9 Important Blogging Tips for College Students

Blogging turns out to be one of the major online income generating avenues, especially for school and college students. I personally can do my essay online, post it on my blog and make some money. In pursuit of their blogging dreams, many students even miss classes in order to do research and write articles. This is bound to affect their academic performance. This article highlights nine important blogging tips for college students, to help them strike a balance between their studies and blogging.

1. Prioritize your studies

In as much as blogging gives you fame and money, at the end of the day, employers will look at your academic qualification and not your prowess in blogging. Therefore, give your class attendance and studies the seriousness they deserve.

2. Sketch a suitable schedule

It is important to have a timetable. Allocate blogging a suitable time frame, not beyond midnight. It is healthy to sleep for at least 6-7 hours.

3. Determine what time goes to blogging

Again emphasizing on tip number 2, strike a balance between your studies and blogging after your class time. Follow your timetable to the letter.

4. Create personal publicity for your blog

Make an effort to tell everyone about your blog. Give them your blog address to create an audience for your content. Seek for some feedback on your posts by asking them to fill in something in the comments section.

5. Count blogging as a valuable part time job

Unlike other part time jobs that college students engage in, blogging generates much more revenue. It is advisable to seek out a renowned web publisher, showcase your work and be sure to increase your chances of getting a writing job, if and only if you are a proficient writer.

6. Establish connections in your city

Seek out famous bloggers in your city, meet them and connect with them for a broad experience in the field. You can also attend blog camps and get a great opportunity to seek clarification on certain issues unclear to you.

7. Consider starting blogging classes in college

With relevant and adequate experience in blogging, you can consult your head of department for permission to start blogging classes in college. This will give the other students a chance to learn about how they could make money through blogging.

8. Create an impression with your friends

Blogging, as mentioned earlier, comes with some degree of fame. Take advantage of it by coming up with interesting articles, especially ones that could solve technical problems among your friends.

9. Be informed on blogs in your field. If you are an engineer, this blog whatengineers can be an example for you.

If you are a student taking Art subjects, read blogs in that field to gain more insightful knowledge. Similarly, if you are a Science or technical-related student, read relevant blogs to build on your blogging experience. For instance, you could read Harsh Agrawal’s blogs.  With these few blogging tips, college students can make the best out of blogging. Other than making money, blogging serves as a good part time job, instead of lazing around or engaging in unhealthy behavior such as drug abuse during free time. Moreover, blogging is a great opportunity to harness creative thinking. The online media offers a broad platform for bloggers and other online writers to venture into.

How could you use blogging in your world?  Let us know in the comments below!  And if you enjoyed this post, please share it on Twitter or Facebook, stumble it on Stumbleupon or pin it to Pinterest.

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Going Back to School as an Adult

Tips for Returning to School as an Adult

Returning to college has its challenges and perks, but attending school while juggling daily responsibilities can be frustrating. Don’t hesitate to pursue your educational dreams because of anticipated complications. Use this advice to make going back to school as an adult an easier and more rewarding experience.

Select the best educational path for you

One of the challenges of returning to college is to decide on the degree path most beneficial for you. Obtaining a technical degree in two years may be a good option to earn an Associate’s or certification, while a Bachelor’s degree or higher will require a commitment of four years or more. Don’t be afraid to become educated in a field that ignites your passion for learning. Consider taking a career assessment to help you determine a compatible field of study for your unique personality, skills, and interests.

Fund your education

It is imperative to obtain sufficient funds to pay your educational bills. Consider grants, federal and private loans, work-study, and any other financial source to help make it happen. There are tons of specialty scholarships offered by colleges for adult learners, so explore all of your options to supplement your education.

Consider reputable online colleges

Online colleges provide an excellent opportunity for adult learners to infuse college into their lives. You may want to explore distance education to obtain the degree of your choice in a cyber setting. This option is truly convenient for people who work and raise a family. It is important to check if an online college is accredited to ensure your degree is honored.

Obtain childcare if necessary

Many returning college students quit because they do not have access to reliable childcare. If you intend to go to school on campus and you have children, it is important to secure a babysitter. Your degree is important, and with it you can improve your life and provide the best for your loved ones when you graduate.

Create study time

You must take out adequate time to study if you wish to excel at any college or university. Be sure to visit a comfortable location to complete your study time in peace. A twenty- minute study session while focused is better than an hour of distracted study. Studying with peers who are taking the same course allows everyone to better understand difficult concepts.

