5 Lessons I Learned From a 300 Million Dollar Man

Are you taking advantage of learning opportunities at your workplace?
Are you taking advantage of learning opportunities at your workplace?

5 Lessons I Learned from a 300 Million Dollar Man

Living in a capitalistic society, I tend to wonder what characteristics contribute to a financially successful person. Although I currently work in a constrictive corporate 9 to 5, there are many opportunities to learn and enrich myself within the confines of my company. Even among the negatives of the corporate world, I’m lucky enough to work in an environment where the president of the company is readily accessible.

Thomas, the president of the company, created the business from scratch 35 years ago with his father and brother. With only $20,000 in capital to start the company, they worked tirelessly out of their small living room. Since then, the business has grown exponentially, raising revenues to $300,000,000 and employing over 600 full time staff.

I used to be a night owl and had a difficult time getting out of bed and getting to work. (If you haven’t read my post ‘night owl turned early bird,’ let’s just say I was consistently late to work) Obviously, the president took notice of my tardiness and so began the “come into my office, for a talk.” Rather than threats or intimidation, however, he began teaching me what he believed lead to his successes in life.

The 5 lessons I learned from the 300 million dollar man:

  1. Optimism is important, especially in tough times: Optimism is an asset and comes in handy when times are tough. Even after an enormous drop in revenues late last year and into this year, Thomas has stayed optimistic and has let his employees know that the company will overcome the slump together. Optimism allows us to keep our focus on the important tasks, while pessimism keeps you focused on things that can go wrong.

  2. Putting in a constant stream of hard work: Dedication and hard work toward your profession is as important as the passion you have for it. Thomas, together with his brother and father, worked tirelessly to grow the company and toiled out of their living room for years before they made enough to afford a small office. Even to this day, Thomas gets to the office at 6:30 am to sort out emails and prepare for the day.

    “Great achievements is usually born of great sacrifice, and is never out of selfishness.” Napoleon Hill

  3. Be on time: In business and in life, Thomas stresses the importance of punctuality. This is especially true in business dealings, as one needs to respect their own time and even more so the time of others. Taken further, if you’re early to a meeting, you have the opportunity to prepare ahead which gives you an extra edge.

    “Punctuality is the stern virtue of men of business, and the graceful courtesy of princes.” Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  4. Embrace change: As Heraclitus said, “Change is the only constant.” By resisting change, businesses may stifle growth, eventually leading to a death of a business. Thomas put it this way: “There was once a bustling city that had it all. Then came the invention of the locomotive. Not interested in embracing the new form of transportation, the city denied the construction of the railroad tracks. What happened next? Because they denied change, the city got left behind and now ceases to exist.”

  5. Never stop learning: Love books and love learning. Thomas reads 1 new book a week on a wide variety of subjects and is never too proud to ask his employees about things he’s not familiar with. Try learning about a new subject every month, or if you have a special subject you enjoy, try learning as much as you can about it.

    “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Mahatma Gandhi

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(FYI: I no longer have a problem with tardiness and enjoy walking into the office instead of running)

Photo by: Ian Muttoo

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13 thoughts on “5 Lessons I Learned From a 300 Million Dollar Man”

  1. Ken,

    I really enjoyed this post, and couldn’t help but think about those lessons at they relate to my job and life. Each are very important, and I am trying to decide if the people in my company have the same mindset. If they don’t then it may be time to make a change sooner rather than later.

  2. Ken,

    Wow. Talk about 5 invaluable lessons! You’ve truly picked out some core takeaways. We can never be optimistic enough and we can never stop learning. True indeed. Thanks for an excellent post.


  3. Hey Ken,

    Your boss sounds awesome.. is your compnay hiring?? 😉

    I love figuring out what makes successful people successful… and that’s very cool that you have such close access to such a powerful and successful man. It’s incredible how simple the lessons are, yet most people don’t do all these things consistantly.

  4. @Sean: I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

    @Dena: Optimism can keep you up in the darkest of times, thanks for the comment!

    @Karen: Yup, the core concepts are very simple, but when it comes to consistency, it becomes quite difficult. Out of all the horror stories I hear about managers and bosses, I’m glad to have someone I can learn from!

  5. Hi Ken,

    That’s a thought provoking post. I like the way you’ve managed to compact so much into five key aspects.

    In an ever changing world it is so vital to adapt and change.

    Thanks again

  6. Hey Ken –

    Of the five lessons you described, I’d have to say #4 Embrace Change is the one that stuck out at me the most. It’s definitely true that you cannot resist chage – In fact, to grow is to step outside of your comfort zone and “change” as a person. Great post…


  7. @Paul: You bring up a great point, we all need to keep stepping out of the comfort zone to keep growing ourselves.

  8. Continuous learning is a Great lesson. Its about learning non stop each and everyday. Use your leisure time to read books and not watch t.v. Use your time wisely and do all you can do that day. Make every day a successful day and you will reach your goal.
    Great post

  9. @Jonathan: Those are good points. We all have 24 hours in a day and how we use our time can make our break us.

  10. Hi Ken,

    Inspiring post!
    I really love lesson 4 and 5. I needed this one today.
    #4 is a great reminder of flexibility to achieve your goal.

    Klaus Tol

    Guitar Habits

  11. @Klaus: I’m glad that this post was able to help you! Embracing change can take your business much further than trying conduct business by suppressing change.

  12. Hi ken

    Do you have any tips or steps to follow on how to be optimistic??? Unfortunately being pessimistic runs in my family… ; ?

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