have been teaching you everything thing I know to be true. The secrets I will be teaching you are the very same secrets that I gave to my personal clients and protégés—dozens of them. And they all, without a single exception, became wealthy.
And those are just my personal protégés. The truth is, there are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of people who have profited from the advice you are going to get. But nobody before has ever gotten all of it in one consolidated program. The reason for that is simple. I have never put it all together until now.
So take some time today (not tomorrow—for tomorrow never comes) and begin to read what I’ve sent you. Read it with an open mind. When you read something you think you know, ask yourself, “Do I really know this? Have I really done it? Have I really incorporated it into my life?”
The answers, if you are honest, will be a few yeses and many nos. But that’s fine. After all, if you had already applied all of the fundamental lessons of acquiring wealth, you would already be wealthy—and you are not!
I was poor once. In fact, I was once something like $100,000 in debt. I remember how that felt. It felt bad. I felt angry. I felt ashamed. I felt betrayed.
But I didn’t spend a moment blaming anyone else for my situation. I decided that I had only one choice—and that was to change what I was doing.
If you are ready to do that, then I can help you. And of course, it won’t be just me. The entire Palm Beach Letter staff is excited about getting behind you on this. You are going to have all of the help you need.
Let me get back to the reason you joined this club. You have an ambition, a worthy ambition. You want to become financially independent in fewer than 10 years. I am very confident that I can help you achieve this goal. But to do so, you must begin now.
As you get older, time speeds up. You know as well as I do that the next 52 weeks are going to go by very quickly. If you commit to change today, you will see a big difference one year from now. If you don’t, those 52 weeks will fly by just as quickly. The only difference is that you will be just where you are right now, frustrated at your lack of wealth and wanting a solution.
This is the best solution you are ever going to be offered. I promise you that. Please take advantage of it.
Yours in our common ambition,