People often ask how I became an entrepreneur and my explanation is that most of my entrepreneurial talents were instilled in me by watching and emulating my father and mother as a child. As owners of the family farm, they had many entrepreneurial responsibilities, many of which they passed along to their children. Starry eyed with my parents acknowledging our facility to take on new responsibilities, we began to accompany my father to the bank whenever he went to open an account, make a withdrawal or simply make a deposit. These trips not only gave us an early understanding of banking, we also got to spend quality time with my parents on a more professional level.
As I matured my parents allowed me to work as the farm's accountant and prepare the tax returns. I was also the one who paid the farm laborers and kept the books in perfect order. These experiences taught me the importance of record keeping and how to manage money effectively. However, as a child we simply viewed these chores as fun exercises to do with mom and dad, not realizing that we were honing skills that would help us become successful businessmen later in life.
I recalled these early experiences on my recent trip to Cairo, Egypt where I was surprised and encouraged to see such a mature level of interaction between parents and children. On many occasions during my visit with my family, we saw children, some as young as 3, accompany their parents as they completed day to day business transactions. However, unlike the U.S., where children sit quietly waiting for the parent to complete his task, Egyptian parents would discuss and explain their transactions with the child in detail. We were amazed at the children's level of understanding in areas concerning money, business and the finite details that many adults do not fully comprehend. The children listened attentively and asked questions about closing on a home and opening bank accounts. Such consultation between a parent and a child at such a young age is rare in America. Many of us believe children are too young to learn about "adult things", so instead of teaching them valuable skills that will ultimately benefit them later in life, we send them off to watch silly television shows and play games. Parents who provide educationally stimulating opportunities for their children open up doors that are tantamount to a future of sound financial independence.