During my fall break vacation with my family this week, I got caught up with all my reading. I went through two months’ worth of Denver Business Journals. One of my best pals and mentors used to be the president and publisher of the paper. So, in some weird way, I feel that I can never unsubscribe out of loyalty to him. Until today – when I read something that gave me an uneasy feeling.

There was a full-page advertisement in the paper promoting a Colorado Commercial Real Estate Conference and its four keynote speakers. The top speaker was a well-known local CEO who runs a very successful pet care company. Under her picture was her name. And under her name was her title – CEO of XYZ Company. And under her title were two words that made me sick to my stomach – Millionaire Entrepreneur.

Perhaps I’m the only person who was turned off by those two words. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Those two words bothered me deeply. Why? Perhaps because they go against everything that I teach and everything that I strive to live and learn daily – humility.

Which one speaks to you more? Picture, name, CEO of XYZ Company and Entrepreneur? Or picture, name, CEO of XYZ Company and Millionaire Entrepreneur? The “millionaire” word speaks volumes to me – arrogance, conceit, egotism, overconfidence, self-importance, haughtiness and superciliousness! You get my point. Who cares if you are a millionaire? To me, the best millionaires are the ones that don’t need to tell you they are.

Next month I will attend my 30th high school reunion in upstate New York. It was there, at Suffern High School, that I learned my first lesson on humility. I was a struggling student, academically. Graduated with a 2.0 GPA – failed classes – attended summer school every summer – helped make the top 95% of my class possible! I was one of those students that learned more outside the classroom, than inside the classroom. Except Mrs. Singer’s classroom. She was a different kind of teacher.

Mrs. Singer did more than teach me marketing and entrepreneurship. Mrs. Singer inspired me to run for class president, join DECA and try out for the varsity football team. She told me that all the students making A’s and B’s would be working for me one day. She believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself.

Soon popularity came. I became class president, a national DECA champion and on the starting line-up for the Suffern High School varsity football team. I walked the hallways at school and everyone knew my name. I was somebody.

Soon arrogance followed. But before I even learned how to spell the word arrogance, Mrs. Singer was ON ME!! She summoned me to her office. In the firmest tone I’ve ever heard my marketing teacher speak, Mrs. Singer spoke words into me that changed my life. She said, “Never forget the people in our lives that help us get to high places!”

I will never forget that day in Mrs. Singer’s office. I walked out a changed man. And
I’ve never been the same since.

You meet some real characters on the speaking circuit. Next year will be my 10th year writing and speaking full-time. And of all the leaders that I’ve met on the circuit, I can put all of them in one of two buckets.

Bucket #1 – Those that use the words “self-made” in their bio’s and vocabulary. I’m a self-made millionaire. I’m a self-made businessman. I’m a self-made businesswoman. I’m self-taught. I’m a Millionaire Entrepreneur!

Bucket #2 – I am who I am today because of others. Period!

Which one are you? #1 or #2?

You can answer the question, but honestly, the answer doesn’t really matter. Because the people that choose to follow you – your team, your customers, your friends and family – they answer that question for you!

So instead of being “self-made”, humble yourself and become “others-made”. If not, Mrs. Singer, who is 75 years old, will summon you to her retirement home in upstate New York and speak truth into you like she spoke into me thirty years ago. Never forget the people in your life that help you get to high places!