In the great words of the late Perry P. (my friend, mentor and role model in the later part of my formative years) he told me: “Steve, In life, believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see. ”
I have been in business for a long time now. In about two weeks I’ll be 29 years old. I haven’t work a “W-2” type job taking a paycheck since I was 18 years old. First it was my clothing company All Else Failed Ind., I built that company out of front room in my little dingy apartment in South Los Angeles. Everyone told me it was a stupid idea, my partner Justin ended up quitting 6 months in to it, but by the end of the first year, I was selling my clothes in 35 states and out in the UK.
When I was 20 years old, I got in to the financial services business breaking off and starting my firm in 2003, I built that little brokerage in to a company doing 10-15 million a month in transactions. During that time I published my first book about my life growing up which I have now sold thousands of copies of.
When the industry crashed in 2008, my life fell apart. My mentor died, I lost my business leaving me about $140k in debt, parents were struggling, broke up with a girlfriend of 2 years, my best friend at the time screwed me over and a con-artist posing as roommate stole my last $10,000 that I had.
I realized that when I lost all of the material stuff, and my status and prestige was taken from me when life humbled me, the only thing I really had left that mattered to me in my life was my honor, loyalty and integrity. I watched fair weather friends disappear when the money was gone. I lost people who I thought were my friends over money and women. I lost hope at times and was furious with god because I couldn’t understand why he would take such innocent people away from me.
When I finally came in to acceptance about the reality of my life, I began to question everything, the meaning of my life, who my friends were, who I thought I was or was supposed to be, and generally everything.
I made a commitment to myself that no matter what happened, no matter how bad it got, that I would never sell my integrity. My idea of success changed. Instead of wanting to get money to be rich, I started to pursue happiness, and serve the truth, defy the lies, and get willing to be in a place where I was willing to sacrifice anything including my life to stand up for what I believe in.
When I made this decision, life got simple. It was easy for me to determine what people were good for me, and what people I needed to cut of my life. In business, I found a company and built an organization in to the 1000’s to watch it fall apart by some unscrupulous people. Then I got in to another company, built it in to the 1000’s again to watch it fall apart one more time by some unscrupulous people. I have learned now more than ever that no matter what someone says to you, the only way you can really judge them is by their actions. I have been sold the world by people. People I’ve been in business with have promised me the world and were really nice to me up until the time I disagreed with them. Perry P. was right all along. I should have only judged by actions, trusted my gut an intuition, but that’s been hard to navigate when your young or new at something or trusting in the success of the edified people. Regardless of the inequalities that I have felt, and putting behind all of the times that I have been lied to, or stabbed in the back in my personal and professional life, no one can say I was dishonest. No one can say that I told lies or mislead people with malicious intent. Basically, through thick and thin and like Perry, and all my other mentors, I remained honorable.
I am at another one of those transitional times in my career. It’s exciting to me because I know things I didn’t know before and I am finally going to get a chance to prove myself. In order to see if you outgrew your Sensei or guru, you must challenge them, if you win, than your right, you became better, more enlightened, but if you lose, you’re a fool. So if your going to go at it alone, you must be ready to accept all of the consequences that come with it, and further more be ready to humble yourself if you did in fact bite off more than you can chew. In my case, I’m as ready as I’ll ever be in this moment and it’s time to start a new chapter. This is the only moment I have, my conscience is clear, my side of the street is clean and I’m ready to put a dent in the world!
Today, Im a free agent again. I am young, single, healthy, well-educated and street smart. I know more now than I ever have before in my life. To me, I have found true serenity in the way I live because I realize that despite all of the injustice in the world and all of the suffering, I choose to be a part of the solution. NO ONE GETS A WAY WITH ANYTHING, eventually the world has a way of correcting the imbalances.
I will be giving a really big update this week, so stay tuned to this blog, I’m going to change the world, and I’m taking as many people who want to go with me.