I took my first business course in high school. And I hated it.
We were taught how to write checks; how to balance a ledger; how to meet provincial workplace safety requirements. We were never told “here’s why you should open a business!”–but then, we never asked. The teacher was a “business teacher”, not an entrepreneur.
I met my first real entrepreneur at the same high school. Invited to speak to our English class, he rode his bicycle to the school; had a long, grey pony tail; and asked, “Who’s going to live to be 200?”
We all thought he was nuts.
He asked us our life goals. Most were modest; we were a group of farm kids without much context on the world. There was no internet yet. Most of our goals revolved around owning dirt bikes.
Then he shared HIS goals: to improve the economy of our nearest city; to create jobs for 500 local people; to build a destination ski resort nearby and inspire healthy living.
“The problem is,” he said, “I’m going to need another 150 years to get this all done. So I’m going to have to live to 200.” He was serious.
In the Thief phase, an entrepreneur attempts to live forever.
The platform of wealth created by a Tinker isn’t for her benefit. That platform creates opportunities for others: her staff, her clients and her community. The Thief asks, “How can I make sure these opportunities continue after I’m gone?”
Many in the Thief phase use their wealth to create scholarships or charitable Foundations. Some use their time to mentor others. The Thief’s legacy provides the resources to continue their mission.
For example, a Thief might set aside $1,000,000 in a scholarship fund. That fund creates enough passive revenue to pay for one student to attend medical school each year. The Thief can thereby add one new physician to the world each year. Each physician might help 1500 patients per year. And the Thief’s mission continues without them.
Another Thief might donate their time to mentor youth who don’t have good parental support. He might provide free leadership training; in return, his mentees must dedicate two years to mentoring others with the same lessons. The Thief’s mission continues even when he’s not there himself.
Many scientists believe the first human to live to 150 years old is alive today. I’m betting that person is an entrepreneur. Living to 150 will require a platform of financial independence and health. It will require some luck. But it will also require a reason. Most people decline when they no longer have a reason to get out of bed in the morning. But good entrepreneurs are never done; their vision pulls them forward.
But even if the Thief doesn’t live to 200, their legacy can.
The local entrepreneur’s name is JJ Hilsinger. I worked for him for a few years in my early 20s, and learned how to build a platform of wealth. I also learned to love mountain biking. Because the best way to make sure your message is around in 200 years is to deliver it yourself.