Every now and then I get a little nosey and listen in on stranger’s conversations. Usually it’s just an unintentional bit or two of the juicy stuff. There was the time a couple next to me at dinner were breaking up because he had an “uncontrollable urge” to do the bedroom shuffle with one of her close friends and she found out.
The conversation I happened to overhear today wasn’t as scintillating, but it struck a nerve.
An older gentleman, perhaps in his 70’s, was talking to a 20-something lad who remarked that he’s been “successful since getting out of college.”
“Successful?” the geezer quipped back.
“You’re too young to even know what it’s like to be successful,” he shouted.
I felt an uncomfortable feeling come over my body as the guy struggled for words to say back to the gentlemen I later found out was his grandfather.
The conversation came to an abrupt end with the elder saying, “see me in twenty years and let’s talk about success then.”
I felt horrible for the kid and when his grandfather walked away, I went over and introduced myself. I explained that I overheard the conversation and wanted to hear about the success he managed to attain in a few years since graduation.
He told me the story about how he and a few of his college buddies launched a food delivery service from their dorm room several years ago. Their business model focused on taking phone orders for restaurants that didn’t offer delivery service and picked up and delivered food from those establishment around campus. They made their money off a delivery fee, tips and a kickback from the restaurants.
After graduation, the guys shut down their business, moved away and this one rekindled the idea in his local area and now employs several full- and part-time employees and is looking at expanding.
We talked revenue, projections and what his W-2 says at the end of the year.
I explained that I too, upon graduating college embarked on a career that I never dreamed would take the path that it did and scored a few solid wins as well.
I also went on to tell him the stories of young entrepreneurs that I’ve had the honor of doing business with over the years, including one who was earning over a million a year before he graduated high school. While I haven’t seen him in a few years, we’re Facebook friends and I’m proud of the accomplishments he’s made and the overwhelming success his business has had – and continues to have sales with sales exceeding $125M a year.
This guy’s grandfather may be blind to the fact that young people who are driven and passionate can be successful if given the opportunity. He probably grew up in an era where success came after age 50 and can’t grasp the concept of youthful entrepreneurs that should be celebrated today.
You don’t have to be 40, 50, or 60 to be successful. This young guy has what it takes to be a success at 23 and it’s shameful that his grandfather won’t give him the respect or accolades he deserves.
He shrugged the old guy’s remarks off saying “he’s just a cranky old guy.”
Cranky or not, it’s sure a way to kill the fire that’s burning in a young entrepreneur.
I’d love to have a talk with the grandfather, but I’m going to let this one go. I’d much rather concentrate on helping the next entrepreneur become a success rather than try to teach an old dog new tricks.