The tech revolution brought along its changes a feeling that one must be young, really young, to become successful. You either hit it big before you reach the age of 30, or you must accept that you are destined for a modest life of modest achievements.
The argument is straight forward: younger people tend to think outside the box and challenge the status quo, so it’s easier for them to come up with revolutionary ideas. Second, younger people have more energy and stamina, so it’s easier for them to achieve high performance levels, be it intellectually or physically.
Backing up this argument we also have plenty of famous examples:
1. Steve Jobs was 21 and Steve Wozniak was 26 when they founded Apple. Within four years Apple went public and made both millionaires (along with 300 other employees and investors…).
2. Bill Gates and Paul Allen were respectively 21 and 23 when they founded Microsoft and started writing software for hardware makers like MITS and IBM.
3. Both Larry Page and Sergey Brin were 23 when they started working on the research project that would later become Google. By their 30th birthday they were already billionaires.
4. Mark Zuckerberg was 20 when he launched Facebook out of his dorm room in Harvard, becoming a billionaire at age 28.
That’s pretty much all the evidence we need to conclude that you either hit your home-run while you are young or you won’t hit one at all. Or is it?
I was not quite convinced, and I started reading more on the topic. Here are some of the stories I found.
Asa Griggs Candler was born in 1851 in Georgia, USA. He was a drugstore owner, and while his business was going well, he wasn’t rich by any means. At age 37 he came across a medicine that was sold for five cents a glass and that was supposed to help with several diseases. He purchased the formula for $500, and decide that he would sell it as a soft drink at stores, restaurants and vending machines. The name of the drink? Coca-Cola.
Harland Sanders lost his father at a young age, and since his mother had to work he was assigned the task of cooking for his whole family. Over the years he had several jobs, including salesman and car driver, but he always kept his passion for cooking alive. At age 40 he opened a gas station, and there he also served meals for customers. The business wasn’t that good, however, and at the age of 65 he was forced to close it down. He took $105 from his first social security check and decided to use it to launch a franchise, offering his special recipes. The franchise was called Kentucky Fried Chicken, or KFC. Today KFC serves more than 12 million customers daily…
Raymond Albert “Ray” Kroc was born in 1902, and until his 50s he held a myriad of jobs. Those ranged from radio DJ to and paper cup salesman and jazz musician. The last one was milkshake machine salesman. That’s when he started traveling around and getting to know the restaurant business. On one of those travels he discovered a restaurant owned by two brothers that had a really interesting concept: to serve customers as fast as possible using a carefully crafted production line. Ray became a partner and transformed the restaurant into a franchise. As you probably guessed, it was called McDonald’s.
There are several other examples in pretty much every area. Harrison Ford didn’t have much success as an actor early on, and he decided to work as a carpenter to support his family. He got hired to build some cabinets for director George Lucas, and that’s how he got his first big role, as Han Solo in Star Wars, at the age of 35.
Willian Shockley was 38 when he helped to invent the transistor, one of the biggest inventions of our time. Gandhi was 61 when he started the nationwide protests in India against the British government. Grandma Moses began her painting career in her 70s after abandoning a career in embroidery because of arthritis.
In other words, it’s never too late to go after your dreams, to become successful and to change the world.
What’s your excuse now?
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