We can always learn from the experience of others. Regardless of the economic environment, the news headlines or whoever happens to be occupying the White House, this sage advice is timeless and applies to anyone.
It reminds me so well of advice from my favorite undergraduate economics professor, Dr. Balbir Sihag, when I was at the University of Lowell (now University of Massachusetts – Lowell).
And so I pass along this story that I picked up along the way in hopes that you find it as helpful to you as it has been to me.
A Story of Success: How I Made My Fortune in Business
An entrepreneur was being interviewed about the keys to his success by a reporter from a national business magazine. He was being profiled because of his business acumen, his prominent role in the community and many business interests. He had started his first business in the depths of the Great Depression and so many decades later had amassed a fortune.
When asked how he had first made his fortune, this is how he replied:
It was really quite simple. I bought an apple for five cents, spent the evening polishing it, and sold it the next day for ten cents.
With this I bought two apples, spent the evening polishing them and sold them the next day for twenty cents.
And so it went until I had amassed $1.60 from selling my apples.
It was then my wife’s father died and left us $1 million.
You can take any number of lessons from such an anecdote, the most obvious being marry well.
This story drives home the advice of my economics professor who once told our class that “the secret to success in life is to marry well. I did. I married a doctor.”
Now, not all of us have had the kind of good fortune of this anonymous entrepreneur. And we can only wish to have the crystal ball to know who we should marry that will lead to such good fortune.
When it comes to growing wealthy there are things you can control and things that you can’t. In this case, you certainly can control the opportunities to put yourself in line for good fortune and become an “overnight” success. Being in the right place at the right time is a key to many successes. But getting yourself in that place is up to you. So the key is to step up and take some sort of action, whether it’s getting married, honing a special skill or talent or investing in the financial markets or calling on the help of a professional for guidance.
It’s still just as true that you miss 100% of the pitches if you never step up to the plate.