NOTE ALSO: The plebes love a good rags-to-riches story about some yahoo who had some piece of worthless land that he was sitting on and then Wal-Mart offers him a gazillion billion trillion dollars for it to build a distribution center. Ol' Jimmy was smart to hang on to that land, and ol' Bob doesn't know shit, does he?Well, the deal is this: These are the sort of poverty stories that poor people like to tell each other, and rarely are they true. These are usually "Friend of a Friend" (FoF) stories, and ol' Jimmy is my second cousin's sister mother's husband twice removed. In other words, he doesn't exist.Also, Wal-Mart didn't get rich by overpaying for land. They intentionally locate their stores in places where the land is cheap, outside of town, and use nominal buyers to purchase these properties so as to not arouse suspicion. They aren't about to dump money in ol' Jimmy's lap when Fred across the street will sell for less. In fact, they often pit one seller or two against the other to get the lowest prices and tax concessions.
Yes, there are people who sell vacant land at a profit. Usually these are people who have inside knowledge that the land will be worth more in short order. They buy a property from some unsuspecting yahoo (ol' Jimmy, in reality) and then quickly flip it for a huge profit.For example, the fellow who helped found the Jekyll Island Club bought the island at a fire-sale price from the heirs of the original owners, and then immediately doubled or tripled his money by selling it to the nascent Jekyll Island Club. He knew in advance the land would be worth more.And like with stocks, it is damn hard (and in that case, illegal) to get such insider information. Stop believing in poverty stories! They will drive you broke! You don't need to be "lucky" or clever or know someone to get wealthy - you need to be persistent and work hard.
There is a fourth reason, too. It allows the teller of the story to be in the know for once in his life, instead of the clueless idiot who bumbles his way through the day. We all want to have secret inside knowledge - gnosis - and share it with others. It is a human thing.
The other problem with this story is that in most companies, inventing is a collaborative effort, not a solo one, and you don't invent things by sitting and staring off into space, but by actually doing things by trial and error. It sort of goes against the entire reality of how invention works.