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!
So about money. One thing has been said about money that has always stuck with me is: “Money is only emotional if you don’t have enough of it,” and this is so true. Most of us have had a struggle or two at some point in our lives in this area. For me, making money has never really been the problem, it’s the “keeping it part that has always hoodwinked me.
I have adopted a new saying over the years, and it goes like this. “In business, when you go up against a person with education and experience they will leave with your money and all you will be left with the experience and boy is it true. This happened to me in 2008, I had a good amount of money in real estate, stocks, and annuities. I was making a killing in the mortgage business, and I felt invincible. I went from owning a clothing company to running a brokerage firm pulling down 15-20K a month with my eyes closed by the age of 21 years old. For a 21-year-old, that’s more money than most know what to do with. Off my brothers advice I started investing but didn’t pay attention. What I mean by that is I was unwilling to learn about investing. I trusted a financial advisor to do good things with my money, and I followed the methods of millionaires when it came to real estate investing. End result, when the market turned I lost everything and went in to debt. About $160,000 of debt. At age 23, I closed the brokerage, took my lickings and left that industry.
I had no income coming in, and couldn’t get unemployment because I have always owned my own business or been 1099’d and was staring at a pile of debt that no 23-year-old should ever have to deal with, although I do believe 20 something’s are becoming more accustom to swallowing that reality these days which makes me very sad that we ever got to a place in this country where being 22 and 80K in debt was ever ok. Either way, I was in trouble and needed to do something. I chose joining a network marketing company (aka a pyramid) and everyone thought I was crazy. I was ok with that because I have never chosen a traditional career, job or project in my entire personal and professional life.
After struggling to wrap my head around the new industry, I got successful quickly and was back on my feet paying off that mound of debt which by the way I never claimed a bankruptcy on. I’m not a deadbeat, I ran up the debts by not managing my risk properly, therefore, I am responsible for fixing it.
Speaking of Risks, here is a quick little history of my untraditional professional life.
18-21 : Started a clothing company in LA and sold clothes internationally, traveled, made money and had fun. Most thought it was a bad idea/investment including my partner I bought out in the first year. End result, I had a crash-course in running your own business, saw the world and gained some priceless real life entrepreneurial experience while turning a profit and doing something I loved and believed in.
20-23 : Started working as a Jr Loan officer at a small brokerage in Los Angeles and made my first 6-Figure income at the age of 20. Later went on to opening my shop and tripled my income before 22. At the 21 I bought my first house,bought my first car cash (2003 BMW 330ci), and took a 3 month vacation to Europe where I studied Spanish in Spain. I also decided to go back to school to complete my degree as I had dropped out years earlier to pursue the clothing company
23-28 : When the financial industry went down I joined some Multi-Level Marketing companies. I have been in a total of 3 thus far. Mona-Vie (23-24) where personally recruited 30 people and hit a 6 figure rank in 10 months, that’s the fastest I have ever done this in any business. 24-28 With RevvNRG as a founding distributor where I built an organization of 7,000 people in 5 countries while traveling around the world enjoying the freedom that I had from this line of work. Then when RevvNRG fell apart, I joined ARIIX where I currently am now.
Presently: Although I am still a part of ARIIX, I started my company Roommatefax.com 6 months back. I did this for a couple of reasons. 1. I was sick of not being able to heavily influence the end result of what the company I work with produces. 2. I missed being an entrepreneur and making something appear out of nothing that people love. 3. Have you seen the job market lately?
After having lost my residual income from RevvNRG, I had been looking for some additional work to bring in more income to subsidize the loss of income and boy, I thank God for the fact that I have a background in sales because I attended a couple job fairs and all I saw was a million “fresh-out-of-college” kids desperately looking for jobs competing against people who have 30+ years experience on them with a mile long resume. Bottom line, that shit’s burnt, and all the future young americans have to look forward to is service jobs unless they become willing to work harder, eat some shit, and pay some dues.
I wrote a blog post about paying dues and eating shit sandwiches, if you didn’t read, go check it out, it’s a good one http://stevenewolf.com/eating-a-shit-sandwich/. Either way, at this time in my life I had to take some of my own advice. So I sacked it up, got humble and took a sales job that seemed legit and had a great training system. I would rather be doing something that generates income while looking for better opportunities rather than sitting around in my house watching movies, getting fat and feeling sorry for myself. Jobs, are only temporary and they serve a purpose, therefore I am grateful for this short term sales job I landed. From a salesmen’s perspective there are a couple of things I know to look for in a sales jobs. Here is the quick list.
I have always prided myself on being a smart and wise entrepreneur, but even the best of the best can fall from grace at times. I think most people elect taking jobs where you work for a big company and you have a dedicated salary because it removes the fear of not having something you can count on. This is a prison to guys like me. Keep your 50k a year and give me the opportunity to make what ever I want to based on how hard I am willing to work and how resourceful I can be. That’s the American Dream I was brought up on. My Mom and dad owned their own practices, my grandpa owned his own company and my brother and his wife is a real estate agents (1099 all commission based). I come from a family of entrepreneurs, and trust me when I say that none of us are cut out for a corporate environment, we would fail at it, die of boredom, or just quit and go start our own deal because at the end of the day, when we look in the mirror, we are the masters of our own destiny and the only way to true wealth is from starting your own company or being a part of some line of work that allows you to at least own your time. You know “time, your most valuable asset. There are a couple of exceptions, but I don’t know anyone that has been in a corporate job that has made enough to retire by the age of 40.
The trick I learned is a little something called Mini-Retirements from my main man Tim Ferris author of the book “The One-Hour Work Week.” This is the concept explaining the idea of choosing a business or line of work that affords us the ability to do things like month-long travel adventures, and the ability to take as much time off as possible before your real retirement age of 65 when you are too old to do fun things like you would have done in your 20’s and 30’s. This business of working till you’re 65, getting a gold watch and a pension is for the birds. To me, your best years are pretty much over by 65 and even if we have some incredible medical breakthroughs that allow us to live longer, I’m not going to get caught up in the mouse-on-the-ferris-wheel mentality of working for no more of a reason then to survive. F^&%* all that noise.
To be continued on part 2 of 2 – (Sign up for my blog and get notified when I post) If you like this blog, please re-post and send your friends here!!! Also If you haven’t read or heard about my book “The Young Entrepreneurs Guide to Life” go to the “books” section on my site and pick up a copy or a download the audio book.
And Finally, I’ll leave you with this. Jay-Z and Warren Buffet with Steve Forbes. Watch the interview and see the contrast. It doesn’t matter where you come from or your circumstances. If you want it bad enough the world will provide.