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What Child Labor Taught Me

How I grew up without parents, went through abuse and child labor and turned multi-corporate executive with credentials in virtually every ivy league school despite lacking formal education.

What is a venture? The attempt to actualize the impossible and convert it into a business.

Even if folks say something can’t be done or that it’s just a pipe dream you take on the challenge and make it happen. For some, this pipe dream is millions if not billions of dollars. For some, it’s a warm meal.

Regardless, that’s what a venture is.

And when you succeed, and the unthinkable happens, that’s when people are shocked, and jump all over it.

If you’re the kind who decides something is impossible and gives up before taking the challenge, you are unqualified to start a venture. Some people are simply not cut out to be entrepreneurs. Why force yourself into a lifestyle you are not built for and then becoming unhappy and miserable? Happiness is the end-goal after all! But back to the topic.

You Can Forget About Your ‘Great Idea’

Not only is it most likely not as original as you think, but it’s also useless to just talk. Execution is everything.

You might think you have to be well prepared and know exactly what you are doing to actualize an idea/ start a business right? But the most important thing is simply …  to take action

How many entrepreneurs succeed with their first business attempt? Elon Musk’s first rocket literally exploded. Bill Gates was meant to have a career in law, and remember how Steve Jobs got fired?

Live Hard

The infamous picture of Jeff Bezos in his basement in 1999.

You will hear these ‘work ethic’ tales a lot. ”You can do anything if you just work hard enough.” But it’s not just about putting in hours, ‘working smart’ or opportunism. It’s a package deal.

So what gives me the right to talk like some life-coach knows it all? After all, I am just some pretty white boy from Europe.

Not Exactly. Let’s go back a few years.

I originally come from a very small village in Austria close to the border. On my own, I was put into an orphanage where children received the bare minimum of food and no real education mainly due to corruption. When hearing my story many take pity. What they don’t realize is:

You Can’t Buy This Kind Of Education

Most children ended up in this orphanage because they behaved so badly that their parents decided to put them in there for discipline. Actual orphans were very rare. Finances were not tight but as mentioned extorted and in addition to that, the children got mistreated in horrible ways. In addition to that, we had ‘field trips’ virtually every other day working long shifts and receiving nothing for it. They called it education. This was an excuse. They went way too far, obviously only had their own interests in mind and many children and parents have suffered irreparable damage. But they were not entirely wrong. It as a brutal, no-compromises education.

How much litter did I pick up? How many toilets have I scrubbed? How many construction sites did I ‘learn’ on when I was still in my ones and tens? (Yes, working construction as a literal small child).

I would later be put into the custody of a drug-addicted supposedly relative trying to extort money from the government as well. Eventually fed up with all of it, I decided to cut all ties.

Having escaped from them all, I was left with no education, family or friends. Going to the police or asking for funds from the government would have meant risking being sent back to what was essentially a torture prison full of bribed guards. I was on the run but strangely happy. I had no idea what I was doing and looking back I am still puzzled as to how I managed, but things worked out. I always came up with ideas. I didn’t complain – because there was no one to listen to these complaints. Time always kept ticking and beyond hunger and thirst: a human mind needs to stay occupied.

1001 Job Experiences

All the abuse had left me somewhat paranoid and scared, so I lived in secrecy and moved often. I scraped together what I could. 

I short excerpt of jobs I have done while others went to elementary, middle and high-school:

Delivery boy, Cleaner, Driver, Hunter (literally), Farmer, Audio Engineer, Rapper, Model, Actor, Construction Worker, Baker, Cook, Salesperson, Librarian, Translator, Car Mechanic, Soldier, Barkeeper, and many, many more…

The first jobs I had were cliches people didn’t mind a kid doing. Newspaper delivery, Lemonade stand, you name it. Whenever people told me ‘you could try this or that’ I just went on and did it. This separated me from other kids that ran away. I had a lot of energy and I was never sad, angry or lonely. I just felt so very curious!

Being Sad Is Boring, let’s go places!

Nobody ever told on me but looking back at it now, I am pretty sure everyone knew what was going on and chose not to report me. After all, I eventually started taking on jobs that were clearly not meant for a child. I often changed places to avoid. “My family is here on vacation”, “We are going to X doing Y.” When you are a confident child everyone believes whatever you say. (Though sometimes it sure helps to be quick on your feet)

I moved on to starting my own businesses. Not because I was afraid of eventually being caught, I simply wanted to try more things. I kept hearing people complain about how people in the neighboring countries in Liechtenstein and Switzerland made more money. 

