Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Who Wants to be Just Like a Millionaire?

How many times have you received an email, or answered a Facebook interview, or written a school essay that poses the question, “What would you do with a million dollars?”

In my younger years, my answers always involved extensive traveling, buying a four-wheel drive truck that would get me to work during the worst of Iowa blizzards, a new house complete with dance floor and Japanese-style garden, and a trip to Ireland for my mother. I came of age during the Yuppie years, and briefly entertained doing what it took to have a Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous existence. Then came children.

My focus became less on buying cool new toys and more on paying for quality child-care while I worked. The Yuppie work schedule was there, but my decisions were based on what would provide the most stability for my children, rather than what would promote me the fastest, or what would provide the most pay.

What would I do with a million (or more) dollars? These days my answer would be based on my observations of how a real millionaire acts.

I am very fortunate to be acquainted with a young entrepreneur, who has made millions. Out of respect for his anonymity, I will refer to him as L.L. Cool Guy.

It was about five years ago, that I first met L.L. My step-daughter was employed by him at the time, though his headquarters is in a different city. She called Computer Geek and me one day and said that L.L. had flown his plane into the area and was giving free airplane rides for all employees and their families. Would we like to come?

L.L. patiently took family after family up in his 5-seater airplane. We talked to him after our ride, curious as to why he would travel from his city to ours, just to do this for his employees.

He said that at times, his extended family had been both wealthy and destitute, and had varying opinions on the morality of having wealth. He reasoned that being wealthy was not evil, unless one chose to do evil with his wealth. For his part, he decided to go about doing good.

A friend of mine, a single mother, has been blessed by his generosity. She was working full-time and had eight children at home. Due to her being away from home, her children were getting into all sorts of trouble. When L.L Cool Guy found out about her plight, he went to her and told her he would give her a part-time job that she could do from home, with the added benefit of being paid whatever it would take to meet all her justified needs. L.L. and his Equally Cool Wife take my friend and her kids to California every year for a vacation. What a blessing he has been in her life!

Once last year, we received a phone call from a friend. It seems that L.L. had left a truckload of food for him to distribute as he saw fit. After he divided it all out, over 100 people, our family included, received enough food items to last for several months. In this economy, such a gift was much appreciated.

Last Christmas, L.L. Cool Guy went to our local Wal-mart and walked through the store observing people in need. He handed out $100 bills over and over that night.

Shortly before Christmas last year, another acquaintance had both her stove and clothes washer break down at the same time. All the money she and her husband had saved for Christmas for their three children would instead have to go toward appliance purchases. When L.L. Cool Guy heard about it, he anonymously had $1000 delivered to their house.

When my fourth graders had all mastered their times tables, he took them for a helicopter ride in the mountains, then took them out for lunch. It was the highlight of their school year.

Last year, he had a contest for his employees in our town. The winners would have a weekend stay on his houseboat, with full use of his speedboat and wave runners. We got to go because Computer Geek works for him and was a winner in the contest. He paid for our gas to get there, plus all of our food as well. He even left his credit card behind so the employees could keep filling the wave runners with gas as needed.

Daughter M, hereafter referred to as Em, has been very blessed by working for this generous soul. She manages 120 people at his local site here in our town (he has many other business sites.) Two years ago, he and some associates had a business meeting in New York City. Knowing that Em had never been to NYC, he invited her along, telling her that she would be on her own, except when they all met for dinner. He gave her $1000 to shop with, and left her to her own devices! She had a great time, even calling me as she was walking inside Saks’ 5th Avenue. Although she spent the whole time alone, except for dinners, she had some well-deserved down time and got to see some sights as well. I never thought I would be speaking to my daughter via cell phone while she hailed a taxi in Manhattan!

A few months ago, L.L. Cool Guy and his wife, gave Em and her family a free vacation to their beach house in California. They had free lodging there while playing on the beach and visiting Disneyland. (He paid for the Magic Kingdom trip as well.) Em knows that without him, she and her family may never have gone to Disneyland.

