THE BLOG
12/22/2014 04:42 pm ET Updated Feb 20, 2015

Big Idea 2015: Boycott Entitlement; Success Is Hard Work!

My name is Mark Wayman and for the last ten years I have owned an executive recruiting company focused on gaming and high tech. LinkedIn asked for BIG IDEAS FOR 2015, and I came up with two - "Bad Hiring and Hubris Lead to Bankruptcy" (which will be in a separate article) and "Boycott Entitlement; Success Is Hard Work". So here we go!

Entitlement is a Myth - Entitlement, at all levels, is a myth. I have a friend that owns a business with 100 employees. When he gave out Christmas bonuses this year, only a few employees said thank you. Why? They felt entitled to the bonus. News flash! Not only are you NOT entitled to a bonus, you are not entitled to a job either. There is huge competition in the employment market, and given the economy, there are just not enough jobs to go around.

Example #2. As an Executive Recruiter, I placed a Chief Information Officer (CIO) several years ago. Best job (and most money!) of her career. She never said thank you, or as Don Corleone says in The Godfather, "You never even bought me a cup of coffee." Sure, I'm a Headhunter and I get paid to find executives jobs, however she was not "entitled" to that job. There were many strong candidates. An attitude of gratitude never goes out of style. America has a huge challenge with entitlement, and I'm not talking about the seniors that paid into Social Security. There is a segment that wants to live comfortably without contributing to society. That is currently available to you in Russia (going bankrupt), Cuba (no new cars or technology since the '60s) and North Korea (can't even keep their lights on). Living in America DOES entitle you to many incredible benefits, including the freedom of religion, freedom of speech and the ability to vote.

Since When is Being Successful a Bad Thing? - Why do we demonize success in America? I'm not talking about people that inherited their money or won the lottery, I'm talking about entrepreneurs and executives that worked their way up from zero. When I was young, my family was poor, living from one paycheck to the next. No vacations, no fancy restaurants. But my parents provided so much love and affection that I did not realize I was poor until I was in my 20s. I started working at the age of 12 and was working full-time by 16. Paid my way through college by working 60 hours a week in a bowling alley. Although I was moderately successful in my 20s and 30s, most of my success actually happened in my 40s, after 20 years of hard work. For the last ten years I have owned an executive recruiting business. For anyone that owns a business, you know our mantra, "If you don't sell, you don't eat." I work harder today than ever. Bottom line, I did not hit the lottery or inherit any money. What I did do was follow my dad's advice, "Never, ever give up" and, "If you want to be successful, you have to work hard."

The "Secret" to Success - Remember the book The Secret? It sold like a billion copies. Why? Because it said all you had to do was think about success and it would magically find you. That's funny! I'm a big believer in positive thinking, however the only people getting rich on The Secret... are the folks that wrote the book. A recent study of successful people showed one common attribute -- hard work. While other people were out partying, I was working 60 hour weeks and concurrently attending college at night. While others were blaming their lack of success on their parents, kids, boss, company and a dozen other things, I was putting working my way up through corporate America. While others were complaining about the "lack of opportunity," I was starting my own business. And make no mistake, as an entrepreneur, there were very lean times when I was holding onto the window ledge by my fingernails. My point is not that I'm impressive or unique. My point is that there is plenty of opportunity in America, but most people don't want to put in the hard work required to be successful. Let me leave you with an interview I saw on TV recently. A single mother that had been part of the welfare system for years woke up one morning and said, "I'm going to change my life and be a contributor. Rather than be part of the problem, I want to be part of the solution." Today she is a successful entrepreneur. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Write a new ending to your movie.