Friday, July 27, 2007
Educated Advice Columnist
Gerald M. Bradshaw
As Arnaud de Borchgrave reported recently in the Washington Times that the estimated 700 billionaires in the world account for $3 trillion in wealth.
Whenever I have an interview with a parent about what their children should study in college, I think about that number of billionaires, which grows by more than 100 a year.
Fifty countries have billionaires, including Kazakhstan and Iceland. Even China has 30, and they are starting to invest in American hedge funds.
Years ago when we thought about how to make a lot of money in our careers , it was a choice of medical school or law school. Then, after seven or eight years of college and twenty years of nose to the grindstone, the money would start to flowing in-at least that was the theory.
Today, money is made quickly, furiously and in billion dollar chunks. One new billionaire made the list with a $ 5 billion zinger. Another first timer came in with $9 billion-all made in one year!
De Borchgrave reminds us that Bill Gates and Warren Buffet took several years to reach a billion dollars net worth. Not in today's rapidly changing economy.
This week I will meet my first billionaire; he is speaking at the Harvard Club in Chicago. The press release tells us that Christopher Hughes and two Harvard roommates got together in 2004 and designed a website called The Facebook. The purpose was to share contact information with friends and fellow classmates.
The website grew in popularity and quickly expanded to other Ivy League colleges. Then, it exploded into an international phenomena, spreading through colleges, high schools, companies and communities with a "viral" intensity. What began as a class directory for Harvard students has become, in the span of only three years, a website of 25 million users, second only to MySpace.
The press release explains that Mr. Hughes, 23, wants to change the way we "live, communicate, and connect with others."
He and the other co-founders are estimated to be worth $2 billion. Apparently, that's not enough. They are holding off selling, and the Wall Street Journal predicted the company will be worth at $5 billion by 2010.
On the side, Hughes acts as coordinator of online organizing within the Barack Obama presidential campaign.
I know it is hard for most parents to understand the staggering success that such a young group of college students has achieved in such a short time--from millionaires in college to billionaires in the first year after graduation.
One of the books I recommend they read before coming to me for advice is Robert Kiyosaki's "Retire Young, Retire Rich. " He points out that today's successful businessmen are not cut from the same cloth as yesterday's money barons. It took John D. Rockefeller 16 years to become a billionaire; Gates did it in 10, Mike Dell in five.
Then Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page became multibillionaires in their late 20s.
So, when parents ask me what their child should major in, I tell them that it doesn't really matter. The globalization of jobs means that traditional careers are being outsourced to India and China or reversed engineered when they take our jobs with a J-1 visa. Automation is replacing human drone workers at every stage in the employment chain.
It is best to plan not to rests on one's laurels. The economy is good right now; companies are hiring at record levels.
The WSJ reported college recruiting in all majors at a decade high-up an average of 17% from last year. To attract candidates, many offer signing bonuses of as high as $60,000 in certain markets, and new graduates hired as "consultants" can expect bonuses ranging from $6,000 to $10,000 this years.
But to get to the billionaire bracket it doesn't matter which path you take in college. Mr. Hughes was a history and literature major. Gates dropped out.
Contact Gerald Bradshaw, The US States Top college consultant. One-on-one college consulting. Get help with the college application essay. Make you dream of being admitted into Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Cornell, Brown, Dartmouth and the University of Pennsylvania a reality.
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