My friends, I apologize for the length of this article, but every word was written from the deepest and most sincere part of my heart.
But first, I have a few things to get off my chest. I hope you have a few minutes to read through this… (I’m sorry it’s a longggggg ass post.)
We have no choice but to dig deep and find our resolve in times like these. Our grandparents and their parents lived through world wars. We will get through this. That’s a fact.
As economist Paul Romer once stated, “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” We must consciously decide that no matter what happens, we’ll survive. Furthermore, we’ll come out the other side not having wasted a crisis. In Chinese, the word for “crisis” can be translated in two ways: “danger” or “opportunity.”
This is a world-view that’s served me well through countless trials and tribulations over the years. Let me explain…
First, let’s look to nature.
When a fire sweeps through a forest, many trees die. But not all of them. Deadwood and brush burn, mineralizing the soil, making room for new growth. This is nature’s way. It might seem brutal and harsh, but life goes on as long as you’re growing.
Similarly, economic cycles can be seen in this regenerative growth way as well. Depressions are a whole different beast, but a recession is actually a normal occurrence.
Please watch this short video:
Never stop growing. NEVER. STOP. GROWING. That’s the secret to survival…
I’ve Had To Start From Scratch Multiple Times. I’ve Lived Many Lives.
Let me frame this properly.
I grew up on a secluded religious commune 90 min from Toronto. We were very much self-sufficient and isolated from the outside world.
My grandfather started it and my father was farm-boss. Instead of going to high school, I was plowing the fields and driving heavy machinery by the age of 15.
It was around the age of 23 when I started to question the elders and indoctrination. All of a sudden, I found myself on the outside, looking in. Emotionally, spiritually, financially–suddenly I was on my own. No bank account, no credit score, no resume, no nothing.
I left the commune in 2001. I was consciously choosing to walk away from my friends, family, and all things familiar. It was by far the most terrifying decision of my life to this point.
I got the first job I could and ended up touring with Snoop Dogg. (Take a second and let that sink in and have a laugh.) Talk about a culture shock. From driving a farm tractor and listening to choir music to touring with Snoop Dogg and practically getting high on secondhand smoke backstage. I got to see most of North America. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
Less than a year later, I met a wonderful person who I will always be incredibly grateful and indebted to. She Loved me for who I was. She helped me integrate into society… I begin to thrive. We got married and in 2005 we had a son. His name is Milo. And he’s a primary reason I am here today, trying to make a difference in the world.
In order to make my relationship work, I had quit touring and started working as a landscaper/groundskeeper for a gentleman by the name of Gary Gilbert. Eventually he’d become one of the most influential mentors in my life.
He gave me a chance. He saw me for more than an illegal immigrant cutting grass and fixing his tractors for $15 an hour, cash. He trusted me. He thought I could be a top muffler salesman at one of his Midas shops (he had seven), in Topeka, Kansas. And he was correct…
I seized the opportunity and didn’t let him down. Within months he showed me how to work from the shop floor to the front desk, earning the trust and rapport of the mechanics sweating their asses off in the midsummer Kansas heat. And within a few short months, we turned around the fortunes of our little shop on Topeka Boulevard. Sales were up 23% in the first year and Gary didn’t have to close his original shop that he’d opened over 40 years before. It was an incredible experience.
But, after a few years, I got bored. I felt restless and wasn’t fulfilled. I felt compelled to do something of my own. Suddenly, instead of being this exemplary employee, I felt like a fraud. To make matters worse, Gary sat me down and said these exact words to me: “Jay, you need to decide how many of these shops you want to own one day. I don’t have anyone to take over the business…”
My mom had also just been diagnosed with breast cancer. And all of a sudden I was faced with a decision almost as scary as the one that led to me leaving the ‘farm.’ The decision that broke my parents’ hearts. Do I stay or do I go?
While I was a roadie, in fact before I even left the commune, I had decided to teach myself how to trade commodities. Not stocks or bonds, highly leveraged commodities on margin. $1 controlled $10-$50. I was convinced that this would ultimately be my destiny. I paid a few thousand bucks for some software and enrolled in some courses and started to trade.
But I failed miserably and lost all my money. I was heartbroken. It wasn’t a lot of money, less than $10k, but it was all I had saved to this point. It was my entire severance from the Farm plus, plus, plus…
Next, I decided to try MLM and network marketing. I failed spectacularly at these as well. I felt like a shady conman hitting up friends and family. (Ugh.)
But then by February 2004, I heard about this thing called “affiliate marketing.” I paid $50 for an e-book called GOOGLE CASH. Overture, the precursor to Yahoo! was the main player at the time. (Google AdWords was still in its infancy. But I was hooked like a worm. This was it!)
