Excerpt for The American Millionaires Have Spoken by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Been there, asked, listened and written it all down for you:

Petra Škarja

The author of

Česar nas niso naučili v šolah

(Eng.: What We've not Been Taught in School)

The American Millionaires Have Spoken

Priceless knowledge, directly from the successful millionaires!

The American
Have Spoken

California, 2014

Copyright © 2018 by Petra Škarja

Every person, every country, every environment and every nation can teach you plenty of things, but only if you are prepared to learn.

What can Americans teach us?

Definitely how to be more entrepreneur-like!

Find out how they think, what they advise us Europeans, what they think our advantages and disadvantages are, learn how Steve Jobs and Bill Gates acted and much more.

The book will change the way you think about entrepreneurship. It will help you become more entrepreneur-like in your everyday life and take you even higher.


The States – the Country of Opportunities

The Ability to Fail

How Can THEY Benefit from YOU

Have Your VISION and Work for FREEDOM


You, Socialists and Communists

You Hate Successful Entrepreneurs

Poor Victims

Take Care of Yourself

First Take Care of Your Company, Not Your Employees

A Good Employee Should Be Paid Well

Paid Education

WORK With Positive Connotation

Mama's Boys

I Would Do Anything But Sell

Don't Limit Your Work Day With Hours

I Don't Care How Hard You Try And How Long You Work

Let Them Motivate Themselves

Diligent, Humble and Quiet

You Don't Know What Persistence Is

Be Unique

Take the Risk!

Youth Is Gold

Don't Think Too Much, Just Work

No Limits

Time Is Money

Be Hungry

The Pirates of the Silicon Valley

Knowledge of the American Millionaires In Practice

My way

The States – the Country of Opportunities

The States – the country of opportunities!  Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Las Vegas; places of glamour, fame, prestige and success.

At least that's what movies taught us. Thanks, Hollywood!

After a long, long flight we finally arrived at the Los Angeles LAX airport. The same as before, yet completely different. We used to come here as tourists, hungry for glamorous locations we had seen in the movies, but this time we were somebody else.

We have come back to California to meet excellent entrepreneurs – millionaires, and learn from them. Numbers show that Americas are the masters of entrepreneurship. They are born with it.

I strongly believe, and the numbers confirm it, that if anything, the Americans can teach us entrepreneurial mindset, which helps them achieve outstanding global entrepreneurial results.

It does not matter if you think about them in a positive or negative way; the numbers clearly show that the States shape world's best entrepreneurs or at least the majority of them.

Even just walking among the biggest companies in the Silicon Valley makes you feel great. You can feel the entrepreneurial spirit in the air!  Not only entrepreneurs, but also the employees at Google, Apple, Facebook etc. are very innovative, quick, inventive and results-oriented.

To me, living in California has been the best and the fastest education so far.

Do not get me wrong. I am not in favor of the States and I am not trying to say that I don't like Europe, far from that. Americans should learn from us too. I noticed that they lack cleanliness, tidiness, respect for nature and a healthy or at least normal diet. I'm really not sure how it is possible that they do not all die in their 30s, considering what they eat. I swear, in a month I have not seen a single person holding a bottle of still water or a piece of fruit!

Europe is wonderful and Slovenia is the heaven on Earth.

Just to give you the feeling of how unrealistic the movies about Los Angeles, Hollywood and other places are; this is the picture of an average Los Angeles Street.

Not so glamorous, right? Luckily, it’s in black and white, otherwise it looks even worse.

The majority of people speak Spanish, the buildings are painted with graffiti and I won't even speak about the poor quality of construction, uneven walls (my father is a builder – he would be horrified), cracked pavements, streets full of trash and untidy people (umm, I do not know where they get those beautiful women who appear in the movies). It is all rather smelly and extremely untidy.

About the nature: yes, they do have wonderful national parks, but in Europe, you don't have to drive for hours to see the beautiful nature. We really do have the heaven on Earth.

Just to make things clear: if you visit the country as a tourist and go see only those parts of towns that are meant for tourists to visit or walk around the richest areas of Los Angeles (Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Hollywood Hills etc.), you won't notice and feel that. Even Las Vegas is an extremely nice and tidy place.

Try to travel as a local resident at least for one day. Take a ride to the other parts of the city; see the countryside and you will see the difference.

Now that I am reading this chapter again, I think it is necessary to point out all the wonderful locations that are definitely worth seeing. Americans know how to make a show and entertainment from every little thing, and I can guarantee you will not be bored!  Must see destinations are: Disneyland, Universal Studios and Las Vegas. I can say that these were indeed three of the most fascinating locations in the world that I have visited so far.

But let's go back to the main purpose of this book. I want to hand you the knowledge we've accumulated while staying in California and what we were told by successful entrepreneurs – millionaires, who mostly live in the neighborhoods of Beverly Hills and Hollywood Hills.

Another important thing:

Everything you read in this book are the words, thoughts, beliefs and opinions of the American entrepreneurs we visited.

I'm not saying that I completely agree with everything and that I have memorized all they have said. I’m also not claiming this is what you have to do to be successful and I’m not trying to convince you this is only correct thinking.

Try to decide what might come in handy for you, be it in your own business or as an employee.

