This is going to be a little different. If you’re a frequent visitor to my blog, first of all thank you – I appreciate you; but I’ve been looking over some of my prior blog posts and realizing that I haven’t really shared very much about my life and I want to change that. I think you’ll benefit from a closer look into who I am and what I’m doing on a day to day basis. I’ll still share my prior experiences and knowledge I’ve acquired over the years on creating wealth and related topics, but I’ll also share more personal things with you about my life, since this a blog (and not just an article directory, lol).
You see, over the last few years – and last 12 months especially – my focus has shifted some or should I say has been “realigned” on the bigger picture, to encompass what’s really important in life. No doubt, continuing wealth creation is still at the top of that list, but there’s more to it than just money and finances, and I want to make sure that is clear: wealth is nothing if you’re not able to enjoy the benefits of it; wealth is bigger than just money and finances, as you’ll read below.
Some of my early, costly mistakes…
I had spent much of my early years in business focused on just making money and creating wealth. I went to extremes because, I was young and maybe a little nieve, but I wanted to be rich so bad. Growing up in Northern California in a very affluent part of town (our neighbors were all doctors, lawyers, politicians, etc), I saw the affluent lifestyle my neighbors and their kids were able to live.
Now of course, at the time I thought they were wealthy because I just saw the cars they drove, the houses they lived in and all the gadgets and stuff they had that we couldn’t afford. Now, of course, I know that they were more than likely in debt to their eyeballs like most Americans who may “think” they are living the American Dream because they have some of the “nice stuff” (but they’re buying it out from “earned” income which makes them have to keep working, as opposed to having assets pay for those liabilities or doodads for them, which is of course what the wealthy do…).
But what I did at one point in my life to try to get ahead was literally cut out all my friends (and even some family) who weren’t on the same page as me (which was most people), thinking it would help me get ahead faster, that by giving them the cold shoulder and ignoring them I would be better off?
For the record, that was a stupid idea and only made life more difficult.
Not everyone’s going to get behind you in everything you do, especially in the beginning… especically if you’re young… and especially if you’re challenging everything in life they’ve come to know or believe is true… and especially if you don’t (yet) have the results to prove to them otherwise.
It’s a battle. Maybe you don’t go to them for feedback on your great business ideas, but you don’t cut them out of your life altogether. Just keep your personal stuff separate from your business stuff; or at least don’t force it down their throats because they’re going to be around for a while and relationships are important. You can give them an opportunity to take a look at what you’re doing, but never chase anyone.
I feel the same way about using facebook. I don’t like to blatantly spam my friends and family’s facebook newsfeed with stuff they haven’t expressed any interest in. I’ve gone down that road in the past – which probably you have done as well – and you’re forever known as that “guy” (or girl as the case may be) and people will just start to ignore everything you post about or prejudge any links you share or worse, block you altogether.
Instead, I may make reference to something I’m doing indirectly – a business I’m involved with or whatever – in order to peak their curiosity to leave it up to them to look into it further if they are at all interested instead so that’s it their choice, going through my sites or videos on their own without me even knowing (until they opt into something that is, and then they have clearly expressed an interest and my auto-responder takes over from there and I actually have a sincere “prospect” versus a “suspect”).
“People hate to be sold, but they love to buy” – so let them come to you and buy, don’t go to them and sell.
But back on topic, I had always believed that as long as I was creating wealth, where I had more money coming in passively each month than was going out, the rest would figure itself out. And while that’s mostly true – money problems can create all sorts of havok in your life, on your relationships, on your confidence, on your health, on your emotions, on your spirit, on a psychological level – that assumption is based on all other outside factors remaining the same…
But here’s what I I hadn’t really been conscious of initially because I had been so focused on just acquiring new assets, creating additional streams of income, and growing my businesses: markets cycle, economies boom AND bust, empires expand and contract: the world changes and goes on; you can’t expect things to remain the same, and when push comes to shove, the unexpected can occur!
Yes, for most of my life – the 80s (what I can remember of them), the 90s, 2000’s – life and living, especially in the US had only gotten easier and more convenient… (I go into more detail on this in my introduction to HansSchoff.com 2.0 page)
In 2001, when 9/11 took place, I was shocked like everyone else. I was young and living in San Diego at the time and other than the days and weeks of uncertainty that followed about what this potentially might mean (once all the fear had subsided), I like most people went back to my daily life, thinking and working as I had before. It didn’t seem real I guess at the time.
In 2007-2008 when the markets crashed, I was somewhat prepared for those events (which is why I moved to Northern Alabama prior to it all taking place – read my story to learn more about that) so I wasn’t as affected as much as many others. Even though a lot of wealth was lost by many people, I viewed it as mainly a cyclical financial event, not as a sign to look at the bigger picture, to look beyond finances, to realize what else was changing…
Then finally last year on April 27th, I got my awakening…
Sure there was the potential for an economic collapse or a dollar collapse or for a stock market crash but I still don’t think I had really internalized the real impact this could have beyond finances. It took a massive number of supercell tornadoes to sweep across Alabama and the South East to really get my attention. It wasn’t the devastating death toll numbers or incredible amount of damage the storms did, even though they completely wiped out some towns. It wasn’t the threat of personal injury or death from the storms themselves. It was the aftermath…
As bad as the storms were, as much damage and tragic loss of life as there was, the city of Huntsville for the most part was undamaged (it seemed to hit all the outskirts and everywhere else but Huntsville proper).
However, power was out as 95 huge power pylons carrying 500KW high-voltage lines through Northern Alabama were completely destroyed by the storms; the nuclear power plant wasn’t operating properly either as a result of the storms and consequently the entire northern part of the state of Alabama had no power.