Use study aids

Although most colleges provide a number of resources to its students, it is wise to obtain additional study aids to boost your learning power. Obtaining knowledge on course subjects through outside resources provides additional clarification while enhancing learning. Try reading study guides, software, and educational websites to obtain useful information to impress the ideas into your mind.

Get a tutor

It can be extremely frustrating to leap back in the educational swing after years of being out of a school setting. A personal tutor can be extremely helpful in making course concepts easier to understand. Personalized help is a major plus. Your tutor will instruct you on your time, review your work, and offer solid guidance.

Stay motivated

Maintaining motivation as a new student can be strenuous for anyone, but it is absolutely essential if you desire to obtain a degree. Mature students who are returning to college must develop a support system to keep them inspired and positive. It takes a continuous commitment to earn an education, but a host of family and loved ones can cheer you on along the way.

Use technology to make it easier

Technology has made going back to school as an adult easier than ever, so don’t hesitate to utilize it. A laptop or a tablet is an innovative addition for the modern student on the move. An mp3 player is useful for playing recorded lectures and listening to study material. Downloadable eBooks permit one to read course texts anywhere. Be sure to improve your computer skills to further enhance your ability to excel in school..

Balance your schedule to avoid overload

Balancing your schedule is a vital aspect to avoid stress overload. Setting aside a few days a week for scholastic tasks will help you obtain good grades without burning out. Be sure to get enough sleep every night to reduce stress on your system. A balanced diet grants you higher energy levels and improves your ability to concentrate. Simplifying your life by organizing your schedule ensures you can earn your education while completing your daily responsibilities.

Consider tuition reimbursement programs

It is possible that your employer may pay for a portion, or all of your education through a tuition reimbursement program. This offer is incredibly helpful for students on a limited budget. Be sure to inquire if your employer offers this advantage to its employees.

Discuss your concerns

If you find that your academic troubles are mounting on top of one another, it is important to discuss them. A close friend, loved one, colleague, or teacher can offer you sound advice that helps alleviate the pressure. Your academic advisors and professors will guide you through the educational process, so aim for positive, collaborative relationships with all of them.

A college education bursts open doors of opportunity for adults of all ages. Gain an edge with knowledge by returning to school and moving to the next plateau. If you are going back to school as an adult, it is important to choose the right educational route that is complimentary for achieving your career goals. By using this advice, you can better balance school with the rest of your life. Take charge today to obtain the education that transports you to a higher level.

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Financial Lessons for College Bound Students

Today we welcome John Gower, who is knowledgable about all things finance (i.e., How to Pay for College). In this article, he’ll share with you some tips on how to manage your money before you enter college and especially while you’re in college.

As high school seniors prepare to head to college, the prospect of independence is near. However, that independence might not be as hands-off as they (or you) would like. Managing your child’s expenses while they are living at home is quite different from doing so while they are in a dorm room halfway across the country. Before the big move-in day, consider these tips for steering your soon-to-be college freshman towards a life of financial independence and success.

1. The basics: Staying in the green

If you have not done so already, help your student open a basic checking account. Many banks offer accounts targeted to students with no minimum balance or maintenance fee. The account you open does not necessarily have to be at the same bank you yourself frequent. A better gauge of which bank to pick may be the proximity to the campus your child has chosen to attend. Finding an account with the lowest fees and having easy access to an ATM for cash withdrawals ought to be the driving concerns, as most else can be managed online.

Tuition and housing costs aside, there are still a number of expenses that necessitate the use of a checking account. The occasional weekend trip, basic personal expenses, or a work-study job on campus are a few of many activities that will force your student to start some sort of budget management habits. Teaching your child how to manage his or her checking account without incurring overdraft fees is a great stepping-stone for the future.

2. Money management: No excel worksheet needed

The average student loan debt for a graduate in 2012 was around $27,000. Whether or not your child’s education costs will be covered by loans, grants, scholarships, college savings, or a combination of the above, keeping your student aware and involved in the payment schedule is a place to start responsible financial habits.

This does not entail leaving your student out in the cold to deal with complex financial aid issues, but instead giving them some additional responsibility. This can be as simple as making tuition payments themselves (on time) or being in charge of paying for housing each month. If that seems like too much to handle from the get-go, consider instead making out a small home utility bill such as cable or internet in your student’s name to get the same benefit of building responsible and timely payment habits.

