From Broke to Billionaire in 5 years

Brian Acton was the software engineer that no one wanted to hire. Despite a dozen years of experience at Yahoo and Apple Computer, he got turned down by two of the internet’s most upcoming companies at the time. First Twitter, and then Facebook.

“Jan Koum was a struggling businessman when he first moved to the US from the Ukraine, needing food stamps to survive. He had been raised in a rural community, in a house with no running hot water or electricity. Once settled in the US he eventually got a job as an infrastructure engineer and worked at various companies including Yahoo.

He didn’t give up and stayed positive

When he could not find any other company that would hire him, Acton teamed up with Koum, and built the application that has not only dominated cloud-based messaging, but is also used all over the world. These two people who had nothing going for them and no real future to look forward to, developed WhatsApp!

WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for about $19 billion USD in cash and stock, making Acton’s net worth around $3.8 billion. Apparently Koum’s worth in the deal, which is the largest acquisition by the Mark Zuckerberg-led firm, is even bigger than the amount Facebook offered Snapchat. Koum’s deal was worth around $6.8 billion.

He took rejection in his stride

The tweets below symbolise how Acton took the rejections in his stride and looked to the future for better prospects, which eventually paid off, resulting in one of the largest-ever venture-backed deals.

Got denied by Twitter HQ. That’s ok. Would have been a long commute.
— Brian Acton (@brianacton) May 23, 2009

Facebook turned me down. It was a great opportunity to connect with some fantastic people. Looking forward to life’s next adventure.
— Brian Acton (@brianacton) August 3, 2009”

This is a great example of two people who were scraping a living, and in Acton’s case not making a living, who created something out of nothing. What did they have that others didn’t have? Was it a positive mindset, was it creativity, was it the willingness to go the extra mile? I know one thing for sure – this wouldn’t have happened without a great deal of willpower, self-belief, and long hours.

Exciting things happening

Some good things are happing in my business. Two organisations have contacted me recently via my website. One is an organisation with 30,000 employees across the world and they have booked me to run my Mental Resilience Masterclass for some of their top managers from across the world later this year.

The exciting thing is that I was recommended to them by another organisation who have experienced my Masterclass. The other organisation who contacted me is currently discussing dates with me. I was recommended to them by Nat West bank following the Mental Resilience talk I gave at their legal conference last November. This is clear progress as my name is finally getting out there!

Thoughts for the week:

1. How do you respond to bad news?
2. Are you willing to take some risks and step out?
3. Whether you think you can or think you can’t you are right – Henry Ford
4. Your Attitude determines your Altitude – Zig Ziglar
5. You must keep a positive mindset when hit with bad news
6. Your job is to keep positive for more than 50% of each day.

Well that’s it for this week. Keep positive and I look forward to sharing with you next week.

Have a fabulous weekend.

Warm regards


Off the Wall – How to Develop World Class Mental Resilience available here (Special free delivery offer currently available)

Share this post!