At the same time, also consider the subjective influence because we haven't talked to thousands of people to accurately determine what is the general opinion about the matters discussed.

It is your responsibility to look for useful information and not be 'a typical European' and say things like: "Oh, no, this is not true, I know one example...”

Be in a state of genuine desire to learn, be open to different opinions and think about them. Lower your defensive system of generally accepted beliefs the environment around you created. We are here to learn, not to consciously look for evidence to oppose, because we cannot learn anything new from that. Agreed?

Here we go ...

(P.S.: Because I did not ask those involved in the talks if they allow the publication of their names in the book, I named all of them "the American", although there were several different people involved.)

The Ability to Fail

In the afternoon we went for a walk around Beverly Hills. It's a wonderful area – quiet, neat and full of greenery. In the States there really are enormous differences between the rich and the poor. You actually pay more for the location than the house itself. Now we know why.

The American comes home. He's a doctor; he has his own practice and employs a few people. We start to talk right away and we are surprised by his openness. To the question: “What do you think is the most important to succeed in the States?” he answered: “You have to really want it!” He strongly emphasized it and repeated it more than once. He said that wanting to succeed is the best recipe for success. Even when we’d already said goodbye, he repeated that again and told us to never forget it.

In the afternoon, we went to the famous Starbucks cafe, at an even more famous Rodeo Drive (where Julia Roberts had gone shopping for dresses in the movie Pretty Woman), to get the huge, half-liter coffee, just like in the series Gilmore Girls (women know what I'm talking about ).

Another American approached us in a comfortable manner. He told us he was planning a project with his team and gave us a flyer, in case we were interested. We asked him about the project, what it was, blah, blah – and suddenly we were talking. Again a completely relaxed, simple talk. We soon found out he is an extremely successful entrepreneur, who owns several houses around the world, one of them also on Cook Islands (I know this usually isn't the most important piece of information, but for me it is because Cook Islands are one of the top destinations I would like to visit).

The American is a dedicated anthropologist and likes to study differences between nations' mindsets and what affects them. He is also a lawyer and, because of that, studies how politics of different countries around the world work. Add an entrepreneur to that and you have the perfect combination. 

We ask him the same question: “What is the recipe for success and what is different in the States, comparing to Europe?”

And he said this:

“You know what the main difference between us Americans and you Europeans is? The ability to fail!

In the States, if you try hard, risk all you have and fail – it's okay.

If you try again and risk everything, succeed just a little bit, but in the end fail again – you deserve applause.

If you try once more and again succeed just a little bit, but fail in the end – you are a hero.

If you start all over again, risk everything, succeed, but fail after all – you are a king.

Finally, when you try one more time, risk everything and succeed – you are a god.

We eternalize these stories and talk about them, which is why failures of world famous geniuses are so well known. Let me mention just a few of them:

Colonel Sanders: His famous recipe for roast chicken has been rejected more than a thousand times before one restaurant bought it and made a huge success. This is how Colonel's empire began.

Henry Ford: His first two companies went bankrupt. Then he established the famous Ford Motor Company and became one of the three richest and most famous people of his time.

Walt Disney: He was fired on the grounds of lacking original ideas and imagination.

Richard Branson: Not everything he did became a success. He tried to establish Virgin Cola and Virgin Vodka, but they were just failed attempts.

Thomas Edison: Teachers told him he was too stupid to understand anything. He made more than 9000 attempts before he invented a light bulb. Later on, he said that none of them was a failed attempt, only steps towards success.

Marilyn Monroe: She was fired from 20th Century Fox because the producer claimed she didn't know how to act and was not attractive.

Albert Einstein: When he was little, people thought he had an intellectual disability. His grades were so bad, teachers told him to give up school.

Michael Jordan: He was not able to join high school basketball team. He went home, locked himself up in his room and cried. “I have missed more than 9000 shots, I have lost 300 matches and missed 26 decisive shots in my career. I have missed and I have lost over and over again, but these are also the reasons for my success.

What about you, Europeans?

If you try once, risk everything you have and fail, you are a fool. And not just that, you suddenly become a criminal, they send you to jail or at least accuse you of something. And that's not the worst! Your community excludes you because they see something negative in you. Something like: “Who does he think he is, exposing himself like that? He's hungry for money, which is why he had it coming! If he had been happy with what he had, this wouldn't have happened to him!” At the same time, your children are labeled as bad because they come from such a family.

It is necessary for you to find a mistake in the way the business is run. And mistakes are always there, even if you don't want them. You publicly expose those mistakes and shame the person who did them.

It's like you are not allowed to fail. That is the reason why you don't dare as much, you are wimpy and in the end, you achieve less.

Even I wouldn't dare risk everything in an environment like that!”

When I had come back to Slovenia, I read an interview with the Young Entrepreneur of the year 2011 (Admir Latić), who said:

“In Slovenia, you have to be an average Joe. The society can't stand either positive or negative extremes. If you are successful, you are soon called a tycoon and if you fail, they call you a crook.

How Can THEY Benefit from YOU

My partner introduces himself to an American. “I am X from Slovenia, I have a company in X countries and X number of employees.” The American asks: “Yes, and?” My partner continues his explanation about the company’s achievements, the products and the type of work they are doing. The American asks again: “Yes, and?” My partner still doesn’t get it and keeps on explaining further, very much in the way he is used to, about his education, age, employees etc.

