Dear Tech World, Please Grow Up : Under30CEO Dear Tech World, Please Grow Up : Under30CEO
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Dear Tech World, Please Grow Up

| January 17, 2012 | 17 Comments

Last night I got a call from one of my best friends; this time for a little advice.  He works for a high profile tech startup, is one of hardest workers I know, and is one of the most charismatic guys on the planet…. But like me:

He can’t manage his time or personal finances.

Here in lies the problem: The ADD entrepreneur / tech types simply need to grow up.

Let me get right into it.  Here’s a picture of the tech world that the media portrays as so cool:

  • Hustle till 4am, sleep till 11
  • Only wear a suit if you are going to meet Obama
  • Your frat house doubles as your office
  • You don’t answer to anyone, except to your mother who probably still cooks you dinner


  • You’re sleep deprived, hungover and real businesspeople would laugh at you if you showed up in flip flops
  • You probably think you are the next Zuckerberg, but that’s one in a million
  • Girls wouldn’t set foot in your bedroom because it’s disgusting
  • Your personal finances are a mess, and you can’t manage your time

That’s Peter Pan Sh*t

When it comes down to it, young entrepreneurs have the highest ambitions in the world, but most don’t have a stable base to start from.  I’ve been just as guilty as anyone.  How do you think you are going to manage a multi-million dollar operation if you can’t balance your own checkbook?  How are you going to effectively leverage the time of your employees if you can’t effectively manage your own time?  As I always think, “What would (my dad) Captain Rande say” if he knew I pay my bills late on a regular basis?

Does This Sound Like You?

When it comes down to it, growing up is difficult.  I recently read that 90% of wealth is created after age 40.  Why? Because they are grown up.  They learned how to manage their finances, make smart decisions, and have real responsibilities!  Most of the tech world, simply doesn’t have real responsibilities.  I don’t have kids, a mortgage, a spouse, or have to answer to anyone. Unfortunately, the “If I fail, I’ll go sleep on someone’s couch” mentality, doesn’t teach me to grow up.

As a generation of businesspeople we need to create habits / obtain the skills that are going to make us successful for the rest of our lives!

Please Commit

You might have read that I fired my best friend and how I’ve committed to dominating several areas of my life lately.  I decided once and for all I was going to master these areas of my life and teach them to others.  First it was confidence, then it was my finances, and now it’s time management and focus… quite simply, I’ve been working on growing up and becoming a man.

Add this to the 8 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was 22

How To Do It

I’m not sure how goal oriented you are and how much that type of stuff drives you but I have all my goals written down and I re-write them at least 1x per week.  When I get scatterbrained I come back to them.  I start off every single day reviewing these, and laying out the action items that it’ll take to execute.  For example…

Mission: Master my personal finances
Goals: (Set a few SMART Goals: specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timely)
-Pay my bills by the 25th of every month.
Action items:

  • Setup for my personal finances and create budgets
  • Take 1 day per week and balance my checkbook, pay all my bills the week I get them and know where every cent has gone
  • Study 1 hour per night on personal finance (280 must read books)

I put these action items in my calendar with alerts on my phone and stick to them.  I have time blocked out and I execute.  It’s a clear, concise plan that works for me…maybe it’ll work for you.

Two self study exercises

1) Make a list of all the times you’ve screwed up that area of your life and let it sink in.
-This should hurt!  Remember that time you overdrew your checking account 5x in a week?

2) Imagine what would happen if you were suddenly 40, and write down how you would act differently.
-Try it!  Whoa, I have a wife? I can’t sleep till noon and can’t put my bar tabs on my high APR credit card?

For Real

I’ll simply leave you with the closing to the email I wrote to my friend…

Just do it dude–it might be cool in college to stay up till 530am “hustling” and then sleeping till 11, but that’s peter pan sh*t.  The tech world is full of them… but how many of these dudes are real accomplished men? Get that area of your life together. LEARN TO MANAGE YOUR TIME or you’ll never be a boss.

Love you kid, let me know how I can help.


Matt Wilson is the co-founder of Under30CEO and is looking to help every entrepreneur on the planet.

About the Author: Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is co-founder of Under30CEO. After two years traveling and working from his laptop, Matt's official title became Adventurer in Residence, heading up Under30Media's travel company Under30Experiences. If Matt is around he will be easy to spot as his long luxurious hair is generally flowing freely in the breeze.

