Introduction: The G.O.O.D. life
First of all, thank YOU for taking the time to read this piece.
As I’m writing these lines, I am 13,000 miles high on my way back to Europe, flying home ..
This marks the end of a 6 months long trip that took me from the operas of Vienna to Times Square and Miami beach, via the beaches of Bali and the high-rise skyscrapers on Hong Kong.
And I come back with a good news:
ANYONE CAN DO IT.
You see my story is not exceptional.
I am not exceptional at all myself, I am just your average neighbourhood guy that’s chilling downstairs.
I don’t drive fancy cars.. I am not a multimillionaire.. nor do I care to be.
But I live a GOOD life.
A life where I am free to:
- spend as much time as I want with my family
- live anywhere in the world
- have FULL control over my own destiny
And to be honest, I wouldn’t trade this for all the riches in the world.
This said, it wasn’t always that way.
Before being where I am at now, I did all kind of jobs that I mostly hated.
Cleaning toilets in English pubs (hugh!), stuffing envelope full-time (yes, there is such a job), being a receptionist for drug addicts, selling phone subscriptions to random people in shopping malls, answering to angry customers in call centres..
The list is long.
But 3 years ago I made a choice to take control over my life and make it happen. 3 years on, I can safely say that I am a fullfilled human being.
What my experience tells me is that ANYONE can do it. And in a series of articles that I hope to one day combine into an eBook (time will tell), I am going to show you exactly how.
So without further ado here is part 1, Love Money.
The foundation of a good business is build on two pillars in my opinion: you need the right mindset, and a basic understanding of how personal and business finance works. This post discusses how I stumbled across both.
My relationship with money has always been one of indifference.
I liked having some money, but I was pretty indifferent if I didn’t, as long as I had enough to have a shelter and food.
I always understood money to be a social construct which had no particular interest in the bigger scheme of things: after all it only represents worthless paper notes at best, or abstract digits in a virtual bank account with little footing in the real world.
In fact, at the time when I was starting up online with my first website, the WorldOfJah.com I was a Rasta, in other words my relationship with money was similar to that of a hippie. I hanged out with anarchist friends.
I wore long dreadlocks, became a freemasonry/antisystem expert and spent my days blazing and drawing hallucinogenic paintings while trying to make money online in my downtime.
Needless to say, I was constantly broke and never managed to save a penny at the time.
To me, money was pretty much useless: I didnt need it to live my life and always thought that making lots of money was for corrupt and greedy people.
I wasn’t greedy for a cent: I believed that I was going to change the world by working voluntarily for charitable organizations and the likes.
To me money was for the Madoff, the Rockfeller and the Al Capone of this world. I was too pure to need it, and therefore I was totally broke!
And I soon found out that I was not the only one with that mindset: I later learned that a lot of people in our societies seem to feel the same way about money.
Money is the root of all evil
Take some of the most common proverbs we can hear daily about money in the news, our educational system and virtually everywhere:
“Money is the root of all evil”
“A good name is better than riches”
“Neither a borrower nor a lender be”
“The best things in life are free”
These beliefs about money are deeply engrained in most of us, thanks to popular culture and our education. From cradle to grave we are constantly bombarded with the idea that money is intricately evil (and we should feel guilty about it), at least in Western (and Westernized) societies.
Now there is some wisdom in these sayings and I am not here to tell you that it’s better to have a bad name and be rich than poor with a good name.
But what if we could have the bread and the butter? Be rich and have a good name?
I can definitely attribute my relative success in business to the day where my understanding of money radically shifted along these lines.
In fact as a broke hippie, money for me was evil, useless, and not even remotely needed in my future.
But then something happened that led to the realisation that I should stop keeping money at arm’s length and should start accepting it more.
First of all, life kicked in. I realized that not having money was having several adverse effects on my life:
- since I had no money I had to work in crap jobs that I hated and take orders from people I despised
- since I had no money I was a slave to my employers and could hardly spend any time with my family
- since I had no money some months were tough and I was always worried about money, which was draining me emotionally and therefore physically
- since I had no money when I wanted to help someone I wasnt able to: I felt powerless at times
These simple, very common experiences forced me to understand that even though I didn’t “like” money, it could actually help make my life and the life of others around me a little easier.
When I saw people I loved around me who suffered, and I wasn’t able to help them financially I felt powerless and frustrated about it.
My real epiphany regarding money came from a motivational video I watched in mid 2011, which made me understand how my environment had conditioned me to hate (and unconsciously reject) money.
I call this my “deprogramming phase”; in short this is what I learnt in this very influential motivational video:
- money is heavily associated in popular culture with negative figures (dictators, gangster, corrupt businessmen and politicians)
- this negative association causes a lot of us to unconsciouly reject money and sabotage our own financial freedom
- if we want to attract money we needed to get rid of these negative associations
- and in fact, money is neither good or evil: it is simply a magnifier of our own strength and weaknesses.
