Here’s Why Knowledge Beats Cash Every Time

Todd Brison

I would take any form of education over $20 million guaranteed cash.

I’m going to tell you why in a minute, but first this:

Imagine a world where your every wish has come true. You have whatever fame you want. Your cell phone contacts are littered with powerful and important people. Your financial needs have been met. Every material good you ever craved now sits in your enormous house, which is kept tidy by the cleaning lady who comes every Tuesday and Thursday.

Are you in this world? Good.

Now, what on Earth do you plan to do for the rest of your life?

Money does not keep you alive.

  • Hope keeps you alive.
  • Purpose keeps you alive.
  • Dreams keep you alive.
  • Growth keeps you alive.

What purpose would there be in work if you could have 20 million, stick it in the bank, and do nothing for the rest of your life? Who wants to do nothing?

Doing nothing is boring.

“But Todd, you’ve trashed the American education system! Why are you defending it?”

Despite its flaws, the best (read: most expensive) schools are keeping up. They have the best teachers, the best information, and offer you the best networks.

The latter of these three is probably most important in our case.

“Come on. No degree on the planet can make you $20 million.”

Again, you’re spot on. If you go to an employer and say “Hi! I have a PhD. from Harvard, and I would like $20 million dollars please,” you will be laughed out of the room. It does not make business sense to give you that money.

Degrees can’t earn you money. Knowledge can earn you money.

Alabama football coach Nick Saban made almost $7 million last year. That salary will not decrease. In another 2 years, he will have your $20 million.

He does not get that paycheck because he has the best degree. He gets it because he knows far more about the business of college football than any other coach on the planet.

It’s funny, Saban could have made $20 million anyway by:

  1. Riding out his contract in the NFL another couple of years
  2. Continuing to negotiate minute increases in salary
  3. Happily sit on his money as a mediocre coach

Instead, he took a chance at something greater.

$20 million is an arbitrary figure, of course, but if there is even the most remote chance I might make $20,000,001 (and there is), I’m going to take that opportunity.

“Don’t you know what you can do with $20 million? It could last you a lifetime!”

Do you know what else could probably last you a lifetime? $5 million dollars. Or maybe $4 million. Heck, if you play your cards right, maybe $1 million.

Most people stop feeling money after they break the $75,000 a year mark.

With only $20 million in your pocket for the rest of your life, but no knowledge, you would consistently be in a preservation mindset — “How can I make sure this money doesn’t go away?”

I made a new friend last year who IPO’d his company in London for over a billion pounds. I asked him — “what’s the biggest difference in your new crowd?”

He said —

“Many of my rich friends are scared to lose their money. They’ve never known what it’s like to be poor. I grew up in Birmingham.
If everything falls apart, I can handle it.”

He will take the opportunity for failure which comes with the opportunity for success.

I’ve tried to have as good a perspective as he does.

It’s going okay.

Based on this post, you probably think I believe “Knowledge is Power?”

After all, it sounds nice, right?

Too bad it’s not really true.

Ideas are power. You can literally double your salary on the back of one good idea.

Trust me. I’ve done it.

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