Be white, be white, l’chaim
That ever-clever Trevor, Mr. Fengi, brought to my attention an article from Kiplinger’s containing ‘advice’ from people who became millionaires in their teens. Obviously, these people are successful, because not only are they rich, but they got rich at a time when the rest of us were busy smoking weed behind the racquetball courts. Mr. Fengi does his usual excellent job of pointing out that the article is a giant heap of shit, containing exhortations of work-hardistry and just-do-it-ism from people who had every possible advantage in life. This sort of thing makes you think you’re a failure if you’re not a millionaire by the time you get your driver’s license, but as Mr. Fengi explains, these folks were all born on third base and are pretending they hit a triple.
Fengi did the majority of the heavy lifting, but with the help of our good friend Google, I would like to a little bit further and show how utterly full of shit these folks are when they tell you that if you suck it up and put your nose to the ol’ grinder like they did, maybe you too can escape the dreary financial pit you were born in. Because, without exception, these folks were all raised well-off in high-income areas, received excellent educations, and started their business with substantial financial help from people who are probably not accessible to you. Let’s take a look.
MARK ZUCKERBERG, Facebook.com co-founder. Born white and wealthy in suburban New York, Zuckerberg was educated at the elite Phillips Exeter Academy and went on to Harvard. His mother was a psychiatrist, and his father was a dentist.
His advice for you: “Young people are just smarter. Young people just have simpler lives. Simplicity in life allows you to focus on what’s important.”
Advice he doesn’t give: What’s important is to make sure the business you allegedly stole from other people really gets off the ground by getting PayPal co-founder Mark Thiel to invest half a million dollars’ worth of start-up capital in it.
MICHAEL DELL, Dell Computers founder. Born white and wealthy in a tony section of Houston, Dell dropped out of the University of Texas to pursue his business career. His mother was an orthodontist, and his father was a stockbroker.
His advice for you: “Discover what you love to do, and make doing what you love your profession.”
Advice he doesn’t give: Doing what you love is much easier if you borrow $300,000 from your parents to do it with, and then get $100,000 in contract money from the Texas state government.
CATHERINE COOK, MyYearbook.com co-founder. Born white and wealthy in a ritzy New Hope, PA, Cook is currently a student at Georgetown University. Her two brothers, both partners in the business, are venture capitalists.
Her advice for you: “Stop thinking about it, and make it happen.”
Advice she doesn’t give: Making it happen is so much easier when one of your brothers gives you $250,000 in start-up cash, and the other of your brothers raises over $20 million in “angel funding, venture capital, and venture debt”.
SEAN BELNICK, BizChair.com founder. Born white and wealthy in a high-income suburb of Atlanta, Cook is a graduate of Emory’s graduate business school. His step-father owned a successful furniture business.
His advice for you: “Just do the research and find a way to do what you want to do.”
Advice he doesn’t give: What Belnick wanted to do was to take over his stepfather’s already-successful office furniture business, put it online, and then take all the credit.
JULIETTE BRINDEK, MissOandFriends.com co-founder. Born white and wealthy in Stamford, CT, Brindek is a student at St. Louis’ elite Washington University. Her father is the CEO of a communications company.
Her advice for you: “If someone starts to doubt your company and what you’re doing, you need to get rid of them.”
Advice she doesn’t give: Brindek won’t be getting rid of her dad, the chief executive of a high-tech firm that owns the company based on her grade-school doodles and turned it into a multi-million-dollar business.
DAVID HAUSER, Grasshopper Group co-founder. Born white and wealthy in Boston, MA, Hauser is a graduate of Harvard and Boston University. His partner is the scion of an extremely well-off family of Iranian businessmen.
His advice for you: “Success is finding solutions in challenges that help others; money is secondary.”
Advice he doesn’t give: Speaking of helping others, the Grasshopper Group got off the ground with a loan of “less than $500,000” from the wealthy parents of co-founder Siamak Taghaddos.
CAMERON JOHNSON, founder of a number of websites. Born white and wealthy in Roanoke, VA, Johnson is a student at VTI. His father owns one of the largest car dealerships in the area.
His advice for you: “Create value for others, and you’ll be rewarded.”
Advice he doesn’t give: Johnson was rewarded for the achievement of turning 10 with a gift of $1,000 from his parents to invest in the stock market. His first major company received $10 million in venture capital.
So, when you get right down to it, there’s no big secret to success: just have a good idea, execute it well, create value for your customers, and get your rich family or friends to pile shitloads of start-up cash into your business. It’s easy, as long as you were born lucky!