Meet Hadar Ashuach: From IDF to 20-year-old millionaire

At 20, Hadar Ashuach is a millionaire who created his fortune while still in high school, between studying and dating, by selling products online. 
In his latest book, Ashuach tells the story of his life up until now, how despite his love of money, he is determined to convince the world that it isn’t everything. 
A wealthy and a famous Internet personality with tens of thousands of followers, he was already managing three online marketing companies at age 16; made his first million at 17; and was included in the president’s list of the 70 most influential young people in Israel. He also took wild trips overseas, experimented with drugs and alcohol in an effort to expand his consciousness and slid into depression – a physical, mental and economic breakdown, followed by recovery.
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Now serving in an elite IDF combat unit, Ashuach never forgoes his daily meditation sessions, even if he was up all night training with his unit. He also volunteers at Adi Negev Nahalat Eran, a rehabilitation village founded by Maj.-Gen. Doron Almog. Obsession is a key word in Ashuach’s vocabulary.
“Success isn’t as simple as mentors love to present it,” asserts Ashuach. “If you’re not obsessed, then it will be extremely difficult for you to succeed. My definition of being obsessed is being so determined about accomplishing something that you dream about it at night and think about it when you’re in the shower. It’s not easy to create three companies, manage dozens of young employees, deal with negative comments or write a book while you’re serving in an elite IDF combat unit. 
“Many people tell me they don’t have an obsessive personality. I correct them, saying they just haven’t figured out what their obsession is yet. Everyone is born with mental issues that they live with all their life,” Ashuach notes. “These crazy ideas that fascinate them can either turn into a person’s biggest asset or become their worst nightmare. It all depends on how you use what you’ve been given. For me, it’s my obsessiveness. I’m obsessed with new games, I’m obsessed with attention and with sweets. And my biggest obsession of all is money. I just can’t help myself – I want it so badly – and so much of it.”
Yet, despite all this, the title of his latest book is It’s Not Just About The Money – Three Principles that Paved the Way for Me to Reach True Economic Freedom before I Turned 20.
“In my mind, it’s very simple,” Ashuach explains. “If you have money but don’t have any time, then you are miserable. If you have money but you don’t have love or your health, then you feel wretched. If you have money but you don’t have any values and are a terrible person, then your money is worthless. If the only thing you value is money, then just go rob a bank. That’s the easiest way to get it. Life is bigger than all of this. Love, health, freedom, meaning – all of these things are way more important than money. Money is just the tool that helps me have an impact on the world.”
 Costly trip: Hadar Ashuach celebrated his 18th birthday in Thailand (credit: Courtesy)Costly trip: Hadar Ashuach celebrated his 18th birthday in Thailand (credit: Courtesy)

How did the IDF impact his thinking? 

