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In this episode, Chelsea shows us all the secrets she learned while working for rich people, from a yacht club on the East Coast to nannying for families in France.

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Articles cited on rich people & empathy:

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Hey, guys.

It's Chelsea from "The Financial Diet." And this week's video is sponsored by Haven Life Insurance Agency. And this week, we are going to be diving deep into a topic that we rarely touch here on TFD because our primary focus is making everyone feel more comfortable with money and speaking to people from all over the economic spectrum.

And quite frankly, if you're a rich person, you probably don't have all that much of a need for this channel, and that's fine. That's your journey. But sometimes, both because rich people are a topic that have quite a lot of relevancy in a country where they control so much of everything, but also because, frankly, they're a fascinating case study in so many different elements of life-- sociology, gender dynamics, personal happiness-- that from time to time, it's kind of worth talking about rich people here on TFD.

And I want to speak about it purely from my own personal, somewhat unique experience. Many of you may not know this, but before I got started in a career in media, I somewhat unintentionally, but also looking back, probably subconsciously intentionally, worked for a lot of rich people. From the age of about 10 onwards, I lived in a town called Annapolis, Maryland, which is a pretty fancy, waspy sailing town on the Chesapeake Bay, where there are a lot of very, very high earners.

And I think also because I had grown up pretty poor, and when we lived in Maryland, we were pretty middle class compared to a lot of the people around me who had so much, I think I always had a fascination with rich people, an anxiety about them. I wanted to be them, but I also resented them. It was all very complicated and tied up in the fact that Chelsea of that age didn't really have a whole lot of self-esteem.

But also, quite frankly, if you were working, for example, in the service industry in Annapolis, chances are, even if you didn't expressly intend to, you were going to come across a lot of very wealthy people in your work. But over the years, I was also a nanny for several very wealthy couples. I was a personal assistant/errand runner for a very, very wealthy man who worked in Washington, DC and also had an art studio.

I worked at a yacht club in Annapolis, which is essentially a country club where one of the requirements is that you have a boat. I was a secretary there, which I'll get into later, but secretary at that place had a very loose interpretation. I pretty much did it all.

And frankly, on some level, looking back, I think that those experiences shaped me in a lot of ways and created the relationship that I now have with money. I think that now, because I had such an up close experience of what having a lot of money can do to people on a psychological level, it's one of the reasons why, for example, even though I own the majority of my company and can, frankly, pay myself whatever the hell I want, I choose to pay myself less than other people in the company and keep the employees generally quite on par with what I earn. I also am someone who no longer has any kind of a fear of seeming cheap or saying no to things for financial reasons.

And above all, I am extremely invested in the concept of financial transparency. There's basically nothing about the finances of my business or my life that I wouldn't feel comfortable sharing or don't already share on Twitter because I realized that one of the most insidious things about wealth is how keeping it secret can make you less accountable to the community that you live in, and therefore make you more removed from the people with whom you share this planet. But more on that later.

Long story short is that over the course of several years from about age, like, 16 to age, like, 22, I worked for a lot of very high net worth individuals, and I learned a lot from it. So combining that with some more legitimate, less anecdotal research, I've compiled a "6 Secrets That I Feel Comfortable Sharing Based on My Experience with Rich People." Number 1 is probably the one that consistently felt the most jarring to me when I was working for wealthy individuals, and that is rich people don't care what they look like in front of you if you're not rich. And by this, I mean the behavior that I saw frequently exhibited, whether it was members of the yacht club that I worked for, the couples that I nannied for, the people that I was an assistant for, the customers that I had in various food service jobs-- the behavior that they clearly felt comfortable exhibiting was what I would call really, really embarrassing.

For liability reasons, I'm not going to get too into some anecdotes at, for example, the yacht club I worked with. But let's just say that one of the rules of being a secretary at this yacht club was you had to stay at your desk until the last member left the club that night. For me, that often meant literally being at the desk until 3:00 in the morning because some of the members were having their very, very boozy poker game, or were having a party, or were doing something that probably didn't want to end before 3:00 in the morning.