The American says: “Look, for ten minutes you have been talking about yourself, but I still don’t know ANYTHING about YOU. I know about your past achievements, your company, but I know nothing about YOU.”

And the training began.

The American: “You Europeans have an interesting system. You are full of ego. You think education is important, but in fact it has nothing to do with entrepreneurship! Nobody has ever sold their degree and made money with that! You talk about the number of employees, how long have you had your company, and in how many years you achieved success. If we talked a little longer, you would probably tell me if you own a house and what it's like, you would tell me if you own a yacht, how many houses you have and, of course, what kind of car you drive. This is usually the way Europeans present yourselves.

All this tells absolutely nothing about your personality, who you are as an individual, and how we can work together and try to achieve new goals. I basically know nothing about you and have no useful information.”

I thought: “Maybe he's right!” If anybody asks us, what is a successful entrepreneur like, we imagine a man in a business suit, who owns a big company and has many employees. He has a new house, a wonderful wife, an expensive car, a yacht and a cottage at the seaside or in the mountains. Oh, and he's regularly in the media, presenting his success story.

He then continued:

“When you approach an American entrepreneur to do business with him, never start a 15 minute long monologue about yourself and your achievements. Nobody cares about that in the States. The only thing they want to know is this: How can they benefit from working with you and which problem can you solve for them. A short and concise answer.”

He spoke about the general differences between the American and Slovenian way of thinking. He enhanced his speech with his knowledge of anthropology and history. He said that everything originates in the history; we grew up with it and that's why it’s in our blood.

More on this later.

Have Your VISION and Work for FREEDOM

Americans say that Europeans carry the importance of status symbols in their blood. Statistics also show that Europeans invest the majority of their money into cars and real estate, which is kind of funny, since movies usually show how Americans like to brag about their wealth and are arrogant.

Of course you have to distinguish between typical celebrities (singers, actors and everybody else that you can see on E!) and entrepreneurs. Many of them are extremely successful, millionaires, but they are not famous. Only some of them stand out, like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates etc., because there is so many of them.

These successful entrepreneurs usually don't even own their houses – they rent them. Because of that, we haven't seen any houses being built. They drive great cars, but comparing to what they earn, it is as if a manager in Slovenia drove a Clio (a small city car from French car company Renault).

Americans say that the reason why so few Europeans become as successful as for example Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Wal-Mart etc. is that we can't find motivation for work once we become “the greatest in our village” – the one with the biggest house, the most expensive car and the only one who owns a yacht. And what happens then? The company stops growing and we don't know why. We start thinking how it happened and how to get motivated to continue our work.

The American says this happens because we don't have the right reasons to work. Status symbol is never the right reason. It's limited and doesn't give enough inner strength to achieve extremely good results.

Americans say, we should work for FREEDOM and make sure our VISIONS come true. Bill Gates had a vision of bringing personal computers into every household. Steve Jobs had a vision of completely changing ways of communication. Well, Apple still has some work to do to achieve that, but they are close. Walt Disney had a vision of building an amusement park like it has never been seen before, where children and parents could travel to the fairy-tale world and have fun together. Kirk Kerkorian had a vision of building a magnificent city in the middle of a desert, where entrepreneurs from all over the world would have fun. Las Vegas was built and it still grows and expands.

VISION is what the majority of people find unimaginable, but there are people, who strongly believe in something and decide to do or achieve that. They are ready to devote their lives to it and make their visions come true. When you really feel something, when you feel it in your heart, motivation is not questionable anymore.

The other is FREEDOM. Americans say that we all should work for freedom. If you are financially strong, you are less dependent on others, on country and everyone around you. You don't have to adjust as much, you can express your opinion out loud, you don't have to be afraid what others might say, you have the freedom of changing your schedule and location however you like, you can do whatever you like and taste life with the big spoon. This is how you can LIVE your life to the fullest.

Don't just survive your life, LIVE it. You can only do it once.

Is that not what we all deeply desire? Is that not what can save us from impacts of the society, the government and enables us to listen to our heart and live our life however we want to. If you are financially dependent on others, you cannot afford to do that.

This is why they say we should work for FREEDOM and make our VISIONS come true and not to display status symbols.

Americans put it like this:

Europeans play “POWER Game” and Americans play “MONEY Game”.

We think that power, status symbols and “looking powerful” are the most important, after that comes the profit. Americans say that money comes first; everything else is of secondary importance.

Companies are about making a profit, nothing else. It doesn't matter if you have beautiful office building and well-educated employees, if your company operates in the red.


Europeans like to make things complicated in every way possible.

Wal-Mart is world's largest public corporation, according to the Fortune Global 500 list for the year 2014. It is the largest private employer with more than 2 million employees and the largest retailer in the world.

It's interesting that there are very few stores in Europe. Americans say it's because they tried to enter Europe (Germany), but only here it was impossible to do business in a simple way. At first, we couldn't believe what they were saying, but when more Americans said it was hard to do business with Europeans because we make things complicated, we stopped and listened to what they had to say.

Many times, I've heard people say how stupid Americans are; they are uneducated and we laugh at their stupid statements we hear in the media. The reason behind that is probably the HUGE difference between the rich and the poor. It's true that the poor might not be as educated, but the other thing might be that they extremely simplify things.

