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My son-in-law taught me how real entrepreneurs think

After WWII my father went to work for The Golden Rule.

Today, we know that company as J.C. Penney’s. Dad managed ever-larger Penney’s stores for over 30 years. Then he retired.

His last store didn’t look at all like his first. Still, he stuck with the company throughout all the changes, from the small town main street locations to the sprawling suburban shopping malls.

Dad was a solid employee – loyal and valuable. His career is probably why I never thought of myself as anything but a future employee. Make myself attractive with education, hard work and a positive personality and employers will fight over me, I thought.

That was the goal. Never once did I consider starting and running my own business or generating passive income by coming up with creative ideas. For the most part, that wasn’t the way most of my Baby Boomer generation thought.

Today’s Millennials don’t think that way – and shouldn’t. If they end up as employees, they’ll have multiple employers. More likely, they’ll be independent contractors and business owners who will have to find a way to innovatively market and sell their skills, products and services.

My son-in-law, Dane, is prepared. His father, Paul, didn’t fit the Boomer mode. A college grad, he started his own successful construction company. In that environment, Dane grew up thinking differently than I did. “I have never even considered getting a traditional, full-time job,” he told me.

To best be able to kill it in today’s economy, that’s what I want all my students thinking.

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