Allow me to be politically incorrect: The No. 1 reason people aren't rich is because they're lazy. This is purely my opinion and no one else's, and I have no scientific proof to back it up.
Why the sudden honesty? I'll tell you.
The Best Policy?
One of the things I loved most about the Marine Corps was that I never had to worry about what anyone was thinking. When I was preparing to be an officer, there was no sensitivity training. When superior officers spoke to you, they didn't have to wrap their words in ribbons and bows, and didn't worry about hurting anyone's feelings.
In fact, we often went out of our way to hurt others' feelings just to test their core toughness. (I'd repeat some of the more choice comments I've treasured over the years, but I'm not writing for a military audience.)
When I returned from the war and entered the civilized world of business, I was shocked by the phoniness, the covert hostility (disguised as caring), and the fake smiles that are rampant to this day. It's been over 30 years since I was discharged from the Marines, and I still haven't adjusted.
Today, I'm still hesitant to let my employees know exactly what I'm not satisfied with for fear of being sued, or to compliment a pretty woman for fear of being accused of sexual harassment.
But I'm happy to say that things are changing. We now have reality TV instead of Father Knows Best, a phony show about fake family harmony from my era. Today, commentators like Bill Maher and Jon Stewart rip into politicians under the guise of humor.
We also have Donald Trump, who has millions of people from all over the world tuning in just to hear him say the magic words "you're fired" to an apprentice wannabe. And of course there's Simon Cowell of American Idol, the critic of all critics, whose book of brutally honest dismissals I was recently tempted to buy.
An Honest Assessment
All of this overt honesty, while sometimes contrived, encourages me to be more honest about my favorite subject -- getting rich, and who's most likely to do so.
Most of you who follow my books and this column know how I make my money. First of all, I'm an entrepreneur. I've been starting companies since I was a kid. I never wanted to be an employee -- I always wanted to be in control. I didn't want someone like me telling me what to do. Consequently, I now have companies, agencies, or strategic partners all over the world.
Second, I love real estate. Not only do I think it's the best investment in the world, I can prove it. What other investment is there that has bankers lining up to lend you money? They won't lend you millions of dollars for years at a time to buy stocks, bonds, or mutual funds. And what other investment will your insurance company insure against losses? Surely not mutual funds or a 401(k).
Third, I love commodities like oil and gas. Why do I love them? Because they're in short supply and in great demand. Wars have been fought over oil and gas for years. What do you think the war in Iraq is about?
Finally, I've loved gold and silver for years. Why? Because I don't trust the U.S. government to be good stewards of money. As you may know, the Bush administration has printed more funny money -- over a trillion dollars' worth -- in six years than all past U.S. presidents combined.
Wars have been fought over gold and silver, too. Why do you think the Incas lost their empire to the Spaniards, or the American Indians lost their land to the European settlers? The conquerors may have said that they were acting in the name of God, but remember -- there's only a single letter's difference between "God" and "gold."
No More Political Correctness
The recent outbreak of honesty also inspires me to be more forthcoming in general, and less politically correct. This is the web, after all, where honesty is respected, not suppressed, censored, or forced to be "sensitive" like our old, more traditional forms of media.
You wouldn't be reading Yahoo! Finance if you weren't serious about being rich or becoming rich. So I owe it to you to be more truthful. And I'm not worried about offending the financial losers of the world, because financial losers don't read this column.
So, rather than tell you week after week about real estate, entrepreneurship, gold, silver, oil, and gas, I've decided to occasionally run a less-than-politically-correct column and tell you exactly what I think about the subject of getting rich.
The L Words
It's in this spirit that I opened by saying that lazy people don't get rich. I also said that the difference between "God" and "gold" is a simple "L" -- as in "lazy," or "looting." The conquistadors who looted the Inca Empire in the name of God weren't lazy. They were thugs with guns, but they had ambition.
Another word that begins with "L" is "loser." Over the years, I've met many losers who pray to God to give them gold. They'll never get it that way because, as the Sunday school I went to taught me, God helps those who help themselves. Again, the conquistadors may have been killers and thieves, but at least they knew how to help themselves.
I do, too. As some of you may be aware, I wasn't born rich. And I've written openly about my failures as an entrepreneur and my losses as an investor. I haven't hidden my horror stories. The reason I don't keep them secret is because my failures are the best learning experiences of my life. We learn by making mistakes -- except in school, where we're punished for making mistakes. This may be why most schoolteachers aren't rich.
I'm not recommending that you become an ambitious looter, as Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling were convicted of being. I only want to point out that if you're not a lazy loser, you may find yourself with more gold in your life without having to resort to looting.