All posts in "Origin Story"

Working With a Mentor – Origin Story Part 6

Published November 18, 2016 in Origin Story - 0 Comments

“Hey Doberman Dan! I’m talking to you right now from the street corner! Can you hear me alright?” I asked, pressing my cell phone close to my ear to overcome the traffic noise.

“I sure can!” he replied.

“Awesome! I’m outside, waving my sign right now.”

Months earlier, had I signed up for a monthly newsletter and teleseminar by an experienced marketer and business owner. His name was Doberman Dan (because he loved the breed and the moniker stuck). As a bonus, he’d occasionally host open call-in days for one-on-one consultations. The rules were simple: For a period of two hours, he’d sit by the phone. If you called and the line was open, he’d answer and consult with you for 10 minutes. If the line was busy because someone else got through first, you kept dialing.

These call-in days always fell on workdays for me. I didn’t care. I called anyway. While I was outside.

Sometimes trying dozens and dozens of times to get through

Cell phone in one hand, sign in the other. If Doberman Dan answered, I’d take a break for the talk. Otherwise, I’d keep trying…

Except this particular day, when I’d already taken all my allotted breaks. So when he finally picked up (10 minutes before the call-in time period was over – I probably dialed about a hundred times that day) I simply stayed on the street corner as we spoke.

The topic of conversation was my latest marketing campaign. And rather than just give me 10 minutes of his time, Dan and I talked for closer to 20. I was grateful… but not surprised. We’d grown relatively close over the months. Let me back up and explain.

When I first signed up for his newsletter, I was happy to get some helpful, nitty-gritty information on marketing. And as I listened to recordings of the teleseminars he gave, I was startled by a conversation he had with a guest: They began talking about a certain kind of health product and how it’d probably be a good idea to own one.

I happened to sell such a product

Hmmm…

I grew excited as I realized how I could stand out from the crowd and get on this man’s radar. I decided to send him one of my products as a gift, with a letter explaining why it was exactly what he was looking for. Keep in mind this was a product with substantial wholesale costs for me. Much more than a book or something like that. So he’d understand I didn’t make this gesture this lightly.

Before work, I stopped by UPS and mailed the package, giddy to find out what would happen. In my enclosed letter, I included an introduction to myself and a way to contact me.

Four days later, we were on the phone

From then on, I did everything I could to maximize the amount of help he could give me. Every time he’d do a group teleseminar or had an open call-in day, I made sure to be ready with results and questions. The key part being the results. I didn’t just come up with a bunch of quandaries based on what I was thinking or planning. I didn’t emotionally vomit all over him with whining or moaning. Instead, all questions were based on what I’d tested out in the real-world, and the measurable results I’d achieved. Only from there did I ask for guidance on what to do next.

Action first. Then questions.

If I didn’t have time to gather any new data that particular month, there was a good chance I didn’t ask any questions.

And if I did, I took note of his answers, and took more action.

Usually, this involved me scrounging together a few hundred dollars to spend on another marketing campaign

At the time, I was making $10.50 an hour (but very soon got a 25-cent raise, that was pretty sweet) and paid $525 in rent. My food bill was roughly $30 per week. Then car insurance, gas, putting away 10%, giving away 10% to charity… yet I was able to stay a little bit ahead every single month.

Not having kids or medical problems helped. So did the discipline of literally not spending a single cent on anything other than rent, food, transportation… and business.

I learned from our dynamic. And I realized that my orientation for action was the perfect way to show him that I genuinely respected his help, rather than simply telling him so. That, combined with putting in some extra oomph to get on his radar, led to some interesting breakthroughs:

  • A few hours after our first conversation, he introduced me to a business owner that I asked to meet
  • He added a bit of extra time to his consulting calls to answer all my questions, without me even asking
  • He introduced me to trusted vendors
  • After a couple of years, he would make one of the most life-changing introductions of all time, for me (more on that in a future chapter)

It was all the more amazing considering that, as this man’s publishing and consulting business grew, he put in place barriers to entry so nobody could directly communicate with him, so he wouldn’t be overwhelmed.

On the other hand…

I always got the VIP pass

Never once did I have the urge to shove this experience into the ego realm. He was simply a guy who valued his time and space, and could provide me with some excellent help. My success was still my responsibility, and having a closer relationship to him was a humbling privilege, not a bragging right.

Much like my gratitude for my humble job, this mindset was new to me. What ignited the change? A life event most would regard as a tragedy.

