This is a guest post from Tim Clark, who writes about money and meaning at Soul Shelter, which just turned one year old!
An entrepreneur I met years ago recently sold his company for a large sum — he wound up with some $14 million after taxes.
I learned this when we crossed paths a couple of months ago and renewed our acquaintance. After hearing about my approach to teaching, he asked me to deliver a personal, one-on-one, remote version of the Introduction to Entrepreneurship course I teach in two local graduate business programs.
Why would someone worth $14 million enroll in a beginner’s entrepreneurship course? Though my new student’s entrepreneurial achievements outshine my own, I was only mildly surprised when he asked me to teach him. Here are just three reasons he might have asked for my help:
- Entrepreneurs value education in all forms. Most successful entrepreneurs have some college experience, and even the most street-smart, self-made, academic-deriding School of Hard Knocks types recognize that everyone can learn from formal study. My student is discovering, as I did, powerful principles that articulate what entrepreneurs sense in their guts — and that such articulation is highly useful. My pupil also confirms the commonsense observation that successful people study continuously, whether formally or on their own.
- The industrious become wealthy, and the wealthy remain industrious. Industrious people tend to become wealthy, and they remain industrious after they become wealthy. You don’t find many pool-loungers among self-made millionaires. My student never has to work another day in his life, but he’s decided to achieve mastery in a new field: entrepreneurship. He’s already working on several new ventures, some of which may be non-profit.
- Respect and humility. Successful people respect and learn from others’ accomplishments, big and small: they don’t hold themselves above or aloof. They’re usually modest about their own successes, too, and recognize that even the accomplished have much to learn.
Interview a dozen or so successful company founders, and you’ll recognize these same traits.
Now my student and I are in our seventh week of “classes.” He is, of course, an outstanding pupil, and like all teachers, I learn more from the student than he does from me.
Why would someone worth $14 million enroll in a beginner’s class in entrepreneurship? For exactly the same reasons he’s now worth $14 million. And because he recognizes that in the larger scheme of things, we’re all beginners still.
J.D.’s note: I am a huge advocate of continuing education. From my experience, it’s the people who strive to improve themselves who are best able to achieve their dreams. I make my living as a writer, but I continue to take writing courses because I know there’s more to learn.
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