Does that sound vain – or possibly even a bit narcissistic? Maybe – a little. But I know what being a millionaire has meant in my own life, including the freedom and opportunities it’s provided. As a father of four children, I think it’s natural to want something that good for them as well.
That’s why among everything else I’m trying to teach my kids, I’ve also made it a mission to teach them how to become millionaires.
Now let me make an important distinction. I want to teach my kids to become millionaires, but I’m certainly not going to require it, if that were even possible. It’s common for every parent to teach their children what they’ve learned in life. And since being a millionaire has been such a wonderful advantage for me and my family, it’s absolutely something I want to pass on to my children.
That’s certainly not the only lesson I want to teach them in life, we all know there’s so much more. But I’ve worked with money most of my professional life, and learning how to create and manage it successfully has become a true craft, something like being an accomplished artist or musician. Why wouldn’t I want to pass that on to my kids?
As you might guess, teaching my kids to become millionaires isn’t a single lesson. Instead, it’s a series of lessons that will lead them in that direction. You can benefit from the same lessons, or even pass them on your own children. It’s never too late!
Here are the lessons I’m teaching my kids to become millionaires:
1. Never be Afraid to Fail
You miss 100% of the shots you never take. That was a bit of famous advice given by Wayne Gretzky. As perhaps the greatest hockey player who’s ever lived, that’s the kind of advice that shouldn’t be ignored. And from my experience, it’s right on the money when it comes to everyday life.
I learned that lesson myself early in life. To build my business, I began by cold calling prospective clients. I found out firsthand what it was like to be rejected 100 times a day.
What I learned in the process was that success was on the other side of all that rejection. Closer to the truth is that there’s no way to find success unless you’re willing to endure rejection.
I came to understand that every “no” I heard brought me one step closer to a new client.
Success doesn’t fall out of the sky. It’s something closer to panning for gold. That’s especially true when you’re just starting out. But as you roll forward, and begin to improve your technique, you also increase your success.
This is a difficult teaching for adults, let alone for kids. But it’s one they have to embrace early in life. So many people stagnate in life precisely because they fail on their first few attempts, then give up. After that, they settle into a life of mediocrity.
That’s not what I want for my kids, and I can’t imagine anyone else wanting it for theirs.
2. Sticks and Stones May Break Your Bones, But Rejection Will Never Hurt You
Whether I teach this to my kids or not, it’s something they’ll experience throughout their lives – including during childhood. Think about the bullies you encountered as a child; it’s almost certain that your children and mine have gone through the same thing. Maybe they’re even going through it as you read this article.
That doesn’t end when you become an adult. The bullies change tactics, but they don’t go away. The reality is that not everyone will like you, and that’s something everyone needs to get comfortable with as early in life as possible.
Bullies are only the most obvious people obstacles in life, whatever form they take. But we need people to get on board with us for whatever it is we want to do. The unfortunate reality is that most won’t. That’s where rejection comes in, and that’s what we have to get used to.
To do that effectively, we have to reach a point where a) we anticipate rejection, b) we learn to work around it, and c) we keep going in spite of it.
That’s a mission-critical lesson for everyone, not just kids. It can sound like a harsh lesson on the surface, but the sooner it’s learned, the better prepared for adult life my kids will be.
3. You Won’t Get Rich Working for Someone Else
I don’t want to say it’s impossible to get rich working for someone else, but it’s infinitely more difficult. The limitation is in the basic nature of employment. An employer will only hire you – and keep you on board – if your work generates more income than you’re being paid in salary and benefits. Put another way, you’re working to make your employer rich. And if you don’t, you won’t keep your job.
Self-employment is both faster and a more efficient way to become a millionaire. First, you don’t split the profits with anyone. Whatever revenue your work produces is yours.
Second, and perhaps even more important, your ability to satisfy your customer isn’t restrained by an employer’s rules.
For example, let’s say a customer or client requests a service that isn’t within the scope of your employer’s procedures. You may want to give the client outstanding service, but your hands are tied.
You make money by meeting your customer’s needs. Sometimes you have to step outside-the-box to do that. Of course, it’s easier to do when you’re self-employed, and not restricted by the employee handbook.
But there’s something else that may be even more important. In most employment situations, you’re part of an organization. There are divisions of responsibilities, and everyone has a specialization. You need to fit within the framework of that organization to do your job properly.
That type of system may work well in an organization, but it can also be stifling. Since you’re limited in what you can do on the job, it’s extremely difficult to fully develop the talents you have inside. We all have them, but you can go through your entire life without discovering them if you always work for someone else.
My kids need to know there’s a better way.
4. Be Willing to Take Risks
This certainly doesn’t mean living your entire life on the edge. But if you play it safe all the time, you’re not likely to get anywhere.
Unfortunately, we all want to protect our kids. We want to build invisible fences around them, and always be ready to catch them when they fall. But ironically, it’s those kid-type risks they take that prepare them for the more meaningful ones in adulthood. That’s what I don’t want to keep my kids from learning by me being overprotective.
It’s especially important to encourage kids to take risks, because that’s exactly what doesn’t happen in school. Schools emphasize teaching “the right way” to do things. And the answer is almost always somewhere in a book.
In adult life, we know that isn’t true. There are usually several ways to accomplish a task, and many times there is no right answer. You have to think outside-the-box, and that takes creativity. Creativity is developed by taking risks. You try something and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s the efforts made that teach us how to tap our hidden talents.
In my own life, my greatest successes came when I stepped off the beaten path and tried something completely new. For example, when I started my blog, Good Financial Cents, back in 2007, I had no idea what I was doing. I had no previous blogging experience. But today, that blog is a million-dollar venture.
Had I not stepped out and taken the risk of diving into what I had never done before, I never would’ve experienced that success.
