Note: I originally wrote this guest post for my friends over at Free Money Finance back in 2010!! You can hear the excitement in my (25 year old) voice as I was pushing my limits and learning “what it takes” to become excellent at my career and earn a great income. Since writing this piece, I turbocharged my career further, ultimately securing a key management role in a Fortune 50 company by the time I was 27 years. I also founded a profitable technology talent recruiting practice and a management/IT consultancy.
The FMF article, Five Steps to Six Figures in Seven Years stirred up a burning desire from within me to increase my income. This article pushed me to set some pretty unrealistic (or so I thought) goals!
I have always been attracted to the idea of Financial Independence (Financial Peace). I wanted the ability to provide a good life for my future family and help others around me in a very intentional way. I wanted the ability to quit my job… or lose my job… or create my own job, without worrying how I would pay the bills next month. I discovered that the only tried and true method to accomplish this was to increase my income as rapidly as possible and not give all of that income away to expenses. In other words: live below my means.
At 24 years of age I decided I wanted to transform my $45,000 a year income into a 6 figure income by the time I turned 30. I looked at the FMF article and started checking off the 5 steps required to attain a 6 figure income:
Step one: Get a high-earning degree from a good school
I had earned several bachelor’s degrees in IT and business (real estate finance and entrepreneurship) from the University of South Carolina. Check!
Step two: Work for a name-brand employer at your first job
I worked for a large name-brand insurance company for 2 years straight out of college. Check!
Step three: Perform
I was performing like a super star! NO I WASN’T! I actually was simply doing a good job. I was coming in at 8:30AM and staying until 4:30PM, Monday-Friday; doing everything that was asked of me in-between.
I considered myself indispensible simply because I was good at what I was doing – and both my employer and I knew that they were getting my labor for a discounted rate.
Step four: Manage your career aggressively
I wasn’t doing this as well as I thought I was at the time… Looking back on the situation, I was passively maintaining my career.
Step five: Have some luck
I have never believed in luck as people perceive it to be. I knew that luck was when relentless preparation and skills meets the right opportunity. I just wasn’t preparing nor positioning myself to snatch the right opportunity. At least not for a 6 FIGURE opportunity…
Turning things around
I had some work to do! I desperately needed to work on steps 3, 4 and 5 if I had a fighting chance of reaching my goal. I decided I needed to open a new business… A great business that would give me 6 figure income potential. I just couldn’t decide what kind of business I wanted to run. I realized I needed to start selling myself (not in a creepy way)!
Me Inc. was in business. I only needed one client who was willing to purchase my product (i.e. my employer, or possibly another employer).
A snapshot of the kinds of things I have done over the past year in pursuit of a 6 figure income:
- I married a fantastic woman (shout out to my Stephy poo!) who has supported me and pushed me to do whatever I felt necessary to win for our family.
- I began reading lots of books on leadership, teamwork, influence, career building etc.
- I actively managed my online presence (Facebook etc.). Because we all know employers look at your online presence now – it doesn’t matter if you think you are only sharing information with friends and family. My new employer aggressively vetted my online identity.
- We (my wife and I) learned how to manage money like our lives depended on it (frugal, saving, investing etc.). We built up a 6 month emergency fund (on my $45,000 income). This actually gave me the confidence to begin taking chances at work – and ultimately switch jobs (paying for all the moving expenses with cash).
- I built a credit score of over 800 – very important for any possible future job switches.
- I learned how to write a fantastic resume.
- I took on VERY high profile projects that I would have historically just casually participated in or taken orders from someone else. I worked extremely hard to exceed every deadline/responsibility I was given. I made my company tons of money in very visible ways. I also worked to save them as much money as possible. A big win here was assisting my company win a multi-million dollar contract with our largest client, with whom I had developed an outstanding relationship. I kept records of the contributions I was making (even if it was on a scratch piece of paper I threw in the office after working really late).
- I invested in relationships with people (a lot!!!). I began connecting with people in dynamic and substantial ways. They started trusting me. They started listening to me. They started reporting to me. I started networking very, very aggressively. I wasn’t simply trying to suck resources and favors out of other people. On the contrary, I focused on injecting as much value into my relationships with friends, family, co-workers and professional acquaintances as possible. I became obsessed with creating win-win situations. One of my major successes in the relationships department was befriending a VP (and later the Sr. VP) of the company I now work for.
Reaching the goal!
Nearly a year has gone by since I started outperforming at work, managing my career aggressively and preparing for the right opportunity (luck) that would lead me to a 6-figure income before I turned 30.
Two months ago I was pursued by a VP from a small/midsized IT company that had been paying attention to the valuable work I had been diligently producing for the large insurance company I had been working for. They made me an offer for close to 6 figures with a sizable end of year bonus. We also make about $12,000 a year in income from our rental property.
I should also mention that I make a decent side income (couple thousand dollars a year) buying things from garage sales, auctions, estate sales, friends, family and strangers and reselling them. My wife and I go out and look for deals as a hobby. I almost exclusively look for items that have an immediate ROI (I just purchased a computer for $5 and resold the next day for $225.00). My wife on the other hand looks for clothes, accessories, jewelry, books, appliances and decorations etc. She saves us tons of money by making these purchases tax free for pennies on the dollar as opposed to purchasing items at full retail.
Armed with my new salary + end of year bonus + rental income + resale of assets purchased at a discount, we are on track to making well over 6 figures this year.
WOOHOOOOO!!!!!!!!! Live like no one else so that later you get to LIVEEEEEEE like no one else!!!!!!!!!