I generated my first few leads online with my homemade website featuring a fake Porsche banner ad and the rest is history. I quit Midas June 21, 2004 with about $2000 in my bank account. This was my ticket.
Six weeks later I was fucked. Out for drinks on Saturday night I realized I was completely broke and out of money. I had a panic attack. I pretended to be sick and ran home. Terrified and scared out of my gourd.
Fast forward a few months, I eventually figured it out. I had to. I had a newborn son and a skeptical wife.
Fast forward again. This time is single dad. (Any wonder?)
Fast forward yet again and looking for a change of scenery. Milo’s mom and I decide living in NYC is what we want next. Lifelong dream of both of us. So, we up-and-moved there in 2007. Thank GOD my affiliate business is able to sustain us all and the $4500 a month rent for our brownstone in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.
We absolutely loved it and my business continued to explode as the mortgage crisis began to derail the economy.
It’s now 2008. The banks began to collapse like a house of cards.
Yet CarbonCopyPRO, continued to grow like gangbusters. I signed a lease for my first office space across the river at 2nd and 2nd near Two Boots Pizza. We were crushing it.
At the time I thought it was all attributed to my genius. I had invested heavily in marketing and branding. Literally tens of thousands of dollars. It was finally paying off.
Maybe it was that, maybe it was just timing. (I like to think it was me genius but who the heck knows…)
Regardless, it’s now 2009. Simultaneously, my friend Zach introduced me to his friend Jen, who hit me up for finishing funds to complete a film, a documentary.
Next thing I know I’d agreed to become Executive Producer of documentary featuring every misfit in NYC—CHELSEA ON THE ROCKS. From Dennis Hopper and Ethan Hawks, to Milos Forman and ‘Sid & Nancy’. All I know is I find myself on the red carpet at the most prestigious film festival in the world, Cannes, looking for the after party.
But I learned a lot and I grew. I found myself working with the likes of Spike Lee and others who mentored me.
The best part was this, my daughter was born Dec 17, 2009, and my dream house was almost ready to move into. Life could not have been better.
2010 and ’11 brought more business partnerships with the likes of David Bach (the Automatic Millionaire best-selling author) and Simon Sinek (Start With Why). Between the two of them, our little business paid out close to $1.5m USD in royalties in 2011 alone.
But then, the reality of the great recession began to set in. No one was buying films and the real estate market was in the toilet. Yet again, I was going through another divorce, and all of a sudden I was on the ropes financially. I was confused, resentful, and completely burnt out.
My life has been a bizarre series of events until this point. I made my first million, and then lost it. I’d been rich, then broke-Ass poor.
I’ve been through bankruptcy and had my dream house foreclosed. Even the tax collectors wrote me off as dead. I’ve been sued, scammed, and screwed-over countless times, but I’ve always found a way to keep going.
Through all of this I’ve managed to keep growing, which brings me to where we are today…
We’re homebound and in this new situation, together.
I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get eggs at the store tomorrow.
I don’t know when I’ll see my kids again—the freaking border has been closed!
The liquor store doesn’t accept cash! My housekeeper is quarantined!!
But when thoughts like this make me anxious, I try my hardest (with a little help from my friends) to pull myself back to the moment, to say YES TO NOW.
Because here’s the thing: when this is all over, it won’t be business as usual. It will be business as whatever-the-fuck-you-make-it!
When something out of your control crashes, what you thought was REALITY gets shattered: This is happening to nearly everyone right now, SIMULTANEOUSLY. All of us are having to get used to a new reality. It’s insane.
But we don’t have to go insane along with it. In fact, I’m quite confident there’s an antidote to this madness. This is just my opinion here, my perspective. Try it on and see if it works for you. And if it resonates, feel free to share this with anyone that could benefit as well.
One thing we haven’t lost is the ability to insert positivity where there was, or is, insecurity. And this is the first big point.
How we choose to react to uncertainty and insecurity is largely involuntary and automatic. But if we’re present and mindful of our thoughts and actions, we can consciously modify them. Instead of being programmed to react with fear and anxiety, it’s actually possible to be in control of our emotions.
Some may call it self-regulation, others mindfulness. Whatever you call it, it’s about being aware and proactive vs. reactive. It’s about feeling sensible fear without letting it take hold. My mom used to say, “You can’t prevent a bird from landing on your head but you sure can prevent it from building a nest there.”
Be careful what thoughts you allow to permeate your mental space. Be careful what you allow yourself to ruminate on. Because the longer you stay there in your head, the deeper you will get sucked into the vicious circle of self-pity and victimology. Trust me on this. I’m better at getting lost down nightmarish rabbit holes than anyone.