Andy Stanley puts it better than me:
“Money is a magnifier: it only magnifies the quality or defaults that we inherently have;”
So if you are inclined to abuse drugs and love getting wasted, having tons of money will likely cause you to do more of that.
If you are good, generous person who only cares about helping others, more money will only allow you to share more of your goodness with others.
In other words, money doesn’t change people: it only magnifies what you already are.
Time to make that money
I can say that from the minute I understood that money wouldn’t turn me into an evil person and will help me help more people, everything changed for me.
It was literally a paradigm shift: the old me kept on unconsciously sabotaging all my efforts at making money, because of my deep-rooted beliefs that money is corrupt.
The new me broke all these barriers and starting accepting money for what it is.
This might sound like some Law of Attraction *BS* (I actually attended a Bob Proctor – The Secret event at the time too) but to me that mindset was really key in unlocking my business potential.
So now that I wholeheartedly accepted money in my life did I get rich right away?
No way José.
Actually, I got even more broke.
I thought to myself: “What the hell I’m doing wrong? I mean I got this positive mindset, I love money and I am trying to attract it in my life, so what’s up?”
Well a look at my balance sheet would have solved this in one line: I was “financially dumb”.
But that I didn’t know at the time.
Enter Robert Kiyosaki and the basics of business and personal finance, arguably the most important business books I read at the time.
Becoming financially smart
So there I was, constantly broke and pennyless and not having a clue why..
I mean I was ‘saving’ up some money like the system had taught me (couple $100 here and there, that I would blow up the next month), I had a decently paid full-time job at Google at the time, and I wanted that money..
So why was I always broke?
I could have spent a LIFETIME trying to answer that question..
And I am really thankful I didn’t have to wait that long.. There is a great video of Will Smith on Youtube where he explains that whatever problem you are faced with, somebody somewhere already went through it and probably has a solution for it.
So all you have to do to solution your problems is read books; I couldn’t agree more with this vision. $5 books on Amazon and borrowed business books from the library made my entire business eduction.
The $5 book that got me to understand the reason WHY I was constantly broke was a book by Robert Kiyosaki called the Cashflow Quadrant (similar to his bestseller Rich Dad Poor Dad, but more practical).
That book pretty much changed my life, and set me on a path to start making some real money until I was able to quit my job and start a business later that year.
In this book, Robert Kiyosaki argues that most people are broke because they don’t have the financial know-how that rich people have.
So he sets to break down the financial strategies used by successful businessmen in a very simple and easy to understand way.
While there are tons of great tips in the book about wealth accumulation what really struck me is what Robert calls The Cashflow Quadrant.
The Cashflow Quadrant is a representation of a individual personal cashflow, and to me it was a picture-perfect representation how my relationship with money.
How a poor man’s cash-flow looks
Here is a cashflow quadrant of someone in poor financial health looks;
Here is how to read it. This diagram represents the flow of money in and out your bank account.
So in this case, the entirety of the person’s income (wages) goes into expenses (bills, gas, kids, etc) and out of the bank account.
There is no investment in assets. We could have added an arrow from the liabilities column (example: a mortgage) going into expenses (that’s how a home-ownling middle-call diagram would look).
This is the cash-flow model that 90% of the population is in. Living paycheck to paycheck and not getting anywhere from being financially free.
How a rich man’s cash-flow looks
Now here is a diagram representing someone who has a good cash flow:
Here you can notice that there is a few more arrows and a different dynamic to this cash-flow diagram.
In this case the expenses box is used to build assets. In turn the assets generate revenues that pay for the owner’s income.
This is the path that I decided to follow about 3 years ago. I went from having a poor man’s cash-flow to a rich man’s cash-flow literally overnight.
In fact these diagrams say nothing about the size of your bank account. What matters is how you manage it.
Let’s take a practical example.
Let’s say you decide that 50% of your monthly income (or savings) will go towards building your asset, systematically.
In my case I started to cut all my expenses and pour half of my salary into my asset, in this case my business.
By focusing on financing this asset (instead of wasting my money in mindless expenses), I was able to go from zero business to a thriving business in less than 12 months.
Once my business (my asset) starting to pay off, it started to actually pay me. So pouring all that money came back to me like a boomerang, now that my business was starting to pay for itself.
From then on, I’ve always had this cash-flow diagram in the back of my mind. I strive to minimize my expenses and maximize my investments into assets.
Money is an emotionally-loaded topic, and whether we like it or not we all have positive or negative associations with money.
In my case it was overwhelmingly negative so it took me a while to deprogram myself and start accepting money for what it is, a kind of magnifier that magnifies the qualities or defaults we already have.
Finally, as someone with no formal business background, understanding the very basics of personal finance and how my cash-flow was at the time helped me tremendously in making the right choices in the way I manage my money.
Let me know in the comments what you think about this post, I’d love to hear from you…
Do you think money is evil and not necessary, or is it simply a tool that can help us achieve greater goals?