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Inspiration from the 400 Wealthiest Americans (Part 2 of 2)
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In addition to being quite inspiring, if the backgrounds of America’s wealthiest individuals are as “checkered” as some pundits would have us believe, then what’s YOUR excuse?!? I mean, the chances that your family escaped a totalitarian government are fairly slim. You probably grew up in a much better setting than many of the people on the FORBES 400 list and probably even much better than mine. So why aren’t you the success you want to be yet? Perhaps you’ve listened too long and loudly to the Mediocre Majority and their Media??? Perhaps you’ve been listening too much to the “conventional wisdom” that ordinary business advisors profess??? Maybe it’s time you turn those conventions on their heads in your industry??? Maybe it’s time you associate with people who’ll get you thinking in a more constructive, smarter and wealthier way? If these “flawed individuals” can make the FORBES 400 list, then certainly there are better days ahead for you, right?

Success comes from Constant Learning, Hard Work, and Persistence (among other things)… at a Minimum. While I didn’t grow up in a totally impoverished setting (it was more of a working class village outside of Peoria, IL), I, at least, had the good sense to use education as my ticket out… but I’ve had the better sense over the years to realize how much more important non-academic education really is. I, too, began working hard young (age 8) with my jobs/entrepreneurial endeavors, prior to leaving college, including such things as: snow-shoveling/removal; grass-cutting; Little League umpiring and diamond maintenance; concession-stand sales; assisting (read: production, merchandizing, and selling) my Mother’s candy business; every possible job at McDonald’s (I still know when they’re burning the fries as I wait in line for 2 Happy Meals); waitering and bar-backing at a banquet facility; theatre box office sales and management; political and also academic fundraising; “creative” tee-shirt sales; and being a resident advisor (RA). Most of these overlapped — in fact, I can’t quite remember the last time I’ve had just one job. But I learned from ALL of these exposures and quickly applied what I’d learned in other settings to improve new ones and play the “betterment game” against myself. This has made a world of difference.

One of the members of the FORBES 400, Randall J. Kirk, is quoted as saying, “Failure early on is a necessary condition for success, though not a sufficient one.” I’d modify his statement about successful entrepreneurs to say that hardships early on (be they economic, political, societal, business failures, etc.) are what make successful (or bound-to-be-successful) people stronger and give them a foundation to build upon. I suppose Freidrich Nietzsche once said it much better than me: “That which does not kill me, makes me stronger.”

So even the 400 Wealthiest Americans in 2007 have had hardships they’ve persevered through. Many of the FORBES 400 started off far worse than you… but they ALL had the courage to become a Success, to push through the bad times, and to work SMARTLY. They were committed to becoming wealthy, and I bet they sought out business advisors who knew or KNOW how to make it Easier, how to do it Smarter, how to do it Better. So what are YOU willing to do?!? How committed are YOU?!? Are your business advisors focused on your wealth-creation???

I find the annual FORBES 400 list very inspiring… I hope you do, too. Overwhelmingly, these aren’t the “evil rich” the media would have us believe they are. These are people that made it. They didn’t let obstacles stand in their way. They give back, and they contribute SUBSTANIALLY to our society in numerous ways. We shouldn’t resent them, we should admire them. Abundance isn’t a passing fad. And if they can do it, so can you! Maybe you won’t make it onto a future FORBES 400 list, but there’s no reason you can’t double or triple your wealth and the happiness you gain from leading the lifestyle you want . . . IF you work with the right people. You just might want to go pick up this 25th anniversary issue and study it some more, especially if you want to find out who I’ve referenced above. There are several SHOCKING surprises!!!

By the way, here’s what eight of the Top Ten wealthiest Americans did:

-He dropped out of Harvard undergrad (Bill Gates).
-He filed his first tax return at age 13 and claimed a $35 deduction for his bicycle (Warren Buffet).
-He borrowed $200 from his uncle to sell newspapers at age 12 and later dropped out of CCNY (Sheldon Adelson).
-He studied physics at the University of Chicago, but never graduated (Larry Ellison).
-They both dropped out of their Stanford Ph.D. program (Sergey Brin and Larry Page).
-He dropped out of school in 8th grade (Kirk Kerkorian).
-He dropped out of the University of Texas (Michael Dell).

Kind of makes you think again about what it takes to really be successful, huh?

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