Today is an important day.
5 years ago was my last day in corporate America…
…and 5 years later, I run a seven figure education and software business that I self-funded.
And today I’ll show you how I did it.
You’ll see how I went from a punk college kid, to a successful entrepreneur, to a corporate drone, to a respected consultant, to the man I am today.
I’ll share 7 things I learned along the way. And if, nothing else, I hope it inspires you to pursue your dreams.
So, here’s to you, and here’s my story.
Why I Started My First Business
Back in 2005, when I was in college, I stumbled on a website about a guy who wrote about the dumb things he did in college. His name was Tucker Max. And he was funny.
Then, one day, I accidentally clicked “advertise here” on his site, and I noticed something: he was getting $500 a week for one ad. AND HE HAD 5 ADS THERE!
I screamed, “I CAN DO THAT!”
So I figured out how to start my first website. And I wrote about the dumb things I did in college. My first article was about “MySpace Angles,” and how people need to be careful with online dating because camera angles can drastically change how people look.
I know. Childish.
And to make matters worse… it was a complete failure. I wasn’t that funny. And the things I did weren’t really that dumb.
So I went back to the source.
How I Became A Celebrity Gossip Blogger
I fired up Tucker Max’s site to figure out what he was doing that I wasn’t doing…
…And that’s when I clicked on a link to a celebrity gossip blog.
At this point, I was an expert. I went straight to the advertising page, and noticed that he was getting like $1,000 a week for ads. AND HE HAD 5 ADS TOO.
I screamed, “I CAN DO THAT!”
And sure enough, I did. I launched a celebrity gossip blog and made money through paid advertising.
When I graduated college in 2006, I was making enough off my celebrity gossip blog that I didn’t need to work for anyone else.
Then, in 2007, I was doing so well that I bought my first place in Long Island, New York. I was 22.
Not bad considering my dad was in jail most of my life. And my mom was on welfare. And I grew up in a house filled with drug addicts, thieves, and other abusive family members. I actually remember one time, an aunt spit in my face when I didn’t “obey” her. I was 13. You can learn about my story here.
It was tough, but I made it. I had the dream. I had a good thing going, and I was only 22.
I analyzed why my celebrity gossip blog was succeeding while my other blog failed miserably. And I learned two important lessons:
The first lesson was the importance of “Promotion over Creation.” And I go over that in FULL detail in this new video I JUST posted.
Yes, you need great content. But you also need to promote that content – and that’s more important than anything else.
The second lesson was the importance of standing out.
At the time, there was no shortage of gossip blogs. However, I noticed every blogger had a brand – DListed was mean, Perez Hilton drew white marks on his photos, The Superficial wrote snarky comments.
This time around, I knew that if my blog and business were going to work, I needed to refine what made me different from those other blogs.
I applied both of those lessons to my celebrity gossip blog, and that’s why I was successful.
But I had pressure. Pressure from my family, and pressure from myself.
Family members would berate me with remarks like, “When are you getting a real job?”
Never-mind the fact that I pulled in more than $20,000 in a single month from my web business. They wanted something they could tell their friends about. I was supposed to go to law school – and I skipped it to make fun of celebrities on the web.
And I’d berate myself, too.
“You’re making a living making fun of celebrities…” I was so embarrassed that I never even put my name on my work.
I’d get invited to private parties in Hollywood Hills (they wanted me to promote it on my blog). I met Kim Kardashian before she was famous. But no one knew my real name. And I wanted it to stay that way.
Over time, it all began to wear on me. I was making a living, but I wasn’t doing it in a way that made me feel alive…
…And that’s when I read a book about Jack Welch.
Why I Outsourced My Web Business – And Joined Corporate America
Jack Welch was the CEO of General Electric, and was one of the world’s most lauded CEOs. I liked his story because he got in on the ground floor and worked his way up fast.
I told my then girlfriend, “I CAN DO THAT TOO!”
My other entrepreneur friends thought I was nuts. I already had meetings with a publicly traded company who wanted to buy my company, and there I was, about to take an entry level job in corporate America.
But I thought I could do both things. I had recently read Tim Ferriss’s book, “4 Hour Work Week,” and I said, “I’m just going to outsource my blog, and do this corporate thing. I’ll be able to work my way up fast.”
And so I did. I joined the international division of a life insurance company. I wasn’t selling life insurance. I was in the home office developing compensation plans for people who sold life insurance.
This time around, I knew the importance of “Promotion Over Creation,” and I also knew the importance of “Standing Out.” And I applied that expertise to my job in corporate America.
At the time, we were running a lot of Excel reports by hand. So, I decided to figure out how to automate the reports. I knew nothing about Excel, so I bought some books and practiced at home. Eventually, I was able to run reports in about 30 seconds… when it previously took days. Then, I went around telling everyone, “you can call me the automation guy.”
