Being an entrepreneur is definitely part of the zeitgeist these days, with many 20-somethings hoping their big business ideas will make them into the next Zuck (as in Facebook CEO and billionaire, Mark Zuckerberg).
Corey Wadden of Toronto, Ontario has a different reason for wanting to be an entrepreneur: The 24 year old wants to become a millionaire by January 1, 2014 so he can help his mom retire. Wadden is working on a documentary called "Millionaire by 25," which will capture the conversations he has with entrepreneur mentors as he works toward his $1 million goal, and is seeking funding for the documentary with the help of the crowdsourcing site, Indiegogo.
Wadden recently wrote about why he wants to use his personal wealth to help his mother, who turns 50 in November.
Watching your family struggle financially isn’t easy, especially when you’re growing up and can’t do much to help. I am from a family of Canadian coal miners. When my parents were growing up, the coal mines started closing, and the work vanished. When my mom was pregnant with my older brother, they decided to move to Western Canada for a better life.
My mom ended up raising my brother and I on her own. She lived with my alcoholic father. She slept on a futon with me to give my brother a bedroom. She worked three jobs to provide for us. She’s sacrificed everything to give us the best opportunities. These are things you don’t forget. From a young age, I knew that I would have to financially retire my mom. We have retirement saving options in Canada like 401Ks and Roth IRAs, but she was more concerned with the next day, and making it until the next paycheck. When I was turning 23 -- and she was facing the loss of her job -- I set a deadline to make sure she could spend her aging years not doing the work she had had to do for so many decades.
On January 1, 2012 I set off on a two-year challenge to earn one million dollars to set my mom up for retirement. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I promised myself that I would do everything I could. I love my mom. She defines strength for me. This is my way of giving back to her.
(You can read the rest of Wadden's post on GOOD.)
We were so touched by his mission, we reached out to Wadden to find out more about the young man behind "Millionaire by 25" and his mother.
How would you describe your mother and the impact she's had on your life?
She's been my rock. She's the definition of strength for me. It takes a strong woman to persevere and sacrifice for her children. She gave up a lot to provide for us. I was raised by her, so I think like a woman sometimes. I missed a lot of the lessons that a father teaches his son, and it's made me a lot more empathetic to the people around me.
What did your mom say when you told her you were doing this?
I told my mom what I was planning on doing; she laughed and thought I was kidding. She hasn't had anything given to her in life, so it's hard for her to imagine anyone doing something that big for her. She was in disbelief and encouraged me not to do it. She thought it was a pipe dream, that I should focus on myself and that she would be fine.
How much have you raised toward her retirement and towards the various things you want to do for her?
So far, I've earned nearly around $80,000. I wouldn't say 'raised' because I didn't take donations. It's all been earnings through my own work, and the work of the businesses I've created (two app development companies and an e-book publishing company). I'm still aiming to hit the mark.
How will you feel once you accomplish this goal, for yourself and for your mother?
I think about the moment where I give her the house, car and trip. It will be such a satisfying feeling. I worry about her a lot. I want her 50s and beyond to be the best years of her life.
What does being able to help your mom retire mean to you?
It means giving her freedom. I don't mean I'm going to go out and buy her material things forever, or that she will live a flashy lifestyle. It's about giving her the freedom to do what she chooses because she wants to do them, not because she needs them.
How has this goal affected the way you view or understand retirement?
Retirement was the last thing on my mind before I started this. Conventionally, I viewed it as something you start thinking about after 40. It took a simple question, "What would it be like if I accomplish that within two years, in my 20s?" Sometimes that's all it takes, looking at something from a different viewpoint. Throughout the journey, it's become obvious that traditional retirement isn't a given anymore, and people have to take it into their own hands.
What message do you hope your project sends to others?
I'd like to inspire young people to go after ambitious goals and become aware of the power they have over their lives. Young people have a massive advantage when pursuing goals. First, they are still idealistic and believe anything is possible, and that's the biggest ingredient for success, in my opinion. Secondly, it's not common and so people will give you opportunities that you wouldn't be given if you were in your late 20s, early 30s and beyond.
The system is broken. You have to take a different path than those around you. If you want to accomplish something most have never done, you have to do things most people never do. School isn't enough anymore, retirement isn't a certainty. You have to be a go-getter and a self-directed learner. Seek out what you want on your own accord.