We were not homeless, but only because of the generosity of countless family and friends who wanted to help my mom and dad because they were good people and of high integrity. As a kid, I remember numerous times when our bills were paid by somebody else and our clothes were provided by somebody else, but we were never homeless. I remember when my father, then in his late 30s, chose to deliver pizzas to provide for our family rather than go on government assistance. I remember the kids taunting me on the school bus about this and I remember feeling helpless. I remember making up stories and outright lies about what my dad did for a living so that I could defend him in some way. I remember repeatedly thinking to myself, “Someday you morons are going to be poor too and when you are, I will be glad.” Looking back now, I realize that I was my own business coach at an early age.
“You must walk to the beat of a different drummer. The same beat that the wealthy hear. If the beat sounds normal, evacuate the dance floor immediately! The goal is to not be normal, because as my radio listeners know, normal is broke.”-Dave Ramsey (Bestselling author, national radio talk show host, and financial expert)
Fast-forward to my middle school and high school years. My family moved from Oklahoma to Minnesota so my mom could go to work for her sister, but we still never had money in the budget for the things I wanted, so I started selling gum and candy out of my locker in middle school. Our principal (I believe his name was Mr. Johnson) eventually banned the use of gum at school and thus I quickly learned about the Law of Supply and Demand. Because it was essentially illegal to have gum and candy, everyone now wanted it and I was the “go-to guy.” I made thousands of dollars selling gum and candy and I eventually moved up into the t-shirt game. Our local high school only sold lame, soulless, and politically correct t-shirts that were approved by our athletic department, so I started producing shirts that really captured the soul of the student body. I produced classy shirts that taunted our opponents and that the kids wanted to buy. In order to produce the shirts that the students wanted for which I had already taken orders, I had to learn all about Photoshop, kinds of t-shirts, heat presses, inventory management, order forms, and cash management. I hacked my way through all the while being my own business coach.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.” -Steve Jobs (Co-founder of Apple, the founder of NeXT and the former CEO of Pixar)
Fast-forward again to 1999. I was a non-Christian believer (at the time), and yet I still decided to attend a private Christian college called Oral Roberts University because it was as far away from my parents as I could get, my best friend and I agreed to be roommates, and because the school was based in the town in which I was born. Oral Roberts University is known for being the college that Homer Simpson’s neighbor, Ned Flanders, graduated from, the college that Kathie Lee Gifford (of Regis and Kathie Lee and the Today Show) attended, and that the Grammy Award winning recording artist Ryan Tedder (frontman for OneRepublic and songwriter for Adele, Beyoncé, U2, and countless others) graduated from. The school was named for its charismatic and Pentecostal televangelist founder, Oral Roberts. During my time at ORU, I discovered that approximately 80% of your college courses have no practical application to your life after college and that attempting to pay your own way through college is very tough. Today I offer this advice as a business coach: College is not for everyone. What you want to do with your life best determines whether or not you need to attend college.
“Start where you are, with what you have. Make something of it and never be satisfied.” -George Washington Carver (The famous inventor who was born into slavery and who went on to invent countless uses for peanuts and sweet potatoes, which helped empower millions of poor families who then grew these crops as both their own source of food and income)
In order to pay my way through college, I started a company called www.DJConnection.com. I grew the business to the point that we were actually providing entertainment for thousands of events per year (as many as 80 events on many weekends) before I decided to sell the company. I started out my DJ business by carrying around a backpack full of flyers. I would shove these flyers promoting my next dance party underneath the doors of each and every college student three times before each event. I held these events at the local Marriott Hotel located at the corner of 71st and Lewis in Tulsa, which was basically walking distance for most of the student body.
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” -Walt Disney (An American entrepreneur, animator, voice actor, and film producer. He was prominent within the American animation industry and famous throughout the world, and is regarded as an American cultural icon.)
I did not have a business license to promote these events. I did not have the proper insurance in place to house over 500 people in one place at one time. I did not own any of my own DJ equipment (I didn’t even know how to properly operate the DJ equipment). But I had nothing to lose, so I produced incredible events that people loved to attend.
“Hope when that moment comes, you’ll say…I did it all. I did it all. I owned every second that this world could give. I saw so many places, the things that I did. With every broken bone, I swear I lived.” -Ryan Tedder (“I Lived” by OneRepublic)
Since selling www.DJConnection.com, I’ve gone on to start many successful ventures (www.EITRLounge.com, www.Thrive15.com, and www.MakeYourLifeEpic.com, just to name a few) and to business coach thousands of business owners through the process of developing the duplicable and scalable best-practice business systems they need to have in place to grow. I’ve spent the majority of my working hours in conference rooms, workshops, and on the stage at public speaking events. However, when my son was born blind and since my dad lost the ability to use his arms, his legs, to feed himself, and even the ability to breathe on his own, it has become increasingly clear to me that my time on this planet is limited and I must teach these provable business coach systems to people like you, faster.