I’m just a regular guy raised by regular people.
Born and raised in NYC–Staten Island specifically–I was just your average kid, going to school (and kicking ass at it!) and playing sports pretty much took up all of my time.
***Actually, I wan’t really a “normal” kid, as normal kids don’t stand up on chairs and dance for the class while their teacher’s back is turned. Nor do they get their desks put outside the classroom for clowning around and being a distraction, but during those times I still managed to maintain perfect report cards!***
I played soccer from like 5 until 12–local and travel, and some indoor. Little league baseball for 4 years. 5 years on a bowling league. A year on the cross country team as a high school freshman and on the JCC travel basketball team (although I really only lasted a few games as basketball was never a real interest in any capacity).
And I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but I even participated in some hockey games while trespassing on frozen ponds.
Heck, I even went to the JCC’s sports camp where all we did was play sports all summer!
My parents were always there, together, and supportive of my activities (well, except for the one time I had a little league game right before Matthew Smith’s Bar Mitzvah, and the time I had soccer and baseball games on the same day in different parts of the Island.)
My pop even coached our soccer team for a season and my mother always seemed to bring the snacks for the team.
The Young Business Man
I collected comic books (pretty much just Marvel but a some DC and WildStorm thrown in for good measure) and sports cards (mostly baseball and hockey but a little football, too) for most of my childhood too.
In fact, looking back, those days would signal my eventual career choice and entrepreneurial spirit.
While I started out collecting just for the fun of it, somewhere along the line I realized the potential value in all of it.
With the sports cards, I started buying plastic protectors–the more valuable the card, the better the case it would be stored in as I’d pull worthy cards from packs they’d immediately go into one.
With the comics, I’d store them in protective bags with thick cardboard backing to prevent bending. I’d even buy stickers to notate what significant event occurred in the book (ie: 1st appearances or deaths of characters).
Eventually I started trading multiple lower-value cards and books in exchange for single higher-valued ones realizing that quality was better than quantity.
I even purchased programs–very rudimentary at the time–to track what was in my collection and how much I paid for the ones that I purchased individually.
Of course at some point both markets tanked and most of the value was lost, but that’s neither her nor there.
Learning responsibility and accountability
At some point, my parents decided that if I was going to continue to spend money on things like trading cards and comic books, I would have to start pitching in.
At 12 or 13 I got a friend who had several paper routes to let me work the one in our neighborhood.
Actually he was the real entrepreneur back then, as he had several routes and would pay others a flat fee to work it while he went out and did the collections and kept all the tips as well!
So for a year, I’d get home, run to his house to pick up the shopping cart and papers and tear through the neighborhood.
I’d see all my friends outside playing, and sometimes I’d stop by for a few minutes here and there, but for the most part it was all business and no pleasure.
One day, we went around the corner to Richmond County Savings Bank to open up a savings account.
I felt like I was rich!
But I also realized that if I wanted to keep feeling that way I’d have to do one of two things:
- Don’t spend as much on my favorite things, or
- Keep working, or work even harder to pay for my hobby
Then I had my first experience with the idea of working smarter, not harder:
I was going to strap on my rollerblades to deliver the papers; that way I could glide up and down each street or around every cul-de-sac faster.
I would continue working steadily for the next few years:
- McDonald’s for credit for 2 years in high school
- The dean’s office on work-study in college
- Working “security” at the store my mom managed during the days on breaks
- Bar-backing at a Portuguese restaurant run by a friend of my parents
- Taking orders at my friend’s family’s embroider store
It was tough but it paid for my first car, all my gas and other expenses. While other kids had to ask for money from their parents, all I had to do was go to the bank.
Learning from failure
When we moved to South Florida, I was literally 24 days away from my 21st birthday.
It was a rough time for me and I got a little crazy.
I don’t mean crazy in that I became a drug-addict or alcoholic, but in terms of losing my mind money-wise.
You can read all about how I blew through thousands of dollars, but basically I got far into debt with what I now realize was worthless “stuff”.
I won’t get all melodramatic and call it a “dark time” or anything, since I wasn’t depressed and didn’t have anything really bad happen to me, but I did make one mistake after another when it came to my finances.
I don’t recall what snapped me out of it, but something finally clicked in my head.
I moved back in with my parents.
I got back on track career-wise, first working in the banking and mortgage industry then finally transitioning into public accounting.
I got rid of all of my junk and paid off the debt.
Within a couple years, I was where I belonged.
In fact, when I went to submit the documentation for my condo, the woman told me that most of the people she dealt with who were much older weren’t as prepared and organized as I was.
Entrepreneurship & working on my own terms
After over a decade of working in CPA firms, dealing with clients that were chosen for me, and dealing with stupidly-timed deadlines, I finally had enough.
Learning from my past mistakes, I saved and saved some more.
I started planning for my exit.
I slowly started preparing to get the hell of there so that I can be free to explore other interests.
Now, I have my own accounting & consulting business where I can choose who I work with and who I stay away from.
I have a company under which I create sites to help spread the knowledge I have acquired (both good and bad) over the years.
I can now lend my voice as an expert source to help my writer friends be even more informative in their own gigs.
And, I am finally doing what’s best for me rather than sacrificing for the benefit of the people I work for.
Life is good!