In the years previous, I scrambled to make my businesses succeed because I needed the money. Badly. My life was a constant sprint to bring in some cash to pay off the most alarming credit card debt, and push forward to maybe… finally… seriously… get an income stream big enough for prosperity.

I starved for support from coaches that I should have cultivated for myself. Looking back, it’s clear I was trying to erect a rickety foundation for a skyscraper upon a dissolving sandbar. Because I “didn’t have the time” to take a walk back to find some solid rock. Plus, I didn’t think I needed to.

Until I gave up

Literally.

In mid-2012, it became public record that I was too financially crushed to pay my bills, and that I had to start over. A few months into my career as a sign spinner, I declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Next, I’ll write about that utterly bizarre experience.

Another interesting event:

While watching an educational video he made about writing advertising, I noticed how he made a subtle challenge to his audience. If they wrote an ad for him (without payment) for his own newsletter, and it performed better than the one Doberman Dan wrote… then he would pay that person a nice royalty income for all the new customers it generated.

After exhausting myself physically during my workday, I’d crawl home (metaphorically) and work on writing an ad for him. I don’t have any proof, but I believe I was the only student who ever took him up on the challenge.

Here’s something even more interesting:

It’s been over three years and he still hasn’t tested that ad! We plan to soon. I’d chide him about it, but the guy’s transformed my life in so many other ways that I don’t mind. Plus, from the beginning, I cared about the ad… but not too much.

Cracking My Spine To Let Wealth Flow In – Origin Story Part 5

Published November 18, 2016 in Origin Story - 0 Comments

Crack – click – snap.

“Hmmm.”

Every single morning and evening, for at least a couple years, I’d done a standing meditation. And several months before I got my sign-spinning job, I noticed something interesting:

My spine would creak and crack as if I were getting a chiropractic adjustment.

And the cracks would occur around my pelvis, right at the root of my spine.

Things became more interesting as I began my job and noticed the movements I made while outside also cracked my spine. A lot. Sometimes hundreds of times per day.

Then, as the weeks went by, I noticed something else:

Over time… the cracks began to inch their way up my spinal cord.

Very slowly.

To be clear, I mean that the cracks, at any given moment, were isolated to one level of my spine. However, from week to week and month to month, the level experiencing the cracks would crawl higher and higher up my spine.

Almost as if things were loosening and aligning, ever so slowly, as I meditated and developed myself. Kinks being worked out.

One morning before driving to my new job, I wondered while meditating:

“What’s going to happen when the cracking gets to the top of my spine?”

An answer popped into my head: My financial situation would completely transform for the better.

That sounded pretty good. Of course, I had no way of knowing if that were true, or some fanciful idea concocted to satisfy my desire for more money, and for my meditating to have significance. But I was determined to find out.

So throughout my day, as I stood outside, I’d gently move in ways to turn my spine, frequently inspiring a creak here and a snap there. I’d pump my arms as if trying to elbow someone behind me. Sometimes, just moving around my sign was enough. In fact, the workout I got from waving that sign alone (it probably weighed a little over five pounds) transformed my body.

I had a feeling this would enhance the flow of subtle energy through my body, especially my microcosmic orbit. And this, in turn, would enhance my ability to manifest what I wanted.

I certainly hoped this would work.

For over a decade I’d been stymied by something, which had intensified into an all-consuming obsession:

Why is it that I could take massive action, do all the “right” things… and still not get the results I wanted?

It seemed every self-help book I’d ever read or guru I’d learned from, had an endless supply of tips, tricks, and strategies designed to motivate, organize, focus, clarify, and inspire people.

…Ummm…so what if I’ve already got all that in spades and my life still sucks because none of it actually helps me get what I want?

This barely-contained desperation lead me to study the mind, visualization, and then eventually Taoist meditation. The idea being, the meditations could put the necessary “juice” behind everything else I was doing on a conscious level. Or, unfuck me at a level that my conscious efforts couldn’t heal alone. Or both.

This spine-cracking seemed like a physical and very literal, linear, example of that healing process.

The exciting results I achieved in the advertising realm occurred when the cracks were still quite low on my spine. At this point, I don’t believe I had concocted my theory about the loosening and aligning of my spine, but that didn’t stop life from validating it.

I spent more money on the same advertising source, always making sure to test out two different campaigns to see which one would perform better. I’d keep the winner and “fire” the loser. Almost every single time, I was able to create a better ad.

