How I went from Sleeping in the back of a van the night my father died from cancer, to running my own business and adding value to the world through writing
I’m not making this post to try and play the victim card. I just want everyone to be inspired and believe in themselves. Even through the rough patches along the way to financial freedom. Here’s my story of how I went from the worst moments in my life, to making a living doing something that I’m great at. I’ve got to warn you, it gets a little dark. This isn’t going to be a perfect Christmas story, but I think it’s an appropriate time to relate with others.
I want to tell you the circumstances that drove me to start my own business, and drop the wage slave lifestyle. It might sound silly, it might sound crazy, but it’s the honest truth as much as I can recall what played out. If you don’t like it, then I don’t know what else to tell you buddy.
I want you to know that if you’re going through something like I did, then you are not alone. I used to think I was all by myself, but I know now that there are many like-minded people just like me who really understand what it’s like to think big and dream big.
2016 was the worst year I’ve ever had in my life. At the beginning of the year I got laid off, and then my car broke down. And, those were the happiest days I had that year.
I spent my savings on a new car, and I used the rest of my savings to pay the bills. I went searching for work, and in the process, some guy ran a red light and hit me head-on.
Yes, my car broke down, my job was gone, then my new ride got destroyed, all within two weeks time. Hold on to your horses, cause those aren’t the worst parts. I managed to snag a modest position locally for a job I was overqualified to do.
I pulled the frame of my car straight with a friend’s pickup truck. I slapped some temporary off road lights on the hood to make it to my new night-job. I got stopped by the police frequently, but they showed me a lot of sympathy, because they could see that I’d recently been in a bad wreck, and that I was driving the wrecked car.
I worked really hard to be the best at my new job, and I spent my first couple of paychecks on an old beat up Ram van to get to work. I moved in with family to save on living expenses while I searched for a better job. My savings ran out within a few months, and a few cars.
Here’s the worst part: Right when I was turning things around, my father was diagnosed with cancer. I was taking my first day off to relax in months. A buddy from work invited me to go to the lake, and that’s where I was when I got the news. I tried to put everything on the back-burner, and I spent time with him at the hospital, then the nursing home, then by his bed side. He passed away within two months. The last conversation we had went like this:
“Don’t blame yourself. Don’t have any regrets over this. I want you to be the best you can be, no matter what anyone else thinks, and no matter what you think. Don’t hold yourself down, be the best you can be.”
I didn’t understand what he meant by “Don’t blame yourself” but, I definitely know why he said that now. For months I was totally devastated. Horrible family members rushed in to steal everything, and they wanted me gone. I was out the door the next morning, with nothing but a van, and less than two grand in my pocket. I kept to myself, became completely focused on my work, and I was ready for a big promotion. I’d gotten my own place again, and everything was awesome. Those words my Papa told me kept playing over and over again in my head.
In 2017, my successful new career was finished and over with. I don’t know why the guy had to tell me his grand scheme against everyone, but I hope you can understand my position. Here’s the short story without giving out any personal details. We needed a new supervisor because one of them was let go due to almost killing someone on the job out of negligence.
The old supervisor literally came within an inch of chopping a guy’s head off in front of everyone. I was asked if I wanted to fill the position, but a coworker of mine had just had a baby. I knew he could use the money to raise that kid, and I was single.
I had all the money I could want already, and it wasn’t really a pay increase for me anyways. I got him the job, he was excited, and took me out for an authentic dinner from his home country. We got back in his new Mustang that he bought with the pay raise, and he told me this:
“Terry, I can’t stand black people. They’re lazy and they don’t want to work. I’m going to fire them all and replace them with white and Hispanic workers.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. It blew my mind. I’m sure my jaw almost detached from my face. He wanted to fire the two best workers in the entire company and threw their names out during this horrible rant. I reported it immediately to the owners and demanded his resignation, and he made my life a living hell.
Just to clarify, he had never said or acted like this at all, and he was not Caucasian. He wasn’t fired, but a few weeks later, I lost my position I had worked so hard to achieve. He pulled strings, filed false complaints, and pegged me as a liar.
When I was called into the meeting and told I was fired, I said to them that I was never afraid to put my reputation and my job on the line for my friends, coworkers, and my fellowman. I’ve never regretted that.
