Frank Song exemplifies characteristics that most parents want to instill in their children: a role model and leader that acts responsibly, is self-reliant, and cares for others. All while being charismatic, hardworking, and clever, have led to Frank being a financially successful business owner shaped by his grit.
When I interviewed Frank and heard about his story and upbringing, it taught me some important lessons about raising children with grit and tenacity.
As a teen, he spent a good amount of time homeless, sleeping in his local Walmart because his parents were suffering from serious illnesses.
But instead of accepting that life had handed him this situation, he took action.
Frank said, “As a child you’re used to people coming to help you when you have a problem. The epiphany comes when you’re laying down on the floor of Walmart, and you realize: no one is coming. It may sound sad to most, but I’m extremely grateful for having such a profound realization so early in my life. That if I wanted to change my circumstances, then I, myself, needed to take action and not wait for others.”
After Frank picked himself up from the ground, he promised himself he would never be in this situation again, and started getting to work.
Frank said, “I realized that if I wanted a good future, I needed to build it myself.”
Frank started working in real estate at age 17, and through sheer hard work and grit, managed to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars at a young age.
By age 19, he hustled his way to become one of the youngest in the country to earn himself a coveted investment banking internship where he learned the world of Wall Street, mergers and acquisitions, and IPO’s.
He did that while attending the University of California, Davis and successfully graduated within 4 years without any student debt by running a full-time real estate business while going to college full-time.
Then, by the young age of 24, he was already working as an investor at one of the most respected and powerful venture capital firms, Accel-KKR. The firm is located on the legendary Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, where major technology companies such as Facebook, Uber, and Airbnb go to land exclusive investment, mentorship, and connection opportunities.
Currently, he is a self-made, successful business owner that travels the world to help charitable organizations and causes.
When I asked Frank what guidance he could provide given his childhood and teen years, he gave the following advice:
Master impulse and emotional control – This is a critical skill for success in life. You must control your emotions in order to make good decisions and to prevent bad decisions that come as the result of forces like peer pressure. As a child, peer pressure is difficult to avoid and one of the most common ways kids ruin an otherwise promising life and waste their potential. Most children grow up in a world with instant gratification, and as a result, grow up to be unsuccessful, not because they’re unintelligent, but because they become adults that cannot control their self-sabotaging behavior.
Take advantage of opportunities – The internet has opened up so many new opportunities, but with it, children have come to expect that opportunities will always be available. The difference between successful and unsuccessful young adults is when presented with opportunity, they do not let it pass by. They instantly grab the opportunity with a tight grip, using both hands and refuse to let go.
Don’t depend on “sorry” – Another important lesson for this generation needs to learn is that while it’s important to say “sorry”, that word doesn’t fix anything. Only changing your behavior does. Most children are rewarded and told that ‘everything is solved’ once you apologize and say “sorry”. This training from childhood is why most adults end up unable to improve their lives. They were conditioned for almost 20 years to believe that saying “sorry” makes everything okay without the ability to improve themselves.
Risks are an important part of success, but they must be calculated risks – When a parent shelters their child from risk, it causes fear because the child is never taught to deal with risks directly. Instead, parents need to help their children understand and assess how to make responsible and calculated risks, or else a child will end up living a life filled with regrets and “what ifs”.