It seems that no amount of fame, success, or fortune can protect any of us from making the bad decisions that lead to insolvency and bankruptcy. Even people who have built business empires, collected millions of dollars from award winning music albums, or made hundreds of millions in acting or sports, are not immune to the ravages of a perverse relationship with money and an inability to balance their lives or their cash flows.
Remember this and proceed with great carefulness and humility as you make your plans to build a great fortune. Not you, nor I, nor even the richest man in the world is ever anything but a few bad decisions away from having nothing at all. Here is a list of just six famous people who made vast fortunes and then lost them. There are many more.
1. Donald Trump
No joke. Donald Trump is a rags to riches to rags again and back to riches story. He’s gone completely broke more than once and his businesses have declared bankruptcy multiple times throughout his decades long career making and losing billions of dollars in real estate, hotel management, and brand development.
Before making his successful bid for the highest office in the United States federal government, Donald Trump was famous for his high profile career as an outrageous celebrity real estate developer with an uncanny ability to self promote. Yet despite all his successes, he has also failed along the way, and his businesses have declared bankruptcy six times starting in 1991 and the last time even as recently as 2009.
Now it may be a stretch to say Donald Trump started from rags and ascended to riches. He did inherit a small family business from his father, but that’s a drop in the bucket of the kind of money Donald Trump has made, and lost, and made again in his career.
When someone managing projects with the sheer magnitude of scale that Donald Trump has throughout his career, failure means failure with a lot of zeros on it. When Trump declared bankruptcy for the first time in 1991, it was because he bit off way more than he could chew, taking on a risky investment- The Trump Taj Mahal- and financing it with massive amounts of high-interest loans.
Its doors hadn’t been open for even a year when it was already $3 billion under water and showing no signs of generating the cash necessary to fulfill Trump’s debt obligations. He personally lost $900 million in the fiasco and had to sell off his also under-performing airline (Trump Airlines) and his personal yacht.
Now if you ask anybody on the street to name a book written by Donald Trump, they’ll say The Art of The Deal, but Trump has also written another book called, The Art of the Comeback based on his early 1990s bankruptcy.
While he brags about how he was a tough negotiator throughout this, what really kept him going and put him in a position to get back up again was belt-tightening, cutting away all the extra luxuries and second-rate businesses he had going and focusing on what he was best at. Same way Jack Welch took General electric from “ran its course” behemouth to 4000% growth stock in twenty years.