Here is an example:

A European would come to a meeting in a business suit, he would act/behave as a very well educated man, he would be serious and would excel in business etiquette. “And you always have to use professional vocabulary you know very little about. You can't benefit from it, you just think you sound better, but in fact you just pump your ego and think you are worth more because of it. You are full of EGO,” the American added.

The European would definitely stress his education, professional background, the education of his employees, enumerate all his accomplishments, customer testimonials, brag about himself, blah, blah, and then tell you what he wants you to buy. Before that, he would write a 50 pages long market analysis and 100 pages long business plan, he would prepare for the meeting half a year in advance and thought about it for hours before actually coming to the office.

This is how Americans see us.

The American on the other hand would come to the meeting, not necessarily in a suit, and finish in a few minutes. Simple as that. He would only tell you this: “I have something you need and these are the results I will bring to you. Are you in?” He would do a quick market analysis, if any at all, he had an idea about a meeting yesterday and decided to come and see you.

We think this is stupid and unprofessional. When we heard the American say that, how he would behave and what he would say, my first though was: “Okay, I definitely wouldn't take him seriously. It's like he knows nothing!”

My partner wrote an e-mail for American companies, following the rules his mentor set for him. He told them he would like to work with them in 15 sentences – it was a short letter. When he showed the letter to his mentor, the mentor said: “You complicated Europeans! After every sentence that you write, ask yourself: 'So, what? What does that mean to them?' and if the answer is: 'Nothing.' delete that sentence. You are writing all those sentences to make yourself feel better and look important. This is your ego and it will not bring you business.”

The mentor shortened his message into 5 sentences! In Europe, we wouldn't dare send that to the biggest companies in the world.

The American also said we should always stick to the K.I.S.S. technique – Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Everything should be simplified. When we think we've made it simple enough, we should simplify once more.

We make our lives in general over complicated by thinking about unimportant things. Life, in its essence, is quite simple. We should train ourselves to use K.I.S.S. technique in our everyday lives, not just in business.

Do you want to lose weight? Do you really need all the information about food, digestion, and the influence of all ingredients on the accumulation of lipids? Do you have to go on an endless search for the “magical pills”, fitness devices and the right work out to accelerate weight loss?

Overthinking and “overcomplicating” at its best! Many people who decide to lose weight, study all accessible articles on the matter, but if they kept the K.I.S.S. technique in their mind, they would rather go and run for 15 minutes and would definitely do more for themselves in that time. If you need a magical recipe to lose weight and you want it to work: go out and run for half an hour every morning. It definitely works!

Do you want to write a book? Many people would go online and start browsing articles on how to start writing, what are the right procedures, how to get inspiration etc. K.I.S.S. – turn your computer on, start typing and you will see what happens.

Never forget the best technique I've ever heard of: K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple, Stupid!

You, Socialists and Communists

Americans (speaking of successful businessmen) don’t advocate socialism and communism. They even say that the history of socialism and communism led us to where we are now: in “deep shit” (I apologize for the words, but I’m just writing down what was said )

I wouldn’t say that capitalism is any better. I’m also not saying that socialism or communism are any good, but I’m pretty sure about something: It is definitely not good for a person to live in capitalism while he thinks in terms of socialism. This is the worst combination possible, especially if the person aims for a successful business career.

(Some Americans spoke of socialism, some of communism, and the third said the two are closely related so that we basically speak of the same thing.)

Oh, our beloved marshal Tito. All I actually know about him is what I’ve overheard from a table next to mine when I sat in a bar and I remember small parts of what we’ve been taught in school a long, long time ago.

Our American friend shared his view of the current situation in Slovenia, starting with the system marshal Tito has built; he gave us everything we needed and the government took care of everything and everyone. People have lived for so many years with this mindset that it became a part of them. It now comes naturally to them and after all this time, people just can’t let go of it.

Somehow the idea of our country taking care of us is buried deep in our subconscious mind. Marshal Tito took care of us. A job was waiting for everyone, even if you did nothing, but have a coffee in the whole day. They took everyone, even if they didn’t really need them. People were working in their hometowns, companies didn’t go bankrupt, children had scholarships, there was enough social support for everyone, free healthcare, companies owned apartments at the seaside so everyone could go on vacation, everyone could afford to buy an apartment etc. You know those times better than I do.

The American says the greatest problem with that mindset is that generations before us rarely left Yugoslavia, which means the only reality they knew was the communist reality. The government controlled the media and they made sure that people were convinced there were no other regime, but COMMUNISM. This is why it’s in our blood, as the American likes to say.

The fact is that people are still convinced the government will take care of them, that it HAS TO take care of them. If it doesn’t, it’s the leaders’ fault. This is what the majority of Slovenes believes while others make plans of changing the government so it would take care of everybody.

I’m not sure, whether they don’t know or don’t want to admit that the government is not an endless sack of money. Even in the times of Tito, funds weren’t unlimited. Everything they had, had to come from somewhere. Even if it came from loans, it had to be returned eventually.

The American has a friend in Ljubljana (we were surprised how everybody knew where Slovenia was; many had friends or acquaintances here, one even started to talk to us in Serbian ) and he said how his American friends laughed: “Ha, ha, do you know what socialists did? They started the resistance against government! And you know what they achieved? The government raised taxes!” Yes, that was funny for them. Why?