There was just one problem:

My overall results kept sinking.

This wasn’t too surprising. If you keep fishing in the same small pond, you run the risk of overfishing. I realized I had to expand my scope.

So I tested advertising on other websites. This is where the heartbreaking cycle began. And I used that word deliberately when describing my results: Good results come when your ad makes enough profit. Bad results come when it completely fails and you have to completely revamp things. “Heartbreaking” results come when you’re so close to a winner you can taste it… but you can’t quite reach it.

When it came to business, that was the story of my adult life.

There were scorching summer days when I’d be outside all day waving my sign, my MP3 player cranked up to songs like U2’s Red Hill Mining Town, trying to distract myself from the $1400 (more than a month’s pay) ad campaign launching that day…

…only to come home and watch as I brought in some money, but not enough to declare it a winner, like the first breakthrough I had.

During this time, I subscribed to a marketing newsletter written by a man who’d been through financial and personal challenges far greater than mine.

He’d been homeless, almost murdered on many occasions, bankrupt, and went on to become a millionaire

And unlike so many fake-gurus hustling their wares, this guy had actually “been there and done that.”

As I read his back issues and listened to recordings of teleseminars he’d done, I realized a way I could introduce myself to him personally.

Next, I’ll describe the unusual way I got this man’s attention and went from anonymous reader to student to colleague and friend. In fact, this man would eventually deliver me a career breakthrough that I didn’t see coming in a million years.

But before I go, I want to add something even though it’s a bit of a spoiler. It has to do with what happened when my spine-cracking reached just under my occiput:

I went through a rough transition to a new career, completely transforming my financial life for the better. So it would appear my theory held water. Or at least my belief that it did, made it true. Or maybe it’s a coincidence.

Anyway…

The shifting of my spine hasn’t stopped

Now it’s back to my hips again. For many months now, I’ve felt how my hips and shoulders are out of alignment and are sort of drawn inward, and are now finally unwinding and expanding.

I’m wondering if, at the end of this process, my life will transform in a more profound way. Perhaps a new direction in my business. Or meeting the woman of my dreams. So, much like my financial life transformed once my spine relaxed and aligned in a certain way, some other part of my life will – once my hips and shoulders relax and align as well.

We’ll see.

And you can bet I’m doing plenty of stances, stretches, and meditations to assist the process.

Get Shit Done Mode – Origin Story Part 4

Published November 13, 2016 in Origin Story - 0 Comments

“It’s less than two weeks until the next ad runs. If I make a new video, do you think you can switch the webpage by then?”

I was asking my long-suffering webmaster and technical expert. After recovering from my despair over the failed advertising campaign…

I stepped up to “get shit done mode”

The awful results were the perfect cold-water-in-the-balls moment to realize several things:

  1. The fear I felt in my gut over the last few months was perfectly justified, and a darn good warning of what was brewing.
  2. There was no reason for me to farm out my expertise to an unproven entity.
  3. Throwing money at fear really sucks. At least when you bribe a human, sometimes it actually works. Bribing an emotion? Not so much.

Fortunately, this situation wasn’t a total loss. I had a back-up plan: Put in place the advertisement I had originally crafted myself – the one the esteemed “expert” pooh-poohed.

Interesting coincidence:

Around the time I informed him of the ad campaign disaster…he disappeared

However, after pondering this for a while, I don’t believe he snuck away to avoid the stench of failure. I honestly think it was one of those intriguing energetic events where I was meant to witness idols crash around me. And I hold no ill-will against him.

Fortunately, my webguy determined there was a chance everything could be transferred in time. It wouldn’t be perfect, but with another thousand bucks on the line, it was better than nothing.

Days went by. I created the new marketing video for the product. It looked like everything was going to work out…

Which wasn’t much solace considering it was New Year’s Eve and I was poor, alone, with a failing business

While sitting in my apartment, a random thought came to me in a moment of subtle awakening: I’d often fantasized about the simple things I’d enjoy, once I became wealthy. One of them was eating delicious, gourmet pizza at a local Denver restaurant, without a care or worry of the cost.

“Why not enjoy that now?”

Good point. So, I sauntered over to the grocery store. Instead of buying a gourmet pizza, I’d make one. Using a gift card (thank you again, Jim Anderson) I bought a pizza cutter, flour, yeast, more than one kind of cheese, whole tomatoes, spices, and mushrooms.

