Having recently, myself, reached the great age of 40 I can relate to the broader concept under discussion here. Namely, trying to make a success of things by the time you are 40.
I started my own business when I was 31 and looking back, it is amazing how relatively little you know at 30 and before. It is extraordinary that people this age can keep a business, family and other things together as often there are also the pressures, both financial and time, that come with having a young family.
Achieving significant things when you are running your own business, or in management in someone else’s, before you are 40 is challenging because it is a competition, usually with people significantly older. The older one becomes, the easier it gets to a certain extent because one gains maturity and experience. These things are key to a balanced life and to a good leader.
By definition, you cannot have a high level of experience and maturity when you are young, and that is why what these young people have done is so remarkable. I don’t believe that it is entirely about brainpower, although that helps, but it is also about determination and focus.
Also, somewhat unfortunately, sacrifice. It is almost impossible not to have to sacrifice some of the time you spend with your children, family and your friends in order to achieve business success when you are young. In some cases it may mean that the chance to get started on a family is postponed. Not many people will appreciate the necessity of this level of commitment and, maybe hardest of all, your friends and also your family might at times resent it, despite the fact that often the sacrifices are being made in their interest.
The good news is they will all forgive you! And come and celebrate with you when the successes are achieved, which they always are as a result of hard work and focus. The men being celebrated here are the people who you will want to work for, or with, in future for they will have worked out what it takes to lead; make an organisation or team successful; and stay calm under pressure.
I suggest that we all keep an eye on them as a lot of them will also be some of the industry and country leaders of the future. Let us hope some of them choose a life of public service as we will surely want them to oversee our economy and government in years to come. Let us hope they also have a philanthropic and social developmental instinct, for they will certainly generate high incomes and capital that can be put to good use in this area.
Finally let us hope they manage to find some kind of work-life balance. A lot is spoken about regarding mental health internationally these days. It is almost impossible for these kind of achievers to have much balance I fear! But let us hope they at least manage to exercise a little, eat well, spend a little time with their children each day and perhaps take a Sunday off work once in a while!
– Edward Burbidge is CEO of I&M Burbidge Capital Ltd. Edward.Burbidge@imburbidgecapital.com