I was a millionaire by age 31. I was broke by age 33. Two point five million, all swept away. I made foolish decisions. That first money, it's really hard to keep. I'm just a young guy, 31 years old. But sure enough I fell for some of the temptations. You know that people are going to be parted with their money before long when they say, as I did, "How many colors does it come in?" Right? "I'll buy them all." That kind of recklessness.
And then I made some unwise business decisions. A company wanted to borrow some money, quarter of a million. The bank said, "Well, if Mr. Rohn will sign personally, we'll let you have the money." And I knew they could pay it back, so I signed, so I'm the hero. They pay it all back. I leave. Go away. I find out a little bit later that the company got in financial trouble, went back and borrowed this quarter of a million again, and I said, "Well, I hope they don't call me or contact me because this time I won't sign." I signed the first note, it was all paid back, but I knew they weren't going to make it this time. And they never called.
However, sure enough within a year this company goes belly-up. And I get a call from the bank saying, "Dear Mr. Rohn: We have here your guarantee that if the company can't perform, you will on this quarter of a million; please send us your check." And I said, "Hey, there's been some mistake here. I signed the first note but nobody ever called me. I never signed the second note." What I didn't know was that what I had originally signed was a continuing guarantee. Now I know what the word continuing means. I know how much it costs per letter.
But anyway, that and a few other experiences and some of my newfound wealth was on paper, and that disappeared. So sure enough, from poor to rich and from rich back to poor, what do you do now?
What occurred to me was that even though my money was gone, I still had the skills. And the skills proved to be more valuable than the money. So I just simply went back to work, went back to the street, went back to using the formula I had used in the first place to do well and made many time more than what I did the first time. But I think that's the key. You just have to go back to work.
And part of it was I was willing to readjust my lifestyle. The fancy cars had to go; the homes and all that stuff had to go. And you go back to a modest apartment and a modest place and pull everything down to start over rather than trying to keep living up here when you should have to start over back to the street or whatever you have to do. And just put it together again.
No different than the farmer who plants in the spring, and it's all gone when the hailstorm is finished. He goes back in the spring and says, "Let's try it one more time." I can't imagine two years in a row. Once in a while maybe it would be two years in a row when you get wiped out, but not that often. So you try it again. And probably from the experience, if you treat it right and keep the right attitude, you'll be stronger than you were the first time around or the second time around.
But everything comes down to attitude and philosophy. When I first started working on my fortune as well as my living, my mentor told me that it all depends on your attitude. If you say, "I'm working a little extra time to pay some bills," that'd be one thing. But if you say, "I'm working a little extra time to start my fortune," see, that makes getting out of bed totally different. To get up to pay some extra bills is one thing. To get up to lay the foundation for your fortune is a whole different attitude and mindset and philosophy. So if you have the right attitude, no matter what's happened, if you just readjust your attitude and your philosophy and a whole new mindset, and you just start again.
Some of the great fortunes are made after the person turns 50, maybe 60. And the reason is because with all the ups and downs that happen to that person in that accumulation of years, now when an idea or a new burst of energy or vitality or goals sets in, he or she has all this experience to invest. That's why these fortunes become incredible even after 50 and 60. When you're 20, you don't have much experience to invest. Doesn't mean you can't do okay and can't really climb the ladder fairly quickly. And when you're 30, you have a bit more experience to invest if something happened and you had to start over. But sure enough, 50 and 60, you've got a good handful of years of experience to invest, which may make all the difference in the world and now how it goes.
And it's true, you can tip either way, to be discouraged by it all or to be inspired by it all. And that's part of the mystery; the magic is you can turn around and make another fortune. And the mystery is now everybody will do that. Some will use it as a reason to succeed; others use it as a reason to give up. Same circumstances.
They followed two boys, twins. The father of these two boys was a scoundrel and a drunk. But as they followed the two boys later, one of them turned out to be a scoundrel and a drunk. And they asked him, "How come your life turned out like this?" And he said, "Well, what would you expect? Right? My father was a scoundrel and a drunk. What else would you expect?" The other boy had turned out to be a professional, doing very well. And they asked him, "How come you turned out to be a professional?" And he said, "I didn't want to be like my father." Same father, one used it as an excuse for living a poorer life, and the other one used it as a reason to make all the necessary changes.