Every year, Em receives $15,000 from him to have a Christmas party for the employees. She has such fun shopping for prizes like big screen TV’s, motor scooters, digital cameras and $100 gift certificates. This is in addition to the gift of chocolates and one week’s pay Christmas bonus that he gives to every employee.

Em was chatting with L.L. Cool Guy about business one day, when he asked her about her dream car. She admitted to wanting a red Lexus. A few days later, guess what Em was driving?

Last year, for Christmas, our family was a recipient of his giving. We received $500 cash, another $500 worth of presents for Jeremiah, and another $500 in Wii game system products. It was all delivered anonymously, but by this time we were well aware of L.L.’s modus operandi.

Today, Em gets back from a week-long trip to the Philippines. L.L.’s business has contacts there, and Em has daily dealings via phone with her Filipino colleagues. She has made many good friends from there, and this was her second trip. It’s because L.L. Cool Guy visited this small, economically disadvantaged town in Utah, and decided to build a branch of his business here, that my daughter is able to have such beautiful experiences. [see photo of Em on the beach in the Philippines.]

So when someone asks me again, “What would you do with a million dollars?” I would like to think that L.L. Cool Guy has influenced me somewhat. I would like to put my money where it does real good, to real live people, whether it be to an employee or a fourth grader or a single mother or a random stranger at Wal-mart. I would like to be so generous and unconcerned with my own wealth that if someone steals my Mercedes sports car, I can say, as L.L. did, “Oh well. They probably needed it more than I do.”

What would you do with a million dollars?


  1. LL is a generous, caring soul. His altruism is very impressive. So much good can be done when a willing heart decides to make a difference with time and sometimes, money. If I had a million dollars, I hope that I would try to follow LL's example. A new car would be nice too :)

  2. septembermom: You hit the nail on the head when you said, "...decides to make a difference with time and sometimes, money." For those of us who don't have a spare million floating around, we can still be as caring as L.L. with our time. The impressive thing about L.L. is that he is able to do both. He could just as easily throw $50,000 at the American Cancer Society and call it good. Instead, he spends time, seeking out the individual. I meant to hit upon that in my article and forgot about it by the end, so I am so glad you brought up the time aspect.

  3. What an amazing guy. He must feel wonderful every time he does something to help others like that.

    If I had millions, I'd love to give you some to distribute, Randi. I just know that with your huge heart and love of surprises, you could do a lot of real folk some good.

    This post read like the core of a novel. I hope that some day you'll put a lot of your remarkable life experiences together and weave one for us!

  4. Janice: You know, most of the time I don't even think that's he conscious of what good deeds he is doing for people--it's just a second nature for him.

    If I had millions, I come inhale that Scottish sea breeze with you!

    Thank you for your sweet compliment. I always have a novel swimming around in my head. Maybe someday one of them will make it to paper. :)

  5. I will pray from today onwards that May God give him more health n wealth and may God bring more people like him on earth, we need more like them.he is in real way human

  6. "Thank you for your sweet compliment. I always have a novel swimming around in my head. Maybe someday one of them will make it to paper. :)"

    Oh yum.... you should never tell life coach friends things like this!

    I have only one short story in my head - I've never had a novel.I'm so envious of folk who do. How can I ever write one if there's not even the teeniest wee seed there waiting to geminate?!

    I have this theory that folk who can relate anecdotes or tell jokes and keep an audience entranced, like you can, have the best chance of creating novels that have drama, good plots, suspense, humour and conflict. I can only ever remember the openings of jokes or the punchlines, never both.

  7. Naqvee: Thank you so much for your prayers. Yes, we do need more people like him, and YOU, in this world. We are so grateful for all he does for the people we know, and even for those we don't know.

    Janice: The problem with having so many novels running around in my head is that they become outdated or someone else writes a story with the same premise, before I ever get the story written. Or, I have all new characters appearing and introducing themselves and telling me what they want me to write before I even have a resolution for the last one. Maybe I need to do NaNoWriMo (is that correct?) this year.

    Orson Scott Card is always a great inspiration for me because he will take something that happened in his life, or something he heard on the news, or a legend that he has heard, and create a whole new novel out of it.


You won't be paid for it, but at least you'll know that you have contributed intelligence to the universe...

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