Reality and the Wild Goose Chase
I’ve spent my fair share of time chasing after so-called ‘get rich quick’ schemes.
The first real Heffalump Hole I fell into was when I spent $2,500 on a 21st Century Education Home Course. Luckily, this was with a student discount of 50%. Unluckily for me, I was young, bright-eyed and naive with an undeveloped sense of whether I was being sold something of value.
On second thoughts, that’s not entirely true. I had at least shown the foresight to peruse forums and look into who Jamie McIntyre was. While doing so, I noticed a man, I believe his name was Jack and he had left his number for anyone who was considering the purchase. Jack had vehemently spoken out against the company and the man behind it and expressed great caution to anyone about to fall in.
So, in an effort to withstand the temptations of a honey pot, I decided to question the choice and call him. He confirmed my suspicions and added to my reservations, however, that wasn’t enough and although warned, I decided to throw caution to the wind and make the purchase anyway. I mean what did Jack know? He probably failed to execute on what he learned anyway.
There you have it, folks, my good old friend Ego appeared just in time to shove me into that hole. And what happened? Well, I was out of pocket a pretty penny and over the next four years, I lugged around this five-kilogram box of DVD’s, books and magazines. To be quite honest, I don’t think the course was that bad. Ironically it was my own execution that was lacking and the wherewithal to implement any investment strategies — mostly because I spent it all on the course itself.
It began to emerge that far from being the fault of any particular company, product or service, it takes a certain character flaw to actually participate in above behaviour. When you’re young, or younger than I am now, you tend to lack much patience, if you have any, to begin with at all. It’s this trait that sends you flying like a fidget spinner; never stopping to gain awareness, but making contact with reality long enough to pick up on the next new trend or money-maker.
Although, perhaps it was this trait that played a part in the making of a decision which I still consider one of my wisest: dropping out of university.
Yes, the year was 2011 and my lecturer had just informed the class that we would be brushing over what I considered one of the most interesting parts of the Investment course in my Business degree. The decision was confirmed by a show of hands and being the shy hobbit I was, little objection was shown from me. This is counted as one of the turning points of my life so far, an experience towards which I hold no grudge. In fact, it probably forced me to question the relevance of a university degree in the first place.
Nowadays, information is readily accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. What’s usually missing, however, is a grip on any sort of direction one wants to go in. University provides an environment in which to figure this out, and while this path can work for some, I personally think that there’s quite a disparity between what’s taught and what’s actually being learned.
On top of that, I was too independent a thinker for the institution. A curious mind that kept asking questions, allowing me to loosen my shackles. As Noam Chomsky says:
“Students who acquire large debts putting themselves through school are unlikely to think about changing society. When you trap people in a system of debt, they can’t afford the time to think.”
The next year I spent working in factories and saving money for…something. I’m not entirely sure if I knew what I was doing at that point, but for the most part, it felt right. What didn’t feel right, however, was the amount of money I now had in my hot little hands. It was around this time I came across a strategy that would allow me to make millions by playing roulette online.
‘Hmm, this suits my appetite for risk and investment profile,’ I thought, unable to see that the probability of success was comparable to winning the lottery.
Forging ahead, I signed up to a London-based online gambling casino, which had my bank calling me (as I’m based in Australia) asking if the deposit of $1,200 were the actions of a sane man. After assuring them that it was as sane as lending $500,000 to people barely able to afford a baguette, an opinion formed only recently and inserted here because it sounds nice, I continued.
Thus began the development of a peculiar routine that involved heading down to my local library and spending a few hours a week building my portfolio. Several weeks later, after making quite a sum of money, it so happened that during one of these library sessions I began to test what I had come to realize was quite a flaw in the strategy. You see, it relied on the basis of doubling your bet every time you lost and £1 had now turned into an £800 bet (remember we’re in London). I spun the wheel and simultaneously lost half my account value and shattered the fantastical reality I had been living in.
Dazed and stumbling out of the library I drove home to take a long bath, an activity that I’d used in the past to center myself and meditate on next moves.
