Last night, I was reading through a personal finance book (one of the upcoming ones in the 52 Weeks… series) when I dozed off to sleep. In my dream, I was playing catch with Suze Orman in the outfield at Wrigley Field, and she kept shouting at me in that distinctive tone of hers that she was going to embarrass me on her show that evening, that she was going to tell the world that I had spent all of my money on a picnic with her at Wrigley Field. (Incidentally, she had a killer pitching arm – it was making my wrist sting – and she looked extremely young, younger than I am.)
When I woke up this morning, this dream kept sticking in my head. Why would I dream about Suze Orman? I wasn’t reading a book written by her, nor had I even seen her show (or even thought about it) in a long while. It particularly bugged me because I can usually rationally explain everything that happens in my dreams – they’re almost always subconscious nudges that I should be doing something that I’m forgetting about. After some reflection, however, I think I pieced it together.
Suze Orman’s personality makes my skin crawl. The public persona of Suze Orman revolves around an appearance of “success”: designer clothes, styled hair, and the like. This runs contrary to what she preaches, which is to live thrifty and sock away money. Similar financial pundits don’t dress overly nicely; take Jim Cramer, for instance. He dresses like the chainsmoking accountant I know that lives down the street, but it makes sense because he’s preaching positive use of money and reasonable investment. Suze, on the other hand, comes off as some sort of televangelist, preaching her solutions to all of your problems with her screechy voice and “worship me now” attitude, dressed to the nines in a self-contradictory fashion like the wife of Joel Osteen or something.
But a lot of the advice she gives is good advice, especially to beginners. Even though her persona drives me to drink (literally, I sometimes watch her show in the late evening with a glass of scotch), she says things that often make sense to the beginning investor. Unquestionably, it’s a good idea to get your head on straight first, and it’s a good idea to build up an emergency fund before you dive into big purchases. I don’t think it’s just the scotch-induced haze – her material actually makes sense. Her books are also quite good, mostly because they’re separated from the designer clothes and that nails-on-the-blackboard voice.
I’m at a loss here… should I like Suze Orman or not? Is it okay to be completely disgusted by someone’s persona but still respect what that person has to say? My uncle used to say “big suit, little man” a lot, in reference to people that tried to put on a big show about things but really didn’t amount to much – and this is the exact same vibe I get from Suze Orman on a regular basis. Yet the actual core of the message she sends strikes a deep inner chord with me – maybe the specifics aren’t perfect, but the central concept is spot-on.
Either way, I don’t think I’ll tell my wife about this dream. She would probably be creeped out by the whole thing.