Five Lessons from a "Teen Tech Millionaire"

*Disclaimer: For days I've been trying to think of a less obnoxious title without sacrificing the hook. The reason why the title is partially quoted is an acknowledgment of the cringe-worthy nature, but it did get you to click*

A quick scroll through my Instagram page and it would appear I’ve “made it” at the ripe age of 19. Flying on the private jets. Brushing shoulders with politicians and celebrities. Traveling to exotic destinations. Polo matches, yachts, beautiful girls, helicopters, you name it. OBNOXIOUS! I know, right? BUT I will be the very first person to tell you, all that glitters isn’t gold. 

1) Financial success is the easiest part of being “successful.”
While this step isn’t easy, per say, I would say it’s the most achievable. I’ve consistently pursued incredible opportunities, often overlooked as achievable. 95% of those opportunities led to a, “no,” but the remaining 5% have resulted in lucrative partnerships and investments which justify the title. Attention to physical, emotional, and mental health may delay your financial health, but the balance will be well worth it.

2) It's not permanent. 
I’m a type-A, perfectionist, ENTJ personality type. I like stability and order. As an entrepreneur, what I pay myself is unpredictable and inconsistent. Some paychecks can barely cover McDonald's; others...could buy, well, a lot. Fighting the urge to walk into a Bentley dealership with a duffle bag full of cash, most excess profits are reinvested into my hierarchy of various corporate entities. The remainder is stashed away, as the fear of losing it all remains in the back of my mind. Saving for yourself is always important, but you have to walk the fine line between self-protection and greed. I always keep one of my golden rules,"people over profit", in mind.  

3) You'll feel a degree of guilt.
When I have the great months, I sometimes feel guilty for holding onto all of it. Four years ago, I would've said that's socialism. But I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude, so I need to somehow contribute back to Karma. I'll offset this guilt by doing small things. I pick up tabs that are usually split, buy Starbucks for the person behind me in line, contribute to a Kickstarter, and anonymously donate to a GoFundMe that someone shared on Facebook. Now I don't want you to think I'm coining myself as some patron saint; Saks, AMEX, and the Ritz may or may not occasionally benefit from my...investment in mental well-being/economic stimulation.

4) Everyone loves success, but they hate successful people. 
I’ve always challenged myself to level up, and people began to take note over the years. Increasingly, I’ve felt like all eyes are on me, anticipating a collapse. I’m constantly told, “I thought you were {pretentious/entitled/obnoxious/, etc.}, but after spending just a little bit of time with you, I realized I couldn’t have been more wrong. You’re so {down to earth/real/hilarious/personable/etc.}” People are going to judge you on flimsy pretenses, but don’t let that deter you from being yourself. Not everyone will take the time to get to know you, as they resent you in silence. You’re never going to please everyone; stop trying. 

5) My goal no longer became money.
It’s freedom and having people to share it. I’ve learned that material goods bring temporary pleasure. For me, I had to experience it before finally accepting it. I used to admire the (ignorant) phrase, “I’d rather cry in my Porsche than on my bicycle.” I’ve had a mental breakdown in a Porsche, but only good memories on bicycles. Money bought both of them, but it's about how you use it.  

Material success is not integral to happiness and more importantly, fulfillment.