The following lessons are based on the socialist mindset.

You Hate Successful Entrepreneurs

You expect the government will take care of you, but you hate successful people, successful entrepreneurs. That makes no sense!”

The American added: “Do you even know what government is and where it gets the money? Do you really not know the basics of its operation? Without companies and entrepreneurs, everyone would be unemployed. Has government ever taken care of you? In reality, it hasn't.

Companies took care of you. Government has very little money of its own and the majority of funds comes from entrepreneurs – yes, also from their employees, but these people work in the COMPANIES owned by successful entrepreneurs.

If we simplify this – instead of supporting those who want and are capable of creating new jobs and grow successful companies, you HATE them!

Why? Because of your stupid socialist-communist history!”

He also explained that socialism basically works on the principle 'the same for everyone'.

Those who are very successful or achieve results above average have just a little more than those who come to work to sit for 8 hours. This is socialism; you build the pile together and split it equally.

This political current was implanted into people and they unintentionally hated everybody who had more than they had.

Why? Because they consciously or subconsciously saw them as traitors, who didn’t stick to the simple system 'the same for everyone'.

This is why we are embarrassed to tell how much we earn, if we earn more than others. Many entrepreneurs from the generation of our parents hid their actual wealth so their neighbors wouldn't resent them.

This mindset is still very strong.

“You treat successful entrepreneurs like criminals. You try to find their mistakes, and who seeks, he shall find. Everybody makes mistakes. You look for them, spread them and then publicly punish the person who made them.

Others are than unintentionally afraid of being successful, they prefer staying somewhere in the middle. Nonsense! These are the consequences of socialism.

You live in capitalism, but socialist values and mindset are still rooted deep inside you. And then you ask yourself, why you are stuck in economic crisis.

You subconsciously hate money and successful people. Don't think that writing 'success stories' means that you are supporting entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. That's far, far from it,” the American added.

Poor Victims

Americans are convinced that Europeans in general think of themselves as poor victims, again because of our history and because Christianity is very strong in Europe. Socialism helped the poor. The poorer you are, the sooner you get help, which is why we've learnt to act like victims.

We were in the Starbucks again and we listened to the conversation at the other table. I know that's not nice, but we did it to 'study' the nation. 

Imagine the Starbucks cafe on Rodeo Drive, where the richest people live. Two Americans sat at the table, talking and laughing about the failed meeting they had had; they had forgotten all their paperwork at home. After all the joking and laughing, talking about their families and parties in Vegas they said: “Okay, let's do this. Let's try to make this happen. We can do it! We don't need much. You call your friend and ask him to check if everything is legally okay and if we need anything else to start.”

It doesn't matter if they made their idea come true, what matters that they had a relaxed conversation in a cafe and were ready for action. Let's do this! We can make it happen! The conversation was loaded with creative energy and enthusiasm!

Today, I am sitting in a cafe in Trebnje, Slovenia. The first thing I hear on the radio is how all employees of Žurnal24 (free daily newspaper) were fired and how the government is making a plan to help them (Oh, how the Americans would laugh!). After that, I hear about the fourth victim of a traffic accident on the highway. How much negative information for a 'good morning'!

And that's not it. I see two young moms sit by the next table. One is saying how annoying her mother-in-law is and how badly she treats her. The other one says: “Oh, that's nothing, you can't imagine how badly my boss treats me. You should see that. It's a hundred times worse than your mother-in-law.”

They continue the race of who's the poorest. I can't even find the words to describe that, all I can say is: “SERIOUSLY??!!”

This is an example of the usual talk when Slovenes go for a coffee. They literally compete in who's the poorest. They gain nothing from it, only destroy their creativity and hope and fall even deeper into their crisis and apathy. They keep on competing until the 'strongest wins'. Horrible!

We think Americans are impudent (listen how many curse words they use, how quickly they get mad at their employees and how directly they will speak to you), while they think we are wimps who act like poor victims. God forbid somebody shouts at us or says something bad to us because we are immediately offended.

The Church taught us that we would get God's grace if we were humble and poor. Generations have led their children to church to teach us these values and this is what we have now.

Americans say that this is in our blood and that we are not aware of it because it's our only reality. When somebody says something different we condemn that and look for reasons against it. Americans say this is the proof it's in our blood.

As an entrepreneur, you cannot succeed if you act like a poor victim.

Take Care of Yourself

When we asked the American, what Slovenians should do to improve the state the country is in as soon as possible (not in decades or generations, but as soon as possible), he said:

You have to learn to take care of yourself. Don't expect government to do that. We, Americans, definitely know how to take care of ourselves and this is our major advantage.”

This is why we often see the Americans as egoistic, self centered and greedy people who only know how to accumulate wealth. It's because they know they have to take care of themselves.

The American we talked to about that said they give millions to charity for those in need – victims of war, for example.

Taking care of yourself first does not mean not caring for others. It just means that you take care of yourself FIRST.

Only when you are able to take care of yourself will you be able to take care of others. In Slovenia, we are ready to help, we support charity work very much, but in most cases, we are barely able to take care of ourselves.

