When I was 13-years old, I went to bed for the first time without having eaten anything that day. My mom didn’t work (substance addiction), my dad had been fired (again) and we were being sued by the husband of a woman he had slept with at work. We just didn’t have any money.
Lying in bed that night, I vowed to myself that I would never live like this; I would grow up better. The next evening after school, I applied to get a job delivering newspapers, and I began looking at what I wanted my life to look like.
I moved out on my own when I was 17 (managed a Burger King outside of Ottawa), and I also began working at a high-tech internship. I enjoyed working with computers when I was in school, and I had a fantastic teacher (Mr. Dixon) who fostered that interest. Schools are the most important foundation of a free society. I had the amazing fortune of attending some spectacular, Canadian public schools with teachers who loved what they did. A really great teacher can inspire someone to change their life.
It was in this high-tech internship, at a truly remarkable company (acquired by IBM) that I was exposed to some of the most incredible people I’ve had to pleasure of knowing. I’ve had many incredible mentors in my life, and they’ve each taught me things that have helped me immensely. A friend (ahem!) finally convinced me to share them; I’ve called them my “13-laws”.
- Have a goal; articulate to yourself what success means.
- Build a fire for your motivation
- Be flexible, but remember the goals
- Find a mentor – someone who lives ideals and a life you want; study their actions. Whether they know it or not, they are your teacher.
- Knowledge is power. In the age of the internet, the new currency is information. I can get a cheaper car by ‘googling’ other dealerships nearby. I can find a better job by looking at industry trends. I can sell better to others, if I know what motivates them. School is valuable, but the school is a vehicle for conveying knowledge.
- People are your key to success; find a way for your win to also be their win.
- Prioritize how you spend your money, but never forget to have fun.
- Save, Save, Save. Even if its $25 a month, Save.
- Treat your credit history as a tool, not a nuisance.
- Remember, everyone else feels as lost as you do. You have no reason to fear those you admire. There is no reason to be intimidated by anyone.
- Never surrender all control over anything in your life to anyone else; no one can care about your well being as much as you can.
- If you have the means to help someone else, do it. As a society, no one ever grows without the help from someone else. The wealthiest, whether they want to admit it or not, have found ways to get the most help.
- Money is a tool. You really can always make more; use it to fund your happiness and your goals, but remember it is merely a tool.
Alas, part of the journey is coming to that realization organically.
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