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Why a Multimillionaire Businessman Took a Beginner’s Class in Entrepreneurship

For exactly the same reasons he’s now worth $14 million

pear_four_fifths.gifAn entrepreneur I met years ago recently sold his company for a large sum on excellent terms, and wound up with some $14 million after taxes. I learned this when we crossed paths again last summer 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 formspear_two_fifths.gif
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 discovered, as I did, powerful principles that articulate what entrepreneurs sense in their guts—and that such articulation is highly useful. My pupil also confirmed 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.

pear_one_fifth.gifRespect 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.

My student and I have completed ten weeks of “classes,” and he’s off pursuing new ventures. He’s an outstanding pupil—and I’m an excellent teacher. But like all teachers, I learn more from students than they do 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 maybe because he recognizes that, in the larger scheme of things, we’re all beginners still.

(A slightly modified version of this post first appeared at Get Rich Slowly)

You may enjoy these other entrepreneurship-related posts:

Entrepreneurship: A Primer

Three Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting My Own Business

Pursuing Fortune and Fulfillment with Blogger Extraordinaire J.D. Roth

Three Questions Seekers Must Ask Themselves

How to Go Solo Without a ‘Big Idea’

The Soul of an Entrepreneur, the DNA of a Business

Making Money: The Right and Wrong Questions to Ask

How to Create Wealth, How to Keep Wealth

For Entrepreneurs Starting with Nothing, Here’s the Ultimate Strategy

Make This Year’s Decisions Stick with This Simple Secret

In Praise of Salaried Employment

Soaring Success, Devastating Failure: A Samurai’s Story

Entrepreneurship: Why It’s Not about You

The Surprising Truth About Why People Become Entrepreneurs

Quiz: Are You the Entrepreneurial ‘Type’?

2 Comments to Why a Multimillionaire Businessman Took a Beginner’s Class in Entrepreneurship

On Jan 19, 2009, jim commented:

I thought this post looked familiar… :)

I think you always have to be learning or you are doing yourself a disservice.

On Jan 19, 2009, by Tim commented:

Yes, Jim, J.D. Is my blogging teacher:-)

And amen to your comment about learning. In my book, there’s no difference between students and teachers.

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