If you’re an investor, you’ve probably heard of Scrooge McDuck. Heck, you’ve probably heard of him no matter what your present financial situation may be. After all, who doesn’t dream of a gigantic vault full of money to play in from time to time?
But there’s more to Scrooge than his money bin. Since he first appeared on the scene in a The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) Donald Duck comic in 1947, Scrooge has become the preeminent The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) duck, and that’s provided authors and artists ample opportunity to flesh out his character. I recently sat down with the Don Rosa graphic novel The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck to learn a little more about Duckburg’s richest citizen, and I came away with a few important lessons from Scrooge’s history that I think you might like.
Work harder (but smarter) than everyone else, and keep an eye out for con men
In “The Last of the Clan McDuck,” 10-year-old Scrooge is an unsuccessful shoeshine boy on the streets of Glasgow until his father contrives a trick. The elder McDuck sends a filthy ditch-digger to his son with an American dime — Scrooge’s Number-One Dime — which Scrooge receives after half an hour of exhausting shoeshine work. Scrooge feels cheated by the useless foreign coin, but he also learned two lessons: “Life is filled with tough jobs, and there’ll always be sharpies to cheat me … well, I’ll be tougher than the toughies and sharper than the sharpies, and I’ll make my money square!”
The value of perseverance and hard (but smart) honest work — paired with a constant vigil against grifters, con men, cheats, and thieves — is central to Scrooge’s personality. Scrooge keeps the dime to remind himself of where he came from, and it eventually inspires him to travel to America to earn his fortune. In “The Terror of the Transvaal,” Scrooge’s wariness hardens into paranoia after being robbed by a supposed friend, and he promises that “from now on, I won’t trust anybody once!” That’s probably taking things a bit too far, but as you go about building a fortune for your own money bin, it’s important to be cautious of anyone who promises to help you build it — many times, they’ll only be looking out for themselves, at your expense.
Don’t ignore the value of good connections to family or friends
Young Scrooge comes to America with little more than the clothes on his back in “The Master of the Mississippi,” but one of the first things he does is seek out his riverboat-captain uncle. Scrooge’s only connection in his new country makes him a teenaged riverboat captain several years later. After the riverboat adventure, Scrooge went into the cattle-driving business and met Teddy Roosevelt, who would wind up saving him from thieves years later as president (don’t ask me where they come up with this stuff). A number of other fictionalized historical figures provide Scrooge with support during his adventures as well, and these bonds are usually forged from mutual respect.
Scrooge is often portrayed as a somewhat reluctant family man, willing to delegate significant management responsibilities over his businesses to the rest of the McDuck clan and its offspring. Despite his innate wariness, Scrooge does trust those who prove themselves trustworthy.