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NOTABLE! Own Yourself: My Story How I Did It

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Lex DeVille

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I don't know how many of you know my origin story. I've been around the forum since early 2013, but I started my first business before I read MJ's book.

Before becoming an entrepreneur, I worked a 9-5 job making $10/hr in hospital collections. Probably the most miserable position on the planet. My office was a closet about 10 feet long and six feet wide with no windows that I shared with three other collectors. Outside of the room was a sea of cubicles. On the far wall was a row of windows. Sometimes I'd go past the cubicles and walk by those windows to the copy machine. I'd stop for a moment and look out at the people coming and going below. Oh, how I wished I was them, out there instead of trapped in here. Free.

After the May, 2011 EF-5 tornado wiped out 30% of the town, life changed for everyone - except for me. While Joplin slowly recovered, I was forced to make collection calls for hospital bills, even to people who had nothing left. No home. No vehicle. No job. No family. It was horrible, and at some point, I realized it was a tragic way to pass through life. Those thoughts ate at me for weeks. Soon I couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't live that way. I had to own my life.

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I had one business idea. Making portraits of people's faces out of Lego. I had about a month's worth of savings and no idea how to sell. What I didn't have was a mentor, course, coach, guru or book to tell me what to do. In fact, one of the only self-help books I'd read at that point was "Think and Grow Rich." People still read that book, but today you'd think it was titled, "Let Someone Else Think for You and Grow Rich." I had no guidance. There were no rules. So I quit my job and put it all on black. Either the business succeeds or I go back to work.

Once I left I had a 30-day window to figure shit out or go broke and fail. So I thought about who had money that might buy my product. An old boss from a previous job had money. Plus he liked to show off things. So I went to his business to try to make a sale. Unfortunately, he was out for the day. Only his staff were there. So I asked them to get him on the phone...and they did. Once he was on the phone I explained what I had (LEGO) and that I could turn it into his logo so he could show it off as a centerpiece. He would be the only one in the town who had this. In fact, he'd be the only one in the world. My old boss paused for a moment. Felt like forever. Then he said "okay." He set a date for me to come over to his house and he'd write me a check and that's how I made my first sell ever.

33615

After that I thought things would get easier. They didn't. I had no idea how to market my product or who else to sell to. On Google I found a novelty toy shop about an hour away. So I got in my car and drove across state lines without an appointment. Showed up at the toy shop in the middle of the day and awkwardly approached the owner with my gigantic laptop to pitch her a LEGO logo. It was an EPIC fail of a pitch. My laptop barely worked. Took like 15 minutes just to get it turned on. The shop owner humored me because there was nobody else in the store, but ultimately, I walked away without a sale, tale tucked between my legs.

When that didn't work, I tried something else. Not a coach or course. I needed to get products in front of people. I'd heard about a local festival, so I went to the Chamber of Commerce and bought a booth space. Then I bought a canopy, and when the day came, I set up shop. There was a lot of interest in my products. They were very unique for the area. They even caught the attention of the local newspaper who asked for an interview, which I provided. A few days later another local news station reached out. They wanted to interview me for television. I was scared shitless about that, but I agreed and let them come to my tiny duplex apartment to film.

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The two interviews spread word of my products. A lady called me and asked if I could make a portrait of her son. I agreed, but I needed money to purchase materials. So I charged her half of the cost up front and half on delivery. She was an older lady and I didn't have any way to pay online. So I went to her house, sat with her in her living room, talked about her son, and let her write me a check for half the cost. Despite strong introverted tendencies, I officially had my second sale.

33618 33619

I wish this was the part where I became a huge success, but it wasn't. I booked more festival events after that, some as far as three hours away. But I didn't sell anything noteworthy, and when my time was up...it was up. I ran out of cash, and had to move out of my duplex. I moved in with my parents which only lasted a short time until I got kicked out for something silly of an argument. Now I was broke and homeless. So I took what little I had left and rented a storage unit and put all my shit in it for now. Then I moved in with my girlfriend's parents.

Living there was one of the worst experiences of my life, but I wasn't out yet. I had to get another job (this time it was $8/hr) and figure out how to get myself out of that hole. Nobody had a clue what I should do. So I tried to imagine myself as a great sith lord like Darth Bane or Darth Sidious and formed a grand master plan to get myself out of there and take back control of my life.

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When Christmas came around, it was time to put the plan into action. I drove three hours to my aunt's house in Kansas City and stayed with her for the holiday. During that time I applied to jobs like a mad man and secured several interviews. Once I had an interview, I waited until my aunt was in good spirits during our holiday party and then asked if I could stay a little longer until I found a place of my own. At first she said no, and I thought all hope was lost. But she thought about it overnight, and then gave me that chance.

Next I secured a job as a night time security guard for the Kaufmann Center in downtown Kansas City. The pay was $11/hr. I used that job to get a tiny one-bedroom apartment and braved an hour of freeway commute to make it happen each day. Once my pay stabilized, I started to regain confidence. I'd been through a wild series of events, but I was still alive. And I still craved freedom. But to get that freedom I'd need to become someone better than I was before, and I desperately wanted a change of identity so I could start over. So I took a paycheck and legally changed my full name to something that felt more empowering to me.