That evening, I spent New Year’s Eve alone, poor, with a failing business…

But I created and baked my own damn pizza, and enjoyed every last bit of it

Soon after, the day came for the new ad to launch. Once again, I got up and prepared for work. However, unlike the previous time, I couldn’t even wait until the evening – I booted up my computer and checked my stats right then and there. My excuse was that I just wanted to make sure everything was working.

By that time in the morning, six orders had been placed, for a total of almost a couple hundred bucks. Okay, cool. These results already laid the smackdown on the other ad campaign, that was for sure. I breathed a sigh of relief, and focused on my workday.

Outside, the weather was nice. I listened in fascination to the Steve Jobs biography audiobook, and genuinely forgot about the marketing campaign for most of the day.

As I drove home, admiring the yet-to-be-taken-down Christmas lights, I wondered…

“Hey wouldn’t it be amazing if the ad brought in over $1000? Nah, there’s no way… but it would be cool…”

Once I got home, I settled in front of my computer, logged in…

…and the stats revealed it brought in over $1,000.

“Oh…oh wow!”

The warm glow of brain chemicals swept over me. There was a brief wrinkle where I quickly checked to make sure there wasn’t some error with the software, or someone hadn’t accidentally ordered five times (you wouldn’t believe the crazy stuff that can go wrong). But it was legit.

I sat, basking in the results. The best part was…proof of concept. This wasn’t about the thousand dollars. I could have thrown it all away right then and there without caring. The real gold was…my marketing worked. And if it worked here, it could work elsewhere.

It could work all over the place.

So now it was just a matter of mathematics:

Find where to spend money…and get back more money

Then scale up.

Just for the sake of something to do, I walked to the grocery store, striding up and down the aisles in a daze.

I could barely get to sleep that night, and didn’t mind a bit…

…until the next morning, when I got up feeling a little under the weather.

I calculated I should leave half an hour early, so I could swing by the post office before work, to fulfill on the orders I received. This turned out to be a gross underestimation. There was a line when I got there. It moved slow. Post office slow. Then, when I finally made it to the front, the machine broke. Of course it did. Post office. I gaped at the postal worker there.

Finally, I mailed the packages, bolted outside, and said, “excuse me” as I nearly ran over a little, old lady.

By the time I barged in the door seventeen minutes late for work, I was fuming

The snowy weather didn’t help. While bracing myself against the cold wind, my mind kept looping on my lateness… my foul mood… and why the heck did I feel so angry anyway?

It seemed so bizarre:

Nothing that made me feel so blissful the evening before, had changed. Nothing. The successful marketing was still real. So was the money. I couldn’t figure it out.

Only a couple years later did I realize the truth. What made me feel bad that morning was exactly what made me feel so good the evening before: Hormones. First, dopamine surged my system, as if I were binge drinking on the stuff.

Then came the inevitable morning after, and very real withdrawal

Ever since then, when I feel a blissful power as the result of a sudden success, I remind myself of what’s truly going on. And to see myself with understanding eyes, when the power seems to evaporate the next day. I refer to the dynamic as ebbs and flows. As a result, I’ve witnessed how, instead of my life ebbing and flowing like an ocean tide… and ultimately remaining at the same level… it’s steadily risen. As if the tempering allows the system to upgrade.

Like I said, it took me a couple years to claim that realization. However, it didn’t take me nearly as long to realize the sudden success of my advertising… would not last.

As I kept stumbling forward, investing money, and measuring results…

I learned many things about marketing and business that I never read in books

And I certainly never heard them from any grinning man promising “you’ll achieve financial freedom when you attend my meetings and use this turn-key system!”

I’ll write about them next, and why my struggle was far from over.

Curling Into The Fetal Position – Origin Story Part 3

Published November 12, 2016 in Origin Story - 0 Comments

“Oh man I wonder how it’s going to do…I hope it profits…I’ll know by tonight…just shut up and don’t think about it…how’s it going to do…”

My brain looped and looped on this as soon as I woke up that day, and accelerated as I went through my morning meditation and drove to work. All I could focus on, whether consciously forming words about it or not, was how it was going to do.

Specifically…

My advertising campaign set to launch that very morning

For months, I had obsessed over a new marketing campaign for an internet business of mine. I pushed most of my savings into it, spending thousands of dollars on a contractor who came highly recommended for his ability to bring in customers.

