STREET DOGS: No such thing as a free lunch

IN THE psychology of influence, giving items or time unconditionally is called reciprocity. People use reciprocity to create obligations. Manipulative people do it all the time — beware, if it is too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true. — Derek Arden

Deep down inside, you already know this: there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, financially or otherwise. If you want anything — especially something lots of other people want, like money — there is a simple formula that few really want to hear about. It’s not secret. In fact, it’s fairly obvious.

All you need to do is work your arse off; be smarter or at least more insightful than your competition; treat every task as an opportunity to enhance your reputation; exercise good judgment; have great patience; be attentive to what matters and what doesn’t; develop social skills, learn what motivates people; avoid getting side-tracked by distractions and nonsense; continue to learn; have valuable, marketable skills, and occasionally, get lucky.

Just apply some combination of the above for a few decades, becoming more efficient and productive and luckier as time goes on. That’s not the only way to become rich — you could invent the next killer app or iPhone or cold fusion or what have you — but it is how most of the wealthy people got that way.

And yet … so many of you find yourself drawn into all manner of get-rich-quick schemes that, truth be told, objectively speaking, can only be described as a lottery ticket. Whether it’s the lotto or a stock broker, someone is always ready to take advantage of your desire for a free lunch. The sooner you start picking up the tab for your own meals, the better off you will be. — Barry Ritholtz

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