Steve Jobs isn’t my idol. I don’t worship the way he treated his employees.

But I have learned over the years to take lessons from everybody, especially the people I strongly disagree with.

A rare quote from Steve, that I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere else, gives a glimpse into a financially super smart person’s way of thinking. Steve said this after going on a bizarre mind trip.

“It reinforced my sense of what was important — creating great things instead of making money, putting things back into the stream of history and of human consciousness as much as I could.”

― Steve Jobs

Is your mind blown yet? Money is a concept. Money is a social network. Money is a way to store information about our interconnected society. My biggest takeaway about money?

Money is endlessly fascinating.

Not for what it buys, but for what it makes people do, and for how it changes the way people think.

The beauty of writing about personal finance is I attract people who are interested in this bizarre world into my life. I study them. I question them. I archive their emails.

This is what those financially super smart people have in common.

They are financially curious

When people tell me Bitcoin is dumb they show their lack of financial curiosity. Cryptocurrency is a new thing. Some parts of crypto will be a dumpster fire — other parts will do well.

The point of a new financial universe (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) is to make you think. When you truly think, you become financially wealthy.

A lack of curiosity exposes you to the risk of changes in society. Stock Market Index Funds were a good way to make money for the last 30 years. If there is a paradigm shift and you’re not curious enough to see it, you could end up accidentally investing in a horse and cart company, when there is a shift to electric cars and space travel.

I became curious about Index Funds. I started researching them and realized an interesting insight: Index Funds have performed well if you measure them in US dollars. But if you change what you measure value in then things can look different.

Did stocks skyrocket or did the amount of currency dramatically increase? 20% of all US dollars ever to exist were created in 2020.

The smart people of the finance world that show up in my direct messages are all curious. They aren’t afraid to challenge what they know, because they understand technology is smashing “the way things have always been” into tiny pieces.

Curiosity leads you to interesting insights that shatter your beliefs.

They question Wall Street

Super smart people have taught me a huge lesson about Wall Street.

Wall Street is there to bet against you. Wall Street needs you to lose so they can win. They lost in 2008 and got bailed out. If they lose again there won’t be enough money left over after the pandemic to give them handouts.

Some say Wall Street should get stimulus checks like the rest of us. I’m not quite as harsh. Seeing people financially ruined never ends well. We all occupy Earth together. If Wall Street loses big time, it affects all of us.

The importance of questioning Wall Street (I’ve learned) is they affect your retirement money, they can influence the future of your employer, and they can crash the stocks/index funds you may be invested in.

I think Wall Street will die over the next decade and be replaced by decentralized finance. Time will tell.

They stay away from meme assets

The rise of meme assets is here. Social media can pump up the price of anything you want to invest your money in. A reader sent me a message about Dogecoin. I’d never heard of it. It’s a meme crypto coin.

Memes are humorous content that can go viral. When a meme is linked to an asset and goes viral, the asset can dramatically increase in price. GameStop is an example of a stock that is basically a Reddit meme. While it’s fun to be part of meme culture, the assets they pump up eventually crash.

Investing in a joke is a great way to lose a lot of money.

When you see hype, memes or people flocking over to an investment in a short space of time it’s usually a giant red flag. Run.

They think wealth is a concept of the mind

How much money makes you rich? Who knows. For Jeff Bezos, it’s billions of dollars and counting. For my friend at work, it was enough to buy a small farm in the middle of nowhere.

Your mind tells you how much money makes you rich. You know what’s cool? You can program your mind to believe anything. You can brainwash yourself into escaping the rat race and accepting a lesser amount of money.

Wealth is having a small ego.
Wealth is strong family bonds.
Wealth is what you already have.
Wealth is helping people get what they want.
Wealth is what you put back into the stream of human consciousness.

After a near-miss with cancer, for me, wealth is still being alive.

How you think about wealth, creates wealth.

They can spot a selfish incentive a mile away

“Show me the incentives and I will show you the outcome.” — Charlie Munger

Elon Musk tweeted about his own stock. He regularly tweets about other investments. Financially super smart people are obsessed with incentives. Why did Elon talk about his stock? Why did Elon mention certain stocks?

He’s incentivized to. The current financial system is rigged with rewards. A bonus is attached to the decision you make with many financial professionals.

Selfishness is what eroded the trust in the financial system in 2008. If the incentives were removed from finance then we’d have a different world. The internet democratized information. Time will tell if finance will be democratized.

Spot selfishness to protect your money.

They think in 3-year chunks

Thinking about money as a short-term concept can lead you to take risks and gamble. Thinking about money in a 5 year or 10 year period starts to become the work of a fortune teller.

Tim Ferriss recently shared in an interview his 3-year financial philosophy.

Five years? I mean, geez, five years. Now we’re talking about Google starting to usurp [take over] Yahoo, right? I mean, that’s a long enough period of time, especially with exponentially developing technologies, that five years is very hard to call.

This past year, I realized that three years, looking at a three-year time horizon for anything publicly traded, seems to be incredibly comfortable for me in the sense that I can’t predict what things are going to do, what companies are going to do what in the next three months, six months. I have no fucking idea. No idea. I mean, there are just so many curve balls that can be served to any company.

Technology has changed the time horizon for investing. With every company becoming a glorified tech company, the pace of change has gone parabolic, so a new time horizon is needed.

They are normies

They don’t have a billion dollars — that would be a waste of their precious time. They don’t need a billion dollars to stroke their rock hard ego.

Financially super smart people have found a way to need less money. With less money they become more normal. Instead of making millions of dollars, they make a modest amount and then start reclaiming their time. Making millions takes up a huge amount of time.

What if you found a way to be a normie with less money, so you could use more of your time to do things you love?

They do cool stuff with money

Buying a Lambo doesn’t make you cool.

Setting up a fund to help struggling small businesses, like Twitter stock influencer Dave Portnoy, is the real definition of cool. Using money to solve societal issues bigger than yourself is a way to take the concept of money and change human consciousness.

You’ll teleport out of your own selfish prison into a whole new world. You’ll have a different reason to wake up in the morning. The suffering of others will become part of your suffering.

Using money to transcend yourself is the meaning of money you can take away from financially super smart people.

Dumb money isn’t ‘Main Street’ retail investors.
Dumb money is rich investors who can never get enough of it.

This article is for informational purposes only, it should not be considered Financial or Legal Advice. Consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions.

This article first appeared on Medium.