Jennifer Risher took a job in campus recruiting at Microsoft in 1991. She was 25 and given stock options worth several hundred thousand dollars. While working there, she met her husband, David, who had more stock options than she did. He later left to work for Amazon when it was still just selling books and got even more valuable options there.
In a few years, they were worth tens of millions of dollars and on their way to a comfortable life. When Ms. Risher looks back, was it luck or good decisions that helped her land that Microsoft job?
She poses that question and others in her book, “We Need to Talk: A Memoir About Wealth,” which is out next week. They are an effort to prompt critical thinking about money and the status and power that are accrued from it.
“Wealth doesn’t look anything like what Hollywood is selling us,” Ms. Risher said. “I want to demystify wealth — an experience millions of people have but can’t talk about. There’s a normalcy to it when all your friends are similarly wealthy.”
In a country that is politically, economically and racially divided, Ms. Risher is asking her readers for a level of introspection that can be difficult. The timing of her book could end up making her a target of anti-rich opprobrium, several wealth advisers told me.
But asking tough questions about money is an important exercise in understanding what we have, how we got it and how we feel about it.
Of course, the questions people typically pose about their wealth depend on their perspective.