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learn daily

I learnt a while ago to never stop learning. Someone once said, “The day you stop learning is the day you start dying”. Initially, I never had mentors. I didn’t see why I needed them. In 2003 or 2004, while still in my “wanna be a doctor” mind, I got to learn about Dr. Ben Carson. At the time, he was the best neurosurgeon in the world; best thing to me was he is African-American…African being the key word. He made me feel motivated and gave me this drive that if he could do it, so could I! I was a little thrown by the five books per week thing he and his brother had going on (when they were younger), but I aspired to be just like him.

From that day, I learnt that it doesn’t matter where you come from, you can still be the best. This was a breakthrough for me because for the longest time, I feared that only less fortunate people become millionaires, because they are determined to change their destiny; while the rich people stay comfortable, never growing, because they never take risks with their money. That is what I thought until I read about Donald Trump. In fact, I discovered my model company is just like his Trump Organization. His money and company was inherited, but he’s more than quadrupled it and built Trump into a super brand. His story has given me the desire to do better and more. So, even though, I am fortunate to have had a wealthy father, and didn’t grown up in poverty as Dr. Carson did, I can be better – after all, there’s comfortable -> rich -> very rich -> wealthy -> flourishing, and flourishing is where I wanna be. I’ve heard stories people who were wealthy one day and penniless the next. Your today doesn’t necessarily reflect your tomorrow. I affect my tomorrow by the decisions I make today. Everything I know today is an experience. Yesterday won’t matter tomorrow.

In the summer of 2007, one of my wasteful periods, I paid phone bills worth about $200 almost every two weeks for 2 months. Eventually, I missed a payment. I didn’t realize until I needed to make a phone call pronto, and noticed my line had gotten disconnected. So I called the company and asked them to restore my line, and I would pay in a week. My reasoning was – I have always paid all my bills on time, never defaulted, and had been paying at least $400 every month for the past 2 months. The customer service rep told me, “Well sir, I can see your history, but that was then and this now. And right now, you have an outstanding bill you haven’t paid”. In that instance, I realized it didn’t matter that I always paid. As far as he was concerned, if I wasn’t paying, I wasn’t getting my phone restored!

In the spring of 2008, I found a note I wrote to future me in 2003. It said “learn from the best”. And since the inception of The SKA Group, I try to learn something new about money, saving and business everyday. I read online articles from msn.com, sympatico.ca, msn.co.uk, forbes.com, entrepreneurs.com everyday! I’ve read books like “The Millionaire Mind” and “The Campus CEO” to build myself up. One thing I learnt from both books is “No matter how much you’re worth, you still respect money, especially if you worked for it”. Just because one is a millionaire doesn’t make it easier for him to part with a thousand for no reason.

In 2009, I heard about a show on which some millionaires would listen to a business ideas and decide whether to invest in the businesses or not. I couldn’t remember the name, so forgot about it until one of the rare times when I actually watch TV, I came across “Shark Tank”. I thought that must have been the show. Later, I found out it as the Canadian-version, Dragons’ Den, I was told about. Anyway, I liked the Shark Tank more, sorry Canada lol. Basically, I instantly fell in love with the way moguls literally dissected a business/idea, talked about money, negotiated deals, and communicated.

At the time, the meanest of the sharks, Kevin O’Leary (worth $3.2 billion), happened to be the richest. He always says this, which makes a lot of sense – “Here’s how I think of my money – as soldiers. I send them out to war everyday. I want them to take prisoners and come home, so there’s more of them. Everyday, I want to be richer when I go to bed than when I was in the morning.” The only woman, Barbara Corcoran (worth $500 million), once said, “Don’t you dare underestimate the power of your own instinct.” Another shark, the only African-American, Daymond John (worth $300 million), once said, “From the day you’re born, you’re branding yourself as something or another…until the day you die, you’ll advertise your character, your integrity, your passion, your faith and your background.” My favorite is Robert Herjavec (worth $350 million). Not only because I think we have similar personalities, but because he’s just like the guy next door, and has the real deal success story – he is a former immigrant whose family moved to Canada with just $20. Years later, he bought the most expensive house in Bridle Path (one of the most, if not the most exclusive neighbor in Toronto). He once said, “Don’t ever be enamored by what something sells for. It’s more important what you get to keep in your pocket.”

I started following the show and within the first three episodes, I learnt how to negotiate- start high enough such that if it’s beaten down, you still make a profit. I don’t miss it now. I searched each of them on Google and realized that they are all self-made multimillionaires with the same history – great idea, hard work, great timing and boom! But, every time a hear a rags-to-riches story, even though I’m always impressed, I never feel I can relate because I don’t think I can have their “i just have to make it” drive to succeed. Even though a good chunk of what I have is self-made, I also feel like I’m not trying hard enough, because I have a safety net (parents’ money) to fall back on, so if these businesses fail, all is not lost. I hate having that mindset because it doesn’t give me the necessary edge.

One mistake I won’t make though is grow too quick. Always wondered why when my dad started his company, he chose to begin operating from a very small office, when he could have built a more befitting structure. Now, I know – start small and grow as necessary.

I’ll try to emulate all these people, key into their nuggets of wisdom, and learn from their mistakes. After all, a wise man learns from his mistakes, a wiser man learns from the mistakes of others.

Keep learning people!

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  1. neefemi
    February 22, 2011 at 1:21 am

    Truer words have never been spoken….Dr. Ben Carson is still my mentor, not because I want to be a doctor anymore, but because of his drive…like you said, there’s no reason to not be better than your parents 😉
    PS- still need to get back to you on the question I asked and will do.

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