Late 2017: I was back to square one. I lost everything for a second time, and I was completely fed up with the whole world at this point. I didn’t forget what my Papa told me on the last day he spent on this earth.
I stopped to think, and I really took a deep look at my life. I asked some important questions, and those questions set me out on a very interesting path.
What do Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have that I don’t?
If the wealthiest people in the world lost all of their money today, how long would it be until they earned it back again?
Do successful people have more hours in a day than I do?
Is there anything someone could say, that I couldn’t say?
What is the most important part of being successful in life?
I came to the conclusion that everything comes down to what you know, who knows you, and how you present yourself. The big revelation to me was that I had the same amount of time in a day, I could say the same words, I could make the right connections, and I could learn all of the knowledge I needed.
But what was it that separated me from people who were successful?
I narrowed it down to one simple concept:
Saying the right words, to the right people, at the right time.
If I could find out how to say the perfect words to build a strong connection, then I’d be miles ahead of everyone else.
Perfect words do exist in every situation, and I was out to find them.
Naturally, I applied for the biggest jobs in my area. Positions that no one would hire me for, and I wrote a speech. Yes that’s right, I wrote a speech, and studied common interview questions to build my speech into the interview process.
I figured that if I could stand out immediately and appeal to businesses on an emotional level, then my credentials wouldn’t matter.
I was right. I went to my first job interview.
We got to the third question: Why should we hire you?
I gave my little speech.
“After all my years in sales, there’s one golden rule that I’ve learned. Everyone is selling something. Whether its a product, a service, or hope for tomorrow. Everyone is selling something. And I’m going to sell myself to you today.
My father and his father before him worked their fingers to the bone every day of their lives. They lived paycheck to paycheck, and they never knew if we were going to make it to next week, but they kept moving on towards a better future. They taught me to believe in myself, and treat others right, no matter what struggles you face. We’re all moving down that same road in life with problems along the way, and I want something I can really sink my teeth into. Most people don’t know what’s waiting at the end of that road. I do. Now, I’m not claiming to be a psychic or to be able to tell the future, but I know exactly what’s waiting there for me:
[I paused as the extremely rich guy across from me opened his eyes wide]
“Alright, tell me what’s there.”
Success. That’s what’s waiting for me. I see it clear as day, and I know where I’m going. I’d like you to consider me for this position, but I can’t make you hire me. There’s only one thing in this room that I have complete control over.
“What do you control in this room?”
That door behind me.
There won’t be another person who walks through that door more determined and hungry than me.
-He stood up, shook my hand, and hired me on the spot. They’d already chosen their candidate out of the room full of people who applied. I was the least qualified person in the entire building, but I got the job. I made them hire two people that day instead of one. I invested all of my money in education and special licensing for the position I’d gotten.
I excelled in the office, made everyone jealous, and pissed off a multimillionaire regional manager in a couple of months (not on purpose, of course). It was incredible, but I had the same problems there that I had with every job. It was full of terrible, unreasonable, naysaying, negative people.
I started working remotely for my job because I was firmly against some of the practices of my coworkers, and it was allowed in my contract. I got stabbed in the back by a coworker while I was working in seclusion. The cards were stacked against me by that same, precious idiot. You’ll know you’re doing something right when the “crabs in the bucket” start pulling on you. My new car broke down. My resignation paperwork was turned in without my knowledge or consent, after the fact. At least 3 people conspired to get me out. Probably because I wasn’t Ivy league, and I wasn’t born to an upper-middle class family. People were stealing my ideas, and even quoting my work as if it were their own. It was surreal. I was just a simple street-smart guy.
I had no idea that this actually happened outside of the movies. There was no difference in the type of people I found in the corporate world, and the type of people I grew up with in the worst part of town. Even Sun Tzu and Robert Greene couldn’t have prepared me for those two-faced sociopaths. Let me know if you can relate. I lost it all again.
I was as nice as I could be to everyone around me. I didn’t let people walk on me, and I stuck to the moral route no matter how tough my road became. I was thrown under the bus for defending my friends against a racist nutcase. I was blackballed by the office for outshining their masters, and avoiding the endless drama (and gossip) coming out the office.
