The Unfair Advantage of Being Young And Dangerous

Last Wednesday, I met with a very ambitious young man who just got accepted to a top tier college. As of this moment, he is exploring how to make the best use of the next four years in school and prep him for a successful career.

My advice to him was, “Relax, have a great time and listen to your heart while coming up with a living plan of action”. Overall, no one except himself can tell him what to do and what not. Being moved by his humbleness and sincerity, I did share with him my honest opinion as if I were in his position and what I had done when I was at his age. Let’s share the highlights here.

First and foremost, you need to understand the fact that as you get older, the less risk you should take. This not only applies to your own financial planning, but to your life in general. So, while you are still in early stage of life (anywhere from middle school to college), you should be testing out as much ideas as your heart’s desire, particularly those that are closely related to the experience around you. I am not saying we should all follow the footstep of Google, Facebook or Yahoo and expect to found a mega billion dollar company as soon as you drop out of school. What I mean is that by going through this early stage entrepreneurial exercise, it can help you to know yourselves a lot better and guide you in course selection as you work toward your educational goal.

Okay, say you start testing our crazy ideas from junior high. By the time you are at our junior year of college, you probably have figured out if you have yet the right ingredient to create a business that can stand a chance in the ruthless business world. Let’s say none of your prior ideas work, while continuing your idea testing exercise in the junior and senior year, it’s the time to seriously focus on finding yourselves a real job and leverage your prior entrepreneurial experience as an edge over other candidates to lock in that real job.

So what is that very real job I am talking about? Ideally, you want to work for a young startup in an up-and-coming space that is recently founded by a successful serial entrepreneur or funded by a premium venture capitalist (such as joining uber or airbnb in 2012, nest labs in 2011, twitter in 2007, Facebook back in 2004, or Google back in 2000). This is usually the first choice that top graduates would choose over the traditional route of working for Goldman Sachs or McKinsey.

In the event where you miss out on those job opportunities mentioned above, as a safety net, you can always apply for the fortune 500 companies in the space you have strong passion and interest in. By joining such a big firm, you should aggressively make good use of the abundant company resources to polish your skills and diligently get to know the market super well. In a few short years, you should accumulate enough knowledge and connections to identify a pain in the industry and come up with a killing idea for a viable business.

Let’s learn to use your youth as the unfair advantage and get a head start in life. May this particular wisdom serve as some food for thought to the readers who found themselves or their friends/family in a similar situation.


You may also be interested in the following:

  1. Entrepreneur Corner
  2. From Survival to Prosperity