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5 Different Types of People You'll Meet in the 1%

What do today's decamillionaires and billionaires look like today out in the wild?

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Hollywood does a fantastic job sensationalizing the problems of the world's wealthiest. Most middle-class Americans think of Warren Buffet, and his carefully branded Midwest patina for patience, discipline, driving an Oldsmobile and other things obsolete.

But what does someone worth more than $100 million actually look like out in the wild? What do they care about? Here are five avatars of modern-day legacies.

The Provider

Providers are fiscally conservative. Besides comfortably providing for their families, they also support other initiatives. Their names are associated with building and supporting non-profits and sit on the boards of their favored religious, educational, charitable, scientific or literary organizations.

These providers support these non-profits and help them survive financially. Their status is directly correlated to doing good and making sure things are taken care of. Providers are usually second gens looking to maintain the legacy and purpose as laid out by the first generation.

The Provider is not necessarily conspicuous but wants you to know that he or she is going to leave their presence in your life somehow. You’d probably hear their names on PBS as a benefactor in the opening credits of the latest Ken Burns documentary.

These individuals gravitate more towards real estate, and the bigger the family’s net worth, the higher the class of real estate. This could be Class A real estate in any major international city, land leases and fixed-income alternatives such as private credit funds. They care more about the quality of the tenant rather than the return. For example, they would rather take a 7% with a Class A building than say, a 12% for a Class C multifamily building outside of Savannah. They know the risk because they ask the hard questions.

They know the risks of having poorer tenants and don’t want to risk the operations of the endowments or non-profit initiatives they support. They prefer the highest-credit commercial tenants like Amazon and large pharmaceutical companies. They know these tenants are going to pay their rent. They also like to provide for private schools and anything that supports their children’s education or the family lifestyle.

The Mogul

Generally, most wealth creators you meet fit the profile of a Mogul, although Moguls can happen in later generations, too. Their charisma alone requires its own postal code. They are gregarious, with world-class salesmanship skills. They didn’t get here by spreadsheet alone.

Nothing phases them and they’ve got the scars on their backs to show for it – not in the form of tattoos, but expressed as a collection of private cars, boats, distinctive club memberships and multiple homes. The Mogul’s got something to prove, so they try to show that they're a little more dynamic than their peers.

The Mogul likes deals that allow them to brag. They love to tell stories about working with the best people in the world and entertain their friends. The Mogul is interested in venture capital but will err toward higher-profile and higher-status investments, such as professional sports league ownership or later-staged investments, where they can tell everyone who will listen about it.

When I think of a later-day poster child of a Mogul, I think of Sean Parker. He started Napster and invested in Facebook when nobody knew what Facebook was.

Related: How Young Entrepreneurs Can Succeed: "Grow 1% Every Day"

The Nonconformist

This type of person isn’t necessarily a political rebel with blue hair. They don’t conform to the interests of the family. In other words, they don’t tow the family line.

They might be into the arts when the family is into real estate or interested in developing non-profit initiatives that the rest of the family wouldn’t support. It’s a way of determining their identity and establishing their status. They’re a little bit of crunchy granola, or antagonistic. That is, they cut across the grain to delineate themselves from the rest of the family portfolio. They want to build their brand under the banner of some massive movement or change they are championing. Bill Gates is a great example of this type of investor. His father started one of the top three global law firms, K&L Gates. Bill Gates went outside the family to start his own software company.

A lot of people wouldn’t pick up on it, but Bill Gates is a nonconformist. He even dropped out of Harvard. These aren’t necessarily people with purple hair and nose rings. They’ll leverage the family name if they have to, but they’re going to do it on their own.

Related: Do the Top 1% Really Cheat on Their Taxes?

The Curator

This one is the intellectual. Politically, they’re more liberal. They spend a disproportionate amount of time outdoors, in their second home or discussing the arts. 

These investors are not money-oriented. They’re intellectually status-oriented. In the wild, a curator is easily identified by the local media they support.

They are the fanatical alumni, and their status is also expressed in the strata of liberal arts colleges and private schools their kids attend — the decals of which are stacked up along the back window of their late-model Mercedes SUV or Range Rover. Think of the character Claire Underwood, played by Robin Wright in the television series House of Cards. They are more collaborative-type negotiators, driving the ball down the field all the way using their sheer ego and gravitas.

Similar to the Mogul, the Curator likes investments they can talk at length about, but it’s usually a different type of investment. They’re more likely to buy fine art, as it gives them a sense of connection. They appreciate provenance. They can trace the investment back to its roots and feel like they are a part of it. But really, it’s special because no one else has it.

Of all of the avatars, the Curators are the ones who are looking to architect their legacy to have the biggest social impact and responsibly drive humanity towards a greater good. This investor wants to be connected to their passion in other people’s minds. They define their status by that connection similar to the way middle-class people define their status by the brands they wear.

J. Paul Getty is respected for his tastes in fine art. He died with such a large collection because he wanted to be known for something more than just his wealth. Getty’s money afforded him a type of legitimacy that would not have been available to other people with the same amount of money.

He wanted to be admired among his peers as a great businessman but also someone of high intelligence. He also had a great understanding of history and a passion for the art that he collected — a man of great taste and sophistication.

The Documentarian/Historian

The Documentarian/Historian wants you to know that they're going to leave their presence in your life somehow because they spend their life doing so. Not unlike the Mogul, the documentarian is more conspicuous with their name attached to non-profits and social initiatives, rather than say collection Ferraris and Rolls-Royces on social media.

Donald Trump is a great example of this type of person. Everybody knows of the Class A commercial Trump buildings in all the major cities around the world. This type of investor loves to put their name on things, especially hospitals and libraries. They’ll give $5 million to build a stadium for their private school or high school in exchange for tax benefits. These donations are used to make a statement by driving a stake in the ground that will last in perpetuity.

Some business schools and colleges have the names of these prominent Documentarians etched across their arched entrances.

Now that you’ve identified what type of investing legacy identity works for you, it’s time to build your legacy on your terms.

Related: How to Become the 1% (It's Easier Than You Think)

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