And let's just say that the version of those people that would come by the secretary's desk to get the keys to their cars to go home-- which is, by the way, in and of itself an entirely different issue-- were not the best version of the people that they probably demonstrated themselves as, say, at work or with their friends. When I worked in restaurants that had very, very high net worth individuals frequenting the restaurant, the way that they would treat the female staff-- for example, once, when I was a hostess at a restaurant like this-- was almost as if they were completely entitled to you. They would touch you.

They would ask you inappropriate questions. They would ask you to drink with them. They would say really inappropriate things.

And even some of the couples that I nannied for would have knockdown, drag-out fights or say horrible things about other people or other issues in front of me as if I weren't even there. And it's funny because I, looking back, can realize that a lot of this really atrocious behavior that these wealthy people felt entitled to exhibit in front of someone that they knew did not have nearly as much as them and in many ways was working for them is because, on some very inherent level, they did not see me or the people that I worked with as having the same level of value as they did. In fact, at the yacht club, there was once a big uproar because several of the yacht club members, who, I guess, had been frustrated at how frequently the employees were quitting because of some of the behavior that was going on, started a group amongst themselves that was called YACHT, which was an acronym for Yachtsmen Against Constant Help Turnover.

So hopefully, that anecdote gives you an idea of where we were seen in all of this as the help. But it turns out that the research actually does indicate that as individuals get more and more wealthy, they actually start to even notice and perceive the people around them much less, in many cases because they simply don't have to because their money protects them. In fact, one NYU team had a group of 61 study participants walk down a city block in Manhattan wearing Google Glass.

The pedestrians, who were told that they were testing the technology, later filled out surveys asking them to self-identify their social class. Analyzing the Google Glass recordings, the researchers found that those who had self-identified as wealthy didn't rest their eyes on their fellow humans for as long as those who said they were from lower social classes. Basically, one of the privileges of being wealthy is not really even needing to see the people around you, particularly if you don't deem them as having the same status you do, in which case, your opinion is likely to count more.

So all of the behavior that I was constantly seeing that I felt pretty shocked by in so many of these different jobs really makes sense when you consider that, for them, I was probably just a really advanced smartphone or something. Like, I wasn't a human being in their presence watching them behave like a buffoon. But listen, that's just speculation.

I can only say what the science says. Number 2 is that gender dynamics are just as complicated in super wealthy houses. An assumption that I used to make before being pretty intimately familiar with the gender and marriage and domestic dynamics occurring in these high net worth houses was that having a lot of money and professional status and accomplishments would probably even out the playing field between men and women.

Of course, there's all those myths of having it all, or the woman who's super accomplished and can dictate her own schedule, and all that stuff. I just somehow imagined that with enough money and professional success, you would be able to escape the kind of gender norms and, unfortunately, discrimination that most of us live under. But it's actually not true, and I experienced that both anecdotally, but it's also really borne out by the data.

When I was a nanny, for example, I was often nannying for families where both the man and the woman in the couple worked outside of the home in very high-level, high-stress, demanding jobs. They were both high earners. They both brought a lot to the table professionally.

But in every single home that I worked in, without exception, the woman in the family, on top of, of course, having the domestic help, i.e., me and other people that they were hiring to work with them, took the vast majority of the child rearing onto themselves. As a random example, in some of these families, the woman would often come home, say, like 7:00 PM, and she would often be really flustered. She had to leave the office.

She was still half at work in her mind. But it was very important that she come home, take care of the kids, be part of their meal time, give them a bath, put them to bed, like, have some time with the kid. And frequently, the husband would come home much later than the wife.

And maybe he would have a few minutes with the kid before bed. But it was never a sense of guilt or he needed to really be there. It was always the dynamic of like, hey, if he happens to get a couple minutes in, well, isn't he just being a great dad?

While the woman often seemed both stretched really, really thin at work, but also put in a position of guilt for not being with her children more, even though, arguably, it should be a completely joint responsibility. And part of this is because a lot of the dynamics that we see in society about whose responsibility it is to be with the children more, who should be the more primary caregiver, what is expected of a woman versus a man in a marriage really holds true even at the highest earning levels. In fact, only 39% of high-achieving men are married to women who are employed full time, and 40% of those spouses earn less than $35,000 a year.