3. Plastic: Put away those scissors for now

Due to new regulations passed in 2009, banks are now prohibited from passing out free water bottles, t-shirts, and other goodies on campus as recruiting efforts to get students to sign up for credit cards. So while you don’t have to worry as much about your student coming home on their first Thanksgiving back with a pocket full of plastic, there is still good reason for concern. Start building good credit habits early, as when your child reaches the age of 21 they can apply for credit cards without a co-signer.

There are a number of benefits to helping your student build credit. A high credit score will help them once they are out in the real world signing apartment leases, getting credit history checked by employers, and applying for car loans. Credit cards of course have their pitfalls. They have the potential to be widely misused if not grounded in the fact that plastic is indeed spending real money that must be repaid in full. In order to fully understand this, your student should know what the terms minimum payments, annual fees, and APRs mean at the very least.

If you have allowed your high school graduate to piggyback on your existing credit card, remember to keep a close eye on the account, as anything they do has the potential to hurt your credit history.

The tips above are a great starting point for beginning a conversation between you and your college-bound senior. Start small, and most importantly communicate and be available to guide your child as they navigate tricky financial waters in college.

John Gower is a writer for NerdWallet, a personal finance website dedicated to helping consumers find the best free checking account, high interest savings account, rewards credit card and more. 

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Atomic Wedgie and Entrepreneurship: A Fireside Chat with Porter Haney

No, this article is not about how to give a wedgie or even wedgie videos. Instead, this is an interview with Porter Haney, an entrepreneur and founder of wedgies.com, a polling platform for the real time web.

Similar to our interview with Neil Patel, we’ve asked Porter a few questions with the hope that his answers will provide good advice for those currently in high school or college but wish to eventually become an entrepreneur.

After this post, go check out wedgies.com and become a wedgie boy or a wedgie girl. Sounds weird, I know. Anyways, enjoy the interview.

1. Can you share your background with the audience and what you’re up to currently?

I’m a passionate skier, photographer and entrepreneur. I recount our outdoor adventures atFamousInternetSkiers.com and am currently building wedgies.com, a polling platform for the real time  web. We’re part of the burgeoning #vegastech startup scene and Downtown Project, an initiative to make Las Vegas the largest community focused city in the world.

2. Thinking back to your time in High School and College, what classes or training do you suggest for students aspiring to become entrepreneurs one day?

I relate entrepreneurship to the simplest forms of education.

When you’re in grade school you’re learning simple skills – how to make friends, how to socialize, how to communicate. At it’s core, entrepreneurship is about building lasting relationships through business. These skills are very human, and things you might pickup in the halls of school as well as in the classroom.

I’d encourage students to find something they’re passionate about, people they want to surround themselves with while they chase that passion, and a patience and resilience to chase that passion for a long time.

3. So, a tutor is kind of like a mentor. What mentors did you have and what affect did they have on your career of life decisions?

Entrepreneurship is a skill best taught through mentor and peer networks. You can’t learn every entrepreneurship lesson by reading a book or talking with other potential entrepreneurs. You need seasoned people, who’ve been through similar businesses and experiences. They’ll be the best guiding light for you as you try to tackle new problems.

4. Any final career advice for the budding entrepreneur in High School or College?

I believe in a few core rules and try to follow them in most aspects of what I do.  Treat others the way you want to be treated. And, two wrongs don’t make a right.  I believe that following these types of rules, while working hard, creates sustainable success that you can be proud of as an individual and a business.

To learn more about Porter, you can follow him on his Google Plus Profile.

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Preparing for Upcoming Student Loan Payments: To Defer, or Not to Defer

College students with significant student loan debt who also graduate during a down economy are faced with a big challenge. Finding and keeping a job during an economic recession is hard enough for those who have long since graduated, and this challenge becomes even more difficult for new waves of college graduates who often have little job experience under their belt. Finding a job for these graduates tends to be the most important task for them, especially in order to pay back student loans that are accumulating interest.

Consider the data; student loan debt has surpassed credit card debt in the United States. According to Pew Research data, a record one-in-five households owe student load debt. In 2001, 12% of American households had student load debt. This number increased to 15% in 2007, and by 2010, had reached a staggering 19%. Recent data from the New York Fed shows that in the first quarter of 2012, the under 30 age group has the most borrowers at 14 million, followed by 10.6 million for the 30-39 group, 5.7 million in the 40-49 category, 4.6 million in the 50-59 age group and the over 60 category with the least number of borrowers at 2.2 million for an overall total of 37.1 million.

