Corrections or additions?
This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the August 6, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
High School Business To College Prodigy?
Three years ago Michael Simmons, right, was a schoolboy
— he still is. A senior at Hopewell Valley High School in 2000,
the year the Internet soared to the sun, he, along with legions of
other precocious kids, was the proud owner of a Web company. At age
16, with classmate Cal Newport, he had founded the Web design shop
Princeton Internet Solutions, which later changed its name to Princeton
The company netted the two young men $40,000 during their senior year
in high school, and they hoped to keep it going after they decamped
for college by hiring a CEO to run the show while they were adjusting
to campus life. The plan didn’t work. The CEO was not all they had
hoped, and, says Simmons in an E-mail communication, "The marketplace
had become saturated with people offering website development. When
the Internet bubble popped, fewer companies wanted web development.
The ones that did wanted to pay less. With Cal and I at different
colleges (Newport is at Dartmouth), we had difficulty communicating.
Also our interests were changing."
No matter, Simmons was hooked by the entrepreneurial life. Intoxicated
with his first taste of life as the founder of a booming business,
he has gone on to preach the gospel of business ownership. He is now
a junior at the New York University Stern School of Business, is organizing
an All-University Conference on Entrepreneurism, and is lobbying NYU
administrators for an entrepreneurship track of study.
Meanwhile, Simmons has just published "The Student
Success Manifesto: How to Create a Life of Passion, Purpose, and Prosperity"
(www.successmanifesto.com). In it, he draws upon his experiences as
an upper middle class student, as a business owner, and as a volunteer
working with poor inner city youth. In his preface, he, like approximately
15 zillion students before him, rails against the strictures of the
classroom. There has to be a better road to success, he says, and
then trots out statistics to prove that a number of people have found
more than college graduates.
club in high school.
and money, says Simmons, quoting Thomas Stanley’s book, "The Millionaire
century. He writes about the huge cost of paying personal dues, in
the form of loyalty to an employer, at a time when any number of workers
— regardless of the color of their collars — are learning
that bitter lesson via pink slip. He writes about the diminished power
of credentials at a time when patent-holding telecom scientists are
not only out of work, but are despairing of finding another job anytime
soon — perhaps ever.
Simmons suggests that taking calculated risks, working primarily for
passion rather than money, and racking up assets — tangible and
intangible — is far superior to racking up years on the job. For
a guy who was not old enough to enter a casino until this year, he
is suggesting a wager that any number of laid-off wage slaves are
bound to think is a good bet.
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