When I was 17, my mentor Mike Watson asked me to write a list of all the things I wanted in my life. Here is what I wrote
-Get my own place.
-Get a car.
-Get a girlfriend
-Get a job and be able to support myself with out the help of my family.
By the time I was 18 years old, I had gotten these things. I had a little apartment in South Los Angeles, bought a 95 Acura Integra for $5,000 and met a pretty girl that I was with. I was working at Guitar Center in Lawndale CA as sales rep which was a step up from my last job working the burrito line at Chipotle. I went back to my mentor and told him that I had gotten everything that I wrote down on my list. He told me to go make another list, but this time dream bigger.
My next list looked something like this.
-Go to Jr. College.
-Move in to a bigger place.
-Make enough money to where I have some left after bills at the end of the month.
-Get a truck!
-Start a business
When I turned 20, again I finished these things. I enrolled at El Camino Jr. College paid for by a scholarship I won in a persuasive speech contest. I found a nice little house in Lomita CA I moved in with a couple of friends and started my first business, a clothing company called All Else Failed Ind. He told me to keep going, that I can have whatever I wanted as long as I put it down on paper and was willing to work for it. (So I did, but I went big on this one)
-Make 100k or more per year
-Transfer into a UC/CSU school to finish my undergraduate degree.
-Write a book
-Make an album (Im a musician)
-Buy a house
-Buy a nice Car
By age 23, I published my first book “The Rich Kid Syndrome.” I moved from Los Angeles to San Diego to buy my first home in Oceanside CA, and then transferred to CSU San Marcos after spending the summer of 2007 Studying abroad in Spain, Italy and France. This was also my first $100,000 year and I earned quite a bit more the following year with my little brokerage firm that started in Carlsbad. I was doing so well, I decided to buy and new BMW, and I bought it with Cash 🙂 I also finally completed my first full-length solo album entitled “The Midnight Songbook.”
As my 24th birthday passed, it seemed as if I could do anything. It was like every single year, I would just write a new list of things down that I wanted, and then I would get them. I felt unstoppable, and invincible. Then the year 2008 came and everything changed.
It only took about 6 months after the economy crashed to lose just about everything that I had worked for. Aside from the fact that I had lost all steams of income, I ended up being 160K in debt to boot.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I broke up with the girlfriend of 2 years, my dad went to prison, my mentor Mike (pictured above) died from cancer, my best friend screwed me over and I was conned out of my last $10,000 by a person posing as a roommate of mine who stole my identity and flew the coop. That’s what I call a bad year. I was so beaten down by all the loss in and around my life that it was hard to get back up and keep going. In fact some days it was down right direly depressing and some very bad thoughts entered my mind.
I realized that even though I had some major setbacks, and life threw me a couple of shit sandwiches, I had 2 choices. 1)Quit and kill yourself 2) Eat the shit sandwiches and make a list of things you want (as it has always seem to work before). So after a long day of gathering my thoughts and some meditation at the beach, here is the list that I made.
-Publish my second book
-Find a new industry to work in
-Surround myself with better people.
-Climb out of the hole (meaning get out of debt)
So, I picked up the pieces of my life and got back to work. I was 24, in serious debt, couldn’t find a job that would pay me nearly anything I was making in the mortgage game and all my “friends” or at least the people who I thought were my friends seemed to disappear with the money, the girlfriend and the stuff. I literally just had to hit the reset button on my life and start over.
I got in to Multi-level marketing, first with a company called Mona-Vie and then eventually in a company called RevvNRG. I always thought MLM was a scam but saw a lot of people making money in it. I figured if some barley high-school educated bozo’s from the Utah could make a couple million bucks on the Network Marketing game, how hard could it be? So I jumped in with both feet.
It took me about 18 months before I saw my first $10,000 month. As it turns out, you really can make some money in MLM. The next 3 years of my life seemed as if I was getting back in to my groove. I was traveling around the country, building a huge organization, making great money again and speaking on stages around the world telling stories of success and rising back up once life had knocked me down. I graduated college, published my next book “The Young Entrepreneurs Guide to Life.”
I felt relieved in a lot of ways. I felt as if I had a handle on things, life threw me some curve balls but I learned how to bend and fold in the situations and survive. As I was nearing 28 Years old, I began to reach my peak again. Now that I had the money game on point it was time for me to start living again, for me, this meant lifestyle.
