December 9, 2013

Who Is Michael Sutherland

My Story…    Or…

“If You’re So Smart, How Come You’re Not Rich?”

I suspect your story may be similar to mine – I share mine so you can understand who I am and what I’m up to, and why I do this…  I’m interested to see if your story is similar to mine, and if knowing this helps you on your journey.  Please let me know!


I had followed all the rules. 

I went to school; I studied hard, went to college, got good grades, even got my MBA (in addition to an MA in Philosophy!).  I landed a good job with a better than average salary.

But, in the work force I had to work my tail off, usually up to 12 hours a day (6 am to 6 pm for heavens sake!)  And of course the job was never even close to being finished, never good enough, and the guys I worked for were earning huge salaries and bonuses off of my hard work.  My job had become simply ‘work’ – it was definitely not enjoyable.  Corporate politics were rampant; without being one of the chosen few there was no real opportunity for advancement (do I really want that anyway?  Do I even know what that means?)

Mortgages, car payments, 2 children, private school, braces, vacations…


I always thought that doing all these things I was taught would eventually make me financially free – isn’t that the American Dream?  Why does it seem to get further and further away?  Am I just ‘whining’ and need to ‘get over it?’  But whatever happened to my ‘American Dream?’

Here I was, making a decent salary, but never ‘getting ahead.’  In fact the more salary I made, the more I seemed to get behind!  I don’t like my job, but please don’t lay me off!  Despite being ‘successful’, why do I feel like a failure?  But don’t ever complain!  No one cares!

What a failure!?  BUT – How in the world could I complain!?


Here’s the part that REALLY irritated me – I actually know a few losers who are very wealthy.  One of them happened to be a college roommate of mine who dropped out of school!  Great guy, he just couldn’t cut it in college.  The early classes, the homework, and frankly the mental aptitude just were not his forte.  But there he is – working this ‘job’ of his 2-3 days a week and golfing the rest (and smirking at me when I couldn’t join him for 18 holes!)

Could it be that the path I was taught and worked so hard to accomplish was in fact NOT the path to real wealth? 

Could it be that I don’t really understand where I’m going, much less how to get there?


 “Did You Want To Be A YES Man?”

Do you remember the Super Bowl 1999 commercial, which portrayed children talking about their ‘dream jobs’?  If you don’t remember or didn’t see it, click on this link below and be ready for some serious reflection about what you ‘should be doing with your life…”  It’s the video you can see off to the right side of the site…

This commercial really hit me…      Time for a big change…



Many questions started forming in my mind.  There MUST be a way – I still do believe in the Dream!  So I decided to pursue the answers to these questions.

Here’s my starting point; a list of what I’ve learned from my current position – things I’ve learned from the school of hard knocks (from experience!):

–          Hard work (alone) does not create Wealth

–          Schooling won’t get you there – I’ve met PhD’s who are dirt poor!

–          Many folks I’ve met who have accumulated many things are by no means Wealthy (they’re usually in tremendous debt!)

–          Wealth is NOT just about ‘making lots of money’ (What’s the point of being ‘rich’ if you’re not happy?  And have you noticed that ‘rich people are never ‘rich’ enough?)

So here’s some of the questions I had during my quest…

  1. Where does one even learn how to define Wealthy?  I certainly didn’t learn it in school – and I have an MBA!
  2. To whom does one turn to in order to learn how to become Wealthy?  It makes no sense to learn how to be Wealthy from someone who is not Wealthy (although, we can certainly learn what NOT to do from them!)
  3. Is Wealth just the ability to accumulate money and things? That doesn’t seem right, since we’ve all seen many miserable ‘rich’ celebrities, or kooky lottery winners that squander it all ending up worse then before they started (of course, that would never happen to me or you, right? )

Follow along with me as I analyze the results of my quest…


Let’s Begin with Defining the Issues


Sometimes we associate Wealth with the accumulation of things.

We see folks with big houses, lots of fancy cars, expensive watches and such, and assume that they are Wealthy.  However, many studies have concluded that most (~80%) millionaires actually are non-pretentious!  You’d never know that they had money!  These are the people who seem to have contentment (unlike the rich but crazy celebrities!)

We’ve all heard that money ‘cannot buy you happiness’.  But is it possible to be Wealthy if not we’re content?  That doesn’t seem right.

Most of us have money problem induced anxiety; so most of us have experienced that money (or its mismanagement) ‘CAN cost you misery!’ 