Kids need to learn that, and it’s my job to teach that to my own children.
5. Discover Your Hidden Talents
This is super important, because we all have them. But one of the biggest tragedies in life is that so few people ever discover their greatest talents.
When you develop your own unique talents, it puts you in a position to give something to the world no one else can provide. That’s the real “secret sauce” to becoming a millionaire.
Think about it – if what you’re offering the world is the same as 100,000 other people, why would anyone choose to buy it from you?
They may not, unless there’s something you have to offer that makes you stand out from the rest. That’s the reason why it’s so important to develop your own unique talents.
We sometimes think of talent as being the ability to succeed in the performing arts, or to develop the newest latest and greatest widget. But that’s rarely true. It’s much more common that you offer the same product or service as your competitors, but you’ll do it in a unique way that makes whatever you’re offering more attractive than your competitors.
Once you develop your unique talents, it’s critical that you get into the habit of focusing your efforts on whatever it is that will generate the most revenue.
For example, on my blog, I’ve found I have talent to write articles, create videos, and network with other bloggers. Those are my strengths. The more time I spend working on them, the more money I make.
Conversely, the more time I spend on other tasks, the less money I make. While relentlessly pursuing my talents, I’ve learned to outsource jobs that don’t contribute directly to my bottom line.
To make the point in numbers, it makes more sense for me to spend 10 hours making a video that will generate $10,000 in revenue, than to spend the same 10 hours preparing my income tax return. I’ll gladly pay someone else $1,000 or whatever to prepare my return, so I can create a money-making video.
I’m trying to teach my kids to focus on what they do best, and not spend too much time on things they don’t.
6. Set Goals and Pursue Them Relentlessly
To get anywhere in life, you have to set goals. Each goal has to be accompanied by an action plan. Without it, a goal is little more than a wish.
Both the goal and the action plan need to be written. The basic idea is to set your goals to be achieved by a series of steps. That will keep the goal itself from becoming overwhelming. By doing that, you’re likely to reach your goals more quickly than you will without a written plan.
Once they’re written down, you need to review them constantly. A written plan becomes a mission statement, and forces you to act.
I can say categorically I would’ve never reached millionaire status in my own life without regularly establishing goals. It doesn’t matter that you won’t reach all your goals. If you set five and a year, and you “only” accomplish four of them, that’s four more than you would have accomplished had you not set them.
People sometimes fail to set goals out of fear they won’t accomplish them. But that gets back to #1 – Never Be Afraid to Fail. The reality is you’ll fail at many things in life, including small goals. So you may as well set big ones so that when you accomplish them you’ll succeed in a big way.
I encourage my kids to set the kind of goals children will. But to be a worthwhile goal, it has to be something just beyond what they believe they can do. And each time they succeed in accomplishing a goal, they’re better prepared and more confident for the next one.
That’s one of the greatest life lessons I can teach them.
7. The Power of Saying “No” – And Meaning It
We all want to make other people happy, and one of the best ways to do that is by saying “yes” to whatever they ask us to do. But while that might please others, it can leave you with a miserable life. By saying “yes” all the time, it’s just a question of time before you’ll stretch yourself so thin you’ll either:
- Have no time for yourself
- Eventually, find yourself unable to deliver on a promise you made to someone else
- Burn out
Number 3 happens because we all have only limited time and energy in our lives. If you spend most of it trying to please others you won’t be able to take proper care of yourselve. At that point, you’re no good to yourself or to anyone else.
That doesn’t mean you never say “yes”. But at the same time, you definitely need to limit how many times that happens.
In #5 above I talked about focusing most of my time on what generates the most revenue, then delegating less income-centric tasks to others. You won’t be able to do that effectively until you learn to say “no” when necessary, which is most of the time.
“No” is a control word, and the more frequently you use it, the more control you’ll have over your own life. It’s a way of filtering out unproductive clutter from your life.
The power of that little word is something every self-made millionaire understands well. It’s also something you need to get control of very early in life, and childhood is not too soon.
That’s the lesson on this important word I’m imparting to my own children.
8. Constantly Develop Better Ways to Do Things
We can think of this as refining your tactics and strategies. This is important in life and in business. It gets back to that time limit thing. Since each of us only have so much time, we need to constantly refine how we operate so we can make the best use of the time we have.
For my kids, that may be developing more effective ways to get their homework done. But if they learn that kind of lesson in childhood, they’ll be better prepared to use the same strategy in business. After all, the more efficient you become in what you do, the more you can get done.
That’s one of the most basic secrets of becoming a millionaire. It’s also the reason why some people seem to accomplish so much, often with what seems to be so little effort. When you streamline the way you work, everything just comes easier.
9. Never Stop Improving
In the business and professional world, we can call this investing in yourself. That might take the form of obtaining certifications, learning new skills, or investing in important business tools. Each represents an investment of time, effort, and money.
Investing in self-improvement is one of the main differences between millionaires and everyone else. Self-made millionaires are always looking for new ways to improve themselves, their businesses, and their investment performance. It’s even how a millionaire becomes a multi-millionaire.
In a tangible way, my wife and I are investing money for our kids’ college educations. And I continue to invest nearly $8,000 each year in a coaching program that’s enabled me to triple my income.
Childhood is not too early to learn the importance of continuous self-improvement. A child can learn to be a better student, a better athlete, and even a better family member. If those efforts are adopted early in life, they can follow a child throughout adulthood, and produce magical results.
Final Thoughts on Lessons I’m Teaching My Kids to Become Millionaires
In closing, let me say that I won’t be disappointed if any of my kids don’t become millionaires. But I want to make sure they know they can, if they choose to.
And as a millionaire myself, I don’t feel I’d be doing an adequate job as a father if I didn’t teach them what I know about money, as well as so many other things I’ve learned in my life.