Later, the decision to leave the venture was made, and, considering I was still on top a few hundred dollars, this made me think I had grown a little wiser from the experience.
Fast forward a few months, however, and some free tickets arrived for me in the mail. It was 21st Century and before you throw your hands in the air and exit this article, no, it wasn’t for one of their seminars, it was even better! A husband and wife duo were inviting me to a tell-all on their million-dollar eBay business. I couldn’t miss the opportunity, perhaps the last that would allow me to fulfil my goal of becoming a millionaire by 21.
To keep things consistent (which isn’t a bad trait to have developed from this part of my life), I failed yet again. Although not before I set up an eBay shop called Little Bambino with the hopes of selling baby clothes to all and sundry. I know this is somewhat painful to read, but the truth of the matter is I had no idea about the level of commitment required to build a business, let alone become a millionaire.
It was time to move on. I sold my ‘stuff’, packed up my life and moved to the big smoke with nothing but the ambition that was thankfully still in my pocket. It was there I got accepted into a traineeship for proprietary traders and I spent the next two months learning the ropes of what had always been my dream job.
As is the case with most traineeships it was unpaid and my financial stability was rapidly declining. For this reason, I was forced to leave and although I had the intention of returning once sufficient funds were accrued, I never did.
Falling back on my manual labour skills I drove forklifts around for several months until I began to question the value exchange offered by this line of work and decided to go back into finance. After a few weeks of applications, I managed to secure a job working for a stockbroking firm.
The change couldn’t have come at a better time. My lease was about to expire and I had $500 left in the bank. After exploring a few options I ended up negotiating with an old lady to stay in her ‘cupboard’ for three weeks and in a game of trading places, I moved into one of the most expensive suburbs in one of the most expensive cities in the world.
I was now dead broke but with a place to live and my job located just around the corner. ‘Coincidentally’ after my three-week stay, I left the job, discovering that I couldn’t sell water to a man on fire.
Finally, after moving into another house and a series of interviews, I settled into working for ‘the bank’. Ironically, four years later I was no richer, but my wealth of experience was steadily growing.
The city experience had had its ups and downs, and although still alive I was barely surviving — either financially or mentally.
Luckily, I had enough awareness at that point to recognize this feedback while living in an environment that constantly distracted me from what was really happening. In that situation, it’s almost like you’re floundering in the sea and every time you think you see something with clarity a tiny wave washes into your mouth and chokes you half to death.
A Change of Pace
Last year, I moved back to the country. At first, it was meant to be a stepping stone — live closer to a family long-neglected and spend some time with them before moving to another big city. Since then, however, I’ve stayed, and if anything it’s afforded me the ability to slow down and actually think clearly. For the first time, I feel like I’m again heading in the right direction and over the past 12 months, I’ve lived off tuna, rice and borrowed money. It doesn’t sound like much, but I’m consistently content.
If you’ve dabbled in anything entrepreneurial then what I’m about to relate will probably make sense. For those of you who haven’t, this video of a Barnacle Goose is a pretty accurate representation.
I’ve decided to include the whole story and while I had reservations at first, or perhaps it was just the feeling that I’ve put you, the readers, through enough, life isn’t reflective of the highlight reels we create for ourselves. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I wasn’t the Goose who made it down first time, if only I should be so lucky.
The following is a brief summary of how things have played out:
- August (2016) I left my job, deciding it was time to risk venturing out on my own without much of an idea of what I was doing
- August — September was spent in self-imposed holiday mode while settling into my new house (I feel like the country is an environment with less oscillations making it easier to read the feedback)
- September — November. I had been interested in crypto-currencies for some years. It was hard to ignore working in finance combined with an interest in technology, and so I decided to become an expert in all aspects of it. I would take all the courses and create the go-to blog… I started one course (which I later dropped out of), I didn’t write any blog posts.
- December — January. I decided that cryptos weren’t for me, after all, I was still just chasing the money. I wanted to look inwards and figure out who I actually was and express that. I’ve always held a deep love of music which I combined with the importance environments have played throughout my life and created what I called Spaces of Sound another project that’s now gathering dust. Although the idea was closer to me, I was still chasing the money, as it was fundamentally an experimentation with Affiliate Marketing.