Paying Back Student Loan

Many people with student loan debt who have yet to find a job are considering loan deferments to stymie their student loan payments for a short period of time while looking for a job or saving up enough to make their first debt payments.

Nevertheless, deferments have their pros and cons. Students pondering whether or not they should defer should conduct solid research about deferment while finding out all of the policies and terms of deferment from their respective lenders. Deferment, sometimes called forbearance, is not for everyone, so it is important for recent grads to analyze their financial situation and determine the best route for them in terms of paying back student loans.

Missing a student loan payment is never a good idea. Defaulting on a loan can cause penalties on a person’s credit score or have their loan sent to a debt management firm that can impose other, more dire penalties against the debtor. In a situation in which a recent graduate does not have savings or access to finances to begin to pay off a student loan, deferment is one method that can be used to avoid defaulting.

Deferring Student Loan

However, many student loans have the option to defer one time only, or one time within a given time frame. If this is the case, graduates must carefully choose when to defer. This is extremely difficult to do since no one can tell the future, making it often impossible for those new to the job market to know what their employment status will be in coming years. Deferring while working at a low-paying job may be a bad idea if the job doesn’t work out and the debtor finds him or herself completely unemployed the year after with no option for forbearance since it has already been used. It is therefore extremely important for all those with a student loan to assess what the lender terms and guidelines state, especially when it comes to deferment.

As graduation approaches, current students should do as much homework as they possibly can as they prepare to take on their upcoming loans. Organizing all of a lender’s information and ensuring that important terms and policies in the fine print can be found easily, especially in the event that an important question arises in the middle of a student’s payback or deferment period. Further, students should ask lenders what they monthly payments might be, how long it would take the loan to be paid off (if minimum payments are made), and at which rate the loan will accumulate interest over time.

Additionally, some people do not qualify for deferment. Lenders generally have specific criteria that debtors must meet in order to qualify for special student loan repayment programs such as deferment. Many people who find themselves outside of the criteria to receive a deferment option either wind up defaulting on their loan payments or are forced to consolidate their debts through a debt consolidation agency. It is nevertheless important to always keep an open line of communication with the lender, as many are focused on getting paid back, and are therefore more apt to work with recent graduates who might not qualify for their forbearance programs.

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When I Grow Up I Want to Be a Russian Oligarch

The Russian Oligarch Hustle

There’s been a lot of interest lately in Russian Oligarchs because of the banking troubles in Cyprus, a small country in the Mediterranean. Apparently, Cyprus became a haven for many rich Russian Billionaires to stash their money. And, when the banks in Cyprus came upon some money trouble, it caused massive concern since Cyprus apparently holds a significant amount of wealth from European countries. So, not just Russian Oligarchs are affected, but European corporations as well.

All of this interest in Cyprus, a tiny country of only 1 million people, got me interested in the Russian Oligarchs. What is an Oligarch? Who are these Russian Oligarchs.

So, I did some research. And, it turns out, they have a lot to teach us about hustle, how to work super hard, and have it pay off in billions of dollars. While we may not all turn out to be Russian Oligarchs in the end, we can learn a lot from how they’ve conducted business.

Boris Berezovsky

Boris Berezovsky came to the business world of Russia by an odd route. He was a software engineer. He was born and raised in Moscow and received a high quality education in electronics and computer science at an institution that was involved in the Soviet space program. Berezovsky went on to graduate school at Moscow State University where he earned the equivalent of an American Ph.D. in the 1970’s and finally a Russian Ph.D. which is more advanced than an American Ph.D. in 1983 at the age of 37. He worked for twenty five years at the Soviet Academy of Science in the field of decision-making and in the field of computer automation of industry.

He decided to enter the business world. At the Academy of Science he had worked with the Avtovaz, an enterprise the Soviet government had set up to produce automobiles for the mass Soviet market. The Soviet government contracted for the Italian automaker Fiat to build a large scale auto plant 700 miles east of Moscow. The city in which the plant was located was named Togliatti after the head of the Italian Communist Party. The plant was not a technical triumph. It was vastly overstaffed and the quality of the product was low. The labor productivity was approximately one thirtieth of labor productivity in the American and Japanese automobile industries.

