When I was a young boy, I was always intrigued with the thought of becoming a millionaire. Growing up in small towns of 700- 2000 people across the desert regions of West Texas, a little boy like me did not get to see wealth accumulation first hand. However, West Texas was full pumpjacks, which indicated that there was oil coming out of the ground in that particular spot. Because the Beverly Hillbillys television show was the most popular show of my era, and it gave me a daily reminder that oil coming out of the ground meant that you could become a millionaire, like Jed Clampet, and I was mesmerized by every pump jack that I saw. I would always ask my dad, “Dad, how can we get one of those pump jacks?” The reply was always the same. “Son, you have to own the land to get the oil that comes out of that ground, and we don’t own any land.” So, all I could do was dream, but I never stopped thinking about becoming a millionaire and moving to Beverly HIlls. After all, my entire worldview came from what I saw on television. It was my only way of seeing anything outside of our little town with one red blinking stop light.
Because I wanted to make money and buy things, I looked for ways to earn money. I began selling Grit magazines door to door in my little town. I used this money to buy football cards, which was a passion of mine. As I got a little older, I started to mow lawns in order to make extra money. Unfortunately, I wanted more money but I always blew my earnings on sodas, candy, junk food, video games, and football cards. I didn’t have anyone in my life that would teach me the importance of saving or investing my earnings.
There were seeds of entrepreneurship planted in my souls at an early age through watching shows like The Beverly Hillbillies and Gillian’s Island. I always wanted to travel and go live on an island like Gilligan and the crew! But those seeds became dormant when I started trading hours for dollars working at Dairy Queen during my senior year. That job led to part time jobs each summer while I was in college, working at grain elevators and cotton gins for $4.00 per hour. I used to work for 10-14 hours per day, 7 days per week, all summer long. It was grueling, but my mindset had reverted to trading hours for dollars as soon as I took the Dairy Queen job. Where I had begun as a little entrepreneur, determining my earnings due to individual effort, I was now consistently falling in to a pattern of my worth being determined by a set income, correlated with set days and set hours. After four successive jobs, I was beginning to feel sucked in to the system of my worth being dictated by someone else in charge.
What happened to make me quit thinking about working for myself, earning maximum dollars for my time spent? I needed a financial mentor. I needed someone in my life to encourage me to keep thinking creatively in reference to how I could, in my youth, make maximum income with my time spent working.
There is no doubt that all of my days working in cotton fields, grain elevators, cotton gins, dairies, and Dairy Queen taught me one some valuable lessons. I worked hard and I certainly wasn’t afraid of hard work. I also did my job, and did it well. I was getting paid to produce, and I took that very seriously that someone was giving me money that was agreed upon to produce certain services. When I worked at Dairy Queen as a cook, I did not mess up one single order. Why? Because I took “cut the onions” seriously, and I took “no mayo” seriously. Even though I learned lessons, what I wasn’t learning was to multiply money and earn the kind of money I valued myself at.
So, how does a little entrepreneur become an adult entrepreneur? This happens when parents and mentors aren’t afraid to teach young people how to dream and how to chase those dreams. Young people need to be taught creative ideas and strategies that can stimulate their mind to chase their value in the market place, not just get a job at the hardware store and trade hours for dollars.
The next generation is depending on us to show them how to think creatively, how to work smart and hard at the same time. Working hard is great, but working harder and smarter pays bigger dividends. I don’t have the space to write down all of the ideas that come to mind, and many of you have ideas of your own based upon your past experiences; however, I will give you a couple of ideas that I wish someone would have shared with me when I was in my youth. I have often wondered why no one ever told me that I could have acquired a valet position at a luxury hotel and earned 10X more each day than I was working at the grain elevator. On top of that, I would have been around wealthy people, and would have had the opportunity to meet some of these wealthy people and build relationships with those who could have helped launched me in to a very lucrative career of some sort, at a young age.
Or why did no one ever tell me that I could go to Alaska and work as a fishing guide all summer for tips? Those tips, by the way, are usually tips from wealthy people who have the means to take these extravagant trips to Alaska and go fishing. In addition, I would have gotten a chance to serve these wealthy people all week long, build relationship, and make lasting impressions on them. Hence, doors of opportunity would have opened up for me all around my life, and I would have gotten to enjoy what my favorite hobby in life is: fishing! There are so many more ideas just like these!
How about someone telling me that I could have gotten a summer job working at a luxury resort in Mexico for the summer. What would that have done? Well, let’s just think here; summer, fun, beach, tan, ocean, fishing, and wealthy travelers to serve in whom I could establish and build relationships with for future endeavors.
The mystery here is not really a mystery at all. We are a product of our environment, and our thinking is limited to the atmosphere in which we have been exposed to, or exposed ourselves to. If you want to help raise up little entrepreneurs, then get involved in feeding them creative ideas! If you are wealthy, never stop offering your ideas to others, and pay it forward. If you are not wealthy, and you want to be, start finding ways to get around people who think creatively like I just described. Ideas and implementation of ideas, and the power of innovation, is unlimited.