33620
Kauffman Center

Having done that, I started the next phase of my plan. I used my time at the first job to figure out how to get to the next level. Soon I landed a part-time job with a law firm that was closer to home. The position paid slightly more which sort of compensated for the hour loss. But being part-time I also had free time to figure out how to get my business going again. I tried to be smarter this time. Figured I might reach more people through Etsy. So I set up shop and what do ya know? I started making sales.

Once that got going, competition rose up, but they only wanted to sell their goods at high prices because LEGO portraits are expensive to make. Plus, my competitors would only list one to three items at a time. Unlike them, I had a catalogue of hundreds of portraits because I'd make them, photograph them, and then dismantle them so they could be turned into other portraits. I used all of those photographs to dominate the etsy listings for my product, and because I purchased used LEGO, I could undercut competitor prices by a significant margin. So I started doing pretty well with part-time sales.

From the time I started on Etsy to the time I joined the forum, I made about $10,000 in sales. That happened in a little less than a year, and it was my first real win. And now?

I started a shed business.

I don't sell LEGO anymore. I don't know the first thing about building sheds. But that's what I'm doing.

You might wonder why I told such a long story for it to end this way. The reason is because in between the decision to start that first business, and what I'm doing now, I built a nice part-time income with LEGO. I built two full-time incomes with freelance copywriting. I built a coaching business. A course business. A full-time income with ebooks, and several other semi-passive income streams. I also wasted tens of thousands of dollars on trial and error on business ideas I thought might work that didn't pan out. I wasted years hopping from one idea to another taking aim and firing again and again, and I did all of that without a coach.

But now, here we are. It's 2020, and I've not had a job in seven years. I do what I want when I want. I'm not a millionaire. I own my home. I spend all of my time working on things I'm interested in, and not giving a F*ck what anyone thinks of my decisions. And throughout all of that, the only mentors I've had were people I met through this forum that let me bounce ideas off of them. Sometimes I took their suggestions and ran with them. Other times, I completely ignored their advice and went my own way. I did not pay any of those people for that service.

The grand point of all of this is to let you know that I believe success in business is 100% tied to your choice to own yourself, your decisions, your wins and failures every single step of the way no matter what happens. It's okay to ask for advice. It's okay if people help you out along the way. But it is my opinion that each of you needs to be completely committed to your own success, even in the absence of every other person on the planet. Even if you reach the lowest pits of hell, lose all of your money, your family, your friends, and every connection you've ever had, you as an entrepreneur, must be prepared to claw your way back out using nothing but your own hands, feet and mind because sometimes that's all you've got.

Nobody is responsible for you, your business, your freedom, or your life. There is no "right" way to do things. There is no "step-by-step process" that will make you rich. There are no shortcuts.

There is only you, your decisions, your actions, the outcomes of those actions, the path you walk, the journey you go on, and the people you meet along the way. But nobody is responsible for your life (good or bad) but you.

Happy Friday and have a good weekend.
:)
 

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Lex DeVille

Lex DeVille

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Since some people reading this might be new to the mindset, I want to clarify what owning yourself means (for me) with examples of non-ownership vs. ownership mindset. It comes down to three things:
  1. Experiences you've had or are having
  2. The thoughts you think in response to those experiences
  3. The answers and actions you respond with

The Experience: A Shitty Job.

Non-Ownership Responses:
Why am I always stuck in a shit job? Why doesn't my boss see my worth? Don't I deserve a raise? Why do they pay me minimum wage? Why do they always increase my workload but not my pay? I'll never get out of here. Someday I'll retire rich. Someday someone will do something about this.

Ownership Responses: What stops me from leaving now? How much money do I need before I go? How can I replace my income? What resources will I need and how can I get them? What can I sell to help close the income gap? What can I do to start working toward freedom today? If I try X and succeed then I can retire next year. I'm going to do something about this right now.

The Experience: Starting a Business

Non-Ownership Responses:
Why start something when most people fail? I can't do that because there's too much competition. I don't know how to do that so I can't. I don't have experience so I can't. I'm not good at talking to people so I can't. I don't have any money so I can't. I need someone to show me step-by-step what to do. I already tried and failed. I'm no good at business. I can't come up with ideas. Nothing I try ever works.

Ownership Responses: How can I succeed where most people fail? What can I do differently from the competition? How else can I overcome the competition? I don't know how to do X so I'll learn. I don't have experience so I'll get some. I'm not good at talking to people, so I'll talk to three times as many people this week. I don't have any money so I'll sell something, crowdfund it, talk with investors, take out a loan, put it on credit, start a side-hustle, get a second job, teach a night course, freelance. I appreciate the experiences of others, but I'll figure this out even if nobody helps me at all. I tried and failed, here's why I think it happened and what I'll do differently going forward. I can't come up with good ideas while playing video games so I'll go for a walk. Nothing I try has worked so far, but there's a billion other things to try so I won't quit.

