Ten years ago, I shared an apartment with two other US Marine officers as we attended a training course. I became close friends with one of them during our 6 months together, but like many military relationships, we grew apart when the course ended. Notwithstanding a brief reunion in Afghanistan, I hadn't seen this friend since the apartment days. That recently changed.

We shared a meal and spent three hours just telling stories and catching up. I knew that he stayed in the military but was surprised to learn that he recently left active duty. He became fed up with the mediocrity and lack of advancement opportunities. "Time in grade" is valued much higher than excellent performance and innovation. He was seeking a better life for himself and his young family. No matter how good you are in the military, you'll get promoted within a year or so of your peer group.

I was delighted to hear that he possessed an entrepreneurial spirit and was becoming a real estate investor in both the mortgage lending and rental property businesses. Naturally, I was inclined to share stories about my own endeavors, including success as a technical trainer and published author. Needless to say, it was an incredible evening and I think we both learned to respect one another in a new light.

I'm not writing this blog because I had fun with a longtime friend. I wanted to comment on what I think is a larger trend around today's younger generations. There is a growing dissatisfaction around retaining a safe and secure job with a large company. This isn't necessarily because the jobs are terrible; my current full-time position is excellent, and I have no complaints. I just don't see myself doing it until I'm 60 years old.

Some of this could be due to a long-time boom economy where, as Gary Vaynerchuk notes, "anyone is able to make it in business today". I think a larger part is that many Americans are learning about investing at younger ages. We are learning that trading time for money over a 40 year career isn't the only path to success in life. Expensive college degrees may not be, either. Value delivery is a leading indicator for wealth creation, and I've enjoyed spending more time with like-minded individuals who are constantly looking for new opportunities.

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