Underlying our CEO’s many achievements in business and as a property investor is his passion and dedication as an educator; helping people to understand the importance of working towards long-term financial security and supporting them along this path.
Joseph serves as a business mentor to young entrepreneurs and is a highly sought-after speaker – presenting regularly with the aim of encouraging people to change the way they think about work, wealth and achieving big goals.
He’s also the proud father of two teenagers, both of whom are regular visitors to the Ironfish Head Office and can be spotted busily assisting different departments at times during school holidays.
So what does a successful entrepreneur and multi-million-dollar property investor teach his kids about work and money matters? Joseph Chou reveals his personal parenting secrets.
The value of an honest dollar
We brought up our kids to never ask for things, but instead encouraged them to go and make it happen. For example, last school holidays, my daughter wanted to go to a concert. She didn’t say, “Dad, can I have some money to go to the concert?” She said “Dad, can I do some work to earn the money in order to buy a ticket?” She was prepared to work for what she wanted.
My wife and I never actually gave our kids an allowance, the money was of course always there for them when they needed it, but we wanted to motivate them a little to earn it, and understand the value of money. So, they know that money doesn’t come easily!
Leave plenty of room for growth
We always wanted the kids to understand the importance of working hard, being dedicated and focused on their goals. We didn’t mind what they wanted to do in life, but we wanted to encourage them to cultivate a strong work ethic and continually work towards their goals.
I believe that giving kids too much removes the opportunity for them to learn and succeed in their own right. I agree with Bill and Melinda Gates’ philosophy: strike a balance between giving your kids enough so they have the freedom to do anything, but not so much that they can go out and do nothing.
When he was in high school, my son was granted a full academic scholarship for Sydney Grammar. Whilst we assured him he had our full support and would have a place at the school regardless of whether or not he won a scholarship – we encouraged him to sit the exam and to try his best. This was because we always want to help our children to strive for excellence, and be competitive – this is not because winning is everything, but because the will to win – determination and discipline are so important in life.
Learn how to serve
Kids increasingly spend so much time online or glued to their phones. I think it’s really valuable for children to have some time being exposed to people and a real-life working environment – whether it’s at my workplace or elsewhere.
My son has now finished school and is studying music at the Conservatorium. He also works at a Chinese restaurant. Nowadays kids get served so much by other people, so when our kids serve other people, we think it’s fantastic. When they serve others, they become conscious of other people’s needs – which is so important in building life experience and people skills, and it always helps them to keep their feet firmly on the ground.
Break the taboo around ‘wealth’
Wealth is a taboo topic. We don’t talk about it amongst ourselves, or with friends or colleagues, and certainly not with kids, generally speaking. Financial literacy or setting long-term financial goals is not taught to kids at school, even though it’s an incredibly important life-skill. And with modern technological and medical advances, we will live longer than ever before – but how many people are actually prepared for the reality of that? How will people be able to afford to live that long? The burden of an ageing population is already an active issue for our Government.
But in my experience, ‘wealth’ can be taught, and that’s why it’s been my mission, and our company mission to help people invest in property, not just as a one-off endeavour, but with the aim of building a portfolio designed to achieve long-term financial security. Parents can play a key role in helping kids to develop their financial skills and help them to understand the need to plan for the long-term.
Never stop dreaming
One day I was having coffee with a friend and his two teenage boys. When the conversation turned to buying a home, my friend said to his two boys: ‘When you guys grow up, you won’t be able to afford to buy a house in Sydney anymore.’ That struck me as a terrible thing to say to your children or anyone. The boys were only in their teens and they had their whole lives in front of them. Children need to be encouraged to dream and dream big. Dreams do come true for anyone who dares to dream and backs it up with action.
What we tell our kids about what they can and can’t do will stick with them later in life. People who stop growing in their career, or find that they’ve reached a point where their income has plateaued, have probably stopped dreaming. Over time, people can forget how to dream. They start accepting the status quo and stop taking risks. The key is to keep dreaming and make those dreams count – and that starts at a young age.
Joseph Chou speaks and presents regularly across Australia on the topics of wealth, investment property, business and entrepreneurism – if you would like to see where he is next presenting, please see our events / property seminars page. Alternatively, contact us at Head Office, and we’ll be able to let you know of other speaking engagements in your local area.