One of the things that I am grateful for in my life is that there are many driven entrepreneurs that push me to raise my standard. One of them is John F, a person I met almost a decade ago and who helped me see what a real-life entrepreneur looks like. (He humbly asked me not to reveal his name but the story of his work is completely true.)
John graduated from a lesser-known college with a business degree and moved to San Francisco because he knew there was something there for him. Like many other young graduates, he had an almost empty bank account. And if you do not have a CS degree, you would know how tough it is to live in SF. What John did in his first year was amazing.
His first job was as a private driver. To save money from rent, he volunteered to be a property manager for his apartment complex so that he could stay for free. So far so good? He then took the extra step to sublease his apartment and sleep in his car!
While people were complaining about the high cost of rent in SF, he actually made money from the rent without owning any property. By being smart plus having a few social skills, you could make money without having anything in your hand.
After the private driver job, he was recruited into my startup as a customer support person. The work was hard and the pay was lame. Yet, I never heard any complaints about work from John. Besides his full-time job, he spent an extra 4 hours a day taking a bootcamp and learning programming by himself. He put in a total of 14 hours of work a day!
John later offered my engineering manager to do QA and wrote an automation test for free. Within 2 months, he was promoted into the automation team.
By the time my company shut down, he had enough skills to land a junior engineer job at another startup. Then senior. Then engineering manager, then VP of engineering for a well-funded YC company. All this happened within 5 years.
He declined the VP of engineering job, moved out of SF and started his own company in his hometown. Today, the company is growing fast and has hired close to 100 employees.
I knew John was amazing from the day he was a customer support guy and nobody knew about him. Despite working 14 hours a day, he was always full of energy. His eyes beamed with passion and I always thought more positively whenever I talked to him. We did a few fun trips to Yosemite and had great moments together.
John’s success is not luck. It is true that you would have some advantages if you are born in a wealthy family. But every person I thought should have successful in their twenties turns out to do very well regardless of their starting point. Luck can realize your success earlier but if you have the traits to succeed, you will eventually achieve it.
I knew John would strive for big goals from the first day I knew him. He truly pushed a new standard of work for me. I was lucky to see such a driven person in real life and not just hear about him from someone else.
If you want to succeed, try to find a way to surround yourself with people who can push you to the next level or bring positive thinking out in you. If you do not meet such people in your life, try to find and follow them on the internet so that whenever your mood is down, you have someone to look up to. You probably are not gonna be like them but you will become a better version of yourself.