Berezovsky Hustle – What We can Learn

Berezovsky proposed to Avtovaz that he provide help to the enterprise for automation and computer control of operations. The structure of the arrangement was that Berezovsky would set up a company in Switzerland that would create a joint venture with Avtovaz. This would gain the benefit of the Soviet government program set up to encourage foreign investment in the Soviet economy. One special feature of a joint venture is the foreign partner could take some profits of the enterprise out of the country.

Once the legal structure for the foreign partner in Italy, Logovaz, was set up Berezovsky became involved in operating a car dealership to sell the Ladas produced by Avtovaz. Car dealerships extremely profitable and were a favorite target of organized gangs demanding protection money. Berezovsky arranged his own protection from the Chechens and tried to keep out the other gangs demanding a shakedown.

The Russian gangs were not easily discouraged. Gang warfare raged. Berezovsky left the country. When he returned he was the target of more than one assassination attempt. The most serious one involved a car bomb. Berezovsky was riding in his chauffeur-driven Mercedes with his bodyguard. As his vehicle passed a parked car a bomb in that car was detonated. The chauffeur’s head was blown off, the bodyguard was severely injured and Berezovsky was seriously burned. There was other assaults on Logovaz’ operations, but when the leader of the Russian gangs was killed by a car bomb the assaults stopped.

The car dealerships were extremely profitable, in part, because of a process Berezovsky called the privatization of the profit of a state enterprise. Avtovaz produced Ladas at an average cost of about $4700 but sold them to auto dealers at $3500 per car. The dealers then sold the cars for $7000 each. The under pricing of the cars by Avtovaz came as a result of the control of its management. Thus Berezovsky moved the potential profit of the state enterprise out of the enterprise and into the private enterprise of the dealerships. Since such a money-losing enterprise would not have much market value it would be cheap to buy ownership. This is the scenario proposed by Berezovsky.

So, he bought really low, and sold really high. He focused on margin and set up the business to maximize his profits. Simple, but it shows hustle.

Vladamir Gusinky

In his twenties during the 1970’s Vladimir Gusinsky started his business career as a cab driver, one without official sanction and thus called a gypsy-cap. He also engaged in black market trading. But by the 1980’s he developed some close ties in the Communist Party. He organized events for the Communist Youth League. Gusinsky also developed a working relationship with Yuri Luzhkov, the mayor of Moscow. The City of Moscow was not just a city government. It owned an controlled an extensive system of economic enterprises. Under Luzhkov these enterprises functioned efficiently and profitably.

In 1989 or shortly thereafter Gusinsky created a bank called Most Bank, from the Russian work for bridge. As result of the connection with Luzhkov, Gusinsky’s Most Bank was a very important institution in the Moscow economy and one of the biggest conglomerates in Russia. To protect his interest Gusinsky created a security division employing about 1000 people, many of them formerly employed by the KBG.

Once Gusinsky had created the basis for his financial success he began to create a media empire. In 1994 he had a newspaper, a weekly news magazine, a television guide magazine, a radio news station and the crown jewel of an independent television network.

Learning from Gusinky

Gusinky teaches us the importance of networking. Who you know really matters and learning to work with others is key to success.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky

As a child Mikhail Khodorkovsky had humble desires and wanted to be a factory director when he grew up. Factory directors were probably the most powerful figures in the lives of ordinary Russians. But being a factory director was not just an idle dream of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He pursued his career goal rather diligently. He showed focus by studying engineering in Moscow and simultaneously was active in the Communist Youth League, called the Kommosol, to the point of being deputy head of the Kommosol governing committee for his educational institute. He learned the protocols of dealing with Communist Party functionaries and he developed connections in the Party organizations.

Lesson 1 from Khodorkovsky: He had a goal and he set a course to obtain the goal.

Despite his careful preparation Mikhail Khodorkovsky was denied the opportunity to work toward a directorship in the Soviet defense industry. He felt it was because of the Jewish origins of his family. He then decided to enter the private sector. His enterprise was named the Center for the Scientific-Technical Creativity of Young People, which was soon abbreviated to MENATEP. It first existed as a cooperative, the only officially sanctioned form of private enterprise, but later became a bank. Like many other entrepreneurs Mikhail Khodorkovsky sought the quick, high profits that could be gained by importing and reselling computers. MENATEP also engaged in various currency exchange transactions.

Lesson 2 from Khodorkovsky: When met with adversity, bounce back quickly.