The Experience: A Business Coach

Non-Ownership Responses:
I did due diligence by reading the reviews right on the sales page. I paid $5,000 for this coach to transform my life completely but they didn't make me money or force me to do the steps. The coach said they would help me achieve success, but I didn't succeed. I hate coaches because they're mostly all scams who just want to take your money. Why don't coaches ever give me step-by-step instructions? Why don't coaches ever make me rich? I've paid $10,000 to coaches and I'm still stuck in a low-paying job with no business and no wealth.

Ownership Responses: I spent months exhausting every resource I had to solve a problem on my own. When I couldn't find a way, I decided to get help from someone more experienced. I found a coach, and I researched them through their website, YouTube, Facebook, reddit, LinkedIn, and forums. I combed through their sales page and other pages to make sure they offered help with the exact thing I needed help with. I sent questions to clarify anything that wasn't crystal clear. The coach appeared to be an expert in my specific situation, so I paid $5,000 for them to help me sort through my problem. They did/didn't give me the answer, but I'll take what I got and figure out how to apply it all the same.

Ownership = Personal Responsibility


Owning yourself happens when you decide that no matter what happens, you are responsible for the outcome. If something bad happens to you, then you are responsible for changing your situation. You are also responsible if you decide not to change your situation. If an opportunity becomes available to you, then you are responsible for acting on it. You are also responsible if you fail to act and miss out.

Whether you agree with the sentiment or not, you are responsible for your outcomes anyway. Nobody cares more about your life situation than you. Nobody is going to change things for you. Someday will never come. Someone will not save you.

Ownership is one of the biggest stuck points for people because it's hard to swallow your pride and accept that everything that has happened to you up to this point, and everything that will happen in your life going forward, is the result of your thoughts in response to your experiences and the actions you do or don't take after having those thoughts.

If I could give one piece of coaching advice to a new entrepreneur to transform their life completely, it would be the suggestion to make the decision this very instant that you will own yourself and your outcomes completely from this day forward. Because once you do that...when you really do it (not fake do it)...

...then you will force your reality to bend to your will and conform to the life you want.
 

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Oh wow, seeing what you've been through makes me so much more grateful. Likewise, I've fired and failed numerous times, but without ONE big win.

I've made up several excuses about this and that holding me back. But the truth is, I haven't been fully committed or failed, assessed, adjusted, and re-acted enough times.

Thanks for the raw authenticity, Lex! Your story really lights a fire under my a$$!
 

Timmy C

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Great write up.

I sometimes find myself in the non ownership response category.

Good kick up the bulb, I just need to get back to work.

I am getting to the stage where I don't fail everytime, and am occasionally making contact and building some passive income.

I need to move faster.

Act, asses, adjust.
 
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Lex DeVille

Lex DeVille

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I need to move faster.
I see it as a need to acknowledge where you are based on what you've done, and deciding if that place is good enough for you or not. That's what I love about ownership. You decide what is or isn't good enough for you and you can change things anytime you want.
 

Strategery

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Lex, I've been wanting to hear this story for a very long time. You're a fascinating dude, and it comes as no surprise to me that you've endured hardship... people who offer their help as much as you do, freely, through this forum and your fb group usually were never handed anything, they had to claw their way there, as you put it.

Now that you've had lots of experience managing multiple income streams, how do you go about prioritizing for new ventures? Only move on once you've mastered one? Or have you found a way to effectively tackle multiple new projects at once?
 
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Lex DeVille

Lex DeVille

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how do you go about prioritizing for new ventures? Only move on once you've mastered one? Or have you found a way to effectively tackle multiple new projects at once?
I keep multiple projects running, but I try to have one lead project. Other projects get worked on at a slower pace. For instance, last year I built Udemy into a full-time semi-passive income. I kept doing YT videos, freelancing, and selling other things, but it was okay to skip weeks at a time to make sure the priority project stayed on-track.

With transitioning to shed-building I'll slow down Udemy production so I can deep dive into this area. Other things will keep growing, just more slowly.

One thing I learned from having a kid was how much I took time for granted. When I was forced to fit everything into impossible time blocks, it opened my eyes to how much time I waste on bullshit that doesn't move the dial forward. Figure out what the most important 20% of things are that produce results then you can cut out the other stuff or hand it off to someone else.
 

MJ DeMarco

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Wow, I had no idea you were a lego artist. Thanks for sharing the story, I true tribute to what I love to call "the process." Marked Notable.
 

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Great post and really interesting background Lex. It's important for a person to have an internal locus of control. My sister, for instance, is constantly complaining about how unfair life is. She blames others and it's frustrating that she doesn't OWN her life and realize that every choice she made led her to where she is.

I think many people need to look inwards at where they are in life and question themselves on how they could improve, and not blame others for the situation that they are in.
 

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df1992

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I don't know how many of you know my origin story. I've been around the forum since early 2013, but I started my first business before I read MJ's book.

Before becoming an entrepreneur, I worked a 9-5 job making $10/hr in hospital collections. Probably the most miserable position on the planet. My office was a closet about 10 feet long and six feet wide with no windows that I shared with three other collectors. Outside of the room was a sea of cubicles. On the far wall was a row of windows. Sometimes I'd go past the cubicles and walk by those windows to the copy machine. I'd stop for a moment and look out at the people coming and going below. Oh, how I wished I was them, out there instead of trapped in here. Free.

