Thinking Outside the Box

Some decades ago, I was sitting in a business class in University and I had a rather remarkable professor.  She approached the idea of business very differently than I was expecting.  She explained that as we (the students in the class) went out to compete for jobs, we would be against other people (and students) who would also have university degrees and bright shiny personalities.  But, some would have family connections and friends at companies they applied for.

In the past, if you were white and male, you had an advantage seeking a job over a woman or minority applicant.  While this is still the case in some places, this “advantage” for while males has waned.  And in some places, being a white male can actually be a disadvantage – especially with jobs that use affirmative action rules or impose quotas based on sex or ethnicity.

What to do?  If you are a white male applying to a company that wants a black applicant, or if you are a woman applying for a job where only men work or if you are African-American and you are applying at a company where a bunch of old rednecks work, what do you do?

This professor explained that you must “think outside the box.”  She had long taught this to her children and after they graduated from college, her son Michael had a chance to do just that.  He was a new employee at a large global company – it was foreign owned.  It was announced that the president of the company would fly in on Sunday and would spend a week visiting the Los Angeles offices beginning on Monday.

Michael nosed around a bit and found out when the president would arrive and waited at the airport for his arrival.  When the president and his family came out of the gate, Michael approached, introduced himself and then assisted loading the baggage into the waiting car.  Michael followed the president and his family to the hotel and helped off load the luggage and assisted in getting the president checked into his room.  He took out his business card and a pen and wrote his personal cell phone number on the back and presented it to the president and told him that if he needed anything at all, 24/7, he could call on Michael for assistance.  He made himself available to the president each day outside of his work hours to assist in obtaining opera tickets, in organizing a tour to Disneyland the following Saturday and to help take the President’s wife and family shopping at the galleria.

The president had assumed that the company had sent Michael to assist.  Imagine his surprise when he found out that Michael had taken the initiative to help on his own.  The president was very impressed and remembered him later when he began a new project in Los Angeles.  Michael’s prospects within the company soared.  He was really no different than any of the other new employees in the company.  He just took the initiative to do something different, something special: he thought outside the box.

I subscribe to an investment letter at Stansberry Financial.  This subscription has made me a lot of money and I recommend it (nothing in it for me, check it out if you like).  This week I received an email from the president of this newsletter company and he described how he thinks outside the box and how it has helped him.  I quote his message in full, as I received it:

You’re so lucky Steve… you’ve gotten to meet and work with all these famous guys…” 

When I hear that, I usually say something like, “Yeah, it’s hard to believe… I have been pretty fortunate!” and I leave it at that.

But the truth is much different… It’s NOT luck. It’s NOT good fortune.

There’s a secret to doing what I’ve done. And I will share it with you today…

Maybe there is a bit of “luck” involved… But it didn’t happen without me putting myself in luck’s “line of fire.” Let me give you an example of what I mean…

A while back, I knew I was going to have the chance to shake hands with one of my heroes.

When I met him, I could have just said, “Uh, gee, it’s nice to meet you. I’m a big fan.” But that would have been a missed opportunity.

Instead, I spent a few days thinking before I met him… I came up with a plan to make an impact – to give him a chance to want to get to know me…

I got out a 3×5 notecard. And I wrote out what I called “12 Ways to Take Over Your Industry.” I included my name, phone number, and e-mail address. When I shook his hand, I smiled and I handed him the card. And that was that…

He could have easily thrown the card away. He could have thought, “Who is this joker?” He could have taken my suggestions… but still never bothered contacting me. For any number of reasons, he could have ignored me.

Instead, he reached out to me… In the end, he tried all of my dozen ideas, except one. Now, when he wants a second opinion on something (from outside of his corporate “yes” men), he sends me an e-mail or gives me a call. And he has included me in events around the world and in his decisions that I’ve been grateful and flattered to be a part of.

The best part to me is that I can call a hero of mine a friend as well.

That didn’t happen because I’m “lucky.” It happened because of this simple secret. There are two parts to it:

1.   Whenever there is any moment – any crack in the door to put your foot in to meet your hero – you must shove your foot in… and not let it out.


2.   You must find a way to give a big benefit to your hero without asking anything in return.

Then you’re off… At that point, you have done your best to kick off a potential legitimate friendship.

I have often had to create these moments. Usually, they don’t just happen.

For example, this year, I ended up on the phone with another hero of mine. He said: “Next time you’re in Nashville, give me a call and we can get together.” Look, I’m NEVER in Nashville… but I went to Nashville that week. (I re-routed a flight to have a long layover there.)

I made it happen when the opportunity was there. And it was a fantastic few hours. Another hero of mine is now a friend of mine, too.

Most of the time, it doesn’t work out this way. But it’s 100% worth trying… Your downside risk is a little “wasted” effort. Your upside is a legitimate friendship with one of your heroes. That’s worth it to me!

You can do it. You have to get creative to create the opportunity. You have to offer something that benefits your hero. And you have to do it without asking anything in return.

You have to create your “luck.”

It has worked for me. I have been able to get close to many of my heroes – both in business and in my hobbies. And I believe it can work for you, too…

How cool is it to have your heroes as your friends? Just follow these tips, figure out your opportunity, and go for it… you can do it…



Since I cracked the million dollar ceiling, I’ve heard from a few colleagues, “You’re so lucky.”  I scoff: it wasn’t luck at all, it was hard work.  Well, actually, there was a little luck involved, but not the kind that they were thinking of.

Edison wrote, “Luck is when preparation meets with opportunity.”

