It was a winter day in Syracuse, NY in 1997. I was 28 years old.
I walked out of the office building back to my cold car — hell, I practically skipped to the car. Before turning on the ignition (and the heat), I basked in everything that had just unfolded over the past two hours.
I did it.
I’d met with a man I’d never met before (we had mutual friends), I did my best to explain what I had to offer as a coach, and he said yes. He gave me a check for the first month, $300.
Just writing about it now gives me goosebumps because these were the first dollars I remember creating.
Now to be clear, I’d been making money since my first paper route at 11 years old. I knew I could make money. I knew I could do things — things I did not necessary want to do (like getting up to deliver 77 newspapers in a blizzard at 5AM) — that I could get paid for. That’s making money…
In fact, my entire formal education seemed geared to re-enforcing how I could be successful at making money with a simple formula:
Compete + Win + Get Picked = Get Paid.
I did my best to play by these rules for as long as I could, but eventually what I perceived to be the tragic flaw in this system led me to drop out.
I always had to wait for someone to choose me.
And for most of my life, no matter how hard I worked or how well I did on the metric-of-the-day, I did not get picked. I’ve been rejected from 20 universities, every adult job I wanted, dozens of book agents and publishers, and lots of respectable coaching groups.
Like an aching tooth, the pressure to achieve, the pressure to win the competition, the pressure to get picked, never let up. Even though I never fit into the system very well, I played the game as best I could for one simple reason.
No one ever told me there was another game I could play besides Compete + Win + Get Picked = Get Paid.
In 20 years of school, no one ever told me that I could create my own money if I wanted to. No one ever told me that I create something that I wanted to create and have money be part of that equation. And no, my parents never said a word about it either…
I’m not writing this to blame anyone. I’m not writing it to convince anyone. I’m not writing it to rage against the machine. I’m writing it because this is something I want to share with my kids (and anyone else who’s interested).
Because for me, learning that I had the power to create money meant that I was forever free. That doesn’t mean that I don’t ever worry about money, but it does mean that I don’t spend very much of my precious time selling off pieces of myself for it. I know that whole approach to be optional.
Part of the inspiration for sharing this comes from listening to a recent Howard Stern interview with actor Jason Bateman. Howard was asking Jason what it was like for him, mentally and fiscally, after having so much success at a young age and then such a long lull…
Wasn’t he afraid of running out of money during those years?
Paraphrasing, Jason said that he never felt afraid even as his bank account dwindled, because he had learned that he could create a buck at such early age. He knew that more money was always out there, just waiting for him to call it, and listening to his words, you could hear a wonderful confidence in his voice as he spoke.
He went on to contrast his experience with some of his friends — kids who’d been given large sums of money by their parents — who still lived in a deep fear of losing everything because they’d never built the same confidence that comes with learning to create your own money.
Since that first check, people have said yes to something I’ve created thousands of times. Every time I get an e-mail with the subject “New Order” I cannot open it fast enough to see which one of my creations someone wanted to experience. In fact, I stare at those e-mails with the same wonder I stared at that first check. I tend to let them pile up in my inbox, in no hurry to delete them.
It’s just such a delightful feeling, one that has allowed me to live my life on my own terms, that I’d have to say that learning that I can create money is the single most valuable thing I’ve ever learned.
In closing, I was going to say that “if I can do it, anyone can do it…” but that’s not true. If you want to be the creator of money in your life, first you’d have to be drawn to such an idea. You’d have to have the desire. Lots of people can’t wrap their heads around the idea or just aren’t interested, and hey, that’s cool….
Second, you have to believe that it’s all possible. More important, you’d have to believe that you’re possible, that you’re worth whatever you desire and that money will come to you, just because you want it. Again, to some this would reek of fantasy, but to that I say something is only fantasy when you don’t believe it.
And believing it, when you’ve been told such a different story for so long, well, that’s the hard part.
For my children, I plan on making “believing it” the easy part. And then what they do, what they discover to be most valuable thing they learn that no one every taught them, well, we’ll just have to wait and see.