“This is the only way possible and by doing so, you can help more people in the end! Think what you are told to do on the plane.

In case of danger, whom you have to put on the mask first?”

It was for the first time that I carefully listened to safety instructions before take off that you have to follow in case of emergency.

I don't know why, but until now, they didn't make much sense to me because I thought: “Well, if the plane crashes, explodes or is hijacked by terrorists, putting the mask on correctly won't help me much.”

I know it's a bit naive, but it's true. 

And it's true. They show you how you have to react in case of emergency. Everything is shown on the screen before you (everybody has their own) so you not only hear, but also see what you need to know.

The pictures show an adult and a child are sitting in the plane and how the masks fall from above in case of emergency.

Then they say and show loud and clear that you have to put on YOUR mask first, and only then the child's. All that is shown in the video on the screen.

Help YOURSELF first; only then will you be able to help others.

Who can help the socially disadvantaged? A millionaire or somebody who can barely make it through the month with his wage? A millionaire, of course!

It's stupid to generalize and say that the poor help more than the rich. The truth is far from that. Go and meet both sides and you will see.

If we know all that, if we can check it and prove it, then I really don't understand, why people don't like millionaires and are only able to make up bad things about them.

If they really wanted to help others, they would take into account what I've written above and would rather support and cherish what millionaires do.

First Take Care of Your Company, Not Your Employees

From all that we’ve said until now we see that we take care of our employees more than of our company. Our American friend will here return to the oxygen masks on the plane.

“You only take care of the children. You put their masks on first, but you risk exposing yourself for too long and losing consciousness in the process. This way you AND your child die. If you took care of yourself, you could help more than one child.”

What did he want to say with this? From our socialistic point of view it comes natural to us and seems right to take care of our employees all the time. We have trade unions, riots, the media reports only on how employers neglect their staff, how people cannot get a job or how they lost it, how low their salaries are, what is their lunch break like, how far do they have to drive each morning etc.

Everything focuses on the employee making a black sheep out of the employer – they are here to be taken advantage of so the employees are content and happy.

The American said we should think about helping our country, to encourage entrepreneurship and take care of the companies. If they become bigger, better and more successful, the logical consequence is that there will be more jobs and better conditions.

“You address some issues from completely wrong side. Just turn everything you know for 180 degrees. In the States, if we hear about workers resistance, we don’t’ sympathize with employees, like you do, but we blame the employer for being too socialist to let that happen. Fire them all!

We talked a lot about that and we figured out that this is a big problem of our government, especially because we want to grow quickly and create better labor market.

“You are convinced that employer depends on you, the employees, and he can do nothing without you. I cannot find the words to tell you how stupid somebody has to be to believe that,” he continued.

“Employer has never been dependent on the employee. He GAVE him the job! He created him. It’s true that you have to keep the key workers in your company, otherwise it can make work difficult for a while, but that does not mean the company will close because of that.

When I lived in Slovenia for a while, I even heard people say how happy should the employer be to have them (the employees) because he would be nothing without them. What a stupid thing to say!

Always remember, despite the circumstances in the company: EVERYBODY is replaceable, only the owner isn’t. The employees should be aware of that and the owner has to be aware of that too!

And when the employees say: “We are going to resign and destroy you. You can’t do anything without us.” You fools – you are going to destroy yourselves because you are dependent on your monthly wage. I will not be destroyed – I have the knowledge I need, the funds and the system, I have everything and all you’ve got is a temporary job in my company.

If people were aware of that, they would work differently and they would have a different attitude towards the company. The company would stand more firmly and would generate more revenue, the owner would be able to expand the company, create new jobs and there would be more funds for improvement of working conditions and rewards for employees.

We cannot understand that you don’t understand that!

Once again – the employer is not dependent on his employees, but vice versa, no exceptions. Give me any example you like and I will prove you that this is always true.”

We challenged him with examples and he always proved us wrong. He also confirmed what we felt deep inside – it’s hard for us to accept and live these truths because socialism is in our blood.

“Teach your employees one more thing. Teach them to only come to you with a solution, otherwise they don’t have the right to come to you.”

A Good Employee Should Be Paid Well

Socialist mindset is unfair to the above average workers. You can find brilliant people no employer would bother to pay in every company. According to socialist mindset, it is normal to pay this employee a bit more, but only a little bit. The American says it's nothing strange in his company to pay one person even five times more than the other if he or she earned it – for the same job.

Hmm, can you imagine the rumors that would spread if that were the case in Slovenia? One person earning 5000 $ and the other only 1000 $ for the same job. We cannot understand that.

The American suggested (to those of you who have more employees) that you split them into 3 groups. Above average, average, below average.

“Immediately fire those in the group 'below average',” says the American. “Motivate the 'average' to become the 'above average' and if they don't make it within the specified period, fire them. Try hard to keep the 'above average' and offer them a prize for their work.”

When we had second thoughts about what we should do with the ones 'who don't make it', he said: “It's their problem! But if you look at the bigger picture, everyone will learn to work better than they do now. At your place, everybody still puts in the least effort they can to 'pass' and people would probably resist this system because you think it's normal.

If you started to reward the 'above average' and fire the 'below average', you would soon reach higher level. Of course, at your place, people would lynch the company – how cruel it is to its employees. You, socialists! This is why you can't achieve higher level and still have problems!”