After the May, 2011 EF-5 tornado wiped out 30% of the town, life changed for everyone - except for me. While Joplin slowly recovered, I was forced to make collection calls for hospital bills, even to people who had nothing left. No home. No vehicle. No job. No family. It was horrible, and at some point, I realized it was a tragic way to pass through life. Those thoughts ate at me for weeks. Soon I couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't live that way. I had to own my life.


I had one business idea. Making portraits of people's faces out of Lego. I had about a month's worth of savings and no idea how to sell. What I didn't have was a mentor, course, coach, guru or book to tell me what to do. In fact, one of the only self-help books I'd read at that point was "Think and Grow Rich." People still read that book, but today you'd think it was titled, "Let Someone Else Think for You and Grow Rich." I had no guidance. There were no rules. So I quit my job and put it all on black. Either the business succeeds or I go back to work.

Once I left I had a 30-day window to figure shit out or go broke and fail. So I thought about who had money that might buy my product. An old boss from a previous job had money. Plus he liked to show off things. So I went to his business to try to make a sale. Unfortunately, he was out for the day. Only his staff were there. So I asked them to get him on the phone...and they did. Once he was on the phone I explained what I had (LEGO) and that I could turn it into his logo so he could show it off as a centerpiece. He would be the only one in the town who had this. In fact, he'd be the only one in the world. My old boss paused for a moment. Felt like forever. Then he said "okay." He set a date for me to come over to his house and he'd write me a check and that's how I made my first sell ever.


After that I thought things would get easier. They didn't. I had no idea how to market my product or who else to sell to. On Google I found a novelty toy shop about an hour away. So I got in my car and drove across state lines without an appointment. Showed up at the toy shop in the middle of the day and awkwardly approached the owner with my gigantic laptop to pitch her a LEGO logo. It was an EPIC fail of a pitch. My laptop barely worked. Took like 15 minutes just to get it turned on. The shop owner humored me because there was nobody else in the store, but ultimately, I walked away without a sale, tale tucked between my legs.

When that didn't work, I tried something else. Not a coach or course. I needed to get products in front of people. I'd heard about a local festival, so I went to the Chamber of Commerce and bought a booth space. Then I bought a canopy, and when the day came, I set up shop. There was a lot of interest in my products. They were very unique for the area. They even caught the attention of the local newspaper who asked for an interview, which I provided. A few days later another local news station reached out. They wanted to interview me for television. I was scared shitless about that, but I agreed and let them come to my tiny duplex apartment to film.


The two interviews spread word of my products. A lady called me and asked if I could make a portrait of her son. I agreed, but I needed money to purchase materials. So I charged her half of the cost up front and half on delivery. She was an older lady and I didn't have any way to pay online. So I went to her house, sat with her in her living room, talked about her son, and let her write me a check for half the cost. Despite strong introverted tendencies, I officially had my second sale.


I wish this was the part where I became a huge success, but it wasn't. I booked more festival events after that, some as far as three hours away. But I didn't sell anything noteworthy, and when my time was up...it was up. I ran out of cash, and had to move out of my duplex. I moved in with my parents which only lasted a short time until I got kicked out for something silly of an argument. Now I was broke and homeless. So I took what little I had left and rented a storage unit and put all my shit in it for now. Then I moved in with my girlfriend's parents.

Living there was one of the worst experiences of my life, but I wasn't out yet. I had to get another job (this time it was $8/hr) and figure out how to get myself out of that hole. Nobody had a clue what I should do. So I tried to imagine myself as a great sith lord like Darth Bane or Darth Sidious and formed a grand master plan to get myself out of there and take back control of my life.


When Christmas came around, it was time to put the plan into action. I drove three hours to my aunt's house in Kansas City and stayed with her for the holiday. During that time I applied to jobs like a mad man and secured several interviews. Once I had an interview, I waited until my aunt was in good spirits during our holiday party and then asked if I could stay a little longer until I found a place of my own. At first she said no, and I thought all hope was lost. But she thought about it overnight, and then gave me that chance.

Next I secured a job as a night time security guard for the Kaufmann Center in downtown Kansas City. The pay was $11/hr. I used that job to get a tiny one-bedroom apartment and braved an hour of freeway commute to make it happen each day. Once my pay stabilized, I started to regain confidence. I'd been through a wild series of events, but I was still alive. And I still craved freedom. But to get that freedom I'd need to become someone better than I was before, and I desperately wanted a change of identity so I could start over. So I took a paycheck and legally changed my full name to something that felt more empowering to me.

View attachment 33620
Kauffman Center

Having done that, I started the next phase of my plan. I used my time at the first job to figure out how to get to the next level. Soon I landed a part-time job with a law firm that was closer to home. The position paid slightly more which sort of compensated for the hour loss. But being part-time I also had free time to figure out how to get my business going again. I tried to be smarter this time. Figured I might reach more people through Etsy. So I set up shop and what do ya know? I started making sales.

