How I Became Rich
Interview with “Bernie the Billionaire”
By Richard E. Noble
So Bernie, just recently you rose into the ranks of the top ten richest men in America. All of America wants to know the answer to this question - How did you do it Bernie?
“Well it is really quite an interesting story. I can hardly believe it myself. Let me start at the beginning. A while back, my wife and I were just sitting around the trailer.”
You lived in a trailer?
“Oh yeah! And it wasn’t much of a trailer house at that. But there we were, Rose and I, just sitting around watching “How to become a Millionaire” when I got this idea.”
Just like that? You were watching TV and you got this idea?
“Yeah I did. It just come to me sitting there. It just, like came to my mind all at once. Before I got this idea, I really hadn’t been thinking anything. I was just watching the TV when it came to me.”
Ain’t that something!
“And I’ll be honest with you I’m not really the kind of guy who has a lot of good ideas. I mean most of my life I hardly thought of anything.”
Bernie, I have the feeling here that you are being just a little too modest. You are one of the ten richest men in America today. That just doesn’t happen to anybody. There is a reason why some people become rich and some people don’t.
“True, I believe that also. A person makes his own luck I have always said. It is not like you just sit around and great things just happen. You’ve got to put yourself in the right places. You can’t just wait around for success and good fortune to stumble onto you. You have got to get off your butt and do something. You’ve got to move. You got to shake things up. You know what I mean?”
That’s for sure.
“So in any case, Rose and I are just sitting there and I get this idea. I explain my idea to Rose. At first she doesn’t think all that much of the idea but then it starts to grow on her. After about an hour or so of back-and-forth she finally agrees with me that my idea is pretty good. But then, of course, we get into the financing. I mean where are we going to get the money to put this idea into operation? You know what I mean?”
Oh yes, I certainly do. So what did you do?
“Well, we started fishing under the cushions of the living room furniture.”
You’re kidding me? You started off on the road to your first billion with change you found in the couch?
“Well, in the couch and the other chairs in the living room. Then we searched on all the counter tops and then in the bureau draws and finally we went out to the pick-up truck and checked the floor and the seats out there.”
Wow! This is beginning to sound unbelievable.
“It is unbelievable. But isn’t that how many great ideas start out - I mean Goodyear and his rubber idea; and J. C. Penny and his “golden rule” store; Carnegie and Steel; Rockefeller and Banks; Dupont and DDT; Willie Sutton and “Where’s the Money?” - think about it?”
Oh I don’t have to think about it. I get it. I know where you are coming from. But not everybody has an idea like you had.
“Well, I don’t know about that. Lots of people have good ideas - some probably had the exact same idea that me and Rose had. But it takes more than just having an idea. Ideas are a dime a dozen. You have to be the type of person who acts on his ideas. Like I said, you can’t just have an idea and then sit there on your butt. You have to do something. You have to act. You have to put yourself in the position. You have to buy that ticket. You can’t just sit there and think about it and dilly and dally. You have to get out there and DO IT! I have never been the kind of a guy who just sat around and waited for things to happen. You’ve got to make things happen man. That’s what I mean about making your own luck. You can’t just sit around wishing and hoping; you’ve got to do something; you’ve got to get out there; you’ve got to get into the game.”
I get ya! So then what happened?
“So then once we had the financing straight and we knew we had the money to do it; we pushed the boat from the shore and headed out to sea. But now the question was; Which way do we go? What road do we take? Do we go the conventional path and follow the crowd, or do we take that road less traveled? Do we venture out? Do we play it safe or do we take our chances and gamble? Go for broke?”
And you did it. You went for it.
“Exactly! There we were at the Jr. Store on Pine Street - not the one on Broadway that was right around the corner from the trailer. We took that road less traveled and went to the one way down on Pine Street. And if we didn’t make that decision none of this would have ever happened. So any way, there we were; my pocket full of nickels and dimes and wouldn’t you know they had Miller Lite on sale. This is hard to believe but if Miller Lite hadn’t have been on sale at that particular Jr. Store we wouldn’t have had enough money left over from buying the beer and potato chips - which was the original idea in the first place - to buy that darn lottery ticket and we would never have become billionaires in the first place. So you see, it takes more than just a great idea - you have to have a little bit of luck too.”
Wow! That’s quite a story. Like ... that could have happened to anybody?
“Really? I don’t think so. You really think that just anybody could have thought that they wanted beer and potato chips at the exact same time as me and Rose did? And then ... then dig up the money from all the furniture and the pick-up and all? And then make the choice to go to the Pine Street Jr. Store as opposed to going just anywhere? And then have the guts to spend our last few coins on a lottery ticket instead of say buying some gasoline for the truck? I mean, we didn’t even know if we had enough gas in the pick-up to get back to the trailer - for god’s sake. That's what they call taking a chance, man; that's gambling! There were a lot of important decisions that were made there my friend. This wasn’t just the workings of an idle mind. This took thinking and decision making! Sure there were some variables involving chance or “luck” if you want to look at it that way. But tell me, if it was so easy to do - why didn’t you do it? Why doesn’t everybody do it? I’ll tell you why; because they can’t do it. We did it, me and Rose, and we deserve every darn cent of that money. I mean it ain’t like we found it just laying on the sidewalk; it didn’t just fall out of the sky. We made decisions; we thought it all out; we somehow found the money and then we went and did it. That ain’t for nothing my friend. Let me tell you - God helps those who help themselves!”