It is definitely easier for entrepreneurs in the States, but incomparably difficult for workers.

Paid Education

We know that Universities are very expensive in the States, especially the best ones. The question is, is it okay that education has to be paid or not?

Well, the American said this: “Do you know what our students learn? They have to save money for many years to go to university; some also have to work while on college to pay their tuition fees. This automatically teaches them that they have to give something to the university (the tuition fee) to get education. They have to make an effort to achieve certain results to be able to stay at the university and finish their degree. When these students get their jobs, they are already aware that they have to BRING something to the company (the job has to be done in certain period) to keep their jobs and get paid.

What about you?

Education is free and you think it's logical that the government will take care of you. The government does that. It pays for your education: teachers, materials, facilities etc. Don't think it really is FREE! This is why students grow up thinking that the government HAS TO pay for it and enable them to get educated, just because they are the citizens of the county. If they get the degree the government has to congratulate them, but it's not necessary for them to graduate.

When these students get their jobs, they are convinced that the company HAS TO take care of all expenses connected to what they do, it has to make sure they can work and they deserve all that just because they are there for 8 hours a day. If they get the job done, the company has to congratulate them, but it's not necessary to reach all objectives.

When the government says it won't pay for education anymore, because there are not enough funds for it and that students should pay to get the chance to get education, your students protest.

And when the company says it cannot pay for all expenses and that it doesn't have enough funds and you should help by reaching the set goals, employees protest because of the intolerable working conditions and that they deserve to be paid just because they are there 8 hours a day.

Do you understand?”

A very good point! Read carefully once more and think about the connections.

Another interesting point the American mentioned.

It often happens that they don't mention their education in the job application. If you finish Harvard, Yale or a similar well-known university, it can be an advantage when you start looking for a job, but if you graduate at an unknown university, it’s not always mentioned.

Of course we wanted to know why.

“I've already mentioned that you should employ as young people as possible.” I will tell you more about that later.

“The employer wants young people who still have a dream. Education kind of limits you; it puts you in the box and only directs you towards a certain goal. This is good sometimes, some companies want that, but the majority doesn't.

It's perfectly fine if you don't finish your study, nobody will judge you because of that. Just look at all these wonderful people who don't or didn't have a formal education but are/were geniuses.”

Interesting. We wouldn't 'buy' that in Europe.  Later we talked about these people who haven't finished any university or even high school:

  • Bill Gates (Microsoft)

  • Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook)

  • Lawrence Ellison (Oracle)

  • Roman Abramovič (Russian magnate)

  • Kirk Kerkorian (owner of several mega buildings in Vegas)

  • Simon Cowell (Britain's got talent)

  • Richard Branson (Virgin)

  • Ted Turner (CNN)

  • Henry Ford (Ford)

WORK With Positive Connotation

Some of the Americans we talked to are already retired, but they still work all the time. We wanted to know why.

“What does retirement even mean? The end of operation and creation or just the end of the REQUIRED money making? The majority of entrepreneurs my age have long been retired, but I don't know why they should stop working. We are made for working, creating, expressing ourselves, achieving goals. If I stop working, I can just die.”

He said he enjoys work, that it fulfills him and after some time, we figured out that in Slovenia, work carries a negative connotation.

The majority of Slovene people wishes they would never have to work again and that that would make them happy.

I often remember a Slovene ad that goes like this: “La, la, la, oh, and I would sleep all day.” Complete nonsense. A woman lies on an exotic beach, sings that to herself and puts a hat on her head. I don't know what is being advertised, but I often remember the chorus.

The ad shows that the ideal life includes lying on the beach, doing nothing and sleeping. Now be realistic and imagine yourself doing that all day, every day. Would you really enjoy it? Of course not!

Instead of waiting for those days from you dream to come, when you don't have to work anymore, we should adjust our WORK and make it interesting and PLEASURABLE.

Do what you like doing, it's true that we talked to American entrepreneurs and it's easier for them to do what they like than for those who have regular jobs. Still, try and find things that make you happy.

Let work be creative process that fulfills you, not just something you must do.

The majority of Americans we talked to were older men, but they looked great – full of energy and sparkles in their eyes. Their work fulfills them and gives them vital energy because they love to do what they do.

Many of them said to us: “Love what you do!”

We all want to progress. This is what Mother Nature gave to us so we would be able to survive and evolve through generations. Abandon the thought of just laying down and doing nothing. If you focus on that, you will probably achieve it, but you will never be happy.

Focus rather on what you can change to ENJOY what you do and work because you WANT to, not because you MUST. This is how you will find happiness and success.

Mama's Boys

The first entrepreneur we have spoken to has 6 different companies. He owns some and in some he is a partner. One of the companies sells cosmetics, the other deals with technology (I didn't understand what exactly), so he's in many different businesses.

The other entrepreneur has a similar story, the third and the fourth too.

We wanted to know why. Where I come from it's not usual for an entrepreneur to have more than one company and deal with so many different businesses with so many different partners.

The American said that our entrepreneurs are very attached to their mothers. What did he mean by that?

“These are the values that mean a lot to you: home, mother, safety, habits, known things etc. You are attached to your houses, which we aren't, you rarely move to the other parts of the country, let alone out of it. At our place, that’s quite common. From New York to Los Angeles? Now? No problem. We live in more than one country in just a few years. Where is our home? Where we live at the moment.