The whole experience had been outside my comfort zone. I desperately wanted it to work, and had never handed someone else control of the marketing. But I also understood the value of outside expertise. So each time I felt gnawing fear in my gut, I pressed through it…and spent more money.

Today was the acid test. Would it pay off?

Or would I be stuck in my sign-spinning job for many, many more months?

That morning, I showed up for work and introduced myself to a new buyer. As I shifted around my bags, trying to shake hands, I dropped a full plastic water jug and it exploded all over the floor.

From there, my day remained relatively unpleasant.

A Zen mindset is to wait without expectation. That day, I waited with obsessive expectation and yearning for something to happen. My brain was like a whining dog, barely containing itself by the door, praying to be let outside. For hours.

I just wanted the day to be over so I could drive home, get on my computer, and check the stats of the ad campaign. Then I would know for sure how it was going.

Finally, the time came.

I drove home, parked at my way-too-expensive-for-me apartment, went up the elevator, scampered inside, fired up my computer, and logged onto my online software for tracking my business

I had spent a little under a thousand dollars for the advertisement. Based on its deployment schedule, I was hoping to make back most of that within a day.

I tapped on some keys…and clicked to open the page that would display the numbers. And I was greeted with…

…$0.

“Oh…oh no.”

I slouched in my chair, slowly slid off onto the floor, and curled into the fetal position

After a couple minutes, I attempted to rise, dry heaved, and remained on the floor.

Soon I became too physically exhausted to feel so distraught, so I got up and walked like a zombie to bed. I was scheduled for work the next day, and needed some sleep.

The next morning, I awoke, went through the same morning meditation, and drove to work.

Along the way I pondered how I thought of this event as such a monumental “litmus test.” I felt chained to my job, forced into menial labor for eternity.

Then a shift took place

I don’t remember the exact dialogue, but this is how I began questioning myself:

“Nate, are you going to let this stop you?”

“No.”

“So this is just a bump in the road, right?”

“Yes.”

“One that you’ll look back on years from now, and remember fondly as the time you were in the thick of struggle, working your way out to eventually succeed?”

“Yes.”

“So why not feel that way right now? Why not take pride in it, and even enjoy yourself in a perverse way?”

I had to admit… I had a point. And, my mood shifted. I decided to feel okay in the moment, and even relish the setback.

It’s been a while since I’ve thought about that morning

And, typing this now, I have to smile and admit… it came true. Not just a little bit, but 100% true. Of course, the turnaround didn’t happen overnight.

In fact, just a week later, I tested out another ad. This time, one created by me. The results were dramatically different… and lead to a very strange outcome.  I’ll write about that next.

Setting Yourself Up for Success…Even in Miserable Surroundings – Origin Story Part 2

Published November 10, 2016 in Origin Story - 0 Comments

“I’m going to scrub this nasty toilet so clean, you’ll be able to eat off it!” I thought to myself, before attacking the public bathroom with the feverish intensity of Pollock dripping a painting.

From the outset of landing my job as a sign-spinner, I knew I had an opportunity on my hands and I wanted to maximize its value to me. Specifically:

  1. I had steady income from an easy job, which I wanted to keep
  2. I had the opportunity to learn and grow while completing my job, effectively getting paid to better myself
  3. I had opportunities, that most people wouldn’t recognize, to directly make strides in my meditations and business

I’ll cover these in order. The first is simple: I wanted to keep my job. I was paranoid I’d be tossed out like trash due to the expendable nature of my position. This happened to dozens and dozens of my co-workers. But not to me. In fact (and I’ll get into this later)…

I was figuratively and quite literally one of the “last men standing” during the company’s lifespan

There were many reasons for this, but I believe it started with a simple one:

The number of times I showed up late, I can count on one hand. Keep in mind, I worked at this place for years. I performed every little responsibility (taking out the trash, cleaning the windows, mopping the break room floor) to a greater degree than expected.

Sometimes I messed up, like adding way too much window cleaner to the bucket. But I never knowingly neglected things. In fact, my first day, I didn’t know how to properly dispose of the trash bag (the buyer had already left)… so I simply took it home with me (and then threw it out at my apartment complex. I didn’t, like, set it up on my mantelpiece or anything).

Anyway, this sort of follow-through made it much easier for me to make myself heard when I wanted to advance my career.

