- The Washington Times - Monday, April 2, 2001

Some inherit piles of money, scratch it off a lottery ticket or earn it by averaging 26 points a game and 15 rebounds.
But it's fair to say most of the more than 500 millionaires who live in the District of Columbia, according to Internal Revenue Service returns, got their millions the hard way they earned their first dollar as children and hung onto it until another 999,999 dollar bills joined it.
A millionaire. Those two words still pack a punch even though their numbers have grown sevenfold over the past 25 years, according to federal statistics.
A survey of the wealthy, fleshed out with interviews with The Washington Times, reveals some intriguing facts.
A third of them mow their own lawns.
Their credit card of choice is MasterCard. The platinum American Express card comes in fourth, beaten out by Sears and J.C. Penney.
They are terrible farmers. Thirteen of the millionaires in the District own farms in Maryland and Virginia and reported combined losses of almost $1 billion. Of course, the phrase "tax shelter" comes to the lips of the more-skeptical tax collectors.
They are twice as likely to play the lottery as fly out to Las Vegas to gamble.

How to build a millionaire

Elliott Frutkin sold a disc jockey business he started when he was 12 in his Cleveland environs.
A young Bruce Bereano padded his piggy bank by clipping lilacs around his Bronx, N.Y., neighborhood and peddling them to neighbors.
Mr. Frutkin, 25, runs a D.C.-based Web design firm. And 57-year-old Mr. Bereano works as an Annapolis lobbyist. During one session alone he said he grossed a million dollars in fees.
Each man benefited from luck, the residue of hard work as one author called it. Mr. Frutkin, for example, came of age during the gilded Internet years, and Mr. Bereano struck lobbying gold at a time when states' rights were at the fore.
The question shouldn't be how do you make a million dollars. It should be how do you make a millionaire? Most are made from scratch, from ingredients stirred during their childhoods.
Mario Morino, a millionaire many times over and chairman of the nonprofit Morino Institute in Reston, points to his hardscrabble youth as the start of his wealthy ways.

Grew their own vegetables

"We had very little money. We grew vegetables in the back yard and sold them door to door," he recalls.
Mr. Morino, a plainspoken man dressed in a black polo shirt, says work was compulsory growing up in Kent, Pa., and Cleveland. So, too, was helping his mother, who cleaned homes for a living.
Mr. Morino, 57, vividly remembers how some employers treated her like hired help.
It's a lesson that hasn't left him.
"The one thing I hate is arrogance," he says, his heavy-lidded gaze locked in. "The greatest element of power is never to abuse it."
Though money was scarce, his family occasionally took in those less fortunate. So his shift in the early '90s from corporate player to benefactor came naturally.
Mr. Morino rose to economic prominence by creating a suite of systems-management software products with an initial investment of $600. When he sold the company in 1992, at that time known as Legent Corporation, the deal was worth $1.8 billion.
His Morino Institute, which he set up in 1994, showcases the District's technological resources. It also encourages local entrepreneurs while guiding them toward charitable efforts.

Rich work like plow horses

His new lifestyle lets him devote more time to his wife and three children. By a millionaire's standard, that translates into 70- to 80-hour work weeks.
It has become clear that 9-to-5 types needn't apply to this privileged club. Being rich is a full-time pursuit.
Each of the millionaires interviewed by The Washington Times flashed the personable skills that have well served their careers. Attendants flit in and out during their conversations. Cellular phone calls must be taken now, not later.
And they concede to talking shop. Incessantly.
One senses an interruption in the flow when engaging a millionaire, though they provide undivided attention.
One Georgetown millionaire, preferring anonymity, credits his people skills, and more importantly, his powers of persuasion. He might not always have the right answer, but he has to convince you he does.

The danger of class warfare

No matter how philanthropic Mr. Morino and his peers may be, some will view them warily due to their status.
In politics, "the wealthiest 1 percent" is an effective battle cry for those against giving tax relief to the affluent.
"The social backlash to the wealthy, it's already starting," Mr. Morino says. "The issue builds as the economic times worsen."
He worries that technology will help broaden the gap between the haves and have nots, and lead to further erosion of trust between the two sides.
The bitter feelings some harbor toward the wealthy "is very real," Mr. Morino says. "You have to be remarkably sensitive to that."
Amitai Etzioni, director of George Washington University's Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies and author of "Next: The Road to the Good Society," says the resentment against the rich is slightly ebbing.
"Millionaires have become common," he says, which feeds into the fact that Americans are less likely to accept class distinctions. "Americans all expect to become millionaires themselves."
At first glance, Mr. Frutkin looks like he could be an energetic intern at a bustling corporation.
Instead, he runs one. He created Doceus, an Internet solutions firm headquartered on 16th Street NW, while a student at American University. The Cleveland native taught himself Web coding to build a site at a professor's behest. Soon, he began concocting Web sites for other clients.
"I've always been entrepreneurial," the young CEO says, relaxing in a charcoal gray sweater, a single gold ring adorning one hand.

How to keep your friends

Though still young, he says the transition from college student to millionaire was gradual.
But the conversation slows when the subject turns to relationships, his answers becoming more stubborn to emerge.
"I was able to maintain the relationships that were important to me," he says. "My best friends turned out to be guys running companies in town," he says of his peer group, which includes fellow alumnus Michael Chasen, CEO of Blackboard.com.
Mr. Frutkin, too, says his upbringing helped him become an entrepreneurial force.
His father's mantra, "Work, don't worry," is his clarion call whenever pressures mount.
But in a sense, he's always working, watching CNBC instead of ESPN and putting in exhausting hours in his judiciously appointed office.
When he meets strangers, the burden of his position in society comes into play. "I'm struggling between being a kid … and making a good impression," says Mr. Frutkin, who lives in the Palisades section of the city.
"I've seen how people react and what they think of successful people [who misbehave]. I want to buck that trend," he says.

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