I prepared, and eventually when opportunity came, I was ready.  Every day, I see people who miss opportunity because they aren’t ready.  These people really are “unlucky.”  And I guess I am quite lucky.  Funny how that works, luck favors some more than others…

The job that I have now pays well into six figures.  This job, and maintaining a modest lifestyle has allowed me to save and invest and eventually accumulate a seven figure bank account.  But this job was no accident.  I wrote down a goal, I focused on the kind of job I wanted and then I began to network.  The job that I have now, I began applying for it 3 years before I was hired.  I went and obtained all of the training and certifications I needed and then I applied.  No call back, no interview, silence.  I applied again and again.  Every two weeks I sent my resume and I called.  Nothing.  No call backs, no emails, nothing.

One day, I was at the airport and some random guy asked me if I knew my way to a particular hotel.  I told him that I was going there and offered to share a cab.  He was quite thankful and we shook hands, exchanged names and began talking.  He asked about my work and was impressed that I was managing over 200 people.  I asked about his work and it turns out that he was a manager at the company that I was applying to.  I told him that I had submitted my resume twice a month for the past three years.  He asked me to email it to him.  I did and he walked it in to HR and I was hired right away.

Was I lucky I got that job?  Maybe I was lucky that I met this man.  But if I didn’t have the certifications for the job, if I had not applied, if I had not asked about his work (something you always do when you are networking) I would not have been so “lucky.”

Think about this.  Are you stuck in your job in your company?  Do you want a promotion but can’t find a way?  Start thinking of ways to distinguish yourself above your peers.  If you are looking to get hired at a new company, think of how you can stand out from the rest of the applicants.

We all have some advantages and disadvantages: you may be black or white, man or woman.  There is nothing you can do about your gender or your skin color.  What you can do something about is your actions, your attitude and how you distinguish yourself.  There will always be discrimination, don’t let it stop you from reaching your potential.  Think outside the box and bypass the hurdles that you encounter in life.

Good luck!

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Make a Goal

One of the most important steps – and perhaps the most overlooked step to wealth building is the setting of specific goals.  I once read an article – it has been years so don’t quote me on specifics.  The article quoted a study of college students, graduates and working professionals.  It asked if the study subjects wrote down their goals.  Most people had goals but this study was looking at the difference between those who wrote their goals and those who just had them in their heads.

The results of the study were interesting; if I remember correctly, 80% of the people who wrote their goals were successful in attaining them whereas only 20% of those who did not write their goals were successful in attaining them.  This observation echoes the same findings that Napoleon Hill had in his book “Think and Grow Rich.”

It is very important to write down your goals.

In November 2004, after I had read Napoleon Hill again (I had read it twice back in my college days), I sat down and wrote out my goal.  It was an ambitious plan and I did not know if I would accomplish it or not but I wrote it down.  I’ll have to admit, I didn’t read it twice aloud daily like I was supposed to.  Perhaps I read it a few days a week and sometimes I would forget for a week or two.  But I would always come back to it, visualize it, fantasize about it and try – as hard as I could – to will it to happen.

It read:


I, Samuel, will have in the bank, $1,000,000 – one million dollars, cash, by 30 November 2012.  For this amount of money, I will give my time, effort, energy, liberty, ego, family, relationships, friendships, freedom, hard work, travel, recreation and hobbies; I will use all of my determination, nuance, skill or anything else necessary to make this goal a reality.

I can already see myself in possession of this money.  As I close my eyes, I can already see this amount of money in the bank.  It is as sure as there.  I will attain this goal.  I will focus on this goal and all of my actions will drive me towards this end; I will conduct myself in a way that is compatible with the successful attainment of this goal.  I will forgo and ignore all distractions that take my attention and efforts off of this goal.

I will read this statement, aloud, twice daily, morning and evening, until this goal is a reality.

I surpassed the $1,000,000 cash mark on 5 August 2012, about 3 months before my goal date.  There were many months (years) where I thought I wouldn’t make it.  Especially after the 2008 stock market crash.  I lost over $100,000 in one month.  Many of my work colleagues freaked out and abandoned the market and put their money in FDIC insured accounts.  I re-read my goal and thought about it and realized that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

I piled what cash I had left into the Dow Pro-Shares Ultra fund (leverages the Dow Jones Industrial average 200% – if the Dow is up 10%, you’re up 20%, if it is down 10%, you’re down 20%).  Then, I took out a margin loan with my broker and plunked down some more in this fund and some other blue chip stocks.  For the entire year 2009, I put every last paycheck I had into good stocks that I thought were severely undervalued.

I received an application for a Discover Card & it invited me to “transfer balances” interest free for 6 months.  I thought, “Why not,” and put down my brokerage as a creditor – I did have a margin loan after all.  Sure enough, Discover mailed them a $20,000 check.  This freed up $20k in margin allowing me to buy more stock.  I then called up my Visa card and asked if they would send me “some of those balance transfer” checks.  They were happy to oblige.  My account climbed about $400k from Fall 2009 til Spring 2010.

During the French Revolution, one of the frogs said, “Buy when there is blood in the streets.”  How true that is.  If you want to be rich you have to be bold when others are scared.  You have to think outside the box.  You have to seek the advice of wise people (I pay more in financial newsletter subscriptions than I ever paid for any membership or subscription and it has paid off 100 fold).

Back to goals.  Have you written your goals down yet?  If not, 80% chance you won’t make your goal; you probably will not become a millionaire.  Better to write your goals and be in the 80% club!

Good luck!

The use of copyrighted material in this website is protected by the Fair Use Clause of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, which allows for the sharing of copyrighted materials for the purposes of commentary, criticism and education.  All shared material will be attributed to its owner and a link provided when available.  All other comment on this site may be reproduced with the author’s consent.  Please source any references or quotes of this website to: