When Jim Koch quit a high-paying consulting job to launch The Boston Beer Company from his kitchen, his dad told him it was “about the dumbest f–ing idea he’d ever heard.” Koch, who went on to turn a family recipe into a $2 billion craft beer empire, learned that sometimes it’s better to listen to your gut than to your dad.
That said, he still believes that the two most important things you can teach your kids are values that his parents instilled in him when he was younger. Koch tells CNBC Make It: “When I think about, what did I get from my parents that I really valued — it was a love of education and learning, and a work ethic.
“If you can give those two things to a kid, you’ve given them something priceless.”
The 69-year-old entrepreneur, who today supports small businesses through his program “Brewing the American Dream,” has four kids, two from each of his marriages. His two oldest kids “grew up when I didn’t have much,” says Koch, who lost $2 million in the early days of The Boston Beer Company. “They were in their teens and their bedroom was not big enough for two beds. It was only big enough for a bunk-bed and a dresser and that was it.”
His two youngest grew up after his business took off. In fact, it was his youngest daughter who first broke the news to him that he’d become a billionaire. “She was scooping ice cream for $7 an hour,” Koch tells CNBC Make It. “One of the other girls asked her: ‘Oh my gosh, I read in the newspaper that your dad’s a billionaire. Why are you scooping ice cream for $7 an hour?’ And she just looked at the girl and said, ‘Because I need the money!’”
“I’m very proud of her,” continues Koch, who says the best way to teach work ethic is to lead by example. “They saw me working really hard and enjoying it. So they learned from that that work can be fulfilling and good and it’s not something that you have to view as negative. You can get a great deal of satisfaction out of working hard.”
Koch isn’t the only wealthy individual who encourages his kids to work for their own money.
Self-made millionaire Barbara Corcoran’s 12-year-old daughter works two hours a week at a dog spa, where she cleans the kennels and takes the dogs for walks. “Getting a kid a job early on, versus another day camp or something, is more important than education in the schoolhouse,” the “Shark Tank” star tells CNBC Make It.
Once your children are old enough, urge them to work, says Corcoran, because odds are that a kid who learns how to hustle will be successful.