The Grand Plan…

A lot of people ask me about university – if my kids get their A-levels done early do they go straight to university (where they would be social misfits as they’d be too young) or wait 5 years (in which case what do they do for those 5 years?).

People make the assumption they’re going to university when they probably won’t.

The thing is, my kids are already passionate about business, which isn’t surprising given they are influenced by me, and they will also have many advantages in business. The following list of people have all had incredible success in their respective fields because they leveraged off their parents’ careers or passions – Andre Agassi, George Bush Jnr, Tiger Woods, Benazir Bhutto, Michael Douglas, Indara Ghadhi, Serena and Venus Williams, Jahangir Khan, J.F. Kennedy, Jaden Smith, Alec Stewart – the list goes on and on. It would be wise for my kids to emulate.

My kids have been watching me run my businesses since they were born, I can help them both financially and in terms of mentoring, and my company LaunchPad works with smart young people with no business experience to launch new tech businesses – so they would be a natural fit there. And the elder two, Maryam and Danyal, are already fascinated by business, how it allows them to just think of an idea and make their own journey. They really want to go for it. In fact one of the reasons they study hard is because I’ve told them only once they get 5 A*s in their iGCSE’s and 4A*s in their A-levels they can then do what they want – i.e. business (or spend the rest of their lives smoking ganja, if that’s their thing).

Further, they are dead set on not getting jobs. They see the freedom their parents have, and have already had a lot of freedom in their own lives, and so it’s natural they want to keep it.

The best way to learn business is by doing business. A university degree could help, but not nearly as much as 3 years of trying business (whether succeeding or failing).

So hopefully Maryam will start running a business late next year, once she has gained a few months’ work experience, and the others would also follow after they’re done with their A-levels.

If they do develop chips on their shoulders, they could do an executive degree later on in life. They’d get a great brand on their resume, they typically only take a few months to complete, and the connections one makes can be many times more valuable than in your average undergrad programme. Also they’d pay for it, not me!

By the time the kids are 21, they could have 8 years of running businesses, managing people, dealing with failure, managing a company’s finances, leading teams, taking responsibility for their own lives, backed up by some hopefully great grades 5+ years ahead of their time, together with an ability to speak 5 or 6 languages, and possibly lots of cash in their bank account that they might have made from their ventures.

Not that I’d expect them to go for a job, but if they do, possibly because I’ve gone bankrupt and so have they, I think that with that kind of CV, they’d comfortably be ahead of your typical Oxbridge grad in terms of employability – they’d be the purple cow – the ones that stand out. Cutting-edge employers including top investment banks, management consultancies, tech companies would love someone with their kind of CV – the person making the decision would be patting himself or herself on the back for being willing to take the risk, the company would use it to show how their graduate programme challenges conventions.

It is worth noting that ‘business’ might sound narrow, but it’s just as diverse as employment, which is what conventional education sets kids up for. Business could mean tech, education, retail, green tech, F&B, farming, microbiology, property, medicine, or running a vet clinic (both my girls love animals) etc… and it could be very passive or intense depending on one’s ambition.

If the kids, at any point, feel business is not for them, they’ve got plenty of time to change direction and go to university.

As for me, I would have saved about US$400k per child, or US$1.2m for all 3 children in education costs. That’s US$220k per child up to A-levels (a top private education in Malaysia less home school costs), and the annual cost of educating someone at a top UK university as a foreign student, including living expenses, works out to be around US$60k per annum, which is US$180k over a 3 year course. So I won’t be complaining!