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The Young and the Wealthy

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There was a time when being a Chief Executive Officer meant one must have worked for at least 40 years and climbed up the corporate ladder of a single company—gray-haired, suit-wearing, shod in super shiny Florsheims, seated behind a huge, mahogany office desk with two or three executive secretaries guarding the gates.

Times are different now.

Never in history have there been so many young entrepreneurs who are wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. Things have changed.

Mark Zuckerberg, a college dropout, is 29 years old and worth US$16.8 billion as of July 2013. If you watched the movie, you would know Dustin Moskovitz, eight days younger than Mark and worth a cool US$3.8 billion.

Over in Japan, another entrepreneur, Yoshikazu Tanaka, is 34 years old and worth US$4.3 billion.

Something is happening.

Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg were all, at one time or another, considered one of the richest men in the world—and all of them dropped out of college. I think there is a message here somewhere. Maybe we committed a mistake: we graduated.

I am just trying to be funny. But the fact is that being an entrepreneur requires a different set of street smarts and business smarts, which may or may not be learned in a college course.

Schools do not prepare students to think, act, behave and, eventually, become entrepreneurs. Even parents today still tend to say, “Son (or daughter), study hard, finish your assignments, stay out of trouble, don’t get anybody pregnant (or don’t get pregnant), get a diploma, graduate, and get a good job.

Gone are the days when stories are told of getting rich by going through the traditional path of getting an entry-level job and working your way up from the bottom.

This is the time of creativity, new skill sets, technology literacy—and these are just entry-level expectations for those who wish to have minimum job security.

Training and self-education are extremely important but, to really become successful, you and I need to develop an entrepreneurial mindset.

Think like you own the business. Entrepreneurs think and behave differently. They have business acumen. They don’t think like employees. They don’t use office time to do their own petty little activities. They pour in all their creative effort into growing the scope of their responsibilities.

This entrepreneurial mindset is what propels them to the top of their organizations and, believe me, this is the same entrepreneurial mindset that created these young billionaires.

Be self-driven. Do not shrug off responsibilities. Do not stare at the clock and hope for work hours to be over so you can head for happy hour. Pretend you own the business and act like it.

Develop ideas and take the initiative to improve the business and, in the process, transform yourself into an entrepreneur.

God does not enjoy idle clock watchers and lazy laborers. This is why you and I need to be excellent. Who knows? When the next break comes, you will be ready. You may not earn a billion dollars—but maybe you would—but it will no longer matter.

What matters is that you have worked your way to becoming excellent, and this makes you a cut above the rest.

Print ed: 10/13


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