Meanwhile, 9 out of 10 married women in the high-achieving category have husbands who are employed full time or self-employed, and a quarter are married to men who earn more than $100,000 a year. Similarly, even high-achieving women who are married continue to carry the lion's share of domestic responsibilities. Only 9% of their husbands assume primary responsibility for meal preparation, 10% for the laundry, and 5% for cleaning the house.

When it comes to children, husbands don't do much better. Only 9% of them take time off from work when a child is sick. 9% take the lead in helping children with homework. And 3% organize activities, such as play-dates and summer camp-- 3%.

Now, listen, this is not to say that just high-achieving couples are ones in which the gender dynamics and the expectation of who is a parent-- even though, spoiler alert, you're both frickin' parents-- is so disproportionate. This is true across socioeconomic classes to varying degrees. But the point is, of all the freedoms that wealth can buy you, for many women, it doesn't buy them any greater level of freedom when it comes to the gender norms that they are expected to live by.

Number 3-- that lack of empathy is actually scientifically a thing. So in addition to not even necessarily seeing other people as much as people from lower socioeconomic classes, there is a real problem within the wealthy of having empathy for people around them, particularly people who earn less than they do or are perceived as lower than them socioeconomically. This is really an issue of how much they are humanizing the people around them, how much they are extending empathy to those people.

So in addition to often just being careless and unaware, when it comes down to it, for many wealthy people, there is just a sincere lack of humanity that they perceive towards the people around them and towards, in many cases, what could be considered their community. Here in New York, for example, we are inundated with incredibly wealthy people who live right on top of each other. But anyone who's ever been around wealthy people in this city knows that they could not give two craps about their community, their neighbors, working toward some kind of a greater cause with them.

They're primarily just interested in making sure their building, their child's schools, their own personal favorite places are not disturbed and are allowed to thrive. And it's worth saying that this is not some sort of innate problem, where all rich people happen to be born unempathetic or that all the empathetic people just happened to become rich. But it's actually quite the opposite.

Wealth in most cases tends to make us more unempathetic by nature because of how much it insulates you. You no longer need to interact with your community. You no longer need to be worried about what's happening around you.

You don't have to rely on your neighbors for impromptu child care or work with them together to achieve a greater goal of, let's say, for example, working on a community garden together. You could just pay to have that done yourself or have your own garden. And this fundamental disconnect with the people around you and a lack of need to be both seen as human to them and to see them as human yourself fundamentally starts to wear away at that natural instinct.

And this can often feel particularly egregious in service jobs, where the dynamic is so clearly that you are simply there to cater to their every whim. I mean, hell, the job is called server. But if you've ever felt in these jobs that you were perceived as, frankly, less human than others because of, for example, the social class that you were occupying or the role you were playing, it's not in your head.

Research has shown how upper class individuals are worse at recognizing the emotions of others and less likely to pay attention to people that they are interacting with, i.e., checking their cell phones or doodling. But why would wealth and status decrease our feelings of compassion for others? After all, it seems more likely that having few resources would lead to selfishness.

But researcher Piff and his colleagues suspect the answer might have something to do with how wealth and abundance give us a sense of freedom and independence from others. The less we have to rely on others, the less we may care about their feelings. This leads us towards being more self-focused.

And another reason has to do with our attitudes toward greed. Like Gordon Gekko, upper class people may be more likely to endorse the idea that greed is good. Piff and his colleagues found that wealthier people are more likely to agree with statements that greed is justified, beneficial, and morally defensible.

These attitudes ended up predicting participants' likelihood of engaging in unethical behavior. But there may be an even more compelling reason behind why so many of these upper class individuals feel that greed is justified and maybe even necessary, which brings us to our next point, which is 4, that most rich people don't actually feel rich. An interesting dynamic among the wealthy is how much through self-isolation, creating communities of people of similar incomes, working with people of similar incomes, socializing with people of similar incomes-- it tends to wear down their social group to just people who tend to be on their level or very close to it, but in many cases, often much higher than their financial level.

