At Ease With the Fabulously Wealthy: Ask Noah

The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Q: Working at a small hedge fund requires I spend a lot of time around people who are wealthier than me . . . some of these men want to socialize with me cause presumably they enjoy my company . . . this is good for business. The problem is I always get nervous around them and have trouble acting normal. Any advice you can give me on just being myself, and worrying less about how I stack up against others?

A: Confidence is crucial. Your admiration for wealthy people is overwhelming you and eliminating access to your own strengths.

If you're constantly fighting for "air time" or space in discussions relating to personal net worth, you will never "stack-up," or feel confident in any conversation with these people.

In the end, they are just guys.

Consider changing topics: Talk about sports, movies, politics, family, etc. If you are discussing the market, remember your ideas and intellect are still as valuable as theirs.

You may not be able to discuss the best hotels in London, but you can offer sound judgment on the trajectory of the market. If you're able to speak freely and without fear, they will listen!

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Remember the rich and famous get sucked up to all the time.

Nothing is more refreshing than hearing from someone with a clear point of view, who speaks unapologetically and with utter confidence, regarding their subjects. You can be that someone and still be respectful of their success and accomplishments.

Engaging very successful people in a 50/50 dialogue can actually be more pleasing to them, it gives them the validation that they made their money based on ideas rather than circumstance. They will feel more respected when you're coming from an equal stance and addressing them, not just their bottom line.

Here are some additional tips:

1. In the end, they are just guys. Think about how you act with a "regular" friend, and act like that.

2. Don't let anxiety lead to overcompensation. Do not try to prove your self-worth in every conversation.

3. Relax. Realize that unless you say something horrifically offensive, no one comment is going to define your entire relationship.

4. Be yourself. If you try and be a "Mini-Me," you will come across as fake and superficial.

When in doubt . . . remember wise words from Senator Al Franken's character, Stuart Smalley, on "Saturday Night Live": "You're good enough you're smart enough, and doggone it, people like you."

Here is a link to my conversation on Thursday's "The Dylan Ratigan Show."

If anyone has a question for a future column, please send it to "Ask Noah" at

Have a profitable and peaceful week,


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