To my second point about learning and growing, I showed up my first day with headphones and an MP3 player already loaded with audiobooks. Very soon, my biggest problem was not enough material for all the hours I spent outside (a good problem to have, I surmised). I picked out audios on business, marketing, self-development, that sort of thing. Also some biographies. Steve Jobs was a biggie. So was George Washington.

I still remember one day, while listening to the story of George Washington marching his troops through the woods in winter, I stood outside in the middle of a blizzard

I was like, “Yeah! I’m George Washington baby!”

In order to show up for my shift virtually always on time, I came early and read a book while waiting for the store to open. Later, I’d just spend time breathing and quieting my mind.

To my third point:

I had 30 minutes for lunch. To maximize the time allocated, I’d first arrange my meal on the table in the breakroom, and then do a relaxing, seated meditation for the first half of my break. Then I’d use the remaining time to eat. I virtually never missed a lunchtime meditation doing this.

Because my job involved standing for hours five days per week, I figured I wouldn’t be able to do standing meditations at home due to physical exhaustion. For the first week or so, I held back doing them. Later, I experimented and realized I could indeed do stances. So, after a day of working outside in a standing position, I’d come home and almost immediately settle into an hour of standing meditations. It’s amazing what the human body is capable of, if you just do it.

At a certain point, I bought a pair of big ceramic magnets and would bring them outside with me, whenever I was working a store that didn’t require a lot of changing my physical position. And if it did, I still used the magnets in the breakroom for breaks and lunch. I also stretched regularly, but not every workday.

Often, I’d use one of my 10-minute breaks to call a media company about an advertising campaign I was arranging for my business.

Sometimes I’d smile…

Wondering what the person on the other end of the line would think, if they saw the person they were chatting with was sitting in a dingy breakroom wearing a 100-dollar bill costume dripping with melting snow

Sometimes, the amount I was spending on these advertising campaigns exceeded my monthly income from the job. This did not stop me (well…until I ran out of money. That stopped me. Until I saved up more…then I started again).

Also, throughout this time (and for most of my adult life) I’ve kept a regular journal of my daily experiences. So I have a detailed recounting of all the weird stuff I went through. I’m going to go through it to start pulling specifics I can write about. That was another advantage of this job:

My daily routine was so repetitive, it became a backdrop of sameness I could test new ideas against, to see how they affected me physically, mentally, financially, spiritually, etc. My sparse, routine, simple life became a wall I could throw stuff against, to see what would stick. My lack of responsibility and attention became an advantage.

Earlier in life, I often pondered how being stuck in a prison cell could confer certain advantages in terms of focus…

Later, my life took on those aspects as I cancelled my cable TV and devoted my non-working hours to working on my business.

Anyhoo, this post doesn’t have as many amusing anecdotes and actual stories as I’d like to include, but I’ll make up for that. This sets the stage of what my average day was like, as context for more specific events. Like when I called 911 for the first time in my life… stood in awe of a beatific cloud of dandelion seeds blowing through the spring air… and, in the summer, sweltered deliriously in 100-degree heat…

How I Gave Up and Learned To Love Sign-Spinning – Origin Story Part 1

Published November 9, 2016 in Origin Story - 0 Comments

“You’re, uh, okay with wearing a costume, right?”

“Yep,” I replied, with zero hesitation…although I took a moment to inwardly ponder what my life had come to…

I was at a job interview, which consisted only of my future manager confirming I had a car, was able to work fulltime, could start that Sunday…and that I was willing to wear a giant hundred-dollar bill costume. Or Santa Claus, during the approaching Christmas season.

It was easy to understand why the application process for this gig was so perfunctory. My responsibilities would consist of dancing, waving, and spinning around a sign on various street corners, to attract customers into a store where they could sell their gold and silver.

“This is too good to be true,” I kept thinking, “It’s so perfect.”

Let me backtrack and explain why my life had arrived at this point.

Especially considering I had a goal to become a millionaire by this age…

Instead, I was facing an impending bankruptcy. Roughly a year ago, a business of mine dried up. In another that I was involved with, a principle partner (who controlled the bank account) opted to stop sending me checks. Suing would have been more trouble than it would have been worth, I surmised, so I let that go and focused solely on improving my own lot.

After a year of trying to prime the pump on my sputtering business, I knew I needed to get a job for food and rent money. Pronto. Just a temporary gig until I got back on my feet.

I was living in downtown Denver, CO, in a nice apartment I could no longer afford.

