By Rana Gujral, an entrepreneur, CEO and investor involved with several startups.
As a father of two young boys, ages 7 and 12, I continually reflect on whether the education they receive is relevant to the challenges they will face in real life. I'm also hoping that they will eventually choose the path towards entrepreneurship, so I try and provide them with tools that allow them to understand and explore that path.
I recently met a young entrepreneur and Georgetown student who just published his first book and has already started a company and two student organizations -- pretty impressive for a 21-year-old. We spoke about a variety of topics, and it got me thinking about what kinds of values and mentality shape many young entrepreneurs. Growing up, this man's parents instilled in him three key values: curiosity, commitment and confidence. He strongly believes that these traits helped make him the entrepreneur he is today.
I believe that these values really are critical to the success of any entrepreneur. And as parents, here are a few ways that you can help cultivate these traits.
• Curiosity: As a parent, encourage your children to try new things and have new experiences. This could include playing different sports, learning new instruments and traveling to new places. These different opportunities will lead your children to approach situations with an open mind as well as to constantly learn and rethink preconceived norms.
• Commitment: If your child becomes interested in a particular hobby, encourage them to pursue it. Even if they don't find one area of interest, it's still important to push them to commit to something. By doing this, they learn responsibility and resilience.
• Confidence: Instill the mentality in your children that they can do whatever they set their minds to and that it's OK to fail. As they explore new things and hopefully commit to some, they will often fail. While some young people might lose confidence in themselves due to these failures, this could be a huge learning opportunity and a crucial building block for future success. As a parent, push them to use these experiences to learn where they might have gone wrong and encourage them to continue to take risks.
Values are important on their own, but they are also important because they shape our mentality and outlooks on life. Many young people want to credit their successes to their own blood, sweat and tears. But the truth is, luck plays a large part in our successes -- especially for young entrepreneurs. And for some with less than stellar values, this is hard to come to terms with.
As a young person, whether you're applying for an internship or pitching to investors, your fate is typically decided by others. While you can do all the right things, some things just don't work out. But while much of luck is out of your control, I believe that there is a way to put yourself in more positions to get lucky -- thereby, creating your own luck. To do this, strive for excellence in whatever you're doing at the moment.
For example, after starting his own company as a freshman, the young man I recently met with decided to dive head first into everything entrepreneurship at Georgetown. He pulled late nights and worked hard to make entrepreneurship events on campus a success and, eventually, organized a speakers' series event for Steve Case, the founder of AOL. And when the event rolled around, he had the opportunity to meet Case. He expressed his interest in venture capitalism and then landed an internship at Case's investment firm Revolution the following semester.
Some may say that he got lucky by being able to work at Revolution at such a young age. And he'd agree with them. But was it really just luck? Not every speakers' series event he planned led to a similar opportunity, but he kept putting himself in these kinds of positions. He might have never walked away with an opportunity like this, but he did. Eventually, luck knocked on his door.
Go out, focus on your current passions, work as hard as you can, and put yourself in as many positions to get as lucky as possible. Your dreams might be closer to coming true than you might think.
In the end, becoming a successful entrepreneur is about cultivating a certain entrepreneurial mindset that can be applied to a variety of careers. Many entrepreneurially-minded people have launched successful careers with different backgrounds, skills and values.
Rana Gujral is an Entrepreneur, CEO, Investor and is involved with several startups. '10 Entrepreneurs to follow in 2017' - Huffington Post.