We've all driven by huge homes and wondered what it takes to have enough money to live there, but most of us don't go ring the doorbell and ask. But then there's Esquire editor and West Hartford native Ryan D'Agostino.
He set out across the country to figure it out by going right to the source and wrote the book "Rich Like Them."
The subtitle is "My Door-to-Door Search for the Secrets of Wealth in America's Richest Neighborhoods," and that's what he did. D'Agostino went to 20 of the wealthiest towns in the United States. From towns including Westport, the Gold Coast here in Connecticut, to Beverly Hills to the Atlanta suburbs and Silicon Valley, D'Agostino showed up unannounced at nearly 500 doors of the biggest houses he could find and knocked.
Many people actually welcomed D'Agostino in with open arms and shared some of their most difficult financial decisions, toughest setbacks, greatest strategies and most triumphant moments on the road to wealthiness.
In an interview with Marie Claire, D'Agostino talked about how surprised he was at the modesty of some of the people he met.
"The first thing one couple in Atlanta told me, before I even got through the door of their $5 million house, was that they drove 10-year-old cars. Another guy said, 'It's not like we have a plane or anything.' One family didn't have a dining-room set and were proud to say they didn't care. Jeff Weisfield, a produce broker/real-estate speculator worth millions, bragged that he flies coach and stays at a Motel 6 when he travels. It was sort of heartening in a way. Something made them want to say, 'Just so you know, we keep it real,'" he told the magazine.
D'Agostino says not everybody was a Wall Street banker or a genius. One man made his fortune inventing a shrimp peeler. Another made a fortune securing vacationers to rope and leading them to observation points on the edges of hundreds-of-feet-deep holes in glaciers.
The book is available now at retailers across the country.