Although some in the Communist Party blocked his road to becoming a factory director Mikhail Khodorkovsky was on good terms with many Communist Party officials and went into business with their approval. He was appointed as an economic adviser to the prime minister of the Russian Federation in 1990, in the days before the collapse of the Soviet Union. This was a prestigious position and one that gave him important contacts.

Lesson 3 from Khodorkovsky: Make important contacts and nurture relationships.


Alexander Smolensky

Alexander Smolensky grew up poor and didn’t come from normal Russian roots. His mother’s father was an Austrian Jew who fled Vienna for political refuge in Moscow. But Stalinist Russia did not treat such political refugees as true comrades or true Russian brothers. Because of his ethnic and religious lineage, his mother was scared that they would receive tremendous persecution.

As a consequence, she was right. So Alexander Smolensky’s mother, who had been born in Austria although she was raised in Moscow, was excluded from most jobs and opportunities for training. Life was very hard for the family especially since Alexander Smolensky’s father divorced his mother and left her and their children to survive on their own. Alexander Smolensky developed a lifelong resentment and defiance of the system. He seemed constitutionally incapable of cooperating with the system.

When he applied for his official identification document, the Russian version of the American Social Security Card that the Russians call the internal passport, he could have listened his nationality as Russian on the basis of the nationality of his father but he chose instead to designate himself as Austrian on the basis of that of his mother. This was a clear act of defiance and by doing so he excluded himself out of any career other than as an entrepreneur. But entrepreneurship in the Soviet Union was illegal and Smolensky lived a hard life.

Lesson 1 from Smolensky: Make you decisions and stick to them, despite the consequences.

He then served a two year service in the Soviet Army in Tiblis, Georgia. He fought the system in the army but while doing so he and a friend used their access to the army newspaper’s printing facilities to start an underground business in printing business cards. The business was not much but it enabled them to learn type-setting and the crafts involving in printing.

Lesson 2 from Smolensky: Make good friends and use ingenuity to create value.

After the army, Smolensky continued in the printing trade. He found a job as a supervisor of the printing department of an industrial ministry. He had to work two jobs to survive and was on the lookout for ways to make money. He realized that in the days of the Soviet suppression of unsanctioned literature was an opportunity that perhaps had a market.

People were publishing writings by the laborious process of typing documents a few copies at a time, one original and as many carbon copies as the typewriter could produce. In addition to being tedious this was dangerous but people were willing to do it. Access to a printing press relieved the underground writers having to type and retype works. Smolensky printed Bibles among other things. Bibles were not technically subversive material but it was a criminal offense to use State facilities for private enterprises as Smolensky was doing.

Lesson 3 from Smolensky: Find a better way to do something, and find a market that will pay you.

During this time Smolensky developed and refined his skills at finding and acquiring materials. In the socialist economies shortages are chronic and there is no problem selling production but gathering the raw materials is the limiting factor. So that while the salesman is the key figure in western businesses it is the raw material acquirer, the procurer, in the socialist economies that is the key figure.

Lesson 4 from Smolensky: Understand the supply chain well, and optimize it.

Smolensky’s illegal printing operation was reported to the authorities and he was arrested. He was sentenced to two years of work in a construction crew outside of Moscow and prohibited for three years of having access to money and valuable materials. His career as a printer was effectively ended, but his introduction to the construction field was a valuable substitute.

After his sentence was served Smolensky continued in construction. His ability to get things done earned him an acceptance as a valuable, effective construction operator. In part, his effectiveness in construction depended upon his skills in acquiring the required materials for construction. Although authorities recognized that Smolensky was a rebel against the system they realized that his organizational skills were valuable for them to have access to.

Later, the Russian Government made into law that individual labor activity was permissible. This opened the flood gates and made entrepreneurship accepted and allowed. It was now officially permitted for people to set up stands on the street to sell goods. It was not a free market revolution but it was a step in the right direction.

It would be alright for a group of people to engage in enterprise if they constituted a cooperative. The drafters of the 1988 Law on Cooperatives did not place as many restrictions on the nature of the permitted cooperative enterprises as might be expected. In particular the Law allowed for the creation of financial services cooperatives.

Smolensky built a cooperative that procured construction supplies, reduced lead times, and obtained better pricing structure. Smolensky’s cooperative eventually overtake the current government-run program of materials procurement. Smolensky effectively wiped out a competitor – the government. From there the cooperative went into the business of building such things as country houses, dachas. Business was good.

