My Independence Day is not July 4th.
My goal isn’t to be rich. I’m a simple guy. I don’t need a private jet, a mansion, or Rolls Royce, blah, blah, blah, blah. Those things are nice, but they aren’t on my wish list.
The #1 things I want is to be free and on January 9th, 2009. a.k.a. My Independence Day…I learned that freedom didn’t cost as much as I thought. I don’t and you don’t have to wait to have a million dollars to be free.
January 9th, 2009 is the day I became a free man (without having extreme wealth) and I want to help you get free if you so desire.
The secret to your freedom is simple. And the answer is not money. I know lots of people with more money than me who aren’t as free as I am.
It’s your self-worth…knowing your true value spiritually and financially.
There are rich people who aren’t free because they are driven by fear instead of freedom. If you took everything they had away, many of them wouldn’t have the confidence to build again.
Those who know their self-worth have no fear of loss and thus feel freer to take risks instead of avoid them, help others instead of hoard, and take time off instead of work endlessly.
My entrepreneurial journey has helped me recognize my self-worth and I want to share the power and confidence that comes with that knowing with you.
Building A Bridge To Somewhere
Despite the economy crashing, I took off the golden cuffs and quit my job. I didn’t want my life’s calling to go to voicemail.
My departure was calculated…literally. I saw my current job as a bridge, not a destination. I even called it a bridge job. In hindsight, I didn’t know where that that bridge would lead me, but at that moment in time, I knew I had start building it, or the gap between who I was being and who I wanted to be would widen drastically.
A bridge gets you from one place to the next and usually there are no u-turns. With my undergraduate and graduate student loans haunting me after getting my MBA, I honestly wasn’t ready to do my own thing right after graduation.
At that point, many people tell themselves the story that “I’m going to take the highest paying job I can get for 3-5 years, pay off my debt, and then do what I love.” But I was convinced that that story was a lie simply by looking at all of the alumni who probably told themselves the same thing. We get caught up. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby with the baby carriage.
Instead, I felt I needed a bridge job to buy me time. I wanted something that would:
- Pay me enough (which is one of my values) to live decently while paying off my loans and saving a little to create a runway for my business
- Not demand more than 40 hours per week (i.e. spill over into my weeknights and weekends) so that I could grow what I wanted before and after work
- Train me and position me to do what I ultimately wanted to do through the work itself and relationships
- Allow me to create tangible value for them even if I left within 12-18 months
What made January 9th so special wasn’t that I quit my job, it was that I took full ownership of my life and future. My career and success was no longer in anyone else’s hands except my own.
I got on the bridge and the economic earthquake began. So what. I kept going. And then I had emotional aftershocks of fear, doubt, and worry. But I kept going. And now here I am years later and guess what, I’m still going…and growing.
While I was on the bridge, I had two goals.
1. Create a 6-month savings or runway (=my basic monthly expenses x 6 months)
2. Get a customer
I didn’t want to step out into my business cold turkey with no momentum. I needed proof of concept. And nothing proves that better than real revenue.
I made a commitment to myself that I would leave my job once I reached my 6-month savings goal or at the 18 month mark—whichever came first. When I put in my 30 day notice, they tried to give me a raise to keep me. Where was that raise before my 30 day notice?
Creating Your D.R.E.A.M. Life Here & Now
Saying no to money is one of the most powerful acts in life, especially if is being offered to you to do something you don’t want to do or because it’s below what you know you’re worth. It’s not that money is bad, it’s just that I would prefer to earn less money doing what I love and feel called to do than lots of money doing something I don’t love in hopes that one day I’ll have enough money to do what I love.
That’s a dream deferred and I want to dream awake. The way I define D.R.E.A.M. is having one’s Desired Relationships, Employment, And Money. A lot of people have two out of three, but the secret is not to try to maximize them all. Some people make a lot of money and have the relationships they want, but they hate what they do for a living (i.e. many lawyers, bankers, consultants). Others have their dream job and desired relationships, but it doesn’t pay them what they want (i.e. lots of non-profit employees and artists). And then there are people who have their dream job which pays them handsomely, but their relationships suffer (i.e. many entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk).
The secret is to prioritize them and find your balance. And don’t compare your dream to someone else’s. Trying to compete on all three levels to keep up with the Joneses will leave you with the blues. When you try to juggle all three, you end up dropping one. Many people think that more money is the solution to every problem they have in their life, but here is the deal. We all know how much is in our bank account but nobody knows how much is their time account. You can’t buy more happy hours, you have to create them.
I’m Not Rich, But I’m Free
Now I’ll be 100% honest with you. I’m not rich. You won’t see me on beaches in foreign countries. Even though I could, I’m a home body and I get as much enjoyment from going to the park with my daughter and hearing her laugh as I push her on the swing. You won’t see me driving a fly car. I could, but for the time being, I have a 2000 Honda accord. I’m not living big either. My wife and I own a 3 family home in Brooklyn, but we only live in one unit.
I’m not here to inspire you with what I have. I’m here to inspire you with who I’m being. And in short I’m being me and I think that I the greatest contribution any of us can make in the world. That is what’s missing in the world. The real you. The real us.
I’m a simple man and being rich isn’t my goal. My goal is to transform lives and I believe that I will succeed to the degree that I help you succeed at living your D.R.E.A.M. according to your definition of success and experiencing as many happy hours as possible.
Imagine if we measured our success in life by how many happy hours we had rather than how much money we had. How would that change the way you are living today? There are 30 year-olds on this Earth who don’t have nearly as much money as an 90 year-old retiree, yet in one-third of the time, they have accumulated more happy hours. Who do you think is more fulfilled? Who would you rather be?
I’m giving these extreme examples of less money versus more money to say that highest paying job with the best benefits is not what makes us happy or helps us feel alive. Money is great, but it’s just energy. Our goal isn’t to swim in piles of money like Scrooge McDuck. What we ultimately want is what we think money can get buy us like—time, security, freedom, and in some cases love. I know from experience that we don’t have to wait to have tons of money to have those things right here and right now.
Most Americans Don’t Feel Free (Regardless Of Income)
I reached my 6-month savings goal at the 17 month mark and I became independent. My cost of living at the time was $3,000 per month, so I saved $18,000 before quitting.
I bet on myself, not the economy. And that was the best bet I ever made.
July 4th is someone else’s Independence Day…not mine. Mine is January 9th.
Most Americans don’t feel free. Regardless of salary many people are living check to check. Or there are those who have financial freedom, but no time freedom to enjoy it.
I believe that the day you earn your first 4-figure check outside the context of a job is the day you get free. At that moment you start to recognize your true value.
I realized that the corporate ladder would never allow me to reach my full potential because my income would always be capped by a pay scale regardless of how much value I created.
Time Is The New Money
Time is the new money. I didn’t want to have to get a permission slip from anybody to take time off work anymore or be limited to 2 weeks vacation. I’m an adult.
But what about healthcare? What’s the point of healthcare when work is what is making us sick and we’re too busy at work to go to the doctor.
I’m not encouraging you to quit your job like me if you don’t want to. But I am challenging you to test your value. You can think in your head that you should be paid more than you are, but you can only know for a fact by getting paid what you think you’re worth.
I want to help you get free, be independent, and know your true value because I know the confidence and power you will move through the your career with when you know you have options and choices and you don’t “have to” do anything. Instead you do what you want to, when you want to, with who you want to.
Wishing you more happy hours,
P.S. Go to this link to read about my real birthday on June 15th, 2001. This is the day I awoke.