Once that got going, competition rose up, but they only wanted to sell their goods at high prices because LEGO portraits are expensive to make. Plus, my competitors would only list one to three items at a time. Unlike them, I had a catalogue of hundreds of portraits because I'd make them, photograph them, and then dismantle them so they could be turned into other portraits. I used all of those photographs to dominate the etsy listings for my product, and because I purchased used LEGO, I could undercut competitor prices by a significant margin. So I started doing pretty well with part-time sales.

From the time I started on Etsy to the time I joined the forum, I made about $10,000 in sales. That happened in a little less than a year, and it was my first real win. And now?

I started a shed business.

I don't sell LEGO anymore. I don't know the first thing about building sheds. But that's what I'm doing.

You might wonder why I told such a long story for it to end this way. The reason is because in between the decision to start that first business, and what I'm doing now, I built a nice part-time income with LEGO. I built two full-time incomes with freelance copywriting. I built a coaching business. A course business. A full-time income with ebooks, and several other semi-passive income streams. I also wasted tens of thousands of dollars on trial and error on business ideas I thought might work that didn't pan out. I wasted years hopping from one idea to another taking aim and firing again and again, and I did all of that without a coach.

But now, here we are. It's 2020, and I've not had a job in seven years. I do what I want when I want. I'm not a millionaire. I own my home. I spend all of my time working on things I'm interested in, and not giving a F*ck what anyone thinks of my decisions. And throughout all of that, the only mentors I've had were people I met through this forum that let me bounce ideas off of them. Sometimes I took their suggestions and ran with them. Other times, I completely ignored their advice and went my own way. I did not pay any of those people for that service.

The grand point of all of this is to let you know that I believe success in business is 100% tied to your choice to own yourself, your decisions, your wins and failures every single step of the way no matter what happens. It's okay to ask for advice. It's okay if people help you out along the way. But it is my opinion that each of you needs to be completely committed to your own success, even in the absence of every other person on the planet. Even if you reach the lowest pits of hell, lose all of your money, your family, your friends, and every connection you've ever had, you as an entrepreneur, must be prepared to claw your way back out using nothing but your own hands, feet and mind because sometimes that's all you've got.

Nobody is responsible for you, your business, your freedom, or your life. There is no "right" way to do things. There is no "step-by-step process" that will make you rich. There are no shortcuts.

There is only you, your decisions, your actions, the outcomes of those actions, the path you walk, the journey you go on, and the people you meet along the way. But nobody is responsible for your life (good or bad) but you.

Happy Friday and have a good weekend.
:)
Great weekend motivation! Congrats on your freedom!
 

Walter Hay

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@Lex DeVille I marvel at your story and greatly appreciate it.

It's a pity the Featured User part of the forum hasn't had a new entry for a long time, because I would vote for you to be there.

I read every post you make, and believe your contributions to the education and mindset of many members is of immense value.

May you continue to prosper.

Walter
 
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Lex DeVille

Lex DeVille

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Wow, I had no idea you were a lego artist. Thanks for sharing the story, I true tribute to what I love to call "the process." Marked Notable.
Yes, I sold quite a few portraits and started importing my own blocks to cut costs at one point. This probably could have been a bigger success if I hadn't let it go.

Lex Lacy.jpg Batman.jpg Client.jpg

Kids.jpg

I read every post you make, and believe your contributions to the education and mindset of many members is of immense value.
Thanks Walter. I appreciate that. I try to keep a balance of good posts to sh*t posts ratio haha. It's hard sometimes though.
 

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45
Norway
I don't know how many of you know my origin story. I've been around the forum since early 2013, but I started my first business before I read MJ's book.

Before becoming an entrepreneur, I worked a 9-5 job making $10/hr in hospital collections. Probably the most miserable position on the planet. My office was a closet about 10 feet long and six feet wide with no windows that I shared with three other collectors. Outside of the room was a sea of cubicles. On the far wall was a row of windows. Sometimes I'd go past the cubicles and walk by those windows to the copy machine. I'd stop for a moment and look out at the people coming and going below. Oh, how I wished I was them, out there instead of trapped in here. Free.

After the May, 2011 EF-5 tornado wiped out 30% of the town, life changed for everyone - except for me. While Joplin slowly recovered, I was forced to make collection calls for hospital bills, even to people who had nothing left. No home. No vehicle. No job. No family. It was horrible, and at some point, I realized it was a tragic way to pass through life. Those thoughts ate at me for weeks. Soon I couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't live that way. I had to own my life.


I had one business idea. Making portraits of people's faces out of Lego. I had about a month's worth of savings and no idea how to sell. What I didn't have was a mentor, course, coach, guru or book to tell me what to do. In fact, one of the only self-help books I'd read at that point was "Think and Grow Rich." People still read that book, but today you'd think it was titled, "Let Someone Else Think for You and Grow Rich." I had no guidance. There were no rules. So I quit my job and put it all on black. Either the business succeeds or I go back to work.