A big share of our life is going to be shaped by attitude and by influence. Also the people around us. Good questions to ask yourself: "Who am I around? And what are they doing to me? And is that okay?" Those are three major questions. Who am I around? What are they doing to me? And is that okay? Next, "What do they have me reading? Where have they got me going? What have they got me doing? Those people I'm around. How have they got me thinking and behaving?" That's a good, mature analysis. Who am I around and what are they doing to me? And is that okay? And if it's okay, fine; if it isn't okay, change it. You must.
Association can make all the difference in the world in your future. We have to practice limited association. Some people you can be around a few hours, but not a few days. And some people you can be around a few minutes, but not a few hours. And then some people you have to walk away from.
And it's helpful if somebody comes along and helps in a moment of stress and distress and offers a book or offers some advice and that person just says, "I'll be here when you need me." Sometimes you don't need somebody to come live with you or be right there to hold your hand. But as long as you know that person is available, if it gets a little tougher, call, things like that. That's very valuable. And if you have some good friends, you know that they'll be there.
I lost a friend just a few years ago. David. I used to say of David, if I was stuck in a foreign jail somewhere, accused unduly, if they allowed me one call, I would call him. And the reason is he would come and get me. No questions asked. That's what we call a real friend. And, hopefully, in times of stress or if you've fallen out of the tech sky, right, and the papers all burned up, the money's all gone, and the project turned into reverse, hopefully, you've got someone around, somebody. And all of us really have somebody.
But part of the good instruction is to make the kind of friends on your way up who will be there on your way down and say, "Come in." Some of them will say, "I've been expecting you! The way you were going I knew it wouldn't be long, right, until the bubble would burst and everything would go in reverse, so come on in. Let's talk things over." So, make some good friends so that no matter what happens, when things do turn upside down, you'll have some people to rely on for wise counsel. I've had some of those in my life. They've helped save my life, save my career, save everything.
Walk the beach with somebody who cares about you and is an excellent friend, where you can really unload and try to see if you can't sort it out. Sometimes a business venture that goes wrong is like being in a wreck. It takes a while for your mind to clear. So if you've been in a wreck and you're out there kind of wandering around, it's helpful if somebody takes you by the hand and says, "Hey, let's sit down here for a while until your mind stops spinning." There's no way to put a value on that, how valuable that is.
Amateurs lose a close game, and that probably affects them for a long time. Or on the golf course, make a poor shot, and it affects the rest of their play. But if pros make a poor shot, they know they have to settle in and not let that one affect the next one. And that's the difference between an amateur and a pro.
Amateurs lose a close game; it affects them maybe forever. But the pros lose a close game, and they are affected the same way. Don't get between them and the locker door; they'll put a dent in you, right? So they're angry, and they're probably upset. But it doesn't last long. Maybe a few hours. A few hours later, by the time they've had a shower and something to eat, they're saying, "Tomorrow night we'll run them off the court." Not next year, tomorrow night.
So the key, really, to quick recovery is to have something to go for right away. I'll put this together within the next 90 days. I'll never be the same. Instead of letting it affect you for a year, maybe even a couple of years, try to put something together quickly. May not be the total answer, but it's the answer for now to get you to start walking away.
One of the greatest things I learned in my studies with Earl Shoaff is life does not give us what we need; life gives us what we deserve. You don't reap a harvest because you need it; you reap a harvest because you deserved it. You planted in the spring and took care of it in the summer.
My daughters would say, "I need $10." No answer. "I've got to have $10 for school tomorrow." No answer. Then they would remember, "Daddy, how could I earn $10?" Response: "Here's how you can earn $10." This family's got plenty of money. I mean, the vaults here are full, but you've got to have the magic key. And the magic key to unlock the vault here is not to get something because you need it, but to get something because you deserve it.
It's great training for children. Frankly, it's great training for us all. How can I begin the process of deserving? That's what Mr. Shoaff called "personal development." It's about learning new strategies. It's like the sailboat. The wind blows on every sailboat, but the difference in destination is the set of the sail, not the blowing of the wind. Some winds are contrary, some are severe, some are easy, some are gentle. So the same wind blows on us all. The difference in where we arrive three years from now is not the blowing of the wind, it's the set of the sail. Philosophy. Attitude. Willingness to do the basics and the fundamentals to make a new start, go again.