Never Share Your Net Worth

"Now that I’m making a little bit of money, everyone keeps wanting to know how much cash I've got. I'm proud of what I’ve made, and it feels good to share my accomplishments, but could this come back to bite me at some point? Should I stop posting pictures of my new Lamborghini on Instagram?"

April 3rd, 2024   |    By: Wil Schroter

"Never tell anyone how much money you have. They will only judge you by it or try to take it from you."

That was some of the best advice I've ever gotten from the son of a well-known billionaire after my first startup just started to take off. At the time, I had just started to make some money, and like any poor kid who just came into some cash, I wanted the whole world to know just how well I had done.

So yeah, I was the douchebag posting pictures of my Lamborghini, only social media didn't exist yet, so I guess I was just emailing them, which is way worse! Little did I know at the time how much trouble my personal PR campaign would create for me.

They Will Only Judge You by it

One of the things I first started noticing was that everyone wanted to know exactly how much money I had. Like, if I could just do them a favor and hand over a copy of my bank statements, that would be wonderful. It came up... a lot.

What I didn't initially understand was why exactly people wanted to know. But as I thought back to that advice, “...they will judge you by it," I realized that's what was happening. They didn't care how much I made, they cared how it related to how much they had made. Do you know who asked this the most? VC's. They were obsessed with how much money Founders made, probably because that's how they make money in proportion.

In my 30 years of experience with this question, I've yet to see anyone ask this with a positive motive. It's clear they are looking for a barometer to judge me and themselves against, and my number is that barometer. You know who asked this question the least? Wealthy Founders. I'm guessing because they don't need to worry about other people's barometers of success anymore. Or maybe because they are just tired of getting asked themselves.

They Will Try to Take it From You

Displaying wealth is like putting up a giant neon sign that says, "Come take from me." When I was dead broke absolutely no one was asking about my bank account. That's because no one thought they could make a withdrawal from it. The moment that bank account grew, all of a sudden in the interest in my bank statement grew with it. Funny how that works.

When we share how much money we have, we're absolutely asking for trouble. Whether it's the valet at our favorite restaurant or our friend from college who happens to be a financial advisor, everyone sees us as a revenue stream. The more we advertise the revenue, the more people expect to extract it from us.

That doesn't mean that everyone has bad intentions — far from it. It's that we amplify those intentions with our own PR. When we pull up to the valet in a Kia, no one expects a big tip. When we pull up in a Lamborghini, you're an a-hole if you don't fill someone's hands with cash. Same person, different ad campaign.

Mouth Shut, Wallet Closed

I think of balancing this issue like two sides of a scale. On the one side is how badly I need to feed my ego, and on the other side is how badly I want to create giant headaches for myself. As I press one lever, the other moves in unison. When I was younger, I used to think I could feed my ego at zero personal expense, of which I was hilariously mistaken.

Like any action in life, there is a reaction. We need to understand as Founders that as our fortunes (hopefully!) improve, how we handle that change is entirely within our control. All of those moments where I was excited to showcase my success created 10x more micro-issues (often unseen at the time) of envy, anger, and resentment. If you're not sure how that works, I present to you "all of social media" as the grand experiment on how showboating makes the rest of the world feel like total shit.

I'm not saying we can't enjoy what we've done or be proud of it. I'm saying we need to be hyper-mindful of the cost of that expression. It's not free, and in fact, it may be the most expensive lesson we ever learn if we don't keep our mouths shut and our wallets closed.

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In Case You Missed It

Why is Everyone Counting My Money? (podcast) We worked for it, sacrificed our health and time, and at some point, even settled for less compensation for the company to grow. Still, Founders can't flaunt the money we make because some people find it appalling just because they don’t have it.

How Long Will it Take to Have a Successful Startup? Launching a startup can happen really quickly. Making it a real business — now, that takes a lot of time. But how much time does it take to make a startup successful?

What Happens After I’ve “Made It” Success is a big deal, especially when we don't have it. But when we do, you’d be surprised at how we almost universally learn that the things that occupy our day are largely the same.

About the Author

Wil Schroter

Wil Schroter is the Founder + CEO @, a startup platform that includes BizplanClarity, Fundable, Launchrock, and Zirtual. He started his first company at age 19 which grew to over $700 million in billings within 5 years (despite his involvement). After that he launched 8 more companies, the last 3 venture backed, to refine his learning of what not to do. He's a seasoned expert at starting companies and a total amateur at everything else.

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