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Success: How Old Is “Too Old”?

Success: How Old Is “Too Old”? image

Does success come with a “Best before date”? If so, when exactly am I regarded a lost cause?

Success usually comes quick for those who put themselves in the right position for great things to happen to them. It usually is advisable for you to begin early. By begin early, I mean gather the right skills early enough. It is believed that new languages cannot be learned without an accent once you’re over the age of 16. Whether you believe it or not, the habits we form during our early years go a long way in determining how far we go.

By the age of 10 (1994) Mark Zuckerberg had taught himself how to use a computer, by 11 he developed a program that connected his father’s home and office computers, and later went on to build Facebook in 2004.

Elon Musk however started reading 10 hours daily at the age of 8 and in two years had read everything he considered interesting in his neighbourhood library, by 11 he learned BASIC by completing a 6 month course in 3 days, and by 15 (1986) he decided his life mission was to save humanity.

Once you’re a certain age, you begin to think “Can I still do this? Is this entrepreneur life even for me”? Well, according to the Forbes List, 35 is the most common age to start up a business that would eventually grow into a multi-million dollar company. The future doesn’t look so gloomy now yeah?

While I cannot explain why this is so, I can come up with a theory which suggests that contrary to what we believe, desperation and the sheer need to succeed can indeed inspire you to make some live changing decisions which most times turn out to be good if you just have the courage to believe.

“There is creativity for validation, and there is creativity for survival” Macklemore.

Pardon the hip hop reference but that could just work out as well in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Creating because you need to and creating because you can are two different things.

People who start companies early enough often do so because they want to and rarely because they need to. Usually they go on to build empires for themselves. On the other hand, late bloomers often have a stronger cause which is the “need” factor. Wanting to do something and needing to do something are two different things because of the level of urgency attached. More often than not, the urgency that comes with age inspires us to do great things we never thought possible during our early years.

Graduating from the university, with a lot of expectations from your parents, you could begin to lose hope when you turn on the TV and see young CEOs doing big things and making huge impacts in the world around.

So what if you’re 27 and you don’t have your life in order just yet? Did you know that ‎Charles Flint founded IBM at 61? A platform which might have had a direct or indirect impact in Zuckerberg’s life. Success is relative but you have to admit, whether you’re a Zuckerberg starting Facebook at 19 or a Flint starting IBM at 61, you’re a success regardless.

Here’s a list of people who founded multi-million dollar companies at a much older age than you are now.

Cher Wang – HTC 39

Masaru Ibuka – Sony 38

Liu Chuanzhi – Lenovo 38

Reid Hoffman – LinkedIn 36

Gordon Moore – Intel 39

There could be several reasons why you’re a late bloomer. It could be that the platform required for you to create your breakthrough business just hasn’t been created yet or the market you’re going to dominate isn’t big enough to be noticed just yet.

Whether you’re a Gordon Moore or a Charles Flint, there’s no reason to feel out of place in this world, keep believing and keep getting better.


Photo: FundersandFounders



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