So contentment must factor in the definition of Wealth somehow…    (Even though Most of us are searching for contentment AND money.)

Some might want to retire early and just sit on the beach…      …but they usually get ‘bored’.

Others may want the freedom to do what they desire to do…   …but they run out of things to do pretty fast.

Others enjoy their jobs, but just don’t want to worry about money issues and be able to help out their families, friends, and favorite charities…   …but there’s never really enough to go around.

Some want to be able to retire and ‘make a difference’…

Hmmm – ‘make a difference’…   What does that mean??


What is it about those who really are able to accumulate real wealth? 

Are they smarter than us ‘regular’ folk?  Did they take different classes in school?  Is there a ‘secret’ that they keep to themselves?  There’s got to be a secret formula that keeps the rich rich, and the poor poor, right?  All I have to do is buy the right book since there’s so many of them out there promising to have the silver bullet?


Is accumulating Wealth then just luck?

What’s the difference between the guy who studies hard, gets good grades, finds a good job, works a hard 10 – 12 hours a day for a paycheck to pay the bills and the hope of a pension someday, and the gal who drops out of school and finds a way to make millions of dollars?  Is one ‘fair’ and another ‘just lucky’?

I REFUSED to believe that it was just dumb luck – that is simply unacceptable (and hopeless!)  But it also obviously wasn’t just the result of hard work – so many of us work ourselves to death yet fall behind every year.

But what is it?  What is the secret?  How could one find it?

Studying the Guru’s

I began to read every book and attend every seminar I could about how to build Wealth.   I spent a LOT of time at the bookstore (my wife can attest to that!)

A trip there can be quite humorous.  What you can find is row after row of books from the “guru’s” willing to show us “How to Get Rich”.  Some of the titles are quite interesting:

–          The Complete Idiots Guide To Day Trading

–          The Real Estate Money Machine

–          From $0 to $100 Million in No Time!

–          Buy My Book So That I Can Get Rich! (Ok I made that up, but you get the idea!)


I studied the personal stories of the ‘wealthy and successful’ to try to find their secrets.  Ironically, I spent a small fortune on this pursuit!

Some of them want us to budget ruthlessly and save all our “Latte” money in order to be wealthy in 20 years or so.  Others recommend we quit our jobs right away and start investing in Real Estate (without telling us exactly how!)  Instead of learning the ‘secrets’ that were promised, I grew more frustrated!  And certainly more irritated!

There are literally Thousands of books offering advice, each supposedly having the key to Wealth!  You’d think that everyone could get Wealthy just by going to the local bookstore!

One thing is certain; these folks appear successful in what they do.  But a lot of their hype is pure marketing – many are designed to get us fired up with minimal information so we’ll get hooked and buy MORE of their services!

In fact, many of these ‘books’ are simply ‘brochures’ with 50,000 foot explanations of concepts that they get you ‘hooked’ with in order to sell you something else, or they are simply the same story rehashed over and over under a new title.  That was REALLY frustrating!

I found that there are things we can learn from them and piece together to build knowledge.  Some ‘gems’ are discovered by analyzing common themes, matched with common sense and new perspectives.   Once you get past the hype and marketing set-up, you can begin to put together a comprehensive structure to build plans and begin testing.

And that is the purpose of this site…

To distil away the hype and leave us with new insights and actionable lessons learned towards achieving REAL WEALTH.


After distilling away all the garbage, I FINALLY pieced together the pieces!!

Since that quest began just a few years ago, I have been well on my way!

–      My investment income is now more than my salary.  I have no debt.

–      I have supplemental income coming in each month whether I wake up or not – I choose to continue working (for now!).

–      My assets are approaching $1M.

–      I now have time to devote to my personal ministry and teaching!

–      I can now use my time to ‘make a difference’!


But here’s the most surprising realization I learned:    

Wealth is a JOURNEY; not a destination

This means that you NEVER REALLY GET THERE!

Most importantly, I truly believe that ANYONE can ACCOMPLISH what I have!

(In fact, I believe, on spiritual grounds, that everyone SHOULD!)


So there it is…  That’s me.

I know it won’t resonate with everyone, and that’s ok-  but if it resonates with YOU, then my journey is multiplied in my success, and hopefully yours!

So – please feel free to peruse this site and glean from it what you can – It is my goal to provide as much insight and experience to as many people as I can – all for FREE on this site!

And please – let me know your thoughts, and hopefully we can compare notes and success stories!


God bless!


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