And…

If I didn’t have my financial head up my ass, I would never have signed a lease for it in the first place

So when reality hit me like being force-fed a tray of ice cubes, one day I sat down and tried to figure out what kind of job I was qualified for.

In my mind…not many. I had no college degree. I’d been out of the workforce since before high school (not counting self-employment). Getting a gig in a marketing position would be tricky. It might take a while. I needed money, like, right now.

So I hopped onto Craigslist, and selected the category appropriate for the other strength I brought to the table: General Labor. I was 25 years old and in good shape.

That’s when I saw the ad for a full-time sign spinner

I fantasized how awesome it would be: I could show up…do my thing…listen to audiobooks all day…and then go home and work on my business. Imagine getting paid to do that! I figured it wouldn’t happen…

…but it did. Two weeks after replying to the ad (and by that time I had forgotten about it…interesting, eh?) I got a phone call from a manager at the business, so I drove on over. And shortly after I affirmed I was cool wearing a costume, he hired me.

That Sunday, I drove to the store to begin my first shift. Like I mentioned before, the business was a chain of stores buying gold and silver. This was in December, 2011, and you might recall the value of gold was rocketing up. People with gold jewelry were eager to sell for cash. This business, along with a bunch of competitors, sprang up out of nowhere and by the time they hired me, they were already five locations strong and were opening more.

Important side-note: For the past several years, I had been socially isolated. So not only was this my first time working an actual job as an adult, but a big leap into interacting with other people on a daily basis.

It shook me to the core…

What was interesting, though, was how this job seemed tailored to ease me into the experience, like dipping a sore body into a hot tub. Let me explain:

Each “store” was really just one room with a waiting area (a couch and TV) and a “buying station” that consisted of a buyer at a desk, who tested out the gold and silver and made the potential customer an offer. The buyer was my de facto manager for the day. So unlike a large retail or grocery store that bustles with people, every workday was just me and a single buyer. 80% of the time, it was a cute girl around my age or slightly younger. Again, interesting how the universe works. Not only was I getting paid to interact with attractive women (and I seriously needed the practice) but they were my freaken managers as well. As I’ll get into later, this was both a great… and often painful… learning experience.

Anyway, my first day was a blast. I cranked up an audiobook, headed outside, and waved to traffic while holding my sign. After a few minor pointers from the buyer during my first break, I was practically a pro.

Before beginning, I wondered if this job would enable me to practice standing meditations, but the constant movement precluded that for the most part. Still, as I’ll detail later, I would be able to meditate in many ways.

So that Sunday was a cinch. Monday would be a little trickier…

…mostly because it was around 20 degrees out the whole day, and a blizzard

I wore a Santa Claus costume on top of my three layers of winter clothing, which helped protect me from the bitter cold. Now, imagine this:

My job was full-time. I was required to be out the door by 10:05AM. From there, sign spinners like myself were encouraged to stay outside for a full two hours before coming in for our first break. Constant movement and waving of our signs, was emphasized. We had to make sure to always face oncoming traffic at all times, from our position on the sidewalk in front of the store. We were allowed three, ten-minute breaks per day, plus half an hour for lunch. We were allowed to come in at 5:50PM to begin cleaning up for the day.

At all other times, we were outside, pretty much no matter what the weather… no matter how tired we felt… or anything else.

Five days per week.

Many guys who were hired, quit their first day. Sometimes, in the first hour…

Me? I loved it. Standing on my feet was easy. The weather, I could prepare for. I brought a jug of water with me. I prepared a list of audiobooks. And, instead of stressing out all day over interactions with people and performing mental tasks… I just had to move around and wave a sign. For someone with my goals and disposition, it was almost blissful. Almost.

Like I said before, it was almost like the universe handpicked this job just for me. Which is probably why, instead of being a temporary gig, I stayed at the company for almost three years. In fact, eventually I’d completely take over their marketing, partied with the owner, had shouting matches with managers, and experienced bizarre spiritual events while outside that I still regard in awe when I recall them today.

This was in between bouts of getting shouted at and flipped off by people in cars

And harassed (sometimes physically) by people walking the streets. But I’m getting ahead of myself. This is enough for a first post. In the next one, I’ll get into some of the weird things I experienced while standing on my feet on a street corner alone for hours and weeks and months on end, and neat lessons I learned. All of them would come in handy as my life transitioned and I eventually became prosperous…