A few months back Chris and I were fortunate enough to meet a young man named Scott.
Scott was about to graduate from a well-known, east coast university with a degree in finance. He was as ambitious a young man as we’d ever met, and we knew immediately that we wanted to keep an eye on him.
As (our) luck would have it Scott was intrigued by frontier markets and had plans to tour Asia and seek out his fortune abroad. He told us he wasn’t content to stay back and fight over the entry-level job market scraps with the other sheeple-in-training.
Long story short, recognizing a rising star when we see one, we partnered up with Scott, created a start-up and now he’s on his way to Mongolia to create his own wealth instead of collecting a pay check. We’re REALLY lucky to have him on our team.
When Scott asked me if he could create a follow-up to the Strawberry Generation post I published a couple weeks ago I said, “absolutely!”
You’ll be impressed with the wisdom this 22-year old man possesses.
When you tell your friends and family that after graduation from college you plan to leave to make your mark on the world – in a foreign country – eyebrows are raised; you might even be called crazy, but, committed to taking the leap, you start planning how to turn this into a reality.
Amid drawing out your master plan it dawns on you that this will be an uphill battle just approaching the starting line. I was there not too long ago.
Last July, I aspired to tour Asia in an attempt to identify business opportunities in the region. With one year remaining of university studies, friends and family were skeptical as to why I would surrender “sunny California” for Mongolia. Turning their skepticism into my motivation, I began working diligently to make my goal a post-graduate reality.
Having been successful thus far and currently on the first leg of my journey, I wanted to share some of what has enabled me to sidestep the corporate ladder, for the time being, to create a start-up venture and live in the fastest growing country in the world.
1. How can I help you?
University teaches us to be obedient employees. Why the hell would I want to be an obedient employee? I want to be a successful entrepreneur! In training us to bow to Big Brother, our skill sets often become neglected for the misguided notion that an ever-higher GPA will lead to wealth, success and happiness. This, my friends, could not be further from the truth, is just flat out wrong and will likely be nothing but dead weight on your aspiring career as a frontier market entrepreneur.
Everyone has a skill – public speaking, playing the guitar, building relationships, making money. Understanding personal value and leveraging it to help the people you want to surround yourself with is integral in moving toward the starting line.
Equally important, expanding and perfecting that skill set is a must, especially if your direction is still clouded. I approach this by completing tasks I otherwise would ask for help on. Frustrating at times, though once mastered, these successes allow me to aid others.
2. Escape the “Strawberry Generation” mentality
Mark refers to the current “Give Me” generation in a previous post, whereby youth “bruises easily” and plays hot potato, attempting to run up the corporate ladder quickly.
All this does is foster a generation of zero-loyalty and college graduates expecting job offers with six-digit salaries attached when knocking on stranger’s doors. Handouts are a fallacy and anyone with those lofty expectations need not apply to a life in a rugged LDC.
However, for the truly driven, escaping that mindset can create a bounty of opportunities. Success is much likelier to be obtained with commitment, hard work, continuously adding value and leveraging tip number one. Guess how I met your authors?
3. Be a carrier of good news and become a valued customer
Once on your way, expanding your network and beginning to conduct business (which can be as simple as opening a brokerage account) take the relationships you have born a step further by being a bearer of good news. This can put you in the “highly valued customer” category.
For example, after opening a brokerage account in, say, Cambodia, and being treated well, (orders placed accurately, above par customer service, etc.) why not refer the firm to your buddies? Small shops in frontier markets are on the prowl for foreign investors who have investable dollars. If you can help build their client base by being an intermediary, that firm is going to trip head-over-heels to keep you happy. Who knows, maybe you’ll even be made the executive of Facebook marketing!
4. Networks are not free
Reality check. Whether paying cash or offering that robust skill set of yours, networks take time and assets to create. When looking to meet with lawyers, realtors, and financiers, remember, they are not meeting with you to hold your hand and be your gratis guidebook to investing in a particular country.
These businessmen are looking for clients and money, so don’t go about wasting their time if you are merely seeking to further educate yourself. If you do, it is unlikely that these individuals will reply to your pleas in the future. Would you respond to someone pestering you who just wanted information? I thought so.
To avoid this, be prepared to invest some money to show your commitment to the relationship. Networks are investments and should be viewed as such.
To recap, there are plenty of ways to get started, and the above tips are a select few from the many it takes to truly be successful. Set some goals to keep focused, make a list of who you hope to rub shoulders with and take neither your skill set nor networking for granted. Combine them with some lessons from the “University of Life” and you will be well on your way to getting started.
Wow! Scott is wise beyond his years. He’d be a valued employee in any organization, but he’s smart enough to know he’s got bigger fish to fry!
Keep the faith people, not everyone in the “Strawberry Generation” is clueless or in seek of constant praise and handouts.
Scott left a bankrupt state, in a bankrupt nation to set up shop in the fastest-growing economy in the world… a place headed exponentially higher over the next decade.
Scott and my nephew (who has been in Mongolia for a couple months now spearheading another project of ours) will both be at our upcoming Mongolia Meet Up. You can chat with them in Ulaanbaatar July 25-28, along with almost a dozen other entrepreneurs, business and political leaders, including Altai Khangai, the 30-year old CEO of the Mongolia Stock Exchange.
We have a few slots left but you have to hurry. Register now if you’re interested, as the window closes for good this week.
“An entrepreneur tends to bite off a little more than he can chew hoping he’ll quickly learn how to chew it.” – Roy Ash, co-founder of Litton Industries