#10: If Kanye West were a financial adviser
23rd November, 2020
Welcome to the Idiot Money newsletter. The newsletter that is occasionally as surprised as you are.
This week: becoming wiser with money by understanding that whether you broke or rich you gotta get this: havin' money's not everything, not havin' it is.
Occasionally these newsletters are in the form of ‘Idiot Profiles’: an encouragement to point and laugh at rich people wasting their resources, and by extension, their lives, in the hope that we can follow the threads of their idiocy back to the subtler ways our identical, but less well-funded, wiring leads us astray.
If pointing and laughing at former financial-planning clients or muppets I met in the Middle East or the City were easy, Mr West, I thought, would be easier still. Reader, having trawled through his Tweets, I can see I was wrong.
One of the central messages of Money Blind is that we fail to make the most of our money because of three main sources of self-deception. Kanye’s got them all covered.
I stress the importance of living in a ‘becoming’ mode, not a ‘having’ one. Mr West counsels us that excitement of the having mode is ephemeral and that its material aims are shoddy substitutes for what we really want:
He’s dead right.
I wish the world to understand that money is about narrative, not numbers. Mr West wobbles here. We all do. But he knows where it’s at.
He even understands that to denounce the numbers game is to keep playing it, and that we only really become free of it when we move beyond it, when we widen the worldview that the dark forces of the salespeople seek to narrow, when we move from freedom to, not only to freedom from, but onwards to freedom for [look out for that one in the updates section of this newsletter soon].
In Idiot Money #8 (and all sorts of other places, especially here) I espouse the idea that chasing money to remove the consciousness from our decision-making is moronic, as it turns the chances of you allocating your resources wisely into a crapshoot.
Mr West, having talked widely about both making billions and mental-health issues, is well aware of this. ‘Raise confidence and consciousness’ he tells us; ‘we need consideration’… 'free thinking is a super power’.
Mr West is rightly wary of seeking advice before you know what you’re looking for, and without continually asking: does it work? ‘I ain’t taking advice from no one who ain’t do nothing to actually help.’
He recognises that while being rich (reminder: you already are) may dodge the problems of penury, it worsens the problem of being so scared of losing money that you believe being more conscious about what you do have can wait: We’ve gotten comfortable with not having what we deserve.
Mr West knows that there’s nothing wrong with making money, but crucially, while it’s necessary, it’s a wholly insufficient aspect of using it to improve your life. He accompanied an article headlined “Kanye West is the highest-paid male celebrity in the world” with simply: ‘This a good start.’
Ye knows his construal-level theory. He knows when to zoom in, and zoom out. To live in the present, accounting for past and future presents in the process. ‘I’m hyper focused on the now’, he says, and, if you think that ’s too pithy: ‘Your conscience should allow a physical manifestation of your subconscious but right now most peoples conscious is too affected by other people’s thoughts and it creates a disconnect from you doing what you actually feel now’.
When it comes to urging us to reconnect to our souls, and to pay attention to them rather than other people’s lives, he’s an absolute champ:
As surely as he knows that alignment pisses on accumulation, he knows that you need to beat your addictions before you can clearly see your real wants, enough is more important than more, and we’re in need of re-examining what we call needs [all big sections to come soon(ish)]..
Ye appears aware that these symptoms, like the self-deceptions that sprout, them come from fear, that ‘most fear is learned’ and that we should seek to unlearn these fears, ‘Remove stress’ and generally get strong in good positions, rather than more comfortable in bad ones.
While he’s got you covered for expenditure basics (‘when in doubt... don’t’), Ye doesn’t dispense much direct investment advice. Perhaps he is cautious of inadvertently transgressing regulatory rules. But he does drop this nugget: trend is always late. Anyone who’s seen a graph of inflows into a fund following a peak in its performance (and possibly an editorialised advert in the money pages of the paper) knows this only too well. Ye’s right to highlight it.
He delights us with bit of investment wisdom, couched in Bruce-Lee-esque brevity: ‘let’s be like water’, he tells us, referring, one assumes, to the need to recognise that humans and their goals are works in progress and not to get caught up in spuriously precise plans, or tunnel-vision for some shit you probably didn’t want anyway.
After the description, the prescription; ‘it's not where you take things from. It's where you take them to’… Where should we go, West?
He implores us to focus on the only goal any of us really has: ‘let’s make ourselves happy’ (I assume here that he uses ‘happy’ in the deep, lasting, eudaimonic, sense the monk Matthieu Ricard does; Ye’s a poet, he’s allowed a little licence).
As I talk of each minor money decision being a fork in the road on the way to financial enlightenment, Ye’s got my back: ‘Words and names are vital when bringing something like the school into existence. Couple thoughts: Dao The word for this concept, dao, indicates a “way” in the sense of a road or a path’.
Echoing my own conclusion that participating in the process of seeking wisdom is the only way any of us can defeat our debilitating self-deceptions, wise Mr West sets out both the problem, and the plan:
In a move reminiscent of Marx and Engels’s rousing entreaty to the proletariat to cast off their chains, Ye commands us: ‘burn that excel spread sheet’ (without feeling the need to caveat it with something about the technical stuff having a place, only that it should know a little better where that place is – he is, of course, a far better marketer than I).
Finally, he knows that, being human, it is our actions that define us, and agapic love that creates us, without which, not money, nor anything else, would have any meaning: ‘We believe in love We don’t just try we do.. we are... We are love.’