In 1999, I was the founder and principal partner of the largest ticket wholesale company in the world, Wiseguy Tickets. We were buying over a million concert, sports and theater tickets a year, and supplying North America’s largest ticket brokers with the tickets that they would resell to the public.
My business partner Ken and I built the company from the ground up. We were more like brothers than friends — which, I’m sure you understand, is not necessarily a good thing. We had known and worked with each other since we were sixteen years old. Both of us ran a crew of junior high school kids, driving them to different neighborhoods to sell newspaper subscriptions door to door for the Daily News in in the San Fernando Valley, a suburb of Los Angeles, California. We each had our own groups of kids that we would train and then have them recruit their friends. It was fun, and we were very competitive with each other.
I started the ticket business in Las Vegas after years of working for a large entertainment magazine selling advertising. I really enjoyed that job because I would help businesses dramatically increase their revenues while I met a lot of amazing, talented people. But when I finally decided to walk away from a solid, steady paycheck and give everything to building the ticket business with Ken, we both were all in. Day and night, whenever there was enough energy to work, we worked and put our blood, sweat and tears into building the business to provide everything we could for our families. We wanted to give them the luxury lifestyles we longed for but were not able to have as kids.
We worked hard on being smarter and asking better questions than our competition was asking. Averaging 110-120 hours a week for years straight without a vacation, we designed and built a real money machine. We sacrificed precious time with our families so we could buy more for them. It made us feel like heavy hitters while allowing them to feel privileged and lucky.
Within five years the value of our company was well in excess of fifty million dollars. In fact, “excess” would be the company’s mantra. But this trajectory would eventually take Ken and me in very different directions.
On December 30, 1999 Ken and I and our wives were finally enjoying a well-deserved, first-class vacation. My three sons, Tanner, Dillon and Austin, were staying with my dad and his wife for a few weeks, and we were going to do this vacation right.
Our first ten days we had rented a private villa in Bali, overlooking a jungle canyon and the Ayung River below. This night however, we were celebrating at the exquisite Amandari Resort. It was the birthday of Ken’s wife, Lina. As luck would have it, my wife, Rocky, had a friend who happened to be the new head chef of this 6-star resort, and arranged for us to experience a private “chef’s creation” dinner just for us.
When we arrived, we were led across a garden bridge to our table, which sat alone on a small island on a private lake, under a beautifully lit palapa (a thatched-roof pavilion). It was spectacular. It felt like everything we had ever dreamed about had come true. All of those long hours of work for so many years had allowed us to create this incredible experience!
During a break between courses, Ken wanted to smoke a cigar (he was really into that), so we left the girls and went for a short walk. We walked around the simple yet stunning resort for a few minutes before stopping by another pond where dozens of very large koi swam over to visit us, thinking that we must have food for them.
I said, “Ken, what is it going to take to have more of this?” My thinking was along the lines of, how can we spend less time working, and invest more time enjoying our lives?
But the answer Ken came up with was not in line with what I was thinking at all. He said, “More! We need more of everything. We need more money, more power, and more domination.”
I remember thinking, Who is this guy and how did we end up thinking so differently? I just shook my head, because I knew that my life’s purpose was not to amass more — and his was.
His words stuck with me all that night and into the next day. I began to ask myself what was really important to me. Why was I continuing to work so hard and so often? How much would be enough? What was I missing?
That moment kicked me into changing everything about my life and business. I realized that my priorities had been out of line with what was truly most important to me. Work was getting all of my energy, time and attention instead of it going to my family. By January 2001, I arranged to sell half of my half of the business to Ken and abdicated all corporate responsibilities. I bought the most precious resource of all: time.
My focus and energy went from being a successful business operator to working on being an excellent, husband, dad, friend and person. I grew creatively, spiritually and altruistically. I practiced and learned to be fully present in the moment that is right now. My life became more about helping others to get clarity on what is truly important to them personally, as well as in their relationships and businesses.
Today the successes and transformations of the people I teach and coach are remarkable, inspirational and life changing. This work lights me up, and I believe it is my gift and purpose in life. There is nothing I would rather do than help people happily create extraordinary lives for themselves, crush it in every area, and love life every day in a way they never thought possible.
Achieving success means different things to different people. For some of you, success would be working less, because you are already crushing it at work, and you want to work six days instead of seven, or five instead of six. Believe me, I get it. Or, maybe for you, success is making more money, because you need money! We are all in different places financially and at different points in our life, and that too will change.
I’m here to help you achieve whatever you want in life. In fact, that is actually the easiest part. A hundred times more important is the process of happily achieving.
That’s what this blog is about, and what all my work today is focused on. When you can happily achieve instead of having to achieve to be happy, life is a great adventure, something you find yourself getting out of bed each day looking forward to. When you happily achieve, you focus on the things that matter most. You spend a lot less time annoyed, frustrated, or burnt out, and a lot more time excited, creative, and just plain happy.
I think you deserve that. And I also believe it’s a lot easier than you think.
Are you ready?