Once I left I had a 30-day window to figure shit out or go broke and fail. So I thought about who had money that might buy my product. An old boss from a previous job had money. Plus he liked to show off things. So I went to his business to try to make a sale. Unfortunately, he was out for the day. Only his staff were there. So I asked them to get him on the phone...and they did. Once he was on the phone I explained what I had (LEGO) and that I could turn it into his logo so he could show it off as a centerpiece. He would be the only one in the town who had this. In fact, he'd be the only one in the world. My old boss paused for a moment. Felt like forever. Then he said "okay." He set a date for me to come over to his house and he'd write me a check and that's how I made my first sell ever.


After that I thought things would get easier. They didn't. I had no idea how to market my product or who else to sell to. On Google I found a novelty toy shop about an hour away. So I got in my car and drove across state lines without an appointment. Showed up at the toy shop in the middle of the day and awkwardly approached the owner with my gigantic laptop to pitch her a LEGO logo. It was an EPIC fail of a pitch. My laptop barely worked. Took like 15 minutes just to get it turned on. The shop owner humored me because there was nobody else in the store, but ultimately, I walked away without a sale, tale tucked between my legs.

When that didn't work, I tried something else. Not a coach or course. I needed to get products in front of people. I'd heard about a local festival, so I went to the Chamber of Commerce and bought a booth space. Then I bought a canopy, and when the day came, I set up shop. There was a lot of interest in my products. They were very unique for the area. They even caught the attention of the local newspaper who asked for an interview, which I provided. A few days later another local news station reached out. They wanted to interview me for television. I was scared shitless about that, but I agreed and let them come to my tiny duplex apartment to film.


The two interviews spread word of my products. A lady called me and asked if I could make a portrait of her son. I agreed, but I needed money to purchase materials. So I charged her half of the cost up front and half on delivery. She was an older lady and I didn't have any way to pay online. So I went to her house, sat with her in her living room, talked about her son, and let her write me a check for half the cost. Despite strong introverted tendencies, I officially had my second sale.


I wish this was the part where I became a huge success, but it wasn't. I booked more festival events after that, some as far as three hours away. But I didn't sell anything noteworthy, and when my time was up...it was up. I ran out of cash, and had to move out of my duplex. I moved in with my parents which only lasted a short time until I got kicked out for something silly of an argument. Now I was broke and homeless. So I took what little I had left and rented a storage unit and put all my shit in it for now. Then I moved in with my girlfriend's parents.

Living there was one of the worst experiences of my life, but I wasn't out yet. I had to get another job (this time it was $8/hr) and figure out how to get myself out of that hole. Nobody had a clue what I should do. So I tried to imagine myself as a great sith lord like Darth Bane or Darth Sidious and formed a grand master plan to get myself out of there and take back control of my life.


When Christmas came around, it was time to put the plan into action. I drove three hours to my aunt's house in Kansas City and stayed with her for the holiday. During that time I applied to jobs like a mad man and secured several interviews. Once I had an interview, I waited until my aunt was in good spirits during our holiday party and then asked if I could stay a little longer until I found a place of my own. At first she said no, and I thought all hope was lost. But she thought about it overnight, and then gave me that chance.

Next I secured a job as a night time security guard for the Kaufmann Center in downtown Kansas City. The pay was $11/hr. I used that job to get a tiny one-bedroom apartment and braved an hour of freeway commute to make it happen each day. Once my pay stabilized, I started to regain confidence. I'd been through a wild series of events, but I was still alive. And I still craved freedom. But to get that freedom I'd need to become someone better than I was before, and I desperately wanted a change of identity so I could start over. So I took a paycheck and legally changed my full name to something that felt more empowering to me.

View attachment 33620
Kauffman Center

Having done that, I started the next phase of my plan. I used my time at the first job to figure out how to get to the next level. Soon I landed a part-time job with a law firm that was closer to home. The position paid slightly more which sort of compensated for the hour loss. But being part-time I also had free time to figure out how to get my business going again. I tried to be smarter this time. Figured I might reach more people through Etsy. So I set up shop and what do ya know? I started making sales.

Once that got going, competition rose up, but they only wanted to sell their goods at high prices because LEGO portraits are expensive to make. Plus, my competitors would only list one to three items at a time. Unlike them, I had a catalogue of hundreds of portraits because I'd make them, photograph them, and then dismantle them so they could be turned into other portraits. I used all of those photographs to dominate the etsy listings for my product, and because I purchased used LEGO, I could undercut competitor prices by a significant margin. So I started doing pretty well with part-time sales.

From the time I started on Etsy to the time I joined the forum, I made about $10,000 in sales. That happened in a little less than a year, and it was my first real win. And now?

I started a shed business.

I don't sell LEGO anymore. I don't know the first thing about building sheds. But that's what I'm doing.

You might wonder why I told such a long story for it to end this way. The reason is because in between the decision to start that first business, and what I'm doing now, I built a nice part-time income with LEGO. I built two full-time incomes with freelance copywriting. I built a coaching business. A course business. A full-time income with ebooks, and several other semi-passive income streams. I also wasted tens of thousands of dollars on trial and error on business ideas I thought might work that didn't pan out. I wasted years hopping from one idea to another taking aim and firing again and again, and I did all of that without a coach.

