“You’re a lifer.”
That was what one of my co-workers told me one day on the factory floor of Sun-Rype. I was on night shift that day, and the machines that crushed the apples into hundreds of bottles of juice were running with no problem. Everything was in perfect order, so I took out my investing book and pored over the pages while I waited for the machines to churn out the apple juice.
I did not plan on staying at the factory forever. I was living what I call the bucket life, and the bucket was full of crabs. Occasionally, there would be one or two crabs that would want to climb out, but there would be more crabs that would scramble to pull him down.
I was like one of those crabs wanting to get out. I just knew I was not meant for a life working at the factory. I disliked it so much that for me to continue to show up was just like spitting in the face of my creator. I was positive there was a way out, which is why I didn’t give up reading about business and investing, even though I was surrounded by several crabs who wanted to take me down.
One lady who never had a positive thing to say to anyone took one look at the book in my hands and shot me a look, one that clearly said she thought there was no reason for me to read an investing book. “Why are you bothering to read that crap? You’ll just lose all your money. You will never get ahead with investing. You are going to have to work here for the rest of your life. You’re a lifer!” she said.
But I wasn’t a lifer. I wasn’t a factory worker for life. If I was, I wouldn’t be here writing this part of the book for my friend xxxxxxx. I would still be at the Sun-Rype factory, working with people who preferred to gossip during their free time, which was a lot of time most of the time, especially during the graveyard shift.
So when my co-worker declared my future like she was 100% certain of it, I told myself, “No. This is not the life I was meant for.” When I got home, I cut out a picture of a fancy sports car to represent my future success and pasted it on a picture of the factory building. I then took a picture of myself at a shooting range and made it look like I was pointing a gun at the building. I never meant to shoot anything or anyone down. Heck, no! I only wanted to use the picture to remind myself that I was going to get out of that place. I was going to create a life for myself, one that I live on my own terms and one where I get to do the things I enjoy doing.
The Beginning of a New Life
In the spring of 2006, I finally stepped out of the factory and took my first shot at becoming an entrepreneur. I found a business partner, took all the $53,000 in savings I had saved during my entire working life, and invested it into a skin care company that was selling an awesome skin care product.
You know what happened next. My first business venture bombed. It turned out the guy who sold us the company wasn’t very honest at all. You know that sinking feeling in your stomach you get when you realize something really awful just happened. That’s what I felt when I realized that all of my life savings just got blown out the window.
It was going to be my first real-life lesson in business, and it was not the last, as the skin care company was not the end of my business pursuits. It was only the beginning for me, and though I was not the successful entrepreneur I had envisioned myself to be when I walked out of the factory door, I was more than willing to do what it took to put food on the table. My next business venture was a construction business that focused on renovations, but I soon realized I just bought myself another job, and a very hard one at that. Then I sold fire wood, property cleanups and even dabbled in landscaping, all the while doing security jobs at concerts and bars to make up for the periods of drought when I’m not making so much from my ventures.
I was persistent, but I wasn’t moving forward as much as I would have liked. When training in the martial arts, I had learned early on one very crucial lesson that helped me achieve my second-degree black belt in Ju-Jitsu: Train with people who had similar yet complementary goals. Surround yourself with people who had the energy and drive to keep going forward. That very same lesson I needed to apply to my entrepreneurial pursuits. I needed to surround myself with other entrepreneurs who not only were driven and ambitious but also had experience.
Meeting the Masterminds
In 2011, I travelled to Houston to learn how to take my ventures in the physical world to the Internet. I went there to learn how to become a successful online entrepreneur, but I gained more than that. It was during the seminar where I met like-minded individuals who were looking for more out of life. Like me, they knew deep in their guts they weren’t made for the 9-to-5 job. It was the path of the entrepreneur we all wanted to take.
Most of us who sat close to each other gravitated toward one fellow named xxxxxx xxxxx. xxxxxx was already a successful business executive then who suggested that once we fly back to where we came from, we talk to one another once a week to help keep us accountable. And it wasn’t just a social call we made just to chat about one another’s lives. It was a call about business and we had a plan to follow, like a script. xxxxxx, who already had a string of successful businesses under his belt, had obviously done this before. Each of us talked about our weekly successes and mentioned three goals for the next week. We would also talk about our challenges and others in the group would chip in with their suggestions on how to overcome these challenges. I knew then that the answer to some of the biggest questions I had about running a business were about to unfold in front of my eyes and I was one more step closer to reaching my goals.
