Royal pain in the ...

'Financially independent,' they said. Wouldn't we all like that? Plus 7 other things worth a click.

Take your pick: Would you rather be rich or be king (or queen)?

I wrote a book about Harvard Business School. In the process, I got to know an HBS professor named Noam Wasserman.

His most famous work at the time (he's since moved on) had to do with exactly that question: Rich or king?

Meaning, if you’re an entrepreneur, is control most important?

Or would you be willing to cede control, and accept that others might do better than you in some areas, with the potential for a more successful outcome?

Tough question. Gosh, I wonder what real-life royalty might be making news this morning and making me think of all this.

Ah yes, right, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

There were two stunning announcements out of the Royal Family Tuesday:

First, from Harry and Meghan:

"We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen."

Pull up stakes, move to Canada, start a business, forgo the eleventy-quillion pounds or whatever it is that they’d otherwise get just by virtue of being them—the whole shebang.


Second, from the Queen:

"Discussions with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage. We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through."

On snap! I feel like there was probably a ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ shrug emoji in the first draft of that response.

Anyway, I don’t want to get too deep into their family drama, but I am interested to look at those five key words: “work to become financially independent.”

I put that question to a lot of people Wednesday. What could or should Harry and Meghan actually do if they wanted to work towards financial independence?

Most of those who replied had similar, logical answers — basically, trade off having been part of the House of Windsor to create wealth, after being less of a part of the House of Windsor.

  • “Capitalize on the current media frenzy … and get lucrative endorsement deals and partnerships,” said Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR. “At this point, Meghan and Harry have the potential to get any deals … they may want.”  

  • "Prince Harry has advocated for mental health awareness, so it is too much of a reach to suggest he records some mindfulness tracks for an app such as Calm? I wouldn't mind listening to a royal voice as I fall asleep," suggested Leila Bulling Towne, a leadership coach in the San Francisco Bay area.

  • "Here's a free idea: ‘RoyalTea,’ the new Starbucks competitor,” said Jason Acoca, co-founder, COBE MEDIA. “If they were to open up a RoyalTea location, I wouldn't get my English breakfast tea anywhere else.”

Speeches, books, endorsements. Makes sense.

But I keep thinking there has to be something bigger. I’m not even sure what.

Can you imagine if you were trying to come up with a business proposition in their circumstances? On the one hand, you could probably pull $100,000 to $500,000 per appearance for speaking gigs.

On the other hand, where’s the bar at which you’d call yourself a success?

I mean, if you measure by dollars (OK, fine, quid), and your family didn’t come from means, then hitting $1 million or $5 million or even $20 million feels like the ends of the Earth.

But if you’re literally born into royalty, and decide to give at least some of it up, where’s the ground floor? It’s got to be: Make a few billion or feel like a failure, right?

I never would have thought I’d feel this way.

But, you know what? I kinda feel sorry for the royals.

7 other things worth a click

  1. If you remember the original buzz about the Segway you should take this with a grain of salt, but its successor is apparently kind of fun to ride. (The Verge)

  2. It’s a good thing we’re apparently not going to war with Iran because literally only 28 percent of Americans can even find it on a map. (Morning Consult)

  3. Alcohol is killing more Americans than ever, posted one day after I mentioned writing one of these emails after having too much wine. (Gizmodo)

  4. People are saying this “military draft by text hoax” was just a scam, but I’m going to put it out there that back in the day I had some friends who used to be Army recruiters and … (New York Times)

  5. The NYT got ahold of this senior Facebook executive’s assessment of how the platform was used in the 2016 election. I’m just going to link to the raw post and let you reach your own conclusions. (Facebook)

  6. Ransomware. It’s the worst. (Techcrunch)

  7. The inventor of the laser printer has died. He at least deserves a mention (and a PC Load Letter joke). RIP Gary Starkweather. (Wikipedia (yes, my source is Wikpedia, sorry.))

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