- no refrigeration so lots of food went bad and everyone stormed the grocery storms and emptied the shelves (if they had cash),
- no way to get money out of the bank (even ATMs need power and no one could process credit cards),
- no air conditioning (luckily it wasn’t real warm yet),
- no fuel (gas pumps didn’t work),
- and the water system would only operate for a few days before it’s generators went out and the water could become contaminated;
- the hospital too only could survive on generator power for a few days, if that;
- Cell phone service would be down (the cell towers had generators that would only last a few days as well).
- Initial projections to get the power gird back up was 2-3 weeks or something.
Pretty dire, right?
Luckily we had a Camry Hybrid (40 MPG) and just happened to have plenty of gas in the tank so we took off to stay with my cousin in Tennessee as they had power and TV and internet access and we could better monitor things and stay plugged in from there (doing business online definitely has its advantages! All of Huntsville was shut down during the power outage and there was a curfew in effect to prevent looting as well. …And some people did get shot trying to rob businesses, pretty crazy times!)
So that woke me up.
(Side note: this is also the time I realized how unprepared people were, even in the South for tornadoes and severe weather and shortly thereafter launched HuntsvilleTornadoShelters.com as one other way to help others “prepare”)
I realized how unprepared I was for something that turned out to only be 5 days of no power (somehow miraculously they repaired the grid enough to be able to reroute power from another direction and got power to a majority of the city within 5 days, quite amazing considering the damage to the infrastructure).
You can have all the wealth in the world, you might be making $100,000 a month or more in passive income; however, if you’re too aggressive in your investment strategy or if you just fail to keep enough cash and/or precious metals nearby (or other items you can barter, worst case) so you can access it should you need it, what good is that money if you can’t get access to it?
Am I saying you need $100,000 stuffed in your mattress for armagedon? No.
But would it be wise to have some cash on hand to pay for food, medical supplies, water, fuel, other supplies in case something unexpected were to occur and interrupt our perfection-based lives? Yes.
(Or better yet, to have some of those supplies or “preps” on-hand in your home so you didn’t have to rush out and pay top-prices for scarce items, if you could even find that at such a time, which everyone else also needs…)
Because things happen.
It doesn’t have to be a 100-year storm, a terrorist attack or a Mayan calendar prediction. It’s a known fact that we are pushing the limits of our aging infrastructure and when you do that it’s only a matter of time before you begin to get service interruptions, shortages and failures.
We’re running out of precious resources in the world like oil, rare earth minerals, agricultural land suitable for growing food (not to mention nourishing food, for that matter), clean water, etc. Technology is great, when it works, and that helps but to continue to live in the way we have with virtually no interruptions for this long is quite a miracle in itself when you realize all the components and variables involved in each of these systems (let alone all of them).
Just take a real honest look at how much energy or money or labor or resources goes into simple things like providing clean, running water or reliable electricity or safe streets. We take if for granted today because that’s all many of us have ever known but that doesn’t mean it will always be that way as people have become more and more complacent and dependent on everything continuing to function just perfectly…
So there you have a glimpse into my “evolved” way of thinking.
Once you realize that what we have today may not be here tomorrow, or at least in the same way we expect it today, you realize you need to step back and take stock of what’s important in life.
For me, I like having the technology, products and services that make my life easier, simpler, more efficient, more convenient and the like. I don’t want to have to depend on an aging, resource-lacking infrastructure to remain 100% on-line for me to be able to continue to enjoy these things as I do today.
Does that mean I should go live in a cave and prepare for the end of the world? Again, no! That’s exactly what I’m trying to avoid.
When the power goes out due to a local power outage (like what happens all the time in California in the summer for example with rolling blackouts from electric demand exceeding supply), I still want to be able to keep my food cold, turn on the light, run the water and drive to whatever destination I need to – I don’t want to have to put my life on hold while I wait for someone else to hopefully fix the problem and get the system back up.
I don’t want my life interrupted simply because I didn’t have the foresight to look ahead and realize these things could happen and that I could have taken simple measures to ensure I was not affected.
Again, I’m not talking about having a full year of food storage or a huge solar panel array to supply all my electrical needs (although it would be nice to have a full solar array some day, although a bit impractical currently). It’s far more likely that various systems will go down or suffer shortages here and there – maybe some all at once – but only temporarily, maybe for a few days or a week.
Having enough food to comfortably get by “uninterrupted” (more or less) is my plan, having enough fuel to run a generator or operate silently off a battery backup to keep the lights and computer on, having a few cases of drinking water to not have to worry about contamination during a power outage, etc – those simple things to keep life going smooth…
This is my new definition of “true” wealth:
“Living a lifestyle afforded to you by your assets (which continue to grow and compound) while actually being able to live that lifestyle at all hours of the day and from day to day – not only when all systems are running at optimal levels but all the time”
A new goal to work towards, a new all-encompassing challenge that anyone and everyone can work towards, regardless of your level of wealth (or debt even). Ultimately, you could become totally self-sufficient and completely independent from the systems, but in that case you might as well find your own island and setup shop there.
I’m just saying think a little bigger than you did previously, take inventory of your current situation and present dependencies and prepare for the things that could make the biggest difference with the simplest of preparations to allowing you to live with as little interruptions to your lifestyle as possible going forward.
Regardless of the inevitable changes to come, let’s plan on thriving, not merely surviving!
PS> For more ideas on creating wealth as well as simple preparations you can make to ensure you’re able to enjoy the benefits of that wealth, be sure to fill out the form at the top of the page and let me know your thoughts in the comment section below (and share and tweet this post with anyone and everyone you think will benefit from it). Thanks, I appreciate you!
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