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Succeeding Without Risk


California Gold Rush

The common perception is that entrepreneurs thrive on risk. The greater the risk they take, the greater their win……….Just how right is this perception ?

From 1848 to 1855, people from all over the world rushed to California with one goal in mind: To get rich. James W. Marshall had discovered gold here. People dropped everything they were doing to travel out West.

Pioneers everywhere packed up their belongings, along with their loved ones, with one goal in mind. To seek out a metal so rare, it could potentially change their future for generations to come. Some families suffered and died from diseases such as cholera and scurvy on the trip over. Others were killed by Indians or watched their lives pass them by as they froze to death in the rocky mountains.

A new movement was on the way and everyone wanted a piece of it. The dynamics of the situation were so influential and rewarding that many would risk death to be able to reshape their family fortunes. Any commoner could do something that they never had the opportunity to do before-they could potentially join ranks and become equals with the elite.

A handful of families finally arrived at the Golden State. They set up camp, bought pans, picks and shovels, then started mining and panning for gold. A few people struck gold and became rich. Others didn’t. Some died of physical exhaustion. Others died of old age. However a few random people,by sheer luck,risked next to nothing yet found gold enough to become rich.

While everyone had sought out the opportunity to get rich, much like the members of our current society who attempt to startup businesses, many failed. Much like now, most of the people who had set out for the journey to attain wealth died, many lost everything that they owned.

Sure, there were a handful of people who made it. Success stories were made much of in the press and the principals were heroes who spent time in the public spotlight such as the Mark Zuckerbergs and Steve Jobs of the world. However, there were countless number of people who were left penniless and with nowhere to go. Some didn’t survive the journey to California to even begin prospecting for gold.

Each day we see a new gold rush occurring in our society. We see people fighting like there is no tomorrow to make it. We see experts with many years experience fall short and die in the battlefields and on the other hand sometimes  a young and inexperienced nobody make it.

Many questions arise from situations like this. Should we join in and risk our lives? Should we fight until we either lose everything or potentially even die? Should we sit on the sidelines and watch? Or is there even a way to make it without risking all that we have?

Back in 1848, many people recognized opportunity. However, very few people saw the true potential of the gold rush. Everyone was mining for gold, however what did each of these miners need to succeed? Who was providing them with the tools they needed? It’s a good question to really ponder over and think about. To think about as much as possible. Because at the end of the day, it isn’t who has the most ambition or desire who succeeds. It isn’t even the person who has the most skill and technique. Instead, it is the person who we least expect. That person, or entity, is the one who is able to provide the tools or the infrastructure that others need to succeed. 

In case of the Gold Rush they were the likes of Wells Fargo, who helped solve the problem of transporting gold safely and Levi Strauss who sold dry goods and not to forget the predecessor of modern jeans to miners.

Entrepreneurs help themselves by finding ways of maximizing gains, even as they take on the least possible risk.

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About Keerthika Singaravel
Engineer,Investor,Businessperson

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