And before you know it…
That’s who I was. The automation guy. And I made sure everyone knew it. And sure enough, not even 6 months into the gig, I got notice that I was getting promoted.
I was ecstatic. In their employee handbook, they clearly state that all new employees must work in the company for 2 years before they were eligible for their first promotion… and yet, I got promoted in less than 6 months. I was climbing the ladder fast, and it felt great.
Then Things Started To Fall Apart…
After that first promotion, things went well for almost a full year. I got an outstanding achievement award (this was a large monetary bonus for doing great work), had the opportunity to conduct presentations in front of C-Level executives, and was doing interesting work for a Fortune 100 company.
But then we got a new leader. And I disagreed with how they ran our team. They hired a new manager to handle Sales Reporting. But it didn’t make sense. Why? Because I was already running all the sales reports – and had the bandwidth to do more.
And that’s when I learned another important lesson about life.
Sometimes it’s not about the work you’re doing or the work you can be doing. Sometimes there’s an outside force that matters more than that work.
In this case, that outside force was the corporate bureaucracy. The leader wanted to build the team with higher level employees because that’s what leaders do, lead high level employees. This is typical in corporate america. It’s not always about the work you do. It’s about how it looks to the people in charge and leading high level employees that lead other employees looks great.
But the big problem was this: my work no longer felt right. My bosses were happy with my work, but I personally didn’t see the point doing it. I didn’t see how my work actually helped the company make more money…
…because it didn’t. In my eyes, it was nonsensical paper pushing for the sake of paper pushing.
But the straw that, as they say, broke the camel’s back was this: I got a performance review, and they gave me a mediocre rating. I asked why, and their response was: “Well, you just got promoted and an award. We need to ‘spread the money around.'”
It wasn’t about the work. And while i was unhappy about it, I knew it wasn’t their fault. This is how corporate america works. It’s not just about your work. It’s about the bureaucracy.
And for the first time in my adult life, I felt like I had no control…
…And I Lost Control Over My Life
My personal and business lives were falling apart. I hated myself, and I hated everyone around me.
I started going out and drinking with friends way too much. I also ate like a complete disaster – and I got real fat.
I knew it was time for a change, but change is hard.
At this point, the celebrity business I outsourced was still making money. And it was making enough money, but for some reason, I couldn’t pull the trigger on quitting without knowing what I was going to do next.
You see, people like to say, “Quit your job and figure it out later.” But I was never a fan of that. Despite taking calculated risks, I don’t believe people should ever jump off a cliff without a parachute and figure out how to build that parachute on the way down.
I remember telling a friend about my problems, and he said, “Why don’t you come consult for my company?” He knew I knew how to build large audiences, and he wanted me to build him a large audience.
I remember thinking, “I CAN DO THAT!”
My only concern was this: Would everything I learned from the entertainment and gossip space apply to a company who was looking to build an audience to sell more products?
I was ready to take the plunge. I gave my notice. And 5 years ago today, June 11th, 2010, was my last day in corporate America.
It was a good thing too. I was depressed, drinking way too much, and was looking for any way to escape reality. This was just what I needed.
My Life As A Six Figure Consultant
I had a skill. I knew how to build large audiences, and I knew how to do it fast. And I got hired by a software company to help them do just that.
They hired me to build their blog, and build their blog I did. Everything I learned from building my entertainment and gossip sites applied DIRECTLY to building an audience of raving prospects and customers.
(As a side note: if you’re interested in growing your business online, I share the MAIN strategy I used to grow that software company inside this FREE 17 MINUTE VIDEO).
But, I still wasn’t satisfied. While I liked working as a consultant, I didn’t like working on something that I didn’t own. I didn’t quit my job to take another job. I quit my job because I wanted to be an entrepreneur.
And that was another lesson learned. When you want to be an entrepreneur, you need to go be an entrepreneur.
So, for the majority of the day, I worked my new “day job” as a remote worker. And during the evenings I plotted out new business ideas.
My First New Business Failed Before I Even Launched It
My first idea was a website for Conferences and Speakers. I wanted to build the IMDB for Conferences and Speakers, and I worked on that for 3 full months…
…until I realized the HUGE problem:
There were already sites like that, and they were failing miserably. None of them were making any money. I knew it was time to change course and come up with a new idea.
You see, people often think that competition is a bad thing. But when you have almost no competition, and the competition you do have is failing, it’s because you have a bad business idea that nobody actually cares about it.
And that’s why competition – and competition that is succeeding – is a good thing. It’s proof that people want what you’re building.
