I haven’t blogged in a while, and for those of you who in the past have read my blog regularly I apologize for that.
Overall, who we are is a by product of our past and the stuff we experienced as kids.
I feel like I had an incredible childhood, my mom worked 3 jobs and raised me and my sister without much assistance from anyone else. I had a step father who treated me like his adopted son and whom taught me how to be a man and made sure I knew how to treat people. I was totally unaware of the financial difficulties that my mom went through raising me, all i knew was when a new pair of Jordan’s came out or I wanted to go to Basketball camp all those desires always came true. Looking back on it my mom scratch and clawed and did whatever it took to make sure I always felt like I had everything.
Some lessons from my childhood include:
(A) Being Humble: Yesterday, i was getting ready for a video shoot for my company and I remember thinking about how awkward I still feel having all these employees working under me. They all seem to look up to me as a leader which gave me this weird feeling inside.
I just kept thinking to myself, how fortunate I am to work with these people. The reality is, they are just as smart as me and have just as much ability as I do but they put trust in me each and everyday to lead them to success and that is one of the most empowering feelings.
Then, I started having these flashbacks to my childhood. I remember when I made my first significant amount of money online, I was 16 years old. I thought I was on top of the world, making money was the pinnacle of success. All the teachers in my childhood thought I would be in jail and they always discredited me. I never forgot any of the hardships from my childhood, from all the detentions, to not making the hoops team cause of some of weird drama, to transferring high schools, it continuously powered me and always kept me motivated. I remember just how good it felt back then to prove all these people wrong.
The act of making money was less about the desire for wealth and more about overcoming this massive chip on my shoulder. The first thing I bought was all new furniture for my mom, I must have dropped $10,000 on furniture in one day and it was the best feeling in the world. My mom never had nice furniture, as I know for a fact all her disposable income was put toward making me and my sister happy.
To this day, you won’t ever see me flashing money around on Facebook or even talking about success or how much money I have in the bank. I just won’t do it, its not who I am or how I was raised. I still walk around everyday feeling this massive chip on my shoulder, and that’s what keeps me going each and everyday. The non-believers are the people that keep me believing.
I will though do anything for my family, I don’t care what it takes. I am still an unmarried guy but when I do have a family, I will run through brick walls if it means putting a smile on their face.
I think being humble is one of the most important lessons I learned from my childhood, because your relationship with money is reflective of your relationship to people. If you value money higher than people, then your success is most likely fake because true success is based around the people that you attract in your life.
(B) Never let anyone or anything be the main source of your happiness: I remember freshman year of college in North Carolina, I really liked this girl in my algebra one class her name was Erin. I remember thinking if I could only be with this girl, my life would be perfect. I remember we were in the cafeteria in the line waiting to eat some shitty food and I finally pushed myself into asking her out. I remember feeling like really surprised when she said yes to a date with me.
As the story went, I ended up dating her for 1 month and was super happy until she dumped me for some other dude on the hoops team. I remember asking myself why this happened, what could I have done better?
That one- month I dated her was awesome, but the problem was she was a huge source of my happiness at that time. I felt like everyday I woke up, she brought almost all the happiness to my life.
The true lesson, is weather its a significant other, money, ability to play a sport or any one element of life you can’t let one of these elements be the main source of your happiness because if you do you will be let down.
(C) Perseverance: I grew up in Freehold NJ, almost every person in my social circle persevered through something. Weather it was my mom working multiple jobs, my godfather dealing with racism in the work place, the people in my neighborhood dealing with drug abuse, or any of the other multitude of challenges that surrounded the community in which I grew up. The point is I feel like, I learned to relish the challenge ahead and just push through it because its all that I knew how to do. There was never any options except push through.
When I think of the difference between growing up in California against the east coast, I just keep thinking of all the daily challenges that impede progress on the east coast. For instance something very little like snow, snow and cold makes it a challenge to go out and socialize. In turn, you could make that argument that it hampers your ability to continuously build a strong social circle.
I feel like I look at challenges differently then most people. I feel more comfortable in environments where I need to problem solve quick and the decisions that I make are mission critical to the success or failure of the project. I tend to struggle in slow boring environments, thats why I have always been a terrible employee in my opinion. I want to be the leader, more than anything else. I want to be responsible, I relish the moments where success or failure is on my shoulders because I firmly believe that I will persevere through it and WIN.
This perseverance has helped me overcome a lot of challenges in business and not back down from major issues that need to get solved.
(D) Your Current or Future Success Has Nothing To Do With Where You Came From: One of the most successful people I know from my years in online marketing never graduated high school. Another one of my friend’s got booted out of college freshman year and now runs a popular gaming company.
The point is, it doesn’t where you come from, what you have done in the past, what your current situation, you still have the ability to be as successful as someone who went to Harvard. Never in the history in humanity is there such a low barrier to entry for success.
Some of the most important mentors of my childhood were what I call “book retarts” or people who could barely pass a college entry exam but when it came to down to execution they were the best, because they would do whatever it takes to achieve the desired result. They would go farther then anyone else.
I keep reminding myself of this, because I don’t have that Ivy league pedigree but I still feel like I could accomplish as much or more than the people who have that pedigree. I think that pedigree is rather meaningless in the grand scheme of things. It all comes down to , can you roll up your sleeves and execute or not?
(E) You aren’t defined by your work but instead you are ultimately defined by your actions
I remember when I was like 13 years old, I was shooting hoops on the basketball court at Liberty Oak Park in Freehold NJ and some older guy drives up in a brand new Ferrari with his brand new spalding leather basketball and he starts shooting hoops with me on the same court. I was actually more impressed with his basketball then his car, since I never had a new basketball to shoot with. He was surprised when the first question I asked was “where did you get this basketball”?
He must have been in his early 50’s, I remember then proceeding to ask him awkwardly what he did for work? I was curious what could someone do to make enough money to get a Ferrari. He told me he coached high school basketball at some high school in north jersey. I remember thinking this guy is full of shit, he had to have doing something else to be able to afford a brand new Ferrari. I just couldn’t figure him out. Looking back on it, god only knows how he made his money.
The lesson was, he choose to define himself by the action of coaching youth hoops instead of the act of making money. Just because you might work in advertising, accounting, be a garbage man/women or run a business that isn’t very sexy. You aren’t defined by what you do for work, you are defined by your actions and you could choose which actions define you.
As he was walking off the court after shooting hoops with me, I remember his exact advice to me “choose the actions in your life that define you” , I really took that quote to heart. I don’t define myself as an online marketer or even an entrepreneur I define myself by my actions.
I define myself as an explorer, teacher, and leader. I also consider myself a person who isn’t confined by social pressures to live life in a certain way. Overall, I define myself by the positive differences I make in other people’s lives.