Forbes has just released its list of the 400 Richest People in America. The combined net worth of these men and women clocks in at a staggering $1.7 trillion dollars. And here’s the truly amazing part: Some 70 percent of this year’s 400 built their fortunes from the ground up. If you’re a parent, this statistic may lead you to wonder: Will my kids ever have a shot at this kind of success?

Absolutely, says author and speaker Gregory Downing — but first they’ll have to learn to think and work like entrepreneurs.

“The Forbes 400 list proves that you don’t have to be born wealthy,” asserts Gregory Downing, author of “Entrepreneur Unleashed: Wealth to Stand the Test of Time” (Legacy Unleashed Press, 2012 as well as an upcoming book on providing a financial legacy for kids. “You just have to have the right skills and know how to leverage them. But here’s the thing: Your chances will dramatically improve if you can learn these skills, and the mindset to apply them, at an early age.”

Of course, raising billionaires might not be your goal. Maybe you just want your kids to grow up to be financially stable, live comfortable lives, and maybe retire someday. Even if that’s the case, Downing insists, they must learn to think about working and building wealth in a new way. That’s because the world is undergoing a profound shift.
“The old path — get good grades, go to college, get a good job, and save money — no longer leads anywhere you’d want your kids to go,” he says. “Degrees are a dime a dozen. College grads are moving back home with six-figure debt. Gold-watch jobs are a relic of another era. We’ve entered the age of the entrepreneur, and those who blindly pursue the rules of an earlier time will be left behind.”

Downing puts his money where his mouth is. A former car dealership manager who made the leap to entrepreneurship and motivational speaking, he is teaching his 16-year-old son the ropes of real estate investing. Greg Junior is on track to amass a net worth of a million dollars by the time he starts college.

Teaching kids the basics of entrepreneurship is not a radical notion, insists Downing. It’s a necessity. Even people who do end up working for someone else will be expected to think and work like entrepreneurs. The more we narrate the mindset and the skills of entrepreneurship to our kids — and even better, let them experience the reality for themselves the more suited they’ll be for tomorrow’s workforce.

“Teaching these foundational skills is not optional if we want our children to be able to thrive in today’s world, “says Downing.

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