Before co-founding medical billing start-up Eligible in 2011, Katelyn Gleason was waiting tables in New York City while trying to break into the theater scene.
It was around that time when she first read "The Way to Wealth, " an essay by Benjamin Franklin that first appeared in his yearly publication, "Poor Richard's Almanack, " which the Founding Father wrote and published for 25 years under the pseudonym of Richard Saunders.
The proverb-filled essay about wealth and success was originally published as the preface to his 1758 almanack and eventually reprinted in more than 100 languages and titled "The Way to Wealth."
Gleason, now 32, says the single best piece of money advice she's ever heard comes from this 259-year-old text: "Necessity never made a good bargain," Franklin wrote.
"These words were a real wakeup call," says Gleason, who was living paycheck-to-paycheck while pursuing her acting career. "I realized that until I paid off my debt, necessity would continue to limit my current and future career options. So I buckled down and focused all of my energy on saving until I was finally debt-free."
"Today, this quote informs the way we approach Eligible's finances as well," the CEO continues. "It's why we decided to wait until Eligible became profitable before raising venture capital. Approaching potential investors from a position of power, not necessity, allowed us to be more selective, raise money more quickly and grow the company without compromising our vision."
Another Franklin insight has stuck with Gleason: "An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest."
It's timeless advice that has worked for the wealthiest, most successful people of today. As author Steve Siebold writes in his book on self-made millionaires, "How Rich People Think, " the "world class would rather be educated than entertained. "
The most successful people appreciate the power of learning long after college or any formal education is over, he writes: "Walk into a wealthy person's home and one of the first things you'll see is an extensive library of books they've used to educate themselves on how to become more successful."
While building Eligible in 2011, "I pored over everything I could find online, teaching myself day-by-day how to build Eligible's proof-of-concept," Gleason tells CNBC Make It.
Six years later, she still focuses on self-education: "If I feel creatively burnt out from working long hours, I'll go and read something inspiring about someone's journey: Steve Jobs, Ben Franklin, Marie Curie, Katharine Hepburn. Time spent learning is never time wasted."
Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook.