I know this might sound controversial, but I have a strong opinion about why you shouldn't invest in or hire rich kids to work at your company. And by rich kids, I mean people who come from super-privileged backgrounds who have had everything handed to them on a silver platter. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying they are bad people or that they don't have any skills or talents. In fact, they have many advantages that most of us don't have. They go to the best schools, the best country clubs, they have the best networks and can get the best introductions from their parents. They are well-educated, well-connected, and well-off.
But they lack something crucial to making a business successful: the inner drive, hunger, the chip on their shoulder, and the ability to go that extra mile, work those late nights, work those early mornings, give up the holidays, give up the parties, and to go all-in on a business to make it successful. They don't have the fire in their belly that makes them want to prove themselves to the world. They don't have the desperation that makes them do whatever it takes to make their dreams come true. They don't have the experience of hardship that makes them appreciate every opportunity and every dollar.Why Hunger and Drive Matter More than Privilege in Entrepreneurship
There's a great quote that reminds me of the mindset I think is required for success, which is, "If you want to take the island, you've got to burn the boats." When you get to the island, you burn the boats because you have no way off that island than to take the island in any way possible. Too often, I find that people start businesses and they quit, they give up. Maybe because they felt like that business was never going to work, maybe because they felt like they were never going to get product-market fit. But the truth is, a lot of entrepreneurs and operators don't have the drive and the hunger required to do everything possible to make those businesses successful.
The people that are most likely to possess those skills are those that are the most desperate. They come from middle-class, lower-middle-class, and even poverty well below the poverty line. They didn't grow up going to the best private schools; they didn't go to the best colleges. These kids were washing dishes in the back of fast-food restaurants; they were pizza delivery drivers. Many of them don't have college degrees, or they're not formally educated. They went above and beyond because they were so desperate to make their lives better. The people that are by far the most likely to succeed are those that feel like they have something to prove. Something to prove to their high school friends, something to prove to their family, something to prove to all the people in their life that told them that they couldn't or that they can't.
Privileged kids, rich kids, they rarely get told that because they go to great private schools, they go to great colleges, they get to go to great country clubs. Many of them get to sit business class, and if you've ever flown business class, you can look to your left or your right, and the other people sitting there are pretty impressive. They are entrepreneurs as well, they are successful salespeople, doctors, lawyers.
I have seen many aspiring entrepreneurs come and go. Some of them had everything handed to them on a silver platter, while others had to work hard for every penny they earned. And I can tell you this: the ones who had it easy rarely made it far. They lacked the drive, the grit, and the hunger that only comes from overcoming challenges and hardships. They didn’t know what it was like to wash dishes in a hot kitchen, to deliver pizzas for minimum wage, or to save up for textbooks and gas. They didn’t appreciate the value of a dollar, or the value of their time. They took things for granted, and they gave up easily.
But the ones who came from humble backgrounds, who had to fight for every opportunity, who had to prove themselves over and over again, were the ones who succeeded. They had the passion, perseverance, and resilience that only comes from facing adversity and overcoming it. They knew what it was like to work hard, to sacrifice, and to hustle. They appreciated every dollar they earned, and every minute they spent. They never took things for granted, and they never gave up.
That’s why I believe that privilege is not an advantage in business. It’s a disadvantage. It makes you complacent, lazy, and entitled. It robs you of the motivation, the ambition, and the fire that you need to succeed. It’s the underdogs, the hustlers, and the fighters who have the edge in business. They have what it takes to make it happen.