Learn, Earn, Return

Here’s a quick backstory on myself. I attended University of South Florida as a student-athlete. One particular evening, the athletic department hosted a networking event to connect the student-athletes with the university’s top donors.  I was very ecstatic for this opportunity because I’ve always had aspirations to become wealthy and wanted to have a millionaire mentor.

At the event, the host introduced all the donors and I listened attentively to their background to decide which one that I would focus on getting connected with. I was able to pick out the one who I thought was the most successful and the one that I would want to be like. After having a conservation with him, I was able to get his personal cellphone number and successfully set up an appointment to have lunch with him. During the lunch, he taught me the concept of Learn, Earn, Return. Before meeting with him, I had never heard of it before.

Here’s how he explained it to me:

The first phase is to learn. By learning and getting educated, you will have knowledge. Everyone must learn something and be able to apply that knowledge into a marketable skill. That’s why we go to school to pick up a trade.

Second, you need to earn. After graduation, you get a job or start a business. Accumulate as much wealth as possible ethically by maximizing your potential in your respective field.

Third, return what you’ve earned. Give back to the less fortunate, to your community, your church and to causes that you care about.

After he explained that concept to me, I understood why he has donated so much money to the university and agreed to meet with me. He was in the return phase in his journey.  He wanted to share what God has blessed him with and be a blessing to others. He was a philanthropist.

At the conclusion of our meeting, I had a meaningful reason to strive for wealth. Initially, I wanted wealth for selfish reasons but now I wanted to help others. No matter what title we may hold today, it’s important to strive to become a philanthropist at some point in our lives.