Don’t Get Comfortable (And You Might Be Worth $2 Billion)

On some level, it could be seen as an old cliche that has largely lost its meaning: step outside your comfort zone. Many of us have also been told to never settle, because we should never be completely satisfied with where you we are in life. Stagnation may be viewed almost as a fate worse than death.

But did you know that doing things outside of your normal wheelhouse could also be tremendously lucrative to the point of being worth two billion dollars? Did you know that doing things outside of your normal comfort zone could make you incredibly rich, even if most people in the world haven’t the faintest idea of who you are? Because it is possible and one man has proven this in spades.

Most of us know that professional athletes can make a lot of money with some of the biggest stars signing for multi-year contracts worth millions of dollars. Most of us also know that some professional athletes continue to “re-invent” themselves after retirement, continuing to earn as commentators and analysts, for example.

And most of us would assume that the richest former pro athlete is probably Michael Jordan, right? Wrong. He’s actually the second richest with “only” a billion dollars in estimated net worth.

The former professional athlete with biggest net worth is this guy.


Oh, you don’t know who he is? I don’t blame you. Most of us don’t, but according to Celebrity Net Worth, Ion Tiriac has an estimated net worth of two billion dollars. Most of us don’t recognize his name either.

The thing is, while Michael Jordan’s fortune is still largely related to the world of professional basketball, Tiriac didn’t earn his riches that way. Yes, he earned good money as a successful tennis player. Yes, he earned more good money coaching the likes of Boris Becker, Steffi Graf and Goran Ivanisevic. That was for millions and we’re talking about two billion dollars.

He leveraged his existing wealth and connections to open a bank. You see, Tiriac was from Romania and it was under a communist regime for the longest time. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, capitalism came pouring into Eastern Europe and Tiriac jumped at the opportunity.


And so, Banca Tiriac was formally opened in 1990 as the first privately-owned bank in post-communist Romania. It later merged and transformed to become UniCredit Tiriac Bank today.

Banking doesn’t have all that much to do with tennis or coaching at all, but Ion Tiriac wasn’t afraid to try something new. He didn’t allow himself to be comfortable, easing into retirement with his millions in savings. He wanted have more, be more and do more.

This led to an increasingly large Tiriac empire. After the bank, he decided to open retail stores, car dealerships, a country club, an insurance company and even an airline. He bought commercial and residential real estate. He has a personal car collection of over 100 rare luxury vehicles. The money just kept pouring in. He went from a net worth of $100 million in 1991 to $500 million in 2000, $900 million in 2005, $1 billion in 2007, and $2 billion by 2010.

Never settle. Never get comfortable. Never stop learning and never stop growing. If a former tennis star can go on to amass two billion dollars through businesses completely unrelated to tennis, then a professional blogger and Internet marketer shouldn’t be afraid to step into some unfamiliar territory too.

Image credit: Bobby Voicu / Flickr

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