What do I mean by lifestyle? Well to me “life” encapsulates all the things a human being has to do to live. Meaning we need to eat sleep, make a living, have friends etc. “Style” is a manner of doing something, so when you put those two together what you have is how a human being goes about living. I’ve come to understand that living life can be done many ways. Some people live very safe, they like a 9-5 job with benefits and 2 weeks vacation. Some people don’t even get that choice, they feel stuck in their life due to circumstances. Example: The man who worked as a mechanic his whole life because that’s what his father did and grandfather father did before him or the idea that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Well, thats all bullshit at least to me it was.
So I picked up a few new hobbies, and got back in to someones that I had neglected due my crazy ass work schedule. Here is what it looked like.
So I finished, college, published my new book, completely changed the people I surrounded myself with and found myself 5 years in to a promising industry that was allowing my to travel the world, live my dreams and crawl out of the black hole that I had lived in. I wish i could end the story here, because then it would be a happy ending, but there was one more twist that was going to happen to me before I hit the age of 30. But I at least got my dream trip of traveling around South East Asia and Surfing in Bali twice before shit hit the fan again. (see below)
And then I got back to America. in fact it was Early May of 2013 when I arrived home from Bali for the second time that year to find out the master distributor of the Network Marketing company I was involved in was trying to do an end-run on the distributor base and secretly move them in to another company all together. When I caught him in the middle of it, I blew the whistle (get that full story here).
In a mad rush to try to save what was left of the company, I began negotiations to broker a buyout from another MLM company. In fact that is where I was last year on my 29th birthday. Even though we were able to get a deal done, it ultimately fell apart because as it turns out the owner of the company I was staying loyal to was scarred and greedy.
Fortunately, being down the “put all your eggs in to one basket” road before, I had some back up plans this time around. I had learned how to trade the FOREX market (read that story here) for some time and I had a little Tech-Start-up called Roommatefax.com that I had been working on for a little time. Although I though I would have at least another year of residual income to count on from my network marketing ventures, I didn’t so I had to execute that back-up plans a little faster and take some side consulting work to make ends meet till I got them off the ground.
That brings us to the present, and as I cross the threshold into my thirties, I took some time to reflect, and these are the questions that kept repeating to me in my head.
-Have I lived honestly and had the best intentions?
-Did I take all the risks necessary to pursue success no matter the cost and safety?
-Would those (dead or alive) who came before me and made sacrifices for me so I could get ahead in life be proud of the man I have become?
-Will I be able to look my child in the eyes one day and proudly tell him or her about the choices I have made?
-If I were to die tomorrow, did I accomplish everything I set out to do? and when some of those things failed, did I see them through till the end and learn something from the experience?
-Have I lived with Honor, Integrity and loyalty?
-Was I a good son, brother, friend and human being?
I can honestly and confidently answer yes to all these questions, and that makes me grateful. I always thought by 30 years old, I’d have a million dollars and today I’m 30 and I don’t have a million dollars, in fact, I’m far from it, but what I do have is something that money can’t buy. What I have is something a lot of rich men spent their entire life chasing but could never seem to find. It’s the thing that most people live their whole life trying to find but it eludes them. What is it? Love. I’m surrounded by it and all the things that happened to me in my life were for a reason, they were to keep me safe from people, places and things, and sometimes from myself. I had lots of guardian angels that came in the form of people and circumstances.
I did my best to put Love out in the world, to give it when I could and try to keep the faith that it was there even when I couldn’t see it. I found hope, even when good people died or went to jail. I make hard amends to people I disliked, and let go of hatred for those I could justifiably hold resentments against. I found out what kind of man I was when life got hard, and saw what I was capable of when surrounded by the right people and situations. I learned to have a thick skin, be fearless and most importantly, not take life to seriously.
So all that’s left to do is make a new list. The list will probably have some things like get married, have kids etc. For me, it’s an open book. A big blank canvas waiting to be filled with life, love and memories. Fortunately, I’ve got quite a bit of experience now and I believe my best years are ahead. My 20’s were the minor leagues, and now its time for the major’s and I can’t wait to start playing!
Thanks for all the love and support! See you at the top!
In the winter of 2013 while searching for business opportunities (like I always am) an idea came to. I wanted to start something new and since I had been out of the CEO seat for a couple of years, I really wanted to make a splash. I was looking for a BIG idea, and guess what, I found it!
I was in my car driving on the freeway thinking very hard about new business ventures (I like to go out for a drive to think). Then it hit me, initially the idea I had was doing something like a dating website/app but specifically for the purpose of finding a roommate. BING, lightbulb. I immediately called some people I respect to get their opinion of my idea, one of those people was my friend and now business partner J. Candace Covington. She loved the idea and helped me vet it out more adding some innovation to the mix by adding the idea of combing background and credit checking to the profiling system giving us a complete one-stop-shop for a “rooommate-finding/vetting” system. It was gold, now the next step was to see if someone had created this before us.