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  • Omar Fagundo

    So many of my friends, including myself, struggle with this.  As an entrepreneur and business owner I’m looked at as responsible, but I still kick myself when I “forget” to transfer money to my checking account and get hit with a $34 overdraft fee for a five dollar item.

    2012 will be the year to be a grown up for me… (I even got up at 6AM today!!!)

  • MattWilsontv

    Hey Omar–thanks for your honesty here.  I too struggled in 2011 with overdraft fees ugh… nice work getting up at 6, hope that means you aren’t sleep deprived haha.  Thanks for reading.

  • Marc Brodeur

    It’s amazing how many people wear terrible habits as a badge of honor. 

  • MattWilsontv

    -sleeping late
    -drinking your face off
    -couch surfing
    -being super caffeinated

    sweeeeet bro.

  • Marc Brodeur

    haha, exactly

  • Ragina Smith

    Absolutely love this!! I can totally relate to this Matt. I’ve been writing my goals and rewriting my goals and it has helped me tremendously with staying focused. I even made a vision board of my goals so I can see myself accomplishing them. One of the quotes on it is “It’s time to grow up”. I definitely don’ t think your message is just for Tech people but for all those 20 somethings too. Thanks for sharing.

  • Kevin

    I think a lot of people not just young entrepreneurs can relate here.  If we want to make a dent in the universe then we need to get really good at being aware of our bad habits and replace the negative with positive habits in all aspects of our lives. From finances, to social realtionships, to physical health we can all take a step back from whatever we are doing and make sure we’re building on strong foundations.  Ramit Sethi calls this foundation the tripod of staibility meaning he needs to keep 3 things stable (house, car, friends) in order for him to be aggressive in other aspects. For me I’m focusing this year on stepping back and building the foundations and good habits that will serve me well as I grow.  Thanks for the post Matt!

  • Aaron Wright

    I agree with problem of looking like a slob. It is important to always look presentable, because you never know who you might run into that could help you out. I also like your mention of the personal finance issue. There is no way you will run a successful business if you can’t keep track of money. But I would have to disagree with the part about staying up late. If I have nobody to meet the next day, I am up until 4 or 5 am. I find that I get more done at night when it is quiet and there are no distractions. The important thing is to plan ahead so you can be well rested and alert when you have to meet someone important. But again, if you can’t plan ahead, you should get some time management skills before taking on a business of your own.
    Good post Matt.

  • Henry Louis

    Hi Matt! Good information has been posted. I like this post very much.

  • Peachanan Rojwongsuriya

    Agree! I always believe that in order to be a great leader, you need to organize and manage your life first before you can organize a business, and manage your employees. :) 

    Great read as always Matt. :)

  • MattWilsontv

    Hey Aaron–to be honest, it’s all about what works for you.  Back in the early days of Under30CEO (when we were 22) we used to stay up that late drinking beers on my front porch, brainstorming and having a blast… and yes, often cranking out work that late too.

    The turning point for me came this Day Light Savings Time, when I decided it was healthier to get as much daylight as possible.  Here in New York it gets dark at 5PM, so if you sleep till noon, you won’t get much natural light.  It’s done a lot for my productivity and energy levels, but in the end it’s about whatever works for you. 

  • MattWilsontv

    Glad to hear it Kevin.  Ramit is the man and I like the idea of the tripod, I need to read more IWT. Keep building those habits…

  • MattWilsontv

    Hey Ragina–love the quote, glad you are keeping it the forefront of your mind… me too! 

  • Dave Sachse


    Brutal honest post, but I like it. I respect people who tell it like it is, or at least how they view it. Good work Matt! I always pause and wonder why tech news sites consistently glorify that lifestyle. Realistically, if a founder/CEO wanted to scale their startup and transform it into sustainable business, they will eventually need to alter their lifestyle. Keep up great work Matt.

  • MattWilsontv

    Hey Dave, glad you like the honesty.  The lifestyle is a lot of fun… to be honest, when I first graduated school and went to start a business, a HUGE motivator for me was to not have to be part of the “real world”.  Let’s just say I didn’t have a business that would survive in the “real wold” then….

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  • Get Better Today


    Your past 3-4 articles have been excellent.  I know you’ve mentioned it, but it’s extremely obvious you’ve made it a habit to ask yourself the “tough questions”.  All your recent posts have been based around that core.  Asking yourself the “tough questions” about your friends, time, priorities…

    I’ve started to implement the same way of thinking and it’s helped me a ton.  Just wanted to thank you for some great posts, but really an EFFECTIVE way of thinking. 

    - Michael Fear