It’s all who you know. That’s why I have high-quality, life-enriching, and inspiring friends across the globe to hang out with, keep me updated on their region’s market, and send me cool pictures to make me jealous.
Many of these friends are young entrepreneurs themselves, and as we get closer and closer to the release of my first book, 2 Billion Under 20: How Millennials Are Breaking Down Age Barriers and Changing The World, I wanted to highlight 3 young entrepreneurial friends across the globe who inspire me…partly for your viewing pleasure, and partly as a textual shout-out to these hustlers.
Meet Ben Paul.
When I first met Ben, I immediately and verbally crowned him “Zen Ben”. This 24 year old German blogger is cool, calm, and collected, a outer reflection of his inner work and confidence over years of being on the attacking side of the higher education debate in his country, having dropped out of one of Germany’s most prestigious law schools to start his blog, www.anti-uni.com, create high-quality information products, and building a loyal following in the process. Ben now has well over 30,000 followers to his blog, and is hopefully going to write a book of his own anyyyyyyyy day now…(**cough cough Ben!**).
Why is Ben so inspiring?
- Ben is zen…meaning he takes care of his “inner game” first, always striving to put his mental health, personal priorities, and focus before letting external circumstances annoy him, detract him, or others mislead him. This isn’t narcissism…it is confidence and responsibility at the highest level to keep himself healthy and of service to his customers and loyal following.
- He did something about an experience that irked him. Law school pissed him off, as he felt the level of eduction was not worth the monetary and time investment he was putting into it, so he not only dropped out, but offered a macro solution to the problem and has created a business around helping others implement micro solutions to daily challenges in designing their own education.
- He’s (75% of) where I’d like The Gap Year Experiment to go. Ben’s business model, body of work, and following is the German version of what I’d like to turn my second book, The Gap Year Experiment, into (…almost). I can turn to Ben for guidance as I create my own blogs, grow my own following, and create online information products. While there’s other, different things I’d like to do utilizing the IP and experiences surrounding my second book in the works, modeling after Ben is a great start. In fact, I even envisioned the information product for The Gap Year Experiment that I’m about to begin developing while I was in Berlin with Ben in December, 2014. That’s inspiration enough for a year!
Say hello to Bamidele Onibalusi.
Bamidele is one of the seventy-five book contributors to 2 Billion Under 20, and for good reason. One of Nigeria’s top young entrepreneurs, he taught himself how to use a computer and make money from it after his family and church gathered up enough money to afford buying one for him when he was an early teenager. Although it was incredibly expensive for them to invest in it at the time, Bamidele seized the opportunity, taught himself how to blog consistently and in a revenue-generating fashion, and went from not being able to afford a computer to managing dozens of people. He’s taught tons of others how to make money online through his website Writers In Charge, and has since gone on to invest in other ventures including fish farming.
Bamidele is so interesting because…
- He’s self taught. We all rely too much on the advice, mentorship, and “done for you” guidance of others, but real success comes when you take responsibility for your own success and learn things yourself. While mentors, advice, and tools are important for getting ahead, we should all strive to be more independent and self taught as well.
- He’s always reinvesting. I’ve written on the importance of self-investment before, and Bamidele epitomizes it. Not only did he reinvest most of his revenue from Writers In Charge into guest post opportunities, staffing, and otherwise growing the business, but as he’s accumulated funds, he’s quickly reinvested in other businesses, constantly putting big chunks of his cash flow on the line in order to build his empire. We are bound to make mistakes, but this is the perfect age for us to be taking risks, and I admire him for it.
- He’s humble, and always willing to help out.
Hola, mi amigo Connor.
Connor is my world-traveling, lifestyle-designing, straight-talking buddy who is currently living in Medellin, Colombia. We’re the same age, but it seems like he’s lived twice or three times as long, having taught himself diverse skill sets like DJ-ing, languages, web design, videography, cooking, and more, normally deep-diving for one month into new mental or physical challenges and conquering them, becoming better than probably 90% of the global population at a given activity after just thirty days of immersion. He’s also the guy who designed this website, and is part of my “dream team” when it comes to the creative side of new projects. He just taught himself Spanish in a month and then made a documentary of the entire experience, which will be out later this year.
Connor challenges me because…
- Connor couldn’t care less about the beat others are playing. He marches to his own drums, both in business and in his lifestyle. He’s living large all around the world, creating epic adventures that make for fantastic stories, unique learning experiences, and solid friendships. It is partially because of him that I backpacked around Europe “work-cationing” all of December 2014 and January 2015, and his confidence is also something to be examined and implemented in my own life and yours. It takes guts to go against the grain, be location independent, and live a deliberate life on your own terms, but as I’ve learned and he’s proved…it’s way more fun this way.
- He finds ways to mix skills. He designs with the mind of a marketer. Takes vacations and gets the hotel to pay for everything. Learns Spanish, and decides to document the experiment like an expert vlogger. It is in the cocktail of these activities that Connor is building up some serious leverage in his life, and it is always interesting when we chat to hear how his brain ticks. It makes us think, “What are two seemingly different ideas that we can bring together to create something new?”
- We share honest, meaningful feedback with one another. Although Connor has shared his thoughts about this previously, it is worth reiteration. We are trusted and close friends with one another because we can be completely honest in sharing thoughts and feedback with each other, knowing that no one’s feelings are getting hurt, and that positive outcomes are the only goal. In a world of “yes men” and praise, especially as a young entrepreneur, it’s even more important to listen to those who care for you deeply, so much so that they are willing to tell you when they think you’re wrong and show you a better path instead. I greatly appreciate that aspect of our relationship, and work to share that trait with others as well. It’s one of the main components of a good friendship.
Why did I tell you about these young entrepreneurs?
You are who you associate with. Every generation, countless thought leaders preach this concept, and yet so few people really implement the lessons taught. If you want to make less money, be miserable, and live normally, keep hangout out with those who barely stay afloat financially, are always complaining, and are 9-to-5 clock punchers. If you want a more exciting, meaningful, and rich life (in every sense of the word), find friends like Ben, Bamidele, and Connor.
Trust me on this one. You won’t regret it.