So I needed a new idea…
It All Started With A Speaking Engagement
At this point, I was still a consultant. And I was doing really well as a consultant for a software company…
…so I applied to speak at an industry conference where I planned to share everything I knew about conversion optimization.
I got the gig, and I realized two things:
I was HORRIBLE at communicating what I knew to other people.
People see me on video today and think, “You’re a natural!” But that’s not how it started. In fact, I was so nervous and so bad at speaking, that you could actually see red splotches on my neck.
Even though I was bad at speaking, I realized that I LOVED TEACHING WHAT I KNEW.
I was bad at it. But I loved it. So I needed to get better at it so I could do what I loved.
And that’s when the idea for Social Triggers was born.
I finally had a new life mission. I wanted to share what I knew with the world. So, I knew I had to learn how to get good at teaching, and then go teach it.
And I did just that.
In March 2011, I officially launched Social Triggers. I planned on sharing everything I knew about building an audience.
It was just a rinky-dink little blog back then…
…and yet, here we are today.
Social Triggers is now a thriving online education and software company.
You’re here reading this, so I know you know the Social Triggers story. And I’ll share more about that in coming months…
…but I wanted to share the back story. And the lessons I learned a long the way.
Now if you’re curious how YOU can build an audience, I suggest you click the red button and watch this FREE video.
In this video, I walk you through 3 things you MUST know to succeed TODAY. Plus, I share a simple two-step formula that helped me build the business that I run today.
Now, to recap, here you go:
Lesson #1: Promote Your Work
I mentioned this briefly, but as Rockefeller said, “Next to doing the right thing, the most important thing is letting people know you do the right thing.”
And this couldn’t be more true.
You need to be good at what you do. And people other than yourself (and your mom) need to know about it.
Promote your work.
Lesson #2: Stand Out From The Crowd
I’ve had a lot of life experience, and the one thing I’ve realized is this: the more you stand out, the better off you’ll be.
That means, it’s okay to become polarizing. It’s also okay to do something different than the norm. And if you want to wear red rhinestone shoes…
…like me. Wear red rhinestone shoes.
(Note: I’ve worn these for a week, and I’ve already met plenty of interesting people, including the CEO of a large steel processing corporation… because of these shoes).
Lesson #3: Incentives Are Important
I briefly mentioned this too, but remember when the Vice President wanted to hire another Assistant Vice President?
What really happened there was this: my work was important, but the incentive of the Vice President was more important than my work.
She wanted to look good for her bosses. And instead of getting angry about that, I should have found a way to make her look good for her bosses.
If I had aligned my incentives with her incentives, I could have turned that around.
Lesson #4: Failure Always Comes Before Success
When you read my backstory, you’ll notice something: I failed a lot. I failed my first website (and I even failed 3 websites BEFORE that first website). I failed my first new business after quitting corporate America. And I failed my first speaking engagement.
That’s a WHOLE LOT OF FAILURE.
It’s easy to look at everything I have now and think, “Well, everything just works out so great for you!”
But it’s not true. Nothing works out great for anyone without first getting punched in the face a few times.
Lesson #5: Being Bad Is Temporary
This lesson is important because it’s so easy to get discouraged and quit when things don’t come easily and when they don’t go your way. But you MUST remember: being bad is temporary.
I was a bad writer in 2005… so I learned how to get good at it.
I was a bad business person in 2006… so I learned how to get good at it.
I was a bad speaker in 2011… so I learned how to get good at it.
And that’s the truth. If you’re not good at something now, you can learn and practice to get good at it.
Lesson #6: It’s Always Your Fault
When things don’t go our way, in the heat of the moment, we like to point fingers at everything else but ourselves.
The economy. My boss. My family.
But your success always lies in your hands. I used to think growing up with a bad childhood was bad – and it was going to affect me. But I am not my family, and I have the opportunity to do more.
I used to think that the Vice President was to blame, but in reality, it was my fault. I should have known about incentives.
The best part?
The sooner you take accountability for everything, the more powerful you feel. When you think you’re in control, you act like it.
Lesson #7: YOU CAN DO THAT TOO
Like I said earlier, my backstory is paved with failure. But still, at every step of the way, I was silly enough to think, “I CAN DO THAT TOO.”
And then I went and did it because I believed I could.
I didn’t wait to take action. I didn’t think too hard or plan too much about it. I just went and did it. And then adjusted course along the way.
And you know what? You can do that too. If you have an idea, take action on it, and adjust course along the way.
To get started, watch this free video.
Now I’d like to hear from you…
Everyone has a story to tell, and I know you have one as well.
What’s YOUR backstory?
Share it in the comments.
I’d like to see where you came from and where you’re going.
And if you know anyone who might be inspired by this, feel free to pass this on.