But now, here we are. It's 2020, and I've not had a job in seven years. I do what I want when I want. I'm not a millionaire. I own my home. I spend all of my time working on things I'm interested in, and not giving a F*ck what anyone thinks of my decisions. And throughout all of that, the only mentors I've had were people I met through this forum that let me bounce ideas off of them. Sometimes I took their suggestions and ran with them. Other times, I completely ignored their advice and went my own way. I did not pay any of those people for that service.

The grand point of all of this is to let you know that I believe success in business is 100% tied to your choice to own yourself, your decisions, your wins and failures every single step of the way no matter what happens. It's okay to ask for advice. It's okay if people help you out along the way. But it is my opinion that each of you needs to be completely committed to your own success, even in the absence of every other person on the planet. Even if you reach the lowest pits of hell, lose all of your money, your family, your friends, and every connection you've ever had, you as an entrepreneur, must be prepared to claw your way back out using nothing but your own hands, feet and mind because sometimes that's all you've got.

Nobody is responsible for you, your business, your freedom, or your life. There is no "right" way to do things. There is no "step-by-step process" that will make you rich. There are no shortcuts.

There is only you, your decisions, your actions, the outcomes of those actions, the path you walk, the journey you go on, and the people you meet along the way. But nobody is responsible for your life (good or bad) but you.

Happy Friday and have a good weekend.
:)
This is extremely inspiring and motivating! Thank you!
 

epham

New Contributor
Jan 4, 2016
5
11
16
Brilliant read. Ownership and responsibility are such powerful words to beholden. And if I ever struggle to embrace these mentalities, or if they become too theoretical and abstract for me, then I think of the opposite: victimhood. Recognizing when I have a victim mentality can be just as powerful, if not more powerful, than recognizing ownership because it's so painful and triggering.
 

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Beebop27

New Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Jun 22, 2020
11
10
17
Sydney, Australia
I don't know how many of you know my origin story. I've been around the forum since early 2013, but I started my first business before I read MJ's book.

Before becoming an entrepreneur, I worked a 9-5 job making $10/hr in hospital collections. Probably the most miserable position on the planet. My office was a closet about 10 feet long and six feet wide with no windows that I shared with three other collectors. Outside of the room was a sea of cubicles. On the far wall was a row of windows. Sometimes I'd go past the cubicles and walk by those windows to the copy machine. I'd stop for a moment and look out at the people coming and going below. Oh, how I wished I was them, out there instead of trapped in here. Free.

After the May, 2011 EF-5 tornado wiped out 30% of the town, life changed for everyone - except for me. While Joplin slowly recovered, I was forced to make collection calls for hospital bills, even to people who had nothing left. No home. No vehicle. No job. No family. It was horrible, and at some point, I realized it was a tragic way to pass through life. Those thoughts ate at me for weeks. Soon I couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't live that way. I had to own my life.


I had one business idea. Making portraits of people's faces out of Lego. I had about a month's worth of savings and no idea how to sell. What I didn't have was a mentor, course, coach, guru or book to tell me what to do. In fact, one of the only self-help books I'd read at that point was "Think and Grow Rich." People still read that book, but today you'd think it was titled, "Let Someone Else Think for You and Grow Rich." I had no guidance. There were no rules. So I quit my job and put it all on black. Either the business succeeds or I go back to work.

Once I left I had a 30-day window to figure shit out or go broke and fail. So I thought about who had money that might buy my product. An old boss from a previous job had money. Plus he liked to show off things. So I went to his business to try to make a sale. Unfortunately, he was out for the day. Only his staff were there. So I asked them to get him on the phone...and they did. Once he was on the phone I explained what I had (LEGO) and that I could turn it into his logo so he could show it off as a centerpiece. He would be the only one in the town who had this. In fact, he'd be the only one in the world. My old boss paused for a moment. Felt like forever. Then he said "okay." He set a date for me to come over to his house and he'd write me a check and that's how I made my first sell ever.


After that I thought things would get easier. They didn't. I had no idea how to market my product or who else to sell to. On Google I found a novelty toy shop about an hour away. So I got in my car and drove across state lines without an appointment. Showed up at the toy shop in the middle of the day and awkwardly approached the owner with my gigantic laptop to pitch her a LEGO logo. It was an EPIC fail of a pitch. My laptop barely worked. Took like 15 minutes just to get it turned on. The shop owner humored me because there was nobody else in the store, but ultimately, I walked away without a sale, tale tucked between my legs.

When that didn't work, I tried something else. Not a coach or course. I needed to get products in front of people. I'd heard about a local festival, so I went to the Chamber of Commerce and bought a booth space. Then I bought a canopy, and when the day came, I set up shop. There was a lot of interest in my products. They were very unique for the area. They even caught the attention of the local newspaper who asked for an interview, which I provided. A few days later another local news station reached out. They wanted to interview me for television. I was scared shitless about that, but I agreed and let them come to my tiny duplex apartment to film.


The two interviews spread word of my products. A lady called me and asked if I could make a portrait of her son. I agreed, but I needed money to purchase materials. So I charged her half of the cost up front and half on delivery. She was an older lady and I didn't have any way to pay online. So I went to her house, sat with her in her living room, talked about her son, and let her write me a check for half the cost. Despite strong introverted tendencies, I officially had my second sale.