As usual, I just acted upon whatever I heard and so I moved there.

Little Ninja On A Mission 

An on-the-run veteran by now, I figured out where to sleep, shower and what not quickly. Just always carry a towel, lunchbox and swim trunks and you are just going to play in the river. Point to random people in the far back and wave at them with a bright grin, they will just smile and wave back. “Those are my parents”. If someone approached them I would already be gone. Like a little ninja on a mission.

Thanks to the vast difference in payments and prices between Austria and Liechtenstein/Switzerland I was able to save a significant amount of money, but none of it was sustainable. All it would take was one wrong move after all. I had already reached a legal age to live under supervision (14) so I decided it was time to get a passport, name, address and all of that other fancy stuff I heard so much about.

I went through quite a bit of drama when finally turning to the authorities. To my surprise, I did not face any prosecution. It was essentially just a lot of scolding and documents to go through. The orphanage had become infamous for the bad stuff that had been happening there. Most things took years to be uncovered so the media turmoil was limited and news came in waves. I didn’t care. I didn’t want any attention or money. I just wanted to create stuff.

Hello Japan

Let’s fast forward a little

Now free with some money saved up but still on my own, I opened up a Bar, later a restaurant until I sold everything off and then moved on to pursue a career in the tech space joining a startup all the way in Japan.

Why Japan? It was different than anything western and there were free ‘working holiday’ visas. So I flipped a coin between Korea and Japan.

During all this time, I had learned everything by myself with books and private lessons, workshops, internships and so forth. Always with a simple trial-and-error approach. When I was still a small child, there was no internet available, nobody told me what to do or what is wrong. I just tried, asked and repeated this process. Just energy left and right. I taught myself all the necessary skills as I needed them. From basics like riding a bicycle, the English language or MS Office to complex auditing in both the tech and legal space. (In a time where you couldn’t always just google stuff).

I joined bitgrit Inc., my current main occupation in late 2018. I would later join multiple organizations like Cosmology Inc., the Security Token Alliance and many more. I had turned my life around, against all the odds

With spontaneous artsy tattoos that I got because I felt like it, I covered up my many scars and all of my bad memories ended up locked up deep inside. Now only very few people even know about my past at all.

One would assume I must have had it easy looking at where I am now.

Philomath

In my current position, a lot of highly educated people with notable degrees and good family background ask for my advice. It’s fascinating when I think about it.

I come across so many excuses and empty words, people seemingly stuck in life, that at this point I feel like ironically been given a rather good education. And besides, everything is available now! You can literally take courses in anything and be certified for a small fraction of what it would have cost in the past. Want to go to virtually every Ivy league school just because? Hundreds of courses and certificates?

Imagine what that would cost you in time and money! Imagine how much-bloated content and unnecessary stuff you would have to go through! You want to learn A but B and C are mandatory. Urgh.

Monkey See Monkey Do

So what made me so different from everyone else? After all, I was not the only one in a tight spot. What about all the children with families and support? Partially due to my dark circumstances, but also because of quite a lot of luck I somehow made it. I read a Warren Buffet article that stuck with me ever since I was in my tens, most of its content took me forever to truly grasp, but it stuck. Why I read it? Because someone said “you are too young to read that. Lol, can you even read yet?” I heard, I did.

I never grew attached to physical possessions. I could live in luxury or on the street – it made no difference for me. I lost interest in toys and other things way too quick. Everything and more complex! If something was no more challenging or I knew it too well, I dropped it and went on to the next thing! I also never developed ego or pride.

Nobody taught me to be conscious of these things.

I was hungry for new things. I wanted to live, to learn, to do things – and all of this still holds true today. My mantra never changed.

“All we truly own is our body, mind, and soul, so work out, study and abide by a moral compass”. Or how I say now:

“Carrying stuff around is annoying!”

I hope this little excerpt of the story of my life can help some people break the walls in their minds. No matter your situation, you can always take one step further. Nothing is intrinsically dark or bad just because. It’s all about perspective.

I am always looking for inspiring people to be in touch with, so feel free to reach out to me wherever.

As for work, I do marketing and PR. Need help? Let’s talk.

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