This could be as simple as someone else at work who got a way bigger bonus, or it could be the person in your luxury building who lives on a better floor with a better view. Because your sense of normal, what you expect out of life, your tastes, what you consider to be a need are continually evolving and upgrading with what we call lifestyle inflation, where, because you can now afford that nicer thing, you get used to it, and now, you only want that nicer thing-- the endowment effect. When that becomes your entire life and your entire social circle, you tend to actually perceive yourself as not particularly that wealthy because you're most focused on the people around you who have more.

And of course, then, by default, that perception of greed being justified is in part out of necessity because, in order to catch up to them, which is what, in many cases, you're likely to want to do, you're going to need to be a bit greedier. I remember in working for a lot of wealthy couples how often I was struck by their own perception of not being wealthy. Sometimes, you could think that, OK, maybe this is just a question of wanting to be demure or to be low key about it.

But yes, there were the comments about, oh, we're comfortable when it comes to people who are literally multimillionaires. But they were often, in many cases, the impression amongst these people that I worked with of feeling like they were on a pretty tight budget because the things they wanted, they couldn't afford. I remember certain families I worked for complaining about having to fly first class because they wanted to be flying in a private plane.

I never even told them that I flew coach because I'm sure they would have probably just had a stroke. And this phenomenon is especially prevalent in communities where there are a lot of people who have what could be considered entry-level richness but are surrounded by people who have pretty developed and established richness. Silicon Valley is thick with those who might be called working class millionaires, nose-to-the-grindstone people like Mr.

Steger who, much to their surprise, are still working as hard as ever even as they find themselves among the fortunate few. But many such accomplished and ambitious members of the digital elite still do not think of themselves as particularly fortunate, in part because they're surrounded by people with more wealth-- often a lot more. And it's funny because I often remember even when I was working for these people and had very, very little, and in many ways felt envious of the ease that their life seemed to embody, I remember feeling pretty sad for them because, for the most part, no matter how much they had, they always in some way seemed very focused on wanting more.

Especially in the environment like the yacht club, where so many wealthy people were coalesced into a small environment where they had every opportunity to compare one another's wealth, how big their boat is, how nice their car is, the kind of parties they were throwing at the club, it became very clear that it was much more about comparing yourself to others than it was really about enjoying what you had. And as their social class becomes more and more restricted and the lifestyle inflation gets more and more prevalent, you're basically on a hamster wheel of always wanting more and being basically immediately dissatisfied with what you have. And this is exacerbated when you consider number 5, that work addiction amongst the wealthy is a very real thing.

One of the things that surprised me most when I was very up close with people who could have afforded to be retired at the age of 30 was how much they continued working, and in many cases, actually worked much more than the middle and working class people that I knew. One of the gentlemen that I worked for had so much money that he not only could have been completely retired, but he also could have dedicated 100% of his free time to his passion project, which is a luxury most people would dream of. But he actually only gave a very, very small amount of time to that passion project that he loved so much because he was frequently-- basically, almost every week-- putting in 70 to 80 hour weeks at his 9 to 5 job.

And a lot of that, I think, amongst the wealthy has to do with a sense of validation only really coming from that professional achievement. When you look, for example, at high-flying executives who might receive a bonus one year that would literally be enough to retire on in and of itself, you start to understand that that continual desire to work for next year's bonus and make it slightly better and make it slightly nicer than your other executive peers' bonuses becomes in and of itself a kind of addiction because the money is now so vast and so accessible that it's no longer even really connected to its real-world applications. When you're talking about salaries and bonuses and packages in the tens of millions of dollars a year or, frankly, even just in the millions of dollars a year, you're talking about people who are no longer thinking just directly in terms of what that increase in income can buy them in terms of day-to-day life.

The money becomes a game, and the professional validation becomes an insatiable need. And what's so funny about this is one could argue that the most valuable thing any single person can buy themselves with money is time. But yet, that's a choice so many wealthy people are not making.

And though they do try to compensate by spending so much on conveniences-- things to be delivered, people to do errands or minute tasks for them, people who can buy them free time here and there. Part of the reason they have to spend so highly on those conveniences and those shortcuts is because they're filling their time with work. Studies over the years have indicated that the rich, unlike the leisure gentry of old, tend to work longer hours and spend less time socializing.

