Entrepreneurship seems to be a natural for Stephen Tebo, MS CSci’68. It started with a job shining shoes at age 8 and continued through college, when he collected a sold coins to cover tuition at Fort Hays State University.
While an undergraduate at Fort Hays, Tebo persuaded a jeweler to let him sell coins from a display case in the jewelry store. The approach was neither orthodox nor easy for Tebo, who went on to achieve success as a coin dealer and real-estate developer in Boulder, Colo. He shared his secrets of success with students during a visit back to campus in October 2004. They boil down to 10 “keys to success” and five rules for what college students should expect after graduation.
Tebo’s keys for success:
1. Work smarter, longer and harder. “I believe you work eight hours a day to stay even and the additional hours you work each day is how you get ahead.”
2. Do something you love. “That way you will never resent having to go to work.”
3. Continually challenge yourself. “That way you will always force yourself to become better and more knowledgeable at your vocation.”
4. Explore new ideas. “It will always turn out to be a learning experience.”
5. Set goals early. Then “review them thoroughly and adjust them often.”
6. Exercise tenacity. “You may have heard the saying, ‘If at first you don’t succeed, you’re normal,’” Tebo says. “However, if you can’t or don’t stick with it and try and try and try again, you probably aren’t cut out to be an entrepreneur.”
7. Take chances. “You will be guaranteed to miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t make. Not even the greatest athletes in the world ever hit 100 percent of the shots they take. But they keep taking them.”
8. Think outside the box. “In almost every situation, no matter how much you evaluate or research a situation, there will always be other options or information you hadn’t thought about.”
9. Commitment is a must. “Success is not an entitlement. It must be earned.”
10. Integrity above all. “You’ve heard about telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. That’s integrity.”
In addition to this top 10 list, Tebo left the students with five rules for life after commencement:
1. Life is not fair – get used to it.
2. The world won’t care about your self esteem. “The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself.”
3. If you think your professors are tough, wait until you get a boss.
4. Life is not divided into semesters. “You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.”
5. Be nice to nerds. “Chances are, you’ll end up working for one.”