Too many people think that the main motivator to start a business is to achieve personal wealth.  I was just re-reading Edmund Morris’s outstanding biography of our 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt, and came across a great passage about his failed attempt to be a rancher.  (He invested about $80,000 in a cattle ranch in the North Dakota Badlands in the 1880s, and he lost almost all of his money in the aftermath of a blizzard that killed off most of the cattle.)  About this venture, his Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer had this to say

Although his Dakota venture had impoverished him, he was nevertheless rich in nonmonetary dividends.  He had gone West sickly, foppish and racked with personal despair; during his time there he had built a massive body, repaired his soul, and learned to live on equal terms with men poorer and rougher than himself.  He had broken horses with Hashknife Simpson, joined in discordant choruses to the accompaniment of Fiddlin’ Joe’s violin, discussed homicidal techniques with Bat Masterson, shared greasy blankets with Modesty Carter, shown Bronco Charlie Miller how to “gentle” a horse, and told Hell-Roaring Bill Jones to shut his mouth.  These men, in turn, had found him to be the leader they craved in that lawless land…”If it not been for my years in North Dakota,” he said long afterward, “I never would have become President of the United States.”

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Will Marlow is an online marketing and fundraising consultant.  He co-founded AlumniFidelity, which provides a Web 2.0 fundraising platform to colleges, nonprofits and secondary schools.   He’s working with clients such as UVA, the College of William & Mary, the University of Oklahoma, and Bowling Green State University and he loves nothing better than a thorny marketing challenge.  He would love to help you market your business on the Internet, boost the fundraising numbers for your school or nonprofit, or sellout your next big event.  Email him at