Tim Cook, for example, the chief executive of Apple, whose worth has been estimated in the hundreds of millions, has said that he wakes up at 3:45 AM to mount his daily assault on corporate rivals. Elon Musk, the man behind Tesla and SpaceX is worth some $23 billion but nevertheless, considers it a victory that he dialed back his bonkers 120-hour work weeks to a more manageable 80 or 90. If you swapped literally any other activity, habit, routine, substance for work in these situations, you would immediately recognize this as compulsion.

But because we put work on such a pedestal and how much you earn as a result of that work on such a pedestal, we tend to look the other way. And all of this brings me to number 6, which is the most important and invaluable lesson that I have taken with me from working for the wealthy for so long and has informed so many of the choices that I make with my own life and with my own business, which is that money doesn't buy you happiness, but it can. We know pretty well when it comes to the psychological phenomenon of things like happiness, fulfillment, joy that there's a pretty simple formula for what can bring us those things.

And there are a few key ingredients that are totally accessible to the wealthy but which in many cases they opt not to have. Of course, one of the minimum requirements of a feeling of happiness is a feeling of stability and safety. Your basic needs are being met, which is why you often see those studies about how after you earn a certain amount of money, the returns are diminishing because your needs are met, and now you're just thinking up new needs.

And of course, the wealthy earn so far and above what they ever need to meet their needs, but they keep giving themselves more needs, more aspiration, more envy, more things to aspire to that they can't even feel that fulfillment and satisfaction of having those needs met. And there's another key component of happiness that is often profoundly lacking from their lives. One of the things that most determines whether individuals will identify themselves as happy is a strong sense of connection with their communities.

Most of us live a life where in order to get by, in order to live well, in order to prosper, we need to have meaningful connections with the people around us. We need to know our neighbors. We need to take care of our neighborhood.

We need to stay close to our family. We need to rely on each other. So not having complete access to buy whatever you want or hire someone to do anything makes you intrinsically more dependent on that community and creates a greater sense of interwoven needs and desires.

When you don't have this and you feel isolated from communities and atomized from communities, you're likely going to be less happy. There's also a direct correlation between working massive, taxing hours and not feeling happy. Aside from the immense stress that it causes, you're robbing yourself of your own ability to enjoy your time or even dictate what you're doing with it.

And it's funny because one of the more simple solutions for the wealthy to become more connected with their communities, to be more invested in the lives of people who are different from them, and to give themselves a higher meaning would be to share as much of that money as possible with the people who need it or with causes that they feel strongly about. But despite the reputation for being philanthropic, as a group, the wealthy actually don't give that much. The rich are not the most generous, concludes a 2012 study published in the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Middle class Americans give a far bigger share of discretionary income to charities than the rich do. The data, which looked at IRS records, found that while households earning $50,000 to $75,000 give an average of 7.6% of discretionary income to charity, households making $100,000 or more give an average of 4.2%. But of course, if you're thinking about people who have naturally developed less empathy for their fellow human beings and have no real need to be super implicated in their community, that makes total sense.

And above all, it's sad, because as I said in my point, money could buy us happiness. Money could buy us the feeling of security and warmth and connectedness. We could provide for others and have them provide for us.

We could be part of something much bigger and celebrate as much in someone else doing well as we do in ourselves doing well. But in order to do that, we must have a profound level of empathy and connection with the people around us. And as the saying goes, never look in your neighbor's plate unless it's to make sure that he has enough.

If you are privileged enough to have discretionary income, to be comfortable financially, as I myself very much am, it is incumbent upon you at every turn to do everything you can not to let that money make you less human, less connected, less empathetic, or less charitable. In an era of soaring wealth inequality, it's important that we stop idolizing the rich and start seeing them for what they are-- kind of a little sad. And if you are looking to add some of that safety and security to your own life, there is no better choice you could make than getting the right term life insurance policy.

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Getting life insurance is a responsible, loving decision, and the earlier in life you get it, the more affordable it will be. As always, guys, thank you so much for watching. And don't forget to hit the subscribe button and to come back every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday for new and awesome videos.