My trip to Houston was a great success, so I decided to invest my retirement savings in coaches, mentors and travelling to meet other entrepreneurs. I went to Dallas, New York and Los Angeles and I travelled closer to home to Vancouver, where I met xxxxxx. Like xxxxxx, Charles drew people to him. At that time, I was working on my very first book, a fitness book titled “xxxxxxxxxx,” but it wasn’t called that at that time yet. In fact, it wasn’t anywhere close to being a book. I had made progress, great progress, but I was still frustrated because my first book was still stuck in my head and inside the boxes of unruly notes I kept for reference.
I’m sure you’ve had the same experience before when you wanted to do something for the first time but couldn’t figure it out on your own. You could go online and search for answers, sure, but you’ll just find yourself wandering over to YouTube only to watch videos of the man that got speared by a marlin and the dog that missed the couch. I’m speaking from experience here. It was a distraction, a frustration distraction, and I had to find a way to make progress towards the completion of my book because figuring it out on my own meant trying to solve a problem I was too involved in.
When xxxxxx suggested for me to join another weekly mastermind call, I jumped at the opportunity, only this time I wasn’t on a call with a group of newbies out to learn the basics. This time, I was on a call with a group of members who were very successful. I will never forget that first mastermind call. There were a couple of Internet marketers like myself, although much more established, an international real estate investor and even a couple of people involved in finance. It soon became obvious to me that I was about to share an hour-long phone call with some serious entrepreneurs. Frankly, I felt shocked and out of place, but also thankful for the privilege of learning from people who had been where I was, and the feeling that they valued my opinion was more than awesome. Most of them were several steps ahead of me in the path of the entrepreneur. Among all the members in that group, I had the least experience of all, which was lucky because I gained the most out of that call.
The Future Redefined
Did I get to finish my book after the mastermind call? Well, not yet. You can’t finish a book overnight, but it took me only a few more months before I was able to transform my notes into a real book. “xxxxxxxxxx” is now a published book, endorsed by Dr. John Gray and featured in a New York Times best-selling For Dummies book. I also co-wrote “xxxxxxxxxx,” a book that helps first-time authors write their very first non-fiction books, and it’s now the No. 1 bestseller in four Amazon categories since it was launched. Aside from that, I’m now on my way to finishing my second book on fitness while my first martial arts book is in the proofing stage.
As for my websites, xxxxxxxxxx.com is growing more popular that ever as more and more martial artists are looking to have their profiles featured on my website. I also have other websites in my three niches that are growing in traffic and email lists along with my online platform. And xxxxxx and I have formed xxxxxxxxxx.com for budding non-fiction authors who want to write bestsellers.
Several years ago, I would have struggled to achieve any of these. Not that writing books and growing my online reach were easy. It’s not, but with the wisdom and encouragement I received, and continue to receive, from other people who are where I want to go, the tasks I set out to do went from being impossible to definitely achievable. There was always some sort of setback along the way. Sometimes, my fingers just would just decide to freeze over the keyboard when I try to write, or I wasn’t even aware of how to set up an autoresponder, a most basic task any person who wants to become a successful Internet marketer must be able to do. But that is what having a mastermind group is for.
No, a mastermind group is not a coaching group. That’s different. They won’t tell you what to do, they nudge you towards the right direction where you can find the answers to your own questions. That’s what I like about it having a mastermind group. There is no spoonfeeding of answers, only a bit of gentle pushing and prodding until you hit upon what you were looking for. You remain responsible for your actions because you choose them yourself with the guidance of other people who have made similar choices in the past, all the while working in collaboration with a group of people who come from various backgrounds and life paths. You’d be amazed at the sheer brilliance, the amazing dynamic that happens when one person raises an idea and another builds upon that idea to develop a more advanced thought, and then another further works upon both ideas to come up with a rich, complex concept that would have probably taken years of sitting on your living room couch with drink in hand to come up with on your own.
The mere fact that you’re listening, really listening to others and not just hearing what they are saying, instead of trying to work things out on your own, gives you important insights about how others think and how you should too. I have become deeply aware of my own thought processes simply by observing how others who share a goal similar to mine think, analyze, reason out, judge and appreciate ideas. And you’ve heard the old Chinese saying about watching your thoughts, for they become your words, actions, habits, character and, ultimately, your destiny. Being in a mastermind group has helped me change my habits and has improved my character. I have no doubt it will also play a great role in re-shaping my destiny as an entrepreneur, as it already had for the last couple of years.
I have definitely come a long way from my days on the factory floor, and I’m not saying that to brag about my achievements. There is more to come for me; I can feel it like I can feel the air coming in and out of me. But I have made tremendous progress since heeding the call to join others as we all walk towards our own individual successes that, when taken together, contribute to the highest good of all. When you join a mastermind group, you’re not just there for your own good. You work with other people who are, like you, dedicated at becoming a better version of themselves. They can help you like my own group has helped me, and you’re helping yourself even more when you finally admit that you need other people to succeed. We all do.