Copy writing had become my passion since my Papa passed away. Trading goods was his hobby. We ran a greenhouse when I was growing up, and we traded at all the flea markets in town while I was growing up. He taught me to talk to people from a young age, and It was always a big part of my life.
I was inspired by great people like Frank Kern and John Reese. Guys who went through the same hardships that I faced. I’ve probably watched the John Reese interview with tony Robbins over a hundred or two hundred times by now. I had it saved on my laptop, and I watched it almost every single day. That guy went through some really tough days, and he made it out on top. If he could make it, then I could make it. I focused on coming up with those perfect words that would lead me further and further to success.
I wrote the best sales script in town. I honed my skills to be the best sales agent in my league. I saw possibilities to do great things, and I knew it. I just needed the right words.
Early 2017- My childhood friend was stationed in Hawaii working for the Navy as a radio engineer. He spent a grand on a really crappy online course to learn how to make some kind of drop shipping site, or retail arbitrage business. He hated it, and told me to see if I could get anything out of it. I logged in, and learned how to make an awesome WordPress website from scratch. I wrote articles for my little website, and people loved it. Another friend joined in, and we made a few posts here and there. Just for kicks.
I think we made $10 on that little blog through Amazon affiliates. It was nothing, but It showed me what was possible. I shared my knowledge on sales, and communicating with others. It inspired a handful of people to reach out, and thank me for the great advice. I loved writing speeches and sales scripts in my spare time. I read every copy writing book I could get my hands on out of pure curiosity.
Then it hit me. I could write for other people, and I could help them find their perfect words.
I started freelance writing for every business I came across. I got on reddit, and social media, and I made connections. My living wasn’t dependent on some paycheck that could be taken away without a moment’s notice. I didn’t have to worry about sociopaths nutcases trying to steal my destiny from me. Idea-stealing coworkers weren’t peaking around my desk or rummaging through my bookshelf. I could be just like John Reese. He was 117k in debt, and basically sold a winning lottery ticket for a thousand bucks. He had bought a domain name in the 90’s and transferred it for one grand. That guy sold the domain the same day for a million bucks. It’s completely destroyed him, and he spent three days locked in his room in the dark. He’d lost it all, just like me. I remember spending a few nights in the back of that old beat up van, with hobos knocking on my doors in a Walmart parking lot.
The person I loved most in the whole world just got wheeled off in a hearse right in front of me. My relative stole everything from the family home and convinced the landlord that I was no good. I wouldn’t let them have my parents’ ashes, and it was all done out of spite. All I could do was look up at the dark ceiling in the back of that horrible van, listening to the homeless people scratching around at my doors.
But I knew I’d get out of that dark room, just like john Reese got out of his. I could start my own business, cut out my own path against all odds, and work with people that are worth working with.
That’s where I am today. You could say I’m a writer, but it’s so much more to me than that. I get to help like-minded entrepreneurs reach the right people through their words. I spend my time looking for interesting clients to create value for. I focus on ad copy, blogs/articles, landing pages/websites, and product descriptions.
To this day, every corner I turn around there’s someone negative. Every time I make a post like this, there’s those few hateful people who want to keep us all down. it’s the same in the office, the factory, the warehouse, the plant, and even at the bus stop.
I think Richard Montanez (Multimillionaire CEO and creator of Flaming Hot Cheetos) explained it best:
-No matter what room you are in, there’s always somebody there that will try to steal your destiny.
I’m not a victim. I don’t feel ashamed that I was from a poor family. I don’t regret standing up for what’s right, and I’m not going to let anyone steal my destiny. No matter how tough things get, or how great things become. These few experiences helped shape me into the person I am today. I hope this can inspire you the same way John Reese inspired me. Get up out of that dark room. You might not make a million dollar deal, but you can make a thousand dollar deal. You can make a hundred dollar deal. It might take a little longer to get there, but if you dream big, and think big, then your bound to make a difference in the world.
I want to leave you on this one single thought that my Papa left me with:
What separates you from being the best that you can be?
Find an answer to that, and you’ll accomplish great things. I believe in you!
P.S. If you feel inclined to do something positive, then go tell Frank Kern that him and his friend John inspired me to make it through the hardest points of my life. That’d be worth more than any other Christmas present in the whole world to me. God Bless!
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