I wish this was the part where I became a huge success, but it wasn't. I booked more festival events after that, some as far as three hours away. But I didn't sell anything noteworthy, and when my time was up...it was up. I ran out of cash, and had to move out of my duplex. I moved in with my parents which only lasted a short time until I got kicked out for something silly of an argument. Now I was broke and homeless. So I took what little I had left and rented a storage unit and put all my shit in it for now. Then I moved in with my girlfriend's parents.

Living there was one of the worst experiences of my life, but I wasn't out yet. I had to get another job (this time it was $8/hr) and figure out how to get myself out of that hole. Nobody had a clue what I should do. So I tried to imagine myself as a great sith lord like Darth Bane or Darth Sidious and formed a grand master plan to get myself out of there and take back control of my life.


When Christmas came around, it was time to put the plan into action. I drove three hours to my aunt's house in Kansas City and stayed with her for the holiday. During that time I applied to jobs like a mad man and secured several interviews. Once I had an interview, I waited until my aunt was in good spirits during our holiday party and then asked if I could stay a little longer until I found a place of my own. At first she said no, and I thought all hope was lost. But she thought about it overnight, and then gave me that chance.

Next I secured a job as a night time security guard for the Kaufmann Center in downtown Kansas City. The pay was $11/hr. I used that job to get a tiny one-bedroom apartment and braved an hour of freeway commute to make it happen each day. Once my pay stabilized, I started to regain confidence. I'd been through a wild series of events, but I was still alive. And I still craved freedom. But to get that freedom I'd need to become someone better than I was before, and I desperately wanted a change of identity so I could start over. So I took a paycheck and legally changed my full name to something that felt more empowering to me.

View attachment 33620
Kauffman Center

Having done that, I started the next phase of my plan. I used my time at the first job to figure out how to get to the next level. Soon I landed a part-time job with a law firm that was closer to home. The position paid slightly more which sort of compensated for the hour loss. But being part-time I also had free time to figure out how to get my business going again. I tried to be smarter this time. Figured I might reach more people through Etsy. So I set up shop and what do ya know? I started making sales.

Once that got going, competition rose up, but they only wanted to sell their goods at high prices because LEGO portraits are expensive to make. Plus, my competitors would only list one to three items at a time. Unlike them, I had a catalogue of hundreds of portraits because I'd make them, photograph them, and then dismantle them so they could be turned into other portraits. I used all of those photographs to dominate the etsy listings for my product, and because I purchased used LEGO, I could undercut competitor prices by a significant margin. So I started doing pretty well with part-time sales.

From the time I started on Etsy to the time I joined the forum, I made about $10,000 in sales. That happened in a little less than a year, and it was my first real win. And now?

I started a shed business.

I don't sell LEGO anymore. I don't know the first thing about building sheds. But that's what I'm doing.

You might wonder why I told such a long story for it to end this way. The reason is because in between the decision to start that first business, and what I'm doing now, I built a nice part-time income with LEGO. I built two full-time incomes with freelance copywriting. I built a coaching business. A course business. A full-time income with ebooks, and several other semi-passive income streams. I also wasted tens of thousands of dollars on trial and error on business ideas I thought might work that didn't pan out. I wasted years hopping from one idea to another taking aim and firing again and again, and I did all of that without a coach.

But now, here we are. It's 2020, and I've not had a job in seven years. I do what I want when I want. I'm not a millionaire. I own my home. I spend all of my time working on things I'm interested in, and not giving a F*ck what anyone thinks of my decisions. And throughout all of that, the only mentors I've had were people I met through this forum that let me bounce ideas off of them. Sometimes I took their suggestions and ran with them. Other times, I completely ignored their advice and went my own way. I did not pay any of those people for that service.

The grand point of all of this is to let you know that I believe success in business is 100% tied to your choice to own yourself, your decisions, your wins and failures every single step of the way no matter what happens. It's okay to ask for advice. It's okay if people help you out along the way. But it is my opinion that each of you needs to be completely committed to your own success, even in the absence of every other person on the planet. Even if you reach the lowest pits of hell, lose all of your money, your family, your friends, and every connection you've ever had, you as an entrepreneur, must be prepared to claw your way back out using nothing but your own hands, feet and mind because sometimes that's all you've got.

Nobody is responsible for you, your business, your freedom, or your life. There is no "right" way to do things. There is no "step-by-step process" that will make you rich. There are no shortcuts.

There is only you, your decisions, your actions, the outcomes of those actions, the path you walk, the journey you go on, and the people you meet along the way. But nobody is responsible for your life (good or bad) but you.

Happy Friday and have a good weekend.
:)
Dude, this is a really inspirational story. Thanks for sharing! I just discovered this community, and wish I found it in 2013 like you. But like the old chinese saying goes ."best time of year to plant a tree was 20 years ago, second best time is now".

Wish you much continues success!
 

livetrue

New Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Oct 27, 2019
7
9
14
Canada
That's a very good story. Inspiring as well, you must have had some tough skin to get through some of the tough times.

Thanks for sharing!
 

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