“Do not give way to useless alarm; though it is right to be prepared for the worst, there is no occasion to look on it as certain.” ― Jane Austen
Next, we must accept that change is the only constant. We have to let go of our attachment to the status quo. Change is a bugger to deal with, even on a good day, because our brains are programmed to resist it. Because it’s usually uncomfortable, we inherently resist it at a cellular level. That’s normal. ESPECIALLY the sort of change we are experiencing right this moment, collectively.
Just a week or two ago, life was pretty normal. It’s impossible to comprehend how the other person is coping with the new reality they’re faced with. Today, we’re all sitting on the couch, in our PJ’s, at 3 in the afternoon, worried about our TP supply.
But, if we think about the first point I made above, and remind ourselves in every moment of fear that fear is not only normal, but inevitable, it’s HUMAN: 1, FEAR: 0.
And by the time you move from the couch to the bedroom tonight, it will hopefully be HUMAN: 259, FEAR: 13 or some awesome winning score like that. (I think of it like a game.)
To be able to channel change into personal growth is not only possible, we really have no choice but to get good at this.
I have no control over most of the things stressing me out. Yet, only I can control how I react. I can give into my fear or be mentally tough as nails and fight every negative thought with all my might.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs begin with safety and security. In modern times, where we are now, this means financial security as much as anything.
Many of you are here for the same reason I started my company: so you didn’t have to rely on corporations, industries, and economies that are far out of your control in order to support yourself and your family. (I will never do that again.) And you honestly don’t have to either. This is actually up to you.
In fact, I would argue that you already have everything you require to become financially independent and self-reliant. Bold statement, but I’m serious. And this is exactly the case that I will be making Friday at 3:00pm EST.
Don’t think I’m coming from a place of having figured it all out. That’s certainly not the case. I’m still nervous about the state of the world and having a healthy dose of anxiety with my morning coffee, too. But I’ve made a habit of forcing myself to move on to proactive things that I can control. I don’t allow myself to dwell on negativity for more than a few moments.
Even after the dust settles on this pandemic, even on my deathbed, I don’t expect to have arrived. Life’s not about arriving safely anywhere. It’s about embracing the journey and trying to enjoy and make the best of the ride.
But I do have some real-world experience. I want to share it with you.
Some of you were on the call last week that I did with Justin where we shared perspectives from the last financial crash in 2008/2009. I want to continue this conversation with you because there’s still much to share. And quite frankly, you’ve inundated us with feedback and requests for more. Thus, we’re doing it again on Friday.
We’d Be Foolish Not To Let History Be Our Teacher.
In the last financial crash, enormous ships sank, taking thousands upon thousands of employees, people, and families with them. So many workers had to reinvent themselves and find solid footing once again. Not everyone recovered then and not everyone will recover from this either.
This is sobering. But as they say, necessity is the mother of invention.
With each of the last 4-5 recessions, businesses accelerated toward the digital space. Companies that reinvented quick enough survived. Many that were already on unsure ground were immediately wiped off the map.
I feel an urgency to talk to you because a serious recession is inevitable, it’s already at our heels. I want to tell everyone not to incite fear but because information is comforting. It’s hope. It’s the ability to prepare. I’m here with you.
Stay home. Don’t leave. Join me on Friday to talk more about strategy towards hope.
How can you insulate yourself now so that you won’t have an even harder time by the year’s end? Let’s avoid that guilt and shame you’d feel about what wasn’t done. WAKEUP to today, prepare yourself for a worst-case scenario, and hope for the best.
“Bloom where you are planted,” said Stella Payton. Even if where you’re planted is stuck in your house due to a pandemic for the foreseeable future: juggling childcare and a job and a household, or perhaps in total isolation and struggling to emotionally cope, or maybe suddenly unemployed or underemployed and still needing to pay rent.
“Seen from space,” said Scott Kelly, a retired astronaut that once spent nearly a year on the International Space Station, “the Earth has no borders. The spread of the coronavirus is showing us that what we share is much more powerful than what keeps us apart, for better or for worse. All people are inescapably interconnected, and the more we can come together to solve our problems, the better off we will all be.” This is the perspective of space.
I’ve never been to space, I couldn’t possibly say what that perspective would be like, but many of us have had some perspective with this space we’ve had to take, away from our physical communities in quarantine. But given what I’ve been through–from commune to Kansas through valleys and great heights and into valleys all over again–I think I have a perspective that could help you.
Can’t wait to share more at 3:00 EST this Friday! See you there:)
All the best,
P.S. For details on how to join the webinar stream, head to this page.