Some Life Lessons From The Billionaires’ Race To Space (Toyin Oguntuyi)

Welcome to this week’s newsletter.

I am sure we have read and heard a lot about “the billionaires’ race to space” – which refers to the flights to space by Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic – companies owned by Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson respectively. In actual fact, scientists believe that Virgin Galactic flight only reached the edge of space and didn’t reach space itself but that is a story for another day.

As is customary, I will be looking at some of the money and life lessons I have learnt from the feats of these gentlemen:

  • Dreams do come true: especially when you have the money to make them happen. Both Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos have not been quiet about their fascination with space travel particularly space tourism. They both weren’t just fascinated, they staked personal fortunes towards ensuring that these dreams came to pass.

In addition to spending money both men planned for a long time towards making this happen. Virgin Galactic in fact started selling tickets as far back as 2012 whilst in Jeff Bezos’ case; he had started sharing his vision publicly some 20 years ago.

For me, the major takeaway is that money isn’t the end in itself but a vehicle towards actualizing our dreams. Many times, especially on this side of the world; people get fixated on amassing riches and wealth and do not pause to truly enjoy it.

Many times, we have bucket lists of things we want to do and places we would like to visit but never actively pursue them. These flights to space (or the edge of space) are a reminder that if we plan well and are willing to spend our money (not just grow our wealth); many of our dreams can come true.

It also didn’t escape my attention that these men also ensured that they built businesses around their dreams and are on course to make money along the way. A perfect example of killing 2 birds with 1 stone if you ask me!

  • There are levels to these things: When Jeff Bezos opened the bidding process for seats on the inaugural flight, very few people imagined that the winning bid will be as high as $28 million (I have stubbornly refused to calculate the Naira value of that bid).

It didn’t hurt that the proceeds went to charity. Notwithstanding, the Nigerian in me doesn’t even want to believe that the individual chooses to remain anonymous.

On top of that, the individual opted out of the flight due to “scheduling conflicts”. I want to imagine that it must either be a multimillion dollar transaction or a family emergency that will lead to such an action.

The fact is wealth truly has levels and not a lot of people can afford to make certain spending decisions.

When Sean Combs (Diddy) bought a $600,000 Maybach for his then 16 year old son (who couldn’t even drive at that time); he took offense to being questioned about the gift and his point was he did it because he could afford to do so and didn’t see what the big deal was!

Many years ago, someone once told me that “nothing is expensive, it is just that not everyone can’t afford it/them”. I didn’t agree for a long time but I have since concluded that he was & is still right and the earlier one makes peace with that reality, the better. This will go a long way in ensuring that one doesn’t need “to keep up with the Jones.”

By the way, judging from the ticket prices – $200,000 to $250,000 per person; space travel is not for everyone.

  • Time and Chance truly happens: particularly if daddy is rich. Oliver Daemen, one of the 3 passengers on the flight with Jeff Bezos became the youngest person to get to space after the anonymous bidder opted out of the flight.

Whilst his father Joes Daemen – a Dutch venture capitalist took pains to explain that his bid wasn’t anywhere close to $28 million; he must have still paid handsomely to initially qualify to be on the waiting list for the 2nd flight. The father bided because he knew that Oliver had always been fascinated about space travel.

The point here for me is that wealth building isn’t only about leaving assets or inheritances for our children but also about providing access or opportunities that they won’t otherwise have been priviledged to have or benefit from.

Remember that Jeff Bezos had parents who could afford to invest in their son’s idea and that Aliko Dangote also had an uncle who could loan him the seed money for his business.

I pray we are all enabled to do our part in making our children’s dreams a reality.

Till we meet again next week, please continue to mask up and for those yet to register to vote; physical registration has commenced. Kindly look for a centre near you to do the needful.

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