One of his questions really struck me. “What went on inside of you when you decided to transition from working for a company to becoming your own boss?”
It was a lot more than the fact I make more in a single day than I made in a month on full-time salary as a manager of a tech support team at Apple. Something has to happen on the inside, that churns like an engine, before I realized, “I am so freaking done living like this.”
There were three moments of transition in my and my wife’s lives that we went through to get to this point, where I now have the freedom to do the things I love with the people I love.
Number one: bounce checks.
I’m not ashamed to say we had lots of bounced checks. We would send a check out, hoping that since it takes a week or so to process, we’d have enough money in the bank by then. I sucked at managing finances: we would get $30 charges from the credit union because we didn’t have enough money in the account to pay for it.
This made me so pissed at myself. It was my fault.
It wasn’t the banks fault, or the company charging too much, or society screwing me over. That’s a bunch of BS. People who think like that will stay poor and broke. It was my fault: I didn’t do something to make a difference. I didn’t think smart or far ahead enough, or work hard enough, and make decisions to change, because I was inadequate and afraid. There were too many fears and I didn’t want the risk.
Something inside of me had to change. I had to get angry. I had to get disgusted with myself, the way I was living, and I had to be done with living like that. Trying to cover it up wouldn’t work.
The second big transition in my life was working for Apple.
I love Apple. I love their computers and the company. I’m not saying that to give them praise: it is true. But the department I was in and the team I was on were almost incestuous. The manager did not know how to manage people. There was a ton of butt kissing and political hogwash. Everyone was trying to step on everyone else’s shoulders to rise up, to be the the next area manager, or senior area manager, or to talk to Tim Cook. It was full of name-dropping and insidious strategies that it ended up not being about the customer. Some of my teammates ended up leaving the company.
What is the purpose of a company? It’s to make money. There’s nothing wrong with that. But to the people on my team, and the management, it wasn’t. It was about how we needed to promote ourselves, risk our reputation, and cover their butts from mistakes they made.
At one point, one of my managers shamed me publicly when I had done absolutely nothing wrong. I was so angry that I had to literally take another application window on the screen and put it over her face because I was so disgusted. I couldn’t even look at her. As soon as the call was over, I turned to my wife and said, “I’m done. We’re finding a new way.”
I started reading Tim Ferris’ four-hour work week book. I was impacted by that. I read other books. I called manufacturers. I had a spreadsheet of these suppliers that I found on Google and would call them up and ask, “What are your best top three selling products right now in the US?” The answer I kept getting was vapes. E-liquid, e-juice, vapes. According to research, it’s much healthier for you than cigarette smoke. It was a great business opportunity and it helped people. As someone who used to smoke a pipe, I realized it wasn’t healthy and realized I could do something to help others.
I built up a vape company.
And I sold it for a whopping $35.
After that, I was discouraged. I didn’t just have anger and disgust from working at Apple: I was discouraged. That discouragement was good for me. It was exactly what I needed, because it did something inside of me. It forced me to ask myself, “Am I only looking for a quick buck? Or am I committed to do what it takes to change my freaking life? To build a future for my wife and family?” I decided things were going to change. That’s when I started doubling my dime.
Do you know how stupid I felt sometimes, walking around downtown, asking people, “Hey, I’ve got this dime, will you double it for me?” Most of the time they’d look at me with a face that said “Are you okay?” But then our conversation would go like this.
“Listen; if I double this dime twenty times, how much do you think it’ll be?”
“No, $100,00. You double a dime twenty times, it’s $100,000.”
“You’re kidding me; you serious?”
“Yes. I want to be able to tell a story someday. I’m in debt, I hate my job, but if I can double this dime twenty times, I can tell the story to other people. Will you help me?”
Some people would say yes. Some would say no. Some would laugh. Every time I did it, I felt stupid. I felt embarrassed. I felt a resistance inside of me that asked what I was doing. But there was something deeper that told me this was going to work. I had faith. I believed I could make a difference. So that’s what I did: I doubled it until I got to $400. I invested in inventory, started selling on eBay and Amazon. We cleaned house and went through everything we didn’t need, sold it, took that money, and kept investing, over and over again, until we got to $100,000. That became a million and so much more.
Negative emotions are good. In Western culture, there’s a mentality that there’s something wrong with negative emotions. There’s not.
Negative emotions are not really negative. It hurts, yes, but the real challenge is how you channel it. If you’re considering being an entrepreneur, but you just want to dabble in it and stick your toe in, don’t do it. You’ll hate it. You have to risk a lot. You have to suffer a lot. Some nights, you’ll work all night to make it happen. But if you do this right and act smart, your company will work for you. That’s why I’m a little bit richer after going to sleep last night. Amazon continues to sell my products and throw money into our bank account.
That is living a dream and it’s amazing to me. That opportunity makes all risks and frustrating parts of selling on Amazon completely worth it. So don’t look at negative emotions like they’re bad or wrong. Some people were raised by parents who told them to never cry or never get angry. I respect people who can cry and who can be honest about their anger. I don’t respect someone who is out of control, but people who channel their emotions in the right way and use them to their advantage will become an unstoppable beast. That, my friend, is success.