Just like you are attached to home, your houses and your cities, you are attached to your companies. You establish one company and stay with it for the rest of your life.

We establish our companies, stabilize them, find the right people to manage them and leave them alone. This does not mean that we DON'T CARE. Of course we do. We still go and see the people or help arrange a few things.

It just means we are not focused EXCLUSIVELY on this company, which is why we have time and energy to establish new companies. Generally speaking, you don't have that characteristic because you are attached to the first company you establish. Even if you have the chance to pass on the managerial responsibilities to other people, you don't do it.”

Not long ago, I read a great column written by Miha Mazzini about Slovene and American mothers.

Here's a part of it and I hope Miha won't mind me quoting him:

It's Saturday afternoon and I'm waiting in line to get some bread. An elderly woman asks the shopping assistant to put a loaf of bread directly into her shopping cart because she could not lift her arm; she has ironed 25 shirts for her son the day before.

I met her again at the exit. Some other shopping assistant helped her put her groceries back into the cart while the woman showed her numb arm again and added: “I'm in a hurry! My son is going for a trip with his family and I have to prepare sandwiches for them.”

That reminded me of a huge book store by the American shore, somewhere in Oregon, I think it was last year, when an elderly woman opened the store outside of working hours because she had nothing else to do.

While we chatted, she told me how happy she was because her children invited her for lunch the day before. They haven't seen each other for a few years. They left home when they were eighteen, when they were still annoying teenagers, now they sat at the same table, talking like adults. She said: “I couldn't believe my eyes.

They have become such wonderful people! The last time I saw them we were arguing, but now they were adult and independent, each with their own job, and family. What a pleasure!”

They arranged to go on vacation together next week to see the country they have never seen before and she left it when she was still a child.

The first elderly woman is the Slovene mother and the other is the American mother. The first one does anything for her children; works hard, wakes up early to make sandwiches before her children and grand children wake up, her arm is numb from all that she does – 25 shirts! The other owns a bookstore, way too big for that town, but offers a magnificent selection of books and it's clear that she likes doing what she does.

It's scary, right? A caring Slovene mother compared to an American mother who is occupied with what she loves doing, while her 30-year old children wander the world on their own.

This kind of negligence hurts us! Is it time to call the social service or have we bumped into an important element of being a Slovene? Probably the most important element.”

When I read this, I became more aware of the traditional Slovene songs, tales and customs. Me and my partner laughed when we came home, turned the TV on and heard a typical Slovene Oberkrainer music; a singer wearing a national costume was singing how sad he was for going away from home – oh, my dear mother.

He cried after his mother. Not after his wife, lover, girlfriend, but his mother. And this is not the only song like that.

Our home country is also symbolized as a mother and there are many songs about that too, not to mention some well-known tales about mothers, like 'A Cup of Coffee' from Ivan Cankar.

Comparing to other parts of the world, mothers in Slovenia are strongly attached to their children, even when they are 30 or 35. Children are also strongly attached to their mothers.

Decide on your own whether you think this is okay or not. From the point of view of personal growth this is definitely a strong inhibitor, which can be confirmed with studies of psychologists and hypnotist.

It all depends on what you want in life.

I Would Do Anything But Sell

Americans say that just like we hate money and entrepreneurs, deep inside we hate to sell. You must have heard people say: “I would do anything but sell!”

When we mentioned that to the American, all he said was: “Well, those should just lay down and watch TV because there's no work for them.”

The American says that selling is as vitally important as eating drinking and sleeping. It's part of our lives. Everything we achieve in our lives, we achieve it through sales. They really live for that.

What about our place? A major resistance towards sales. What is more, you are immediately labeled as a 'crook' if you work in sales, especially if you do your job well. It's a disaster.

Because of low sales, many companies go bankrupt.

The American I mentioned in the beginning, the one who has a house on Cook Islands, told us he had a very wealthy neighbor on that island. He has so much property and wealth, more than one generation after him won't have to work.

Anyway, his children are the ones who often sell lemonade to tourists. Can you believe that? Children of the billionaire sell lemonade on the street!

Why? He answered this: “Even if my children won't have to work to survive, they have to learn the basics and SELLING is one of them.

If they know how to sell, they are well off.

The American added: “You Europeans have found out there are goods in the world you would like to have. Globalization and fast flow of information have made you realize that. But you don't want to sell. Don't you get it that everything is in sales? Doing business is the same as selling.”

He told us one more thing. He said that we are very passive. We wait until somebody spots us and comes to us because we believe (even if it's not entirely true, ego helps us believe it) that we have the best product in the world.

The ones who are a bit more active write a mail or two and the most active even call. If there's no feedback, we try to figure out what the problem could be.

“YOU should get to others, that is what being pervasive means. Get to those you want to cooperate with or sell your product to at any cost. Take charge; don't wait others to come to you because they won't. There's too much competition,” said the American.

One of his trainees got the task to get to a very important person in the CIA. The one everybody thinks is not possible to reach. And that was just the beginning!

His trainee said was taking action every day, more than once a day, for three months until he finally reached him. The emphasis is on the fact that he did it EVERY DAY!

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