My initial reaction was that someone would have had thought of this before because it was so simple and right in front of us. “Who wouldn’t use this?” I kept asking myself that over and over again. Knowing the pain we have all gone through living with a bad roommate(s) or renting a place to a bad tenant(s), I would have paid hundreds or thousands to avoid that painful process. So, we starting researching, and sure enough, no one had done it yet! That’s the crazy thing about a great idea, some descent ideas become great simply because no one has done it yet. Have you ever thought of an invention or business and then saw your idea on an infomercial years later? That’s happened to me before, and more than once too. If you are anything like me, you are a methodical person with a dash of crazy. You see, to run with an idea and try build a company around it is no easy feat. Although this is not my first rodeo when it comes to start-up’s the environment changes daily, especially if you’re in Tech. What I have learned over the years is that some can get lucky once, rarely do they get lucky twice, and you pull it off a third time, it’s not luck, it’s a learned skill and habitual.
So, knowing we had a solid idea, and no one else was doing it, we ran with it. Filed all the paperwork, raised a little seed money, wrote a business plan and starting building a team. We needed advisors, a development team, an attorney, and most importantly, we were going to need some investors! The amount of work and sweat equity that go in to the beginning stages of a company are dizzying, and most people can’t imagine doing it because the name of the game is work for free and ask a lot of people for help your first year, and then maybe you will get a shot at the big time. Remember that 95% of small business fail, and you don’t even want to know the percentage rate for start-up ventures! I eventually brought Dr. Jim Hamerly the idea. Jim started the entrepreneurs track at the CSUSM (my Alma Matter) and helped “reform” the school of business there. He was the former VP of AOL Time Warner and former VP of Netscape (He has so many big accomplishments, I could write a blog about it 😉 )I met him while I was giving a lecture the CSUSM Entrepreneurs society 4 years ago. We quickly became friends and shared many of the same business philosophies. I would run ideas by him, but I had never seen him as excited as he was when I ran the Roommatefax.com idea by him. I immediately asked him to be our lead advisor to the company and he accepted.
Armed with a small team and a little bit of capital, we picked up an attorney advisor Eric Morton. We realized quickly that if we were going to make this happen in a big way we would need to team up with a law firm that could advise us on any problems that could arise in the future. Although I have owned and operated several companies, we quickly learned that if one day we were to go public there were many things that needed to be taken into consideration and that it is best to tackle those things early on. Eric Morton has played an integral part in helping us set up the business properly and filing our trademarks and copyrights to protect the hard work that everyone has put forth to get this project going along with user agreements among other necessary documents.
We had spent countless hours researching the market place and now we knew what we needed to have to make us stand out from rest. The next step proved to be the most difficult. Who was going to help make this dream a reality? We knew time was not on our side but it was extremely important that we picked the right development team to build the Roommatefax site and app. We began a checklist of things that we were looking for in a development team and began interviewing teams across the country. Some of the criteria most important to us included the development team believing in the idea (like it was their own), be in the United States, willing to work closely with us and have successfully launched websites and apps on all platforms. So after meeting with several firms, we were introduced to Prakash Chegu. Prakash was really excited about the project, and met all the criteria and best of all, he was local and really easy to work with. We did some wire frames, cut a couple checks, and the development of our dream commenced.
Finally we were going to need some awesome design work for the company. My good friend Shaun Briggs answered the call. I have known Shaun for over 6 years now and his design work is so good, that as a designer myself I feel like I stand in his shadow. I was always told by my mentor that you should look for people better than you, and then work with them. In a strange turn of events, it turned out that Shaun actually used to work with Prakash 10 years ago when he was running his brokerage firm in San Diego, that was fate, and in the start-up phase of a company, you need all the help and good luck you can get! Its been a year and a half since we started out on this mission and a lot of blood sweat and tears have gone into this project. And I knew this was going to be a lot of work putting all the pieces together. Although it is nice to know that we are on the home stretch of the development process, the real hard work is about to begin. So where are we at now? We are currently seeking investors while getting ready to close out our seed round of funding that will continue until about mid-late July. Then we plan on launching our beta versions of the site and app (on IOS and Android) by late summer. Currently we have a profile on crowdfunder.com where we can seek investors from friends, family, and supporters of us. We know we are in the toughest phase of the start-up process and are ready to take it on. So if you or anyone you know is interested in getting involved in our company as an advisor, investor or member of the team, please get in touch with us here.
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