Nobody Ever Got Rich Working for Somebody Else. #horseshit

Somebody tweeted this the other day and it annoyed me. It’s a horseshit personal empowerment line that comes on posters & placards for entrepreneurs. It’s meant to inspire you to quit your job and begin the glamorous life of an entrepreneur that surely has you becoming super rich.

Two things specifically annoy me about this.

1. It’s flat out wrong. Plenty of people got rich working for other people.

A very timeley example of this is Marissa Mayer, the new CEO of Yahoo. She’s worth an estimated $300 Million and potentially a whole lot more if she can successfully throw a hail mary. How did she become so wealthy? Working for Sergey Brin & Larry Page at Google.

Steve Ballmer. Worth Billions. Got it working for Bill Gates at Microsoft.

There are lots of rich people who got their wealth being early employees at startups that became huge successes. (Facebook just created a several hundred more.) I plan on making my employees big bucks. But this isn’t the only opportunity for workers to strike it rich and this isn’t exclusive to start ups.

Employees in all sorts of fields have busted their ass up the corporate ladder to senior positions that pay them very well. Yes, that takes a much longer time than possible startup megabucks, but it is still possible.

2. It makes it sound like working for yourself will make you rich.

I don’t have any exact numbers, but I would guess that there are actually more rich people in the world who got that way working for somebody else than there are rich people who were entrepreneurs at the start.

I love being an entrepreneur. I’m proud to be one. But it’s a glamorized game. Yes, there is a great opportunity for wealth in the startup game that I’m in… But there is also great opportunity for failure. I’ve been at this for 7 years and have seen all kinds of up and downs. Luckily I’m over some pretty big hurdles and am now living pretty comfortably… but for every person who gets to my stage there are thousands more flailing further back. For every founder who really makes it big, there are millions with crushed dreams and ruined credit.

The real issue here isn’t about the one and only path that leads to wealth. It’s how you approach that path. As an employee and as a founder you need to be smart, hardworking, passionate & tenacious.

A better quote might be…

“Nobody ever got rich being a lazy-ass.”

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