You may be thinking, "This chick is out of her damn mind. How am I supposed to make millions off of a stupid ant farm?" Just here me out. There's a point to the madness.
I've had the opportunity to speak to a former president, launch multiple ventures, sell a company, fail at a million ventures, learn a crap ton about entrepreneurship, become an ambassador for major corporations and give keynote speeches at events across the country all because of an ant farm. Well, technically.
My mentor, Alfred Blake, is famous on Rutgers University campus for telling his "goldfish story." He is the epitome of the classic "life turnaround story." He wasn't a great student when he was in grade school. He was a troublemaker and a class clown. But once he puts his mind to something, nothing can stop him. His tenacity has always been one of his most admirable and proficient qualities.
He decided one day that he really wanted a bulldog. Strong. Low to the ground. Cocky. But when he asked his mother for a dog, she said that he doesn't clean his room, wash his own clothes, make his own food or pay any bills. How could he possibly take care of a dog if he couldn't take care of himself? Valid point, mom! As stated earlier, he is extremely perseverant. He got his act together. He started showing up to school on time. He did his homework. He cleaned his room periodically. And the calls home incoming from the principal's office ceased over time. Then, it was finally the big day.
What's the big day? Report card day, of course. Alfred ran home from school to do damage control just in case his grades weren't up to par with his efforts, and his pet request. When he saw that his grades were a significant improvement from the previous marking point, he approached his mother when she walked into their home from work. "Mom, I come baring good news," he said.
Alfred's mother was extremely proud. She relayed the information to his dad who did not live with them at the time. When he visited his father the next weekend, he ran anxiously to the door. He knocked three times. *silence* He knocked again. *silence* At this point, Alfred was quite disappointed because he knew if he had a dog, he or she would bark. Instead of wallowing in sorrow, he mustered up the belief that his father got him a barkless dog.
When his father opened the door, there was no dog in sight. Now, Alfred was extremely disappointed. However, his dad said, "You didn't get a dog, but you did get something." Waiting anxiously, Alfred received two of the most useless pets on this earth-a goldfish and an ant farm. But his parents always taught him that it's the thought that counts. At this point, he was really thinking "Your thoughts suck," but if he had said that, he wouldn't be alive to tell the story to many young people today.
Alfred walked up the stairs with a woeful gait. He sat down on his bed and started staring at the goldfish. "You're useless," he said to the goldfish, "all you do is swim around in circles, crap and wait for someone to feed you." Then he turned to the ant farm, and he realized something incredible.
Although they were confined to a similar-sized space as the goldfish, the ants created tunnels and paths. They worked together in their colony to transport food from one end of the farm to the other. The ants lived a purposeful and meaningful life by using their resources and creating new opportunities as a team.
The key difference between the two pets was that one made the most of its space, while the other just existed in it.
So, here's 3 ways an ant farm can teach you how to become a millionaire:
1. Wherever you're from...use it!
An ant is never deterred from completing its mission for its colony because of where it's located. People get too caught up complaining about their environment. The best way to change your dissatisfying circumstance is by taking advantage of the resources available to you right now. Are you passionate about youth and love basketball? Great. Go to your local YMCA or youth recreation center and figure out how to create a pickup league for kids in your community. Are you an aspiring entrepreneur and a college student? Great. It's literally the perfect time to do anything with maximum risk because you have a minimum amount of responsibilities and obligations. Look for the resources on campus that will propel you forward in your career. Do you go to church? Great. Church is one of the best grassroots marketing tools. Who do you know at your church who wouldn't want to buy your product or service, or even share your story on their Facebook timeline? Can I get an Amen?
2. No one whose successful EVER made it alone.
Have you ever heard or seen an ant alone? If you said yes, you're lying, or you didn't realize that one ant you saw was probably on a mission to fulfill a responsibility for his colony. In many ways, ants can outwit and outlast humans. They've been around since the dinosaurs. They're complex. They're cooperative. They're team-oriented. Their societies enable them to survive and thrive in conditions that would challenge any individual. Learn something from that. Don't ever think that you can or should make it in this world all on your own. Seek mentors. Read my previous post about surrounding yourself with dynamic people. We all need people in our lives who raise our standards, remind us of our purpose and and challenge us to perform optimally.
3. Don't be afraid to pick up more than you can carry.
Ants are incredibly strong beings. They carry objects 50 times their own body weight. But they don't feel defeated by an "enormous" Cheetos crumb. They feel challenged, and they overcome. In life, especially in this technological age, multitasking is inevitable. No, you don't want to be a jack of all trades and a master of none. However, resilience and professional, academic and mental strength are essential to be successful. Understand your limitations, but also challenge yourself to explore activities and goals that are bigger than yourself. Pursue a passion that can lead to an almost unthinkable, unrealizable and scary outcome.
I personally want to financially retire my mother. I gave myself the deadline of 2019. I know I will care for her. I know I will retire her. But in 3 years...I am absolutely terrified of that goal. I'll only be 23. I have no idea how I'm going to pull it off. But it's a decision that I have stood by and committed to regardless of the avenue or channel I use to realize it. My startup, PeduL, may fail horribly. It doesn't mean that deadline can be delayed. I commit to contributing to the Huffington Post each week even if my sleep and work schedules are telling me to push it off. I've committed to launching a YouTube series this summer to empower and highlight millennial entrepreneurs regardless of working on PeduL and a full-time internship. I've picked up more than I can carry. But my mission, passion, resilience and desired outcome will push me forward.
If you'd like to connect with me, or other budding millennial entrepreneurs, visit my Facebook page!