I asked legendary billionaire energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens for the best piece of financial advice for someone my age.
I’m 27, so this advice will probably be useful for most millennials — anyone aged 19 to 34.
His answer was surprisingly simple.
“First thing I’d say is if you haven’t developed a good work ethic, you better do it,” Pickens said.
“The work ethic is the backbone of success as far as I’m concerned.”
Pickens, the author of “The First Billion Is The Hardest”, explained that you “have to be skilled at something unless you want to go out there and dig a ditch.”
He added that educating yourself doesn’t necessarily mean going to college. There’s vocational training for a number of good jobs. Going to college or getting your MBA is up to you. Those things don’t matter though unless you’ve developed a strong work ethic.
Good work ethic
“It’s very simple — good work ethic. If you want to be a lawyer, geologist, or a nurse, work ethic comes first. Everything else falls into place.”
Pickens, 87, developed his work ethic at a young age. Growing up in Oklahoma during the Great Depression, Pickens and other kids his age all had jobs. He said no one he knew was lazy.
“I grew up at a time where everything was very simple. You saved money. Things were tight.”
At age 12, Pickens ran a small paper route with 28 papers to deliver. He would pick up his papers at 3 a.m. and deliver them all before school, making one penny per paper.
“It was real money, you know. You don’t spend any money for four days, you got a dollar. I’m not spending money.”
Pickens was diligent about saving.
“I’ve always had money,” he said, “My mother didn’t know where it was and it almost drove her crazy. She tore up the house trying to find where I had hidden the money.”
Pickens, an only child, lived in a two bedroom house that was built in 1923 by his grandmother.
One day, his mum came into his bedroom and demanded to know where he had hidden his money.
“I made her leave the room. She said, ‘I want to know where you’re hiding the money.’ I had a crawl space in my closet covered with a rug. She made me count [my money] on the bed. I had $US286 dollars. I was 14. She couldn’t believe it.”
Pickens said that you don’t want to ever be caught without money.
“I have never been without money in my pocket. I always had money.”
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