“While serving in the army, I really began to understand that I am who I am with no connection to the money I’ve earned. In fact, the opposite is true – I think I’ve earned all this money because of who and what I am. The fact that at the age of 20 I have the ability to help so many people – be it my family, friends or even people I don’t know – is a great honor. I want to continue helping people for the rest of my life.”
ASHUACH, WHO was born in Jerusalem and grew up in Zichron Ya’acov, is the youngest of five children in a national-religious family. His father was an IDF pilot and his mother worked in alternative medicine. 
“I was very much an introvert, a big geek,” Ashuach describes himself as a child. “I didn’t have many friends – in fact I had only one friend. Everyone thought I was too weird.” He was bullied and excluded from activities his peers were engaged in, but this never stopped him from dreaming big.
When he turned 14, Ashuach tried unsuccessfully to find a job. He decided to learn coding via free online courses, then began creating websites for parents of his acquaintances. Instead of hanging out with friends during school recess, he would sit and write code. 
“I had money, and I quickly learned that money wasn’t worth anything if you don’t have any time to enjoy it,” he recalls. 
With a huge amount of confidence, he began working in the field of affiliate marketing, an advertising model in which a company compensates third-party publishers to generate traffic or leads to the company’s products and services. At the start, Ashuach lost almost everything he’d earned until then. Yet shortly thereafter, he began raking in the big bucks. At 16, he already had hundreds of thousands of shekels in his bank account.
In his next stage, Ashuach began transferring his knowledge to individuals. He filmed himself giving Internet courses. Some people claimed that Ashuach was using a pyramid structure and cheating people, but he did not despair.
“There are also people who claim that the world is flat,” Ashuach adds with a smirk. “Comparing affiliate marketing or selling courses with pyramid schemes is fundamentally wrong. When I engage in affiliate marketing, there’s no one else above or below me making money. Although I am teaching other people how to make money on the Internet, I am not connected in any way or form to their future business transactions. If you claim that the business model of my company is based on a pyramid scheme, that would mean every educational institution and university is also a pyramid scheme.”
Obsessions do, however, have their own power. 
“I was capable of working three nights in a row without sleeping. I have a very strong work ethic and I was very determined to create a course that was going to be a bestseller. My high school years were completely nuts. Imagine what it’s like to make NIS 100,000 one night, then the next morning get yelled at by your literature teacher and failing an exam.”
Ashuach celebrated his 18th birthday in Thailand, where he remained for a month, sleeping in fancy suites costing thousands of dollars a night. 
“Instead of waking up for school every morning, I found myself in Thailand, having the time of my life. I went to parties, did drugs, suntanned on the beach, did a little business and flirted with girls. I wasted about NIS 250,000 in five weeks. Everything has a price. Then when I tried to get back into focus, things just weren’t working the way they had been. I was failing at everything I did. I lost so much money on mistakes I was making. 
“I was sure that the universe was sending me a message to leave all the business operations I was managing in Israel and go out and conquer the world. I told my partners that I was going to be a billionaire when I returned from the US. Boy was I naïve! All throughout my last year of high school and the following summer I moved all of my operations overseas, and at each stage I made every possible mistake. I wasn’t prepared. I hadn’t done enough market research. I hadn’t followed any of my own rules. I kept coming up against a wall.”
Another problem arose: Ashuach became addicted to marijuana. Six months later, at age 18, he returned home to Israel having lost over a million shekels. The good news: “I stopped smoking weed.”
Ashuach currently spends his time working in digital marketing, also earning income from affiliate marketing and information products. In addition, he markets products and courses on the Internet, receiving a commission each time one is sold. He teaches other entrepreneurs and business owners how to market themselves and bring in extra income. 
With encouragement from his older brother, Ohr, a rabbi at a hesder yeshiva who had taken it upon himself to help his brother get his life in order, Ashuach enlisted in an IDF combat unit
“Before I joined the army, I could go anywhere I wanted, whenever I wanted, and do whatever I wanted. Once I started my army service, I had to ask permission for every little thing. And still I knew I was doing the right thing. 
“While I am shouldering a stretcher upon which one of my fellow soldiers was lying, my businesses are generating a million shekels a month. When I get to go home from the army, every two or three weeks, the first thing I do is give my mom and dad a huge hug. Then I rest a little, work a little and hold a few business meetings. Next, I go out with my family or friends; every once in a while, I go out on a date. My life is the strangest combination of life as a soldier, while also functioning as a CEO in charge of employees, developing start-ups and dreaming about my next big venture.
“When I realized that I’d found a real path to success, I decided to write a book about it. The path I’ve taken has been rife with difficulties and failures, but I overcame these obstacles and grew from them.”

What have been the most meaningful stations in your life so far?

“I’ve had so many varied experiences, there’d be no way to list them all in one newspaper article. I stopped being religious. I got addicted to weed. I participated in the Bar-Ilan math program for gifted students. I went on lots of trips. Had many failures. Experienced relationships. Joined the IDF. There’s only one thing that I would change if I could have a do-over, and that would be to spend more time with my Uncle Ron who was killed in a parachuting accident. He was an amazing person; he had such a big heart and a contagious smile. I would so love to be able to see him again.”
Not everyone has reacted positively to Ashuach’s success, and there are plenty of comments online from people who disagree with his recommendations. 
“There has always been jealousy, and there always will be,” Ashuach responds. “I try to preach love and not pay attention to the jealousy. My message is: I have money, and so could you one day. 
“When I was a kid, I suffered a lot from bullying. I was the most unpopular kid in my class. There were many days I would come home from school crying. Today, I know that the way to deal with hate is by giving lots of love and positive energy. I know that I shouldn’t take things to heart, especially in this day and age when people feel especially free to express themselves when they’re typing on their keyboard.
“I try to pay extra attention to people who’ve suffered from difficult social situations. I truly understand them, and it makes me so sad that cyberbullying still takes place so often.”

What’s next?

“Oh – I have so many ideas I dream about, I wouldn’t know where to start. I want to complete my army service. Then I want to start new businesses, maybe get a degree or two, and eventually make the world a better place. I want to get rid of pollution and do something meaningful every single day. But my biggest dream is to find true love that won’t be contingent on anything, to be happy because of who I am, and not because of what I have. To be a good person, and maybe a little more modest. To travel all around the world and meet up with friends. 
“That’s what’s really important. It’s not just about the money.”
Translated by Hannah Hochner.

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