Lesson 5 from Smolensky: Find a quicker and cheaper way to do something, and money will follow.

He eventually created a bank and years and billions later, he’s a famous Russian Oligarch.

Vladimir Potanin

Vlaminir Potanin was fortunate to be born into the Russian hierarchy. In this respect, he didn’t show hustle – he was handed success. But, later he did show some courage and initiative. Vladimir Potanin started two banks, the Onexim Bank and the MFK. Many of the state enterprises transferred their account to these two banks which became the third and fourth largest banks in Russia.

In 1995 Potanin saw an opportunity. The Russian Government badly needed funds. So, with support from other oligarchs, he proposed a “loans for shares” plan to the Council of Ministers of the Russian Government. This plan traded ownership interest in unprivatized state industries in exchange for loans. The Russian Government welcomed the plan because they badly needed cash money.

Learning from Oligarch Potanin

Get super lucky and be born into a powerful and rich family.

Vladimir Vinogradov

Toward the end of the Soviet era Vladimir Vinogradov, then an employee of a state bank, established in 1988 a commercial bank, Inkombank. Vinogradov and his friends bootstrapped a bank operating on a shoe string until they secured a number of reputable investors. Among these investors were Sokol (the association of aircraft manufacturers), Transneft (a gas pipeline operator) and the Plekhanov Institute. These investors gave Inkombank enough credibility to apply for credit from the Central Bank of the Soviet Union. Against all odds, Inkombank did obtain 10 million rubles in credit.

Lesson 1 from Vinogradov: Sell the product first, then create it. True Entrepreneurship.

Over a ten-year period Inkombank grew in deposits and acquisitions. By the time of the financial debacle of Russian in August of 1998 Inkombank had become the second largest private bank in Russia in terms of private deposits and third largest in terms of assets. It played a significant role in financing Russia’s foreign trade. Under Vinogradov’s direction Inkombank engaged in some high flying financial transactions. Inkombank acquired financial control of some of the businesses that made investments in it, including Sokol in aircraft manufacturing, Transneft, the gas pipeline operator, and Magnitagorsk Steel.

Lesson 2 from Vinogradov: Acquire cash rich business, and then grow them.

Mikhail Friedman

Mikhail Friedman came from the western Ukrainian city of Lvov, a formerly Polish city acquired by Soviet troops in the partition of Poland by Stalin and Hitler in 1939. Mikhail Friedman came from a Jewish family, as did four of the six other oligarchs. Mikhail Friedman enter a Moscow institution of higher learning in Moscow. In the 1980’s, the declining years of the Communist system, the necessities of life were available without much effort.

The Theater Mafia

This period of a low level of responsibility combined with the assurance of the necessities for survival is one that some look back on nostalgically. While the luxuries of life were unavailable there was the leisure to read and discuss literature and the arts. In the Soviet system there was support for theater  dance and so forth, but the tickets were distributed on a political basis rather than through the market. People who wanted tickets had to have contact with someone who could obtain them or who could wait in line to acquire them from the official sources. Some students were making money by acquiring tickets and reselling them or waiting in line for other people. The students engaged in this black market ticket business were known as the Theater Mafia. Mikhail Friedman saw the opportunity to systematize these processes. He made the black market ticket operations into a real business.

Lesson 1 from Friedman: Find an informal lucrative workaround and systematize it and profit from it.

He not only acquired valuable business experience but he made business partners that joined with him in forming the Alpha Group, a conglomerate dealing in oil, finance, and industrial goods trading. He also learned to payoff the political establishment to get the things he wanted.

The Alfa (Alpha) Group was not formed immediately. Instead Mikhail Friedman was involved in small business ventures in the form of cooperatives. Cooperatives were permitted under Gorbachev’s perestroika policy. One of the first major successes was in providing window washing services for state companies. No one had thought to create such a business before. From this success Friedman and his associates moved into importing and exporting. It was very profitable to export oil since the purchase price of oil in the Soviet Union was far below the international price. It was also very lucrative to import computers.

Lesson 2 from Friedman: Expand your horizon by finding other adjacent and lucrative opportunities.

Dmitry Rybolovlev

Rybolovlev began his career in the medical industry. He and his dad developed some magnetic gizmo that apparently did well. It well, but instead of remaining in that field, he chose to move to Moscow and learn the art of stock trading.

