Is formal education necessary in creating wealth? #HeshDeSilva - Capital Business
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Is formal education necessary in creating wealth? #HeshDeSilva


What do Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Ashish Thakkar, and Michael Dell all have in common?

Not one of them completed university education. You probably knew that.

I have a strong theory on this subject based on something many people keep asking me. Is education necessary to become wealthy, given the large number of billionaires and pioneers who did not have formal tertiary education?

My answer: the fact that we know the names of the ‘famous dropouts’ shows us just how few there are.

The truth is, if you do not complete your education, you’ve got a far greater chance of amounting to very little as opposed to being the next Gates or Jobs.

But what about people who do not have access to higher levels of education? Are they doomed to a life of mediocrity? The simple answer is NO.

Whether you have completed your formal education or not, life is about making the most of the time and opportunities that come your way. Nothing in life is a given. You have to get up and do something, to stand up when it’s easier to sit back – and DO.

Life becomes your teacher. What lessons you choose to learn from it, and adapt to enhance your life, will inevitably define you.

I am a prolific Googler. If I hear about something that I do not know, I read about it. I try and understand it. Always look to enhance your knowledge base. When you have little, knowledge becomes your value.

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The story of a young man called David really touches me. He grew up in Kibra. No mother, alcoholic father. He was accustomed to a life of poverty. David went to Olympic Primary. There he learned that if he kept straight A’s in his classes, he avoided Olympics famous punishment for those who underachieve. He got into Starehe Boys Center for his high school studies, where he continued to excel by working harder than everyone else.

A well wisher told him to take the SAT examinations to enter a US university. He had a week to study for them, never saw a prep book that wealthier students had access to, but still almost got a perfect score on his first and only attempt. Today David has a Bachelor’s degree from Harvard University which he attended on a full scholarship, a job in a top consultancy firm in New York, and will be doing his Masters in August. A young man who made the best of the opportunities that were presented to him, and continues to achieve.

Corporates in Kenya, and the world over, are starting to see the need to further enhance education for all. This is not only the government’s job – but a responsibility for everyone. The better educated a population, the faster businesses can grow, the faster a country grows.

Wherever you are able, try your best to enhance somebody’s life. The gift of education is a gift you cannot put a number to. While I did not make the most of the university education that I was given access to – dropping out after 1 year, I personally sponsor over 100 students to school and that isn’t close to my target.

In short, wherever you find yourself in life – whether you have finished your formal schooling, are in school, or never finished – life is what you make of it.

Like young David, work harder and smarter than anyone you know – then work harder and smarter  tomorrow. Be a learner who’s always open to knowing more. Success inevitably follows that attitude irrespective of the level of education you have achieved.


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