- February — March. One day I just woke up and realized that while I had been chasing the money it was actually right in front of me. Without knowing it I had developed the skills to build websites. During these two months, I made more money than I had in all the schemes and strategies — combined. Just to be clear, when I say money I don’t mean much over $1,200, but the principle remains. It could have probably been closer to $1,800 but as a new freelancer I made a terrible mistake with a quote and ended up working for slave wages. I guess it was also the overall experience that taught me that money is found in real work and it takes time to figure out what is and isn’t real.
- April. Thankfully such teachings weren’t about to be learnt in such a short space of time and my human fallibility dropped in to say hello. Earlier in the year, I began to look further into an idea that had first reared it’s head about 1 year ago. Dropshipping. It was also then that I dived into the idea, kind of desperately, and bought a $600 course. Fast forward to April and I had only watched 5 of the 30 instructional video’s. Had I learnt nothing from previous behaviour?! Hmm, it’s debatable. Although I did put my website design/building skills to work and created a site called Chemistry of Tea. Here I was going to sell all manner of tea paraphernalia while also exploring different types of tea, their chemical make-up and effects etc. The site’s since been pulled down and the idea thrown away.
- May — July. I decided to go back to the realness and applied for a six-week Government-funded course in Business, for reasons, not the least of which was financial backing upon completion. I completed this course. Not a small feat considering. It’s here that I further developed my website building business and created the closest thing to a real business all year. It’s still a real business today, although I begin to question its value, which will be explored further in an upcoming article titled Death to Websites and rise of the Narrative.
- August was almost a summary of the previous year. It began with an excited foray into the idea of Flow State and the subsequent plan of writing an e-book which would outline its history and practical methods for entering such a mental state. The books about a quarter finished, and still in the works. It was abandoned at the time because it was also then that I discovered Medium and you can see the trail of crumbs in my first article. I’ve never experienced anything close to what Medium is and the only thing that ventured near was Quora. Even though my account is only two months old it almost feels like home and in Reality that’s exactly where this Wild Goose Chase has led me. The month ended with a short week-long trip to visit a friend in Hong Kong. This was to more-or-less explore the idea of working with him and the new company he had built. After flying in on a typhoon and back out with a hang-over I landed in Australia in more debt than I had left with. Luckily, I have very supportive friends but in particular, a brother who I’m deeply indebted to — both in the meant sense and financially. It’s here that I’ve arrived at a point in my life where the focus is to really develop my self, for reasons which should be obvious. I want to be disciplined. I want to follow through and complete things. And I’ve learnt that I can’t do it on my own, which I never have done even if I believed the illusion. I needed a focus and something which I could put everything of me into. I want to build a value exchange and have dynamic relationships that I can give as much energy to as I take away from. Part of the answer was found in an article by Tony Stubblebine titled How I made $542.47 from Medium Partners without writing a word. The inception of an idea was sown and now takes us to where I am today.
The Process is the Process is the Process
Over the next four months, I’ll be documenting the process of becoming a writer on Medium, while also building a community that will hopefully support me, both emotionally and financially.
At this point, I’m not sure if it’s even possible, but Tony makes me think it is. Regardless, I’m willing to take the gamble; the only difference this time is that it’ll be on myself. The time-frame is largely due to my running out of funds and this is a last-ditch effort to make it in my own way.
The number of followers, etc. doesn’t mean so much as just knowing that I’m being held accountable, so thanks to those of you that do show support and help to create the reality.
For now, it’s the little things. I’m not chasing a million dollars anymore; in fact, if I’ve got enough for some English Breakfast tea and three square meals, it’s a good life.
Why writing you may ask? Well, it’s always been writing. I was just briefly blinded by an illusory sense that my happiness was printed on little pieces of paper. Since this, I’ve learned that happiness can be found in a forget-me-not and freedom is a state of mind.
I’ll end with a quote from one of my favourite authors, J.R.R. Tolkien:
All that is gold does not glitter. Not all those who wander are lost