Lessons from an Internet Millionaire

November 23, 2009

By Mark Matteson

Now that our nest is empty, my wife, Debbie, has taken up fly fishing. She gave me a detailed list of exactly what she wanted for Christmas. I trudged through the snow with the enthusiasm of Ebenezer Scrooge, arrived at my destination, and handed the list to the manager of “The Avid Angler”. The name of the store gave me pause to think, “What a great name for a fly-fishing shop!” While I waited for the order to be filled, I wandered around one of my favorite independent bookstores, Third Place Books, in Ballinger, Washington. The title, The Dream, caught my eye. I read the first three chapters and was hooked. I read it in two sittings....

His name is Gurbaksh Chahal (“G” for short). G’s story is an extraordinary one. His family came from India. Although they were educated and had important positions in India, upon arriving in the San Jose, California, his parents struggled to make ends meet. They put in 14-hour days at minimum wage. Despite challenges of every kind, his father remained an inspiration to G. He is the youngest of four children, and at age 16, he dropped out of high school to start an Internet business. The year was 1998. He was a young boy in a hurry with a lot of reasons to succeed. He started a “pay-per-click” advertising company. He was a small fish in a very big pond, but he had a simple motto: If you want something bad enough, don’t wait for it. Teach yourself to be impatient. 

His was a simple business model:
1.     He contacted advertisers with products or services
2.     He contacted Web owners (publishers) to carry the ads
3.     He found consumers looking for the products and services, and convinced them to CLICK on the ads
4.     He split the revenue with advertisers, Web owners, and his company

By age 17, he sold his business for $40 million. After two years, he was bored. He started another Internet business and sold it three years later for $300 million. Now age 25, he is being interviewed by all the major networks. He has arrived. It’s the American Dream.

Here are G’s business lessons summarized. It is some of the best advice you might receive in 2009, from a young man in a hurry:
1. LISTEN TO YOUR HEART. Find something you love or fall in love with what you do!

2. FORGET NOBLE MOTIVATIONS. Success comes from wanting to win. You gotta want it. Develop a killer instinct. Vince Lombardi was right: Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing!

3. ADJUST YOUR ATTITUDE. Without the right attitude, you’ll never succeed. You have to believe in yourself to the point of madness. If there is any doubt, get out now!

4. FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU ARE GOOD AT. Work with the gifts you have. Be honest. What is the best and highest use of your time?

5. TRUST YOUR GUT. Listen to the inner you. Pay attention to that still small voice.

6. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Before you start anything, know exactly what you are getting into. Ignorance IS dangerous. What you DON’T know can and will hurt you.

7. BE FRUGAL. The only person you need to impress is yourself. It comes down to need versus luxury. A fancy office is NOT going to improve your performance.

8. WHEN IT COMES TO STAFFING YOUR COMPANY, DON’T BE FRUGAL. Find the right people for the right jobs and pay them what they are worth.

9. HIRE THE SMARTEST PEOPLE YOU CAN FIND. Lots of smart people working in unison can have the force and power of a Beethoven symphony.

10. DON’T EXPECT PERFECTION FROM YOURSELF OR OTHERS. But never stop striving for it from yourself and others.

11. LEARN TO LISTEN. Listen to the people who disagree with you, maybe more to them than to others. Then process what you have heard and have the courage of your convictions.

12. OWN YOUR MISTAKES. At the end of the day, every decision you make—even if it was inspired by misguided advice—is YOUR decision. Nobody wins when you start looking for someone to blame. Let it go. Keep moving. Forward movement is everything.

13. NEVER COMPROMISE YOUR MORALITY. We all need to live by a moral code.  

14. NEVER LOSE SIGHT OF THE COMPETITION. While you are playing, someone else is working and catching up. You are not going to be on top forever.

15. WATCH YOUR BACK. “For every back, there is a knife.”

16. DON’T PROCRASTINATE. Procrastination is another word for wanting to fail.  

17. DON’T DO ANYTHING IN HALF-MEASURE. Mediocrity is for losers.

18. BE NICE. “Be nice to people on the way up. You will meet them on the way back down.”

19. ALWAYS NEGOTIATE FROM A POSITION OF STRENGTH. If you need something from the other guy, you have already lost. People want what they can’t have. BECOME the thing people want.

20. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED. If you are ready for anything, you’ll be unpleasantly surprised—but at least you’ll get through it.

21. REMEMBER—PERCEPTION IS REALITY. What they see is more important than what is; show them what they want to see and tell them what they want to hear.

22. DON’T GET EMOTIONAL. Logic and emotion don’t mix.

23. BE FEARLESS. The road to success is paved with failures. If you are afraid to fail, you’ll never succeed.

24. PICK YOUR BATTLES. The fight never really ends. Don’t allow meaningless skirmishes to sap your strength.

25. GROW THICK SKIN. Grow VERY thick skin; you’ll need it to drown out the noise. The silence will help you focus on your objective and then you will prevail.

26. TAKE CHANCES. Without risk there is no reward. But make sure it’s intelligent risk.

27. WHEN YOU COMMIT, YOU REALLY HAVE TO COMMIT. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

G goes on to say, “Success is about making it happen. It’s about dreaming.”
Forget new year's resolutions. What is your DREAM? Write it down and make it happen. Follow G’s advice; maybe even read his book a couple of times.  You will receive all the great advice and inspiration to make the coming year your greatest year ever...OR, hey, forget all the advice and go fly fishing....you AVID ANGLER you!

Provided by Mark Matteson, Matteson Avenue.  Subscribe to the Matteson Avenue e-zine by visiting www.mattesonavenue.com
Contact Mark Matteson by calling 1-877-672-2001 or by e-mail at mark@mattesonavenue.com.

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