Dear class of 2017: Brace yourself—life isn’t fair and neither is business

Life isn’t fair and neither is business. You can do all the right things, have the best product and the best price, you can be at the right place at the right time and even in the right markets and still not get a pay-off. That’s why many college graduates this spring will work at Starbucks after receiving their much anticipated diploma.

And that’s why I’m telling you that to make it big, to be successful, you have to have serious, serious commitment—because life will serve up some lessons you don’t expect or want.

The reality on this planet is that life is good for a lot of people but it’s bad for too many people, and it’s great for just a select few. You hear about the terrible, but what you don’t hear about is how good it is for so many people until it’s not good for them anymore.

In my own life, in my own business, I had things happen to me that were not fair. I didn’t think they were fair at the time. In fact, I didn’t imagine those disappointments could ever happen to me, and I was not prepared for them.

That’s why I’m trying to prepare you right now.

You need to wake up every morning and say, “Hey, life isn’t fair.” Why would you be surprised when something bad happens to you? You get rear-ended by somebody, it should not surprise you. An appointment doesn’t show up, it should not surprise you. The economy fails, it should not surprise you. Not unless you think life is fair and so is business.

None of it is fair: not business, not life. This is the real world. You are an adult and you should be able to handle this.

You need to show up, dig in and say, “I’m getting success, no matter what. I’m going to do it the ethical way even if others don’t. Life isn’t fair, but I’m going to make it work.”
The world owes you nothing. Why would you be owed anything, entitled to anything, deserve anything? If you are walking around thinking that somebody owes you anything, you are going to be disappointed.

And if you believe you deserve the win because you have a lower price, because you have a better product, better service or a better reputation, trust me, you are about to be disappointed beyond disappointment.

You are not owed anything or entitled to anything, and you don’t deserve anything. The good news is, if you with this attitude every day your hustle will be great. You’ll be on point. You’ll be the hustler and the hunter, not the hunted.

If you think it’s unfair you get $9 an hour, realize the only solution to your problem is your ability to separate yourself from the marketplace and be so great that nobody would want to pay you minimum wage. Nobody can help you do that. No government, no Congress, no Senate—nobody can guarantee you financial security.

Let’s face it: $8 bucks, $12 an hour, what does it matter? Even at $15 an hour, you need to be looking for more money because there is no money leftover at that wage. $15 an hour is $28,000 a year. You cannot raise a family on that.

I understand how tough it is. I worked at McDonald’s and I didn’t deliver — I wasn’t worth the $7 an hour they paid me. I didn’t deliver because I was not committed. I didn’t deliver, I wasn’t great, so they threw me away and fired me and replaced me with somebody else who would work for seven bucks. Is that fair? That’s business.

You have got to get great or nobody will ever pay you real money.

There is no money in being average. There is no pay-off. Even people that start good businesses often fail because the world is brutal. You have to get great and committed. Life isn’t fair and neither is business. Don’t complain if you can’t find a job after graduation. Go and do something about it.

Be great,


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