One Fired CEO Describes How Success Can Bring You 99 Problems and More

This post is by Betty Liu, Anchor, Bloomberg Television

Many people think that once you make it to the top, you can relax.


An award-winning business journalist, Liu regularly interviews influential business, political and media leaders including Warren Buffett, Carlos Slim, Ted Turner and Lloyd Blankfein

In fact, just the opposite happens. Once you succeed, the path only gets harder. Sure, certain aspects like money get easier. You dress better. You have more powerful friends. You don’t worry about your mortgage payment. In those instances it’s very difficult to shed a tear for the rich, powerful and successful.

But as many millionaires and billionaires have discovered, it’s easy to run into 99 problems and then some once you’ve made it.

For instance, here’s just 5 of them:

  1. You question who are your true friends.
  2. Every conversation ends with someone pitching you a deal.
  3. People root for your demise and can’t wait to pile onto your mistakes.  
  4. You pay for everything all the time.
  5. Money doesn’t make you happy. You might actually be more miserable.

George Zimmer, the former CEO of Men’s Wearhouse, found out after 40 years of building his company and becoming a wealthy spokesperson for his brand that in one fell swoop, his closest friends – all members of the board – fired him. Out on the street, just like that.

“They immediately let me go and said, `George, we’ve put your stuff in storage,'” he recalled on my podcast, Radiate. “I said, `My furniture?’ And they said, `Yes. Your furniture.’ And all 40 years accumulation of files was put in storage. And I’ve not been back to my office since.”

Zimmer has since come back to start two new companies, a tuxedo rental startup called Generation Tux and an on-demand tailoring service called ZTailors. He says it was as if God was watching all that unfolded and dropped those ideas into his lap.

What happened to Zimmer is just another example of how even when you think you’ve hit the big time, something unexpected can knock you down. Two years since his firing, Zimmer reflected on what he was taught.

Everybody is going to get knocked down in life regardless of who you are or what you’re doing,” he said. “The question isn’t how you get knocked down. The question is how do you get back up?”

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