This was perfect timing because he was the first person to earn a license to trade. He opened a financial services firm, raised money, traded, used his profits to buy up other companies, and now he’s a Russia oligarch.

He eventually got into the Potash business, which is a form of agriculture. I have no idea what Potash is, but it made him billions of dollars. I guess Potash is a form of salt used in most fertilizers. Who knew? Anyways, pretty amazing and shows that money can be made from areas most people didn’t even know existed.

Roman Abramovich

Abramovich is known for his ownership in the Chelsea Football Club, which is one of the best soccer teams in Europe. His story is fascinating because it shows true hustle.

His parents both died before he was 4 years old. He began in entrepreneurship by first selling gasoline to other soldiers while he was serving in the Russian army. Later, he got into the smuggling business, bringing in goods from elsewhere and selling them in Moscow for a huge profit. He operated like this for a while until the privatization of Russian government assets.

At this time, Abramovich was able to legitimize his smuggling business. So, he opened a factory to build plastic toys and virtually owned the plastics toy category in Russia. He used his wealth to invest in other companies. And now, he’s a massive billionaire, but he started out poorer than some of us can imagine.

Oleg Deripaska

Deripaska is apparently worth $14 Billion Dollars. That’s a lot of money. He runs a company called Basic Element, which is a holding company that has businesses in energy, manufacturing, financial services, agriculture, and construction.

He started from humble roots as a small metals trader. Over time, he had accumulated ownership of 20% stake in a Siberian aluminum factory. That’s where he got his start; from there, he moved into adjacent businesses, but with the same gusto and hustle as when he first started in business.

Mikhail Prokhorov

Prokhorov owns the Brooklyn Nets, among other things. He made his billions by taking advantage of the unregulated privatization of Soviet assets, such as nickel and palladium mining, as well as in acquiring and running smelting companies.

He then later went onto Banking, where he made the rest of his billions.

Vitaly Malkin

Malkin made his fortunes in banking. He and his business partner founded Rossisskii Kredit, which later became the third largest bank in Russia.

Malkin is one of the top 30 wealthiest people in the world. He was a Russian senator, but recently resigned from the Russian senate.

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Career Advice for Students: 5 Questions with Neil Patel of Kissmetrics

Neil Patel Interview: Career Advice for Students

Often the best help for those in High School or College is someone that can provide clarity and vision for what the heck is at the end of this super long road we call formal education. I’ve found out that the best sources of clarity are to hear and receive advice from those that have done it.

So, in keeping with our goal of helping students, tutors, and parents, we’re starting a new series where we pose 5 questions to successful business people, politicians, and those that have “made it”.

Our first interview is with Neil Patel – a person who is very well known in internet marketing circles and in entrepreneurship in general.

But don’t let his baby face and young age fool you: He has successfully started and ran 2 companies already. His School of Hard Knox training can teach the rest of us a thing or two.

1. Hi Neil. Can you share your background with the audience and what you’re up to currently?

I’m a serial entrepreneur who just enjoys solving problems for the marketing world. I’m currently 27 years old and when I am not working I enjoy watching some TV or just hanging out with friends.

As for what I am currently up to, I spend all of my time focusing on KISSmetrics, which is a customer analytics platform. We show companies what people are doing on their website and what causes them to make a purchase or even ask for a refund.

2. Thinking back to your time in High School and College, what classes or training do you suggest for students aspiring to become entrepreneurs one day?

I don’t think there are any classes that can help. Or at least there weren’t any that helped me. The best way to learn is by doing. I recommend you just go out there and participate in things like Startup Weekend. And if you like what you see there, you can always jump right in and start a company.

3. So, a tutor is kind of like a mentor. What mentors did you have and what affect did they have on your career or life decisions?

My main mentor is a guy by the name of Andy Liu. He taught me a lot about business, how to find good deals, negotiation tactics, how to raise money, and countless number of other things.

He had a huge impact on my life, I actually even moved to Seattle because of him. Over the last 7 years he has made me millions of dollars.

4. Did you ever need help from a tutor? Can you share your experience?

I have. My mentor (tutor) guided me through tough parts in my entrepreneurial career such as lawsuits or how to get things done when you are strapped for cash.

5. Any final career advice for the budding entrepreneur in High School or College?

You just need to go out there and do it. Stop spending you time in the classroom trying to learn about entrepreneurship as that’s the wrong place to do so. You’ll learn a lot more by doing.

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